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(true or false?) “ hopeth all things,” (what even contradictions ?) “ endureth all things!" I dever could bave written about “ the darkness, and blood, and horror of a short and perishable existence shut up in an eternal sleep.” I pever could have put such incoherent, unintelligible, contradictory, and meaningless matter upon paper, whilst I was calling another writer low, illiterate, and ignorant, and then with all the majesty of madness, have exclaimed to iny readers:
“Look here upon this picture!" It is my pride, Sir, that by good habits, I have raised my: self from the mechanic's bench and hope to be numbered among the giants of the earth. Already, you migbt have seen, that you are not a mouthful for me. It is my pride, Sir, that in all matters of literature or pbilosopby, I am self instructed, and that, I have baffled alike, poverty and persecution, and now intend to take a lead in the affairs of lbis country. This, Sir, is my pride. I am not ashamed to look back upon the mechanic's bench and the leathern apron. To me, they have been more honourable, than would bare beep the pulpit and lawn, the mitre, the coronets or a cour. tier's dress. I also know that a high minded man would find my former situation in life, rather a matter of merit, than of reproach; for I never was, as you have asserted, either an idle or an incapable mechanic, after twenty years of age. And now, I will give the world one of many illustrations, that neither Oxford, nor Cambridge, nor a teacher of Classics, is jndispensible to the completion of a scholar, or to constitute a philosopher.
You bave set me up as the enemy of religion, and Burke and yourself as its advocates. I am proud of my distinction; for, knowing, that intelligence is wholly a result of animat. ed animal matter, and that, no kind of matter can be a result of intelligence, I know, that, all religion is founded on error that, it ever has been, and is, at this day, productive of immeasureable mischief, as a cause of human misery, and, that, consequently, ALL RELIGION IS Vice and has no kind of relation to morality. Nor have you, "at this hallowed season of the year,” this mere imitation of the Roman Saturnalia, shown any thing to the contrary.
But Burke! this advocate of religion ! this reprobater of the French Revolution! who or what was this Burke?
It is always well when there is a means, to know a writer's motives, when his matter is suspicious. I am of opinion, that there should be no anonymous public writing. But Burke was not an anonymous writer, and his every motive is as public as are his writings. So let us see what was Burke, and we shall see what his judgment of the French Revolutiou was worth, or wbat the religion or system could be worth, that had him for its advocate.
Edmund Burke was an Irishman with great ability ; but ability is no proof of bonesty. During the war with the American Colonies, he was introduced into the Parliament of this country, under the auspices of the whig party, and so poor, as to require and accept the pecuniary aid and particular patronage of the present Farl Fitzwilliam. He was, in fact, as a public man, always a pensioner; first of the whigs, then of the tories. At first he was a violent opponent of the government, and applauded the revolution, the success, and the independence of the American Colonies. When Thomas Paine returned from America to England, Burke sought his acquaintance and made him his bosom friend. I have seen a letter of Burke's, to a friend, lately, and perhaps now, in the possession of Sir Richard Phillips, the Editor of the Monthly Magazine, in which Burke expresses the bigb gratification be felt the day before, ju baving been introduced to, and having dined at the table of one of the ministers with the celebrated Thomas Paine, the author of Common Sense. Mr. Paine mentions that his intimacy with Burke continued throughout the time he was in England, and until Burke avowed his vended apostacy. Through the year 1789, and part of 90, Burke was as warm an advocate for
progress and success of the French Revolution, as he bad been for that of the American Colonies. When Mr. Paine first left England, to assist in the councils of the French Revolutionists, he was solicited by Burke to furnish him with authentic and early news of what was passing, or about to pass, in France, assigning, as a reason, his attachment to their cause, his hopes of their success, and bis determination, as a public man, to become their apologist, in this country. Mr. Paine did furnish him with such news for some months, and never doubted the fidelity of his acquaintance, until Burke began to write against the cause of the Revolutionists, and avowed to the world itbat bis motive for so doing was because, Mr. Pitt, with the Public Purse in bis hand, could and would pension him bigher than the whigs had done. If the public could always, at the moment look into the motives of public men, it would be impossible to practise successful deceit upon it.
There, then, Mr. Editor, take and be welcome to such a a man as Burke, as the advocate of your religion. Whatever might bave been the power of Burke's reasonings upon your mind, it is clear, that it was a sum of money that convinced him, or induced him to write them.
Had I a copy of that celebrated impromptu verse, whicb the late Lord Ellenborough wrote and presented to Burke, in the House of Lords, during the trial of Warren Hastings, I would copy it here. Nor is it perfect in my memory; but, the subject and substance of it was, an allusion to the tale, that Ireland produces no venomous reptiles, and a cause assigned, that nature had preserved her venom in that district to concentrate it in a Burke! This verse bas gove the round of the papers, since I have been in this Gaol, aud you will illustrate your next quotation from Burke, if you will subjoin it.
As to your connection of Antichristianity with the borrid scenes of the revolution in France, I have to observe, that, correct history, will turn the argument against you. The practice of pointing to the French Revolution, when any thing is said against religion, has become as stale and unprofitable a trick, as the lying death-bed stories of Voltaire and Paine. Southey and Stoddart have worn it out. What sorry facts? What says France pow upon the subject? You tell us to look at her misery and degradation. But, where, in France, will you find misery and degradation, such as that which exists in England and Ireland, and which existed in France before ber revolution ? Before the revo. lution, the French People were pressed to the earth, by the oppressions and exactions of the Priests and Aristocracy. They were just, what the Spaniards now are, wholly Christian. The infidelity of a few pbilosophers bad not reached the mass of the people. The French people, before the re volution, read nothing but Church Legends, and knew dothing in the way of principle, as to religion or politics. When the revolution came, it found them wholly Christian, and the very exactions, which bad pressed the people to the earth, so impoverished the government, as financially to produce that revolution. There were, certainly, a few pbilosophers ready to seize the opportunity and to endeavour to instruct the people; but they did not succeed, and were the first to sustain the vengeance of an oppressed Christian populace bursting their chains and rushing to destroy those whom they considered their past oppressors. The real philosophical infidels of France, sought to accomplish their good purposes by mild and moral means ; but they failed, upon the same ground, as the Spanish Constitutionalists have failed by their mild measures. The mass of the people were Christian, their passions were unbridled, from the absence of a powerful government, and they were the ignorant and ready instruments of the worst of men. Good men did not seek the support of these unbridled passions. The authors of the first Constitutional Charter, of all that was dignified
and praiseworthy in the revolution, the real philosophical infidels of France, either perished on the scaffold or in the prisons. Thomas Paine alone escaped and that by accident, by a violent fever, which was expected to carry him out of life, whilst in a prison, and, at a moment when the guillotine was yawning for bim. He, alone, of the pbilosopbical infidels, who acted in the early and better part of the revolution, escaped the religious fury and Bourbon policy of Robespierre. Brissot, his friends, and Anacharsis Clootz, fell under the guillotine, and Condorcet was starved in a prison.
At no period of the revolution was France so deeply Antichristian and irreligious as she is at this moment, and now we see her the only real thriving country in Europe! She has no tithes, no Church fees of any kind, no game laws, and not a third of the taxation which this country has to sustain. England has ever taken the lead of France, as to Antichristian principles, and yet, there are people among us, most inconsistently and incessantly holding up the irrreligion of France, as a beacon to be avoided ; whilst the Bourbon government in France, with good reasons for itself, bas a perfect dread of an English Newspaper! The question is not now, as to whether tbe established Church of this country shall be removed by Antichristians; but whether the Roman Catholics or Antichristians shall remove it. It is now not a question , as to Protestantism, or dissent, in forms and ceremonies; but throughout Europe, the question is, shall Christianity recur to its state in the dark ages, or be w bolly removed by the Anticbristian pbilosophers. This, and this alone, is the existing question : por can any middle way be sustained. The question is-shall that system be re-established, which produced those horrors, of the French Revolution, of which you complain, or shall the laws of this age be founded upon the highest state af knowledge now existing
As little as any man do I approve of the horrors of the French rerolution : 10 man, more than iyself, bas a greater abborrence of bloodshed and of every kind of animal pain ; but still, looking at France before the revolution, and looking at her now, truth is compelled to exclaim, that ber revolution, in the aggregate, bas not only been a great political and moral lesson to the world; but France it has rescued from every thing that was vile, miserable and degraded, to make her a truly powerful and splendid nation' Refer the horrors of the Revolution to the sort of government that en: gendered them, and the good effects of the revolution, at this day, to the labours of those philosophers whom you condemn, and you will have a clear view of the history, the rise, progress and effect of the French Revolution.
The names of Robespierre and Foucbe will number among the monsters that have afflicted mankind, but do not class these two men with the philosophers of the last and present century. It is now a clear matter of history, that, Robespierre, in the plenitude of bis power, and amidst all bis atrocities, was corresponding with the exiled Bourbons, and intriguing to destroy all the better men that were opposed to their restoration. And, let it never be forgotten, that, amidst, or at the end of of all these atrocities, it was Robespierre, the bloody Robespierre, who moved and carried a decree, with the surviving viler part of the National Convention, that FRANCE ACKNOWLEDGED AND WORSHIPPED ONE ALMIGHTY GOD, THAT IS ONE IDOL! Fouche also became a Christian Minister under Napoleon and even under Louis the Eighteenth!
The former decrees, that France was atheistical, and, that Death was an eternal sleep, were ridiculous measures for a legislature. France was not atheistical, she was decidedly Christian, decidedly ignorant; but few of ber more prominent men were Atheists; for atheism is a point of knowledge not easily obtained, not to be attained, under the present systems of education, without much independent mental labour.
And, again, death is not an eternal sleep-death is not a sleep of any kind. Death is a cessation of sensation, a preliminary to the decay of identity, and an announcement of its speedy dispersion, in a gaseous state, to mingle with the common mass of the earth and its atmosphere. That is death, and the all of death, and I defy you, or any buman being, to shew me, that it is, or means, or indicates any other thing. I have a perfect contempt for that delusioni, which Lord Byron is said by you to have envied. I know the end of my present being, and am happy and contented in that knowledge, and that end ; and knowing that end, knowing, that the time of its approach is uncertain, that it may be to day, or to-morrow, or filty years hence, I resolve to fill up my fleeting moments, in the best possible manner, for the good of self and all seu sative nature.
You say, that Lord Byron's genius was a thousand fold' more brilliant than my clod-like ignorance. It might have been so; but I cannot see it: nor, were it possible, should I be willing to exchange characters and conditions with Lord Byron, at any period of his life. He was a spoiled childand never a half educated man: Percy Bysshe Shelly and Leigh Hunt impregnated him with soine few correct political notions; but he was far from being an adept jo thein. Almost every thing has been said, for and against Lord Byron, that can be said, and, if I may be allowed to be his judge, I will sum up the evidence as to his character in a