Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

ings, and works of a similar character. He would be bold enough to declare that, but for the dissemination of such writings they never should have beheld the establishment of Institutions for the promotion of Science and Literature. These Institutions he considered to be calculated to conduce to the happiness of all. Schools of liberal education, and societies like the Mechanics Institute, would teach the people not to bow down their heads to the aristocracy; but as they were better informed, men would now learn, not the trash that had been taught in his infancy, but science and literature: they professed the exclusiou of no particular creed or sect, but were open to all for one common good, not alone for the present, but for future generations.

A song from the opera of Kais was then sung, and the following toast given.-" Speedy Independence to the Greeks, and the cause of liberty all over the world."

The CHAIRMAN then proposed, as the sixth toast, "Robert Owen. We admire his perseverance in his career of humanity and generosity."

MR. CARLILE next gave, "The Female Republicans-their presence would have added grace to our company." He said, he had expected that the ladies would have been invited to attend their meeting; some of the stewards, however, were against such invitation; but he saw no reason why ladies should not attend public dinner parties. He hoped next year they should have the company of the ladies also. The toast had been framed so as to take the sense of the company upon the subject; and their reception of it would decide the matter.

It was drank with great applause, which seems to say. The Female Republicans should be present."

The Rev. R. TAYLOR gave the succeeding toast:-" The states of America-may their Republicanism extinguish their superstition." He was called upon to propose this toast, he supposed, because he felt Republicanism most fatal to superstition. Both could not exist together; Republicanism must destroy superstition, or superstition would beat down Republicanism. But there was something singular in the furniture of the room of a place that had been devoted to loyal and royal purposes; and when he elevated his eyes, grimmer objects presented themselves to his view. -The Royal Coat of Arms appeared in the cornice directly over Mr. Carlile's head. The Lion looked rugged and amazed, and seemed growling out, as he looked down on the person beneath him, "Good God! is it Richard Carlile!" while Mr. Carlile seemed to heed not the Royal Animal-not setting his mind on " things above." Then there was the fastidious Unicorn which, like those morning and evening publications, the Post and the Courier, looked askance and pretended not to see who was there. He trusted that Mr. Carlile would continue to confine and narrow his views to scenes below, and not regard the monsters over his

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

135

head. He could not but imagine that the Royal Lion scowled
upon that true republican their Chairman. Happy was it for
that individual that he did not set his mind on such things, nor
fear the tremendous monster of royalty that frowned over his

head.

The CHAIRMAN then proposed, "The Republicans of Hayti: may the neighbouring islanders become equally independent.'

The CHAIRMAN then said that a new daily paper had recently appeared, which was said to be countenanced by a portion of his Majesty's Ministers, not those under the Eldon influence, but the liberal part of the Cabinet, and which, as it advocated the principles of Paine, by upholding the representative against the monarchical system, he considered was entitled to their favourable consideration, and concluded with the following sentiment:-"The Representative Newspaper; if an organ of any portion of the Ministry, we hail their approach to the principles of Thomas Paine.'

Mr. TAYLOR proposed, "Protestant as well as Catholic Emancipation." He said he had suggested this toast to the stewards, and he now came forward to state the grounds on which he did so, it had been his happiness, he said, to reside some years in Ireland, among that amiable but unhappy, virtuous but deluded people. The emancipation they called for was only at the instance of priests and demagogues, but the emancipation that he (Mr. Taylor) would give them, should be from a wicked priesthood. He had left his heart among them, but not his judgment. His heart was in accordance with Irish sympathies; he might say that he left his heart, not his judgment, in Ireland; and he could bear testimony that there was not in the world a more amiable character than a real Irish gentleman. But on the other hand, the Turk, the Arab of the Desert, was superior to the Irish Priest. However,

"He is the Freeman whom the Truth makes free;
All the rest are Slaves."

It was in vain to give the precious pearl, unless there was fitness for the wearing of it. There must be the sentiment of the toast realized.

The twelfth toast on the stewards list was:-" The
Rousseau and Voltaire; of Diderot and D'Holbach.

memory of

that
In rising to propose the thirteenth toast, the Chairman said,
it had been made a question, which was the more useful man—
Thomas Paine, or Benjamin Franklin ; but as all were aware, that
they were both useful men, they would drink with equal pleasure
to" The memory of Benjamin Franklin and Elihu Palmer."

On rising to propose the fourteenth toast, the Chairman desired
the company not to be surprised at what was coming. They

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

had one clergyman of the established church in the room, and he was about to toast the memories of two others :

"The memory of TINDAL, TOLAND, and ANNETT: of the Archbishop TILLOTSON and Dr. CONYERS MIDDLETON; of BYRON and SHELLEY; and of all Englishmen who have written to the end of human improvement!"

The Reverend ROBERT TAYLOR passed an eulogium on the names mentioned, and called upon all friends to labour with him in the redemption of mankind from superstition.

The CHAIRMAN then gave the two following sentiments :-"The memory of all others who have laboured for the improvement of mind," and "Universal Benevolence," the latter of which he said was intended to represent the principles of Paine.

About half past ten o'clock, the toasts having been gone through, the Rev. Mr. Taylor proposed a vote of thanks to the Chairman, for his conduct in the Chair; which, when assented to, Mr. Carlile rose and observed:-" That he feared many persons had come there with a hope of hearing him detail his connection with, and sufferings for, the writings and principles of Mr. Paine. He should have been happy to have done it, and really felt a desire to do it; but, at the same time, a disqualification to do it as he could have wished to have done it. A tact for good public speaking was only to be acquired by experience, or that sort of experience which arose from practice. It was well known to the company that his late situation had precluded him from that practice. He felt, at that moment, all those defects and difficulties which a want of social intercourse generated; but, he hoped, in the course of another year, to meet them better qualified for the task of addressing them. For the present he bad them farewell and a good night."

This apology was well received, and seemed to give satisfaction as a reasonable matter. The company dispersed; and never did one assemble in that tavern which conducted itself with more decorum, or more intelligence. Even the Spencean did not disturb the harmony of the company. He was borne with and smiled at; but not reproached.

Thus ended the first celebration of the birth-day of Thomas Paine at the City of London Tavern: and we hope that it will be the first of many, each to be an improvement on the former.

The speech of the Rev. Mr. Taylor in giving the "States of America, &c. ;" and also that after "The Memories of Tindal, &c." were imperfectly reported. Each possessed its peculiar beauties and force which no reporter could describe, no painter delineate. The Reverend Gentleman is greatest in effect, where he speaks without preparation. I use the word Reverend, as a matter of courtesy, as I find the Reverend Gentleman va

lues, for more reasons than one, every distinction of the Clergyman of the Established Church, save the one of preaching falsehood. Here he declares that his call from the Holy Ghost is irresistible to the preaching of the truth.

R. C.

WHERE OR WHAT IS THE "VAGRANT ACT."

WHILE shut up in the Gaol, I read much in the Newspapers about the severity of the new vagrant act, about the imputation of indecency to decent young men and women, and about the danger of any kind of relief to the pressing necessities of the body within the sight of another person: so that, on returning to London, I expected to find, if not a new set of people, a new set of manners, and all clean and comfortable. But Mr. Peel's new act seems to be a vagrant act indeed; for it seems to have wandered from London. I see the same sort of people as I left in London, the same little and even great filthinesses, the same rudeness of manners, the same indecencies and even puppet-shows paraded through the streets. The filth and filthy manners of the bulk of the labouring people of London are bad enough to require legislative correction for the welfare of those who desire to be clean; but the sufferance of a puppet-show, marks the lingering ignorance and bad taste of the age. These things are Christian,and are at least as old as Christianity. They are a part of the juggling tricks by which idle and ignorant people are wheedled out of their pence. The miracles of Christianity and other religions began in this manner. Certain vagabonds wandered about to fairs, markets, spectacles, &c. collecting crowds of people and pretending to work miracles, tell fortunes and so on, to excite the grimace and wonder of vacant minded persons, and to empty their pockets of the fruits of their labour. The trick of miracle working was at length monopolized by the priests, and the vagrants were confined to the exhibition of puppets, to the performing of plays, and to those pieces of nonsense which carry no preternatural pretensions with them. Hence the continuation of puppet shows, and hence those exploits of Punch and Judy and the Devil which even now disgrace the streets of London, collecting crowds and making apprentices and servants waste their time. A vagrant act is necessary for the correction of this evil-a greater evil in my view, than any kind of attention to the calls of the body in the public streets, or even than any kind of exposure of the person can possibly be.

Many of the fairs in the neighbourhood of London have been wisely suppressed; but if one part of them be suppressed; if the

collection of nonsense and idleness at a fair be improper, it is surely improper that such scenes should be daily parading our

streets.

It must be a child or a fool, that can laugh at the exploits of Punch, &c. and the attention excited to such exhibitions must be drawn from more useful pursuits. I have this day seen above one hundred men, women and children collecting about one of these nuisances, and Punch worshipped with as much veneration as is bestowed upon his brother gods. A dreadful howl is set up about my exhibition of the picture of one of the gods in my window; but no one sees any impropriety or nuisance in Punch's performances, and in a representation of the devil defied by him. My print is meant to instruct, to drive the minds of my fellow citizens from a resting upon such idle phantoms; but what is meant by the tricks of a Punch, his wife and the devil? These things have been the offspring and the concomitants of Christianity they abound where Christianity abounds, and are the tickling nonsense necessary to dispel the gloom of more solemn nonsense. All the Catholic countries abound with such nonsense; but it is high time that it was expelled from London, and that such nuisances be not allowed to be exhibited in our streets. The exploits of Punch are those of trick and brutality, and the existence of such scenes is alike a disgrace to the legislature and the magistracy.

R. C.

TRANSUBSTANTIATION,

OR THE REAL PRESENCE IN THE SACRAMENT EXPLAINED.

This hitherto mysterious problem, which for more than two hundred years has been, and which still continues to the present day, a subject of dispute, has caused the sacrifice of thousands of lives. It is however, a very true doctrine, and, although misunderstood, or perverted to another meaning, will, when explained, shew that its original author was a good physiologist, and well understood the doctrine of nature. The real meaning of it is this:

Mankind are composed entirely of what they eat and drink, and nothing more. By the operations of nature, a part of their bodies return daily to the earth and helps to produce vegetation, which supports both man and beast. Every man therefore is constantly in the habit of eating, not only a part of the vegetable and brute creation, but also a part of his own species, and even a part of himself!

A good naturalist, then, would say to his disciples, when ye eat this bread, my friends, ye eat my body, and when ye drink, ye drink my blood, for I am composed wholly of victuals and drink, and nothing else: not a particle of any other thing is in my body which daily returns to the earth, and whenever ye eat and drink from the earth, therefore, ye eat and drink a part of me, or the element of which I am, or have been composed: and

« VorigeDoorgaan »