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word of God. In various parts of this book the practice of slave dealing is inculcated, and a law relative to it laid down; and one would have imagined, that Mr. Wilberforce, at least, would have considered this sacred authority sufficient to satisfy his scruples as to humanity or mere human reason. I by no means ridicule nor condemn the exertions of Mr. Wilberforce on that occasion, I could wish that he had displayed a similar humanity on others equally important. But in this one instance, it is evident, that the gentleman allowed his mere human reason to supersede the authority of the Bible. I hold the practice of slave dealing to be an abominable custom, for I hold the black' negro to be the equal of the white European : they are both men' of the same faculties and abilities, and of this the present government of Christophe in St. Domingo has given us a practical proof. The English government might take a lesson from the management of some of the departments of the Haytian government. To say that the negro is inferior in capacity to the European is false, and daily contradicted wherever they dwell together.
In the twenty-second chapter we have the following paragraph, which I shall insert with some subsequent ones in the book of Deuteronomy, for no other purpose than to mark them with reprobation, and this would be scarcely worth notice, was it not called the word of God, a holy book, and other false epithets: the first is as follows.
• If any man take a wife, and go in unto her, and hate her; and give occasions of speech against her, and bring up an evil name upon her, and say, I took this woman, and when I came to her, I found her not a maid; then shall the father of the damsel, and her mother, take and bring forth the tokens of the damsels virginity unto the elders of the city in the gate: and the damsel's father shall say unto the elders, I gave my daughter unto this man to wife, and he hateth her; and lo he hath given occasions of speech against her, saying, I found not thy daughter a.maid ; and yet these are the tokens of my daughter's virginity. And they shall spread thie cloth before the elders of the city. And the elders of that city shall take that man and chastise him; and they shall anerce him in an hundred shekels of silver, and give them unto the failer of the damsel, because he hath brought up an evil name upon a virgin of lerael: and she shall be his wife, he may not put her away all his days. But if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel, then they shall bring out the damsel io the door of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die: because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the
whore in her father's house : so shall thou put evil away fronı among you.'
Repugnant as this idea must be to an English female, still it is a practice by no means confined to the followers of Jehovah; it is quite common throughout Asia and even Africa. Nay they go further than is here enjoined, for the tokens of virginity are actually exhibited to the guests at the wedding, and it is considered a consummation of the marriage as well as a proof of previous chastity. I have no wish to enlarge on this subject, it does not come within my purpose, but those who have read various travels throughout Asia and Africa, must be acquainted with the particulars.' I do not consider the above to be a wise law by any means, and it is evident, that it was the result of ignorance, because it admits no exceptions whilst there are natural exceptions and objections to it.
The next paragraph I'shall introduce is the two first verses of the twenty-third chapter, as follows:- •
• He that is wounded in the stones, or hath bis, privy member cut off, shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord. A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord; even to his tenth generation shall he not enter into the congregation of the Lord.'
The first verse is much too bad for comment, and nothing but the gross character of the Jews could have tolerated the sight of such in a book designated holy. The second verse I consider extremely ridiculous, and I here mean to defend what is termed a bastard, from the general and unwarrantable odium which is thrown on him. Common sense seems to dictate to us, that, if there be any thing vicious or disreputable in a child being born to a female not in a state of wedlock the blame should attach to the parent and not to the infant. If there be a blame attached to the circumstance, the infant, at least should not suffer from it, because, it must be unconscious of wrong, and should not be accountable for that act, of which, although it was the offspring, it could not controul. But as to talking about bastards to the tenth generation, it is perfectly ridiculous, for how many bastards are there born when the parent is in wedlock? I should consider the offspring of an adulterous intercourse to be bastards equally with those born out of wedlock. I have often heard the shrewd answer given in the west of England, when an husband has been asked, whether a boy lias been his son or not? that he was obliged to stand for the father, whether he
was or not:" and this was certainly a cautious if not a prudent answer. ' Again the laws of England would have considered all the children which Jacob had, except by his first wife, as bastards, and consequently, all the children of Levi who were to officiate as priests were contaminated with bastardy. It must be admitted that it is advantageous to a community to encourage matrimony, and at the same time to make it a legal tie, otherwise there would be no stability or consistency in the right of inheriting property : but whether if a man has a wife and family, and cohabits also with another woman or other women, and has offspring also by them, they should not be entitled to share his property, I shall not pretend to say; but justice dictates to my mind that it should be so, on the ground that those children should not suffer disparagement for an act of which they are in nature innocent; and must naturally have the same claim on their father as those born from a woman in wedlock. As the property of the father is at his own disposal, except it be freehold, and as all his children, whether born in wedlock or not, must stand in' the same relation to him as the common father, so also my reason persuades me that he should make an equal provision for them. The law of primogeniture does not come into consideration here, or perhaps I might be induced to descant upon it, and also to point out its evils, not only to individuals, but to the community at large. The case of bastards being now under consideration, to me it seems as clear, that the situation of the mother of the bastard is sufficiently unpleasant, and sufficiently a punishment for her indiscretion; if in fact it be any, of which I have my doubts, and on which head I am very liberal and charitable. Custom is too apt to pervert the plainest dictates of nature, and to stamp them as criminal, whereas the real criminality lies in the opposition to those dictates. It is from the odium which the law attaches to bastardy, that we find so many females prefer the destruction of their offspring rather than make it public; and, without doubt, many children are actually destroyed which otherwise might be bred up as useful members of a community. The welfare of a community has stronger claims upon the preservation of infancy than of decayed old age: for as we must pass an infancy to arrive to manhood, so infancy requires especial protection to fit it for manhood; and the more extensive the manhood of any
well regulated community, the more extensive will be the benefit
derived from it. Although so much pains and expence are thrown away to prop a decayed frame in a state of old age, still it is by no means worth it; and when once the constitution is gone, and pain attends the loss of health, the sooner that frame is restored to its native mould the better. I cannot go so far as to applaud the conduct of the American Indians, where the first-born is in the habit of strangling the parents by common consent, when they arrive at a certain age, or when the parent feels disposed; yet I cannot fail to admire that strength of mind in old age, which can submit to it, and feel that it is but an incumbrance on the earth, and thus feeling itself useless and unable to provide for its own wants, can anticipate the slow but certain progress of nature. In civilized communities the case is different, and where almost every one is engaged in commercial pursuits, old age is capable of rendering its assistance, and its experience becomes oftentimes valuable. Besides, it may be considered like unto the ant, that whatever it has laid up in the summer of its days, it is entitled to enjoy in the winter. However, it is becoming in old age to find it resigned to the extinction of its being, and not murmuring at its fate. That must be the most pleasing state of mind, when conscious of the near approach of annihilation, it becomes anxious to dispense all the benefits possible to those who survive, and fears the approach of death on no other ground, than that it must cease to be useful.
No. 17, Vol. 3.) LONDON, FRIDAY, AUGUST 18,1820. [PRICE 6D.
OBSERVATIONS ON THE RUSSIAN AUTOCRAT'S
OPINIONS AND INTENTIONS RELATIVE TO THE GLORIOUS REVOLUTION OF SPAIN.
The Emperor of Russia has been studiously held up to the world as a humane man, and one who was anxious to ameliorate the condition of mankind. But he has now taken care to undeceive the European public, and has avowed himself a despot and an enemy to all moral and mental improvement amongst the human race. We do not altogether feel surprised at this, because the conviction is indelibly impressed on our minds, that a monarchy cannot exist on the base of a representative system of government, and a people cannot be regularly prosperous unless that be the base of their government. Those are two axioms which regulate all our ideas on government, and we would make every other circumstance submit to its accomplishment. We further believe that monarchs themselves are beginning to see this, and to become desperate from the extensive spreading of such opinions. It is evident that nothing short of representative government will satisfy the inhabitants of Europe, and this spirit must finally prevail, although the despots and their supporters may cause much blood to be spilt in making war against this disposition of the multitude.
The Emperor of Russia has published two documents on the subject of the Spanish Revolution, from which it appears that the other sovereigns of Europe were unwilling to be the first to publish their opinions : but we may expect them forthwith, either individually or in a Congress, since the Russian Autocrat has expressed his reprobation of the conduct of the Spanish army, and his inclination to march into the South of Europe to overawe the spread of the example. We took
VOL III. No. 17.
Priated aud Published by J. CARLILE, 55, Fleet Streci.