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istence of such a person. But I have suffered too inuch from persecution to wish to see others suffer the same, and therefore, I entirely disapprove of your persecution. I am sorry even to see Cbristians persecuting one another; and therefore, I interpose to sbew your persecutors their errors. You were sent to Gaol under a charge of manslaughter; because a child died after having been circumcised by you: and I know, that, if an infant, or a grown person, bad died in consequence of having been baptised, the officiatiog priest would not even have been subject to the slightest blame. Circumcision is as much a Christian rite as baptism, and has the higher guarantee of express commandment in the Old Testament, which the other has not. Circumcision is as old as Judaism; whilst baptism, in point of custom, is, in comparison with it, but as a novelty of yesterday's invention. No Christian ever had any lawful ground to charge you with manslaughter: and nothing but a government avowedly unconnected with any kind of religion can be justified in bringing you to any punishment. It is very likely, that your Judge will be Judge Bailey; therefore, i shall send him and the other Judge on the next Northern Circuit, a copy of this letter, as your defence, and as their law. If I can by any means make a copy reach your hands, you shall have it. But to guard against all misunderstanding, let me not be understood as approving of what you have done. From a community of my sentiments, you would deserve punishment, as having been guilty of a crime; but from a community of Christians, you deserre no punishment; because, towards them, you have committed no crime; your conduct towards them has been meritorious.
It is known to all, as common as any other fact is known, that, in this country, there is a Bible Society; and further, that this society is encouraged and supported by the King's Ministers. A man by the name of Lord Bexley, lately cal-, led Nicholas Vansittart, is reported to bave made his appearance at the Mansion House of the City of London, at the annual Bible Society Meeting for London, held about a month ago, and there to have said, that he came as the representative of the King's Ministers, or of the whole government of the country, to support the Bible and its general cir. culation among all mankind: which clearly implied a wish on the part of ihe government, that all should read, and that all should follow the precepts of this book called the Bible.
If this was not the real sentiment of the government, then Lord Bexley and those who delegated bim must have been
very wicked men. They might have been so on the other hand; but on this hand, they must have been so. I will not press the alternative, I will suppose that they acted from good motives, and call upon them to abide by such motives, to be consistent, to make their actions suit their professions.
About five years ago, I was indicted for saying, there were improper things held forth in this book called the Bible. I was told, that I must not say, that it contained an untruth. I was told, that I must not say it contained an obscene narrative. I was told, that I must not say it was not the word of an Almighty God. I was told, that it made a part and parcel of the law of this country. All this I was told by the then and present Lord Chief Justice of England; and subsequently, by all the Judges of the Court of King's Bench. I had published a book as a bookseller, not of my own writing, which made such comments upon the contents of this book the Bible as I was forbidden to make. I was told, that I must not defend my publication, nor my conduct; and the best character that could be given to a man as a member of society in every relation, I was told, could not extenuate the heinous crime that I had committed, in publishing a book that said the Bible was not a good book. There was, after that act, no law for me but punishment. In every other sense than the one of pains and penalties, I was placed and have been kept beyond the pale of the law. In or out of this Gaol there has been no law but punishment for me since I have been here. In liberty and property I have been denied a possession for upwards of five years. I have been robbed, or lawed rather, of near a hundred thousand books and pamphlets, and whatever else the Christians could put their hauds on and call mine. The last bed was even sold from under my wife with ber new born infant, as soon as she could rise from it on her delivery! All this was done because I could not as yon have done respect the contents of the Bible, and abide by its precepts. Twice I might say, that I and my family have been stripped naked, as far as the government could reach us; and for five years, I have lived under a daily expectation of a renewal of this treatment. I have never been sure to day, that to morrow I should have food for myself and family, other than Gaol or Parish Food. All this has been my lot, because I could not see the Bible to be the sanje sort of book as you see it to be, and as the government wished me to see it. All this I have suffered, because I was honest, and because I would not be silent, about what I felt, that I ought not as a good man to be silent. I am still in Gaol, and I believe that you are in
Gaol. I for not following the precepts of the Bible, or rather the precepts of the Government and its Priests, as to the Bible: you for a close adherence to its every precept. How can this paradox be explained ? How can this be?
Surely the Government must be doing either you or me an injustice? I opine that they are doing an injustice to both. But I waive this point, as I am not in this letter about to defend my own conduct, but yours. I go through the Bible to see how far it defends or justifies your conduct. And this I do, because the law of this country as to the charge of manslaughter has been made realiy serious. There is but a shade of difference between the law for murder and the law for manslaughter. A Jodge, if you are returned Guilty by a Jury, may transport you for life, as Judge Best did last Lent Assize with Patrick Conolly. A year or two back, the highest punishment for manslaughter was a year's imprisonment; now, it has been made all but a capital offence, if the Judge tbinks proper so to view it. If pronounced Guilty, you may be fined a shilling or transported for life; acccording as the Judge may view your case; and it is a case where religious prejudice will be called up against you, wboever may be your Judge. But I will not yield the right of the Judge to fine you a shilling. Though at the antipodes of your faith, I will plead for justice for you, and shew tbat yours is not a case of manslaughter. I will not consent that a Jury shall say you have been guilty of a manslaughter in the legal sense of the word, nor in any sense.
Though the Bible abounds with the word circumcision and its derivatives, but few people in this country really know what it means. My Chaplain confessed to me the other day, when speaking of your case, that he did not understand the right meaning of the werd. But as on your trial, full evidence will be given as to what the word means, I will here say all that I know of its meaning.
Circumcision means a cutting off of a ring of the skin or cover that covers the head or nut of the penis of the human male, and whicb, in the Bible, is called the foreskin. In parts of Asia and parts of Africa it has been a custom from time immemorial. Its origin as a custom, or its purpose, is not known. It is now followed as a custom without any reason being assigned for it, except the precept of a sacred book, such as the Bible to the Jew and Christian, and the Koran to the Mahometan. The Jew, the Christian, and the Maboinetan, are the only sects, or only people within my knowledge, who observe the rite. And with the Christians, ,
it has been long confined to Abyssinia, with the exception of what your sect has begun to do in this country. In Abyssinia, the Christian females submit to a kind of circumcision of some part of their pudenda; but what part I do not know: avd so powerful is the custom, that marriage itself is not more desired by them than the custom of circumcision. It is a preliminary to marriage; and the male would not marry an uncircumcised female; nor would a female marry an uncircumcised male. And like every other powerful religious prejudice, death on either side would be preferred to an uncircumcised marriage. The Jews observe the rite of circumcision, on the male infant only, on the eighth day after birth : the Mahometans on the male only at the age of puberty, or about thirteen years of age: and the Abyssinian Christian, on both male and female, at the age of puberty or the marriageable age. You, the followers of Johanna Southcote, seem to have adopted the Bible custom of circumcising infants; though, to make up for past neglects, like Abraham, the men of your sect have not shrunk from it even in their old age!
As the original purpose of circumcision is not now known, I presume that there is no criterion as to the quantity of the foreskin circumcised, whether the smallest possible quantity, so as a complete circumcision be made, or the largest possible quantity, without wounding any other part of the penis. Infants generally have what is called a filbert prepuce, and anatomists know, that such is the case, though rarely, with
An ignorant barbarous people might have fancied, that, in the infant, it was an impediment to the passage of the water. loflammation of the prepuce might have actually caused an abstruction, and thus have led to the practice of circumcision; as important and very extensive matters often or generally grow out of individual incidents. One of two motives seem to be the most probable; either tbat the circumcision of the prepuce was considered a safeguard against pain, or a means of increasing pleasure in venery. Venery was a matter much more openly considered, commanded and practised formerly, in certain of the most civilized uations, than at present: and a chief part both of male and female education was, the highest state of pleasure to be derived from it. This was perfect wisdom, as far as it went, and the acme of civilization. Since Christianity has been introduced, or where it has been introduced, venery has been pronounced a religious criine, save to a privileged few, beyond the marriage state: and hypocrisy and disease, or in
other words, both moral and physical disease have been the consequence. But the most skilful of physicians ever have and ever will commend the practice, at proper intervals, as an excitement and secretion as essential to health as any other kind of exercise and secretion of the body.
We cannot change our natures without destroying them; nor can we enjoy sound health without attending to every call wbich nature makes on our bodies; therefore, it becomes positively criminal, to abstain from that which is alike natural and wholesome: for all are interested in the greatest possible amount of health and happiness.
But I have not the least idea that circumcision can increase the pleasure of venery; for, wherever there be soundness of body, there is nothing superfluous. I am a perfect naturalist, and for leaving every thing in its healthy and patural state. But I can conceive the possibility, in a state of filth or disease, of circumcision being useful, and only useful in lessening the evils of filth and disease wbich are concomitant. This is a natural consideration of the subject, wbich I now quit, to consider it in a religious point of view as your
And here I shall seek no authority, but that of the Bible; but that of the very book which I am punished for not respecting, and you are punished for respecting too nicely. . And before I have done, I rather think, that an inference will present itself, beyond your complete justification, that there is something connected with the Bible more than its precepts, which the Bible Society men and women seek to support.
Had circumcision been taught by the pretended author of the Bible, or the Bible God Jehovab, he would of course have commenced the rite with his first man Adam: though there were then veither sharp knives por sharp stones in existence: and further, that either Jehovah, Eve, or Adam bimself, nust have been the operator. The truth is, that the rite did not commence until there was a congregation of fools to support a priest. We find no mention of it in the Bible, until we come to the life of Abraham. At the 17th chap. of Genesis, ver. 10, it is thus introduced, Jehovah speaking:
“ This is my covenant which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. And
shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you. And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of