« PreviousContinue »
respect to the Canaanites, however great their sins, or grievous their . abominations, which, by the bye, we know only from the same ' partial interested pen, ihat has recorded the decree of their pro"scription
• I canuot help dwelling yet a little longer on this topic. Suppose yourself, my Lord Bishop of Llandaff, to be living in the quiet pos. • session of your own estate in Westmoreland ; and then suppose me
to be a Gallican refugee bishop, escaped from the tyranty of Ro• bespierre, and the fangs of French Atheism. Were I, in this suppo
sition, to claim your inheritance, under the pretext that I had a spe*cial commission from God, to dispossess and extirpate you and your
race, would you not call in question the veracity of the document ? • Would you tamely submit to be despoiled of your life and fortune, • and not try to repel force by force ? In vain might I allege, that
you were a grievous sinner, a vile obstinate beretic, an enemy to • God and his spouse, the church; and on that account, meriting ex. • terminatiou ; you would, with indiguation, deny the charge; and
perhaps retaliate, and call me, in return, a superstitious idolater.-• Deem not this a jocular argument. I mean it as a very serious • one.
• The Chanaanites were in much the same predicament, when • they were invaded by the Israelites, as your lordship, would • be, if invaded by a Romish fugitive bishop: nor am I very sure, but s that the Romish bishop could produce even more plausible argu..
ments for the expulsion and perdition of an English heretic, than
the Israelites could bring for expelling and extirpating the ido• latrous Chanaanites. At least, he would not fail to make use of the command to exterminate the Chanaanites, as a divine precedent, 6 which he might safely follow; and in this he would do no more than • has been done, not only by the religionists of Rome, but by those
of all other denominations, when they had a mind to persecute and * proscribe those of a different creed. And this naturally leads me to
take notice of the Bishop's simile ; which, in my opinion, halts ex..ceedingly.
,. When the earthquake swallows up, the sea overwhelms, the fire consumes, the fainine starves, or the plague destroys, we are totally • ignorant by what law of nature, or concatenation of causes, the de• solating events happen. We see only the disinal effects; and no
consequence can rationally be deduced from them, against the prin• ciple of moral equity, so often before mentioned. From such events, • no one could derive an argument for the lawfulness of dispossessing • or injuring his neighbour, either in his property or person ; no arguinent for the lawfulness of burying alive idolaters, drowning hereiics, starvivg atheists, &c. &c. From such events, the famous Bishop of Cagliari, Lucifer, could never have inferred, that it was the duty of the orthodox to kill the Asians; and even the Emperor Constan
tius, who abetted the Arianism." From the earthquakes at Catalina, • Lima, Lisbon, the Holy Inquisition could never bave concluded that
it was lawful and meritorious to burn the bodies and confiscate the 'goods of Moors, Jews, and wicked infidels. But the express command of God to extirpate whole nations on account of their sins, and to transfer their goods and chaitels to another chosen people, was a precedent exactly suited to their sanguinary purposes; and triumphantly employed by them to obviate all objections, on the • score of cruelty.
• The same inferential arguments were made use of in the Valden• sian persecution; and indeed in every persecution for the sake of religion, since persecution began. The supposed divine commission given to the Jews, to extirpate the Chapaauites and Amalekites, has ever been in the mouth of Judaizing Christians--a positive and plausible plea for committing the most cruel injustices.
On the whole, then, I must repeat it; I cannot possibly believe, that ever a just, benevolent Being, such as I conceive my God to be, gave such a sanguinary order to Moses and the Israelites, as in the book of Deuteronomy he is said to have given, Let others think • otherwise :-I will not quarrel with them on that account; nor shall I again return to the subject on any provocation.'
There is no need of it, Doctor--you have handled this subject well. Another objection to the Bishop's quibble might be made; and that is, that the earthquakes which he mentions as destroying “ crying and smiling infants,” were natural effects of natural causes; and such as no power could prevent nor foresee. The causes of an earthquake are not visible on the surface of the earth: it arises either from the congregation of inflammable matter, or the exhausțion of combustible matter. In the first instance, the congregated body of inflammable matter must, and will, find vent somewhere, which I consider, causes the least terrific kind of earthquakes. In the second place, the exhaustion of combustible matter, such as issues forth from volcanoes, must frequently produce the more destructive kind of earthquakes, so as to fill up the vacuity that such ignited matter had occasioned by its exhaustion. All this is a part of the general law of nature, such as ever has been, such as ever will be. I have no idea that a “crying or smiling infant,” is of more consequence in the general law
* See his five Declamations against the Einperor, in the fourth volume of Bibliotheca Patrum; or in the 8vo. cdition of Paris, 1568. This work
was highly applauded hy the Athanasian party, who considered him as . the organ of the Holy Ghost, on this occasion, without whose special • assistance, (they said) he could never have so well understood, and so properly applied the texts of holy writ!'
of nature, than the worm, the spider, or any other insect that iscrushed by the foot of man, or by any other intended or accidental cause.
Man has fashioned certain notions to himself of a God, and every man's notions differ from those of his fellow; still, every one fancies himself to be right, and madly endeavours to render the works of nature, subservient to his narrow and idiotic views.
It does not become man to say that God is this, or God is that; no man can say what, he is, and he who attempts to tell another that God is this or that, that he has ordained this or that, is an impostor, and ought to be scouted as long as he retains such notions. Nature is God, and God is Nature; and he who quits Nature in search of a God, is an idolater. The Jews were as much idolaters as the Chanaanites, and the Christians are equal to both. Almost all religion, that we know to have been practised, has been one and the same species of idolatry. What matters it, whether a man fashions a certain similitude with his hands, or with his brain, if he worships it as a God? The idolatry is the same, and the ideas of the one idolater are just the same as the other; both are unconnected with reason or nature. Man is the only being that inhabits the earth, in whom nature hath implanted the perfect faculty of reason; and man is the only being that has made his reason a fantastic thing, and set it above its creator. Every other animal seems to follow the undeviating path of nature saye man, and be having filled his mind with the most strange idolatry, has the audacious ignorance impiously to arraign and reject the dictates of nature, by saying, that they proceed from mere human reason! And thus destroys all his happiness by sponging this mere human reason from his mind, and rejecting the dictates of nature, in congregating the gross and sensual idea, that he is an immortal being, and destined to enjoy eternal bliss, in exchange for the rejection of that bliss, which nature infallibly holds out to him.
(To be continued.)
Priuted by JAVE CARLILE, 55, Fleet Strect.
No. 16, Vol. 3.) LONDON, FRIDAY, AUGUST 11, 1820. [Price 6D.
OBSERVATIONS ON THE TRIALS AT WARWICK
FOR LIBEL, CONSPIRACY, AND SEDITION.
Guilty, as a matter of course, has been the verdict at Warwick against nine or ten individuals on the above fashionable charges. These include Major Cartwright, Mr. Wooler, Mr. Lewis, of Coventry, and Messrs. Edmonds, Maddocks, Russell, Ragg, Osborne, and Brandis, of Birmingham. The first five gentlemen have defended themselves against the indictment which arose out of the election of Sir Charles Wolseley, as Legislatorial Attorney for Birininghara. This trial, if it may properly be so called, lasted two days, and the defences were bold and able ; this as far as its publication is concerned, may be useful, and that is the only utility in making a defence at present, whilst the prosecutor packs his own jury. Some most glaring abuses have been displayed in the packing this jury, in fact the practice of packing is become so notorious, that the Crown officers actually boast and avow it, and say that the judges of the Court of King's Bench will support them in it. The Trial by Jury is become a farce, and worse than a farce where the judge is the arbiter, because the name of a jury makes the prosecutor and judge more severe.. than they would be without one. The punishment which follows the verdict of a jury, is supposed to be the punishinent inflicted by that jury, but when there is no jury in the question, the judge alone stands responsible for his conduct. The origin of the trial by jury was, in this country, among our Saxon ancestors, and its object was, that a man accused of a crime should be tried by a jury chosen out of the same hunured in which he dwelt, that is, from among his neighbours,
Vol III. No. 16.
Pripted and Published by J. CARLILE, 55, Fleet Street.
who could best judge of his guilt and intention by his former course of life. To be sure men, unless they were soldiers, were not in the habit of travelling in those days as they are now; they seldom moved out of the hundred in which they were born. But now the plan of forming a jury is to select such men as are entire strangers to .your private character, and avowedly hostile to your public opinions; so that a defendant on a political question has no chance of acquittal, at least out of London. . There is one satisfaction to a defendant in this case, and that is, that neither the prosecuior, the judge, nor the public, have any idea of crime, although, the word is necessarily implied, so as to bring that imposing bugbear the common law, to bear upon him. Still, in an abstract point of view, a defendant on a political question is convicted, can only be considered a prisoner of war, It by no means impeaches his moral character, and when the period of his imprisonment expires, le joins his former circle, rather as an object of respect, than contempt. It is a folly in legislative or jadicial proceedings to send a man to prison, unless you can convince him that his past conduct has been morally wrong. In this latter case a prison might reform him, at least it forms a punishment to the mind of the individual, but for my own part, I have no idea of crime, I feel nothing as a punishment, and I pass my time as cheerfully here as I ever did before. Thore are many thing that I was wont to enjoy which the regulations of this prison preclude me from, still I might say on the other hand, that I enjoy that solitude which is scarcely altainable elsewhere, and by the company and assistance of useful books, and by those well-timed reflections which I now enjoy, there are moments at which I feel delighted with my situation, convinced that it will be highly advantageous to my future career in life. To such a man as Major Cartwright, this cannot be the case--he has trod the realm of tyranny too many years, and it must be extremely painful to all who know him, to see him confined, Although, I believe, that such are thre Major's virtues, that none would feel it less than himself, his age is such, that he has more need of comfortable apartments, and a kind and attentive family to nurse him, than to be exposed to so rough an habitation as a prison. I could wish to bear his imprisonment for him; and I doubt not, but there are a million men in this country ot' my opinion and
irrclination. I think, at least, if old age is calculated to excite • sympathy, that the Major should be allowed to sufler by de
puty, or hostage. I should really feel less sorrow al the in