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Title: Life and Character of Richard Carlile
Author: Holyoake, George Jacob, 1817-1906
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Life and Character of Richard Carlile" ***

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CARLILE ***



                *LIFE AND CHARACTER OF RICHARD CARLILE*


                                  _By_

                        *George Jacob Holyoake*


                                _London_

                                 _1849_



CONTENTS


    PREFACE
    LIFE AND CHARACTER OF RICHARD CARLILE
    CHAPTER I. HIS PARENTAGE, APPRENTICESHIP, AND MARRIAGE
    CHAPTER II. THE PUBLISHER AND THE PRISONER
    CHAPTER III. THE EDITOR AND THE ATHEIST
    CHAPTER IV. HIS DEATH AND CHARACTER
    ST. THOMAS’S HOSPITAL



PREFACE


When I first entered London, one Saturday evening in 1842, I was not
known personally to half a dozen persons in it. On reaching the office
of the Oracle of Reason, I found an invitation (it was the first I
received in the metropolis) from Richard Carlile to take tea with him on
the next afternoon at the Hall of Science. There was no name known to me
in London from whom an invitation could have come which I should have
thought a greater honour. The conversation at table was directed to
advising me as to my defence at my coming trial. He requested me to hear
his evening lecture, which he devoted to the policy of sceptical defence
which he thought most effectual. At the conclusion, he called upon me
for my coincidence or dissent. I stated some objections which I
entertained to his scientifico-religious views with diffidence but
distinctness. The compliments which he paid me were the first words of
praise which I remember to have trusted. Coming from a master in our
Israel, they inspired me with a confidence new to me. I did not conceal
my ambition to merit his approval. On my trial at Gloucester, he watched
by my side fourteen hours, and handed me notes for my guidance. After my
conviction, he brought me my first provisions with his own hand. He
honoured me with a public letter during my imprisonment, and uttered
generous words in my vindication, when those in whose ranks I had fought
and fallen were silent. It was my destiny, on my liberation, to be able
to pour my gratitude only over his grave. In his Life and Character,
here attempted, I am proud to confess that 1 have written with affection
for his memory, but I have also, written with impartiality—for he who
encouraged me to maintain the truth at my own expense, would be quite
willing, if need be, that I maintain it at his.

  G. J. H.



LIFE AND CHARACTER OF RICHARD CARLILE



CHAPTER I. HIS PARENTAGE, APPRENTICESHIP, AND MARRIAGE


I have accomplished the liberty of the press in England, and oral
discussion is now free. Nothing remains to be reformed but the ignorance
and vices of the people, whose ignorance cannot be removed, while their
bodies are starved and their church remains a theatre of idolatry and
superstition.’ These were the proud and wise words uttered in the last
periodical edited by Richard Carlile. They are the history of his
life—the eulogy of his career—and the witnesses or his political and
religious penetration.

Of Carlile’s family, I can gather little beyond this, that his father
had some reputation as an arithmetician. He published a collection of
arithmetical, mathematical, and algebraical questions. His talent was
individual though mediocre. He put his questions into verse and
intermixed them with paradox. His career was various and brief: first a
shoemaker, he aspired to be and became an exciseman. Like Burns, his
habits suffered by his profession, and he often fell into intoxication.
Of his own accord he retired from the Excise, became successively
schoolmaster and soldier, and died at the age of 34, no person’s enemy
but his own.(1) Carlile’s mother was now left a widow, with three infant
children. For several years she was in a flourishing business, but it
began to decay with the pressure of the times, about 1800, and she was
afflicted alternately with sickness and poverty. Thence to the time of
her death, she was assisted by Carlile, who was her only son. As a woman
she was virtuous, as a mother kind and indulgent. She died at the age of
60. It is an evidence of Carlile’s honourable notions of duty, that out
of thirty shillings per week, which he earned as a journeyman, he
supported his wife and several children, and spared an offering for the
support of his mother and sisters; and it deserves to be mentioned in
his behalf, that the first dissatisfaction he experienced in married
life arose from the opposition which he received in the discharge of
these generous duties.

      1. Carlile to Lord Brougham, Gauntlet, No. 8, p. 113. 1833.

Richard Carlile was born in Ashburton, Devonshire, December 8, 1790. He
was but four years of age at the death of his father. He early felt his
father’s ambition. Before he was twelve years of age, he determined to
be something in the world, and afterwards his unexpressed ideas were
ever at work and accumulating. His dreams by night, and his thoughts by
day, all worked one way, and vaguely contemplated some sort of
purification of the church.(1) But how far he was from understanding the
part he was to play is clear from the circumstance, that on the 5th of
November, he used to gather faggots to burn ‘Old Tom Paine,’ instead of
Guy Fawkes; and it was not till 1810, when he was twenty years old, that
he first saw in the hands of an old man in Exeter, a copy of the Rights
of Man.(2)

Carlile received all the education that village free schools could
afford. The educational routine where his own Gifford had before been a
scholar, was confined to writing, arithmetic, and sufficient Latin to
read a physician’s prescription. His first place seems to have been with
Mr. Lee, chemist and druggist, in Exeter, but, being set to do things
which he deemed derogatory to one who was able to read a physician’s
prescription, he left the shop after four months’ service. Being too
much of a man to go to school again, he lived idly three months, amusing
himself with colouring pictures to sell in his mother’s shop. His
mother’s principal wholesale customers were the firm of Gifford and Co.,
which consisted of the brothers of that Attorney-General who had such
extensive dealings with the son afterwards, in a different line. At the
pressing wish of Carlile’s mother, he was apprenticed to a business
which he never liked, that of tinplate working, and, like Bunyan, he
became a tinman. He served seven years and three months to a Mr.
Cummings, whom he has described as a hard master, as one who considered
five or six hours for sleep all the recreation necessary for his youths.
Carlile had no knowledge then of the ‘Rights of Man,’ but he betrayed
some knowledge of the rights of apprentices,(3) and his impatience under
injustice was then manifested, as his term of service was one series of
conspiracies, rebellions, and battles. On being relieved from this worse
than seven years’ imprisonment, he resolved to follow that business no
longer than he should be compelled. His ambition then was to get his
living by his pen.

      1. Gauntlet, No. 8, p. 113.
      2. Repub. vol. 5, p. 134.
      3. Republican, vol. ii. pp. 226-7.

The office of an exciseman, which was offered him, he refused,
remembering the fate of his father, and continued to follow his
business, as journeyman tinman, in various parts of the country, and in
London, where he first arrived in February, 1811. He returned to Exeter
the same year. In 1813, we find him in London again, working at Benham
and Sons, Blackfriars Road. A short sojourn in Gosport, in the previous
year 1812, led to his acquaintance with the person who became, after two
months’ courtship, Mrs. Carlile. He was at that time twenty-three, and
she thirty years of age. Mrs. Carlile was not without accomplishments as
to personal appearance; and temper excepted, was not without most of the
qualifications necessary to a good tradesman’s wife.(1)

Mrs. Carlile had talents for business, which were of the greatest value
to her husband in the course of his career. He, bent on propagandism,
never paid that attention to the details of trade which was necessary to
keep a business together. But their difference in education, in age, in
intellectual aspiration and their opponency in disposition, early
converted their union into an intimacy tolerated rather than prized, and
entire separation ensued twenty years after. Peculiar conduct on the
part of relatives was alleged as promotive of these results, but this
conduct I do not particularise as the explanation of the parties
concerned is not before me, and cannot now be obtained. Of personal
causes, temper seems to have been a chief one. Writing to Mr. Hunt, in
1822, Carlile said, ‘Knowing Mrs. C. to possess a _warm_ temper, as I
do, I wonder,’ etc.(2) In 1819, the separation of Mr. and Mrs. Carlile
was arranged to take place, so soon as he had the means of making a
sufficient settlement for her comfort: it was not, however, till 1832,
when the annuity of £50, bequeathed him by Mr. Morrison, of Chelsea,
cleared itself of legacy duty, that he was able to provide for her. Then
it was that they parted, she taking all the household furniture and £100
worth of books.

      1. A Scourge, p. 18. 1834.
      2. Rep. vol. vi. p. 15.

His elder sister remained a violent Methodist, and was never reconciled
to his anti-religious labours. Mrs. Carlile, as well as his younger
sister, who both incurred imprisonment on his account, did it rather
from natural resentment at the injustice practised for his destruction,
than from any sympathy with his opinions. But, in this respect, they
behaved with a bravery worthy of their name; they resolutely refused to
compromise—the sister the brother, or the wife the husband, at all risks
to themselves. None of his family, save a first cousin, countenanced his
proceeding; he stood alone on his own hearth, as he stood often alone in
the world.



CHAPTER II. THE PUBLISHER AND THE PRISONER


It was in 1816, while employed as a tinplate worker, by the firm of
Matthews and Masterman, of Union Court, Holbom Hill, that he first
essayed public life. He was then twenty-six years of age. Before this
time he had read no work of Paine’s; but the distress of that year
excited him to inquiry. Knowledge speedily prompted nim to action. He
wrote scraps for the newspapers, (principally the _Independent Whig_ and
the _Newt_) which scraps were all condemned: ‘A half-employed Mechanic
is too violent;’ this was the notice in answer to correspondents. He
annoyed Mr. Cobbett by a foolish acrostic, on the name of Hunt. He wrote
to Hunt himself, and paraded one night, two hours in front of his hotel,
in Covent Garden, before he could muster courage sufficient to ask the
waiter to take his effusion up. At this time he burned to see himself in
print; although, as he afterwards confessed, he was not able to write a
single sentence fit to meet the public eye.(2)

      1. Repub. vol. xi. p. 101.
      2. Repub. vol. xii. p. 2.

In 1817 _The Black Dwarf_ made its appearance, which was much more to
Carlile’s taste than _Cobbett’s Register_, but as the Habeas Corpus Act
was suspended, and Sidmouth had sent forth his Circular, there was a
damp among the newsvendors, and few would sell. This excited Carlile
with a desire to become a bookseller. The story of Lackington beginning
with a stall encouraged him. He resolved to set a good example in the
trade of political pamphlets. Finding the sale of the _Black Dwarf_ very
low, he borrowed £1 from his employer, and invested it in one hundred
_Dwarfs_, and on the 9th of March, 1817, he sallied forth from the
manufactory, with his stock in his handkerchief, to commence the trade
of bookselling. He traversed the metropolis in every direction to get
newsvendors to sell the _Dwarf_, and called every day to see how they
sold. He inquired also after _Cobbett’s Register_, and Sherwin’s
_Republican_, but finding that they did not want pushing, he took none
of those round. Indeed, he refused to avail himself of the profit he
could have made by taking _Cobbett’s Register_ because it did not go far
enough.(1) He carried the _Dwarf_ round several weeks, walking thirty
miles a day, for a profit of fifteen and eighteen pence. At length an
information was lodged against the publisher, and Mr. Steill was
arrested. Carlile at once offered to take his place.

      1. Repub, vol. xi. p. 102.

Mr. Wooler, however, arranged the matter, and Carlile’s offer was
declined Mr. Sherwin, then a young man, (formerly keeper of South-well
Bridewell, Nottinghamshire,) editing the _Republican_, perceived
Carlile’s value, and offered him the publishing of his paper, which he
accepted. Carlile guaranteed Mr. Sherwin against arrest, which left him
free to be bold without danger. The shop on which he now entered was
183, Fleet Street, which Mr. Cobbett afterwards occupied. Carlile’s
first ideas of politics were, that neither writers, printers, nor
publishers were bold enough; and he now commenced to set the example he
thought wanted. ‘I did not then see,’ he said, in the decline of his
life, ‘what my experience has since taught me that the greatest
despotism ruling the press is the popular ignorance. I made the
calculation, which has been an error embittering my whole public life,
that the entire people would assist and applaud an attempt, however
humble, to set the press free. I have found myself like our
parliamentary reformers idolizing a virtue of the imagination not yet
brought into existence. I correctly made the calculation of having to
pass through five or six years’ imprisonment, to appease the angered
authorities of having defied their will; but I had not calculated that,
after having conquered the authorities, by self-sacrifice, the greater
difficulty would remain, of having to conquer the ignorance and vice of
the people, by still more painful sacrifices.’

His first step was a resistance to the attempt of the poet laureat,
Southey, to suppress the sale of his early Poem, ‘Wat Tyler.’ He sold
twenty-five thousand of that poem in 1817.

The second was a prosecution, defence, and imperfect verdict gained
against Thomas Jonathan Wooller.

The third was the reprint of the political works of Thomas Paine, by
himself and Mr. Sherwin.

The fourth was the trials and acquittals of William Hone, which Carlile
forced on, by reprinting those suppressed political squibs called ‘The
Parodies on the Book of Common Prayer.’

The Parodies cost him eighteen weeks’ imprisonment in the King’s Bench
Prison, from which he was liberated with out trial, on the acquittals of
William Hone.

By the end of the year 1818 he had published the Theological Works of
Thomas Paine. The prosecutions instituted induced him to go on printing
other similar works, such as the ‘Doubts of Infidels,’ ‘Watson Refuted,’
‘Palmer’s Principles of Nature,’ ‘The God of the Jews,’ &c. &c. By the
month of October, 1819, he had at least six indictments pending against
him. Two of the indictments were tried from the 12th to the 16th of
October, and verdicts obtained against him. He was committed to the
King’s Bench Prison, and on the 16th of November sentenced to fifteen
hundred pounds fine, and three years imprisonment in Dorchester Goal. In
the middle of the night he was handcuffed, and driven off between two
armed officers to Dorchester, a distance of one hundred and twenty
miles.

The first thing he did, at the close of his trial, was to print the ‘Age
of Reason,’ in twopenny sheets, as part of the report of the trial,
having taken care to read the whole in defence. Of these he sold more in
a month than of the volumes in a-year. For this publication, a
prosecution was instituted against Mrs. Carlile, but was dropped on her
declining the sale. She was not however long unmolested.

Under pretence of seizing for Mr. Carlile’s fines, the sheriff, with a
writ of _levari facias_, from the Court of King’s Bench, took possession
of his house, furniture, stock in trade, and closed the shop. It was
thus held, from the 16th of November to the 24th of December. Rent
became due and it was then emptied.

Under Mr. C.’s desire Mrs. Carlile renewed a business, in January 1820,
with what could be scraped together from the unseized wreck of their
property. In February she was arrested; but the first indictment failed
through a flaw in the verdict. She was immediately proceeded against by
the Attorney-General, and became her husband’s fellow-prisoner in
Dorchester Gaol in February 1821, after having done good service in the
shop for a-year.

Carlile’s sister Mary Ann succeeded Mrs. Carlile in the management of
the business, but was also immediately prosecuted. The first indictment
failed in this case, by the honesty of one of the jurymen. In the second
the judge (Best) suppressed the defence. By the month of November, 1821,
his sister was also a prisoner in Dorchester Gaol, and under a fine of
five hundred pounds.

In the course of the year, 1821, a new association had been formed,
called the “Constitutional Association.” It asked for subscription to
pay the expenses of prosecuting the assistants of his business. Six
thousand pounds were subscribed, and the Duke of Wellington saw fit to
put his name with his money, at the head of the list. Carlile’s sister’s
trial was the first check the Association received. The unsuccessful
prosecution of Thomas Dolby, the second. Then came a troop of assistants
to the encounter: to wit, Susanna Wright, George Beer, John Barkley,
Humphrey Boyle, Joseph Rhodes, William Holmes, and John Jones. All
these, save Jones, sustained terms of imprisonment, from six months to
two years; but they succeeded in breaking down the “Constitutional
Association.”

Then came James Watson and William Tunbridge, both meeting imprisonment.

In the month of February, 1822, Mrs. Wright being then in possession of
the house, the very week that Mr. Peel had taken possession of the Home
Office, a second seizure was made of the house and stock of 55, Fleet
Street, and the house finally wrested from Carlile. This was done on the
pretence of satisfying the fines; but neither from this nor the former
seizure was a farthing allowed in the abatement of the fines, and
Carlile was detained in Dorchester Gaol to the end of the sixth year,
three years’ imprisonment having been taken in lieu of the fines.

Joseph Trust was the only person prosecuted in 1823, and the Lord Chief
Justice Abbott intimated that enough had been done; but in May, 1824,
there came a new rage for prosecutions from the government, when Charles
Sanderson, Thomas Jefferies, William Haley, William Campion, Richard
Hassell. Michael O’Connor, William Cochrane, John Clarke, John
Christopher, and Thomas Riley Perry, were severally arrested, and the
last nine imprisoned, through various periods, from six months to three
years.

Two years Mrs. Carlile was kept in Dorchester Gaol: so was his sister,
a-year having been taken for her £500 fine. After this it was reported,
that the Cabinet, had, in council acknowledged Carlile invincible in the
course of moral resistance which he had taken, and no more persons were
arrested from his shop, while no one of his publications had been
suppressed.

His imprisonment in Dorchester Gaol was in some respects, severe. The
first magisterial order was that he should be led into the open air only
as a caged animal, to be exhibited to the gaze of the passing curious,
half an hour each day, or an hour every other day, or as the gaoler
might be pleased. This, and similar orders caused him to pass two years
and a-half in his chamber, without going into the open air.

When he came to trial in 1819, he had no clear understanding of the
subject of his defence, it was compiled from the pleadings of others for
toleration and free discussion. In this mental state he entered
Dorchester Gaol. He had taken the impression from the hint of an aged
political friend, that all the evils of mankind rooted in the
superstition and the consequent priestcraft practised upon them, that he
resolved to devote the solitude of his imprisonment to the study of
religious mysteries, and fearlessly and faithfully to make the
revelation for the common good of man. His defence, on his first three
days’ trial, alarmed the Emperor Alexander of Russia, who issued an
Ukase, forbidding any printed report of it from being brought into his
territory. His first defence was much interrupted; his second was
entirely suppressed.

When he was liberated from Dorchester Gaol, in 1826, the freedom of the
press was complete, as far as government or aristocratical societies
were concerned. His shopmen were detained to complete their sentences of
three years’ imprisonment, not much to the political merit of Sir Robert
Peel, who gave up not a day in either case, save that of a bad young
man, who had unprincipledly intruded himself among them. To honest
opposition he yielded nothing, but was, in every sense of the character,
an inveterate persecutor.

Though the freedom of the press was accomplished in 1829, something more
remained to be accomplished, which was the freedom of public oral
discussion; and on this object Carlile set his thoughts.

When Mr. Taylor was prosecuted and imprisoned, in 1828, Carlile was
called into action in his new character. He immediately converted a
large room in his house, 62, Fleet Street, into a Sunday School of Free
Discussion, and introduced a public debate on all useful political
subjects on the Sabbath Day. This had not been done before by any one
anywhere. By a subscription he got Mr. Taylor well supported in prison,
and on his liberation accompanied him to Cambridge, as an infidel
Missionary, to challenge the University to public discussion. They
passed from Cambridge to Liverpool, presenting a printed circular of
public challenge to every priest on the road. One only accepted it, the
Rev. David Thom, of Liverpool, who quailed at the very onset, and
withdrew. This was done in 1829.

In 1830 he sought a larger sphere of action for public meetings than his
own dwelling-house, and engaged a series of buildings and theatres
called the Rotunda, in Blackfriars Road. Soon after he gained possession
of this building, the second French Revolution broke out, which gave a
new impetus to political feeling in London. Giving to every man liberty
of speech in his theatres, the Rotunda was attended bv all the public
men of note out of parliament; and the public meetings there became so
frequent and so large, that the government took alarm, and the prophecy
of the day was, that the Rotunda would cause a Revolution in England.
While the Tories remained in office, they did not molest him, but the
Whigs no sooner took office, than they very foully made war on him, and
caused him thirty-two months imprisonment in the Compter of the City of
London.

The Rev. Robert Taylor was also prosecuted under the Whig
Administration, and filled out two years in Horse-monger Lane Gaol, for
his preaching in the Rotunda.

In 1834 and 1835, Carlile passed ten weeks in the same Compter, for
resistance to the payment of Church Rates; making his total of
imprisonment nine years and four months.

These church-rates were assessed upon his house, 62, Fleet Street. When
his goods were seized, he retaliated by taking out the two front windows
and placing therein two effigies—one of a bishop, and the other of a
distraining officer. After a time, he added a devil, who was linked
arm-in-arm with his Grace. Such crowds were attracted, that public
business was impeded. Eventually, Mr. Carole was indicted for a
nuisance. The court was less virulent than before: it was externally
courteous. He defended himself in a speech of coherency and good sense,
but was found guilty, and ultimately sentenced to pay a fine of 40s. to
the King, and give sureties in £200 (himself in £100, and two others in
£50 each), for good behaviour for three years. The spirit in which he
met this award was characteristic of the veteran martyr.

‘They have sentenced me’ said he, ‘to three years’ imprisonment. So much
for their leniency! It is a mockery to say that I may, if I please,
purchase my liberty. I cannot do it. I shall have more liberty in prison
than in walking the streets at the discretion of one set of men, and at
the hazard of £100 penalty to two others. It is a case in which I will
not interfere to abate one hour of the imprisonment. When the gates are
open to me I will walk out, but I will not pay or do anything to procure
release.’(1) And he wrote to Mr. Cope, keeper of Newgate, to desire that
he would get him removed to the Compter, and he quietly announced next
week that he had been removed to his old room.’

      1. _A Scourge_, No. 12, pp. 89, 90.

Before sentence he made a deposition in court. As this was his last
imprisonment, I quote the concluding words of this deposition. They show
the temper in which the dying lion shook his mane.

‘And deponent further saith, that in case the court should think a
penalty necessary, this deponent has no other property from which he can
pay a fine than printed books; and from the political business in which
this deponent is involved, he cannot reasonably ask any other person to
become his sureties, that his future proceedings may not be construed
into political offence; not but that this deponent is anxious to live in
peace and amity with all men, _but that there do exist many political
and moral evils which this deponent will, through life, labour to
abate.’_

This was the tone of his entire career. When in 1819, a law was proposed
by Castlereagh, to inflict banishment upon him for a second offence, he
wrote:—‘In some cases, this power of banishment might amount to a
deprivation of life; but for my own part, I think nothing of it, and
hope to show, that it will not have the least tendency to change my
course.’(2) ‘Indictments and warrants have never affected me—they have
been the life of my business.’ He was present at the ‘Manchester
massacre,’ and escaped narrowly falling a victim, first to the soldiers,
and afterwards to the police, who let him pass, not knowing his name.
The danger he ran on all hands was imminent. On the morning when the
government chose to reveal the Thistlewood plot of their own concoction,
they arranged that their agents of the vice society should arrest Mrs.
Carlile,(3) to associate, as far as possible, his family in that
proceeding. Not only were parties inculpated without fault, but tried
without defence. The humble advocate was bullied into the abandonment of
his political client, and the powerful one was bribed. Mr. Cooper was
frowned into silence and threatened. Mr. Cross obtained a silk gown for
his _defence_ of Brandreth and Mr. Justice Best won the same distinction
by his _defence_ of Despard. So virulent were the rulers of that day
that Peel refused to liberate Mrs. Carlile after thirteen months
detention, though in daily expectation of accouchment which might occur
at an hour when assistance could not be had.(4) In addressing Mrs.
Gaunt, of Manchester, Mrs. Carlile observed in reference to the position
in which she was placed, ‘My spirits and strength are good, or I should
have everything to dread in childbirth in such a place as this
[Dorchester Gaol], where humanity is a marketable commodity, and where,
what is still worse, I am one of those excluded from the market at any
price.(5)

      1. A Scourge, No. 12, p. 90.
      2. Republican, vol. ii. p. 5. Idem. p. 60.
      3. Republican, vol. ii. p 254.
      4. Republican, vol. v. p. 301.
      5. Republican, vol. v. p. 608.

Of the risks Carlile ran from espionage, he has detailed many instances.
I quote one passage in his own words. He is speaking of Paine:—‘I
revere,’ says he, ‘the name of Thomas Paine; the image of his honest
countenance is constantly before me. I have him in bust [now in
possession of Mr. Watson], in whole length figure; for which I may thank
the late government of Liverpool, Castlereagh, and Sidmouth, who
appointed Edwards the spy to this task, he, who when he failed to get me
hanged, caused the death of Thistlewood, and others. Edwards occupied
_six months_ of 1819, in excuse of making this statute to keep at my
heels. He followed me closely until I was in Dorchester Gaol. There I
escaped him; and then, immediately, he was put on other game with which
he succeeded. The very men that he hanged, he brought about me in the
King’s Bench Prison, offering me their lives, if I would use them for
any purpose. I had then, a clear sighted purpose of my own, which these
men did not understand. At that age I should have had no objection to a
little physical force fighting; but I was sober enough to see its
impracticability, and thus I frustrated the acquaintance, which
Liverpool, Castlereagh, Sidmouth, and their spy Edwards, wished to bring
me into with Jack Ketch. I found Edwards a tradesman in Fleet Street, as
an artist, before I got there, and I so became his next door neighbour.
He succeeded, in occupation, the shop which William Hone had, and where
he published his famous Parodies. When I came to No. 55, in January,
1819, Edwards had been two years at No. 56, so I had little ground to
suspect his spyship.

I had known him as a customer through that time. He pleaded that his
father had been an old politician: nor was my suspicion excited by his
having a brother in the Hatton Garden Police. When I entered upon No.
55, he pleaded what a great convenience it would be to him in business,
if I would allow him to lodge in my house, as he had a shop next door
without a dwelling-house. I had almost yielded; but the shrewd
suspicions of Mrs. Carlile, re-acting upon his villainous countenance,
put it aside. He was then placed in an upper story lodging of the
opposite house, (where was born my statue of Paine) in the under part of
which was placed a man of the name of John Carlisle, a bookseller, to
oppose me, in conflict with another class of publications. This was the
work of the government, superintended by their agent, John Reeve.
Edwards did not scruple to talk to me about meeting the Archbishop of
Canterbury in Windsor Castle; but left me to infer, that it was about
his art as a modeller, not as a spy. I can now see, that he was placed
in Hone’s old shop, to keep out a political publisher; and I have since
divined a deep history of the spy system of that time, which I never
feared, because I had nothing morally to fear in what I purposed to do.
One, I have marked, as an old acquaintance, a man connected with the
Stamp Office, very regularly at my lectures for years. From, or in the
house of John Carlisle, by Edwards, was concocted the plot called the
Cato Street Conspiracy. In beginning, middle, and end, that was wholly
the work of Lords Castlereagh and Sidmouth, with Edwards as an agent.
After the finish of that political tragedy, Edwards was provided for in
one of the colonies, it has been said, the Cape of Good Hope. John
Carlisle dwindled into great poverty in Fleet Street, was made permanent
constable, and at last very strangely got his house burned down, just
after I came triumphantly from six years’ imprisonment in Dorchester
Gaol, and established myself _ruinously_ in splendid No. 62.’(1)

Yet it was in such times and amid such dangers that Carlile formed the
resolution, and adhered to it to the day of his death, never to cease
any publication so long as any prosecution or intimidation menaced it.

Placing himself always where danger was to be braved, his position was
from the first prominent, and attracted to him many leading political
characters, who saw in him a vicarious sacrifice for that freedom they
were willing to enjoy, if it could be done without paying so troublesome
a price as the ministers of that day charged for it. But, as the danger
grew imminent, they began to pull him back and condemn his open
conduct.(2) Cobbett at first said, ‘You have done your duty bravely, Mr.
Carlile; if every one had done like you, it would have been all very
well.’(3) But afterwards he censured him without measure. Wooler, whom
Carlile offered to save, said that the publication of Paine’s works
would put a stop to all the political writings of the day. But whatever
ground there appeared for these fears, a wise publicist should have
given Carlile all possible support, since he _ought to have_ triumphed
in his course. Major Cartwright deprecated the republication of Paine’s
works as mischievous, to flying in the face of Juries; that when a jury
had once declared these works to be libels, the very _errors_ of that
jury ought to be respected. Yet against this dictum of the influential
veteran, Reformer, Carlile contended. He encountered greater obstacles
among such friends than among his enemies. It requires more courage to
fight against friends than against foes. Carlile illustrated the remark
of Mr. Miall, that ‘martyrdom in the past tense is madness in the
present.’ Then the Reformers Degan to call themselves ‘Christian
Reformers,’ ‘Religious Reformers,’ and by other safe conventional names
to distinguish themselves from ‘Carlile and his party.’(4) No man should
lightly compromise his party by a dangerous step. Carlile is not
amenable to blame on this account. He took a necessary step for general
progress, and his triumph justified his penetration. A weaker man than
Carlile would not have been justified in the course which he took, as a
weaker man would have failed. But Carlile was a Buonarotti.

      1. Christian Warrior, pp. 27-28.
      2. Repub. vol. ii. p. 257.
      3. Repub. v. pp 283-4
      4. Christian Warrior, p. 10

Such was the difficulty of obtaining the forbidden books, in which he
set the example of dealing, that twelve guineas were offered for twelve
copies of the Age of Reason,(1) and £5 for five suppressed twopenny
Tracts.(2) In order to destroy a trade which they could not intimidate,
the Government arrested his shopmen with a rapidity intended to exhaust
them. To defeat this intention, books were sold through an aperture; so
that the buyer was unable to identify the seller.(3) Afterwards they
were sold by clockwork.(4) On a dial was written the name of every
publication for sale. The purchaser entered, and turned the hand of the
dial to the book he wanted, which, on depositing his money, dropped down
before him without the necessity of any one speaking. The Vice and
Constitutional Associations we both defied and defeated; notwithstanding
that the honoured name of Wilberforce was found on the list of the
members of one of the societies, and that of the Duke of Wellington
headed the other. The circulation of Carlile’s books were quadrupled,
and a cheering crowd around his shop windows perpetually testified their
approval of his courage, and at public dinners in the provinces, the
health was drank of ‘Carlile’s invisible shopman.’ Martyrdom, he said,
was contagious, and could he keep it up, he should glory in a perpetual
sessions at the Old Bailey. The result of his course he expresses with
honourable exultation. ‘In this country the Age of Reason was spellbound
for twenty years, with the exception of a few copies put forth by Daniel
Isaac Eaton. From December, 1818, to December, 1822, I had sent into
circulation near 20,000 copies. Let corruption rub out that if she can,
as Mr. Cobbett said his 40,000 Registers.’ By the month of June, 1824,
in the fifth year of his imprisonment, his calculation was verified; the
press was freed, and the Government, who had beaten Napoleon in a
physical conflict, was beaten by Carlile in a moral struggle—so impotent
is power to overcome the right, when brave men champion the right.

      1. Repub. vol. ii. p. 183.
      2. Christian Warrior, p. 29.
      3. Repub. vol. v. p. 56.
      4. Repub. vol. v. p. 264.

Carlile was liberally supported, and found powerful friends. The third
and fourth years of his imprisonment produced subscriptions to the
amount of £500 per year, and for a long period his profits over the
counter were £50 per week. An idea of his occasional business may be
formed from the circumstance that once when a trial was pending, Mrs.
Carlile took £600 in the shop in one week. When he came from Dorchester
Gaol one friend lent him £1,000 to extend his business. But he got out
of money as fast as it came, and his ambition leading him to give the
greatest possible effect to his advocacy, he contracted liabilities at
62, Fleet Street, which embarrassed him. Indeed, continually torn from
his home by government prosecutions, he had ill opportunities of
maintaining business habits. The latter part of his life was passed in
the vicissitudes and anxieties of fallen fortunes.



CHAPTER III. THE EDITOR AND THE ATHEIST


During Carlile’s imprisonment in Dorchester Gaol, he edited the
_Republican_, a Weekly Journal, which he conducted through fourteen
volumes. Its circulation reached at one time as high as 15,000. He saw
that a work had to be done, and he prepared to do it; if he could not do
it so well as he could wish, he resolved to do it as well as he was
able. He offered his ardour in the public cause as an apology for the
want of a grammatical education. Drawn into authorship by the force of
events, he hardly knew in what grammatical accuracy consisted, till he
felt his own deficiency through the criticisms of his correspondents,
some of whom did not hesitate to tell him, that he was unfit for a
public writer. This state of things continued till the fourth volume of
the _Republican_, where he wisely resolved to put his prison hours to
educational uses.(1) But his editorial duties were his best education,
and this he admitted; ‘I give,’ said he, in 1825, ‘a receipt to the
criticism of my friends upon my writings for the better part of the
knowledge that I now possess.’(2) Some of Carlile’s correspondents were
men from whom it was an honour to receive direction. From Francis Place
he gleaned all his ideas of Political Economy, and what Carlile called
the ‘all-surpassing question of the regulation of the numbers of the
people.’ It was from Jeremy Bentham, through Mr. Place, that he was
instructed not to attempt the building of any system of his own, but to
go on pulling down existing errors, every item of success in which, was
in fact, so much good building.(3) In Carlile’s last days he spoke of
Francis Place as ‘his old tutor who had a hard task to beat all the
superstition out of him.’

      1. See Repub. vol. iv. p. 191.
      2. Lion, vol. i. p. 373.

      4. Christian Warrior, p. 13.

While others were calling Carlile ‘Atheist and Infidel,’ Place was
calling him ‘the most, obstinately superstitious fellow alive;’ but
always paid him the compliment of admitting that he was worth the
trouble, and that if he could be set right he would keep right.(1)

When Carlile’s days of thinking began, he began with himself. He knew
himself well, and this was the source of his strength. Like Cobbett he
could write always well of himself. His first study was to form a mind
of his own on the basis of the best known principles.(2) Carlile began
to write a man. Nature made him for an agitator. He had an iron will and
limitless self-reliance. I have been told by one who advised him
frequently, that no man could control him. His first papers in the
_Republican_, are thoughtful, manly, self-possessed, nervous, and
resolute. Sherwin preceded Carlile in the publication of a work, called
the _Republican_, but, after the fourth number, it was changed into
‘_Sherwin’s Weekly Political Register_,’ on the ground that people were
afraid of its name. But Carlile resumed its title, and selected those
articles only which had the real names and addresses of the author
appended. He called upon the friends of his opinions to avow themselves,
and declared himself ambitious of incurring martyrdom, if martyrdom was
necessary to the cause of liberty.(3)

Carlile’s political and religious prototype was Paine. Carlile always
wrote with manifest purpose, and seems to have emulated the plain vigour
of Cobbett and the invective of Junius.

Carlile’s habits were marked by great abstemiousnesss. Seldom taking
animal food,(4) he refused wine(5) when offered a dozen at Dorchester
Gaol, preferring good milk. He was morally as well as physically
particular. In the rules of the Deistical Society, he provided that only
persons of good character should be eligible.(6) ‘It is important to
you, Republicans,’ wrote he, from Dorchester Gaol, ‘that however humble
the advocates of your principles may be, they should exhibit a clear
moral character to the world.’(7) He never sold a copy of any work which
he would hesitate to read to his children.(8) He expressed a hope, when
fairs were popular, that fairs would be put down all over the country.
He was one of the first thus to oppose what the pious then approved.

      1. Christian Warrior, p. 26.
      2. Gauntlet, No. 8, p. 113.
      3. Repub. No. 1, vol. i.
      4. Repub. vol. ii. p. 148.
      5. Repub. vol. ii. p. 234.
      6. Repub. vol. v. ft. 31.
      7. Repub. vol. vi. p. 3.
      8. Repub. vol. vii. p. 36.

There was no intolerance in Carlile’s habits. ‘I have no wish,’ these
were his words, ‘to force my opinions on any man—if he wishes to have
them, he must either buy them or challenge me to defend them; and, in
this last instance, it must be some one whom I consider worth contending
with, before I would open my mouth.’(1) He was of a retiring turn, and
utterly incapable of obtruding himself, where there was the possibility
of his not being desired. It was a sense of duty alone that made him
brave, his moral courage was great, but it was the courage of
conviction. Carlile was an illustration of Bulwer’s remark, that courage
in one thing, is not to be mistaken for courage in everything. He who
opposed himself without fear to the spies of Sidmouth, and the edicts of
Castlereagh, who singly withstood public opinion on the questions of
Marriage and Religion, when that opinion knew no reason and no mercy, he
felt, through his whole life, a want of fair confidence in himself, when
addressing a public audience. Large numbers, called together by his
name, produced in him a sense of disturbing responsibility and
embarrassment.(2) When liberated from imprisonment in Dorchester Gaol—an
ill discipline certainly for oratory—he trembled at committing his
reputation to the lapses of an inexperienced tongue. His friends thought
he would never make a speaker, but his perseverance prevailed. Still his
efforts were irregular; sometimes he was as eloquent as the best, at
others timidly hesitating. Probably his stolid nature wanted passion to
excite it—some nature’s, like deep waters, are only to put in motion by
a storm. A paralytic stroke, in March 1841, affected the muscles of the
mouth and tongue, and diminished his acquired power.

Hume has said that Christian sects manifest intolerance, which increases
in intensity the nearer their valuing creeds coincide. This has been
true of some classes of infidels, but Carlile wisely regarded with
favour the approximation of sects to reason. He encouraged the Rev.
Robert Taylor’s Deistical friends, because, like the Unitarians, they
would break up some part of the superstition of other sects. His
impression was that, ‘Though not themselves free from superstition, they
would lessen the sum total among all the sects, and, in so doing, do a
certain amount of good.’(3)

      1. Repub. vol. iv. p. 33.
      2. Gauntlet, No. 30 p. 385.
      3. Repub. vol. xvi. p. 130.

Carlile’s writings abound in instances of great political penetration:
thus he placed on the title page of the second volume of the
_Republican_ these words—‘Liberty is the property of man: a Republic
only can protect it.’ The same volume contained his qualification ot
equality. ‘Equality,’ says he, ‘means not an equality of riches, but of
rights merely.’(1) Yet the contrary is asserted to this hour.
‘Timidity,’ wrote he in 1828, ‘maybe seen sitting on the countenance of
almost every Politician. He speaks and speculates with a trembling which
generates a prejudice in others. As it is the slave who makes the
tyrant, so it is timidity in the Politician which creates the prejudice
of the persecutor.’(2) In words to this effect, he pourtrayed that
conventional caution of the newspaper press, which is to this hour the
bane of popular progress. He had a distincter conception of the part to
be played by education in public reform, than any other agitator of his
rank at that time. ‘I have before advised your majesty,’ said he, in
dedicating vol. 12 of the _Republican_ to George IV., ‘to patronise
Mechanics’ Institutions, and you will become a greater monarch than
Buonaparte. Kings must come to this, and he will be the wisest who does
it first and voluntarily.’ Republicanism was not with Carlile, as with
so many—politics in rags; he never divested it of efficiency and
dignity. To one who said that his exacting £100 shares for his Book
Company was aristocratic, he answered, ‘Call it what you please, that is
republican which is done well.’(3) Carlile took a view of the rationale
and initiation of revolution in England as manly as it was sagacious.
‘In the beginning of my political career,’ he writes, ‘I had those
common notions which the enthusiasm of youth and inexperience produces,
that all reforms must be the work of physical force. The heat of my
imagination shewed me everything about to be done at once. I am now
enthusiastic, but it is in _working_ where I can work _practically_
rather than theoretically; and though I would be the last to oppose a
well-applied physical force, in the bringing about reforms or
revolutions, I would be the last in advising others to rush into useless
dangers that _I would shun, or where I would not lead_. I have long
formed the idea that an insurrection against grievances in this country
must, to be successful, be spontaneous and not plotted, and that all
political conspiracies may be local and even individual evils. I
challenge the omniscience of the Home Office to say whether I ever
countenanced anything of the kind in word or deed. I will do nothing in
a political point of view which cannot be done openly.’(4) There is a
strong vein of political wisdom in all this, not yet appreciated by
popular politicians, and this has the merit of having been written at a
time, when (as indeed now) the maxim of English popular progressive
politics is not to find how much can be done _within the law_, but how
much can be done _without it_ and _against it_: a policy which dooms
Democracy to ceaseless antagonisms in the attainment of its claims, and
will, if persisted in, fetter it with impotence when the victory is won.

      1. Repub. vol. xiv. p. 105.
      2. Lion, vol. i. p. 3.
      3. Repub. vol. xii. p. 3.
      4. Repub. vol. xiv. pp. 5, 6.

The progress of Carlile’s convictions respecting religion is evident and
honourable to his thoughtfulness. He was twenty-seven years old before
he conceived any error in the article religion. His attention was first
drawn to the fact by finding that the suppressed writings of his day
chiefly related to religion. When the Attorney General first called him
profane, for publishing Hone’s Parodies, he was a very different man.
Through several volumes of the _Republican_ he was a Deist only. But
reflection led him onwards step by step. A first indication is in these
words—‘Paine, in his lifetime, appears to have been the advocate of a
Deistical church, but such an attempt shall ever find my reprobation, as
unnecessary and mischievous.’(1) The reason he assigned was, that
science alone could lead to true devotion, and lectures on science were,
therefore, the proper worship. In his first controversy with Cobbett, he
avowed himself, as Mr. Owen always has, a believer in a great
controlling power of Nature. But at this point, Carlile’s belief had
grown practical in its negation, as he wrote, ‘I advocate the abolition
of all religions, without setting up anything new of the kind.’(2) By
this time he had become a confirmed materialist, and soon after, defined
mind as a portion of the organization of the human body, acted upon by
the atmosphere and the body jointly, and dependent upon a peculiarity in
the organization, in the same manner as voice and life itself.(3) The
definitions he gave, in 1822, of Religion and Morality were essentially
the same as those since rendered more elegantly by Emerson. Carlile
defined Morality as a rule of conduct relating to man and man—Religion
as a rule of conduct, relating not to man, but to something which he
fancies to be his Maker.(4) Next he observed, ‘I may have said that the
changes observed in phenomenon argue the existence of an active power in
the universe, but I have again and again renounced the notion of that
power being intelligent or designing.(5) ‘It is not till since my
imprisonment that I have avowed myself Atheist.’(6)

      1. Repub. vol. iv. p. 220.
      2. Repub. vol. v. p. 201.
      3. Repub. vol. vi.
      4. Repub. vol. vi. p. 249.
      5. Repub. vol. vii. p. 26.
      6. Repub. vol. vii. p. 397.

He reached the climax of his Atheism on the title page to his tenth
volume of the _Republican_, where he declared ‘There is no such a God in
existence as any man has preached; nor any kind of God and this
declaration was so far carried out in detail, as to exclude from the
_Republican_ _God, nature, mind, soul_, and _spirit_, as words without
proto types.(1)

The two extremes of Carlile’s career exhibit a coincidence of terms, but
betray to the initiated observer a radical progress and distinction of
opinion. In his first work, he wrote, ‘Science is the Antichrist;’(2) in
his last, ‘Science is the Christ.’(3) When he wrote the first he was a
Deist, when he wrote the last he was an Atheist.

We commonly find that extreme political enthusiasts in youth, pass, in
old age, like Sir Francis Burdett, into extreme Conservatism: but it is
a phenomenon in intellect, that Carlile, whose convictions, not his
passions, led him to hold positive materialism, should lapse into a more
than Swedenborgian mysticism. ‘I have discovered,’ said he, ‘that the
names of the Old Testament, either apparently of persons or places, are
not such names as the religious mistakes have constructed, but names of
states of mind manifested in the human race, and, in this sense, the
Bible may be scientifically read as a treatise on spirit, soul, or mind,
and not as a history of time, people, and place.’(4) To insist on the
utility of such a theory, except as a mere theory of theological
explanation (useful as explaining it away altogether), was very strange
in Carlile. It seems like the artifice of a beaten man to conciliate an
implacable enemy. But Carlile was no beaten man. A few months only
before his death, he wrote to Sir Robert Peel, in reference to the
imprisonment of Mr. Southwell and myself, avowing his determination to
renew martyrdom, if Sir Robert persisted in reviving persecution. But
Carlile did make the capital error of proposing to explain science under
Christian terms, which was giving to science, which is universal, a
sectarian character. Hence, he was found using the words God, soul,
Christ, etc., with all the pertinacity of a divine, and scandalising his
friends by taking out his diploma as a preacher. In this, he manifested
his old courage. He was still true to himself, and was still an Atheist,
but veiling his materialism under a Swedenborgian nomenclature.

      1. Repub. vol. xiv. p, 770.
      2. Preface, p. 14. to vol. i. of Repub.
      3. Christian Warrior.
      4. Christian Warrior, p. 30.

But the adoption of Swedenborgian terminology was a virtual recantation,
and Carlile lost caste by it as did Lawrence. Lawrence gained no
practice, and Carlile no influence. Indeed, I never knew any of these
virtual recantations to be believed, or even respected by the world, who
forced them on. A real recantation I never knew beyond this, that
Atheists have acceded to Pantheism, or perhaps, relapsed into
Unitarianism. But they have always remained Rationalists. None that 1
have known and watched—not even the weakest, have fallen into
Evangelism. Carlile, by his new course, exposed himself to be distrusted
by his less observing but warm friends, and he conciliated no foe among
the Christians. Carlile, however, was no hypocrite, nor did he take this
new course for venal ends. He was as in all things else conscientious.
Still his course was one of choice, not of necessity. He was free as
ever to expound science, as science, or to expound it in the language of
religion. He adopted the mystic course. This was his error of judgment,
not an alteration of conviction. If I may explain the paradox of his
conduct in a paradox of terms, this is the expression of it:—From being
a Material Atheist, he became a Christian Atheist. His definition of a
Christian at this stage, was ‘a man purged from error.’(1) That this
course was no more than a mode of inculcation of his favourite Atheism
is evident, intrinsically, and also from the fact that he was so much a
realist, as to still avow his detestation of fiction; and so coherently
did he keep to this text, that he never ceased to make war on poetry,
theatres, and romance, from the commencement of his career down to the
last number of the _Christian Warrior_.

But the condemnation I pass upon the philosophy of his latter days shall
not be exparte. I subjoin that passage in which he has most powerfully
stated his own case.

‘The first problem in human or social reform is _through what medium
must it be made_. In what is called a religious state of society, that
is, a state of idolatry and superstition, can reform be carried out
through any other medium than its religion! My experience, added to the
best advice I could find, is, that, with a religious people, religion is
the only medium of reform. If I were opposed in that problem, I could
successfully defend my side of it. The Charter shall change the
constituency of the House of Commons, without improving the House.
Socialism may create 20 Tytherlies, but it has still done nothing for
the nation. But science thrown into the church as a substitute for
superstition in the education of the people, begins at once to
regenerate the people, the parliament, the institutions, and the throne.
It is the substitution of the known for the unknown, the real for the
unreal, the certain for the uncertain. Religion is the erroneous mind’s
chief direction. It must be corrected by and through the medium which it
most respects. It rejects all other opposing conditions, and increases
its tenacity for its errors. To reform religion by science, is to
regenerate fallen man, and to save a sinking country.

      1. Cheltenham Free Press, Any. 1842.
      2. Christian Warrior, p. 31,

There is great wisdom in this language. The question is, _how_ shall the
problem be solved? In this Carlile erred, as he did with the theory of
personalities, which he conceived with equal ability. I conceive that
Science is independent of Theology in its essence and its terms.
Religion may be brought to science by adroit interpretations, and
improved in character and significance; but Science can never be brought
to Religion without being ‘paltered in a double sense,’ and lowered in
dignity and intelligibility.



CHAPTER IV. HIS DEATH AND CHARACTER


Carlile’s death took place on this wise. He had come up from Enfield to
Bouvene Street, Fleet Street, to live on the old field of war, and edit
the _Christian Warrior._ While a van of goods were unpacking at the
door, one of his boys strayed out and went away. Carlile was fond of his
children, and he set out anxiously to seek his child. The excitement
ended in death. On Carlile’s return he was seized with a fatal illness.
Bronchitus, which he was told by his medical advisers would soon destroy
him, if he came to live in the city, set in, and the power of speech
soon left him. Mr. Lawrence, the author of the famous ‘Lectures on Man,’
whom Carlile always preferred in his illnesses, was sent for. He
promptly arrived, but pronounced recovery hopeless; and Richard Carlile
expired February 10,1843, in his fifty-third year.

Wishing to be useful in death as in life, Carlile devoted his body to
dissection. Always above superstition, in practice as well as in theory,
his wish had long been—that his body, if he died first, should be given
to Mr. Lawrence. At that time the prejudice against dissection was
almost universal, and only superior persons rose above it. His wish was
complied with by his family, and the post mortem examination was
published in the _Lancet_ of that year.

Carlile’s burial took place at Kensal Green Cemetry. He was laid in the
consecrated part of the ground—nearly opposite the Mausoleum of the
Ducrow family. At the interment, a clergyman appeared, and with the
usual want of feeling and of delicacy, persisted in reading the Church
service over him. His eldest son Richard, who represented his sentiments
as well as his name, very properly protested against the proceeding, as
an outrage upon the principles of his father and the wishes of the
family. Of course the remonstrance was disregarded, and Richard, his
brothers, and their friends left the ground. The clergyman then
proceeded to call Carlile ‘his dear departed brother,’ and to declare
that he ‘had died in the sure and certain hope of a glorious
resurrection.’

Carlile left six children—Richard, Alfred, and Thomas Paine, by his wife
Mrs. Jane Carlile; and Julian, Theophila, and Hypatia, by ‘Isis,’ the
lady to whom he united himself after his separation from his wife.

Mrs. Carlile survived him only four months. She died in the same house,
No. 1, Bouverie Street, and was buried in the same grave. It is hoped
that a suitable monument will soon mark the resting place of England’s
stoutest champion of free discussion, political and religious.

All stories about the recantation of Carlile, to which the pious have
given currency, are necessarily false, as he was never able to recant.
He lost his power of speaking long before death approached so near as to
suggest recanting to him. But death had no power to make his strong
spirit quail at ideal terror or to shake the firm convictions of his
understanding. His dying words, therefore, are the last which he
addressed to the public in his _Christian Warrior_, and they were
these—‘The enemy with whom I have to grapple is one with whom _no peace
can be made. Idolatry will not parley. Superstition will not treat on
covenant. They must be uprooted for public and individual safety_.’(1)

      1. Christian Warrior, No. 4 p. 83.

These words which he published thirteen days only before his death, are
those which he, doubtless, would have pronounced in his last hour, had
consciousness and strength remained with him.

In the early portion of my imprisonment in Gloucester Gaol, the Rev.
Samuel Jones, in order to move me by fear to the retraction of my
convictions, told me before a class of prisoners that ‘the notorious
Richard Carlile was dead, and had died horribly; but he had made what
amends he could by recanting his dreadful principles on his
death-bed—had denounced his infidel colleagues, and implored mercy of
God. You see, therefore,’ added the Rev. libeller to me, ‘what you have
to look forward to.’ Great, however, was the Rev. Mr. Jones’
astonishment and confusion, when a short time after, Mr. Carlile himself
walked into my cell, alive and well, to offer me his generous sympathy
and advice to enable me the better to combat the old enemies of free
thought and free speech. The usual stories told of infidel recantations
are about as well founded as was this fabrication concerning Carlile, by
the Rev. Samuel Jones, visiting magistrate of Gloucester Gaol.

But _why_ should Carlile recant! Why should the unbeliever fear to die!
There are four things on which Christians hang the terrors which usually
haunt their death-beds. Let us examine them.

  1. The story of the Fall.
  2. The rejection of the offer of salvation.
  3. The sin of unbelief.
  4. The vengeance of God.

1. If man fell in the garden of Eden—who placed him there! God! Who
placed the temptation there? God! Who gave him an imperfect nature—a
nature of which it was foreknown it would fall! God! To what does this
amount!

If a parent placed his poor child near a fire at which he knew it would
be burnt to death, or near a well into which he knew it would fall and
be drowned, would any power of custom prevent our giving speech to the
indignation of the heart, and pronouncing such a parent a miscreant! And
can we pretend to believe God has so acted, and at the same time be able
_to trust_ him! If God has so acted, he may so act again. This creed can
afford no consolation in death. If he who disbelieves this dogma fears
to die, he who believes it should fear death more.

2. Salvation, it is said, is offered to the fallen. But man is not
fallen, except on the revolting hypothesis just discussed. And before
man can be accepted by God, he must, according to Christians, own
himself a degraded sinner. Is salvation worth this humiliation! But man
is not degraded. No man can be degraded by the act of another. Dishonour
can come only by his own hands: and depravity has not come thus. Man,
therefore, needs not this salvation. And, if he needed it, he could not
accept it. Debarred from purchasing it himself, he must accept it as an
act of grace. But it is not well to go even to heaven on sufferance. We
despise the poet who is not above a patron; we despise the citizen who
crawls before the throne; and shall God be said to have less love of
self-respect than man! He who will consent to be saved after this
fashion hath most need to fear that he shall perish, for he deserves it.

3. Then, in what way can there be a _sin_ of unbelief? Is not the
understanding the subject of evidence? A man, with evidence before him,
can no more help seeing it or feeling its weight, than a man with his
eyes or ears open can help seeing the house or tree before him, or
hearing the sounds made around him. If a man disbelieve, it is because
his conviction is true to his understanding. If I disbelieve a
proposition, it is through lack of evidence; and the act is as virtuous
(so far as virtue can belong to that which is inevitable), as the belief
of it, when the evidence is perfect. If it is meant that a man is to
believe, whether he sees evidence or not, it means that he is to believe
certain things, whether true or false; in fine, that he may qualify
himself for heaven by hypocrisy and lies. It is of no use that the
unbeliever is told that he will be damned if he does not believe; what
human frailty may do is another thing; but the judgment is clear, that a
man _ought_ not to believe, nor profess to believe, what seems to him to
be false, although he should be damned. The believer, who seeks to
propitiate heaven by this deceit, ought to fear its wrath, not the
unbeliever who rejects the dishonourable terms and throws himself on its
justice.

4. There is the _vengeance_ of God. But is not the savage idea destroyed
as soon as you name it? Can God have that which man ought not to
have—_vengeance_. The jurisprudence of earth has reformed itself—we no
longer _punish_ absolutely; we seek the _reformation_ of the offender.
We leave retaliation to savages; and shall we cherish in heaven an idea
we have chased from earth? But _what_ has to be punished? Can the sins
of man disturb the peace of God? If so, as men exist in myriads and
action is incessant, then is God, as Jonathan Edwards has shown, the
most miserable of beings and the _victim_ of his meanest creatures. We,
see, therefore, that sin against God is _impossible_. All sin is finite
and relative—all sin is sin against man. Will God punish this, which
punishes itself? If man errs, the bitter consequences are ever with him.
Why should he err! Does he choose the ignorance, incapacity, passion,
and blindness, through which he errs? Why is he precipitated,
imperfectly natured into a chaos of crime! Is not his destiny made for
him; and shall God punish that sin which is his misfortune rather than
his fault? shall man be condemned to misery in eternity _because_ he has
been made wretched, and weak, and erring, in time.

But if man _has_ fallen at his conscious peril—_has_ thoughtlessly
spurned salvation—_has_ offended God—will God therefore take vengeance?
Is God without dignity or magnanimity? If I do wrong to him, who does
wrong to me, I come down (has not the ancient sage warned me) to the
level of my enemy? Will God thus descend to the level of vindictive man!
Who has not thrilled at the lofty question of Volumnia to Coriolanus:—

    ‘Think’st thou it honourable for a noble man

    Still to remember wrongs.’

Shall God be less honourable and remember the wrong done against him,
not by his equals, but by his own frail creatures! To be unable to trust
God is to degrade him. Those passages in the New Testament which give
the narratives most interest and dignity, are the parables in which a
servant is told to forgive a debt to one who had forgiven him; in which
a brother is to be forgiven until seventy times seven (that is
unlimitedly); and the prayer where men claim forgiveness as they have
themselves forgiven others their trespasses. What was this but erecting
a high moral argument against the relentlessness of future punishment of
erring man? If, therefore, man is to forgive, shall God do less? Shall
man be more just than God? Is there anything so grand in the life of
Christ as his forgiving his enemies, as he expired on the cross? Was it
God the Sufferer behaving more nobly than will God the Judge? Was this
the magnificent teaching of fraternity to vengeful man, or is it to be
regarded but as a sublime libel on the hereafter judgments of heaven?
The Infidel is Infidel to error, but he believes in truth and humanity,
and when he believes in God, he will prefer to believe that which is
noble of him. He will be able to trust him. Holding by no conscious
error, doing no dishonour in thought and offering, his homage to love
and truth, why should the unbeliever fear to die! Carlile saw not less
clearly than this, nor felt less strongly, and he knew that only those
fear death who have never thought about it at all, or thought about it
wrongly.

Carlile’s early career gave evidence of that iron hauteur which
characterised him. In dedicating from Dorchester Gaol, his second volume
of the _Republican_, to Sir Robert Gifford, the Attorney General of that
day, (1820) he wrote, ‘Gratitude being one of the noblest traits in the
character of animals, both rational and irrational, _to which ever you
may deem me allied_, I feel that I owe it to you.’ Carlile taunted the
Society for the Suppression of Vice, or as he most correctly styled it
the Vice Society, saying that, ‘next to their secretary, Pritchard, the
lawyer, he had gained most by their existence,(1) and had sold more
Deistical volumes in one year through their exertions than he should in
seven, in the ordinary course of business.’(2) Carlile’s cheerful
disposition resisted the sombre influence of the dungeon, and he
declared when Wedderbum arrived at Dorchester Gaol that he would
‘endeavour to get him chaplain, as the officiating one was so extremely
fat that he could hardly get up to the pulpit, and when there, he was so
long in recovering from the exertion, that he could not read the prayers
with sufficient solemnity.(3)

      1. Repub. vol. ii. p. 183.
      2. Repub. vol. ii. p. 185.
      3. Repub. vol. iii. p. 112.

The fourth volume of the _Republican_ Carlile also dedicated to Gifford,
the Attorney General, beginning, ‘My constant and learned friend,
between you and the Vice Society I am at loss how to pay my courtesies,
so as to avoid jealousy. You acted nobly with my first volume. My second
you neglected; and I had resolved to stop when I heard of your renewed
prosecutions. I am sorry we did not understand each other better
before.’ A paragraph in the Dedication of his sixth volume to George IV.
was in these words, ‘You are not only the head of the State but of the
Church too, and as I am an intermeddler with the matters of both, I,
your Banishment Act notwithstanding, dedicate my volume to both heads at
once, with the most profound hope and prayer that neither of them may
ache after reading it.’ When Carlile took notice of Mease, he thus
addressed him—‘To Mr. Thomas Mease, grocer, draper, and methodist.’ The
letter to Mease, was dated ‘Dorchester Gaol, December 18, year 1822; of
the God that was born of a woman, who was his own father, and who was
killed to please himself. The _immortal_ god that died.’ The letter
commenced thus,—‘Sir Saint and Savage.’ To Mr. Dronsfield he wrote—‘I am
not humble; civility to all; servility to none is the becoming
characteristic of manhood.’(1) Alluding to the extensive sale of Wat
Tyler, which had such an influence on his early fortunes, Carlile
exclaimed, ‘Glory to thee, O Southey! Happy mayst thou be in singing
hexameters to thy old Royal Master, when thou hast passed the _reality_
as well as the _vision_ of judgment! Yes, my patron! to that best of thy
productions, “Wat Tyler,” do I owe the encouragement I first found to
persevere.(2)

Of his own Every Woman’s Book, Carlile said, ‘It had sustained Mr.
Cobbett’s malignity—one of the most powerful venoms which the animal
world had produced.’(3) Carlile characterised the weak point in his own
character with severe felicity, when speaking of others. ‘Conceit,’ said
he, ‘is a malady of humanity, of which some people die.’(4) These words
might stand as the epitaph of his own public influence. The following
passage occurred in that letter to me, alluded to in the preface. ‘You,
Southwell and others,’ said he, ‘are now where I once was, resting upon
the mere flippant vulgarisms of what you and the world consent to call
Atheistic infidelity, regulating your amount of wisdom by a critical
contrast with other people’s folly.(5) I hope we were never amenable to
the censure with which this sentence opens: the concluding words are
shrewd and instructive, which I repeat for the sake of those young
gentlemen who take up infidelity as a pastime, instead as a principle.

      1. Repub. vol. vii. p. 868.
      2. Repub. vol. vii. p. 674.
      3. Lion, vol. ii. p. 450.
      4. Oracle of Reason, vol. i. p. 366.
      5. Oracle of Reason, vol. i. p. 366.

It is due to Carlile to observe that the annoyance he marshalled against
authority was chiefly retaliative. He disowned a placard put in his
window, which said, ‘This is the Mart for Sedition and Blasphemy,’ as he
deemed it an admission that he did vend something of the kind. ‘I sell,’
said he, ‘only truth and right reason.’(1) (In parenthesis it maybe
observed, that he denied that any human tribunal was competent to
declare what was blasphemy.) How much farther Carlile was impartial than
are Christians, is evidenced by the fact that he published Bishop
Watson’s Apology for the Bible, in conjunction with Paine’s Age of
Reason.(2) In another respect he behaved as Christians never behave, he
never questioned the youths he employed, nor any of his dependents as to
their opinions, nor did he use any means to induce them to comprehend or
adopt his.(3) He held his opinions too proudly to intrigue or supplicate
others to accept them.

In candour, in independency of judgment, in perfect moral fearlessness
of character, I believe Carlile cannot be paralleled among the public
men of his time. Lovel writes:

    He is a slave who dare not be,

    In the right with two or three.

Carlile was no slave. He was able to stand in the right by himself
against the world. One forgives his errors, his vanity, and his egotism,
for the bravery of his bearing and his speech. Though Paine was his
great prototype, he was prompt, both in his early enthusiasm and in his
latter days, to acknowledge Paine’s defects as a theologian. ‘About
“God” Paine,’ said he, ‘was not altogether wise, but less unwise than
the world at large.(4) In his earliest attachments, Carlile
discriminated, ‘I neither look,’ wrote he ‘on Mr. Gibbon nor Mr. Hume,
as standards of infidelity to the Christian religion.‘(5) He hesitated
at Shelley’s views of marriage, deeming them crude.(6) Carlile was able
to take anything up or put anything down at the bidding of his judgment.
He said to Mr. Searlett, ‘At present I am not a tinman, but I should
never feel ashamed to return to it to earn an honest livelihood, if
circumstances should render it necessary in this or any other
country,’(7)

      1. Repub. vol. v.r. 12.
      2. Repub. vol. v. p. 89
      3. Repub. vi. p. 778.
      4. Scourge, p. 110.
      5. Repub. vol. ii. p. 168.
      6. Repub. vol. v. p. 148.
      7. Repub. vol. ii. p. 403.

He began a periodical or ended it at will. No taunt deterred him, no
threat intimidated him, no smile seduced him. Carlile was perfectly able
to stand alone. He avowed himself an Atheist when no one else did. When
he understood that arbitrary checks to population were necessary he said
so and distinguishing the particular kinds of checks, disguisedly hinted
at by Political Economists, or anonymously broached in handbills, he
specified them and added these words, ‘I think these plans tor the
prevention of conception good, and publicly say it.’(1) Although that
saying involved his own reputation and that of his cause. If Carlile had
the querulousness, which condemned others, he had also the rarer courage
which condemned himself. If he called others fools he called himself
one, when his judgment convinced him that he had been in error. To those
whom he found he had wronged, he made no dubious acknowledgment.
Disdaining deceit always he openly made the amplest apology frank words
could express. ‘I ask Mr. Cobbett’s pardon, and make the due apology,’
said he, on finding that he had made an erroneous attribution to him.(2)
To Dr. Olinthus Gregory he was more emphatic still.(3) Carlile
proclaimed the excellence of Cobbett’s Grammar, and the superiority of
Hunt’s Roasted Corn,(4) at the same time that he roasted the authors of
both. Major Cartwright’s ‘English Constitution Produced and
Illustrated,’ he praised in some parts, while he mercilessly assailed it
in others.(5) He acknowledged the kindness of his prosecutors, where
they were kind, with the same fullness with which he execrated them when
brutal.(6) To his bitterest enemy he was constantly thus just, and his
own faults he confessed with as little reserve as he pointed out those
or his enemies. His intellect was rude, but most robust. He had a
passion for truth and did not care whether it went against him or for
him; he told it with equal zest. He not only as many do, professed to
love free speaking; he could _bear it_ of himself. He held, as a public
man should do, his reputation in his hand, and he would toss it up as
one would a ball.

      1. Repub. No. 18, vol. ii. pp. 566-6. 1825.
      2. Repub. vol. xii. p. 29.
      3. Repub. vol. xii. p. 727.
      4. Repub. vol. vi. p. 12.
      5. Repub. vol. viii. p. 18.
      6. Repub. vol. x. pp. 63-4.

Carlile had a just notion of the relation of personalities to
principles. ‘Human nature,’ said he, ‘through whatever improved
modifications it may pass, will still have its frailties, and those
frailties have no relation to the social principles that may be
advocated, nor do they emanate from newly advocated social principles,
but from the frailty of that nature,... and any exhibition of such
frailty belongs to the individual, and not to the principles
constituting the public cause.’... But it is one thing to perceive the
tenor of personalties, and another and very different thing to be able
to conduct them. Mr. Carlile was utterly unable to conduct them
usefully. They must be entered upon, not on personal, but upon public
grounds; or they lose all moral effect. If undertaken from spleen, or
vanity, they belong to the class of ‘quarrels,’ and damage both the
writer and nis cause. If entered upon to preserve the integrity of a
public question, such intention must be made very evident and the
_improvement_ alone, and not the mortification of the party criticised,
must be steadily kept in view. This Mr. Carlile never understood: he
wounded, he disparaged, he recriminated. He did not weigh character
through its entire extent. He mistook a part for the whole. It was in
this erroneous way, that he condemned Cobbett and Hunt, was querulous to
his friends in Parliament, and most unjust to his most important and
devoted allies. Ricardo, Hume, Brougham, Burdett, who presented
petitions for him, seem to me to have treated him much better than he
treated them.

Richard Carlile’s reputation was founded on the joint profession of
Republicanism, and ultimately of Deism and Atheism. He owed much to the
_time_ when he made these professions, and not a little to the talent
with which he maintained them. But did his services rest exclusively on
the conditions under which they were rendered, their value would still
stand high in the opinion of those capable of estimating the steps of
public progress. He had to incur an obnoxious singularity, and brave
imminent danger in order to purchase a field of action for others. This
is a work which the world does not applaud like the manifestation of
genius and talent, but it is a work which requires a courage and a
sentiment of self-sacrifice, which the world’s favourites rarely
display. The work of the pioneer of thought is a work done for men of
genius and talent; a work they are seldom able to do for themselves—for
talent is prudent, and genius is timid; it is a work, however, which
must be done by some one, or freedom languishes, invention is dumb,
talent is misdirected, and philosophy creeps stealthily along starting
at the sound of its own footsteps.

      1. Sherwin*s Republican, No. 2, p. 21.

No adequate estimate or the merits of Carlile, and no tolerant judgment
of his faults can be formed without taking into account the aspects of
the times when he struggled, and the unscrupulous and powerful enemies
against which he contended. _Then_ the most hateful types of Toryism and
Christianity were rampant—_Then_ Castlereagh declared in Parliament that
it was necessary that ‘the last spark of the spirit of the French
Revolution should be extinguished.’(1) Malignant and servile
Attorney-Generals and vindictive Judges left no man’s liberty or life
safe if he professed liberal opinions. The press was intimidated, and
public meetings, who complained, butchered. It was under these
formidable circumstances that Carlile undertook to free the press, and
to make the famous works of the ‘rebellious needleman’ household books
in England, and to oppose himself singly to crown and mitre, ana brave
whatever political and priestly vengeance could inflict, when political
and priestly power were unchecked by public opinion.

    1. The apparent offensiveness of some of his addresses was
    created by Christians themselves, an Instance occurs in his
    letter to ‘Old William Wilberforce,’ to whom he said ‘sinner,’
    instead of ‘sir,’ but this was because Wilberforce was a
    self-styled sinner.—Repub. vol. ii. p. 388

It is in reference to the same public circumstances that Carlile’s
faults are to be judged.

Those who in these days shall peruse the pages of Carlile’s periodicals
will be startled at the fierce invective and measureless denunciation
which abound there. But let those who affect to pass over his name on
this account, call to recollection the deadly arena of antagonism in
which he had to fight the battle of freedom. The course he took is
indeed not to be imitated now. We exist in better times, when the
conflict of reason has succeeded to the strife of passion. We have
better arts, because we have a fairer field, and we owe that fairer
field to such men as Carlile. Let us not impose our modes of warfare on
men who fought with savages, and demand of the actors of other times
that virtue which belongs exclusively to our opportunities. Men who are
patriotic in easy chairs and by the fire-side only, who never incur
damped feet in the public cause, and essay the reform of society in kid
gloves and white waistcoats, know nothing, and can allow nothing for
that strife of spirit in which men live, who take up the dice box of
oppression to play for liberty, and whose stakes are their lives. Let
the Christian whose altar is protected by law, whose arrogance over
infidels is part and parcel of the statutes, and is applauded by public
opinion; let the sleek and unruffled saint beware how he judges one on
whose head was every day poured out the phials of holy malignity, whom
the highest authorities stooped to defame, whose name was sacked at the
instigation of every miserable deacon or venal informer, whose household
gods were strewn in the streets by policemen selected for their
ferocity—whose wife was consigned to a gaol, and himself doomed to spend
nine years and a half in the endurance of the unceasing indignity of
vindictive imprisonment. Where the Christian in ermine has been brutal,
vituperative, and malignant, let him not exact a perennial delicacy of
sentiment from his victim, writhing under his provocations. Taking these
circumstances into account he is little acquainted with human nature,
who will wonder that Carlile, in the sixth year of an imprisonment
caused by Lords Castlereagh, Liverpool, Sidmouth, and Eldon, should from
Dorchester Gaol, dedicate the volume of the Trials of his Wife, Sister,
and Shopmen in these words—‘To the Memory of Robert Stewart, Marquis of
Londonderry, Viscount Castlereagh, etc., who eventually did that for
himself which millions wished some noble mind would do for him—_Cut his
throat_.’

The strait-laced moralist of this generation may turn to the volumes of
the Carlile’s Trials, and find that Mrs. Carlile was indicted for
publishing a paragraph justifying assassination of tyrants. I have no
sympathy with this doctrine. I deem it far nobler and more useful to
society, to submit to be the victim than to victimize others. But
Carlile acted on a resolute sense of self-defence. He was a believer in
Brutus and Colonel Titus, and he lived in darker times when the policy
of moral resistance was less clear and less practicable than now.

The Society for the Suppression of Vice distinguished him in 1820, as
‘that most audacious offender, Carlile.’(1) The _Age_ called him ‘a
miscreant tinker.’(2) The _Sunday Times_ described him as ‘a wretched
man in the very kennel of contempt, from whom his proselytes fled as if
he were emerged from a pest-house, and advised that he should rot in
oblivion.’? And in this way papers and pulpits rang fascinating changes
on such adjectives as fiend, monster, wretch, execrable, hideous,
obscene, abandoned, infamous, etc., etc., till when he took a tour
through the country in 1828, the idea of Carlile current among the pious
was that of a black griffin with red glaring eyes—a tail with forked
end, talons instead of fingers, and hoofs instead of toes.’(3)

      1. Repub. vol. ii. p. 182.
      2. Repub. vol. xii. p. 121
      3. Repub. vol. xii. p. 151.

Yet this man whom the Government, the Pulpit, and the Press co-operated
thus to describe, was human, and not devoid of generous filial
affection. When in Dorchester Gaol, in 1820, a letter came sealed with
black wax, which, Carlile suspecting to announce the death of his
mother, he threw it aside for four hours—not finding resolution to open
it. ‘I had hoped,’ said he, ‘that her life would have been extended a
few years, that she might have witnessed the result of my present
career. But it affords me pleasure to think that she sunk calmly to
sleep, neither tortured by priests nor superstitious notions. It affords
me pleasure,’ cried he, exultingly, ‘that in spite of the efforts of the
Society for the Suppression of vice, the Priests, and the
Attorney-General of a wicked administration, I have still retained a
roof to shelter her, and under which she died.’(1) The department of
progress in which Carlile worked has not yet received recognition by
society. Society only remembers the genius which is creative, not that
which is practical—though it profits in its ulterior stages more by the
practical than the creative. The world has been rich in theory ages ago,
and would have realised universal happiness by this time had it
encouraged those who reduce its theories to practice. When a great truth
is proclaimed, it produces no fruit till society is ploughed and sown
with it. The pioneer, the orator, and the journalist, are they who
practicalise truth: and he who re-asserts it, who insists upon it, and
re-echoes it by all the arts of repetition—he it is who really advances
society. He is the worker; yet society accords him no distinction, no
posthumous memory. Hence it requires more generosity of sentiment to be
useful than to be great. He who seeks distinction may advance society as
he achieves distinction: but the advancement of society is secondary
with him—the advancement of himself is the primary consideration, and he
is often careless whether society advances or retrogrades provided he
lays hold of its renown and keeps it. Hence he who seeks fame is
selfish—he who seeks utility is generous, because he is certain that
society will neglect him, as it pays its honours to those who serve it
least. The theorist provides for the future, but it is the worker who
makes the future by realising the fulness of the present. It was in this
department that Carlile laboured. He left no distinct book, he
bequeathed no invention, he is the author of no famous theory; but his
life was a poem of heroic and voluntary sacrifice, by which new freedom
was won and secured to posterity; and men are now benefited through his
exertions who remember him not, who know him not, and who would disown
him or revile him if they did. Attorney-Generals delight to prate about
the danger to society of dissemminating new opinions—the danger is to
him alone who undertakes the task. Let him who thinks that mankind are
to be set on change too rapidly, read the Life of Carlile. The deadly
opposition by which he was assailed is the answer to their fears.
Society loves its opinions, and clings to them, whether they be error or
truth. It hates him who teaches it to alter its course, however the
change may be for its benefit. It is the destiny of the Reformer to
serve mankind, and to be cursed by them for his pains. He who is not
prepared for this has no business to be a Reformer. Then has he no
reward? His proud reward is the satisfaction of contemplating the
benefit he confers upon men who are not to be conciliated by good
intentions, nor penetrated by favours bestowed. To give happiness to a
friend is but a common place delight, but the pride of conferring
pleasure upon an enemy is a noble passion, of which only exalted natures
are susceptible. This is the passion of the true Reformer, and this is
his reward.

      1. Repub vol. ii. pp. 376-7.

Of Carlile’s errors it may be said that they were fostered, if not
developed by the position in which he was placed. In the autumn of his
career, he grew to think better of himself than of other men, but it was
in a great measure because he had done more and dared more. He was
impatient of a rival, because his rivals as political or anti-religious
leaders wanted the proper qualification. Carlile had suffered so much,
and so long, that he not unnaturally became convinced that suffering was
the sole qualification of a public teacher. He confounded endurance with
ability, and doubted the integrity or the courage of those who had dared
nothing. He was tolerant of rivals in proportion as they had suffered
any thing. His great imprisonments were so many wounds which he had
received in the service of freedom, and he was proud of them as a
Spartan hero of scars. He graduated, as _a patriot_, in dungeons, and he
suspected the qualifications of every man who had not taken out a
diploma from the Attorney-General. Carlile was one of those men who are
tattooed by the enemy into whose hands they fall, and who are dyed by
the influences against which they struggle. He was like a man who fights
all day in the front rank; who is discoloured by the powder expended in
the battle, and never after wears the hue of peace. Cobbett and
O’Connell manifested the same peculiarity. They outlived their day. They
were living memorials of themselves and of the times which _they_ had
changed. He who judges any of these men impartially, will recognize
their virtues as arising in the greatness of their natures and their
faults, but as the accidents of their local positions. So posterity will
judge Richard Carlile.



ST. THOMAS’S HOSPITAL


Examination of the body of Mr. Richard Carlile.

The well-known Mr. Richard Carlile, bookseller, late of Fleet Street,
bequeathed his body for the purpose of anatomical dissection. By
permission of the governors of St. Thomas’s Hospital, his remains were
removed from his residence in Bouverie Street, Fleet Street, to that
Institution; and, on Tuesday last, there was a numerous assemblage of
the friends of the deceased and members of the medical profession, to
witness his post mortem examination. The chest and abdomen only were
opened, and the necessity that existed for the knowledge of anatomy, not
only to the surgeon, but to the physician, was shown. Mr. Grainger
delivered a short address on the occasion, thinking that the object of
the deceased would be obtained by this proceeding in public, and by a
statement of the motives which, had actuated him in giving his remains
for dissection.

The illustrious Bentham, actuated by the same benevolent feeling, had at
the close of the last century, left his body for dissection, and that at
a time when the prejudice against anatomical examinations was so great
that bodies were procured with the utmost difficulty. That prejudice was
perhaps less at the present time, but still sufficiently strong to
interfere very materially with that due supply of subjects, so essential
to the proper education of the medical student, and of such vital
importance to the community at large. Such difficulties existed that no
lecturer in this country had ever yet been able to complete a course of
operative surgery, properly so called. Mr. Carlile deserved the
approbation of all the friends of humanity for attempting to remove this
prejudice by leaving his remains for anatomical purposes.

Mr. Grainger vindicated medical men from the charge of irreligion, and
contended that medical and anatomical studies, if _properly_ pursued,
served to demonstrate the truth, not only of natural, but of revealed
religion. _The Lancet,_ No. 1,016, p. 774, February 18, 1843.

  J. Watson, Printer, 3, Queen’s Head Passage, Paternoster Row.

                                  ————



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