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A Letter To The Society for the Suppression of Vic

Produced by David Widger


To The Society for the Suppression of Vice, ON THEIR Malignant Efforts TO PREVENT A FREE ENQUIRY After TRUTH AND REASON

By R. Carlile




Associated Persecutors,

That envenomed and malign spirit which you have so prominently displayed, during the short time since you have turned your attentions towards my publications, precludes the necessity of my offering any apology for addressing you in a public letter.

Having immured me within the walls of a prison, methinks I see a demoniac smile glide over your several cheeks with the glowing expression; of "we have now crushed him."--Be not too sanguine; feeble as my efforts may be to propagate those principles, on which, (according to my humble conceptions,) the basis of true morality and virtue must be founded, nor the fear of imprisonment, nor the fear of death shall deter me from a perseverance. What is the religion that you profess, that you are so much alarmed at every attempt to investigate its merits? What is the basis of your pretended morality and virtue, when you betray a fear of being left naked as the breeze leaves the stem of the woolly dandelion? What is that chimerical faith in which you pretend to centre your future hopes, if you fear the result of your fellow mortal's enquiry into it? On what ground must the established and dissenting codes of religion, of which you boast, (and express your determination to support, by imprisonments and punishments of such persons as shall attempt to inspect its foundation,) be raised, when a small volume of enquiry into its origin shakes its very centre, and threatens a total annihilation? Pause! ye deluded and deluding hypocrites, and I will compromise the matter with you. But how? Shall it be an instance of that nature where many individuals whom you have laid under the charge of vending, what both you and I consider obscene and objectionable books and prints, have more than once satisfied your virtuous scruples by a fee? Pray, would my paying all the expences you have incurred in this prosecution, satiate that appetite which feeds on virtue whilst it falsely affects to destroy vice? Is your answer--yes? I disdain it. Nothing but a fair exposition of both our views shall induce me to compromise this important question; rendered the more important, because a sycophantic and hypocritical society--a refined banditti attempts to crush it in its bud. No, the compromise I will make with you shall be, either, that you shall renounce those persecutions you have instituted against me, or I will expose your object in all its hideous features. Although, like the assassin, you endeavour to conceal both your names and intentions, and make a hungry Lawyer* your instrument, yet the community at large; who have been more injured than amended by your false pretences, will assist me in depicting your banditti in its real colours.

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