Imágenes de páginas

cious, your Memorialist, having previously adopted an extra-experimental belief, that unnatural restraint was the cause of misery, and that natural freedom was the only remedy, resolved on the expedient of putting it to the test of experiment, the result of which has been, thougir bringing bonds on himself, a promise of success exceeding his most sanguine expectations.

Your Memorialist is anxious to impress upon the minds of your Lordships, that throughout his career of writing, printing, and publishing, he has acted upon his own ideas, without submitting to the least instigation by any one person, or without receiving any kind of private support, and to the best of his knowledge he has studiously kept in the broad and open path of morality, always seeking to act in ihe face of day, and with a willingness that his every action should be known. He alludes to this circumstance, with a hope of dispersing any idea that may exist of his having been instigated or supported by any other persons who lay concealed, as the assertion has been falsely and publicly made that your Memorialist is supported by the talents, the influence, and the wealth of others. He assures your Lordships that he quitted his former occupation as a mechanic in the month of April, 1817, from no other than his owo mental suggestions, for the sole purpose of establishing and working a free printing press.

Almost at his first attempt, or in the month of August of the same year, Memorialist was arrested on three Judges' warrants, at the suit of the Attorney-General, and thrown into the King's Bench Prison, where he lay for eighteen werks, and then liberated without trial or without redress; still continuing, through the means of his wife and servant, the sale of the pamphlets for which he had been arrested and confined.

Throughout the year 1818 Memorialist still continued publishing the same and similar pamphlets unmolested; but on the moment of his producing more important publications, he was again immediately proceeded against in ex-officio informations by his Majesty's Attorney-General, and in a two-fold measure, by the interference of a Society calling itself an Association for the Suppression of Vice.

True to his purpose (the interests of morality and human happiness, to the best of his knowledge and belief) Memorialist persevered in the sale of his publications, and in as many new productions as his ineans would admit; whilst in the course of the year 1819, he was five times arrested, cast into four different prisons, and had five times to procure excessive bail.

Being brought into the Court of King's Bench on a pretence of trial, your Memorialist was informed by the Lord Chief Justice, that the Common Law would not allow him to justify what he had done, whatever were the truths of his publications or the nature and extent of his justifications; because a part of the law called Christianity was in question and opposed to them. This decision was made and supported by the Lord Chief Justice Abbott, which deprived your Memorialist of a moral and effectual defence, in justifying his conduct

by the truth and importance of the opinions he had published. The inference of this decision was, that the Common Law did not distinguish between truth and falsehood, but that it would protect Christianity even if it could be overthrown as a system by argument and truth.

Upon this doctrine of the Common Law, solemnly and seriously laid down by the Chief Justice, two successive Juries returned verdicts of Guilty against your Memorialist, and he was consequently brought up for the judgment of the Court, on the 16th day of November, 1819, when, in one case he was sentenced to two years imprisonment in this Gaol of Dorchester, and to pay a fine of one thousand pounds; in the other to a further imprisonment of one year, and a further fine of five hundred pounds; two excessive fines for a man with a family, who had been struggling with adversity and difficulties from bis youth, and who had never acquired any other property than a good stock in trade by his industry and exertions. But further than this, every attempt to distress and ruin your

Memorialist was made. Immediately on the two sentences being passed, a writ of levari facius was issued by the same Judges, and all the property belonging to Memorialist, in his dwelling house, 55, Fleet Street, was seized on account of those fines, within four hours of the sentence being passed; his shop was shut up, and business stopped for six weeks; when a removal of goods from the house was made on the twenty-fourth day of December, and the wife and infant children of Memorialist, one of them only three weeks old, would have perished for want, without food, without beds, in the midst of winter, if frugality had not enabled Memorialist to preserve a small quantity of cash to keep the house habitable for them, and to pay for his own furniture.

His stock in trade, a full equivalent for his two fines, was removed from the house: no sale has been made, nor any account given to Memorialist of its situation or application from that day to this, whilst the neglect to sell has caused an excuse to be left open for a second seizure of such further stock in trade as Memorialist had accumulated in two years afterwards; which has gone the same way, and has left bim, in regard to paying his fines, in the same situation as if no property had been taken from him; whilst these very severe losses have left him no kind of property whatever, save and except such stock in trade as he has again been able to accumulate.

The inference which Memorialist draws, and which he wishes your Lordships to draw from this statement is, that as his three years' imprisonment will expire on the 16th day of November instant, which he was sentenced to fill out in this gaol, he will on that day have suffered more than his sentences from his Judge's warrant. He calculates, at a moderate computation, that the seizure of his property at two distinct periods, and shutting him out a full year from his house in Fleet Street, have been a loss to him exceeding five thousand pounds. The neglect of a formal payment of his fines cannot be justly viewed as a default on the part of your Memorialist,

because his prosecutors, his Judges, and the Sheriffs, who bave acted under their directions, have successfully sought to deprive him of all Ineaus of paying them; he therefore appeals to the justice of your Lordships to be freed from any further demands on account of his fines, and that he pass free from this prison, after entering into the recognizances required by his warrant, at the expiration of his three years imprisonment.

RICHARD CARLILE. Dorchester Gaol, Nov. 6, 1822.


London, Nov. 5, year 1822, of

Christian Delusion. FRIEND, AND INFLEXIBLE ADVOCATE OF TRUTH I ADDRESS you thus in the cordial language of warm sincerity, because, although if applied to almost any other cotemporary writer it would be but the mere insipid verbosity of unmeaning flattery; the integrity of your mind and principles, must aloue receive it as an honest tribute of merited respect.

I bave long felt anxious personally to testify the grateful admiration your writings and the courageous honesty with which you have maintained their promulgation, hare impressed me. In the days of our great founder of political principle, Thomas Paine, it was his fate, as an English writer, to have stood nearly alone in au undisguised warfare against the oppressions of theological and Kingly despots; the mighty influences engendered in the moral world by his all-convincing pen, would be in our time but right to noticebut it is not among the least iniportant consequences of the intellectual labours of that great man; that you it would seem are destined to the glorious task of accelerating to an extent perhaps as great and at present single banded too, this happy work of human amelioration, I shall endeavour to shew, by an appeal to facts, that this is not an · ill-founded anticipation. Looking then, with the most attentive ob

servation consequent upon a wish to learn, into the noisy world of politics, amidst the immensity of writings and speakings that every where continually assail us, what is the amount of new light we perceive in the science of political economy-or what the satisfaction from the developement of sound principles? the answer is clearly obvious, and the reasons are various and plausible: the most plausible and defencible as regards writers is, the many vexatious limitations with which the general Press is fettered, and perbaps the moral mischief of a restricted press is more widely extended by the fostering encouragement it gives to the birth and preservation of every prejudice, than in its power of restraint over the appearance of new and established truths: but although we can excuse and even sym

pathise with those virtuous minds who liave not, like Richard Carlile, the courage to immolate themselves by a publication of their honest convictions, and are therefore silent--what shall we say of those professors of all kinds, but particularly of those, professors of intellectual and social einancipation, who under the suffrage of a well earned popularity on some one particular subject, are seen so often catering to the vulgar passions and prejudices of ignorance, or flattering the still more inveterate prejudices of aristocratic power. A las! we can only say that, in the present semibarbarous state of civilization, the support of prejudice is a trade of profit either to the purse, or to personal vanity; and thus at a view we have a satisfactory insight into the causes why writers and speakers of really honest principles are so very few: but while the certain indications of the character and aims of these designing traders in Prejudice will ever be found abstractedly, in the continually changing inconsistencies of the opinions they disseminate and the causes they embrace-yet it not unfrequently happens from the plausible sincerity evinced on certain just occasions where self-inteterest is not endangered, or not perceived by the lookers on, that such characters have so far gained the unsuspecting confidence of the honest and unwary, as to erect themselves into the oracles and as it were the dictators of public opinion; and too often, unfortunately, this spell of delusion has not been broken, until an open betrayal of the cause has at once unveiled the deceiver and sacrificed the deceived! These latter reflections are obtruded on my mind by the recollection in particular of the manly expositions of your coirespondent Mr. Brayshaw, who has convincingly shewn both the danger and absurdity of resorting, for the advance of a good cause, to a dependance on individuals for leaders, or on secret committees for wisdom or honesty:-and although I would impress this general truth on the minds of every one in society as one of the most vital importance to the security of their liberties, still I trust, by upholding your individual character pot as a leader, but as a model truly worthy of imitation, I shall both free myself from a charge of paradox, and fully substantiate the opinion I have assumed of your individual usefulness. What then are the marked peculiarities entitling you, Sir, to this distinction over your cotemporary writers of the periodical press - and in fact, with a few honourable exceptions, over most other writers? what is it but that you love truth sincerely, and being profoundly convinced of its indispensible necessity to human wellbeing, you seek in the active spirit of social benevolence, to extend its exalting immunities, with a courage which bids defiance to the machinations of bigotted misrepresentation, and to the heaviest persecutions of tyranvic power: when we cannot but remark that the only direct tendency of most public writings on theology and Government, is to corrupt or lo deceive - having in pursuit merely the object of promoting the notions, the passions, and the interests of partypolitics, or the petty dogmas of party superstition—and while even in those writings, assuming to be liberal and enlightenened, we too gene

[ocr errors]

rally find either much compromising with received opinions and ageclothed errors, or a great predilection for favourite systems to which our implicit accordance is confidently demanded; we turn with increased satisfaction to your pages to contemplate the strength, the honesty and freedom of a mind that can at once discard every preconceived attachment to unexamined opinion; and while, like the original powers of a Paine, it creates and developes, in the passion of integrity, indubitable truths, it seeks their establishment only in the most unlimited freedom of open discussion :—this it is which constitutes one of your peculiarly striking claims to superiority:you do not demand our belief to this or that proposition, but while convincing, you ask us to reason and challenge our opposition,superior even to the exclusive bias which a zeal for truth will sometimes inspire, you love truth only so long as it cannot be proved error. For this it is, I repeat, I would hold you up to all who write to do good, as an original for emulation, and yet still more for the enthusiastic anxiety you liave exhibited to extend the blessings of moral and political light among those classes of society, whom their tyrants ignorantly conceive theniselves interested in keeping in darknessthose classes whose situations would be the most influenced and improved by a change of systems, because at all times suffering most under oppressions; I mean the middling and labouring, or the great buik of ilie community,—by extending correct sentiments amongst these, and by entering into the proceedings and schemes that have been in different places agitated among them, and by unmasking the hypocrisy, selfishness, and evil tendency of these schemes, your labours have achieved the greatest advantages, and have done more towards the permanent advancement of rational liberty than any other, the most boasting and boasted of periodical writer of the present day*, and have unequivocally earned for you the admiration and respect of every unprejudiced virtuous beart. The Machiavelian may affect to sneer at the assertion, (this, by the way, is a being in the circle of intelligence the most dishonest and contemptible, who despising for himself the tyrannous influences of prejudice, yet dares to assert them to be necessary means of Government) but I have no hesitation in declaring that I see the most fattering encouragement to the pure progress of human regeneration, in the continued increase of subscribers to the discharge of your nefarious fines-Yes, I see in the

very fact of your subscription lists being made up for the most part of the hard-earned mites of honest industry, the most cheering assurance of ultimate success, although I much fear they will prove inadequate to the proposed end of securing your liberation-unless co-operatively assisted by some considerable supply from the more

To this I feel justice and gratitude demand one illustrious exception to be made, for a journal whose undeviating consistency in combating for the individual and collective rights of man, and for every attempt that could better his heart and extend his happiness, has been unimpeachably conspicuous from its first establishment to the present time.-I need scarcely say, I mean the Sunday Examiner.

« AnteriorContinuar »