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what the personification of the spiritualist means. I meant a reality, and not an airy nothing with a local habitation, and a name. By personification, I meant an animal organization, such as that in which our experience shows us that the principle of intelligence, or sensation, its foundation, only dwells. I might have improperly used the word personification, as it is a word so wholly used hitherto to express a fiction; but no one would have misunderstood me that could have read the whole letter.
“While you complain of my dogmatism, you overlook that your own article is purely dogmatical; that it does not profess to reason, and that nothing but dogmatism is offered by the spiritualist to the materialist. The latter only reasons from what he knows; the former claims the right to reason upon what he does not know, and, where no admissions of his phantoms is made is essentially a dogmatist, has neither experience nor reason for his guide.
* You complain, not of my reason, but of my ridicule. I would not use ridicule if I were fairly reasoned with. Ridicule is applied to me as far as it can be applied; I meet it with argument and overthrow it. I do not complain of the weapon, assured that no one complains of ridicule, but he who has the wrong side of a question. Applied from the wrong to the right, it is not felt but as a weak argument. It wounds only where it touches that which is ridiculous. If my first letter had been ridiculous, you would have been delighted in shewing it has a whole.
“ The same may be said of personal abuse. Who has had more to sustain of it than myself? I feel it not, but experience has taught me that I can only command respect from a Christian opponent by shewing that personal abuse is a weapon to be handled by any disputant. I never applied it where it was not a retaliation.
RICHARD CARLILE. “ P. S. Excuse a hasty scrawl against time.”
TO THE EDITOR OF THE NEW TIMES. Sir, The late proceedings with regard to CARLILE have induced me to examine the question,“whether the Legislature ought to prevent the publication of irreligious and blasphemous books or prints ?" and if it should, “ on what grounds the justice of its interference must be proved ?" I lay the result of my reflections before your readers, without apology; for the subject is one upon which every virtuous mind must be deeply interested.
I think the laws of the land ought to punish those who sell, or otherwise contribute to disperse blasphemous publications.
ist. Because Christianity is in England “part and parcel of the law of the land," and therefore every attack upon Religion is an attack upon the State, It deserves punishment, without any regard to its moral pravity, for its defiance of established laws, if there were no other reason.
2nd. Because Christianity, true or false, has this tendency, and no other, (no other, at least, with which our question is concerned)-namely, to promote virtue and restrain vice. This is acknowledged by every candid infidel. Indeed he must be blind and deaf who can deny it. Now, to quote the admirable DR. PALEY, “ it is easier to govern good men than bad;” so then, it is the interest, not to say the duty, of the Legislature, to promote Christianity ; but since the laws are then only likely to be fairly made and fairly administered, when in the hands of virtuous men, it is the interest of the governed also, that their rules should promote and practise Christianity.
“ But," it will be objected, “ persecution is inconsistent with Christianity.” And what then? Is it persecution to punish a crime in order to prevent its recurrence? If it be, then all Penal. Laws are persecutions; then all courts of law are courts of ty. ranny; and every Judge a grand inquisitor. Moreover, we do not punish the blasphemer, as such ; that is the province of the Deity alone; but we do, and rightly too, inflict civil punishment on a civil crime: the crime of subverting public morals by blasphemous publications. And let it be remembered, that the restraints of religion and morality are the only bond of social order and public welfare.
“ But truth is great, and will prevail without the support of the law.” So it will; and so it did ultimately in France. During its eclipse, however, order, virtue, and religion had nearly perished. The murder of a king, the cold blooded massacre of thousands, five and twenty years of war and devastation, afforded a memorable lesson to mankind, that truth, though it may ultimately prevail, is often overwhelmed at the first onset. And who would again venture the experiment, merely because, after years of misery, truth will reassume her sway? It is only when men are weary of their folly, that they open their eyes and discover the value of truth; and they are generally indulged with. a full cup of misery before they can recover what they idly parted with.
These arguments are just as good if religion be a fable, as on the contrary supposition. God forbid, however, that I should appear either scepticalas to its truth, or indifferent to its success! I have proceeded on neutral ground, in order to shew that jusliceno less than virtue and religion-is concerned in the punishment of a criine that strikes at the very root of civil security, no less than of individual happiness. I am, Sir, your obedient Servant,
TO THE EDITOR OF THE NEW TIMES.
Dorchester Gaol, Nov. 16, 1825, seventh
year of an imprisonment for an attempt
to improve the public morals. I THANK you for the insertion of my letter in your paper of the 14th and acknowledge the correctness of the copy; but, as you have pronounced me illiterate, I feel a little ambition to shew you and your readers, that my literature is not thoroughly despicable, when placed by the side of yours.
In your paper of the 5th, you say, that I persuade myself, that I have made a great discovery in metaphysics. In that of the 14th you speak of my letter, as a very curious illustration of the effect of bad metaphysics on an illiterate mind! Now, what will you reply, when I say, that I am not a metaphysician; but that I am wholly opposed to metaphysical doctrines ? Dr. Johnson's definition of metaphysics, if I may trust to the Abridgment by the Rev. Joseph Hamilton, is, that it is the science which considers beings, as abstracted from all matter, particularly beings purely spiritual, as God, Angels, and the human soul ! Towards these phantoms, I hold no principle but that of opposite doctrine; so I cannot be fairly held to be either a good or a bad metaphysician. But the word metaphysics, in a more simple sense, defines something beside or beyond physics. I deal in nothing but physics, see and know nothing but matter, am only an Atheist from an ignorance of theism, considering it to be the very height of wisdom to know the proper points and lines at which we ought to confess ignorance, holding atheism, or an avowed ignorance of theism, to be one of those points and lines, and respecting no man as an au.. thority, who cannot remove that ignorance towards some other point or line.
In answer to your attempt at argument, in commenting on my letter, I would observe, that common sense teaches me, that mind and body is one and the same thing, admitting no other distinctions, than that mind is the compounded sensations of the body, or one kind of bodily action or quality. Where do we perceive mind without body? It would be as correct to say, that the body is angry, or joyful, or tranquil, or melancholy, as that it is hot or cold, or thirsty or tired. Other animals beside man, dogs for instance have the passions of anger, joy and melancholy, and the passive quality of tranquility. Have they minds or souls as a separate principle from the body? Can you shew any quality of the mind in man which I cannot shew in the dog?
I wished to have avoided this letter, if my scribbling ambition
would have permitted, to address you in answer to that of Christianus. Your correspondent has started a subject that I have long desired to discuss in a paper that can be considered an organ of the administration of the government, and that either gives a toneto, or follows the tone of, the legislature. Free and fair discussion shall be my guide, and, as in this letter, I will not use a word that can justly offend any one. The subject on which Christianus has made reflections and conclusions, the reverse of mine, is one that I have deeply studied in the solitude of my six years of imprisonment; and the insertion of my letter of the 10th has given me hopes, that
will do me the justice to allow me, in your paper, to come fairly before the public, as to the matter and manner of mine and similar prosecutions, in answer to Christianus. I presume, that I can shew to every reasoning being, the propriety of opening my prison doors, upon the principle of the prosecution, and without reference to the question, whether I have suffered the penaky which the Judges of the Court of King's Bench inflicted upon me six years ago this day for the sale of Thomas Paine's Age of Reason and Elihu Palmer's Principles of Nature. In another letter, I purpose to examine that by Christianus.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE NEW TIMES. ·
Dorchester Gaol, November 17, 1825. In answer to Christianus, on the propriety of prosecuting blasphemous publications, I will give you a specimen of infidel or atheistical reasoning. The question is two fold :
--First, whether the legislature ought to prevent the publication of irreligious and blasphemous books or prints?
Second, on what grounds the justice of its interference must be proved?
Now mark the shallowness of his conclusions. He says, I think the laws of the land ought to punish those who sell, or otherwise contribute to disperse blasphemous publications; because Christianity is in England part and parcel of the law of the land.' Is this reasoning? or is it the lowest of doginatism?
First, why should blasphemous publications be prosecuted more than any other publications, since blasphemy may be true, just and praiseworthy? So long as evil is admitted to exist among mankind, so long will blasphemous publications be the most useful of publications. Blasphemy towards a system, is to speak evil of that system. The question as to the propriety of that blasphemy is, whether there be an evil in the system blasphemed. If there be, the blasphemy is laudable; if there be not, it cannot
corrupt it. The word blasphemous is an idle and mischievous word, and is the wolf or the beggarman wherewith to frighten religious childhood. As a word it expresses nothing intrinsically bad. Almost every publication is a blasphemous publication, The Bible is a blasphemous publication. The New Times blasphemes the Old Times, The Morning Chronicle and The Republican, and these the New Times. The question of blasphemy is a question for free and fair discussion; but not for prosecution. It can only be criminal where it falsely asperses private character.
Before an irreligious book can be proved to be illfounded and mischievous, the religion which it attacks must be proved to be well founded and not mischievous. Here again is a question for free and fair discussion; but not for prosecution, for, whatever the former decides, it will be sufficient without the latter.
Again, what is the Christianity that is part and parcel of the law of England? The Judges of the Court of King's Bench said, when pressed, that it was a part of the Common Law. The Common Law is elsewhere defined, as that to which the memory of man runneth not contrary; and a line has been drawn that it is a principle of law which existed before Richard the First. Now, the Christianity before that time was the Christianity of the Roman Catholic church and that Christianity, the present English Church, as by law established, pronounces' idolatrous and damnable. The legislature, or the statute law of 1713, pronounced it blasphemous and punishable to impugn the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, the doctrine of a Christian Deity. The legislature, or statute law of 1813, pronounced it lawful to impugn the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, the doctrine of a Christian Deity. What then is the Christianity which is a part and parcel of the Law of England? What is Christianity, in this country of sects and schisms? We know what it is in Rome, in Spain, and in Portugal; but what is it in England, since that of Rome is asserted to be idolatrous and damnable'?
Here, then, Christianus is in error; for no one can understand what he means by blasphemous publications, or by Christianity; and what no one can understand, no law can justly take cognizance of or support.
Every attack upon religion is an attack upon the state." It might be so. But what is a state that it is not to be attacked.? What is a state but a state of law ? And what is law that it is not to be canvassed and attacked ? All the reflections and conclusions of Christianus are from bad premises. Indeed, to press him hard, I will say, that he has neither reflected, nor concluded. He has made assertions to suit a system, without looking to see whether that system might not be injurious to the state, or to the people as a whole, or to a majority, who are subject to that state. The legislature attacks the state every year; and it is every man's duty to attack the state, if he thinks that he can thereby