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will be liable to transportation for fourteen years. I mention this that you may not be ignorant of the consequences of offending in future.
Defendant-My Lord, in your address to the Jury, you asserted, which is utterly
Recorder-The Court cannot hear any thing you have to
The defendant was then conducted back to prison.
TRIAL OF WILLIAM COCHRANE.
WILLIAM COCHRANE was charged with publishing a blasphemous, wicked, and prophane libel, tending to vilify the Holy Scriptures, and the Christian religion, and to bring the same into ridicule and contempt.
Mr. Barnard conducted the prosecution. He stated that the defendant at the bar stood there to answer for publishing a wicked and impious libel against our holy religion, contained in No. 21, of a periodical work published at 84, Fleet Street, in the name of R. Carlile, entitled the Republican. The question was, whether these men, who were the agents of Carlile, were to be allowed to defy the law; and whether the tide of blasphemy was to be allowed, by flowing all over the empire, poisoning and corrupting the minds of the weak and iguorant, or whether the evil was to be stopped in its progress, by enforcing the law against those offenders, who, notwithstanding the warning they had received, continued to proceed in their illegal and wicked The libel which the defendant published was of a most dangerous tendency; and it was no defence for the accused to say, that other persons were not prosecuted for publisbing matter equally offensive, or for him to attack the Unitarian for denying the divinity of Christ. He was satisfied the jury would see the necessity of suppressing such vile publications. The libel states
"I have now to shew you upon what ground I attack the priests, upon what ground Christianity is assailable.
"I assail them upon every ground that they can take. If they talk about the moral utility of Christianity; I shew them that its practical character, in all countries, throughout its history, is bad. If they refer me to the moral worth of the New Testament as a book, I shew them, by an analysis, that it exhibits more of immorality than morality. If they
talk to me about Jesus Christ, as a Saviour for a future life, I explain to them, that there is no future life, that shall be conscious of the present; that there is no such place in be. ing as they call heaven and hell; and that, consequently, no such a being as Jesus Christ or Devil can be in existence. If they refer me to the long standing history of the tale, I go to its origin, shew it to be fabulous, and that antiquity does not convert a fable to truth. I can controvert all their positions, either physically or historically. If they seek a refuge in the Old Testament, the history and present condition of the Jews, or the pretended prophecies, I shew them the bad foundation of such a refuge, by showing that the Jews were not known in Asia Minor two thousand four hundred years ago; whilst their sacred books pretend to place their residence as a people in that country a thousand years before we have any authentic history of them. Such a circumstance proclaims their first fourteen books to be fabulous. For my part, I never either conversed or coresponded with a Jew upon the subject, who did not avow his abomination of the superstition of his ancestors; and I have known many to make that avowal. I understand that the case is almost universal with them, at least with the educated part; for the uneducated are evidence of nothing, in any sect or party. If they talk to me about a God, I ask them, what they mean or refer to by the word? To this they can give me no answer: for no one man knows any thing further about a God than any other man; and let every man put the question to himself, whether he knows any thing about God? and he will be constrained to say, that no one man is more of an Atheist than any other man. We are all Atheists alike, when we examine the matter fairly, and rest upon our knowledge instead of our ignorance and superstition."
The learned Gentleman said he should call a witness to prove the publication.
George Leadbetter sworn-Is a Bow Street patrol. On the 27th of May last he went to Carlile's shop, 84, Fleet Street; the defendant was there; he asked for the last No. of the Republican, which had been published on the Friday before. The defendant said it was prohibited. Witness told him that he had been there some days before, and that they promised to send it to his lodgings. The defendant then said, "Oh! very well, you shall have it;" and then brought him the No., for which he paid sixpence. Witness marked it with his initials, so that he could afterwards identify it.
Mr. French, Counsel for the defendant, said he would ask the witness no questions.
Mr. Barnard said that was his case.
Mr. French then rose and addressed the court for the defendant. He said that after the disgusting scene exhibited in that Court, the day before, by the defence of the deluded man who was on his trial, a scene which must have been to the mind of the learned Judge, and all then present, a source of the most excruciating torment; how pleasing must it appear to them now, to have a Christian advocate, however uneloquent, to rivet the attention of a Christian audience. Yes, Gentlemen, one who glories in a lowly, unaffected, unreserved belief in the pages of that sacred volume, and in the assistance of its inspiring God, even at the present moment, as a man of his sublime capacity can possibly do in rejecting it with sentiments of disdain and horror. It was no later than yesterday, Gentlemen, that I expressed my disinclination to act as counsel in causes of this nature; nor, should I have had the honour of addressing you this day, had I not been reminded of a promise to my present client, which I had really forgotten. Not, Gentlemen, that I feel any thing like the sting of remorse from my feeble exertions in behalf of these most unfortunate of men, but that my heart really sickens at the constant repetition of the word blasphemy, to which my ears hitherto had not been accustomed, either in private or in public life. It is but justice, however, to my learned friends, the gentlemen who have opened the indictments for these few days past, to observe, that, incongruous and unbeseeming as these altercations must necessarily be to the dignified character of a Christian, they seem, as it were, divested of half their horrors, by the the animating manner with which those learned gentlemen brighten into eloquence, in defending Christianity from the calumniating aspersions of her enemies. But now, Gentlemen, to come more immediately to the point. If the majesty and holiness of religion has no longer any resource or prop to sustain it, flourishing untainted and unadulterated amongst us, but by recurring to prosecutions that familiarise the ears of the people of this country to the sounds of blasphemy, (sounds constantly reiterated in these indictments) will it not, Gentlemen, be natural to think, that the great oracle of our law, Sir Edward Coke, was not unauthorised by the dictates of deep and pondering wisdom when he said, "That the cognizance of these matters-to wit, heresy and blasphemy-belongs not to the common laws of England; for that the matters are of too grave a nature to be agitated, except according to the
King's Ecclesiastical Laws of this realm." Gentlemen, far
May come and go, so unapproved, and leave
But still, Gentlemen, I do maintain, that the constant reechoing of these unhallowed sounds in courts of Justice, from one mouth to another, cannot but be injurious to the interests of that religion, which the Solicitor of the Treasury is so zealously anxious to uphold in all its dignity and lustre. And yet, Gentlemen, to whom are we indebted for this ruggedness and asperity of blaspheming sound, from which a Christian ear recoils with horror? Is it not to those, who permit blasphemy to be embodied into a system, under the protecting name of Unitarianism, and yet prosecute the poor, abject, insignificant mortals, who dare to blaspheme without the ingenuity of having first invented some high sounding name, such as that of Unitarian, to rescue them from the indignation of the law, that scorns to be violated by the poor and the ignoble? Why does not Mr. Maule, the Solicitor to the Treasury, send his well-paid myrmidons to the Unitarian Meeting-houses, where blasphemy is weekly poured forth to large congregations-where the divinity of Christ is openly denied, not probably in language so coarse and direct as that used by the defendant, but in language more fascinating and insidious? Why is there not some high sounding name given to the systematic blasphemies of the Unitarians? Why are they not indicted and brought to the bar, by those who are prosecuting the ignorant and the poor? Why were they not upon the same footing as his client? His client was equally as respectable, but with this diffe
rence that the one had the misfortune to be a defendant at that bar, and the others were suffered to go free. They were allowed to profess publicly their doctrines; they were supported by persons high in station, who believed in their doctrines, nay, who openly protected and upheld them. He was standing before them, not as a Catholic, a Protestant, or a member of any other sect, but as a general Christian; and he would scorn to mix up his political or religious opinions on such a topic, or such a theme; he would scorn the man who did so. Could they sit in that box and feel sentiments of indignation against that poor ignorant man, when the systematic blasphemer -- the Unitarian-should be exempt from punishment, and who should be at that bar, if law did as it ought? was not this shameful partiality of the laws which made them the gaze and stare of the whole world, when the Unitarians were looked upon as a respectable, a moral, and a religious sect?-these titles were given to them, but they were denied to other blasphemers. If a Roman Catholic aspires to any dignity in the state, he is not allowed, because he differs from the established religion. Although he is as virtuous, as moral, and as good a citizen as the Protestant, still he is proscribed. It was not for him to comment or call in question the wisdom of the Legislature; but it was abominable to see that the Catholic could not rise to any great dignity in the Army or Navy, or even obtain a silk gown, while the Unitarians were eligible, and possessed posts of the highest honour and distinction in the state. If a place in the state was offered to a Catholic, and that the usual oath was proposed to him, he would refuse the proffered dignity-which shows the strict regard of the Catholic for his religious principles; but if such an oath was proposed to an Unitarian, he would take it, with this mental reservation, that I believe this book to be the Bible, and I believe Christ to be not God, but human. The laws of justice require every man to be treated alike. If there exists a law, which says that the denying of the divinity of Christ is blasphemy, and such a law existed time immemorial—and he called upon the learned Judge to contradict him if he stated any thing wrong-this being the case, why are not those who blasphemed brought to this bar? Should they be prosecuted, and the great mass of Unitarians be allowed to remain unprosecuted? If a man stood at that bar for murder, and that he pleaded as an excuse for the crime, that other murderers were at large unpunished, this would not be a good argument, because the crime was a natural crime, and not a positive one. He was sure that the remedy of all