« AnteriorContinuar »
to have been thus: the Jews were scattered throughout the Grecian Provinces, and were always talking about their Messiah or Jesus: the Greeks bad their Christs of many characters, so that a fable was at length established, which sougbt to unite both Jews and Grecians under the religion of a Jesus Christ. The first, a name to wile the Jews, the second, the Greeks. It succeeded with the Grecians, but wholly failed with the Jews, who had no evidence that such scenes as the Gospels describe ever passed in their country.
It scarcely becomes me to notice your controversy with the Trinitarians. I see that you have the advantage of them, inasmuch as their absurdity in relation to yours is three fold more absurd.
But I see also, that you award me precisely the treatment wbich you complain of receiving from them: and, I believe, for the very same reason, for the want of fair argument wherewith to sustain your cause against me: men are all alike, allowing for their different situations in life, and a little for difference in education.
You have asked me to explain, how it is physically impossible for a man, who has discovered error in a system, to go back and still be ignorant of that error. It is physically inpossible upon the principle, that miod is nothing more than a compound of sensations, and sensations are as a first principle wholly physical. I see your quibble : you consider that it would be better if I had said morally impossible; but I still say physically impossible, as the more 'correct and more forcible expression. The difference between the words moral and physical is more a distinction made by consent than one existing in reality. It is, in fact, a distinction without a real difference. Physics is another term for nature or the operations of maiier, and you cannot, in the definition of the word moral, go beyond saying, that it is also a certain operation of matter. Physics, as a word, embraces the word moral. There, Sir, is more metaphysical matter for you to quibble upon; for I know that you dare not touch what I have said about your one God, or about your son of God, or about your enemy of God, the Devil.
What you have said about free discussion in your conference is, I am informed, correct: that is, free, so far as a debate can be carried on upon a question which you shall appoint. Will you allow a materialist to appoint a question for debate? If so, let it be this: “Do we find intelligence to exist beyond the animal world? Is it a result of animated matter, or does it produce that matter as a result ?” This will be coming to a point of the greatest importance to all
mankind. This is the poiut for debate in which all the Gods and Devils and Spirits and Priests will be overtbrown. I will make any sensible man an Atheist in one hour, by discussing that question with him.
There remains but one point unnoticed. I asserted that the Petition for a cessation of prosecution towards antichristians, presented to Parliament last year, did not emanate from a council of Christians. I might have gone too far; but as yet I am not certain, soon after my letter to you was published, a gentleman came to my shop in London, to say, that Mr. Fox, the Unitarian, was the author of the petition. It might have been so: and still might not have emanated from a council of Christians. You may be assured, that I did not speak upon such a point in total ignorance of the matter. The history or what I know of the matter is this.
It was announced to me long before the Parliament met last year, that Mr. Hame was about to bring my case and the question of free discussion before the House of Commons in a very imposing manner. This at least was not a Christian communication to me, for no Christian has ever put a question to me as to my treatment in this place, or upon any natter connected with the persecutions I have received, unless Mr. Hume claims the honour of being a Christian. What was done with the petition of myself and sister is fairly before the public : but it will be also recollected, that Mr. Hume bad a motion entered upon the Jouruals for the broad question of free discussion. This motion was shuffled from time to time, until near the close of the Session, when I learnt, that a Christian petition was to be substituted. So that, if the petition did really emanate from a council of Christians, of which I still say that I have my doubts, it came forth for the purpose of superseding a more important matter. But Mr. Hume did present the petition, and did say something upon the subject of free discussion; but the matter ended as a complete botch. Mr. Hume either did not understand or was afraid of the subject. A member of Parliament had better be silent upon this subject until he is prepared to call for free discussion upon the ground that the truth of Christianity is debateable. The Parliament as a body, is, in fact, a century behind the body of the people in knowledge And the few of that body who do know a little more than the others are afraid to put forth that knowledge. Instead of representing the collected sense of the nation, our Parliament represents the collected ignorance and folly. A really bold, honest, and intelligent man would drive old Eldon
mad, or out of office, in a mouth, if he were placed in the House of Commous. I will say for myself
, that, if I were a member of the Parliament, I would broach every sublect there precisely upon the ground which I take in - The Republican.” Something of this kind would soon bring the country to its senses. At present, the evils by which we are afflicted, are all played and trifled with, or treated as if they were the sacred relics of our ancestors which superstition forbids us to disturb. This is the feeling existing at present in Parliament, at any rate, and this is the reason that no more good is there done.
If I bear any thing more of you, Mr. Harris in the course of 1825, I shall be glad to hear, that you have grown bold and honest enough to renounce Christianity and your one God altogether. Then we shall be fellows: until then, I remain towards you, I know not what, neither a friend nor an enemy.
TO MR. R. CARLILE, DORCHESTER GAOL.
November 25, 1824. You and I, it seems, must continue our friendly dispute a little longer. You say—“ In support of my former conclusion, I would ask F. if there be any real difference in preventing an individual from earning six pounds a year, and in taking that sum from him in taxes, if earned." I say there is no difference. But, I say also, that your question does not apply to my argument. The argument in my letter was this. The whole sum that can be paid in wagęs is a certain sum, and no more. If I lay out my capital to grow corn, or to make cloth, or to make books as you do, I or you, expect to make profit by it, if we did not, we should neither make cloth, nor corn, nor books. The capital with which corn is made, consists of the use of land as the machine, the seed, the implements, such as ploughs and horses, &c. and of money, or money's worth to pay wages. Soin making cloth or books, 1 or you, lay out our capital in materials and wages; and when the corn or the cloth, or the books, are ready for market, we expect the cloth, or the corn, or the books, will sell or exchange for as much of such things as we want as will pay taxes, replace the capital expended, the wages paid, and leave a profit. Now if the rate of profit be ten per cent, we shall get back again the capital we expended in materials and wages, and ten per cent for its use. This is the
true principle of all trading, whether in the large way or in the small way, whether in making corn, and sheep, and bullocks, or in making cloth or books.' If then, I have laid out £100. in seed and wages to make corn, or £100. in wool and wages to make cloth, and you have laid out £100. in paper and wages to make a book, we shall each of us expect to get £10. clear profit, and my corn, and my cloth, and your books will have equal value in exchange; will, in fact, exchange one for the other. Let us for example say, the corn for seed, land, implements, &c. cost £60. wages £40., my produce must sell for £110.; the sum of £100. must replace the money expended, and I must have £10. for profit. So in the case of cloth making or book making. But besides this, there are say five pounds on every hundred pounds to be paid in taxes, and the tax is levied on the corn, and the cloth, and the books, not in a lump; upon me, and upon you, but in detail on the several articles which are consumed by us, as is really the case. I shall have, and so will you have, to pay a proportion of this tax on whatever we consume, and so it is said, will the man who receives wages, he will have to pay from his wages, taxes on what he consumes, just as we have to pay taxes from our profits. The tax-eater will take from him some portion of his necessaries or comforts, and his wages will consequently enable him to buy so much less by the amount of the taxes than he would buy but for these taxes, just as my profit will enable me to purchase less than but for the taxes I should buy. This you will admit is a fair statement. Now then for its application. I asserted that the labourer who received no more wages than would keep soul and body together, paid no taxes. This I again repeat. In every bundred pounds expended, forty pounds are supposed to be paid in wages, suppose this sum to be paid to ten families, and that too for so small a quantity of labour, that each of them has not only necessaries but many comforts, they will then be taxed in every article they consume or purchase which is taxed. They will pay taxes. Suppose the ten families to consist of forty persons, and instead of remaining forty persons, they increase to fifteen families consisting of sixty persons.
What now will be the consequence? What but this, that there will be sixty persons to do the work of forty, and sixty persons to live on the wages of forty; all will be reduced to poverty and misery. It is quite clear, that ! who make cloth or corn with my hundred pounds, or you who make books with your hundred pounds, will not pay more wages merely because there are more people. You or I may continue to pay forty pounds as wages, but no more.
In real life, it happens that people do produce sixty to do the work of forty; or so many more than are necessary to do the work wanted to be done, that they bid against one another and reduce each others wages-and the numbers sixty and forty may be taken to represent the case, as well as any other numbers. . Here there
are sixty to receive the wages of forty; suppose them all to be employed, each is reduced to two thirds of the wages he would otherwise receive. If two thirds will just furnish enough to keep soul and body together, the taxes will be shifted from the whole of the labourers and thrown upon their employers, and this too in spite of all the employers can do to prevent it. But in practice it is found that all are not employed-some remain idle and are paid from the poor rates, some receive part of their subsistence from those who employ them, and the remainder froin the poor rates. Thus the forty pounds wages is still paid, partly under the name of wages, and partly under the name of poor rates. It is only another mode, under another name, of paying the forty pounds, which were there fewer hands, would be paid under the name of wages. When labourers are thus reduced, by their own imprudent increase of numbers, to a bare subsistence, they can be reduced no lower, they are not allowed by law to perish, but must be fed, without any regard to the amount of taxes levied by the Government. In the case given as an example, forty pounds will just keep them in existence and no more, and the tax on forty pounds being two pounds, must be paid by others. Take off the tax, still the labourer must have the same quantity he had while the tax remained. Double the tax the labourer must still have the same quantity, he cannot live and propagate his race upon a smaller quantity, he must then still have his quantity let who will pay the taxes. There can be no more than forty pounds paid in wages; and if the people breed on and actually produce more children than forty pounds will provide with the means of existence, the allowance will be so small, that the children will not get as much food as will enable them all to be reared, and “ the weakest will go to the wall:" that is, they will die of various diseases, and the numbers will be brought down and kept down to that which forty pounds will enable to live, no more can exist. As however capital accumulates, that is, as fast as savings are made, room is made for more and more people. Every hundred pounds saved, allows of forty pounds being expended in wages, and by the supposition forty persons might be employed and receive such wages as would afford them all a comfortable maintenance. But if while the hundred pounds is saving, sixty instead of forty persons are produced, then, although the accumulation will benefit those who have saved it by enabling them to get profit; it will not benefit the people, because instead of
producing forty persons, who might be employed at good wages, they have produced sixty persons to be half starved on bad wages. Those who really mean well to the working people, must not deceive them, but must tell them truths, however unwelcome these truths may be to them. No subject is of half so much importance to them as that of population. No remedy for poverty and all its ills, no remedy for ignorance, slavery, vices, and crimes, can be