Imágenes de página

“nected with the ruin of the Christian “cause.” He then goes on to tell us, that “to accomplish the more speedy ruin “of the Christians, those whose interests “were incompatible with the progress of “the Gospel loaded them with most oppro“brious calumnies; and these (adds he) “were the only arms they had to opp

designated Unbelievers, the hitter, in proportion to numerical strength, would be found to have produced the most GooD MEN.—With servent prayers for the cause of Civil and Religious Liberty, I am, Dear Sir, your sincere Friend, London, Jan. 1815. ERASMUS PERKINs.

“ the TRUTH.” How sorry I am, in reading the history of my own church, to find in its infancy such a strong parallel between the behaviour of the Romans towards the Christians, and the conduct of by far too many professors of our holy religion, in the present day, towards those unfortunate people whom we stigmatize with the name of DEISTs or THEISTs, because they acknowledge but one God, in opposition to us who are Tritheists. How many books have we in this countly wherein these unhappy persons are brandcd with every odious epithet that the imagination can devise, and charged with conspiring against the eternal peace and happiness of their fellow creatures, when we know their works breathe nothing but the most unbounded philanthropy and benevolenee. The general tenor of their writings approaches touch mealer to the mildness and charity of our blessed Saviour than the sermons of many of the most eminent divines.—Have not philosophers, whose labours have been devoted to the improvement of mankind, whose dispositions have been most amiable, and whose lives most exemplary, been held up to the execration of the public as impious wretches, unworthy of existence 2 I grieve for the injury the cause of Christ has sustained by those who profess to be his ministers or disciples, descending to such unworthy measures, and promise, if God is pleased to spare me, and bless me with health and resolution, to vindicategenuine Christianity from the disgrace it has incurred from weak and wicked pretenders; but, at the same time, for the honour of my faith, to rove to the world, that an humble fol. }. of Jesus is capable of writing “An “impartial, biographical, and critical ac“count of all those persons denominated “infidels, who have flourished since the “birth of our Lord ;” a work for which I have been collecting materials during the last twenty years; and I have little doubt I shall be able to shew, that if the numbers of those calling themselves Christians could be analysed and compared with those


MR. Cobbr.TT,-One of your Correspondents, who signs himself VARRo, has thought proper to introduce a defence of Sir William Drummond into your REGISTER, of the 14th inst. He has cast sonic free expressions on the Rev. G. D'Oyly, Christian Advocate in the University of Cambridge, who has publicly animadverted on the OEDIPUs Jud Aicus, and has inserted in your REGISTER a rather full extract of violent, and, as I think, most unjust abuse of him, which has been poured forth by some anonymous writer. As I conceive the statement which VARRo has conveyed to you to be extremely unfair, I venture to trouble you with what I conceive to be a far more just and true representation of the matter. I trust to your candour to take the earliest opportunity of making this letter public, in conpliance with your avowed wish, on every occasion, of letting both sides of the question be fairly heard. It is pretty well known that, two or three years ago, Sir William Drummond printed, and privately circulated, his book, entitled (EDIPUs JUDAICUs, in which he endeavoured to prove the Bible to contain nothing but fable, allegory, and romance ; and treated it with as profane and blasphemous ribaldry, as had ever been done by the most inveterate of infidels. Although this book was not publicly sold, yet it was clear that the author's forbearance did not proceed from tenderness to the Bible, but from his prudent regard to his own safety, and his desire of sheltering himself from animadversion ; for he, and others acting for him, distributed the work at first without scruple, whenever they deemed the quarter a safe one, and cwen took singular pains, in some instances, to eartend its circulation. Thus the book passed into a number of hands, became of public motoriety, and was, in some instances, the more eagerly sought for, from the secret manner of its distribution. Under these circumstances, what was to be done *

Was Sir W. Drummond to be allowed

to taiat the public mind with such matter, without a syllable of answer or animadversion ? Was the Bible not to be heard even in its defence? Was this novel method of discovering truth to be adopted, that one side of the question only should be heard, and a complete bar put upon the mouths of all opponents, because the book which required an answer was unpublished? Was it to become an allowed and established privilege of wealth, to circulate opinions of every description, no matter how noxious to society, in full security from animadversion or contradiction, by the simple expedient of writing a book and distributing it gratuitously I guess, no man in his senses will maintain so wild a position as this. In the case then of Sir W. Drummond, what was to be dome 2 It is true, that he might have been prosecuted in a court of law for blasphemy ; for, there is no doubt, that, in the contemplation of the law, a book gratuitously circulated, is no less a publication than one which is sold at the booksellers shops ; and, if this course had been taken, it is tolerably certain that this Sicilian Knight, and British Privy Councillor, would have been raised to more public notoricty than he had yet attained, by the pillory. But as you, Mr. Cobbett, I observe, contend very strenu. ously against any use of legal prosecutions towards persons who write against the Bible, you must be the last person to maintain that such a proceeding ought to have been adopted towards Sir W. Drummond. Thus, them, unless the free license was to be granted to him, of saying what he pleased against the Bible, unnoticed and unchastised, it was absolutely necessary that some literary opponent should enter the lists against him, and examine a little the truth of his assertions, and the soundness of his pretensions. Accordingly, the clergyman, whose name your correspondent mentions, came forward for that purpose, and addressed, in the first place, some letters of remonstrance to the author, on the nature of his attack on revelation, and followed these up by an enquiry into the truth, accuracy, and learning which he displayed. l perceive your correspondent to affirm, that the OEDIPUs JUDAICUs of Sir W. Drummond “displays a fund of prodigious “erudition " ' " On the contrary, Mr. D'Oyly not only shewed, in every point. that his attempts to impeach the truth of the biblical histories were most futile and

unfounded ; but he also shewed, what seems to have touched the author quite as nearly, that, under an ostentatious display of deep erudition, he is one of the most shallow of men ; that he has used terms without any knowledge of their meaning, has heaped blunder upon blunder, committed inaccuracy after inaccuracy, and asserted the boldest falsehoods without the slightest excuse ; and that, during all this time, he has stolen a great part of his matter from preceding it.fidel writers, while he endeavourcq to assume to limself the credit of all the learning which he produced. Thus Mr. D'Oyly not only defeated the opposer of revelation, in his purpose, but stripped the vain jack-daw of his stolen plumes; and shewed that the imposing appearances of deep erudition, which the (EpiPUs JUDAICUS conveyed, were of the most hollow and fallacious description. I wish neither you nor any one else to take all this on my assertion, but call upon every one to enquire for himself, by reading the CEDIPUs JUDA1cus, and the remarks which have been made upon it. Your correspondent tells you, that three anonymous writers have started up in defence of the OED1 PUs JUDAICUS, and have shewn the ignorance and malice of the person who wrote against it. These three anonymous writers, it is pretty well known, are no other than Sir W. D. himself in disguise. They have written, it is true, a very bulky volume in professed defence of the (ED:#Us JUDAICUS, but have almost entirely substituted railing and scurrilous invective for sound arguments ; and instead of defending Sir W. D.'s blunders, have indicted whole reams of personal abuse against his opponent.— An anonymous pamphlet, signed J. R. has since appeared, in which it has been most fully shewn, that, notwithstanding , all which is boldly affirmed by these virulent writers (of whose mode of argument, by the way, your correspondent gives no very unfair specimen), Mr. D'Oyly's charges

and proofs against Sir Wm. Drummond

remain good in every essential part. I must repeat, that I wish not any single person to believe what I here affirm, solely on my assertion; but as you have thought it right to publish an er-parte statement from one correspondent, it seems but fair that you should give equal publicity to the opinion of another respecting this matter. Your's, &c. JUSTI's. Dec. 30, 1814.


SIR,-Your recent remarks on the unhandsome and illiberal newspaper abuse of the people of France, and the measures of their Government, are fully corroborated by the manner in which the Morning Chronicle, of last week, adverted to the proceedings against Gercral Excelmans, who had been ordered under arrest by the King of France. Of this officer the Chronicle observed, that he had “petition“ed both Chambers for redress, and has “stated his willingness to surrender him

“self the moment a trial is promised him, i.

“ and his reasons for withdrawing himself “momentarily from the oppression which this renewed system of Lettres de Cachct had inflicted on him.” Either the writer of this article is entirely ignorant of the nature of Lettres de Cachet, or he must have been influenced by motives of the worst kind, to compare the order given in this case to that terrible instrument.— In the justly celebrated answer to the Bourbon proclamation, published in your REGISTER of the 15th January, I observe some very pertinent remarks on the subject of Lettres de Cachet, extracted fom Mr. Arthur Young's Survey of France. To these may be added the following more detailed account by Gordon, an able writer in the cause of freedom, whose works were Published about the beginning of last century:—“The French Government, though “a mild one for an arbitrary one, is yet a “very terrible one to an Englishman. All “the advantages in it are not coimparable “to one single advantage in ours : I mean “the Act of Habeas Corpus, which se“cures, at least rescues, from all wanton “and oppressive imprisonment. in France, “by the word of a Minister, the greatest, “the most innoce:t, subject, may, from “caprice, or a whisper, or the pique of a “mistress, be committed to a dungeon for “his life, or the best part of it, or as long “as the Minister, or his raistress or mi“nion pleases. Some have been there shut “ up in disma! durance and solitude for “years together, though no harm was “meant them ; not for any offence real “ or imaginary, but only through mistake “ and likeness of names. Thus & Minister “has sometimes committed his favorites, “ and useful agents, who lay in misery for “ years, and might have perished in it, had “not accident contributed to undeceive “ him. Such orders, called Letters of the

“Signet, lie in the hands of the Ministers, “ as well as in those of the Under Governors of Brovinces, to be used at their discre“tion, frequently to gratify their own “vengeance. 1s an Intendant piqued against any man of quality; or a vinister against a President of Parliament 2 Such a letter is straight sent to him, and he instantly sent from home, sometimes into a remote province. Is the Governor's Lady, or daughter, disgusted at another lady in the place, finer and more admired than herself, her punishment is decreed, and the poor rival sent a wandering; a crime is easily forged, and the sufferer has no remedy. The smallest “afront to a Monk in favour (and Monks, “God knows, are sco: offended), finds the “ same compassion; a victim must be of. “ferred to his holy rage.” No one who reads this description of Lettres de Cachet, will be able to discover any resemblance to these in the proceedinga against General Fxcelmans. He was not put under arrest to gratify the caprice of any Minister, Deputy Governor, Mistress, or Monk. He was, in the first instance, ordered to remove from Paris, by command of the King, for an offence, real or supposed, against the State. Had there been any intention to revive the Lettres de

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

Cochct, the General would have been .

seized and sent to prison, without any ceremony, instead of giving him an opportunity to remove himself. But did he obey the order of his Sovereign On the contrary, he remonstrated agaiust it, and persisted in continuing at Paris. Even then, no violence was used, though, if he had been previously innocent, his disobedierce might have been converted into a crime, and he dealt with accordingly. —The order to leave Paris was dated the 10th. On the 14th he had not gone to his place of destination, which led the Minister to put a guard on his house. In this stage of the business, and in place of sending him to prison, or even sccuring his person, the order was renewed, and twenty-four hours allowed him to remove himself. Still he continued refractory. It was, therefore, considered expedient to place him under arrest; but no attempt having been made to convey him

from his house, an opportunity was thus as

forded the General to make his escape. Such being the well authenticated nature of the Lettres de Cachet, and such the true

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

state of General Excelman's case, as given

even in the Morning Chronicle itself, how is it possible to acquit the writer in that Journal of a base and malicious calumny against the French Government, when he denominates its proceedings “oppression,” and a “renewed system of Lettres de “Cachet & "-It is not my wish to advocate the conduct of the present Rulers of France, or to attach blame to the individual who has incurred their displeasure. The charge preferred by the former may be unfounded. The latter, of course, must be innocent.— But it is not necessary that either of these points should be established, to shew that the proceedings against the General merited the harsh terms by which they have been described by the Chronicle. In this land of liberty, where the Habeas Corpus, as Gordon says, “secures, at least rescues, “from all wanton and oppressive impri“sonment,” numbers of persons are necessarily arrested, and even imprisoned, who it afterwards turns out are entirely innocent. We have each known individuals, for reasons of State, kept in close custody, without any suspension of the Habeas Corpus. Would we not call that man a knave, or a fool, who would charge our Government with oppression for sanctioning those proceedings What, them, are we to think of the Editor of such a paper as the Morning Chronicle, when we see him bringing a similar charge against the French Government, who appear to have acted a part not more reprehensible than ours ? Is it possible, as I asked before, to acquit such a man of wanton and deliberate malice — Your's, &c. JUSTITIA.

January 4, 1815.


MR. Cobb ETT, I should like to be informed why our neighbours the Scotch, who have been so long celebrated for their liberality of sentiment, and so far famed for their hospitality, should have degenerated so much of late years, as to permit the following, disgraceful affair, (the account of which has appeared in all our newspapers) to be transacted amongst them:—

“BRUTAL BEHAviour.—Wednesday, “ between one and two o'clock, Holliam “Coil and Elizabeth Roberts, his wife, “stood in the pillory at the cross of Glas“gow, for Wilful Perjury, of which “they were lately convicted at the She

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

* must have received much bodily hurt.

“The woman, however, did not wholly “escape. From the blood on her cap, she “seemed to have been wounded on the “head. The stones were thrown chiefly, “if not entirely, by a party of lads sta“tioned near the new building erecting on “the site of the old gaol. When the hour “was clapsed, the disgraceful business did “not terminate. There were those among “the mob who thought the sport far too “fine to be given up so soon. The man “was, according to their jargon, “put “‘through the mill.” He was coffed and “kicked, and knocked down and raised up, “at the pleasure of the by-standers. In “the Candleriggs-street, to which the mob “moved, he was thrown into a cart, whose “driver for some time drove him along, “humouring the amusement; but, finding “that neither himself nor his horse escaped “the punishment emeant for the old man, he “loosed his cart, and tumbled him out on the street. In the course of the fray he “was repeatedly raised shoulder-high, and “exhibited in his grey-hairs, torn gar“ments, and swollen features, a most piti“able spectacle. At length he was re“scued by the exertions of the Police, and “taken to the office in Albion-street.” That scenes, no less savage and barbarous than those described above, have beca exhibited in London, within these few years, no one will pretend to deny ; but that they should exist in Scotland, the seat of learning, where “pure and undefiled “religion” has more professors than ary where else, and where we ought to lock for a moie distinguished display of its humane and benevolent effects ; that such a spectacle should be witnessed, at this time cs day, in such a country, is a phenomenon well deserving the attention of those who feel interested in the cultivation of public morals, and in the improvement of our criminal code. I question much, whether in all Europe, even in “demoralized” France itself, an instance can be produced where popular fury has been permitted to discharge itself with such marks of ferocity, as in the case of the hoary-headed wretch who was given up by the Magistrates of Glasgow to be coffed, kicked, and knocked down, all for the “ amusement” of the ious and hospitable inhabitants of that j, cultivated and enlightened city . . . The pillory is evidently a vestige of that feudal barbarism which formerly overspread Europe; and although it is not now attended, as then, with the painful infliction of having the ears nailed to the instrument of disgrace, or the check branded with a hot iron, it is a punishment that must, in many cases, be worse than death, when the culprit, through a mistaken policy, is left to the mercy of an infuriated mob.-It would be difficult, if think, to point out the wisdom of that law; which leaves the degree of punishment of a criminal to be determined, and inflicted, by the multitude, who neither know, or are capable of justly appreciating, the offence with which he is charged. The case of the man at Glasgow was no doubt of a very aggravated nature. But are all persons condemned to the pillory of the same description Have we not had that sentence put in execution for mere matters of opinion ? and can itseriously be said that any person thus situated ought to be consigned to the hands of a set of unprincipled ruffians, to be kicked and cuffed, as long as they please, for their amusement 2 Why should not the law explicitly define and apportion the degree of punishment belonging to each offence 2 Why should so glaring a proof of its inef. ficacy be permitted for one moment to exist? Where our national character is so much involved, and the rights of humanity so deeply implicated, it surely would be no disgrace if our legislators would exert themselves to get a practice abolished, which, on all occasions, would be

“more honourcd in the breach than in the

“observance.” Much as has been done of late towards ameliorating our tiiminal law, there still remains a vast accumulation of abuse and error, which it will require more than ordinary exertion and talent to overcome. Those to whom the country is already indebted for many excellent reforms in our criminal code, will have much to combat, in the way of prejudice, before they can accomplish all they propose. But as they have already experienced the beneficial advantages of perseverance, they may pretty safely calculate, that as long as they continue to keep the object steadily in view, they need be under no apprehensions as to the result.—Yours, &c. BENEvolus,


SIR,-You will much oblige the writer of the letter which appeared in your last REGISTER on the subject of the Oxford prison, by inserting the following Postscript to it:

It is true that a room is now fitting up in the prison for sick persons, but this room will not contain more than four beds, which is a very inadequate accommodation. As the University Officers are at this time endeavouring to apprehend all the prostitutes who are ill of a certain disease, the prison, should the winter be severe, will present a scene of more than usual misery. The writer will feel himself much obliged to any resident Member of the University of Cambridge, who will favou him, through the medium of your REGISTER, with a full and accurate account of the me. thod pursued there with respect to these unfortunate women.

Oxford, Jan. 2, 1815. *

Printed aud Published by J. M. QRTON, 84, Strand,

« AnteriorContinuar »