Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

asserted, that from the time of the destruction of Jerusalem to the predominance of the Christian religion under the Roman Emperors; we have no history of Jerusalem." This I disproved, and to this no reply. You ascribe the fabrication of Christianity to some Grecian fabulist. I asked for his name, his motives, his residence, and to this no reply. You said he could make converts, because no body could contradict him. This was exploded, and to this no reply. I argued, that your fabulist could most easily have been convicted-and to this no reply. You assimilated the Chistianity of Origen to your own. This you were challenged to establish, and to this no reply. I proved from Pliny's letter that, Christianity and Christians must have existed, several years before you permitted them to see the light, and to this no reply. I inquired how Tacitus could be guilty of so great an anachronism, as to speak of Christians in Rome, fifty or sixty years before, according to you, they actually existed, and to this no reply. You affirmed that public records were very rare at the time when Tacitus wrote. The contrary was established by historical proofs: and to this no reply. I exhibited in your observations a specimen of a syllogism, not to be found in Aristotle, or in the dictates of Common Sense, and to this no reply. You affirmed that the earliest record of Christianity, was the letter of Pliny. This point was called in question; and to this no reply. You asserted that Pliny, "by his own confession," knew nothing of the Christians before he came into Asia Minor. You were challenged to produce that confession, and the confession is not forthcoming.

You were charged with falsifying historical documents, and you confess an error of memory. These, Sir, I take to be so many concessions in my favour made by yourself; how far they authorize a triumph, I will not say. They never would have been noticed by me, had you not been so anxious to produce a conviction on the minds of your readers, that you had "triumphantly refuted" me, I should have been content to leave them to avail what they might in the general discussion, but when a man strives to gain a victory by loud shouting rather than by meeting difficulties; the claims of truth require that the hollowness of the sound should be exposed.

86

To disprove the real existence of Jesus Christ was your avowed object, in your paper, addressed to the "silly, Sir Knight." If then each and every of your proofs," therein contained, has been exploded, your attempt is abortive. How far this has been done, I leave to the decision of the public. I scorn the attempt to purchase their verdict by shouting victory, victory! Upon every position you have taken which related to the grand question, I have, I believe, met you with facts and arguments; of the effects produced, I know but little; sub judice lis est, and I appeal from your decision to Cæsar.

J. R. BEARD.

Concluding Note.-Though Mr. Beard has written extensively, and in some instances successfully, on some small disputable matters that have been advanced by the Reverend Mr. Taylor and myself, he has done nothing, he can do nothing, towards shaking those master-conclusions of ours, that Christianity did not originate in Judea, that such a person as the Jesus Christ of the Gospels did not there or elsewhere exist, and that the story on which that existence and Christianity is founded is a fable. I will yield to him all that he asks or demands, as to the contents of Pliny's Letter to Trajan, and say to him—now proceed beyond it with any thing like evidence or authority.

The evidences on which Christianity must stand or fall are twofold—those histori

THE REPUBLICAN.

cal and those physical. Whatever you produce in history to support a wonderful tale will avail nothing unless it be also supported by present physical probabilities or analogies. Time will assuredly wear out the former, as time is wearing out Christianity; but time cannot wear out the latter, nor can time change them. If Christianity be disputable on physical grounds, (and it is so,) no historical ground can support its present pretensions; not even the modest ones of the Unitarians, who will consent to have a Jesus Christ as a mere man. torical grounds, and it is so, no physical grounds can be adduced to maintain its If it be disputable on hislarger pretensions.

If I have not combatted all the trifiing cavils of Mr. Beard, it is because I felt the matter beneath my purpose, and had neither time nor space in my publication for it. I feel assured that I need no excuses upon the subject, as my chief position is unassailable; but my peculiar situation for all literary or editorial purposes, from my liberation from Dorchester Gaol up to this time, cannot be seen by others as it is felt by me. To discuss any subject well, the mind should be free from all other pressing engagements. It will be some weeks yet before I am in a condition to pay proper attention to this part of my business, and this must explain why I pursue the present method of rejoining a reply to Mr. Beard. I was this day anxious to refer to Melmoth's translation of Pliny's Letters; I have a copy in the room in which I sit; I could put my hand on it by a quarter of an hour's work; but the confusion, with regard to other matters, which the attempt to get out this copy would make, deters me from it. For the present, and since I have returned to London, I have had to do business in a hole, into which we got as a matter of refuge after the sale of the tottering house on the other side of the street. I hope to find myself in a better house, and as well or better prepared for all the In a few days, purposes of discussion, as I found myself in the Gaol.

If I have not answered Mr. Beard on all the points on which he wished an answer, I have answered him on all that are essential to the question between us ; and he has not ventured to touch any of Mr. Taylor's or mine, but a few weak ones that were not worth defending.

R. C.

CHRISTIAN EVIDENCE SOCIETY.

THE meetings of this Society at the Paul's Head, Cateatonstreet, are suspended for a season. The Reverend Secretary purposes to visit the Collegians of Oxford and Cambridge, to invite them to meet him in public discussion, and to visit other parts of the country. Application has been made for the large room at the Mermaid Tavern, Hackney; but the landlord will not consent unless the Rector of the parish consents. much in London; and the effect of similar discussions will be This Society has done greater in the country.

THE "Newgate Magazine" for March is an interesting Number, and has a long account of what passed in Newgate between Richard Hassell and Edward Cockerill who was executed for forgery.

Printed and Published by R. CARLILE, 135, Fleet Street.-All Correspondences for "The Republican," to be left at the place of publication.

No. 11, VOL. 13. [LONDON, Friday, March 17, 1826. [PRICE 6d.

PHILOSOPHICAL AND PERSECUTED MINISTERS; OR ENGLAND'S POLITICAL WORLD TURNED TOPSY TURVY !!!

Ir had been properly thought, that none but the moral blasphemers of this country had any fair pretensions to be considered persecuted philosophers. But, as if in derision of our claims to that distinction, our very persecutors are seeking to rob us of that title! Mr. Canning lately compared himself and Brother Ministers of the liberal party with Galileo and other persecuted philosophers; and so intensely did he seem to feel the hardship of his case, that some of the Honourable Members of the House of Commons, who persecute the philosophical Ministers, expected to have seen him begging pardon of the country for his share of the persecution of Carlile and his associates, and proposing to make common cause with them. Mr. Robinson, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his yearly financial statement, made on Monday the 13th inst., fell into the same strain with Mr. Canning, and jointly they have deprived me of all grounds of originality in what I had intended to say at different times and places with regard to my own case. If my persecutors complain of being persecuted philosophers, it is time for me to be silent upon the matter. But, at least, I call upon Mr. Canning and Mr. Robinson to cast their eyes towards Newgate, and see before they taste of the reality of being persecuted philosophers.

I will now present my readers with part of a speech, that will puzzle them, not a little, to divine, whether it was spoken by Mr. Robinson the Chancellor of the Exchequer, or spoken or written by Mr. Carlile the blasphemer.

"But, Sir, I think I may venture to say, that the violence of the storm has now passed away; that the clouds which impended over us, have begun to disperse; and that out of the very tempest of the elements, the atmosphere has become, to a certain degree, purified (Hear.) If there were any thing in the situation in which we now stand, or the general despondency with which we have been so recently surrounded; if there were any thing obscure or mysterious in the nature of the one or the other; if they had arisen from causes which were beyond our comprehension,

Printed and Published by R. Carlile, 135, Fleet Street, London.

then, Sir, indeed, there might be much more ground for uneasiness and apprehension on our parts, thau appears to me to exist at this moment. But in all the discussions that have taken place on this subject in the course of the present session, although there has been, undoubtedly, great difference of opinion as to the precise extent to which different causes may have operated to produce these results; there has prevailed among us, I think, but one general opinion as to the nature of those causes, and the general operation they have had in producing such consequences. I confess, that to my mind that circumstance is a source of no ordinary consolation. There has been, in my opinion, in the course of those discussions which have taken place in the House, upon these subjects, during the present session, a great deal of very unnecessary contest between those who are sneeringly denominated the philosophers, and those who ascribe to themselves the more humble title of practical men—(Hear.) I say, Sir, "unnecessary contest" between these two classes of individuals, because I think it is the bounden duty of the Legislature to endeavour, at all times, to avail themselves of the sound reasoning and theory of the one, and to apply to that theory and reasoning the practical experience of the other--(Hear, hear.) And it is by a just application of such reasoning as well as such principles, to that sort of course which experience may enable us to determine upon; it is by a judicious combination of these two elements of all such calculations, that the House and the public may be empowered to form a just estimate of the situation in which we stand; and to arrive at an accurate conclusion, as to the best and most effectual mode of escaping from the difficulties in which we have been placed. If, indeed, they who have been preparing their minds, by the consideration and discussion of arguments of this kind, for forming such an estimate, are to be told that hope and reasoning are to be set aside, I know not at what fountain we are to drink, if we are to be driven from those springs where science and knowledge are necessarily the presiding deities-(Hear, hear.) And when, Sir, we find that through every class of the community the diffusion of knowledge is extending in a degree, that but half a century ago, would have been deemed absolutely impossible; are we, I ask, who sit here-some as the Ministers of the Crown, and all of us as legislating for the honour and advantage of our country; are we to be, alone, behind our countrymen in availing ourselves of the increasing lights of human intelligence; or are we to be the last in the race of intellectual improvement?-(Cheers.) But knowing, as we do, that the progress of universal knowledge must be gradual and limited, in the first instance; it is our duty, in the first instance, to take care that we be before our countrymen in these respects, in order that we may assist the judgment they are disposed to form, and that we may correct any errors into which they might otherwise prematurely fall, in regard to those

great questions which most nearly affect their own or the national interests. I know, Sir, that there are some gentlemen who deprecate this increasing thirst of information among all orders of men, and who think that this spread of knowledge is in fact a misfortune to the country-(Hear.) I know not, I confess, how that mind can be constituted which contemplates the progress of human knowledge as matter of regret or fear-(Cheers.) I own, Sir, that my impression is directly the reverse of that by which those gentlemen are actuated. It is evident, in my view of the matter, that the wider this diffusion of knowledge, the better people are informed; and the more they understand, the more likely they are to see and comprehend what is for their good, and the means by which that good is to be attained; the more likely they are to abstain from such means as would be prejudicial in their operation, and calculated rather for the prevention than the attainment of that good.-(Hear.) Besides, Sir, all men-(I was almost going to say, even that despised class "the philosophers,")-(a laugh)—are agreed in the maxim, "that knowledge is power."(Hear, hear.) To my mind, therefore, this circumstance of the general diffusion of knowledge does lead, as respects the difficulties which have been lately produced among ourselves; and in respect of all difficulties of a similar kind that may be produced in times to come-to a very different conclusion from that unfavourable one which in some quarters appears to be entertained. If I find the people at large-if I find the Legislature--if I find the Government-all building their conclusions upon sound premises, I confess I think we may treat with com. parative indifference the recurrence of those dangers by which we have lately been assailed-partly, because the chance of their recurrence is, itself, greatly diminished, and partly, because if they should recur, we shall be better enabled, and shall better know how to meet them."

These are sentiments worthy of a Minister and a Legislator of the best class, worthy of a philosopher. They are mine. Whatever the Ministers might have learnt, or not learnt, from Mr. Cobbett about paper money, they have learnt, philosophy from me. But, for my own credit, perhaps a little vain, I cannot but think that they have gone no further than they have been driven. RICHARD CARLILE.

PETITION TO THE HOUSE OF COMMONS BY THE HONOURABLE HOUSE OF MORAL BLASPHEMERS.

THE most flagrant act of the present Ministers, at this time, is the keeping of those men in Newgate, while the same sort of

« VorigeDoorgaan »