« הקודםהמשך »
on an equal footing with other branches of the national industry," by compensating the farmer for whatever excess of taxation may actually be imposed on him.
That, from all these considerations, the undersigned Petitioners most earnestly pray your Honourable House to enter upon an immediate revision of the Corn Laws, with a view to the gradual removal of every species of restriction upon the importation of food and raw material, and with the ultimate object of securing to British agriculture the only permanent protection which, in equity, it can claim—the abolition, or equalization, of all those taxes, assessments, or charges, which may be found to press with exclusive, or with disproportioned weight, upon the soil.
There are three classes of people to be affected by a repeal of the corn laws :
1st. The farmer, if his burtheus be not proportionately reduced.
2d. The landlord in his rent, if the farmer be not able to meet him as before ; and,
3d. The parson or the ritheholder in his tithes. As far as the farmer is in question, the subject is a delicate one. This is not a class of people to bc ruined for the national welfare. In England, they have long formed the most important class, in giving a substantial character to its community; and where that character has decayed, there has been no improvement of character elsewhere to substitute for it. The manufacturing part of the people have become pitiable, through their excess of numbers and consequent smallaess of wages. Every fluctuation in commerce, that lessens the demand for labour, places them in a deplorable state. The farmer's labourer was a day workman or yearly servant, who was neither injured by time nor season, by age nor sickness. The labourer in a manufactory of cotton, woollen, silk, or linen goods, has beeome a sort of machine that is to be used. when wanted or while useful, and rejeeted without support when not wanted or not useful; and reduced to a pittance of wages, that makes the excess of labour for it an oppressive, or at least, a lamentable state of existence.
The landlord and the titheholder are not of so much consequence, in a political point of view. Few of them can shew.a just claim to this kind of property, and, therefore, there is the less to be lamented in any lessening of income that may fall upon them. It is the suffering labourer who is to be pitied, before the suffering landholder, tithebolder, or other capitalist. It is real want that is to be relieved, before diminished luxury. Any spoliation of honestly accumulated capital is always to be deprecated; but not so with the reduction of unjust incomes that
are obtained from public property: not so with the aristocratical landholder, the highly beneficed parson, or the oversalaried placemen and unjustly paid pensioner and sinecurist.
To relie:e the farmer, after a repeal or with a repeal of the corn laws, there must be a diminution of taxation, or a revenue raised by means that are different from those now in practice.
• The corn laws are rather the monopoly of the landlord in his high rents thau any. monopoly on the part of the farmer in his price of corn. They are the monopoly which supports the aristocracy and titheholders. Take away the tithes alrogether and tax the landlord with a property tax, and the corn laws may be safely removed to the advantage of the farmer, as well as of every other labourer. Here is the bone of contention. The landlords are the majority of the legislators. The House of Lords is a house of landlords, and nothing equitable upon the subject of the land will ever proceed legislatively from them.
WHAT IS GOD?
I Am informed, that this question produced Locke's celebrated Essay on the Human Understanding; and I must insinuate, that even that work has thrown po light on the subject. We still want demonstration and have learned ; not to accept assertion for truth ; but to consider conjectures as the day dreams of fancy and the offspring of luxuriant imagination. In the vast wilderness of writings, the mind has been led astray into the most remote recesses of credulousness and improbability. To vouch for the being of God, they supposed a beginning, not only to this world, but to all things, and have given a creative power to an uncreated nothing: as if it were a solution of the question to say, that, nothing created its own non-entity into an active creating power, and out of nothing produced every thing that is! I have here reduced the illimitable doctrines and jargon of the schools to a comprehensive multum in parvo. Let the reasonable consider it; the ignorant and the fanatic cannot. I shall proceed in the investigation with nothing but the evidence of experience. I have now before me a hook which commences thus“ Although it be neither our province nor intention to prove what has often been done by abler hands: that this world which we inhabit is not eternal, and must, therefore, have been created by an all-mighty, and all-intelligent power; and the time, manner, and circumstances of its creation as delivered by Moses seem evi
dently to bear the stamp of infallible truth." Where in the evi. dence? I see none. I feel none: and in lieu of, infallible, truth and admissible evidence, I.am confronted with a puerile fabrication, an, absurd fable, and a system which bas been proved to be false in all its parts, and to be perfectly unworthy, of omgipotence or of any degree of potence.
This is a question with which learning, arts, and science, have nothing to do. Wit, wisdom, and judgment, are equally at a loss. The good, and the bad, of mankind; the wise, and the foolish ; the deeply learned, and the totally ignorant, are, in this case, upon an equal footing. History throws ng light on the subject. They, who pretend to know all about it, are, in general, grossly ignorant of every thing but bible knowledge, which is, without any exception, the very worst knowledge obtained by man.“; It hardens kis heart and excludes all higher information. Take the Bible for your study, and you must for ever remain in. ignorance; take a priest for your guide and you must be for ever led astray. The first cannot teach you any thing: the latter will not. Who dares to peruse the natural history of the animal and vegetable kingdoms with the Bible in his hand : or who dares to rely on history with a priest annotating at his elbow? Bpt should they: small will be their progress in the science; and as for our question, they dare not look at it, for though the priest cannot, or will not, enlighten the mind, or enlarge the understanding; he can, and wil, terrify the imagination and petrify the stirring intellect. Yet, our question is a simple one, and the proper, answer, to it is as simple-I do not know. Sense, reason, and candour, dictate this answer to all the sons of men. But as cunning, hypocrisy, and prejudice; cowardice, ignorance, and interest, have much to say on the subject, it is proper that plain sense and unprejudiced reason should be heard also. We have much to surmount: many difficulties to overcome; powerful restraints to shake off; and much of which to divest ourselves before we can -muster resolution to examine the matter with thai courage and freedom of mind necessary for the investigation. All our fears, dogmas, terrors, and doubts bang like millstones on our loaded imaginations, and we tremble in idea at the black shadow which malignant superstition has hung over us. Having, after due preparation, fairly consigned the probrem to the power of fearless thoughts, I can only anticipate the answer by saying, candidly, that I cannot form the most remote idea of a being under that
For if such a being as the God, with which some of them seem to be so familiarly conversant, has an existence, this we may safely say, with the confidence of truth, that men, indie vidually, or in the aggregate, have pot, after all their preaching and praying, the slightest conception of him. To prove that there is a God, or that there is not one; no man, in the present day, will attempt; though experience teaches us to deny the super
position (for, at best, it is only supposition of conjecture). Imust: accuse the Christians point blank of doing more to destroy their non possimus idol than all the other Pantheists, Polytheists, Triu nitheists, or Theists put together. Their God is what may be literally called a humbug. I seriously ask pardop of the readers of " The Republican" for using the term, and yet, though a vul. gar expression, I think it correct. I have more to lay to the charge of these people. As they disgrace their God, so they de grade man. The Christians have a supernumerary crime peculiar to themselves to answer for the frail humanity, I mean that des. picable one of decrying, traducing, and vilifying man; Calling themselves and the rest of the human race all manner of bad names : designating them by the worst of epithets, and regard ing mankind, at least, by their language, as the production of an undetermined or doating God; who made man to vent his deliberate and unappeasable wrath upon him.' positively. wonder at the mad fools! What can possess them to underrate and run run down society as they do? If there be an almighty creator of the universe,
the universe, himself uncreate, as they say, it is surely paying him, as the inventor and maker. of. of this world, and man in his own likeness, with a living, souly and He too being all-wise, all good, and all-competent, a very bad compliment, to say nothing worse of it, to be continually railing at his handy-works, and telling him and his world before his face and behind his back, that he has made a set of despic cable vermin, who are a disgrace and a reproach to him that they are helpless worms, crawling reptiles, prone only to evil; full of filth and wickedness; contaminated with every vice under the sun; and fit for nothing but to be tied up in bundles like faggot-wood, and sent off to bell in waggon Ioads to be burnt alive, or roasted with all their feelings eternally acute.!The mercy of God continuing to sleep; but his rage and fury, calcun lated to burn for ever! Vicious, villanous and terrible as this is, I am more than half inclined to smile at the horrid Christian picture; because the natural sense and reason of man-discern. the. origin and absurdity of the tale, and properly impute to the true authors, the honour as well as the emolument of the fabrication. Let us form an article in the litany of sense, and pray-" From such an omnipotent, from such religious malignants, from such fools and deceivers, and from such merciless teachers, Good Reason deliver us.". • This, by the way, has little or nothing to do with our question, as it is of man; but, indeed, to imy thinking, our..question is of man too. ** Unreasonable as the Theists and Christians açe, we must not be 80; we must use. reason to the utmost of our rea,
• The man who has an idea of hell is a des, icable being; but be who talks about it is an idiot.
soning powers; not for the honour of God; bút for the honour of man. Man is my subject, and the divinity but an intercalary article, introduced merely for the sake of argument. As there is much importance attached to it, by curiosity, fraud, and hypocrisy, as it is monopolized by law, ambition, and power, we shall argue the case in the simplest and most reasonable manner, that the weakest adversary can produce.
It is said, that I am sometimes harsh, and that I deal more in declamation than in argument. To those who so gently criticise my crude efforts, I bow with sincere respect, and wish for their sake, the public good, and my own credit, that I could write much better than I do; and I hate the cause (not the generous friends who honour me with their potice) which calls upon me to write about that mean, pernicious article, self-when the universe is my subject, and mankind only my study. I beg the reader of " The Republican” to accept this as an apology for my defect of style, not meaning to deprecate just observation; though I am not certain, that I can improve by censure: yet my candour owns and respects the justice of those, who point to my errors or faults of diction, and one observation only in auswer I. make; I write from my heart and personal feelings, and describe with all my power. Conscious of my own weakness, I challenge no one. Conscious also of my own integrity, the everlasting durability and stedfast powers of truth, which form the base and structure of my essays, I stand behind the sevenfold shield of independent veracity.--Now for the Deity. : If an Omnipotent Being designedly conceals himself from us, all our endeavours to penetrate the secret of his retreat must be equally presumptuous and fruitless. But this is supposing that there is one. I suppose no such thing :-and my business is only with the arrogant priests, who have created him and insist on, it, that, under the pain of most terrible denunciations, we adore, their imaginary idol, and respect themselves as his immediate ministers. To these, I answer directly:--Demonstrate to me your God, and both shall find in me a sincere, pious, and devout adorer. But still, I insist on it, as a request, within the verge of that reason which I feel.
They say the Almighty has manifested himself to man, and has taught the human race through the medium of one man to know the Almighty himself. I shall give God fair play, and I start forward, in the circle of his power, to ask him, or mankind, bis abettors, is this fair? It would be acting very unjustly to make himself known to one man to inform all the rest. One to the whole, is as one to an innumerable multitude. Omnipotence eould convince them all in an instant. But for one man to make converts of the general race, we find, from experience, is impossible for the delegated power of this alleged Almighty himself.
·Let us suppose that the one-half were convinced, the other