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Title: An Address to Men of Science - Calling Upon Them to Stand Forward and Vindicate the Truth....
Author: Carlile, Richard, 1790-1843
Language: English
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AN ADDRESS TO MEN OF SCIENCE;

CALLING UPON THEM TO STAND FORWARD AND VINDICATE THE TRUTH FROM THE
FOUL GRASP AND PERSECUTION OF SUPERSTITION; AND OBTAIN FOR THE ISLAND
OF GREAT BRITAIN THE NOBLE APPELLATION OF WHENCE MANKIND SHALL BE
ILLUMINATED, AND THE BLACK AND PESTIFEROUS CLOUDS OF PERSECUTION AND
SUPERSTITION BE BANISHED FROM THE FACE OF THE EARTH; AS THE ONLY SURE
PRELUDE TO UNIVERSAL PEACE AND HARMONY AMONG THE HUMAN RACE. IN WHICH
A SKETCH OF A PROPER SYSTEM FOR THE EDUCATION OF YOUTH IS SUBMITTED TO
THEIR JUDGMENT.

By Richard Carlile

London:

PRINTED AND PUBLISHED BY R. CARLILE, 55, FLEET STREET.

1821. Price One Shilling.



ADDRESS,

Gentlemen,

In addressing a Letter to so distinguished and so important a part of
the community, it becomes me to say, that, I am not myself a man of
experimental Science, neither, out of the ordinary occupations of my
past life, have I ever seen a scientific experiment made in any one
department of Chemistry, or Natural Philosophy; all that I know, with
the above exception, has been acquired by reading and meditation. My
present address is chiefly confined to those Philosophers, who study and
practice the sciences of Chemistry and Astronomy. I shall endeavour to
point out to them that, they are bound by duty, by common sense, and by
common honesty, to make known to mankind, or, more particularly their
fellow countrymen, whatever discoveries they may make to prove that the
others are following a system of error, or that they are acted upon by
a system of imposture. I shall make it appear plain to them, that they
have not hitherto done this, and that they have openly countenanced
systems of error and imposture, because the institutions of the country
were connected with them; or, because they feared to offend those
persons who might be deriving an ill-gotten profit from them. This
subject will form the first head of my address. In my second head, I
shall shew that the present system of educating children is entirely
on a wrong basis, and their youthful time is so far wasted, as to leave
them, when advanced to the years of maturity, in a state of comparative
ignorance. I shall shew that if in their school exercises they were made
acquainted with nothing but the elements of Astronomy, of Geography,
of Natural History, and of Chemistry, so that they might at an early
period of life form correct notions of organized and inert matter,
instead of torturing their minds with metaphysical and incomprehensible
dogmas about religion, of which they can form no one idea but that of
apparent absurdity and contradiction, they would be prepared to make a
much greater advancement in the Arts and Sciences, and to improve their
condition in society much more than can be now possibly done. These
shall not be altogether theoretical ideas, their practicability will
reach the mind of every rational being, or he who takes the liberty to
think and reason for himself. Many new plans and schemes for education
are daily starting up, but the whole, of which I have any knowledge,
have the above common error; for the subjects upon which our youth are
taught to read and write, and those in which the dead or foreign living
languages are taught, are by no means calculated to expand the mind,
or to give it a knowledge of Nature and her laws; and thus the most
important of all opportunities is lost, and much time actually wasted,
in which their minds might be prepared for the reception and knowledge
of natural and useful truths. What is the knowledge of the present
school-boy, in what is called classical literature, when compared with a
useful instruction 'in Chemistry and the laws of Nature? Of what use
to society at large is a classical scholar? or one well versed in the
ancient mythologies, for this, after all, is the chief part of classical
knowledge? It neither gives a polish to manners nor teaches morality. It
fills the mind with a useless jargon, and enables the possessor now and
then to make a tinsel and pompous declamation in half a dozen different
languages; which, if it were to undergo a translation into one
language, and that which we call native, would be found to be a mass of
unintelligible and unmeaning trash--words of sound, to which it would
be difficult to attach an idea, and in which all correct notions are
wanting. It makes a man a pedant only. Such men have been most aptly
termed spouters of froth. My present object is to lay down a sketch of
what seems to me a more instructive and useful system of education. I
submit this sketch to the judgment of Men of Science, with an idea
that every schoolmaster ought to be a Man of Science, and not a parish
priest, as Mr. Brougham would have. This is the outline of my second
head, on which in due order I hope to enlarge most satisfactorily.

In my first head I shall address myself first to the Chemists of
this Island, and finish by a distinct allusion to the students and
practitioners in the science of Astronomy.

Of all the advancements made in Science of late years, perhaps the
most pre-eminent and the most important to mankind, stands that in the
science of Chemistry. Our Chemists have proved themselves the greatest
of all revolutionists, for they have silently and scientifically
undermined all the dogmas of the priest, upon which the customs and the
manners of society seem hitherto to have been entirely founded. Every
species of matter has been brought to dissolution, and its elementary
properties investigated, by their crucibles and fires, or their galvanic
batteries, and we have been practically and scientifically shewn in what
manner Nature performs her dissolutions and regenerations. As far as I
understand, but one of the phenomena of nature remains unexplored, and
that is the properties of the electric fluid, or the real cause of the
solar light and heat. I do not despair of this being reached, and I have
the stronger hope, as it will lead at once to a knowledge of the cause
of our existence, and that of every animal and vegetable substance. It
will shew the cause and process by which inert matter becomes organized,
and how all the variegated beauties of nature start into life. However,
at present, we know quite enough to authorize the rejection of all our
priestly cosmogonies, we know quite enough to set at nought the notion
that the planetary system of the universe has existed but six thousand
years--we know that matter is imperishable and indestructible, for,
although, a fire to a common understanding seems to destroy combustible
matter, yet such is not the case, for after any combustible substance
has passed through the fiercest fire, the whole of its component parts
still exist to their former full extent; the fire has only separated
them and changed their relative situations; they are dispersed in
their gaseous state, and again ready for the operations of nature, to
amalgamate with some new living and growing substance, to which their
qualities can be assimilated.*

     * The latter part of this sentence might appear preposterous
     when addressed to the Chemist, or to the Man of Science, but
     it is probable that this Address might be read by some
     individual who might not comprehend the assertion that
     matter is imperishable and indestructible; therefore the
     writer has taken the liberty to introduce this slight
     explanation. He confesses that but two years since he
     startled himself at the assertion, and asked the assertor
     whether fire did not destroy matter.

We know that the planetary system of the universe has existed to all
eternity as to the past, and must exist to all eternity as to the
future. For, although, that solar system of which our habitation is a
part, or other solar systems, might go through great changes, yet its
effect is but as the falling of a hair from our heads, and cannot be
said to disturb the great whole.

Instead of viewing ourselves as the particular and partial objects of
the care of a great Deity, or of receiving those dogmas of the priest
which teach us that every thing has been made for the convenience and
use of man, and that man has been made in the express image of the
Deity, we should consider ourselves but as atoms of organized
matter, whose pleasure or whose pain, whose existence in a state of
organization, or whose non-existence in that state, is a matter of
no importance in the laws and operations of Nature; we should view
ourselves with the same feelings, as we view the leaf which rises in the
spring, and falls in the autumn, and then serves no further purpose but
to fertilize the earth for a fresh production; we should view ourselves
but as the blossoms of May, which exhibit but a momentary splendour and
beauty, and often within that moment are cut off prematurely by a blast.
We are of no more importance in the scale of Nature than those myriads
of animalcules whose natural life is but for the space of an hour, or
but a moment. We come and pass like a cloud--like a shower--those of us
who possess a brilliancy superior to others, are but as the rainbow, the
objects of a momentary admiration, and a momentary recollection. Man has
been most aptly compared to the seasons of the year, in our own climate,
the spring, is his infancy; the summer, the time af his ardent manhood;
the autumn, his decline of life; and the winter, his old age and
death--he passes, and another series comes. He is produced by, and
produces his like, and so passes away one generation after another,
from, and to all eternity. How ridiculous then is the idea about divine
revelations, about prophesies, and about miracles, to procure proselytes
to such notions! To what generation do they apply, or if they apply to
all future generations, why were not the same revelations, prophesies,
and miracles, necessary to all the past generations? What avail the
dogmas of the priest about an end to the world, about a resurrection,
about a day of judgment, about a Heaven and Hell, or about rewards and
punishments after this life, when we assert that matter is imperishable
and indestructible--that it always was what it now is, and that it will
always continue the same. Answer this, ye Priests. Come forward, ye Men
of Science, and support these plain truths, which are as familiar
to your mind, as the simplest demonstration in mathematics is to the
experienced and accomplished mathematician.

Future rewards and punishments are cried up as a necessary doctrine
wherewith to impress the minds of men, and to restrain them from vice:
but how much more impressive and comprehensible would be the plain and
simple truth, that, in this life, virtue produces happiness, and vice
nothing but certain misery.

Away then with the ridiculous idea, and the priestly dogma of
immortality. Away with the contemptible notion that our bones, our
muscles, and our flesh shall be gathered together after they are rotted
and evaporated for a resurrection to eternal life. Away with the idea
that we have a sensible soul which lives distinct from and after the
dissolution of the body. It is all a bugbear, all a priestly imposture.
The Chemist can analyse the body of man, and send it into its primitive
gaseous state in a few minutes. His crucible and fire, or his galvanic
battery, will cause it to evaporate so as not to leave a particle
of substance or solid matter, and this chemical process is but an
anticipation, or a hastening, of the workings of Nature; for the whole
universe might be aptly termed a great chemical apparatus, in which
a chemical analysis, and a chemical composition is continually and
constantly going on. The same might be said of every organized body,
however large, or however minute; its motions produce a constant
chemical analysis and composition, a continual change; so that the
smallest particle of matter is guided by the same laws, and performs the
same duties, as the great whole. Here is an harmony indeed! Man alone
seems to form an exception by his vicious conduct and demoralizing
character. By assuming to himself a character or a consequence to which
he is not entitled, and by making a pretension to the possession of
supernatural powers, he plays such fantastic tricks as to disturb every
thing within his influence, and carries on a perpetual war with Nature
and her laws.

After those few observations upon the properties of matter either
organized or inert, (to which I know every Chemist in the country,
whose science has conquered the bigotry of his education, will give his
assent) I would call upon them all and every one to stand forward and
teach mankind those important, those plain truths, which are so clear
and so familiar to their own minds. It is the Man of Science who is
alone capable of making war upon the Priest, so as to silence him
effectually. It is the duty of the Man of Science to make war upon
all error and imposture, or why does he study? Why does he analyse
the habits, the customs, the manners, and the ideas of mankind, but to
separate truth from falsehood, but to give force to the former, and to
extinguish the latter? Why does he search into Nature and her laws,
but to benefit himself and his fellow man by his discoveries, by the
explosion of erroneous ideas, and by the establishment of correct
principles? Science must be no longer studied altogether as an amusement
or a pastime, which has been too much the case hitherto; it must be
brought forward to combat the superstitions, the vices, and the too long
established depravities among mankind, whence all their present and
past miseries have emanated, and unless the former can be destroyed, the
latter will still ensue, as a regular cause and effect.

It is evident that Men of Science have hitherto too much crouched to the
established tyrannies of Kingcraft and Priestcraft. Speaking generally
they have adopted some of the aristocratical distinctions of the day,
and have supported the frauds upon mankind, which it was their peculiar
duty to expose. This has given room to the advocates of superstitiop,
to put forward as an authority-for their dogmas, the names of Bacon, of
Newton, of Locke, and many others. They say that it is no disgrace
even to err with such men, and thus, for the want of a more decided and
determined character in the advocates of Science and Philosophy,
the enemy has built a strong hold within our lines, and has taken an
important advantage of our irresolution. I will not believe that Bacon,
or Newton, or Locke, in the latter part of their life, had any other
ideas of the Christian religion, or any other religion, than I have. In
their days, the faggots had scarcely been extinguished, nor was the fuel
which supplied them exhausted. They might therefore deem it prudent to
equivocate as a matter of safety. Besides, the two former were in the
employ of a court, and consequently under the trammels of Kingcraft,
which ever has, and ever will find its interest in the support of
Superstition and Priestcraft.

I would appeal to any man who calls himself a conscientious Christian,
and ask him whether he thinks such a man as himself could write the
following paragraph:

"Atheism leaves a man to sense, to philosophy, to natural piety, to
laws, to reputation: all which may be guides to an outward moral virtue,
though religion were not; but superstition dismounts all these, and
createth an absolute monarchy in the minds of men: therefore Atheism did
never perturb states; for it makes men wary of themselves, as looking
no farther, and we see the times inclined to Atheism (as the time
of Augustus Cæsar) were civil times: but superstition hath been the
confusion of many states, and bringeth in a new _primum mobile_, that
ravisheth all the spheres of government." This is Lord Bacon's
apology for Atheism, and, in my humble opinion, he wrote it feelingly,
conscientiously, and upon principle, as an Atheist, which word has no
other meaning than a seceder from all mythologies, although the ignorant
and interested make so much ridiculous clamour and fuss about it.

To shew that Newton was thoroughly ignorant of the chemical properties
of matter, I will quote again a paragraph, which I quoted in page 341,
Vol. II. of "The Republican," in the answer to the Rev. Thomas Hartwell
Home's pamphlet, entitled "Deism Refuted," &c. It is thus: "All things
considered, it appears probable to me, that God in the beginning
created matter in solid, hard, impenetrable particles; of such sizes and
figures, and with such other properties, as most conduced to the end for
which he formed them, and that these primitive particles, being
solids, are incomparably harder than any of the sensible porous bodies
compounded of them; even so hard as never to wear, or break in pieces:
no other power being able to divide what God made in the first creation.
While these corpuscles remain entire, they may compose bodies of one and
the same nature and texture in all ages; but should they wear away
or break in pieces, the nature of things depending on them would be
changed: water and earth, composed of old worn particles, or fragments
of particles, would not be of the same nature and texture now, with
water and earth composed of entire particles at the beginning; and,
therefore, that nature may be lasting, the changes of corporeal things
are to be placed only in the various separations, and new associations
of these permanent corpuscles." The Chemists of the present day must
smile at this notion of Sir Isaac Newton, about what God did in the
beginning: it is evident, that he knew but little about chemical
analysis and composition; or, rather, that his ideas upon the subject
were quite erroneous and hypothetical, when he might have obtained a
demonstration quite conclusive, if he had studied Chemistry with other
parts of his philosophy. Such, in my opinion, is the importance of the
science of Chemistry in the pursuit of truth and in the investigation
of Nature and her laws, that the first proper step towards philosophical
studies must be an acquaintance with its elements and powers.

We need nothing further to convince us of the struggle which existed
between science and superstition in the mind of Sir Isaac Newton than
the following creed, which I have met with quite _a propos_, or in the
midst of writing this address, in a weekly provincial paper, and which,
I imagine, has been put forth at this moment as one of those little
anxieties to prop the declining superstition of the age. It is thus
headed, _Sir Isaac Newton's Creed_: "The Supreme Being governs all
things, not as soul of the world, but as Lord of the Universe; and upon
account of his dominion, he is stiled the Lord God, Supreme over all.
The Supreme God is an eternal, infinite, absolutely perfect being; but
a being, how perfect soever, without dominion, is not Lord God. The
term God, very frequently signifies Lord; but every Lord is not God. The
dominion of a spiritual being constitutes him God; true dominion, true
God; supreme dominion, supreme God; imaginary dominion, imaginary God.
He is not eternity and infinity, but eternal and infinite. He is not
duration and space, but his duration of existence is present, and
by existing always and every where, he constitutes duration and
space--eternity and infinity. Since every part of space, and every
indivisible moment of duration, is every where; certainly the Maker and
Lord of all things, cannot be said to be in no time, and no place. He is
omnipresent, not by his power only, but in his very substance; for power
cannot subsist without substance. God is not at all affected by
the motions of bodies, neither do they find any resistance from the
omnipresence of God. He necessarily exists, and by the same necessity
he exists always and every where. Whence also it follows, that he is
all similar, all eye, all ear, all brain, all arm, all sensation, all
understanding, all active power; but this, not in a human, or corporeal
form, but in a manner wholly unknown to us, therefore not to be
worshipped under a corporeal representation." Here is the creed of Sir
Isaac Newton! and who can read this, and for a moment believe that he
was a Christian when he wrote it? I am not about to approve all this
jargon and contradiction; I despise it; I pity the Man of Science that
could write such nonsense; and rather than I would be called the author
of it, I would relinquish as much fame as Sir Isaac Newton obtained
in other respects. The foregoing ideas of Sir Isaac Newton on the
properties of matter are equally unintelligible, contradictory, and
ridiculous. Lord Bacon's definition of Christianity, or the essentials
of the Christian religion, which I have seen printed as a religious
tract, but which I have not at hand for reference or quotation, is just
of the same stamp, and rather than be called the author of such trash,
I would consent to be considered an idiot. Yet Lord Bacon as a natural
philosopher, and Sir Isaac Newton as a mathematician and astronomer,
were eminent in the highest degree, when the age in which they lived
is considered. The conduct of both evinces the mischievous effect
of superstition on the human mind, particularly where that mind is
brilliantly adapted for making a progress in science and scientific
discoveries.

It is impossible to analyze the creed of Sir Isaac Newton relative to
Deity, or found any one idea upon it. It is a string of words that have
no application, and independent of their contradiction, all that can be
said of them is, that they describe nothing. The writer of such a
creed must have been an Atheist in disguise, or perhaps unknown even to
himself. Its total amount implies that there is no God such as priests
teach, and bigots and fools imagine and believe. Mirabaud, in his
System of Nature, has brought forward several quotations from Newton's
writings, and has commented on them to shew that he was what is vulgarly
called an Atheist: that he was what every Man of Science must be, _a
seceder from the idolatry of the ignorant_. Such I believe he was in his
latter days, and in his private opinion, but he had not the honesty
to avow himself such. It is unquestionable that Newton in his youth
possessed much superstition, and it is equally unquestionable that
the progress he had made in science in his advanced age, had entirely
conquered that superstition and banished it from his mind, although,
I am sorry to say, that he was not honest enough to make a full and
conscientious confession of the change to which his theological opinions
had been subjected. Perhaps I cannot make a deeper impression on the
mind of the reader as to the real character of Newton, than by quoting
an anecdote from William Whiston's Memoirs written by himself.

"Sir Hans Sloane, Edmund Halley, and myself, were once together at
Child's Coffee-house, in St. Paul's Church-yard, and Dr. Halley asked
me, Why I was not a member of the Royal Society? I answered, because
they durst not choose an heretic. Upon which Dr. Halley said to Sir Hans
Sloane, that if he would propose me, he would second it: which was done
accordingly. When Sir Isaac Newton, the President, heard this, he was
greatly concerned; and, by what I then learned, closeted some of the
members, in order to get clear of me; and told them, that if I was
chosen a member, he would not be president. Whereupon, by a pretence of
deficiency in the form of proceeding, the proposal was dropped, I
not insisting upon it. Nay, as soon as I was informed of Sir Isaac's
uneasiness, I told his bosom friend, Dr. Clarke, that had I known his
mind, I would have done nothing that might bring that great man's 'grey
hairs with sorrow to the grave:' Nor has that Society ever refused
to let me come, and lay any of my papers or instruments before them,
whenever I desired it; without my being an actual member: which,
considering my small ability to pay the usual sums for admission, and
annual dues, was almost as agreeable to me, as being a constant member.
Now if the reader desire to know the reason of Sir Isaac Newton's
unwillingness to have me a member, he must take notice, that as his
making me first his deputy, and giving me the full profits of the place,
brought me to be a candidate, as his recommendation of me to the heads
of colleges in Cambridge, made me his successor; so did I enjoy a large
portion of his favour for twenty years together. But he then perceiving
that I could not do as his other darling friends did, that is, learn of
him, without contradicting him, when I differed in opinion from him, he
could not, in his old age, bear such contradiction; and so he was afraid
of me the last thirteen years of his life. See my Authentic Records,
page 1070, 1071. He was of the most fearful, cautious, and suspicious
temper, that I ever knew: and had he been alive when I wrote against his
Chronology, and so thoroughly confuted it, that nobody has ever ventured
to vindicate it, that I know of, since my confutation was published, I
should not have thought proper to publish it during his life-time:
because I knew his temper so well, that I should have expected it would
have killed him. As Dr. Bentley, Bishop Stillingfleet's chaplain, told
me, that he believed Mr. Locke's thorough confutation of the Bishop's
Metaphysics about the Trinity, hastened his end also."

Whiston was the early friend of Newton and succeeded him at Cambridge in
the professor's chair in the science of the Mathematics. Newton when
young was a firm adherent to the ridiculous doctrine of the Christian
Trinity, and so useful as figures were to him in his mathematical and
astronomical discoveries, and to such an extent, beyond all
predecessors, could he carry them, yet superstition could persuade him,
that three could be explained to be but one; and one to comprise three!
The science of Whiston in the Mathematics was almost equal to that of
Newton, though I believe the former had not so fertile a genius as the
latter, and was obliged to acquire by labour what to the other was
natural. Yet Whiston, although he had superstition enough to make him a
honest and conscientious Christian, knew the proper use of arithmetic,
and would not allow three to be one, nor one to be three: he rejected
the doctrine of the Trinity in the Godhead. Whiston honestly and openly
combated this impossibility, and avowed himself an Arian, and contended
under much persecution throughout his lifetime that such were the
sentiments of the early Christians, and that the doctrine of the Trinity
was but a corruption of the church after it had been long established.
Such tenets were then called blasphemous, and Whiston was expelled from
his professor's chair, and from the university of Cambridge altogether,
and had to endure more clamour about blasphemy than ever I had, or have
any reason to fear in future. This circumstance connected with a rivalry
in the Mathematics occasioned the breach between Whiston and Newton, but
ridiculous as even Whiston's superstition appears to me, I think him a
much more honest man than ever was Newton, and as a member of society
much more useful to the age in which they lived. Newton courted
distinction and popularity by servilely succumbing to all the despotisms
of the day: Whiston was a man of principle, and lived and died poor for
the satisfaction of writing and speaking what he thought and believed.
The one has been too much flattered and applauded; the other too much
vilified and degraded, and the clamour by which both circumstances have
been effected has been equally disgusting and disgraceful to the
country.

I have contrasted the conduct of Whiston and Newton, and have made my
observations on the latter to shew that even his name carries no weight
with it in the support of superstition, I trust I have sufficiently
shown that superstition and science can never amalgamate, which
also justifies the inference that, morality and religion never can
amalgamate. Superstition corrupts and deteriorates all the human
passions: science alone is qualified to amend and moralize them. The Man
of Science who knows his duty, and what is conducive to the interest of
mankind, will ever boldly and openly set himself in opposition to the
priest. This has not been sufficiently done hitherto, and I hope that
even my appeal will not be altogether useless, but that, it will rouse
some latent spirit among the Men of Science in this island to assert
their own dignity and importance; and silence the foul, the wicked, and
the mischievous clamour of Priestcraft.

It is beyond doubt that Locke was hostile to the system of Government,
both in Church and State, and the odium which he incurred from a certain
quarter, was quite equal to that which has fallen upon Thomas Paine, or
those who, since the American and French revolutions, have travelled
so much farther in their opposition. Opposition to ill-founded
establishments, possessing power, must necessarily be progressive. Locke
was thought to have gone to an extreme in his time, but I now consider
his writings to be scarcely-worth reading, as far as they apply to
toleration in matters of opinion, or to political economy and political
government. The sentiments which I have put upon paper would have
been called high treason a century ago, and the author hung, beheaded,
embowelled, and quartered, with the general approbation of the people;
and a person of the name of Thomas, Matthews was actually hung for
writing and printing what was called a treasonable libel, in the reign
of George the First; which libel, or a similar one, would not now
bethought seditious by the Attorney General himself. Such is the effect
of general instruction among the people--such is the progressive
power of the printing press, that, I feel a moral conviction that
the sentiments which I have avowed will became general in another
generation. The circumstance is as sure as that no one will now condemn
the political opinions of John Locke, as going too far, but rather as
weak and insipid, and not going far enough in honest principle.

Then come forward, ye Men of Science, it is reserved for you to give the
death blow, or the last blow to superstition and idolatry. Now is the
time--you are safe even from momentary persecution, if you stand forward
numerously and boldly. You will have a people, an all mighty people,
with you, a circumstance which no philosopher could ever heretofore
calculate upon. You have nothing to fear, and nothing to lose, but every
thing to gain, even that which is most dear to you, the kind reception
of your instructions, the adoption of your principles, founded in truth
and the nature of things.

Kings and Priests have, in some cases, made partial pretensions to
patronize the Arts and Sciences, as a cloak for their enmity towards
them. They ever were, and ever will be, in reality, their direst
foes. An advanced state of Science cannot benefit them. Their present
distinctions, and misery-begetting splendour, could not be tolerated,
when mankind shall so far be illuminated as to know the real cause and
object of animal-existence. Common sense teaches us that good government
requires none of those idle distinctions; for why should the servants,
or the administrators of the laws of society, be distinguished above
those whence those laws should emanate? It is the duty of the Man of
Science to attack those distinctions, to combat all the established
follies of the day, and endeavour to restore society to its natural
state; to that state which first principles will point out; the mutual
support, the comfort, the happiness, and the protection of each other.
At present we are but as so many beasts of prey, each strengthening
himself by the destruction of his weaker fellow. The many unnatural
distinctions which Kingcraft and Priestcraft have brought into society,
have totally undermined the first object of the social state. In
addition to this universal evil, those two crafts have set themselves up
as a bar to all useful improvement. They countenance no change but that
which swells the amount of their depredations, (for the manner in which
their incomes are extorted deserves no other appellation.) Societies can
obtain no real or lasting strength under the sway of those two crafts,
for every improvement that has been made in their several conditions,
has been evidently from the force of natural and scientific knowledge,
and in an exact ratio with the diminution of kingly and priestly
influence. This assertion is evident if we examine the decay of their
influence for the last three centuries, in this or any other country.
The printing press has come like a true Messiah to emancipate the great
family of mankind from this double yoke. This Messiah is immortal, and
its saving powers must be universal and perpetual. By this, and by no
other Messiah, can man be saved from ignorance and misery; the only hell
that he has to fear. It will prove the true Messiah of the Jew, of the
Christian, of the Mahometan, and of the Pagan. It is a Messiah for all,
and it will go on to unite under the name and title of Man and Citizen
the whole human race, or all those animals who have the gift of speech,
and its consequent, reason. I hope to see the day, or I fear not but it
will arrive, when every man of property shall consider a printing-press,
a necessary piece of furniture in his house; and prize it more than our
present aristocrats prize their hounds and horses.

In support of my assertion, that Men of Science have hitherto crouched
too much to the established impostures of the day, I have merely to
remark, that I am not aware of any one instance in which any Chemist
of this country has made a public attack upon them, or called them in
question in any public manner. Another proof of my assertion might
be found in the Medical and Surgical professions. From the best
information, I have learnt, that, with a very few exceptions, the whole
body of those gentlemen in the Metropolis, have discarded from their
minds all the superstitious dogmas which Priestcraft hath invented, and
that they have adopted those principles which have a visible foundation
in Nature, and beyond what is visible and comprehensible, their credence
does not extend. Yet, when that spirited young man, Mr. Lawrence,
having obtained a professor's gown in the College of Surgeons, shew a
disposition in his public lectures to discountenance and attack those
established impostures and superstitions of Priestcraft, the whole
profession displayed that same cowardly and dastardly conduct, which
hath stamped with infamy the present generation of Neapolitans, and
suffered the professor's gown to be stripped from this ornament of his
profession and his country, and every employment to be taken from him,
without even a public remonstrance, or scarcely an audible murmur!

It is conduct such as this which gives courage and permanence to the
despots who strive to enslave both our bodies and our minds. It is this
base disposition of making truth crouch before established and antique
error, which has hitherto characterized the searchers after and lovers
of the former, that has given force and longevity to the latter. It is
the bounden duty of every man openly to avow whatever his mind conceives
to be the truth. If he shrinks from this he is a coward--a slave to the
opinions, of other men. Shall the enemies of mankind boldly tell us that
they perceive truth in their mysterious and incomprehensible dogmas, and
shall we shrink from the publication and support of those truths which
we perceive to have an evident foundation in Nature! Shall we shrink
from the avowal of truths because despotism and ignorance have granted
stipends to the propagators of falsehood, and because those stipends
might be endangered? Forbid it, Nature! Let every lover of truth and the
peace and happiness of the human race forbid it.

I may be told that the Man of Science had much better pursue his studies
and experiments in silence and private, and not expose himself to the
persecution of bigots. The idea is slavish--disgraceful. Science has
made sufficient progress in this country, and has a sufficient number of
followers and admirers, to enable them by a single breath to dissipate
all the bigotry in the country, or, at least, to silence all the idle
clamour of the bigoted and interested about blasphemy and atheism, or
any of their nonsense. Is the progress of Science to be submitted to
an Excise, and are all discoveries to be treated like contraband goods,
lest the trade and the tithes of the priest be injured? Shame on that
man who can tacitly submit to such a system. And yet this is just what
we are called upon to submit to, and threatened with punishment, and
even banishment, if we murmur. I, as an humble individual, have resolved
to break through those trammels, to violate all those degrading and
disgraceful laws, and shall the Man of Science be silent, and see all
that he values most dear, persecuted in my person, just because he will
not proclaim that I am right, and that my enemies, and his enemies, are
wrong? Now is the time for him to speak out--now is the time when he
can do it effectually. My humble efforts have alarmed the whole of
Corruption and Falsehood's hosts, and half frightened them to death,
let but a few eminent and distinguished Men of Science stand forward
and support me, and I have no fear of finishing well, what I have
endeavoured well to begin. I aspire to nothing more than to become the
humble instrument of sounding and resounding their sentiments. I am
anxious to sound a loud blast in the cause of Truth, of Reason, of
Nature and her laws. I will give every Man of Science an opportunity of
publishing his sentiments without any direct danger to himself: I will
fill the gap of persecution for him, if a victim be still necessary to
satisfy the revenge of dying Priestcraft.

This is an age of revolutions, and where those revolutions have not
yet displayed themselves, it is not for want of the mind having been
sufficiently revolutionized, but because it is kept down by a superior
acting force in the shape of fixed bayonets and despotic laws.
Throughout Europe the mind of the people has been long revolutionized
from its wonted ignorance, and wherever it finds an opportunity, it
displays itself. This march of the mind will be progressive, and it
is evident that it has already begun to spread itself among the very
instruments of those despots called Kings, by which they vainly hoped
to have checked its course. Every march of the Russian troops into the
south of Europe will but tend to enlighten them, and by and bye they
will become wise enough to return and revolutionize their own country;
by adopting the Representative System of Government, and by making their
present Emperor what he is so well adapted for--a regimental tailor.

The horror which was so lately expressed by the Emperor of Austria at
the progress of Science, and at the revolution which Sir Humphry Davy
had made in the science of Chemistry, is a specimen of that feeling
which pervades all such men. This imbecile idiot quivered at
an observation of his own physician about the state of his own
constitution, and forbade him ever to use the word in his presence
again! Yet it is by such men as this, that the inhabitants of Europe are
held in a state of bondage and degradation!

Will ye, Men of Science, continue to truckle before such animals? Will
ye any longer bend the knee to such Baals--to such Golden Calves as
these? Will ye bend your aspiring minds to prop the thrones of such
contemptible, such ignorant, such brutish despots? Shame on you, if you
can so far debase yourselves! Up, and play the man, boldly avow what
your minds comprehend as natural truths; and all the venom of all the
Despots and Priests on the face of the earth, shall fly before you as
chaff before the wind.

The science of Chemistry has so far explored the properties of matter
in all its variety, and has so far ascertained all its powers, purposes,
and combinations, as to banish the idea of its having been formed from
any chaotic state into its present form and fashion. The Chemist
would smile at such a notion in the present day, even if he feared to
encounter the Priest and his dogmas about the world having been created
out of nothing. Creation is an improper word when applied to matter.
Matter never was created--matter never can be destroyed. It is eternal
both as to the past and future. It is subject to a continual chemical
analysis, and as continual a new composition. For a full comprehension
of these assertions, it is necessary to have a knowledge of the elements
of Chemistry: therefore, if any other person, but those to whom this
letter is addressed, should read it, let him not hastily reject without
a full consideration and enquiry. Mr. Parke's Chemical Catechism, or
Dr. Ure's Chemical Dictionary, will explain all my assertions on the
properties of matter. The elements of Chemistry have been published by
a variety of other Chemists, to any of whom I would refer the reader,
as it will not answer the purport of my address to enter into a fuller
explanation on this important head, or to fill these pages with an
elemental description of Chemistry.

I address myself to Men of Science, not as one of them, but as an
individual who has obtained a sufficient insight into the various
departments of Science, through the medium of books, to convince him
that all the dogmas of the Priest, and of Holy Books, are false and
wicked impostures upon mankind. He therefore calls upon Men of Science
to stand forward and unfold their mind upon this important subject. He
offers himself as a medium through which they might escape the fangs of
the Attorney General, or the Society for propagating Vice, and pledges
himself that there is no truth that any Man of Science will write,
but what he will print and publish. He has a thorough contempt and
indifference for all existing laws and combinations to punish him upon
this score, and will set them all at defiance, whilst they attempt to
restrain any particular opinions. He will go on to show to the people of
this island, what one individual, and he a very obscure and bumble one,
can do in the cause of propagating the truth, in opposition to falsehood
and imposture.

I have now gone through the first part of my first head, and I should
have been happy if I could have made an exception in the general conduct
of the Chemists of this island. I am not aware that any one of them
has ever made himself the public advocate of truth, of scientific
philosophical truth, in opposition to the false and stupifying dogmas
of Priestcraft or Holy Books. In the Medical and Surgical professions
I have found one exception, and but one, although I almost feel myself
justified in calling on many by name to come forward, and among them my
namesake stands most conspicuous, in that cause which is nearest their
hearts.

I have introduced the names of Bacon, Newton, and Locke, under this part
of my address, not as practical Chemists, which I believe they were not,
or if they knew any thing of the elements of Chemistry, that knowledge
is not now worthy of mention, but because they are now claimed as the
patrons of Superstition. Newton certainly deserves to be called a
great astronomer, but as he endeavoured to make even his knowledge in
Astronomy subservient to his bigotry, I have thought proper to treat him
as a wavering and dishonest fanatic, rather than as a Man of Science.
The theological and metaphysical writings of Bacon and Locke, are
completely ambiguous, and form no key to the mind of the writer, or
to any abstract and particular opinions. As I have said before, they
equivocated as a matter of safety; whatever others might think of them,
I feel no pride in saying they were Englishmen. Thomas Paine is of more
value by his writings, than Bacon, Newton, and Locke together.

In calling upon the Astronomer to stand forward and avow his knowledge,
that all the astronomical dogmas of Holy Books are founded in error and
ignorance of the laws...

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Pages 23 and 24 are missing from all available copies

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...properly be termed a species of madness. Whatever opinions prevail in
the minds of men which have no foundation in Nature, or natural laws,
they can merit no other designation than insanity. Insanity, or madness,
consists in unnatural or incoherent thoughts and actions, therefore, as
no species of religious notions have any alliance with nature, it is but
a just inference to say, that they individually or collectively comprise
the term _madness_. In mild dispositions it may be but a harmless
melancholy aberration; in the more violent it becomes a raging delirium,
which destroys every thing that comes in its way, and for which it has
sufficient strength. It destroys all moral and natural good which comes
within its influence, and madly proclaims itself the _summum bonum_ for
mankind! As yet there is scarcely sufficient reason among mankind to
restrain this madness. It has so mixed itself up with all political
institutions that there is no separating the one without revolutionizing
the other. This is the chief cause of the frequent convulsions in
society, as this madness cannot possibly engender any thing but
mischief, and it is well known, that, in madness, there is no rest; it
is always in a state of motion, unless there be a sufficient power at
hand to curb and restrain it. Reason, or a knowledge of nature, is the
only specific for it, and he who can throw the greatest quantity into
the social system will prove the best physician. Several quacks have
made pretensions to give society relief from this madness but they have
only tortured the patient without checking the disease. Thomas Paine,
and a few American and French physicians, have been the only ones to
treat it in an effectual manner, and by the use of their recipes, and
the assistance of Men of Science, I hope at least effectually to destroy
the contagious part of the disease.

Mathematics, magic, and witchcraft, were formerly denounced by
superstition as synonymous terms, and the mathematical student has
been often punished as a conjuror! Astronomy and Astrology were also
considered one and the same thing. Such were the fantasies and delusions
which superstition could raise in the minds of men, and such has
been the wickedness of priests, who could always perceive and even
acknowledge that human reason was inimical to their views, and whoever
possessed or practised it ought to be destroyed as the enemy not only of
themselves but of their God too! As Philosophy has left us no doubt
that their interest was and still is their God, they have so far acted
consistently, but it is now high time that Philosophy should triumph
over Priestcraft. It is now evident that Philosophy has sufficient
strength on her side for that purpose, as her supporters are now more
numerous than the supporters of Priestcraft. Let Men of Science
stand forward and shew the remaining dupes of Priestcraft, that the
Mathematics are nothing more than a simple but important science, and
that Astronomy has no affinity to that bugbear called Astrology.

The Priests and Judges of the present day are men of the same
disposition as the Priests and Judges of the seventeenth century, who
imprisoned Galileo for asserting the sphericity of the earth, and its
revolution round the sun, contrary to the tenets of the Holy Bible,
and who burnt old women as witches because they might have had the
misfortune to be old, ugly, or deformed. Such is the power and progress
of truth, that those very men are brought to confess that Galileo
asserted nothing more than an important philosophical fact. On this
point I will briefly notice the misgivings of one of our living judges.
Mr. Justice Best in his judicial circuit through the northern district,
at the late Lent assizes for Cumberland, on a trial for libel, made the
following assertion, after attempting to contrast the state of freedom
in this country at this time, with what existed at Rome when Galileo
was imprisoned in the Inquisition, for stating "a great philosophical
truth," his Judgeship observed: "now in this country any philosophical
truth, or opinion, might be stated and supported without its being
considered libellous."

This is a most glaring and a most abominable falsehood, when the quarter
from which it came is considered.

Mr. Justice Best in the month of November 1819, sat as a judge in
the Court of King's Bench, and advised the sending me to the gaol of
Dorchester for three years and the imposing a fine upon me of fifteen
hundred pounds for stating and supporting a great philosophical truth.
Not content with the imposition of this enormous fine and tremendous
imprisonment, he also immediately sanctioned the issuing of a writ of
_levari facias_, on the very same day, by which my business and my
property was destroyed, and by which: cause I am at present deprived of
all visible means of making up that fine. Yet, Mr. Justice Best, had the
effrontery to say from the bench, which should ever be sacred to truth
and justice, that no philosophical truth stated and supported in this
country, would be considered libelous! I do aver, and I challenge any
Man of Science to contradict me publicly, if he dares, that the two
volumes, for the publication of which I am now suffering imprisonment,
and for which I have been so excessively fined and robbed, contain
nothing more than philosophical truths, as plain, as, simple and as
important, as those for which Galileo was imprisoned by the Christian
Inquisition, about two hundred years since. I appeal to Mr. Justice
Best himself--he knows the truth of what I now write--yet he has had the
effrontery, in contempt of the good sense and discernment of the whole
country, to put forth this vile falsehood--still more vile, because he
himself partook in the order for my punishment, Galileo was told in
the seventeenth century by the Magnificent Inquisitor General that, his
astronomical ideas were not in unison with the Holy Scriptures, and that
he must not promulgate them. Mr Justice Best told me in November 1819,
that he would not sit on the bench as a judge and hear a particle of the
Bible called in question. Then where is the difference in the conduct of
those two Magnificent Inquisitors General, and between my case and that
of Galileo? The Judges who condemned Galileo were quite mild and humane
when compared with mine, they did not rob him of all his property and
fix a fine with a hope that he would never be able to pay it: they
merely, in addition to his imprisonment, ordered him to repeat, aloud
the seven penitential psalms once a week! Canst thou Mr. Justice Best
read this statement and these observations, and again take thy seat as
a judge in a Court of law or what ought to be a Court of Justice? Blush!
Best! blush! Every Man of Science--every lover of great philosophical
truths, will proclaim thee a liar for thy assertion on the bench at
Carlisle in Cumberland. The very name of the place might have reminded
thee of the grossness of that assertion!

Neither will it become me here to lay down the elements of Astronomy, my
appeal is to the Astronomer, and I have merely to remind him, that, if
he supports the dogmas of the Priest, or the astronomical blunders of
any holy book, he is a corrupt and wicked hypocrite, and a disgrace to
the science which he studies, practises, or teaches. Science and truth
ought to be synonymous terms, and neither the one or the other ought,
upon any consideration whatever, to pay the least respect or deference
to established error. To those same persons whom I have given a
reference for the elements of Chemistry, I would also refer to other
works for the elements of Astronomy. They are now published in a variety
of shapes and forms, and I am much pleased to see that a number of
gentlemen are giving lectures on Astronomy in all our towns and cities
of any note. Such men are worthy of support in preference to the Priest,
and although they may jointly, from fear, or other motives, attempt to
mix up religious dogmas with their scientific lectures, I know that it
must tend to a due enlightenment of the public mind. An Eidouranion or
Orrery to have been displayed a few centuries ago would have gathered
a pile of faggots for the lecturer, and he would have been burnt as a
daring blasphemer, and his machine with him, as the devil's workmanship.
Such is the rapid progress of natural knowledge, that I almost doubt
whether the person, that shall now stand forward and publish Thomas
Paine's Age of Reason, and Elihu Palmer's Principles of Nature, in the
same open and determined manner as I published them, would find even
imprisonment for it, let him do it openly and I will commend him, and be
almost answerable for him in point of loss or suffering.

It is not a sufficient excuse for Men of Science to plead established
institutions, or to say that Priestcraft is powerful because six
millions of money is wrung from the people in the shape of direct taxes
to support it, and about as much more levied in the shape of voluntary
contributions upon that class of people called Dissenters. Shew the
people that they are imposed upon, and they will no longer be robbed
and laughed at, they will soon perceive that the money which this
Priestcraft takes from their pockets would be sufficient for a splendid
execution and administration of the laws and government of the country.
Abolish Priestcraft, and the expense which now attends it will cover all
the other necessary expences of the state. This twelve millions of
money is spent for the very worst of purposes, for it does not civilize
society, but rather brutalizes it, by setting its members one against
the other, upon different points of belief, all of which are proved to
be erroneous and to have no foundation in Nature.

The Man of Science ought not to look at, or respect, any thing but the
discovery and propagation of truth. Instead of respecting mischievous
and erroneous establishments, he, of all men, is bound, by every
honourable tie, to make an exposure of them, and to teach the people
right from wrong. His knowledge and discoveries should be like the
benefits of Nature dispensed alike to all without price or reward. He
ought to be the patron of truth, and the enemy of error, in whatever
shape it might appear, or whatever effect it might produce. Like Nature
herself, he should be no respecter of persons or of things individually
but collectively.

I have now gone through the first head of this Address, and I trust
that I have performed what I promised under it. I have shewn that Men
of Science, either from having their minds tinged with superstition,
or from the fear of offending those who might labour under that malady,
have deprived society of many of those benefits which it was their
bounden duty to have conferred upon it. They have withheld from the
public the most important discoveries, because, as the Christian
Inquisition said to Galileo, such discoveries, or such doctrines,
were contrary to those of the Holy Bible. Shame upon such dastardly
principles, say I--they are a disgrace to mankind, which assumes a
superiority over all other animals. We had better never have possessed
the gift of speech, and its consequent reason, if we are only to use it
for the propagation of falsehood, and the production of misery, to
the majority of the species. I have broken through the trammels of
Priestcraft publicly, I bid defiance to all the persecution it can
inflict upon me, and I now call upon the Men of Science in this island
to stand forward and support me. However it might affect the momentary
interest of individuals, ought not to be a question, it is certain that
superstition would not linger another year, if the Philosophers of the
country would stand forward and make war upon it: they would then find
that the extortions of the Priesthood would be willingly given for the
erection of Temples of Science, and the support of competent professors
in the Arts and Sciences; and that a mutual instruction in every thing
that can benefit a society would be the first and last object in view,
both individually and generally.

I come now to the second head of my address, in which I have undertaken
to shew, that, all existing systems of education are imperfect and
improper, and further, to give a sketch of a system that shall be more
proper. In the first place I would remark that, in all the schools of
this country, or with scarce an exception worthy of mention, the youth
are subjected to a certain system of religious study and exercise. They
have to attend certain ceremonies called public worship or prayers--they
have to get those prayers by heart, and also a catechism of religious
belief, or I should rather say religious dogmas, as there can be no real
belief where there is no comprehension of the object in contemplation or
discussion; however, altogether, about these religious ceremonies, one
half of the time of youth is wasted; for the lessons in reading, lessons
in grammar, copies for writing, and even those lessons in which foreign
languages are taught, have their subject matter founded upon religious
dogmas, either ancient or modern. Here and there a moral precept is
thrown in, but the dogmas of religion have a decided preponderance, and
more than half of the time of youth is wasted upon them. It is evident
that these religious dogmas make not the least impression upon the minds
of youth, further than to stupify them by so dull and so constant a
repetition, and the reason of this is, that these religious dogmas
have no foundation whatever in Nature. They neither instruct, amuse,
interest, or delight, because the youthful mind has no comprehension of
their object, and can perceive no real utility arising from them. They
are viewed but as a matter of school discipline, and the youth returns
to them with a loathing. Still they are continually pressed upon him as
long as he remains under parent or tutor, and he grows up with a mind
soured by an habitual distaste of that which he is told to venerate.
If you were to instruct a child in the elements of Chemistry, you
would find that it would be constantly amusing itself with such simple
chemical experiments as its childhood could practise and comprehend: it
would feel an interest in all the little experiments it could make,
and that interest would lead on to a self-importance, to industry, to
a knowledge and due comprehension of the value of time, about which
children think so little, or rather think nothing at all, under the
present system of education. They are exhorted to set a value on their
time by written precepts, but they have no inducements to that object,
owing to their system of education being one dreary monotony. No part
of it is calculated to kindle the fire of genius, or to cherish the
aspiring spirit of youth. It is from such a system of education that
true genius has become so very scarce, and is so seldom seen: it blunts
and stupifies the mind, and obscures that radiance to which the system
I now propose would have given energy and opportunity to display itself.
Many of Nature's Nobles have passed through life unknown and unheeded
entirely from the influence of a superstitious and genius-destroying
education!

From the evident disposition of children to imitate all the actions of
grown persons, from their little scientific propensities to produce in
miniature what they see in magnitude, from the delight which they feel,
and the deep interest which they take in all their little works and
playful amusements, it is certain that nothing more is required to put
them in the channel of correct ideas than to give them such instruction,
and to bend their minds to such objects as shall at once employ, amuse,
and delight, and at the same time form a playful and healthful exercise
for them; whilst it is calculated to expand their minds in the knowledge
and comprehension of those objects which are above all things conducive
to the interests of society, and which relate to the progressive
improvement and advancing state of the Arts and Sciences.

The objects to which I allude, are chemical experiments, and experiments
in every other branch of Natural Philosophy: and a study of Natural
History by observation and examination of natural subjects. I need not
enumerate the various branches of Natural History, suffice it to say,
that I would have a system of education that should embrace the whole
successively; and here a wide field would be open for the conversion of
priests to professors in the various departments of this science; and
this science alone is so far infinite as to make the life of man a
continual system of education and research. Independent of the foregoing
sciences there are Geography, Astronomy, Mechanics, and all the lesser
branches which are commonly and necessarily taught to youth in the
present system of education. This I consider would be a natural and
proper system for the education of youth, and this system has all the
degrees which are as well adapted to the comprehension of infants or
children of three and four years old, as to the most mature age and
knowledge.

The beauty of scientific pursuits is, that there is always a novelty
in them--that discoveries in them will ever be infinite, and that the
further you proceed the more you see before you, and the more ardour
you feel in those pursuits. It is the best of all amusement and pastime,
because, it produces universal advantage and universal satisfaction,
whilst it neither fatigues the follower nor injures his neighbour. Other
amusements and pastimes are apt to occasion individual injury and even
misery, but this cannot. The sportsmen cannot hunt or shoot, without
damaging the cultivated property of others, and whilst in the pursuit
of his game his mind allows no obstacles to be just. With the Man of
Science the case is different, his amusements and experiments are made
within a narrow sphere, and the result is calculated to benefit all
without injury to any.

Chemistry I deem to be the foundation of all other science, and in a
manner pf speaking to comprise all other branches of science. As
matter and motion comprise everything we can behold or conceive, and
as Chemistry is an investigation of the properties of matter, with the
causes and effects of its various combinations, it is evidently the most
important part of science, or rather, the first and last part of it.
The cultivation of the earth--the cookery of our food--its quantity
and quality, and every thing connected with feeding the body--the
preservation of our health, and the very preparation of our clothing,
may be said to be comprised in the terms chemical analysis and
composition. There is no one part of the Arts and Sciences, but to which
Chemistry has relation, and even the most important relation. In all
manufactures, whether wood or metal--clay or stone--wax or glass--paper
or cloth, or what not, the knowledge of Chemistry is essential. It is to
the science of Chemistry that we owe all our artificial productions,
it is to the science of Chemistry that we owe all our knowledge and
comprehension of natural productions, and their adaption to our several
uses. It is therefore of the first consequence that we should commence
our studies in this all important science, even in our infancy. As the
Science of Chemistry embraces so extensive a variety of objects, it is
not without a class simple enough for the comprehension of children.
The burning of a candle is a chemical experiment for the production
of light--the burning of the fuel which keeps up our fires, is but a
chemical experiment for the production of heat; to which a thousand
might be added equally simple, a definition of which could not fail
to be of the greatest importance in the education of children. And why
might not even the first lessons of children be comprised of these and
similar simple chemical experiments, which beyond every other subject
must instruct and amuse, attract the child's particular attention, and
expand its mind by filling it with correct ideas?

I would banish from our school-books every word about God or
Devil--Heaven or Hell, as hypocritical and unmeaning words, mere words
of sound, and confine the attention of children and youth to such
subjects, as an every day's experience shall evince to them to have a
foundation in Nature. Moral precepts might, be necessary and useful but
even morality might, in my opinion, be taught much better by example
than by precept. Therefore, I would say, that the books of children had
better be filled with scientific subjects than with moral precepts, as
the former are infinite and cannot be too early entered upon, or
too closely studied, whilst the latter might be comprised in a few
expressions, and taught better, and with more impression by colloquy and
example, than in lessons for reading and writing. However, lessons
on moral virtue might be most appropriately mixed up with lessons on
scientific subjects. They lead to one common end--the happiness and
welfare of the human race in society.

Let no one imagine that I hold moral virtue in light esteem, or that I
deem it a secondary object, No, the possession of moral virtue with the
grossest ignorance on every other subject, is preferable to the most
extensive knowledge connected with an immoral and vicious character.
Moral virtue should form the foundation of every motive, and every
action in life. It is from the conviction that scientific pursuits, or
a scientific education, must naturally lead to the extension of moral
virtue, that I have been induced to submit this sketch to Men of
Science. Moral virtue is with me a _primum mobile_ in all things. It
forms the beginning and the end of all my views, and, according to my
conceptions, of all the principles I advocate and teach. But I would
most strenuously exhort the reader to abandon the idea, if he does hold
it, that morality is dependent on religion, or that the former cannot
exist without the latter. I solemnly and deliberately assert, that
religion is rather the bane than the nurse of morality. I have imbibed
this impression from the deepest reflection and the closest observation
of mankind. To those who think Lord Bacon an authority worth notice, for
what I assert, I would refer them to a quotation from his writings on
a former page. However, I want no written authority, nor no name, to
convince me of the truth of my assertion; we have but to look around us
with an impartial eye, and we might read it in the every day actions of
the majority of mankind.

I would also banish from our schools Homer, Hesiod, Horace, Ovid,
and Virgil, and every volume that makes the least allusion to the
mythologies of Greece or Rome, or any-other part of what have been
called the Pagan mythologies. If such books are amusing or instructive
in ancient history, it will be time enough to read them after having
gone through a scholastic education. They should make, no part of the
school routine. I do not here mean to dispute the propriety of children
been taught the dead languages, although I must confess, that I consider
them no farther useful than to teach the etymology of our own language.
Paine, Franklin, and Cobbett, are powerful instances that they are by
no means essential to an enlarged mind. However, if the dead languages
continue to be taught in our schools, I could wish them to be taught
through a different medium than at present. Those languages might be
taught on other subjects than wars, famines, and massacres, immoral
mythologies and the history of base and vicious characters. It has been
the common misfortune of historians to take especial notice of base and
vicious characters. Hitherto profligacy has been the chief passport
to immortality, and the virtuous few have passed through life unheeded
before or after death with but very few exceptions. The very books
which are called holy and divine are filled with descriptions of human
monsters, and scarce any set off or contrast to exhibit the benefits and
beauties of moral virtue among mankind.

I am sensible that at present no books exist, such as I point out for
the use of schools, embracing the elements of the Arts and Sciences,
and free from allusion to all kinds of mythology and superstition,
among which I wish to be understood as including the mythology and
superstition of the Christians, but no task can be more simple than for
a few Men of Science to compile them. Of late some brief and partial
descriptions of the Arts and Sciences have been introduced into
school-books, but it has been mingled with so much trash about religion
and superstition, as to render it of no avail, and but as a secondary
or useless object. It is high time that the subject was taken in hand
by Men of Science, and that such books, in the various departments of
science, should be compiled, as to be adapted for all the different
stages of education. None but he who is skilled in any particular
science can be equal to the task of compilation. He alone can judge of
the best method of introducing that particular science to the youthful
mind. It will not be necessary that I should here draw out any specific
plan for this system of education; I submit the outline to the judgment
of Men of Science. My meaning is too clearly stated to be misunderstood
or cavilled with. The subject is a proper one to attract the attention
of any legislature that emanates from, and legislates for, the benefit
of the people, and he that shall move it as an amendment to Mr.
Brougham's proposed system, which has no other object than to become a
new prop for decaying superstition, will at least deserve well of his
country and every lover of science and real liberty, whether he succeeds
or not. It is a subject that no honest man need be ashamed of. It is
by no means a theoretical subject; if it be a novel one, its
practicability, and its importance, must reach every mind that has the
least idea about Science, and its utility. I break in upon the present
system of education no further than that I would change the medium
through which the lessons for reading, exercises in grammar, copies for
writing, and that in which the dead, or even living foreign languages
are taught: the medium which I would substitute, should treat
exclusively of scientific subjects, so as to leave the mind in a
continual state of exercise upon the subject of Science, and that alone.
Unlike religion, Science can never weary the mind: the dreary monotony
of the former is a perfect contrast to the life-inspiring power of
the latter. Every step you take in Science, stimulates you to further
pursuit. The vast volume of nature, that book of books, that only
revelation worthy the attention of man, is always open to the Man of
Science; and in this book the child can find a language that shall be
intelligible, and adapted to his youthful capacity. He can read here
without stupifying his senses, and gain useful information without
corrupting his manners.

I would even exclude all historical subjects from our schools, as very
little of what is left us can be relied on as true, and such as is true,
is of very little consequence to a rising generation. However far it
might be useful in the shape of example, or amusing and instructive to
grown persons, it forms but a waste of time with children at school.
General History is but ill adapted to correct the bad or stimulate
the better passions of mankind. It displays scarce any thing but the
ignorance and brutality, the massacres and superstitions, which have
been so common to mankind hitherto. It is rare indeed to find a sketch
of a virtuous character. I am of opinion that we could not do better
than draw a veil as close as possible over the past, and endeavour to
start upon a system that our posterity shall not blush to read when
impartially stated. Who can read the history of the past, without
blushing and pitying the madness of that animal man, for making so bad a
use of his gift of speech and its consequent reason? I must confess that
I cannot.

In teaching Geography it is by no means necessary to describe the
ancient division of the earth into Empires, Kingdoms, Principalities,
&c, or the customs of their former several inhabitants, as they have
been subject to a continual change, to trace which, serves but to
distract the mind without filling it with any useful information: it
would be sufficient for all purposes in studying this science, to become
acquainted with the present divisions of the earth, and the present
customs, manners, and distinctions of its inhabitants. The same rule
applies to Astronomy, it is by no means necessary, but as a matter of
curiosity, to trace and study its history: it is sufficient to acquire
all the present information that can be obtained in that science, and to
stand prepared to make further discoveries or to receive the discoveries
of others. By cutting off all that part of the present system of
education which forms but a waste of time, you will gain so much the
more time for making fresh advances in the various Arts and Sciences.
Of course, I do not expect that under my proposed system, one
individual can become an adept in all the various branches of all the
sciences--no--it would be still necessary that some individuals should
confine themselves to one particular science, and some to another, as
their peculiar abilities and dispositions might suggest, as the best
means for a further and a quicker improvement and advance in the whole.
It is sufficient that they all begin right, and waste no time about
unmeaning and useless trash; but, by an assiduous application to their
several branches, make the farthest possible progress.

That infinity of experiments which Chemistry opens to our view, and
that infinity of subjects for examination in Natural History, makes
it necessary to begin at those two sciences as early as possible. The
elements of Chemistry, a knowledge of which is so essential in all the
relations of life, might be simplified for an adaption to the meanest
capacity, and even to that of children beginning to read, of which
I have before pointed out two familiar instances, upon which a more
enlarged explanation might be made, and to which a thousand others
equally simple and instructive might be added. In Natural History what a
vast field is open? wherein

     "To teach the young idea how to shoot."

Here every thing both in the animal and vegetable world, which comes
under the every day observation of the child, or even the grown person,
might be familiarly described and explained in our school-books by a
regular classification and arrangement. By such a system of education as
this, the youth would instinctly and involuntarily read a useful lesson
in every object that came within his view; his mind would be incessantly
led to a contemplation of Nature, a knowledge of which can alone lead
a man to true and substantial happiness. No part of matter would then
escape the scrutinizing disposition of man, he would explore the ocean
and the rivers, the mountain and the valley, the forest and the plain,
the bowels of the earth and its atmosphere, and even the surface
and atmosphere of other orbs to gratify his scientific and laudably
insatiate curiosity. The blade of grass, the leaf, the tree, its fruit,
the flower-bed with all its vivid tints and animating effluvia, with all
the infinite variety both in the vegetable and animal world, would alike
form matter for his scientific research, and objects for him to explore.
Here in contemplating the stupenduous organization which constitutes
animal and vegetable life in Nature's infinite variety, all varying, yet
all connected by one common link, operating by one common cause, and to
one common end, a successive production and decay, decay and production,
the human mind might find an exercise as infinite, and have ideas
stirred up equally stupendous. I cannot help exclaiming: This is the
path of Nature: tread here, O Man! and be happy.

The works of Nature though infinite are strictly analogous, and human
reason is produced by the same laws as every other natural product. The
culture of the mind, by which human reason is produced, bears a strict
analogy to the culture of the soil, by which we subsist In each Nature
will produce to a certain degree, but the aid of art is necessary to
produce a sufficiency, and to reach refinement and perfection. It is
therefore of the utmost importance that we begin right, that all the
ideas of our infancy and youth be founded in Nature, and that the
poisonous effusions of Priestcraft be carefully weeded, and kept from
our minds. We should guard our minds against those destructive enemies
of human reason, the priests, as we would our fields and gardens against
the destructive powers of the locusts, or similarly destructive insects
and animals. Our interest and happiness is as much at stake in the one
instance as the other, for the Priest is not content with destroying our
happiness, but he must be also fed by our labour. He takes on an average
an eighth of all our produce.

The children or the man might here learn that the organization of the
vegetable is not less stupendous than that of the animal--that the life
and the death of the vegetable is as near alike the life and the death
of the animal as that the life and the death of any two animals of a
different species are alike each other--that there are animal-vegetables
and vegetable-animals, or living substances, in life and vegetation,
that partake both of the properties of animals, and vegetables--that
this is an evident link between animals and vegetables which unites them
in the great chain of nature--that they exist by the same cause, for
the same purpose, and to the same effect, He might also learn, that the
organization of the smallest insect and animalcule is equally stupendous
with the organization of man himself; that it is alone from a peculiar
organization that the different animals have the power of uttering so
many different sounds, and that man is indebted to the power of uttering
a greater variety of sounds for his gift of speech, and for a greater
degree of reason, than any other animal possesses, as its consequent.
Let the child, or the man even, be taught to reason in this manner, and
he will soon feel himself humbled down into his proper sphere in the
scale of Nature. He will leave off all the mad tricks which now daily
and hourly occupy his time, he will occupy his time by a self and social
improvement, and will perceive that a study of Science can alone lead
him to true happiness.

Why might not the Linuean system of classification, arrangement, and
description, both of animals and vegetables, with all the improvement
which has already been made, or which might be made in future, upon that
system, be taught in our schools to children? What can be more simple,
more amusing, or more useful, and more instructive? What other system
of education can be so well calculated for a proper expansion of the
juvenile mind? How much more advantageous to society would such a system
of education be, connected with a knowledge of Chemistry, Astronomy,
Geography, Geometry, and the Mathematics, than all that lying and
stupifying lore about religion and its offspring; for the support of
which mankind are so excessively robbed? If religion be a word that has
any substantial definition, or if it be a proper word, and can be made
applicable to Nature in its meaning, or the action it indicates, I have
no hesitation to say, that the System of Education which I now propose
forms the basis of the only true, the only rational religion. The word
religion implying a fixed faith or belief, and having its etymology in
the Latin verb _religo_, to bind fast, there can be no true, no just,
no rational religion, but that which applies to something we can
comprehend, and which has its foundation in Nature and her laws. We
cannot strictly speaking fix our faith on a phantom, unless we admit
faith itself to be but a phantom of the mind, yet such is the pretence
of all those who make so much clamour about the word religion. A study
of Nature and her laws, alone forms any substantial faith or religion.
This study I would make the basis of all education, to the exclusion, or
explosion, of all the remaining mythological nonsense of the day.

Arithmetic, Geometry, and the Mathematics, being taught in figures,
admit no change in the system of teaching, or at least in the medium:
the same might be said of Algebra, which has the simplicity of the
alphabet for its medium for instruction and practice. This forms the
only part of education that the priests have not corrupted, and the
reason is because they could not; and these figures being above their
reach to corrupt or destroy will prove their overthrow. The science of
the Mathematics has given a fatal blow to Priestcraft, and this science,
connected with Astronomy, was the first which, began to undermine the
dogmas of all priests. The science of Chemistry has come to its aid, by
proving that matter is indestructible and imperishable, and must have
existed as it now is, to all eternity as to the past, and will exist as
it now is, to all eternity as to the future. The sciences of Physiology
and Zoology have convinced us that the organization of the animal
called man, is not more wonderful than that of every other animal and
vegetable, nor is he of more importance in the scale of Nature. All that
can be said of him is, that he is superior in mental strength to any
other animal, and his superiority over the lion, the tiger, or the
elephant, is not more than the superiority of those animals over the
lesser beasts of the forest. Man only possesses the highest degree in
the rank of animals. It is high time to teach man what he really is
in the scale of Nature, and no longer allow him to play such fantastic
tricks as he does play, by pretending to be something beyond other
animals, and to possess supernatural and immortal powers of existence.
Man has nothing but the dogmas of superstition in support of his future
sensible existence--these dogmas are false and wicked impostures. No
appeal can be made to Nature in support of them. Man, as a part of a
whole, or as an atom of matter, is immortal, but with whatever he
might amalgamate after his frame has passed its dissolution, and has
evaporated like a dunghill, or a bed of rotten vegetables, that atom can
retain no sense of a former existence. The system of Pythagoras would
have been strictly true and rational, if he or his disciples had not
imagined a sense of former existence, or that an animal under one shape
could retain a sense of his existence under a former shape, although the
two might form two distinct animals of a different species. Pythagoras,
and his followers, have erred only on this point. I would bring the
whole race of mankind back to a conviction that they exist to no other
purpose, and by no other cause than every other animal and vegetable.
Let mankind be once sensible of this important fact, and they will cease
to persecute, to harass, to rob, and to destroy each other. They would
then make the best use of their time, and view their animal existence
but as a moment in the space of eternity. They would sedulously
endeavour to increase the sum of human happiness, and lessen the sum of
human misery, and this alone would form the first and the last object of
their wish and existence Let our youth be educated upon this basis, and
let even grown persons, re-educate themselves in the same manner, and we
shall soon see mankind in its proper character. That character will
be the opposite of what it is at present. The representative system of
government will be found to be the only necessary government amongst
them, and the chief part of legislation will consist in an advancement
of the Arts and Sciences.

I have now completed the task which I set out by promising, and whatever
reception my address might find among Men of Science, I feel assured
that I have misstated nothing, and that nothing which it contains can
bear contradiction. I neither fear the critic or the caviller upon the
ground-work of my address. I have performed a task which I have many
months had in view, and the more I have considered the subject, the more
I have felt its importance. I submit the whole, not to the prejudices of
the bigot or the priest, but to the clear impartial judgment of Men of
Science. I have kept much within bounds in noticing the advanced state
of Science, and I feel assured that what I have recommended can be
easily and immediately reduced to practice. The breath of Philosophy
is now sufficiently strong to puff out the glimmering superstition of
Priestcraft. The Philosopher should no longer bend the knee to this
or any other corrupt power. There is a keen public appetite for
philosophical truths. I feel satisfied that I have the daily thanks
of thousands for rescuing their minds from the horrible dogmas of
Superstition and Priestcraft. I have so strong an assurance of the
rapid decay of superstition, and the powerful effect of the books
and pamphlets which I have thrown into the social system, that no
persecution, no punishment, no fines, shall deter me from proceeding to
the utmost of my power and abilities. I am happy to see others following
in the same path, as I rather court assistance and emulation than dread
it. I am ever pleased at the extensive circulation of those publications
to which mine are exposed, as it is of the first consequence to
stimulate mankind to read, to examine, and to discuss the pretensions of
all principles. The Bible Society might circulate its millions of
books, and not a member of that society shall feel more pleasure at
the circumstance than myself. I do not wish that any of my publications
should fall into the hands of any individual, but he who can read the
Bible, and who is fully acquainted with its contents, and all the dogmas
which the priests of this country teach. It is on this ground that I
wish to try the force of those principles which I advocate and no other.
I feel assured that no impartial and disinterested man ever read a copy
of

Thomas Paine's Age of Reason without having his faith shaken in the
Christian religion, and if ever he has read Mirabaud's System of Nature
he will find his faith shaken on the subject of all religion. He will
see that the whole has arisen from one common fault--the ignorance and
credulity of mankind.

For instance, when the use of the telescope and the advanced state
of the science of Astronomy has given us ocular and mathematical
demonstration, that every orb we see revolving in the wide and infinite
expanse of space, and that each of that infinite number of orbs,
which something more than hypothesis convinces us do revolve in space,
corresponds with a portion of that solar system, of which our parent
earth is a part, that they are guided by the same laws and composed of
the same species of matter, by which we infer that they bear the
same productions, does not the query arise in our minds, which must
inevitably strike down the fabric of the Christian religion, that if it
was essential for a Jesus Christ, the only begotten son of God, as
old as his father, to pass through the virgin-womb of a woman, to
be buffeted, scourged, and put to an ignominious death by a sect of
superstitious bigots, who have constantly for the space of eighteen
hundred years denied all knowledge of such a person, for the purpose of
procuring the future happiness of those animals on this orb whom we call
human, and their salvation from the eternal torments which he and his
father had prepared for those who should reject them; was it not also
essential, that this same Jesus Christ, this only begotten son of God,
as old his father, should have submitted to a similar incarnation in
a virgin-womb, and have been buffeted, scourged, and executed, as a
criminal malefactor, according to the respective customs of treating
such characters on the several orbs, or the peculiar part of them on
which he might chance or choose to inhabit; was it not essential that
he should have performed a similar mission for the similar salvation and
future happiness of the several inhabitants or animals denominated
human on each and every one of those orbs? Can any priest answer this
question? The Man of Science I know will smile at it, and pity the
credulity and ignorance of all who have believed, who do believe, or
who may believe, such ridiculous nonsense. Then let him come forward
and preach up his scientific knowledge, and silence the dogmas of the
priest. It is reserved for the Man of Science to rid mankind of this
horrid ignorance and credulity, and to impress upon their minds the
all-important subject of scientific knowledge. Man does not naturally
delight in ignorance and credulity, but he naturally strives to free
himself from those vices. There is no truth that you can impress upon
the mind of man, but what he will rejoice at feeling it to be truth, and
himself undeceived as to former error. It is the interested hypocrite
alone, that is alarmed at the progress and power of truth, he whose very
trade is the known propagation of falsehood and delusion, the tyrants
tool and scourge. All tyranny, oppression, and delusion, have been
founded upon the ignorance and credulity of mankind. Knowledge,
scientific knowledge, is the power that must be opposed to those evils,
and be made to destroy them. Come forward, ye Men of Science, ye must no
longer remain in the back ground as trembling cowards, ye must no longer
crave protection from, and creep at the pleasure of, your direst foes;
grasp at tyranny, at oppression, at delusion, at ignorance, and at
credulity, and you shall find yourselves sufficiently powerful to
destroy the whole, and emancipate both the mind and the body of man from
the slavery of his joint oppressors.

The latter of the before-mentioned works is a most important one, and
has hitherto passed through several editions without molestation by the
Attorney General, or the Society for propagating Vice. Whatever they may
attempt, it will defy the malice of either. Many other very important
publications are now in full sale, and from the appetite which I find
still exists for them, I have been induced to make this bold appeal to
Men of Science, calling upon them to stand forward and vindicate the
truth, from the foul grasp and persecution of Superstition; and obtain
for the island of Great Britain, the noble appellation of the focus
of truth; whence mankind shall be illuminated, and the black and
pestiferous clouds of persecution and superstition be banished from
the face of the earth; as the only sure prelude to universal peace and
harmony among the human race.

DORCHESTER GAOL, MAY 1821.

Eighteenth Month of the Author's Imprisonment, and the Fourth Month of
the Imprisonment of his Wife.





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