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OBSERVATIONS ON THE INDICTMENT FOUND AGAINST MRS, CARLILE,
For Publishing a copy of the Life of Paine, by Sherwin, and the 9th No. Vol. I. of the Republican,
Much complaint has hitherto existed of the manner in which indictments or informations on Libel have been drawn up, in consequence of broken sentences, and sentences without the context being introduced into the different counts.-It has been argued, that it has been a most unfair mode, and that the sentences, or a part of a sentence, thus introduced into an indictment or information, has a very different reading from that in the pamphlet or volume extracted from. But since the passing of the late libel bill, and since the harpies of the law have the power of seizing the whole edition of a proscribed work, they are beginning to work by wholesale, and not content with attacking one volume or pamphlet at a time, they include a variety in the same indictment. After the acquittal of Mr. Hone on three informations, founded on three half-sheet pamphlets, a complaint was made in both Houses of Parliament, of the harrassing nature of the prosecution, and it was urged that the Attorney-General would have answered his own purpose, and have done his duty just as well, if the three informations had been condensed into one. The answer given to this by the law-officers of the Crown, was, that such a measure had never been the practice, that such a mode of proceeding could not be sustained in law, and that every distinct publication, however small, required a distinct indictment or information, because the offences committed were distinct, Now the charges against Mr. Hone's Parodies were the same, they were charged as being parodies on different parts of the same book: but in the new indictment presented against Mrs. Carlile, the first count is made up of matter extracted from a volume of 300 pages, entitled the Life of Thomas Paine, by W. T. Sherwin, and which volume was published in the summer of 1819, advertised in all the leading papers of the day, and the impression nearly sold off before November last: in fact, I doubt whether Mrs. Carlile has sold half a dozen copies, whilst I had sold many hundred copies before November, and it was the last publica
tion in my shop that I should have expected a prosecution for; the price of it was 7s. 6d. The second count of the indictment embraces an extract from the letter of a correspondent published in the 9th No. Vol. 1, of the Republican in the month of October last; no notice whatever was taken of this number at the time of publication, and within the first week I circulated 12,000 of them. The legal housebreakers stole about 1000 or upwards from me, and all that Mrs. Carlile has had to sell, are a few copies that were returned from the country unsold. It is not this publication or that publication, that the Vice Society and the Government object to, they wish to shut up the shop. They had no idea, after the enormous fine imposed upon me, and every vestige of my property swept away, without giving me the least information what they have done with it, or what they meant to do with it, that the shop would have been reopened. Mrs. Carlile opened the shop in the month of January, with such pamphlets as she could scrape together, and immediately the shop is surrounded as before, the people flock in, and take up any pamphlet they see laying on the counter, throw down double and treble its value, and express their admiration of Mrs. C.'s spirit in the highest terms; but lo! the Vice Society are offended, and before the end of the month, they conspire together to get her into a prison also. Those secret assassins, a great portion of whom are priests, are now bent on the destruction of Mrs. Carlile and her family. The professed purpose of their association was to search after the private circulators of obscene books. Have they found any thing of the kind at Fleet-street. No. There is nothing sold, or ever has been sold in that shop, but what is publicly exposed or advertised in catalogues. I have no hesitation in saying, that such men are greater villains, baser assassins, than he who conceals the stiletto under his garment, and seeks an opportunity of plunging it into the bosom of some being who has offended him, or some tyrant whom he may consider a pest in society. The latter exposes his life to gratify his disposition, the former are secret, unknown but to their secretary, and he a man without character, a pettyfogging lawyer, who keeps a couple of fellows, who occasionally act as informers or clerks, just as their services are necessary. When Mr. Pritchard has no business in his office, those men are sent out to prowl the town for game. His object is only to obtain the lawyers charges in prosecuting an indictment, and whenever the party prosecuted is inclined to pay to Mr. Pritchard the sum of 301.,
vice may continue its rage, and morals be corrupted for what he cares. From certain information, which I received respecting the conduct of this fellow, I feel assured, that if the House of Commons, or some competent authority, would examine into the whole conduct of this pretended association for the suppression of vice, they would find it one of the greatest swindling abuses in the metropolis.
With respect to the indictment itself, it commences with an anomaly: "The Jurors for our Lord the King upon their oath present, that Jane the wife of Richard Carlile, late of London, bookseller, &c." 1 should like to know what proof the said Jurors had that the person presented was the wife of Richard Carlile? As a clear expression of the name of the person inicted is essential to an indictment, the Vice Society had better bring some proof that the person indicted is the wife of Richard Carlile. It is not incumbent on Mrs. Carlile to shew that she is not the wife, it is incumbent on the prosecutors to shew that she is the wife, according as they have set forth in the indictment. To me it appears essential that they should produce the register of a legal marriage. I do not mean to deny Mrs. Carlile; she is my legal wife, but my assertion in this form is no evidence for a court of law.
I am astonished at the matter in the first Count of the Indictment if Mr. Gurney had to defend such a Count, he would expatiate for a month upon it-he would insist on it, as the very basis of virtue and morality. I hope the members of the Vice Society are reading my commentary on the Holy Bible. It is the only honest commentary that has ever appeared on it; although I praise my own work. As soon as I have finished this commentary, I mean to select the various readings of the Holy Bible. Mr. Bellamy's word of God, the present authorized word of God, and all words of God as spoken by Balaam and his ass, and every other prophet, and inspired ass, that have been made to echo the word of God. The observations selected from the correspondence of the Republican, must have been a terrible eye-sore to the priests of this country. I would have them bear in mind that 12,000 copies of them have been circulated. With reference to the Holy Book, it contains an assertion that I have made over and over again, in another shape, and that is, that civil liberty can never exist on the base of an established priesthood, or in conjunction with a priesthood, recognized and supported by the law. This is a sentiment of mine which it shall ever
be my duty to inculcate on the mind of every human being with whom I may have the opportunity of conversing freely, or who may chance to read what I write and publish. The expressions in the second Count of the Indictment, are put in the most open and strongest shape possible; but to this I never have, nor never shall object. I love candour and plain dealing, and look on the man who has an opinion which he is afraid to utter, as a slave to the opinions of other men. But I would ask how has Mrs. Carlile offended with respect to this publication? At the time of publication, she had no controul whatever over the business, and was a mere assistant in it. I have circulated the whole impression, both of Sherwin's Life of Paine, and the number of the Republican in the Indictment: and because Mrs. C. might have sold a strayed copy, is she to be made responsible for my act? They know very well that it would be my pride to defend such publications, day after day, whilst I have the power of utterance; and under such circumstances, and on such grounds, I shall never feel imprisonment to be a punishment; nay, even if that imprisonment was certain to extend with my life. I would live happy as long as I had any view of making myself further useful, and when I had no further view of that, I would cease to live.
I am not aware whether Dr. Rudge is a member of the Vice Society or not: I recollect sending him one of those numbers of the Republican, which now forms the second Count of the Indictment; but if the report of the editor of the Courier be true, that the Doctor expects the reporter's fee for all the confessions and the last dying speeches of the culprits whom he may attend, and send to the newspapers for publication, I should think the Doctor associates no where, where there is no profit likely to accrue. I have formed a most contemptible opinion of the Doctor, since he published what he called his answer to the Age of Reason, and which I have done him the justice to publish in the Republican. was then visible that he was a wolf in sheep's clothing,
I take this opportunity of repeating my thanks to the Vice Society, for the extensive circulation they are again giving my publications. I hear from London that the prosecution of Mrs. Carlile produces just the same effect as my prosecution did-it quadruples the sale of all her publications. I will convince the members of this Society before seven years have passed away, that they have been arrant fools to themselves,
as well as knaves to me, at least, knavery is intended, although a real benefit is the result. Of the persons who composed the first Grand Jury that found the Indictment against me, not one of them, had ever, read the publication for which they presented a true Bill. Several of them, I know, took the earliest opportunity of reading it; and some of them, I know, pronounced a favourable opinion of it: thus the thing goes on. A prosecution becomes the grand impetus for reading a particular book; and, in the language of Paine, I say again,—MAY EVERY GOOD BOOK BE PROSECUTED.
Dorchester Gaol, May 15th, 1820.
THE DANDY BISHOP CHASTISED.
An interesting petition was presented to the House of Lords on Friday last, impeaching the conduct of the Bishop of Exeter. Lord Holland presented the petition and supported it; it was also supported by the Marquis of Lansdowne and the Earl of Carnarvon, who severally lashed the conduct of the Bishop. It appeared that a Mr. Pike Jones, a curate of the parish of North Bovey, in the Diocese of Exeter, had lately attended a county meeting held at Exeter, for the purpose of considering the Catholic claims, and that he had there advocated with considerable ability the propriety of granting the said claims. This brought down upon him the venom of others of the priesthood: and in consequence of Mr. Jones having obtained preferment to two other livings in other dioceses, they influenced the Bishop not to countersign the necessary certificate to enable the Bishops of the dioceses to institute him in his new livings. The Bishop was obstinate, and Mr. Jones is consequently ruined in his profession, being obliged to return the presentments to the patrons of the living. The Bishop in the House of Lords made a most lame defence, and said, that he had received a variety of information from various persons, that Mr. Jones was a most improper man to hold a living as a clergyman. The contrary was fairly proved on the part of the petitioner; but notwithstanding this, the petition was rejected by a large majority of their Lordships. Our readers will wonder what we are about, in noticing this subject, but it is for the purpose of informing them, that this said Mr. Pelham, Bishop of Exeter, was formerly a Colonel in a