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TO THE EDITOR OF THE REPUBLICAN.
Attached to you from principle, being the only individual who had either the boldness or meaus to republish the entire works of that calumniated writer, who, as the American Lee used to say, "burst forth on the world like Jove in thunder;" a man, by the force of whose reasoning, made a nation of republicans, in spite of their educated prejudices in favor of monarchy; and whose writings would have produced a similar effect in this country, had they been as generally diffused as you endeavoured to diffuse them, and for which you are dungeoned, and are to pay a fine that none but the most inhuman and unprincipled of our species could have inflicted.
Seeing this, and that your wife is to be torn from your already fatherless children, and sent to a bastile, for merely selling one copy of the only work hitherto published worthy the name of a "Life of Thomas Paine," after a no trial," as no defence was made, though a person who wishes to be pushed forward at the bar was employed to make one.
Not having sufficient time to discuss the above painful subject, I come to one no less painful, and now of more interest to yourself, Mrs. Carlile, and your children, namely your business, which as I am told gradually declined ever since your incarceration, and will more rapidly decline on the imprisonment of Mrs. Carlile, and that too for want of spirit in publishing. Your business is one of opinions and principles, opposed to the existing government, and it can only be carried on with success by the principal of that business, having his heart and soul in the promulgation of those opinions and principles. Principle must be the primum mobile of such a business, and not interest. Principle anticipates public opinion and feeling.-Interest follows it. Our best feelings are in unison with the first-base lucre with the last.
If, Sir, from your slight knowledge of me, you think I should be the means of continuing your connexion and extending your business in the absence of yourself and Mrs. Carlile, I would be happy to receive from you any proposal to that effect.
You and your family's true friend and well wisher,
TO MR. W
DEAR SIR, In answer to your very kind offer, an offer which does you as much honour, as it dor, me a favour, I' have first to observe, that, a gentleman of Warwick, has made a similar offer about a fortnight ago, and to whom
I have pledged myself to give the first call if I should want assistance in a shop. My present wish is that my younger sister, who is single, should become the next victim to the propagation of moral and correct theological principles, if corruption, the common enemy of mankind, retains the power of further destruction. I have also another sister, but she is in a manner a widow with a small family, and what is still more objectionable, she has been for a number of years a violent Methodist. However, as a sister, I shall call upon her to offer herself as the victim of religious persecution, should my younger sister be in danger of going to prison. You see I am so thoroughly covetous of this persecution, that I wish to engross as much as possible in my own family. To me it seems like a family interest, and if I could but find a cousin of the same name, I would wish to thrust him forward to fill the gap made by persecution. I must wait the next term and see what will be the fate of Mrs. Carlile, or at least what corruption means to do with her, before I can make any alteration or arrangement in my business. My sister now challenges the common enemy to the attack, whether in the person of the Attorney General or the Vice Society, as Mrs. Carlile would be in danger of banishment, if she took any further part in the business, and I regret to say, that an ulcerated sore throat, accompanied with a violent fever, has confined her to her bed since Wednesday, 25th ult.; during which time she has been in danger of cheating the pious members of the Vice Society of their hallowed feast and sacrifice in the next term. I trust, however, that she will be sufficiently recovered in time to answer the first call. Any ground of excuse or evasion will be to me extremely painful. I could wish to bear her punishment, but as this will not gratify our and our country's enemies, I must be content with seeing one who is nearest to me suffer in so good a cause.
I am fully aware, Sir, that there is scarce another individual in the country, so ardent for the propagation of the writings and principles of Paine as yourself; and I fully assent to all your observations on the necessity of principle at such a moment with such publications, and jegret to see so many who call themselves political characters and publishers of political writings, make no further use of principle than it is calculated in their opinion to advance their interest. But in this they mistake their aim, and I feel assured, that in the present corrupt state of this country, the only profitable way of attacking corruption,
is the method I took to do it, namely, to bid defiance to every thing in the shape of prosecution for libel, and to go the whole length in the avowal of that opinion and principle which the possessor may deem most essential and conducive to the interest and welfare of mankind. Whatever comes short of this, I am morally certain will be a halt in profit, as well as in principle in the long run. I will state a few facts and instances for illustration :
When I first published the Age of Reason, just before Christmas, 1818, I was not worth a farthing in property, and I consider that if every rag and stick I had possessed had been sold they would have scarcely cleared off the few pounds I owed in the run of business. What was the effect of the publication of the Age of Reason, and my perseverance in selling it in spite of accumulated information and indictment? In January, 1818, I was enabled to treat for a whole house in Fleet-street, the rent, rates, and taxes of which exceeded 2001. per year. I had 401. to pay to take possession of it—I had to fit it up for the business of book and pamphlet selling, which cost me another 401. at least-I had to pay 401. for the freedom of the city of London; besides the expences of the prosecutions. I struggled through all this with apparent ease, and at the close of the summer I found that I had accumulated two thousand pounds worth of property in books. I speak seriously when I say that I verily believe that the profits which accrued to me from all the monies I returned from December the 16th, 1818, to November the 16th, 1819, were not much less than four thousand pounds. Now, judge for yourself, of the immense number of books and pamphlets I must have sold to return that quantity of money, and the effect that those books and pamphlets (chiefly Deistical) must have had, and the appetite that must have existed for them. Do not mistake me as making a public statement of my profits from any vanity or secret pride, I have no such a grovelling idea, I have a higher and nobler view, namely, to stimulate you and some others to go and do what I have done. I have but a very small portion of this profit or property left now, and may be destitute, for what I know at present, before I get to London again; but whoever starts now has no reason to fear an imprisonment as lengthened as mine is likely to be. He is certain of as great a sale as I had if he takes the same course, and stands a greater chance of escape from imprisonment.
I will now state a few instances of the loss of individuals in consequence of going to prison for some trifling publication or for a single copy of some publication. I will begin with
Mrs. Carlile. I have been wringingit into her ears throughout the present year, that she was doing wrong in not completing the report of my trial, which as our edition of the Age of Reason was exhausted, would have done just as well, and might have been sold at the same price when complete. I have again and again told her, that she was throwing away the profit of a thousand pounds, without receiving the slightest security for it from imprisonment, and that she would have stood a much better chance to contest a prosecution for the report of the trial, than for the most paltry publication in the shop. I told her again and again that the Vice Society would pursue her to a prison, for some trifling publication for which a prosecution would neither procure her profit or fame, and that in the language of the adage she "might as well be hung for a sheep as the lamb." But all availed nothing; the Vice Society had withdrawn the prosecution for the publication of the report of the trial, and she gave them credit for something like mercy and feeling towards a woman. Sad delusion! She now goes to prison for two publications from which, throughout the year, she has scarcely made a 17. profit.
Again, I would instance the case of Mr. Griffin, a man of spirit unquestionably, he has now got a sentence of twelve months imprisonment in the Middlesex Bastile for a paltry pamphlet of a hundred lines, which does not inculcate a single principle, but merely makes a futile and foolish promise of increasing the soldiers pay, and of giving him a pension for life. Our soldiers are not so ignorant as to be captivated by such a false and delusive bait. Give them security for their persons and they will not be long the dupes of tyranny to degrade and massacre their countrymen. Before they see security, it is not to be expected that they will join the people. This lesson may be learnt either from the revolution of Spain, Naples, or Portugal. Such an offer by an individual in a penny pamphlet, is as ridiculous as was the summoning of the Tower by young Watson and his party in 1816. If Mr. Griffin had resolved last year to continue the sale of the Age of Reason, he would have cleared a profit of five hundred pounds at least. and perhaps would not have had more than his present impri
I would make the same observation to Mr. Davison, he would have stood as well, if he had been publishing the Age of Reason all the year, as he does now with his Deist's Magazine, and his punishment would not have been more, in the one instance than in the other. Again, the Vice of Society have sent a person to Mr. Tyler to beg him as a friend to procure a
copy of the Age of Reason, and after he had somewhere picked up a copy, this friend and the Vice Society send it before the Grand Jury. This is abominable, and worse in my opinion than their persecution of Mrs. Carlile. The first booksellers in London are in the habit of supplying all suppressed books to a friend confidentially. The Age of Reason was on sale in this manner before I published my edition, and I could have procured as many copies as I liked. This is a true definition of what Mr. Best calls a Satanic pleasure. Now I have no doubt but this single copy will procure Mr. Tyler as heavy an imprisonment as if he had been publishing all the year. This society has once before actually robbed him of seven pounds, because they were not inclined to proceed with a prosecution, and he neglected to enter an appearauce, because he had not been summoned nor called on in Court, although he attended to my knowledge for the purpose of pleading, and I have seen his indictment laying about the Crown Office.
I hope that the foregoing observations will be sufficient to induce some individual or individuals to make a stand, and to publish every thing that is good and now suppressed, and not to be sent to prison for a trifle. The chief solace of my mind is, that I am not confined for a trifle, and I am sure, that my career has left satisfaction enough in my bosom to wear out my imprisonment.
With respect to Mr. Hill's defence, of Mrs. Carlile, I can say nothing. I do not think the better of it for the commendation of Mr. Justice Best. I have seen no report of it. I have not troubled about it. I am not disappointed. I expected nothing from Mr. IIill after his attempt to defend Major Cartwright at Warwick. I had understood all along, that some other gentleman more avowedly bold than Mr. Hill, had undertaken to defend Mrs. Carlile. I had no wish that the person who defended Mrs. Carlile should do as I did, avow himself a Deist. He might have claimed respect for deistical opinions, on the ground of numbers, and the many polished and literary men who had avowed themselves to be convinced of the nonsense of all pretended revelations and religions. This might have been done with spirit, and with more effect than selections from what Christians had said about toleration.
I have not time to make a better finish, as my turnkey waits to take this to the coach-office.
Yours, with esteem,
Dorchester Gaol, Nov. 1st, 1820,