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number to have called forth any complaint if it had been intended. I had never heard the least complaint against it, or the former volume, when I opened the shop in January, consequently I felt assured that I was doing nothing wrong in selling them.
My second reason is, that when I opened the shop in January, I carefully avoided the sale of such works as had been prosecuted; and even the report of my husband's trials I abstained from selling at a very great loss, because your Lordships had granted a criminal information against it. On the fourteenth of February last, I received a Valentine from the “ Society for the Suppression of Vice," informing me, that they had retracted their former ungentlemanly conduct by countermanding the notice of trial on this criminal jpformation against a woman. This I considered to have been in consequence of my so stopping the sale, and so far Į had flattered myself that I should obtain the favour of the very virtuous, meek, moral, and religious members of this Society: and I had contemplated the idea of sending the Secretary a few cards of my address and business for the Members of the Society, with a hope that, as the Society had made me a widow, or something worse than a widow, and had left my children, fatherless, I might, as a bookseller, receive the favours of some of its members. But, alas! even at this moment, when they had elated my mind with a release from the criminal information, they were plotting further mischief against me by obtaining the indictment for which I now stand before your Lordsbips; and within ten days of my release from the former, I was dragged from my home by a warrant issued under the sanction of the latter; and thus all my hopes were again blasted. These I submit to your Lordships, as strong reasons why no punishment should be inflicted upon me: but I wish to state a few remarks on another part of the indictment for your Lord. ships consideration.
I disclaim, my Lords, the charge of blasphemy which it imputed to me; I feel a moral conviction that nothing which I have ever published can truly bear such a charge; I feel that my mind shudders at the idea of blasphemy, which, in the common acceptation of the word, I take to be an evil speaking of the Deity. I do not profess to be a Theologian or skilled in Polemics, as I have always considered my domestic duties, as a wife and a mother, to be of more importance; 'as far as my observation has gone, I have always found the professors of much religion to be the possessors of
much hypocrisy, and, in consequence, I have abstained from joining or following any sect. I feel a reverential awe towards the Deity, which my mind assures me to be all the religion that is necessary or required; and as to my moral duties, I seek to guide myself by the grand and all-sufficient maxim of doing to another that, which I would wish should be done unto myself.
Upon the strength of this last maxim, my Lords, I would ask by what moral authority can one person insist upon the regulations of the opinions of another, without first shewing the rectitude and propriety of his own with a sufficient force to carry conviction to the mind of the other. It is not in human nature to alter its own opinions without a previous and due conviction of error. Persecution and force may make hypocrites but it cannot change opinions. On the other hand, it is calculated to strengthen what it wishes to destroy, as it seems to arise more from the fear of, than a reverence for, truth. Nature and reason, aided by the printing press, will assert their sway over every thing that bears the appear. ance or the character of superstition, and will become the best vouchers for truth and correct opinions.
I have been led into those observations, my Lords, in consequence of the vulgar clamour of blasphemy having been imputed to me, and for wbicb I am brought bere for the judge ment of this Court. I disclaim the charge, because I cannot feel it. It is an idle clamour which hypocrisy has encouraged and persecution has kept up in all ages and in all nations. It is a word, which in conjunction with another idle and vulgar word called heresy, has been tossed about from one sect of Christians to the other, and all have been equally subject to its influence and pernicious persecutiop in their turn. By the same 'spirit, which now calls upon your Lordships to punish me, were the beretics, the blasphemers, and the witches of old punished. Those words have been used as so many shutttecocks, by both Pagan, Jew, and Christian, each retorting it on the other. A moment's reiection must convince your Lordships, that they are mere words of sound, and have no distinct and real application. For instance, the word blasphemy is construed to imply an evil speaking of the Deity: now the mind that has a due comprehension of the Deity cannot speak evil of it: and the mind that has not that due comprehension cannot speak evil of tbat which it does not comprehend, and of which it has no knowledge or idea: either way the word becomes a. moral impossibility. The careful and impartial observer can perceive, that it is exact
Vol. IV. No. 14.
the same word now as it was eighteen hundred years since, when the pure, the virtuous, the meek, the moral Jesus, was subjected to its persecuting influence. By way of illustrating what I say, I would draw your Lordships' attention to a quotation from Matthew's Gospel, chap. xxvi. ver. 63 to 67, inclusive. “But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, hereafter shall ye see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; wbat further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy, What think ye? They answered and said, he is guilty of death. Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others sinote him with the palms of their hands.” Here, my Lords, is an exact prototype of my persecution, as far as the word blasphemy goes, and those, who have pursued me to this Court, and wish to pursue me from this Court to a prison, would crucify another Jesus if he were to live again in this country.
It is evident to every reflecting mind, that this species of persecution arises from strong pariy feeling. I felt the dan: ger to which I was exposed in opening the shop on my own responsibility, and consequently, I laid in a stock of Eibles aud Religious Tracts, recollecting, that when Mr. Justice Bailey passed the sentence of the Cont on my husband, his Lordship observed, that it would have been an extenuation of the ofience of publishing the Age of Reason, if the works of Watson, Jenyns, or Littleton bad been sent forth with it. My husband had actually published Dr. Watson's answer, or the Apology for the Bible, and in addition to this I resolved to sell every thing of the kind that would sell, by way of being doubly sure. Even at the time on which this indictment is laid, my window must have been filled with Bibles and religious tracts, and so it continued for several weeks, until I found that I could not turn a single penny by them after I had been at the expence of laying in a stock. I found the general observation on those publications to be, that we need not buy then, if we want them they are to be had for nothing, as they are commonly given away. I assure your Lordships, that my object and wish was to be an impartial bookseller, and if I have sold any Deistical publications, it has been entirely in defereuce to the wishes of
my husband, whom I am 'religiously bound to obey, even according to the Christian code; for St. Paul teaches, that a woman may not reject her husband because he may not be of the faith, but rather seek by condescension and chaste conversation to win and save him. Individually I am not partial, and I never once found my husband anxious to impress his opinions upon my mind, although I believe I may vouch for the sincerity of his own professions. I must confess, that the two publications for wbich I bave been indicted strongly impugn the religion of the law: and your Lordships, as judges of the law, in taking cognizance of matters of religion, make it dependent upon, and subservient to, the law. It has been well observed by a writer in an examination of Bishop Warburton's Divine Legation of Moses, that “ Religion being purely a spiritual and internal thing, consisting in the inward real persuasion, temper, and disposition of the mind, a religion established by law, can be nothing but an ecclesiastical phantom, since the law might as well make a God as a religion.” It is only, my Lords, since the Protestant establishment has superseded the Catholic, that the Christian religion in England bas been under the protection of, or connected with, the law: the Christians of the twelve centuries, from the fourth to the sixteenth, would have spurned the idea ; and I am inclined to believe, that if any one, within that time, had said that Christianity was part and parcel of the law, and that the law would protect it, he would have been sent to the stake as a reviler of the religion, or as a heretic and a blasphemer. I forbear to state my ideas of the canses of this change, as I have no wish to excite latent prejudices: but even taking up the argument on the ground of the religion of this day being a part of the law, I would ask, is not the law open to the honest animadversion of every man? I have yet to learn that the laws of England are like unto those of the Medes and Persians of old, which changed not. The Parliament of England renders the laws as mutable as the human mind; and it is the bounden duty of every honest man to point out what he conceives to be a defect, and to shew how it might be amended,
If the first Christians had not impugned the laws of the Roman empire, Christianity had never supplanted the Pagan religion. If Luther, Calvin, and other reformers, had not impugned the ecclesiastical laws under which they lived, the Protestant Church had never been established, and your Lordships, as Roman Catholic Judges, would then have
felt an equal authority and justification in sending me to the stake, as now to a prison. This kind of persecution and prstended violation of law will most assuredly continue, whilst one sect or party can wield the sword of the aw over the other, and until all opinions bear equal authority, and stand or fall alone by the force of reason and persuasion. Morals will continue to be outraged by the violence of party power, and our courts of justice will continue to be profaned and blurred by the vices of persecution. Party feeling will only increase and grow stronger whilst opinions are subject to legal restraint, and, although your Lordships to-day have the power of sending me to a prison, the circumstance will be only calculated to make way for another victim to a similar oppression; in your next session, my Lords, you will or may have a similar task to perform. I would address to your Lordships the observation of Tertullian to the Emperor Trajan, when pleading in the behalf of the persecuted Christians: “ If you condemn, why not inquire ? If you do not inquire, why not acquit?”
I am confident that every liberal mind in the country will rejoice to hear that I am set free from this persecution, and your Lordships will find applause for leuity and good sense in so doing. Example is the object of punishment, at least, morality requires that it should be so; but here, where certain opinions are held to be offensive and punished by a party, or, at least, where punishment is called for by a party, it serves but as a stimulus to the party injured, and cannot operate as an example. I would instance the case of my husband, my Lords, you have sent him to a distant gaol for three years, where he cannot breathe the open air on any other conditions than as one about to take a trial for high treason, and where even the felon and the murderer find less restraint and more lenity : you have inflicted a fine of £.1500 upon him, which has swept away all his property, and which by destroying a profitable business, deprived him of the possibility of ever paying that fine. But I would ask, my Lords, what effect has it had in the way of example? Whilst there be a inan in England who retains the spirit of a man, his first desire will be to resist and counteract such oppression. Those very books which your Lordships call holy forbid sucb measures—those very books whose protection is sought or affected to be sought.
I have now merely to add, that if, unfortunately for me, it should be your Lordships' opinion, that the religion of the law stands in need of my imprisonment for its safety and