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flame of extravagance, and to push the most reckless and violent among the revolutionary democrats to unheard-of acts of injustice and cruelty. Disguised as zealous republicans, these tools of a corrupt aristocracy secretly instigated, and sometimes openly perpetrated, the very atrocities which their masters afterwards held up with well-feigned horror, to the execration of their deluded subjects !
These assertions are not made lightly, nor without sufficient authority. They are made on the authority of one, who learnt in the American revolution the value of liberty, and then returned to aid France in a similar attempt; and who has been, alternately and deservedly, the idol of our country and his own. They are made on the authority of the father of this so much slandered French revolution-of GENERAL LAFAYETTE. It was my privilege (and a valued privilege I esteemed it,) to hear, from the lips of the venerable patriot himself, a detailed account of that momentous, political convulsion, its occult causes, and the secret conspiracies that finally wrought its failure.
I asked him if aught of religious or irreligious persecution mingled with the democratic excitement of the times.
“None,” replied Lafayette : “if the clergy were objects of jealousy or dislike, it was because they sought to arrest the march of the great reform, the more especially as it touched the ecclesiastical privileges and possessions. From the moment the high clergy saw the administration of their benefices transferred to the municipalities, did they become the enemies of young liberty; and as such, not as priests, were they hated or suspected by the people. The working clergy, who often aided the revolutionary movement, escaped the national odium.”
In proof of the general's assertion, that to the efforts of secret and foreign emissaries, must be traced the worst of those atroci. ties, I refer our readers to several extracts from an original document;* a letter from an agent of the English minister, Pitt, to some of his creatures in France. It is dated 29th of June, 1793; that is, about a month after the reign of terror commenced. The original is in my possession, and at your service, if you desire to see it. Its authenticity is unquestionable : it · was intercepted by the republican party, and afterwards placed in the hands of General Lafayette.
Space permits me not to add more than one other fact, out of the hundreds that have transpired, in corroboration of these (in Europe now commonly received) opinions. I give it on the authority of a Parisian gentleman, M. Phiquepal, who was long and intimately acquainted with M. Pinel, and who related the anecdote to me.
The celebrated Pinel, of Paris, was called, in his capacity of physician, to attend a member of one of the principal revolutionary committees ; a man who had distinguished himself as the
* The extracts are published as Note C in the Appendix.
abettor and perpetrator of some of the worst atrocities that stained the annals of that eventful period. The patient eagerly inquired what Pinel thought of his case; requesting, as an act of friendship, that danger, if there were any, might not be concealed from him. Pinel replied by advising him, if he had yet business to arrange, not to delay an hour in settling it. The dying man appeared to be deeply affected with his situation ; and Pinel, who had ever been a true and staunch republican, even from the first attack on the Bastile, in which he personally assisted--thought the moment favourable to obtain some insight into the motives that had prompted the chief actors in the revolutionary tragedy. “Sir," he said, addressing his patient, “I would fain ask you a question ; but it may be a painful one.” “Ask it,” replied the other, “ my time here is short, and I have nothing that I need conceal now.” “Then,” resumed Pinel, “I would ask what possible motive you could have had to enact, under the guise of republicanism, the bloody horrors that have ruined our cause.' “Your question is easily answered,” returned the sick man; “I had a pension of six thousand francs sent to ine from England regularly, by Louis."
And these are the excesses-these the atrocities that are unhesitatingly charged to freedom or to scepticism! that are cited, in England, as proof positive that republicanism is but another name for anarchy; and in America, as triumphant evidence of what a world would be without religion! The arguments thus obtained, in the one hemisphere in favour of royalty, and in the other of orthodoxy, are equally conclusive.
But have American protestants ever considered how heterodox, after all, is this favourite argument of theirs ? What was the religion that, (nominally,) prevailed throughout France previous to the French revolution, and the neglect of which, in 1792-3, shall have caused the mitraillades* of Lyons, instigated the noyadest of Nantes, and erected the guillotines of Arras, of Orange, and of Paris ? A religion of truth ? Nay, but a damn. able heresy, (so have Luther and Calvin expressed it) an invention of lies, a religion of Anti-christ, a fable of the Lady of Babylon. And will Luther's or Calvin's followers now argue, that to believe a lie was the salvation of anti-revolutionary France, and that the abandonment of that lie gave birth to the crimes and cruelties of '93 ? Is Catholicism, as Protestants believe, a delusion of the devil; and did the dissipation of this devilish delusion convert the polite and cultivated Frenchman into a lover of misrule and a delighter in carnage ? Was it, in very deed, this so much abused Romish superstition that had alone, for centuries, restrained the turbulent and vicious propen
* The firing of cannon, loaded with canister-shot, upon a number of individuals tied together.
+ The wholesale drowning of human beings, who were embarked on the Lo.re in large, flat boats, which were then scuttled and sunk.
sities of the French nation ? Strange power of error! Mighty influence for good of a device of the father of evil !
I return from this digression to speak of the subject more immediately under consideration, the influence which Bible creeds have had on the morality of mankind.
I have already adverted to the spirit of fanaticism which led to the Salem tragedy, and which was finally arrested, not by the merciful or enlightening influence of religion, but because the rich, as well as the poor, began to be accused of practices similar to her's of Endor. But I have not yet adverted to another foul stain in the history of those days of gospel purity; for such all Christians will admit the times of the pilgrim-fathers to have been. I allude to the inveterate persecution even uito death by those very men who had fled from England in search of mental liberty-of the amiable, inoffensive quakers. In the year 1661 it was, that a law passed the Colonial Court of Massachusetts, to “ prevent the intrusions of quakers,” and to “restrain their absurd and blasphemous doctrines." Their preachers were declared, in the very words of the statute, to be “rogues and vagabonds;" if found without the particular jurisdiction wherein their dwelling was situated, they were adjudged to be “stripped naked from the middle upwards, tied to a cart's tail, and whipped through the town;" for the second offence they were to be ho committed unto the house of correction and branded with the letter R. on the left shoulder;" and, if they persisted in their heretical mission, they were to be put to death !*
I marvel not that men who acknowledged the divine author. ship of the books of Numbers and Deuteronomy, and who derived their namet from their zealous endeavours to introduce
scripture purity," should have thought it pious and virtuous to imitate, (though in a very faint and lenient manner) the examples approved by the God of the Bible and recorded by the author of the Pentateuch; but what I do marvel at is, that one advocate should be found, in this nineteenth century, to eulogise
-ay, or to excuse a book, of influence so grievously intolerant, and of precedent so lamentably immoral.
The origin of this hydra evil, which turns the very interchange of human opinions to a curse-of this sirocco falsehood, that breathes its withering influence over the world of the heart, drying up all kindly affections, and scorching the fair flowers of peace and love and charity--the true origin of this master-error,
* A law had been previously passed, in the year 1658, making vagrat quakerism punishable with death. Bóth statutes reinained in force until ri pealed, not by the good sense or religious charity of the New Englanders, but by an order from the English king, dated September 9, 1661, putting a stop to all capital or corporeal punishment of his subjects called quakers. It came too late, however, to save the lives of Marmaduke Stevenson, William Robinson, and Mary Dyer, who had received their sentence to be hanged, two years before, (on the 20th of August, 1659.) from Judge Indicott.
INTOLERANCE, may be traced to the unfounded and mischievous notion, inculcated throughout the gospel pages, that true belief is a virtue, to be rewarded with heaven; and untrue belief (however sincere) a vice, to be punished with hell. “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.' (Mark, chap. xvi., ver. 16.)
Now, just belief is often a blessing to be rejoiced over; as we would rejoice over a good constitution, or a powerful brain : it is never a virtue to be praised or glorified. False belief-even the sincerest—is often a misfortune; no sincere belief is a fault.t Belief is not a thing to be cast aside, or changed, or re-assumed at pleasure, like a garment. A man might as rationally command me to add a cubit to my stature as an article to my creed. He might as well bid me glow with heat when the freezing north-wind blows over me, or require me to shiver with cold under the rays of a tropical sun, as to expect me to believe in the absence of conviction, or to doubt when the light of demonstration shines into my mind.
Belief is involuntary; a moral phenomenon similar to the sensation of warmth or of chill over the physical frame; coming to us often unsought, and deserting us unrequested. That the Bible inculcates a sentiment diametrically opposed to this most important truth, is alone evidence suflicient, that it is not of divine origin.
* This expression is attributed to Jesus by his biographer Mark. In the figurative language of the East, it might perhaps be interpreted to mean: “ He that attains just knowledge, and acts in accordance with it, will be happy; he that does not will be iniserable." Such a sentiment is far mort in accordance with the gentle spirit that commonly pervades the sayings recorded of Jesus, than the orthodox reading. But with this I have nothing to do. The Christinn world in general, and my friend Mr. Bacheler in particular, are much too orthodox thus to explain away the very cornerstone of their faith. They consider this and all similar passages to declare a true creed to be a praiseworthy virtue, and a false one a punishable vice. The whole superstructure of doctrinal religion would fall, under any other interpretation.
+ If it were worth while to adduce, in support of a position so nearly self-evident, the sanction of great names, I might here quote an expression employed by the present lord chancellor of England, (better known and more respected, perhaps, as the HENRY BROUGHAM who so strenuously advocated the cause of popular education in Great Britain.) The expression occurs on page 47 of the inaugural discourse delivered by Brougham on his election as lord rector of the University of Glasgow. The editor of the London Morning Chronicle (in his paper of July 1, 182-) calls it “a beautiful passage,” which, "as the discourse was printed at the request of the principal professors and students of the university, is adopted by that Icarned and highly respectable body.” The sentiment thus delivered by the newly-elected lord rector, sanctioned by the university, and lauded by one of the leading London editors, reads as follows: “ The great truth has finally gone forth to all the ends of the earth, that man shall no longer render account to man for belief, over which he has no control. Ilenceforward, nothing shall prevuil upon us to praise or to blame any one for that which he can no more change than he can the hue of his skin or the height of his stalure."
" It is the more meritorious," adds the editor of the Morning Chronicle, “' in Mr. Brougham and the University of Glasgow to adopt so liberal a principle, that the nation in general is, we believe, far from being ripo for it."
They cannot be ripe for it until they are prepared to discard, as a literal and infallible revelation, the book which tells them (John, chap. iii., ver. 18) "He that believeth not is condemned already,"
It was unworthy of your cause, and unnecessary to your argument, to bring up the slanders that have, in every age, been enviously circulated against philosophers. Without believing Socrates and his compeers perfect, we may be permitted to
oubt idle tales that have ever been circulated regarding them, emanating from some such source, probably, as “The Clouds” of Aristophanes.
ROBERT Dale OWEN.
TO ROBERT DALE OWEN.
New-York, August 6, 1831. Sir,
The cruelty or justice of the slaughter of the Canaanites by the Israelites, depends, as I have already said, upon the fact, whether that slaughter was or was not commanded by God, which is the very point in dispute. Nor would a command for slaughtering them be a license for slaughtering others; and it would not therefore justify a similar act “to day,” nor give " the conqueror his permit, or the inquisitor his credentials.” A remark somewhat similar have I made in relation to witchcraft. The command in the Bible for the execution of real witches, is no sanction for the execution of imaginary ones. Prove then that the Salem sufferers were real witches--and prove, too, that the local command to the Jews on this point is binding on us--or cease to charge the Bible with their fate. And don't forget, by the way, to inform me, what branch of modern knowledge proves witchcraft to be impossible. My argument in relation to the slavery of the Canaanites, is similar to that relative to their slaughter. A command of God to cnslave them, would apply to them only. He might, for aught we know, see reasons for their being enslaved, which would exist in no other case. At any rate, it is no sanction whatever for the slavery of others which he has not commanded. That command was local, not general. With regard to the Koran and the Canaanites, 'tis unnecessary to inquire how much murder they enjoined and practised. The proper inquiry is, Had they authority from God? And the obscenity of the Bible, admit no such thing. It is well known, that, in ancient times, there