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No. 1, VOL. 10.] LONDON, Friday, July 9, 1824. [PRICE 6d.
TO NEWMAN KNOWLYS, RECORDER OF THE
The first of your humble petitioners had twenty-four
Printed and Published by R. Carlile, 84, Fleet Street.
THREE of our more fortunate brethren obtained one hundred and eight, making among those three just double what was awarded to the four less fortunate, though equally zealous fellow-labourers. We hope and trust, then, Sir, that you will take this into consideration as early as possible, and by making an addition to the favours we have already received, remove from us this cause of complaint, and set us on an equality with those who have now so much reason to look down upon us with contempt. If, Sir, you should consider that we are already amply rewarded, still consider the disproportion of the reward, and if you cannet make an addition to the whole amount by new indictments, may we not hope that on a reconsideration of our comparative merits, you will recal your past favours and more equally distribute them amongst us.
The present proportion of shares, as follows, three thirtysix, one twenty-four, one eighteen, and two sixes added together and divided by our number (seven) makes for each twenty-three, with one remainder, which you could either retain yourself, or bestow on him you thought most worthy. To this, Sir, we should think you can have no objection, as it will fully answer your own benevolent views and those of your worthy coadjutors, George Maule, Esq., and Mister Claudius Stephen Hunter; and we do not think, that either of our more favoured friends will make any serious objections to giving up a part of his present abundance (or we may say, superfluity) to his, at present, slighted and neglected brethren.
Be assured, Sir, that no words can describe the gratitude we all owe and feel for your past favours. The honour you have done us, with your liberal and IMPARTIAL conduct toward us, will be remembered as long as memory maintains her empire within us; and our pens shall band down to posterity, in language as strong as we can find words to express it, the mighty and manifold obligation we have received, and for which we are indebted to your very superior knowledge of the Common Law, your love of religion, your high sense of right and JUSTICE, and your great regard for LIBERTY and TRUTH.
P. S. We hope, Sir, that you will not consider us too pre
TO MR. RICHARD CARLILE, DORCHESTER GAOL.
suming on your liberality and fatherly kindness, or taking too great a liberty in extending our plea for some of our still more unfortunate fellow-labourers. You must know, then, Sir, that at the same shop from which your kindness drew your present petitioners, there are several very deserving young men, who are doing the utmost in their power to make themselves worthy of your notice; and who, from their great zeal and very superior abilities, are well deserving and cannot fail to obtain, when known, a more than common share of your notice and protection.
London, June 18, 1824.
SIR, A NUMBER of individuals determined to unite their endeavours, in order to thwart the efforts of bigotry and superstition, and to obtain full scope for the developement of the important truths in the cause of which you have been so long a sufferer, have raised a subscription for the payment of your next quarter's rent. It is at their request that I write this letter to congratulate you upon the rapid progress which, to their knowledge, your doctrines are hourly making. The late trials, and, more particularly, the admirable defence spoken by Hassell, must delight every friend to the advancement of human reason. A similar exhibition, every session, if our enemies dare to persevere, cannot fail to hasten the downfall of the church, by exciting the abhorrence and detestation of every enlightened mind in the community. Much as bigots have always been noted for their blindness; I am afraid that they will be alarmed and desist. Whatever course they may pursue, they tremble for the result. If they do not persecute, they feel that, by free discussion, your doctrines will ultimately triumph: this they attribute, not to its real cause-the all-pre vailing influence of truth, but to the proneness of mankind to evil! If, on the other hand, they do persecute, they must see, unless indeed they are more besotted than even I can suppose them, that they are doing all in their power to promulgate the doctrines which they dread, not only by giving them increased publicity, but by enlisting the sympathies of many against themselves. It has frequently been remarked that the dominion of falsehood and ignorance has always been supported by persecution; while the arm of the law has never been resorted to for the diffusion of truth and information. Persecutors, therefore, necessarily offer prima facia evidence in favour of their adversaries. They are
not insensible of this, and they know, too, that this is the common opinion of the world; but to reflect upon it only adds to their rage and mortification.
Like many other young men, brought up in the creed of my parents, I neither had the means, nor the inclination to examine the grounds of my belief. I believed what I had been taught to believe. The idea of doubting, where persons older and wiser than myself doubted not, never entered my mind. To be wanting in faith, besides, I was told was criminal in the highest degree. Accordingly, I was perfectly orthodox-very good and very ignorant-till 1819, the year of your trial. The reading of your Defence convinced me of the necessity of examining for myself. I was sensible that the difference between eternal happiness and eternal misery, was too tremendous to be trifled with, for a moment. And in my private meditations I often thought," what merit can I derive from a particular faith, if my only reason for entertaining it, is, because, I was taught so by my father? Have I not made myself master of the means by which to gain temporal happiness, and am I to be negligent of the means of acquiring that happiness, or of avoiding that misery which are to last for ever? If there is any truth in the doctrines which I believe, well may the Lord dismiss me to a state of eternal punishment, should I be incapable of shewing that I had exerted myself to the utmost to distinguish the right creed from the wrong to select the only true religion from the various, and conflicting, dogmas current in the world. And surely, if I fail in discovering the truth, provided my search be careful, and my design honest, he cannot be otherwise than merciful." It is almost needless for me to add, Sir, that the result of my examination has been, that all religions which ever have existed are false; that they have arisen out of the ignorance and fears of mankind in barbarous ages, when human beings were comparatively but little raised above the state of brutes, and that they have since been inculcated and upheld by interested and designing men;-that we have not even a shadow of evidence for supposing that there is a God, or hereafter; and that if there is a God and a life hereafter, such a life must inevitably be one of happiness, if the God is perfectly benevolent: for a God of perfect benevolence never could think of tormenting beings for actions in a state of existence into which they were called, without their own consent or consciousness.
My happiness has been so much increased since I divested myself of all doubts, and my knowledge of the science of moral and political philosophy so considerably improved since I learnt to separate it from the vague and crude stuff, ingrafted under that name, upon Christianity, that I consider it a duty to assist in enlightening every body whom I may meet. Within this year I have been particularly active, and you may judge of my success when I tell
you that eight of the subscribers, in whose name I write, were Christians six months ago. In short, I have never found a person willing to read and investigate who has not in the end come over to my way of thinking. My invariable request is: "Take nothing for granted-neither believe me nor any body else—but read and judge for yourself, and I shall at all times be willing, if you wish it, to state my opinions with the reasons on which I entertain them." Most of my converts are equally active in imparting their newly acquired knowledge to others; so that with the aid of your publications, and the general increase of education and intelligence, we may expect to see 'ere long the Christian religion as openly laughed at, as any of the mummeries which preceded it.
I have only now to add that it is the earnest request of my brother subscribers, and myself, that you will pay all the attention to your health, which is compatible with the situation in which you are placed. We are in hopes that no hasty resolutions formed in moments of irritation will deter you from doing that which prudence and mature reflection would dictate. You must be aware that your enemies would be glad to get rid of you by any means; and, that if they could compass your death without exposing themselves to the legal charge of murder, they would not hesitate to do so. Next to your death there is nothing they can desire more than to degrade you in the eyes of the world. For this purpose any unguarded expression from you will be eagerly caught at, and repeated to your disadvantage, without any reference to the oppression and petty tyranny, by which such expression may have been excited. Mr. Peel's conduct in the House of Commons is sufficient proof of the existence of this Christian-like and charitable feeling. Your aim, therefore, should be to shew how superior in every respect your conduct is to that of your pious persecutors. A Christian according to them never can be immoral, for, in addition to the standard of morality being fixed to suit their own convenience, if he should happen to transgress, he is no longer a real but merely a nominal Christian. A very different kind of sophistry, however, is applied to infidelity. If an infidel transgresses, he does so because he is an infidel. The good and the bad cannot be divided into real and nominal infidels. I shall, perhaps, one of these days, devote myself more particularly to the exposure of the various evils inflicted upon this country under the sanction of the Christian religion.