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No. 21. Vol. 14.] LONDON, Friday, Dec. 1, 1826. [Price 6d.
RICHARD CARLILE TO THE BRITISH PARLIAMENT.
BRITISH LEGISLATORS, WHATÉver be the defects of your constitution as a legislature, and however lightly I esteem those defects, you are in power of legislation equal to whatever a more purely constituted legislature could be. I, then, as a citizen of this country, having been one of its greatest sufferers under your misapplied power, seeing clearly the causes which produce all the evils that do afflict the people of this country, do venture to address you in language proper to be applied from me to you under our relative circumstances and situations; in language such as the oppressor should at all times hear from the oppressed ; in language such as the bold honest man every where speaks ; in language such as wisdom adopts for the ignorant, the blind, or the mischievously perverse who need her instruction.
In the written paper which the King read to you on Tuesday Nov. 21, we have an admission from his ministers that distresses do exist in this country, and we have also the infamous confession, that the King or his Ministers, or both, have contemplated
with feelings of the sincerest satisfaction, the patience with which those sufferings (arising from those distresses) have been borne." I call this an infamous confession, because it is made in the insolent spirit of tyranny, and because there is no connected promise, that any change of circumstances shall be produced to remove in future those distresses and sufferings. It is the satisfaction which the tyrant feels at the abjectness of his slaves. It is the satisfaction which the brutal-minded man feels at the cowardice of those on whom he wantonly tramples. They who bear patiently political distresses which are evidently produced by the wanton expenditure of their rulers are slaves with whom the tyrant may be satisfied; but they are not men to be pitied in their sufferings.' They deserve to suffer and to have rulers who can express satisfaction at their patient suffering. What can
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they do, it may be asked. Without running into new trouble, they may at least send word to their oppressors that they do not suffer patiently: and that if they are disappointed to waiting while the legislature removes the evils under which they suffer, they must ultimately take the remedy into their own hands.
The great evil of this country is excessive taxation, and if the King, his Ministers, or the British Parliament, do “deeply sympathize with the distresses of the manufacturing districts," we shall not have one shilling's worth of indefensible taxation remaining at the end of this the first session of your Parliament. There is no remedy but in a reduction of taxation. A greater consumption of our manufactures cannot take place without a reduction of that taxation which fixes the present price. It matters not that you have a system of expenditure to maintain, that system must yield to the means of supporting it; and, if needs be, the King's Civil List must be estimated by the people's means, and not by the King's pleasure. Palaces, in such times, must not be built for old men who have no prospect of inhabiting them, and who have not even the prospect of heirs to inbabit them. If we take deeds rather than words, we find an extravagantly expensive royal family giving, in effect, à sorry but a costly sympathy, for the distresses of the manufacturing districts."
The taxation of this country, or that part of it which is more particularly excessive, comes under two great heads, that which supports the Church, and that which supports the State. There may be abuses in local laxation such as the levying of rates to support what is not useful to be supported; but these shall be discarded from this address, the particular point of which is to treat on the taxation caused by the Church or Religion.
Know, then, British Legislators, that there are men in this country, who have the support of a large portion of the people, and who have discovered, that religion, of whatever kind or denomination, is not useful, but is a great vice, The religion called Christianity in this country is not only no part of the law, though it might have been entwined round the ceremonies of administering that law, but is a great national vice, and utterly unworthy of being legislatively supported by any kind of taxation.
The foundation of all religion is a pretended belief the existence of a being with intelligent powers superior to those of our most intelligent men, as the creator of whatever we know or suppose to exist. That supposed being in this country has received the name of God. God, then, in this countrý, is affirmed to be a' being worthy of that adoration which constitutes the acts or thoughts which pass under the name of religion. My purpose is to shew that such a God or supposed' being neve: had existence and that the time has arrived when the legislature of this coug. try should remove all taxation relating to the name of such a supposed being
This supposed being of a God has never been defined; bis presence or his absence has never been proved; here or there he has never been found, It is a mere word in the mouth of the driveller and the deceiver. The best informed men, who have with purity and sincerity sought after such a being, have found that they know him not, and that he is not to be found. , I ask then an answer from every individual in the British Legislature to the questions:
Shall á grievous tax be enforced upon no better authority than the dream of an idiot? Shall every male in Britain be compelled to pay forty shillings a year to support the delusion of a God? Have we not mummeries enough in the form of our government without the invention of a phantom as the grand object of religious mummery ? These mummeries are the source of the people's wretchedness, as sure as cause leads to effect. They are expensive, they waste time that might be more profitably used, and they produce no kind of good but to the few who gather the tax extorted for them,
Let the British Legislature summon before it the most able astronomers, to know if God is to be found in the stars, or if the planetary system has need of extraneous power or direction to support it?
Let the British. Legislature summon to its bar the most able mathematicians, to ascertain the distances and motions of all visible stars or sur'y, and let them say, if they can suppose
the possibility of a being acting mechanically in the formation or direction of such bodies?
Let the British Legislature question the most profound students in the science of mind, as to whether will or design be a quality to produce effects without the aid of other mechanical powers ? Whether will can be a cause in the absence of mechanical power? Whether mind is ought but body moving ?
Let the British Legislature have before it the researches of our geologists, to ascertain whether God is to be found on or in the earth, on or in the waters of the earth? Whether, in the strata of the earth, they find specimens of great designs, or wild havoc and designless accumulation of substatice? Whether the sea has not so far been the parent of the earth as every where to have left behind it proofs of its mighty, restless, but designless workings? And whether the age of the earth be not incalculable for its extent, though there be proofs of crustaceous formation ?
Let the British Legislature seek the information of our most celebrated chemists upon the quality of the varions kinds of matter which constitute the shell of the earth, and ascertain, whether, whatever has been formed cannot be again dissipated or expanded into fluid more rare than our atmosphere, and what they find of superhuman design in that formation or dissipation? What they find to support the doctrine or theory of spiritual beings?
And lastly, after these enquiries, let the British Legislature summon before it all the Doctors of Divinity, or all the divinity preachers in the country, including the old women and spoiled children who are most garrulous upon the subject, not even excepting the Reverend Robert Taylor, and let them say what they can for the God whose name they pronounce.
Give us, British Legislators, in practice, that great design of investigating the merits of religion which the great and inimitable Volney has laid down in his work called the Ruins or EMPIRES, and learn, that religion has been the chief ruin of empires ; learn, if you can, that religion, if not soon legislatively renounced, will speedily overthrow the existing empire of Britain. The disputes among the sects, if disputes be allowed to remain, will weaken and break up the existing form of government, notwithstanding the alleged respect of each sect for that form,
In corroboration of my last conclusion, a newspaper lays before me the following address of the Clergy of the Established Church to the King, at Court, on the 26th inst., with the King's Answer:
ST. JAMES'S, Nov. 27.
(FROM LAST NIGHT'S GAZETTE.) This day the following Address of the Archbishop, Bishops and Clergy of the Province of Canterbury, in Convocation assembled, was presented to his Majesty by his Grace the Lord Archbishop, Stended by the Right Reverend the Bishops of London, Exeter, and Llantaff; Mr. Archdeacon Potts, Dr. Goodenough, the Reverend Dr. D'Oyley, and several other Members; being introduced to the King by Mr. Secretary Canning, in the absence of Mr. Secretary Peel.
TO THE KING'S MOST EXCELLENT MAJESTY. Most Gracious SOVEREIGN, We, your Majesty's dutiful subjects, the Archbishop and Bishops and Clergy of the Province of Canterbury, in Convocation assembled, humbly offer
to your Majesty the assurances of our attachment and inviolable fide lity to your Majesty's person and Government.
The protection which your Majesty has at all times extended to the United Church of England and Ireland demands our sincerest and warmest acknowledgements.
Grateful for the past, we humbly implore a continuance of the same protecting power; for assuredly, Sir, there never was a period in the hisiory of our Reformed Church, that more urgently required it: whether we direct our attention to the avowed enemies of Christianity, or to those who, professing the faith of CHRIST, sedulously labour to disparage and degrade the Church, of which your Majesty, under God, is the head, and which, we confidently maintain, is formed upon the model of the earliest and purest ages of Christianity.
It is our duty, Sir, to viodicate the Establishment in the spirit by which it professes to be governed, with temper, moderation, and firmness, seeting to conciliate those who may be opposed to us, not to exasperate them ; to convince, not boast-fully to triumph over them. But, Sir, with this matte
derstanding of our duty, we cannot dissemble to your Majesty the jusų, apprehensions we entertain of the efforts that are making to arrive at authority and power in the State, dungerous to the existence of the Protestant Constitution of the country, and leading directly to religious disturb ance, animosity, and contention.
But, Sir, whatever be the danger to which the Established Church inay be exposed, we have full confidence in your Majesty's protection, and in the wisdom, discretion, and firmness of your Parliament.
We pray God to bless and protect your Majesty.
To which Address his Majesty was pleased to return the following most gracious Answer:
“ My Lords, and the rest of the Clergy, “I receive with great satisfaction this loyal and dutiful Address.
“ The renewed assurances of your affectionate attachment to my person and Government are most acceptable to me.
“I rely with the utmost confidence upon your zealous exertions to promote true piety, and virtue, to reclaim those who are in error by the force of divine truth, and uphold and extend among my people the preference which is so justly due to the pure doctrine and service of our Establisbed Church.
" That Church has every claim to my constant support and protection.
" I will watch over its interests with unwearied solicitude, and confidently trust that I shall be enabled, by the blessing of Divine ProviDENCE, to maintain it in the full possession of every legitimate privilege."
This address of the clergy of the Established Church to the King proves that which I have, after close observation, asserted. There is an admission of the probability of an immediate breaking up of the existing system of government through the contentions of the religious sects. There are no political sects remaining in the country. Such political principles as those promulgated by Thomas Paine have reduced political contentions in this country to a submission to the science of political economy, where each argues to the best of his ability for the public welfare and not for party system and party power.
His Grace, the Lord Archbishop, and the Bishops, pro. tem, and in embryo, tell the King, that, grateful for the past (past profits), they humbly implore a continuance of the same protecting power. Very natural request, on the part of these bishops, being and to be ; but the power, which so protects these bishops in useless pomp and ceremony, starves the labourer who has to support it; and where, that state of things being proved, ought the protecting power to be extended? This is the view of the question proper for your consideration, British Legislators.
The Bishops, &c. tell the King, that their Church was never in greater danger than at this time : and, for the first time, they confess, that it is in danger from the avowed enemies of Chrisianity, as well as from the 'sectarjan and contentious dispositions of professing Christians. Where then is the