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HELD IN THE CITY OF CINCINNATI, FOR EIGHT DAYS SUCCESSIVELY,
ROBERT OWEN, OF NEW LANARK, SCOTLAND,
ALEXANDER CAMPBELL, OF BETHANY,
WITH AN APPENDIX BY THE PARTIES.
COMPLETE IN ONE VOLUME.
What, then, is unbelief? 'Tis an exploit,
Who most examine, most believe;
HAM; BANCKES & co. MANCHESTER; SHOWELL, BIRMINGHAM; W. INNES,
There is a charm in the number three, to which authors, philosophers, poets, and divines are not insensible. Every sentence of a rhetorical cast must have three members, and every noun substantive requires three adjectives to make it expressive, elegant, and sonorous. Hence the good old style of having a preface, introduction, and dedication prefixed to every volume. With the first and second of these we may dispense, as the first speech of each disputant is a sort of preface and introduction for himself. And were I to think of a dedication of this volume, I would be constrained to dedicate it to the whole human family, if I were to be guided by the grand principles of that diffusive benevolence which the side of the question on which I stand suggests. But were I to imitate the inventors of dedications, and select some person to whose auspices I could consign this book, I should be unable to find any one individual to whose pre-eminent virtues I could exclusively inscribe it. But, if either the urbanity, hospitality, and public spirit of a particular city; or, if the orderly behaviour, and christian deportment, of any one congregation, made it necessary for a publisher, such as I am, to inscribe a volume in commendation of one, or other, or both, the city of Cincinnati, and that congregation which for eight days patiently attended upon the discussion, would present claims which neither logic with all its rules of reason, nor rhetoric with all its arts of persuasion, could set aside. But again, something whispers in my ear, if any seven reasons would justify the inscription of this work to any seven gentlemen, to the exclusion of all other persons, for any special attentions paid to the cause, the parties, and the public, the Honourable Judge Burnet, Major Daniel Gano, Colonel Francis Carr, Rev. Timothy Flint, Rev. Oliver Spencer, Henry Starr, Esq. and Colonel Samuel W. Daris, are entitled to it for their attention and dignified manner in which they presided over this discussion. But as there are so many considerations presenting rival calls upon my pen for a special dedication, I must either depart from old usage or take some comprehensive, all-embracing sweep, and dedicate it to every saint and sinner into whose hands it may fall.
But I cannot so easily dispense with apologies as with dedications; for the loose and diffuse style of my speeches requires an apology from myself, as well as a liberal share of indulgence from the learned reader. Being always an extemporaneous speaker, and, on this occasion, every speech of mine, with the exception of the first one, being unpremeditated, many redundancies, expletives, and other inaccuracies in arrangement may be expected, and, I hope, pardoned. Extemporaneous speakers are generally diffuse in their style, and defective in their arrangement. This is, for the most part, unavoidable; and more especially when a very promiscuous assembly is addressed, and on a subject which ought to be levelled to the apprehension of all. We aimed at being understood; and this required great plainness of speech. It is better to have to claim indulgence from the learned, than to have to incur the censures of the illiterate.
In point of arrangement and style, Mr. Owen had a very great advantage in having the whole of his argument written down. It is true he frequently spoke extemporaneously, but generally his written argument was the text. His written argument was his bible, and his speeches were sermons upon the essential doctrines of his twelve apostles.
Considering the rapidity of my pronunciation, which is said to be surpassed by very few, Mr. Sims, the stenographer, has certainly done himself great honour in the accuracy with which he has taken down my speeches. I have not, it is true, yet read them all; but those I have read, have far surpassed my anticipations. I did not think that any stenographer could take down my speeches verbatim, and especially one who was ont of practice for any length of time.
Mr. Sims having been for some time a citizen of New Harmony, was well acquainted with Mr. Owen's style ; and Mr. Owen being rather a slow speaker it was comparatively easy for Mr. Sims to report his speeches to a word. Mr. Sims did not promise to do this for me; but he promised to give every idea, if not in ipsissimis verbis, in terms fully expressive of them.
His fidelity I cannot but admire; for, although somewhat sceptical himself, and once almost persuaded to be an Owenite, and, upon the whole, on Mr. Owen's side of the question, I cannot complain of the least partiality in any one instance. When he failed to report any sentence, he was careful to note it, and thus has given me full satisfaction.
It will afford the reader some satisfaction to know that Mr. Owen has had the opportunity of revising all his speeches. This liberty I cheerfully conceded to him, and he has availed himself of it. He continued in Cincinnati till Mr. Sims got through with his speeches, and he had my assent to improve the style as much as he pleased.
The original copy of Mr. Sims' report, by a stipulation of the parties, is to be deposited with the public records of the county in which it is published; and in case of any cavil by either of the parties or their friends, it is to be forthcoming.
Every thing on iny part has been done to give to the public the most faithful and credible report of this discussion. That it might appear in the most impartial form, I offered, with Mr. Owen's concurrence, the right of publishing to the Reporter. I first agreed with Mr. Gould, of Philadelphia : had written, signed, and forwarded for his signature, articles of agreement, authorizing him to publish twenty or thirty thousand copies, if he pleased, as a remuneration for his reporting, faithfully and fully, the discussion. Learning from the newspapers, that Mr. Owen had been in Jamaica or Vera Cruz, some time in March, he despaired of his arrival at the time appointed, and declined coming on. I made a similar proposition to Mr. Sims of Cincinnati. He declined, and preferred a remuneration in money. Mr. Owen and myself then were compelled to publish the work, and agreed to pay Mr. Sims five hundred dollars for his report.
After the debate terminated, Mr. Owen, about to return to Europe, and not able to attend to the work, proposed to sell his interest in the work. He did so. I became the sole proprietor, and thus the publication ultimately devolved upon me.
Afier my return home, and my having made some contracts relative to the materials, type, press, &c., Mr. Owen wrote me, that by some means he understood that the city of Cincinnati would have liked that the work had been offered to them for benevolent
purposes. He proposed my relinquishment of it to the city corporation. To this I acceded, on condition that the materials I had purchased for the work, should be taken along with the copy-right; or, if not, I would hand over to them the first edition when out of press; they remunerating me for the composition, press work, and paper, on the same terms for which the printers in Cincinnati would have done it. I waited three weeks for an answer from Mr. Owen, through whom I wished the proposition to be made. I am now informed by Mr. Owen, that the proposition was declined by the city council, and therefore I proceed with the publication.
All these arrangements and propositions were made, that the work might be more useful, or less liable to objection. For, from my first determination to meet Mr. Owen in argument, I had purposed to present the result of our interview to the public, for whose benefit it was undertaken, in the most unexceptionable form. And now, when the publication has devolved upon me, I proposed the depositing of the original copy for comparison with the publication as aforesaid. For experience has taught me how usual it is for the vanquished to exclaim against the report.
As arrangements are now made, I trust that all objections will be removed, for I ain conscious that there is no ground for them. The arguments on both sides will appear as clear and as forcible to the reader, as they did to the hearer of this discussion.
The discussion sufficiently explains itself as it proceeds. We will neither anticipate nor prejudge for the reader. Let him reason, examine, and judge, like a rational being, for himself.
To the vast and incomparable importance of the question at issue, we can add nothing. It speaks for itself: and the man who has any doubt or hesitancy in his mind upon the subjects discussed in the following pages, and who will not deign them a patient and faithful examination, is unworthy of the rank and dignity of a man. So I decree, and let him who is of a contrary opinion seek to justify himself to his own conscience.