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effects. I cannot believe the existence of what you call an intelligent creator of all things; because I cannot conceive the non-existence of matter, nor the existence of matterin any other shape and character than that in which we find it. I reject no evidence. Ideny not your God; but I deny that you have produced evidence to prove any such existence. Icannot trace the effects which the motions of matter produce to any thing beyond its own powers. And to attempt to invent a cause, I perceive, is but to make a cloak for my ignorance.' Better, wiser, and more humble must it be, in the sight of man or god, to confess ignorance where we are ignorant, than to be so presumptuous, so arrogant, so wicked, so conceitedly ignorant as to make assertions beyond our knowledge about intelligent God and omnipotence.
Fickleness is the characteristic of intelligence; it is one thing at night and another thing in the morning; but the planetary motions, by their precision, incontestibly prove a mechanical power that wastes not and that forms a part of the property of each planet, as much as it is the property of the pendulum to put the wheels of the clock in motion.
Of what consequence is it to us, ephemeral beings, as to what is our first cause, so as we rest upon what we know? 'The effects which we bebold in matter are merely the changes and successions of identities, and as you can effectually trace the compound to its elements, why seek a cause beyond those elements for the production of the compound? You tell us, that vegetables have three elements and animals four. This is the sum of.
f your knowledge upon the subject, and why not rest there and wait for further knowledge by further researches, instead of resorting to. fiction to cover your ignorance or to invent causes where causes are not wanted ?
When yon tell us that the great first cause is infinite in all bis, attributes, you lose the meaning of words in your superstitious reverie; for an-infinite attribute is no attribute. Attribute is something definite, a quality to be defined. Pray, try, if you can define a definite infinite, or an infinite attribute.
There is similar error, when you tell us, “ that the attribute of, omnipotence is no less displayed in the smallest than in the largest works of creation : it is equally manifest in the structure, of the most mioute animalcula, as in the precision with which the earth revolves upon its axis,” &c. Can you say why omnipotence has not the attribute of preserving perpetual life to the same animal or vegetable? If it keep the earth, as a body, in the same unvarying course of motion, a motion on which we rely in all our arrangements, why could not this omnipotent provider and dispenser of bappiness have created one race of animals happy and immortal?' The succession of animals is the same proof against the existence of such intelligent omnipotence as you feign, as the successiou and change of religious ceremony is a
proof against superhuman revelation upon matters of religion. Animals ove no gratitude to their creator for a life that has the majority of pain and that must become extinct. I see neither wisdom nor goodness in it. And the fiction about immortality to man in heaven or hell does not mend the affair; while the latter place gives monstrosity to your intelligent omnipotence,
My periodical publication does not allow me space to proceed with
your third paragraph to a conclusion of what I shall have to advance upon it. I must, therefore, enter upon a second letter: in the next week. It will form the pivot of our contest, and I shall shew you, that your knowledge of matter is the best refutation of your theory of a God.
Your pamphlet did not fall in my way, until the Tuesday of this. week; but, on the first glance, I resolved to encounter it, under the assurance, that I am master of this subject. I have, for some time, thought it important to condense an “ Every, Man's Book” on this question of WHAT IS GOD; and thinking your philosophical Address to the surgical students of Guy's Hospital preferable as a text to the proposed discussion with Mr. Beard in another year, I have seized on it for that purpose. I have written a book for every woman, and frequently get asked for something as a companion for every man. There is a book already existing under the title of “ Every Man's Book ;" but it is a catchpenny compilation of abstracts of Acts of Parliament, taxtables, calendars, and recipes. The book that every man wants, is a book that shall teach him the use of his reason, and from what point he must begin to reason rightly.' Such a book 1 intend to make of this series of letters to you.
It is not the antiquity of error that can give it stability against free discussion. Until within the last few years, free discussion: on matters of religion has not existed. Mer, like you, have been allowed to dogmatize upon antiquated errors without contradic-tion; and the want of contradiction has given you the assurance of positiveness, "But the TRIUMPH OF FREE DISCUSSION is the motto of my shop, and I venture to ask you, with all due respect, what is the God about which you and others talk and write so much? This has become the proper subject for every man's discussion, since we want to get rid of taxatijn, and since we are so grievously taxed for the maintainance of this theory of an omni
A LETTER TO THE RT. HON. ROBERT PEEL, On the Defects of our Criminal Code, in respect to the Crime of
Rape, or forcible Violation.
Sir, You have of late obtained some deserved praise for endeavours to arrange and simplify certain portions of our Criminal Code; and this gives me reason to hope that any other defect which can be proved will receive your attention, and, if possible, a remedy. The numerous cases of forcible violation which have been lately brought before our Courts of Justice, and the almost universal escape of the offenders, have induced me to request your attention to this particular branch of jurisprudence. I am not well versed in the law; but I may be able to prove sufficient to show the necessity of some alteration.
In civilized countries, the crime of rape has always been considered of the first magnitude; it always has been, and always will be, held in great abhorrence. It arouses the deepest and most poignant feelings of our nature. The father, mother, brother, sister, in short, every relative and friend of the injured person, seems to feel it as keenly as if they had been themselves the parties immediately injured; nor are the feelings of injury much less intense with strangers, who hear the fate from afar off; because they conclude, that, while such things are, such may fall to the lot of themselves, their kindred, or their friends. From the general abhorrence in which it is held, it can hardly be said to rauk below murder in culpability and atrocity:
It is, then, but justice to the general feeling, that the perpetrator of such a crime should be severely and promptly punished, : It is often said, that a very severe punishment is not so great a restraint
upon the viciously inclined, as a more moderate one; but this is correct only when the severe punishment is distant or uncertain, and the mild one, prompt and seldom failing, almost certain to follow the commission of the offence. It must be evident to any one, that of two crimes, for which there were an equal temptation and an unequal punishment, that one for which the least punishment was awarded would receive the preference. Hence, all laws should be made to reach the offender, as promptly and certainly as possible, allowing the punishment to exceed the enormity only when there were great obatacles to the detection or proof of the offence.
The offence of forcible violation is now punishable by death, a punishment equal to that inflicted for murder, and yet the number of offenders seems to be increasing. Scarcely a county as
size happens without one or more cases; many more are brought before our police magistrates and afterwards hushed up; and it is not too much to suppose, that a still greater number than ever meet the public eye are privately arranged by the parties. The cause is evident. Although the punishment is so very severe, yet, as it is carried into execution so very rarely, as a check, it is of very little avail. I may venture to affirm, that not more than one, out of every twenty cases that are taken before a jury, oblains a verdict for the capital offence. If we then consider, how very few women can be induced to give evidence in such cases, or even to mention the facts fully to their friends, we shall not be surprised to find the crime rather on the increase than decrease.
These, then, Sir, are what I consider the errors or defects of the present method of proceeding with this offence :
1št. The punishment is too severe. Many persons will rather remain quiet sufferers, than attempt to swear away the life of a fellow-creature;. and juries will reject almost positive evidence, rather than give a verdict when the consequences are so terrible. Besides, the friends of the offending party will make any sacrifice, in the way of bribery, to save life, who would not stir to prevent the infliction of a punishment proportionate to the offence. I think, Sir, that a long and close confinement, such as you have occasionally thought proper to inflict on us poor infidels, would be amply sufficient,
2nd. The required proof is such as can be very seldom given, even when the commission of the offence is most evident. In the reports of trials for forcible violation, we frequently read that the prosecutrix clearly proved that a forcible violation had been effected, but failed in giving the requisite legal evidence. She might have sworn, that she was overpowered by superior strength, had her mouth stopped to prevent her calling for assistance, her hands bound or held so that she could not struggle, and that she was compelled to submit to the will of the prisoner; and yet because she cannot swear to one particular point, a verdict of not guilty is given, and her ravisher escapes punishment. In the first place, I cannot see why the fact of “ emission of semen" should be thought necessary to prove the offence; why the offence should not be just as heinous without it as with it. A violation may take place without such emission from fear or debility on the part of the violator; or he may be aware of the required test, and with. draw the penis at the moment emission would take place; for which he would find authority and instruction in our Holy Book: “ And Onan knew that the seed should not be his ; and it came to pass when he went in unto his brother's wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother." But such cases may be supposed to be rare, and that emission generally follows ; but a few arguments will make it evident that
the fact can be but rarely sworn to, and hence that it ought not to be the test.
1. It is quite impossible, that any female when under the influence of force and fear, should be able to observe, feel, and recollect the minutiæ of a forced connection; and more especially so when she has not been previously initiated in the mysteries of such an affair. An old, experienced dame, or a common prostiture, may sometimes be able to swear to the fact; but to expect it from young girls, and such are generally the persons injured, is most absurd.
2. Emission may take place in so small a quantity, and so slowly, as to be imperceptible to the female. The fact of moisture being felt proves nothing, as the female secretes a fluid somewhat similar to semen, and often in considerable quantities.
3. When the brain is particularly excited, as must be the case when great resistance is made to an attempted violation, by the increased action of the nerves and blood-vessels, other parts of the body are less sensible. During a passion, a person does not feel an injury done to his body, as he would at another time. In a fight, we receive blows unheeded, which would at other times produce the most acute pain. Hence, I infer, that it is almost impossible, that any female, however experienced, should be able to notice the fact of emission, when suffering a really forced violation. Some may do it, but I should be always inclined to think they were, like the Quaker's wife on Hounslow Heath, willing to make the best of what they could not avoid.
3rd. It is an unnecessary cruelty to the injured parties, to questioo them, as they now are questioned, in our courts of justice. When a female desires to bring her ravisher to punishment, she has to go before a public court and to be questioned on the minutiæ of a forced connection before hundreds of the other sex, while those of her own sex, who may be willing to hear and to countenance her, are excluded. The cruelty of such a proceeding cannot be denied; and it is unnecessáry; because the mere fact of accomplishment or even of attempt by force ought to be sufficient to constitute the crime, and this could be elucidated or proved in very few words. After questioning the female as to the place, her endeavours to escape or to obtain assistance, it would be only necessary to put the simple question. Did the prisoner effect his purpose ? An answer in the affirmative should be sufficient, and thus the evidence may be procured without one indecent or painful. question or answer. For my own part, I think, that a great deal of the present delicacy of females, when speaking of such matters, would wear away under a better education, and leave their morals still more perfect than before; but while such delicacy does exist, it ought to be respected.
4th.--Under the present system, although it is so difficult to convict generally, unjust convictions can be too easily obtained.