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To the Right Reverend Father in God,




I have just learned that Mr. John Cleave, a bookseller of London, has been arrested, and is now under bail to appear at the Sessions, on a charge of publishing

“scandalous libel on that part of the bible called the Old Testament, which libel I understand is contained in a publication entitled LETTERS TO THE CLERGY OF ALL DENOMINATIONS, showing the errors, absurdities and irrationalities of their doctrines.

Being, my Lord, the author of that publication, I deem it my business on the present occasion, to address you on this most extraordinary proceeding : first, because I believe this prosecution to have originated in your recent proceedings in the House of Lords, and second, because you are an individual whose business it is, to preach that book to be the word of God which it is here declared I have libelled.

In the first place, my Lord, I beg to inform you, that I deem this prosecution to be a most irrational proceeding, and that it strongly illustrates not only the irrational character of the present government, but also, the irrational character of all who approve of such a proceeding.

You, my Lord, not only approve of this proceeding, but you have been one of the most active agents in advising and inciting the government to take this step. I leave it therefore for others to determine, whether or not you partake of the character I have here described.

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I wish not, my Lord, to deal in empty declamation, I wish to assert nothing for which I cannot advance sound and substantial reasons. In my previous writings I have endavoured to adhere to this rule, and in my

future I hope to do the same. Before therefore I proceed any further, let me demonstrate to you the truth of the assertion I have here made, that the prosecution of Mr. Cleave is a most irrational proceeding, and that all who approve of it are guilty of the same irrationality.

The charge against Mr. Cleave is, that he has published a scandalous libel on that part of the bible called the Old Testament. The question, my Lord, at issue is, Is the bible the word of God or is it not ? for if the bible is not the word of God, there can be no scandalous libel against it, unless we can commit a scandalous libel against falsehood. And since this question is unsettled, you are beginning at the wrong end of the business, and consequently guilty of irrationality. Your first business, my Lord, is to prove the bible to be the word of God, for until this be done, it is most ridiculous to talk about a scandalous libel against it. It supposes the possibility of a scandalous libel against falsehood.

Suppose a Jury were to bring in a verdict of guilty, that is to say, suppose Mr. Cleave were convicted of the charge against him, of scandalous libel; and suppose, a few years afterwards, we all became convinced that the bible was not what it was pretended to be, that it was nothing more than the composition of men at various times, and called the word of God for some peculiar purposes, what would be the position of the Jury who convicted Mr. Cleave? Would they not have declared that he had committed a scandalous libel against falsehood ? Would they themselves not be the libellers, and not Mr. Cleave? And, my Lord, it is not for us to say that this will not take place. Various and strange have been the changes which the human mind has undergone since its first existence; and that too, on this very subject. At one time your Lordship will be

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