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ġou a convert to my hypothesis, I can believe it myself; and this affords me no snall gratification: and then I can console myself with the reflection, that if people will not come into my tasty system it is-want of taste which prevents them!”
Mr. Clairmont's house is only a stone's throw from this delightful spot-we bent our steps thither at the conclusion of this conversation. This humble residence lays back from the road-it seems the abode of neatness itself-the very
furniture looks the character of its master. To the house there is a garden and a field, which runs sloping down by the side of a wood. This good man cannot be rich-I am curious to know his history. A motherly old woman, who is his servant, is the only person wbo lives under the same roof. He invited me kindly to some refreshment; and the evening slipt away pleasantly indeed.
Mr. Clairmont is full of anecdote-I had an account of half the neighbours about him-he had lived in this place fifteen years; the folks who knew him, or knew bim not, called him a strange man! The good pastor of the parish represented him as an Atheist, because he believed in ONE God, and an Infidel, because he would not go to chụrch. At first the coun. try people eyed him with suspicious fear from top to toe, as he walked out--they had never seen an infidel before-the parson told the charity children that he was Simon Magus, and they thought that that was his name, and that he had changed it to Clairmont. The reverend gentleman always crossed the road when he met him and would not speak to him, because he said he had no religion-" though the pious Squire Dashwood (said he), to whom you are indebted for your accident, is his bottle companion !”.
I had ordered a bed in the village at the Rose and Crown, in order to set off early in the morning for London, being confined to time. Mr. Clairmont made me promise to call on him again, when the Gloucestershire journey came round. He hoped our acquaintance would not be dropped so slightly as it had commenced, and said that he should feel honoured by an epistolary correspondence. I bid hiin farewel from the bottom of my heart-gave a last look at the habitation of peace, as I crossed the grass plat-reached my inn at ten o'clock-and started at five next morning---chaise mended, and in good trim for London.
EXTRACT FROM A PORT-FOLIO.
ON THE EVILS OF PRIESTCRAFT. TOLAND, Voltaire, Rousseau, and all the Deistical writers put toge
Christian religion would, if unshackled by fear. Good God! if inankind were to make a fair calculation of their various ills in life, assigning to each cause its particular evil consequence, sure there would be none found such ruinous enemies to human happiness and greatness as priests; they have not only shackled and tormented the bodies, and drained the purses, of their fellow creatures ; but have humiliated the mind of man, and lowered him beneath the standard of his nature. For sixteen hundred years and more genius has hid its head abashed, and even kingly power dropped its enfeebled arm before the talismanic folly and fraud of churchmen ; while not content with smothering the efforts of genius, resisting the struggles of manhood, draining the whole treasures of the earth, and drawing princes, potentates, states, and empires, into their all devouring vortex, they have saturated their idols with blood--with human blood. See a Bacon, mistakenly denominated by Mr. Pope, the wisest of mankind--see him brandishing, the scourge of intolerance with as great rigour as the most stupid and cruel priest of the Holy Inquisition, and boast, if you can, of the pride of intellect! Had we not such strong proofs of it, on which soever side we look, would it be possible to believe that any being endowed with faculties above the brute creation could be so blind? That any one acquainted with even the instinctive feelings of animal life could think it acceptable to an all good and all merciful God, that inan should wage war against his fellow creatures, and deliberately shed their blood, merely on account of a doctrinal point (the barren speculation of idle, artful, disputatious priests) propounded to cover imposition ? Yet under these pretexts has more blood been shed--inore gross enormities committed-more mean frauds practised--more tyranny exercised-more innocents barbarously massacred--and more tears shed-in short, more general devastation spread over the face of the earth, than for all other real causes or false pretexts that have, since the beginning of creation, armed the hand of man against his fellow creature, and deluged the world with blood.--Look to Goa--see bigotry there striding like a remorseless giant overthat once happy island, and sweeping by fire and sword its innocent inhabitants-all for the love of Christ !--Look to South America--and see a holy father of the church, armed with the cross in one hand, and the less devouring sword in the other, followed by a clan of Christian bloodhounds, stalking with desolation in his train through a nation of the most unoffending and amiable of existing beings, letting loose havock among them.Look here, under your very eyes, see the most damnable inquisition, like a merciless tiger-its eyes flashing flames of fire--and its jaws reeking with human blood, lashing itself with sanguinary fury, and roaring for more victims! See the fruits of the earth, produced by the labour of millions, who are themselves, and their families, pining the wbile in want, and languishing in wretchedness, devoured by a swarm of human locusts--unproductive burdens in their nature, unproductive even by system--a borde of sensual and voluptuous divines of various sects, who to conceal their views, preach hatred among men, and set them in conflict with each other, that, while employed in mutual annoyance, they them. selves may plunder the carth. Ah! barbarous, cold blooded, sinful ruf; fians ! who have for centuries cursed your fellow creatures, and abused your God! the time draws pear when reason will tear down the curtain--the grand machinery with which you bave deceived the world will be laid open to the public view, and your grand pantomime only serve to excite among men disgust and abhorrence for you, and wonder and contempt for their own credulity-The Castle of Inchvalley.
ON THE BELIEF OF THE NORTHERN NATIONS AS TO THE
NATURE OF THE DEITY, AND THEIR EXPECTATIONS OF A FUTURE STATE OF EXISTENCE : IN REPLY TO THE ASSERTIONS OF “A DEIST,” ON THOSE SUBJECTS.
“ The idea of one God, the governing mind of the universe, was unknown to the Pagan world."--MURPHY, Notes on “ The Manners of the Germans" by Tacitus.
To the Editor of the Freethinking Christians' Magazine.
ment, and sinning agaiost the laws of free discussion, attempts to impose upon the ignorance, or avail himself of the negligence of his fellow-creatures, by means of unfair statements, or of artful and delusive misrepresentations, must be surely deemed guilty of a heinous crime against the dictates equally of reason and of truth, and becomes, in fact, a traitor to the true interests of the human race. The abstract justice of this statute law of the courts of discussion will, I think, be denied by none; and it is upon the force of its provisions, that I have come forward to arraign the communications of your correspondent, “A Deist.” He has himself appeared before your bar to defend the right of private judgment, and claim the exercise of free discussion ; let us see whether in his own person he has not attempted to pervert the one, and actually sullied the purity of the other.
Having already examined his assertions with regard to the religion of the northen nations, I shall now principally confine myself to the following passage, which will be found to contain more real misrepresentation, than, from the smallness of its extent, could well be expected, or imagined. We first are told, that the ancient Germans were polytheists, then that the Scandinavians acknowledged one supreme deity, and believed in a future state of existence, and immediately afterwards occurs the following sentence--We learn also, from unquestiona able authority, that the temples of ancient Egypt had in them neither image nor representation of any thing; and the Greeks were certainly not idolators, till the time of Cecrops, the founder of their
principal city, who, according to Eusebius, was contemporary with Moses."
Now what is the impression here left, or meant to be left, on the mind of the reader? Why evidently, from the combination of the sentences, and the apparent continuation of the argument, no other than this, viz. that the earlier inhabitants, of Egypt and of Greece, as well the Germans, and the Scandinavians, in fact acknowledged, unlike their descendants in later times, but “ One Supreme Divinity, eternal, omniscient, omnipotent, and just. Such is undoubtedly the sense of the passage as it is framed and introduced by your correspondent : let us see its meaning in the words of its original author- I say original author, because the passage is in fact copied from Potter, and might indeed be called an extract from that writer, if it had not been mangled and altered by your correspondent, in order to adapt it to the imposition, which I think he evi. dently intended to pass on your readers. “As (says Potter) in discussing the temples, images, and various other appendages of the religion of ancient Greece), among the most ancient Egyp. tians, the temples were without statutes, if Lucian may be credited, so also the Greeks worshipped their Gods without any visible representation, till the time of Cecrops, who, according to Eusebius's account, lived about the time of Moses-the most ancient representations of the Gods, were rude and agreeable to the ignorance of those ages.'
Here we may observe, that " a Deist” has made two most material alterations in the wording of the passage, as well as wholly omitted the latter part of it, which, although necessary to compleat the sense, would have at once shewn the fallacy of his assertions. First, he affirms that we learn a fact “ from unquestionable authority,” which his author only casually says is such,“ if Lucian may be credited;"* and, secondly by substituting the phrase "not idolators,” in the place of worshipping their Gods without visible representation,” he impresses it on the mind of the reader that the ancient Greeks were not even polytheists, whereas in fact, all that either his authority, or the reason of the thing, will bear him out in asserting is, that the rude barbarians who inhabited the Peninsula of Greece, previously to its being colonized by Cecrops and others, and consequently previous to the formation of the empire, which alone
* As the Deist has himself called the authority of Lucian “unquestionable,” he will of course be willing to abide by the decision of that author, The passage is as follows--froni the Egyptians the Assyrians received "their traditions concerning the Gods, and in like manner erected temples, Wherein they also placed images, and set up statues ; whereas in former times, the temples, even among the Egyptians, were without any images.
-Lucian on the Gods of Syria.
we are accustomed to acknowledge under that title, were in. capable of giving form to the probably hideous and terrific beings, which, possessed of the attributes of demons, they worshipped under the name of Gods.
So much for the original misrepresentations of “a Deist;" we will now turn to one which he has either borrowed without examination, or, what is worse, adapted after it, from the writ. ings of others. The task is an ungratefnl one indeed, but the circumstance of your having given his communications to the public renders it in some degree a necessary one.' The assertion I refer to is this, viz. that the ancient Germans worshipped one Supreme God, master of the universe, to whom all things were submissive, and obedient ;" and this he says we learn from Tacitus. Now we learn it, indeed from the Deist, who himself learns it from Mr. Mallet; but whether, on the face of the thing, it be probable, that that gentleman should have derived it from the Latin historian, let your readers deeide, after perusing the motto prefixed to this, and my former letter, which is actually extracted from Murphy's notes on the very work (the Manners of the Germans), from which this very singular and remarkable assertion is said to be derived. The words indeed, or words of a somewhat similar import to those adduced, do actually occur in the writings of the historian; but, even if it were right to take them in their uncona nected sense, they certainly are not applicable, as they have here been erroneously applied, to the ancient Germans generally, being merely asserted of one of the almost countless series of savage tribes, which are characterised under that common title. The historian represents them, generally, as gross and barbarous polytheists and idolators, asserting, says Potter (though I have not been able exactly to hit upon the passage) that their gods consisted of rude trunks, and unpolished oaks. It is in support of this assertion, that the historian, in the context of the passage under consideration, makes the various tribes severally pass in review before the reader, characterizing each by their peculiar modes of faith, and the most prominent features of their superstitious observances--among the number that thus present themselves, occur the Semnones, a tribe that, for ought we know, were as gross polytheists and idolators, as any of the others; but who are distinguished to the mind of the reader by the circumstance of their paying visits, at stated periods, to a certain grove, which, it is said, was supposed by them to be “the sacred mansion of the all-seeing God of the universe, who held every thing in a chain of dependance on his will and plea
Now the extent of a universe, imagined and called into being amid the morasses of Germany, and the notions as to an all-see