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Caubray, “ that so in causes ecclesiastical and spiritual, as blasphemy, apostacy from Christianity, beresies, schisms, &c, the conusunce whereof belongeth not to the Common Law of England, the same are to be determined and decided by ecclesiastical judges, according to the Kings Ecclesiastical Laws of this Realm ; and he gives, as a reason, that," for as before it appeareth, the deciding of matters so many and of so great importance, are not within the conusance of the Common Laws."
That before the abolition of the Star chamber, and the decay of the Ecclesiastical Courts, no cases of blasphemy towards the Christian Religion were known to the Common Law Courts.
That no Statute can be found, wbich has conferred authority on the Common Law Courts, to take conusance of a charge of blasphemy towards the Christian Religion, as assumed by Sir Matthew Hale.
That it therfore clearly appears, that that and the subsequent conusance of such cases by the Common Law Courts, has been an unjust usurpation of power, and an unlawful creation of law, contrary to the Common and Statute Laws of this realm.
That later than the middle of the eighteenth century, Lord Mansfield decided, that the Common law did not take conusance of matters of opinion Whence it appears, by this and by the authority of Lord Coke, the immediate predecessor of Sir Matthew Hale, that the Judges are not unanimous upon this subject. and that Sir Matthew Hale evidently warped the Common Law to punish an individual, who had not committed a real infringement of that or of any other law, and that such has been the conduct of the Judges in the case of your petitioner and others.
That as the Roman Catholic Sect of the Christian Religion was alone known to the common Law, that, as no addition can have been justly made to the Common Law since the reformation from that Religion, ihat since the existing Statute Laws pronounce the religion of the Common Law to have been, and to be “ idolatry and damnable," and since the passing of the act of 1813, which allows the doctrine of the Trinity to be impugned, to impugn, meaning the assertion of its falsehood, to speak evil of or to blaspheme. or to try to overthrow; it is clear, that the existing Religion of the Statute Law is not recognized nor recognizable by the Common Law of the country.
That upon these grounds and arguments, your petitioner feels, that he has not been dealt with according to law, and that he has been grievously fined and imprisoned contrary to law, and he therefore prayeth that your Honourable House will give him relief by the investigation of his case, or by restoring to him the property of which he has been deprived on the pretence of seizing for his fines, to enable him to proceed by writ of
Dorchester Gaol, June 24,
Note.--It appears, that the Crown Lawyers were silent on the receipt of this petition by the House: neither of them said any thing because neither of them could find an argument to advance against it. Had I not been so scandalously robbed by the ministers, I should have certainly carried the question to the House of Lords.
London, June 28, 1825. Is has long beeu my intention to address a letter to you on the subject of your present publication--namely, the “ Republican ;" as to wbether or not that work might be more advantageously employed than it is at present, in ever treating on the gloomy subject of Religious Idolatry, which, however interesting at first, becomes in time, insipid, ridiculous, and contemptible. Wbile saying this, I am ready to apologize for attempting to dictate to you any kind of arrangements respecting your own private property ; vevertbeless, I assure you that I do not stand alone on this question. Many of your readers are very desirous of a change. Not that they wish to relinquish the subject altogether, but because tbey think that other subjects might be canvassed to the advantage of the reader, and which might be made, at the same time, to bear equally as hard upon the monster, superstition, as on the matter under debate.
The first thing, then, which I advise you to do, is to change the title of the work, from that of “Republican,” to that of Fatalist. My reasons for this advice are these, First because, recommending the people to quit Monarcbial principles, and to become Republicans, is as useless as it would be for an Oculist to recommend bis patients to become Doctors and Oculists themselves, before he bas cured them of their present blindness. To this, no doubt, you will reply, that, while you are recommending them to adopt those principles, you are endeavouring to restore to them the proper use of their senses. Granted: you are, but the political sky is still enveloped with clouds--the sun of righteousness has not shone forth with sufficient splendour-ihe penple are still unable to perceive their way any further-many lights are put into their bands, some of which are exceeding faint, among the number you have offered your torch, but the opinion is gone abroad, that the materials of which it is composed, are of so combustible a nature, that should they venture to handle it, it would involve them in an eterDal blaze. For this reason, it has been almost relinquished; it is left behind to waste its rays upon the desert air. In sbort, the Title of the work, and the general character of its contents, are a complete bar to its circulation.
My next reason, for giving it the title of Fatalist in pre
ference to that of “ Republican,” is, because the doctrine of Fatalism is not sufficiently understood for make the people fully acquaiuted with this doctrine and the necessity of all religious discussion would be superseded. The name is no way alarming, the doctrines would be a complete novelty ; discussion would follow, and conviction would be the consequence: and besides, while in tbe act of debating unimportant matters, superstition would be andermined, and imperceptibly laid prostrate on the earth. As a proof of what I assert, I will cite one instance. Has not Mirabaad done more towards destroying religious bigotry than any other man on the earth, without saying, at the same time, scarcely a word, about it?
Convince a man, bowever ignorant he may be, that all his actions are the result of compulsion, and he will immediately discover the absurdity of the doctrine of future rewards and punishments. This I know to be a fact; for, througb my acquaintance with the world, I find, that people will converse freely on this subject, without any apparent suspicion that it is at all connected with their idolatry. After I bad convinced them that they were compelled to think and act as they have done, I have then asked them what they thought they were deserving of in the way of reward or punishment. hereafter. Here they have stood and looked with astonishment for a time, not considering, that by admitting the truth of this doctrine, they were reasoned out of their bobby superstition. Endeavour to provoke discussion then ; make this your priuciple theme, and you will never want opponents to argue in favor of Free-agency, in which almost all people roore or less believe. Indeed, I am surprised to find that even you, yourself, treat on the conduct of all mankind precisely as if they were free-agents; a circumstance which proves that you lay aside the most powerful weapon requisite for your defence. Adbere to this doctrine then I advise you, again; say but little about Christianity, you will nevertheless do equally as much towards iis downfall; in the mean time your persecutors will have no just pretence for keeping you in prison. Let any man come forward now who thinks that he is a free-agent, and state those actions wherein be thinks that he is free, and he will soon receive à satisfactory reply, wbich will convince bim of truths he has never known before.
The next thing I advise you to do, is, though I own it will be attended with some difficulties, nevertheless I advise you to deyote some portion of the work to the discussion of Moral, Political, and Philosopbical Questions. As you are
in the habit of inserting correspondences from many of your readers, suppose the title of a subject to be discussed were printed at the conclusion of a number, with an intimation that such people as were desirous of giving their opinions would communicate the same to the publishers (not exceeding a given number of pages,) in a certain time; wben Four, Six, or Eigbt of the best written pieces, agreeable to your own judgment, might be inserted in another vumber, three weeks after the date of the notice. Twenty pages taken up in this way every second or third week, (which is about the number of pages devoted to correspondences every week) would be very amusing, and of infinite service, and would at the same time leave you twelve pages for other matter. A written placard, independent of the regular notice, hanged in front of the shop, intimating the subject, and the day on wbich the discussion would appear would attract considerable attention. There is no end to the number of Problems which require to be solved ; and among the number I will here point out one --- an all-important one -one which affects the whole world, and which is shortly to be discussed in a certain great assembly, the members of which are filled. with prejudice-namely, Which is the wisest political act for the benefit of a nation and the world at large, to suppress all combination among the people for an advance of wages, and thereby to pay the working part of the community the smallest sum for their labour, for which they can be obtained-or to encourage peaceable combinations, and by so doing advance the price of labour to its greatest possible elevation? This is a subject, wbich, as it affects all, is worthy the consideration of all. No one in existence, be he rich or poor, be he master or journeyman, let bim work or play, can escape the consequences arising from either a free or a restricted sale of manual labour; for, to throw any impediment in the way of a free disposal of labour, is a restriction, which affects, a powerful degree, the whole country; and to leave it without an impediment, bas an effect, equally as great, though of a contrary description. The only thing, then that we want to know, as it must be either restricted or free, wbich of the two is to be preferred. Many violent arguments have, on this subject, lately issued from the press, being the effusions of men who are all on one side of the question. Having in some way acquired property, they think that they have an interest in getting their work done for nothing. Like the labourers, wbo having the use of their hands, think
that they have an interest in destroying all kinds of machinery; so that first by the masters, and then the men, if both had their wills, we should be compelled to appear as naked and as moneyless as savages. This circumstance shews, that both masters and men are equally intemperate and equally as unacquainted with the subject on which they attempt to decide. This is, however, neither the time nor the place for giving an opinion on either side of the question, though I have thought proper to digress thus far from the direct object of this letter, for the purpose of pointing out the necessity there is for a clear comprehension of this most important measure; therefore I shall conclude these remarks with this observation, that, the equal wants of man. kind are the secret springs to national prosperity ; for if those wants be allayed on one part of the community, they will necessarily be multiplied on the other part, whereby the one will become tyrants and the other slaves; at the same time the energies of both will be destroyed. It is needless that one man wants employ if another does not equally want his assistance. The only tbing then that requires to be done, is, to point ont the method whereby we may balance the wants uf the two; the masters and the men.
Whether any of the suggestions, above stated, are worof being adopted, of course you will decide; thougb I think, that, that part which alludes to the doctrine of Fatalism, at least is deserving of notice. And if you think the nature of this subject will admit of publication, you are at liberty to print it, with an answer if you think it entitled to one; or, otherwise, you may give a public answer to a private perusal, or no answer at all, just as you may think proper, without offending,
Sir, your's respectfully,
Note by R. Carlile. --Admitting the doctrine of fatalism here as far as Candid wisbes to carry it, I must be candid enough to say that he has shaken his own argument, by calling upon me to do that, as a matter of course, at his request, the contrary of which I feel compelled or fated to do. [ must also be candid enough to say, that if I were to change, to meet the suggestions of correspondents, I should change the title and character of this publication every week. I persevere in the same title ; because I think it the most useful title that can at this time be adopted. I persevere in the same line of advocating the principles of the