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office ; but I also know how easily we mistake the lodgment which character and eloquence can make upon our feelings, for those impressions that reason, and fact, and proof only, ought to work upon our understandings.
Extract from the same Speech.
Gentlemen of the Jury,—This paper, which is charged upon my client, and which is called seditious and libellous, insists upon the necessity of emancipating the catholics of Ireland, and that is charged as a part of the libel. If they had kept this prosecution impending for another year, how much would remain for a jury to decide upon, I should be at a loss to discover. It seems as if the progress of public re. formation was eating away the ground of the prosecution. Since the commencement of the prosecution, this part of the libel has unluckily received the sanction of the legisla. ture. In that interval, our catholic brethren have obtained that admission, which it seems it was a libel to propose : in what way to account for this I am really at a loss. Have any alarms been occasioned by the emancipation of our ca. tholic brethren? Has the bigoted malignity of any individuals been crushed? Or, has the stability of the government, or has that of the country, been weakened ? Or, is one million of subjects stronger than four millions? Do you think that the benefit they received should be poisoned by the stings of vengeance? If you think so, you must say to them, “You have demanded your emancipation, and you have got it; but we abhor your persons, we are outraged at your success; and we will stigmatize, by a criminal prosecution, the relief which you have obtained from the voice of your country.” I ask you, gentlemen, do you think, as honest men, anxious for the public tranquillity, conscious that there are wounds not yet completely cicatrized, that you ought to speak this lan. guage, at this time, to men who are too much disposed to think that in this very emancipation they have been saved from their own parliament by the humanity of their sovereign ?
you wish to prepare them for the revocation of these improvident concessions ? Do you think it wise or humane, at this moment, to insult them, by sticking up in a pillory the man who dared to stand forth their advocate ? I put it to your oaths, do you think that a blessing of that kind, that a vietory obtained by justice over bigotry and oppression, should have a stigma cast upon it by an ignominious sentence upon men bold and honest enough to propose that measure ; to propose the redeeming of religion from the abuses of the churchthe reclaiming of three millions of men from bondage, and giving liberty to all who had a right to demand it-giving, I say, in the so much censured words of this paper, giving “UNIVERSAL EMANCIPATION!” I speak in the spirit of the British law, which makes liberty commensurate with, and in. separable from, the British soil—which proclaims, even to the stranger and the sojourner, the moment he sets his foot upon British earth, that the ground on which he treads is holy, and consecrated by the genius of UNIVERSAL EMANCIPATION. No matter in what language bis doom may have been pronounced ; no matter what complexion incompatible with freedom, an Indian or an African sun may have burnt upon him ; no matter in what disastrous battle his liberty may have been cloven down; no matter with what solemnities he may have been devoted upon the altar of slavery ; the first moment he touches the sacred soil of Britain, the altar and the god sink together in the dust ; his soul walks abroad in her own majesty ; his body swells beyond the measure of his chains, that burst from around him, and he stands redeemed, regenerated, and disenthralled, by the irresistible genius of UNIVERSAL EMANCIPATION,
XXIX. THE INHUMANITY OF SLAVERY.
O FOR a lodge in some vast wilderness,
Might never reach me more. My ear is pained,
And let it circulate through every vein
XXX.CHRISTIANITY THE FOUNDATION OF THE LAW.
Extract from Mr. Erskine's Speech on the trial of Williams, for the pub
lication of Paine's Age of Reason.
Gentlemen of the Jury-How any man can rationally vindicate the publication of such a book as “Paine's Age of Reason,” in a country where the Christian religion is the very foundation of the law of the land, I am totally at a loss to conceive, and have no wish to discuss. How is a tribunal, whose whole jurisdiction is founded upon the solemn belief and practice of what is denied as falsehood, and reprobated as impiety, to deal with such an anomalous defence ? Upon what principle is it even offered to the court, whose authority is contemned and mocked at ? If the religion, proposed to be called in question, be not previously adopted in belief, and solemnly acted upon, what authority has the court to pass any judgment at all of acquittal or condemnation ? Why am I now, or upon any other occasion, to submit to your lordship’s authority? Why am I now, or at any time, to address twelve of my equals, as I am now addressing you, with reverence and submission ? Under what sanction are the witnesses to give their evidence, without which there can be no trial ? Under what obligations can I call upon you, the jury, repre. senting your country, TO ADMINISTER justice? Surely upon no other, than that you are sworn to administer it UNDER THB OATHS YOU HAVE TAKEN. The whole judicial fabric, from the king's sovereign authority, to the lowest office of magistracy, has no other foundation. The whole is built, both in form and substance, upon the same oath of every one of its ministers, to do justice, AS GOD SHALL HELP THEM HEREAP
What God? and whAT HEREAFTER ? That God, un. doubtedly, who has commanded kings to rule, and judges to decree, with justice ; who has said to witnesses, not by the voice of nature, but in revealed commandments, THOU
SHALT NOT BEAR FALSE TESTIMONY AGAINST THY NEIGHBOUR,' and who has enforced obedience to them by the revelation of the unutterable blessings which shall attend their observances; and the awful punishment which shall await upon their transgressions.
XXXI.CHRISTIANITY THE FAITH OF THE MOST GIFTED MINDS.
Extract from the same Speech.
Gentlemen of the Jury,--It seems, from the publication of this infidel book, that this is an AGE OF REASON, and that the time and the person are at last arrived that are to dissipate the errors which have overspread the past generations of ignorance! The believers in Christianity are many, but it be. longs to the few, who are wise, to correct their credulity! Belief is an act of reason, and superior reason may there. fore dictate to the weak. In running the mind along the numerous list of sincere and devout Christians, I cannot help lamenting that Newton had not lived to this day, to have had his shallowness filled up with this new flood of light. But the subject is too awful for irony. I will speak plainly and directly. Newton was a Christian! Newton, whose mind burst forth from the fetters cast by nature upon our finite conceptions ;-Newton, whose science was truth, and the foundation of whose knowledge was philosophy; not those visionary and arrogant assumptions which too often usurp its name, but philosophy, resting upon the basis of mathematics, which, like figures, cannot lie ;-Newton, who carried the line and rule to the utmost barriers of creation, and ex. plored the principles by which, no doubt, all created matter is held together and exists.
But this extraordinary man, in the mighty reach of his mind, overlooked, perhaps, the errors which minuter investigation of the created things on this earth might have taught him, of the essence of his Creator. What shall then be said of the great Mr. Boyle, who looked into the organic structure of all matter, even to the brute in. animate substance which the foot treads on ? Such a man