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ing their houses. However, I infinitely prefer what I feel from the spoiling of my goods to the difpofition of those who have mifled you.
ratus, ten more perfons, of equal or fuperior fpirit and ability, would inftantly rife up. If thofe ten were deftroyed, an hundred would appear; and, believe me, the Church of England, which you now think you are fupporting, has received a greater blow by this conduct of yours, than I and all my friends have ever aimed at it.
You have deftroyed the moft truly valuable and useful apparatus of philo. fophical inftruments that perhaps any individual, in this or any other country, was ever poffeffed of, in my ufe of which I annually spent large fums, with no pecuniary view whatever, but only in the advancement of science, for the benefit of my country, and of mankind. You have destroyed a library correfponding to that apparatus, which no money can re-purchase, except in a courfe of time. But what I feel far more, you have deftroyed manuscripts, which have been the refult of the laborious ftudy of many years, and which I fhall never be able to re-compofe; and this has been done to one who never did, or imagined, you any harm.
I know nothing more of the handbill, which is faid to have enraged you fo much, than any of yourselves; and I difapprove of it as much; though it has been made the oftenfible handle of doing infinitely more mischief than any thing of that nature could poffibly have done. In the celebration of the French Revolution, at which I did not attend, the company affembled on the occafion only expreffed their joy in the emancipation of a neighbouring nation from tyranny, without intimating a defire of any thing more than fuch an improvement of our own Conftitution as all fober citizens, of every perfuafion, have long wished for. And though, in anfwer to the grofs and unprovoked calumnies of Mr. Madan and others, I my as Diffenter, it was only with plain and fober argument, and with perfect good humour. We are better inftructed in the mild and forbearing fpirit of Chrif tianity than ever to think of having recourfe to violence; and can you think fuch conduct as yours any recommendation of your religious principles in preference to ours?
You are fill more mistaken, if you imagine that this conduct of yours has any tendency to ferve your caufe, or to prejudice ours. It is nothing but reafon and argument that can ever fupport any fyftem of religion. Anfwer our arguments, and your bufinefs is done; but · your having recourse to violence is only a proof that you have nothing better to produce, Should you deftroy myself, as well as my house, library, and appa
Befides, to abuse those who have no power of making resistance is equally cowardly and brutal, peculiarly unwor thy of Englishmen, to fay nothing of Chriftianity, which teaches us to do as we would be done by. In this bufinefs we are the fheep, and you the wolves. We will preferve our character, and hope you will change yours. At all events, we return you bleflings for curfes; and pray that you may foon return to that induftry, and those fober manners, for which the inhabitants of Birmingham were formerly diftinguished. I am, your fincere well-wisher,
London, July 19. J. PRIESTLEY. P. S. The account of the first toast at the Revolution dinner, in "The Times" of this morning, can be nothing less than a malicious lie. To prove this, a lift of the toafts, with an account of all the proceedings of the day, will foon be published. The first of them was, "The King and the Constitution;" and they were all fuch as the friends of Liberty, and of the true principles of the Conftitution, would approve.
**We are particularly requefted to give place to the following answer 10 ibe preceding letter; but have no wish to continue a controverfy on the fubject. Friends, Countrymen, and Britons,
A LETTER, figned J. PRIESTLEY,
has appeared in many of the public prints. Its manifeft tendency is beyond the exculpation of an individual from a charge amounting to nothing short of high treafon; for, befides the denial of this charge in terms calculated to imprefs on your minds a full perfuafion of its fincerity by its b.evity, whereby it affumes the femblance of innocence, it recriminates with a degree of perfonality unworthy a gentleman, a fcholar, and a Chriftian. It pleads the immenfe iofs of property, compared to which life itfelf is nothing, and the deftruction of a philofophical apparatus, and a collection of MSS, from whose liberal fource the world was to have been re-pbilofophized, re-policied, and re-Chrijlianized,
Without infifting on the weakness of a defence founded on recrimination and perfonality, let us try the truth of fome affertions contained in it.
Dr. P. fets out with a panegyrick on "his peaceful behaviour in his attention to the quiet ftudies of his profeffion, and thofe of philofophy." How quiet his ftudies have been, or how fuitable to his profeffion, his various publications for the last ten years can best declare. Every inhabitant, not only of Birmingbam, but of Great Britain, may judge him out of his own mouth; and, when he denies the thought of having recourfe to violence, he forgets that, however remote that thought is from the body of Diffenters, HE, as far as fpecious reafoning, ftudied mifreprefentation, and fturdy claims, have fuch a tendency, has been taking every method to excite it. If his virulent reflexions on the Religion and Government of his country, and the Ministers of both, were not calculated to inflame men's minds, it is difficult to fay what was their tendency; for truth is not promoted by violence of any kind.
No one can deny that the outrages of a mob, restrainable only by a military force, are unworthy both of Englishmen and Chriftians. But who can juftify the outrages of invective and mifreprefentation, which violate the golden rule of Chriftian charity, and the quiet character of a teacher of Chriftianity, and must be expected, as in the prefent in fiance has too unfortunately been the case, to recoil on the heads of the first promoters of difcord? No one can avoid lamenting the catastrophe, and pitying the fufferers; but if the fpirit in which fome of the fufferers fpeak of them felves, and those whom they are pleafed to call their enemies, provoke severe reflexions, they have none to blame but themselves. We are next told, the lofs to the community in the fingle houfe of Dr. P. is irreparable; whereas, had the Doctor himself been demolished, a flight of phoenixes would have arifen out of his ashes, for the eternal benefit of mankind at large, with fuperior zeal and abilities. If he can thus arife again invigorated an hundred fold, the prefent catastrophe is not worth a regret.Perhaps, however, the world, wearied with the round of infidel, unitarian, feditious, leveling argumentation, will no more lament the lofs of future fermons, pamphlets, letters, and hiftories, than of the miftaken and falfe fyftem of
chemistry and natural philofophy already defeated and detected.
To pafs by the perfonalities againft individuals, and the unhandfome reflexions on whole bodies of men, contained in them, his writings, addreffed to the nation at large, fufficiently declare "what manner of spirit he is of." While his worthy coadjutor exults in the profpect of bringing royalty once more to the block, his fport is hunting down epifcopacy, and leveling every rank in fociety that favours of fubordination of mind or body. In praifing the French Revolution before it is half completed, he wishes for an IMPROVEMENT in the Conflitution of his own country, though he takes care to keep out of fight the many murders that must be hazarded in the exchange, and compliments his countrymen on their humanity. We try him not on any count to which he does not plead guilty, but on what he avows and glories in when fcarcely "efcaped with the skin of his teeth." The English people, in their plain understandings, have light fufficient to guide them through this world to the next, without involving themfelves in metaphysical and abstract reafonings, which have no place among the fimple truths of the Gofpel. The bcafted number of converts, augmented by the followers of every new enthufiaft, will have no influence on the national faith: fill lefs will upbraiding the people or their rulers with Bigotry, Idolatry, Folly, and Knavery, with Priestcraft or Kingeraft, induce them to change their principles or their party.
The people of England have had too fatal and repeated experience of the fpirit which actuates too many among the Diffenters. The quibbles of tender confciences, which first began to disturb the glorious reign of Elizabeth, broke out into dreadful overt-acts of violence under that of the unfortunate Charles. Alarmed into concurrence with the measures of William, they no fooner recovered from their fright, than they made a merit of their acquiefcence to bring forward demands, and have been rifing in their claims ever fince. When the language of Petition failed, that of Remonftrance was affumed, and menaces, unworthy of men who wished to be accounted loyal or faithful subjects, were reforted to. If thefe facts can be denied or vindicated, Dr. P's letter will deferve attention. If, on the contrary, it should appear that the leaders
have fuffered themfelves to be tranfported to lengths which reflect difgrace and odium on their party, it behoves the body of Diffenters to come forward with that public avowal of their difapprobation of these measures, which fo many refpectable individuals among them have long declared in the freedom of private converfation.
The prefent Apology for the Diffenters, or rather the Unitarian Diffenters, is little calculated to do away the reproach which the effervefcence of the writer of it has drawn upon them. Impartiality and candour will confider it as the hafty effufion of difappointment, refentment, vexation, and ftoical forti. tude, the offspring of an aspiring, overbearing mind, or the ftubborn pride of human-nature, or of a fpirit which actuated too many of the Puritans in the Jaft century, and too much to be lamented-has found a metempsycholis in the present.
Till, therefore, the nation can forget these stubborn facts (and it will require no fhort period to bury them in oblivion, or calm the public mind), it would be better to reflect in filent forJow on the madness of the people, and on the caufes which urged it.
A LOVER OF HIS COUNTRY AND
was too much reason to think that means had been used to promote one, they determined to poftpone the intended dinner, and accordingly agreed to put it off, and prepared a hand-bill for that purpose. (See this alfo in p. 675).
This was fent to the printer; but, be fore he had compofed it, Mr. Dadley, the mafter of the hotel, attended, in confequence of having the dinner countermanded, and reprefented, that he was fure there was no danger of any tumult, and recommended that the dinner might be had as was intended; only propofing, that the gentlemen fhould take care to break up early, and then all danger would be avoided. This measure was then adopted, and orders given to the printer to fupprefs the hand-bill. Accordingly, there was a meeting of 81 gentlemen, inhabitants of the town and neighbourhood, at the Great Room in the hotel, where they dined, and paffed the afternoon with that focial, temperate, and benevolent feftivity, which the confideration of the great event, that has diffufed liberty and happiness among a large portion of the human race, infpired.
The following toafls were drunk, and were agreeably intermixed with fongs, compofed and fung by some of the company:
7. The true Friends of the Constitution of this Country, who wish to preferve its fpirit by correcting its abules.
8. May the People of England never cease to remonftrate till their Parliament becomes a true National Reprefentation! 9. The Frince of Wales.
10. The United States of America. May they for ever enjoy the Liberty which they have fo honourably acquired!
11. May the Late Revolution in Poland prove the harbinger of a more perfect system of Liberty extending to that great kingdom!
12. May the Nations of Europe become fɔ enlightened as never more to be deluded into