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Aug 24, 2020, 9:13:13 AM8/24/20
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The 1820s
has been described as the darkest time in the history of freemasonry in Hull,
but it is precisely such stormy periods which interest the historian. The
central figure in Hull freemasonry at that time is a name that is I am sure
familiar to you, that of William Crow, a lieutenant in the Royal Navy, who
joined Minerva lodge No. 250 in<span style="mso-spacerun: yes">&nbsp; </span>1819
and became Senior Deacon the following year. Crow quickly demonstrated his
abilities when the Treasurer of the lodge left Hull taking the lodge accounts
with him. Crow ensured that they were returned, and sorted out the mess left
behind by the Treasurer.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes">&nbsp; </span>He became
the Master of Minerva lodge in 1823. <o:p>
</o:p>
</span></p>
<p style="margin-top:6.0pt;margin-right:0cm;margin-bottom:6.0pt;
margin-left:0cm"><span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language:EN-US">The Humber
Lodge No. 57 had been suffering financial difficulties for some years. When the
lodge was invited to the lodge of reconciliation at the time of the union, it
replied that the officers could not afford to travel to London. By 1821, the
lodge had virtually ceased functioning. The former master, Thomas Stoddard, had
been<span style="mso-spacerun: yes">&nbsp; </span>expelled from freemasonry, but
retained all correspondence of the lodge, so that membership fees disappeared.
The warrant, jewels and clothing of the lodge had been kept by the Treasurer who
refused to give them up. According to the reminiscences recorded by Coltman
Smith, when summoned to a meeting at the Black Swan in Dock Street to discuss
these matters, the Treasurer left the warrant downstairs with the landlady, with
strict instructions not to give it to anyone without his permission.
Nevertheless, the Master of the Lodge tricked the landlady into giving him the
warrant which he hid in an empty house. The Treasurer protested to the
Provincial Grand Master, who suspended the warrant.<o:p>
</o:p>
</span></p>
<p style="margin-top:6.0pt;margin-right:0cm;margin-bottom:6.0pt;
margin-left:0cm"><span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language:EN-US">Crow had
acquired a reputation as a trouble shooter, and was one of the arbitrators
appointed to sort out the problems of Humber lodge. By 1824, matters had been
resolved, but the Humber was still very sickly. The Master, Joseph<span style="mso-spacerun: yes">&nbsp;
</span>Ridsdale wrote to Great Queen Street apologising that '</span><span lang="EN-GB">the
fewness of our members, the lowness of our finances, and the absence of those
who have not yet returned, may all have contributed to the appearance of errors
in our accounts'. However, by the end of 1825, the membership of Humber had
doubled, with twelve members joining from Minerva, led by Crow, the first to
join in October 1824. In 1825, Crow became Master of the Humber lodge. What were
the reasons for this secession? According to Coltman Smith, the split was
connected with the heavy debts of the Minerva lodge and there seems no reason to
doubt this. The reasons for these financial problems are not clear: Coltman
Smith suggests that the funds were depleted by an excess of hospitality, but, in
the very poor economic climate at that time, the lodge probably also had many
demands to relieve impoverished brethren. The cost of maintaining the Minerva's
own premises at Dagger Lane may also have been a factor. In 1826-7 a further
nineteen members of Minerva joined Humber lodge.</span></p>
<p style="margin-top:6.0pt;margin-right:0cm;margin-bottom:6.0pt;
margin-left:0cm"><span lang="EN-GB">The new members of Humber lodge had great
ambitions. In 1826, the Humber petitioned for the establishment of a Royal Arch
chapter attached to the lodge, but the petition ran into difficulties because
there was no record that the proposed First Principal, Thomas Feetam, a cabinet
maker who was another of those who had joined Humber from Minerva, had ever been
exalted to the Royal Arch. The bye-laws were revised and an attempt was made to
establish a formal fund of benevolence. In March 1827, a proposal was made to
build a masonic hall for use by both the Humber and Minerva lodges, but this
fell through. Nevertheless, Humber pushed ahead with building a hall.</span></p>
<p style="margin-top:6.0pt;margin-right:0cm;margin-bottom:6.0pt;
margin-left:0cm"><span lang="EN-GB">What happened next is described in a letter
from the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, Richard Beverley, to the Grand
Secretary, which I will quote. 'The Humber Lodge of Hull, has lately come to the
determination to build a new lodge on a grand scale - which they have begun, and
have already advanced considerably. The landlord of the inn where they lately
held their meetings (the Turks Head) of course feels that he will be a loser by
the lodge leaving his house: to prevent therefore their meeting in a new lodge
or going on with the building, he, at the last time they met at his house,
posted constables at the door to take the Masters and Wardens into custody and
to arrest from them by violence the warrant.' Coltman Smith recorded a tradition
that the Master, who was Thomas Feetam, had the warrant specially strengthened
with canvas, and wore it instead of an apron so that it could not be seized.</span></p>
<p style="margin-top:6.0pt;margin-right:0cm;margin-bottom:6.0pt;
margin-left:0cm"><span lang="EN-GB">Beverley continued as follows:<span style="mso-spacerun: yes">&nbsp;
</span>The Master was accordingly arrested [by the constables posted outside the
inn], and the lodge broke up in a great riot, though the Master was shortly
released from custody and got off safely with the warrant.... The Humber lodge
now meets at some other public house till their new Lodge is finished; but the
Landlord of the old inn vexed at what has happened, has persuaded three other
members (the most prominent of whom is one Brother Roach) uniformly to blackball
all persons that may be proposed either for initiation or admission from other
lodges, so as to prevent the Humber lodge ever having any new members, and so of
course finally to make it dissolve. One of these four brothers openly professed
his determination to blackball every person that should be proposed, and they
began their conspiracy by excluding some most unexceptionable persons of the
best character, who would have been a valuable addition to any lodge.'</span></p>
<p style="margin-top:6.0pt;margin-right:0cm;margin-bottom:6.0pt;
margin-left:0cm"><span lang="EN-GB">All this was bad enough, but it was not the
main reason for Beverley writing to Great Queen Street. The Humber lodge had
excluded the four blackballers and Beverley had approved the lodge's<span style="mso-spacerun: yes">&nbsp;
</span>actions. However, Roach, a mariner who had been one of those who had
joined Humber from Minerva lodge with Crow, had decided to take revenge.
Beverley described how Roach 'takes about with him Carlisle’s publications on
masonry, lends them to people, not masons, to read, and assures them all the
secrets of masonry are there fully and completely exposed - &amp; that any body
purchasing Carlisle's book may know the whole secret for 2s 9d'. Beverley was
outraged at what he considered complete perjury, and asked the Grand Secretary
for guidance about how Roach could be punished.</span></p>
<p style="margin-top:6.0pt;margin-right:0cm;margin-bottom:6.0pt;
margin-left:0cm"><span lang="EN-GB">Who was Carlisle, and what were these
publications which Roach was showing to non-masons? Richard Carlile was a
radical atheist writer and publisher who was one of the pioneers of freedom of
speech in Britain. A tin-plate worker from Devon, he drifted into radical
activity in London after 1815. He became a journalist and pamphleteer, and was
captivated by the works of Thomas Paine. He began printing cheap editions of
Paine's work. When he produced a cheap edition of Paine's critique of
christianity, The Age of Reason, Carlile was sent to Dorchester gaol. From his
prison room, Carlile organised an extraordinary campaign against the ban on
Paine's book, enlisting dozens of volunteers who risked trial and imprisonment
by selling Carlile's publications. Carlile wore out the judicial system, and
eventually the government gave up trying to suppress Paine's book.</span></p>
<p style="margin-top:6.0pt;margin-right:0cm;margin-bottom:6.0pt;
margin-left:0cm"><span lang="EN-GB">While in Dorchester, Carlile also published
a periodical called The Republican, which became the most widely read working
class journal. Carlile championed many other progressive causes, such as birth
control and vegetarianism, and is increasingly seen by scholars as a pivotal
figure in the history of English social thought. In 1825, Carlile devoted
virtually a whole volume of The Republican to publishing a great deal of masonic
ritual. He saw this as an important part of his campaign against secrecy.
Carlile was the first to print the post-union ritual, and his book provides the
earliest evidence for the ritual of many additional degrees. It was this book
which Roach was passing around Hull. Carlile's interest in freemasonry is
important in understanding the later development of his thought. Influenced by
Paine and others, he came to the conclusion that freemasonry embodied
metaphorical truths about religion, predating the distortions which he thought
that christianity had introduced. He reprinted his volume as a Manual of
Freemasonry, which became one of his most widely circulated works.</span></p>
<p style="margin-top:6.0pt;margin-right:0cm;margin-bottom:6.0pt;
margin-left:0cm"><span lang="EN-GB">In considering a figure like Carlile,
evidence of the extent to which his publications were read and circulated is
very important, and the letter describing Roach's behaviour in Hull provides
important evidence that, just two years after its publication, Carlile's
exposure was widely known and circulated. We know very little about the reaction
of Grand Lodge to Carlile's work. For this reason, the reply by Edward Harper as
Grand Secretary to Beverley's letter is very significant. Harper expressed his
abhorrence of Roach's 'base and scandalous' conduct, but his main concern was to
ensure that Carlile did not hear of the incident.. For this reason, he felt no
official action was possible. Formal action by Grand Lodge would, declared
Harper, be gratifying to Carlile, since 'it would be the means of giving
publicity to the thing he has published and thereby be the cause of its being
more generally known and consequently circulated and read'. He urged a policy of
'silent contempt'. In order to keep the affair quiet, Harper had not even dared
to raise it with 'the public authorities of Grand Lodge' but had quietly
discussed it with other Grand Officers, who concurred with his advice.</span></p>
<p style="margin-top:6.0pt;margin-right:0cm;margin-bottom:6.0pt;
margin-left:0cm;mso-layout-grid-align:none;text-autospace:none"><span lang="EN-GB">This
incident at Humber Lodge thus reveals some interesting and unexpected
information about a significant figure in England history. There is a great deal
more I could add about the historical themes raised by this dispute at Hull. The
disputes continued after 1827, and the blackballing activities were taken up by
other members of the lodge. Protests by the Phoenix lodge against the exclusions
of blackballers drew Beverley back into the dispute, and led to a row between
him and Phoenix lodge. One of the factors in these disputes appears to have been
about the building of masonic halls. At this time masonic halls were still a
rarity; but Hull had three. This seems to me to say a great deal about the
aspirations of Hull as a city, and is a fact historians of the city should
investigate further. I think this provides more than enough illustration of how
a single incident in a masonic lodges in a town such as Hull has a great deal to
interest the historian. </span><span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language:EN-US"><o:p>
</o:p>
</span></p>
<p style="margin-top:6.0pt;margin-right:0cm;margin-bottom:6.0pt;
margin-left:0cm"><span lang="EN-GB">Let me conclude by introducing you to a
Victorian mason much revered in Hull but now perhaps completely forgotten,
George Markham Tweddell. Tweddell was born at Stokesley in Cleveland in 1821 and
became an apprentice to a local printer William Braithwaite. At the age of 19,
Tweddell became editor of a new local newspaper published by Braithwaite, but
his articles in support of the working man were so controversial that
Braithwaite sacked him. Tweddell was able to continue publishing the paper on
his own account, and became an all-purpose writer and publisher. He married
Florence Shaw, who, as Florence Cleveland was one of the best known Yorkshire
dialect poets. During the 1850s, Tweddell and his wife were Master and Matron of
the Bury Industrial and Ragged Schools in Lancashire. Tweddell's literary output
was enormous. He was most celebrated for his book on Shakespeare and His
Contemporaries. He was a regular contributor to both The Freemasons' Magazine
and The Freemason. He was also an enthusiastic oddfellow, publishing an
oddfellow's reciter. By 1877, Tweddell had run into financial difficulties, and
William Andrews, a popular historian and freemason who lived in Hull, arranged a
subscription to present Tweddell with a 'purse of gold'. Tweddell was very
interested in chartist politics, and he was one of a number of masons in
northern England involved in the campaign to secure the vote for working people.</span></p>
<p style="margin-top:6.0pt;margin-right:0cm;margin-bottom:6.0pt;
margin-left:0cm"><span lang="EN-GB">Tweddell was also a rather bad poet, but
nevertheless he was included by Andrews in a collection of modern Yorkshire
poets. Twedell's first published collection of poetry was 'A Hundred Masonic
Sonnets Illustrative of the Principles of the Craft for Freemasons and
Non-Masons'. In the introduction, Tweddell described how he had lost the sight
of one eye. When he was forced to rest his eye, he often spent the time
composing a sonnet. Tweddell's sonnets cover such unlikely subjects as the
masonic press, politics and freemasonry, masonic jewellery, and promotion by
merit - all matters still close to heart of freemasons. Since I spend much of my
time in the library at Great Queen Street, and everything I've talked about
tonight is drawn from the remarkable collections there, I can't resist giving
you Tweddell's first sonnet on lodge libraries. (There are three altogether, you
may be alarmed to hear, but I'll spare you all three).</span></p>
<p style="margin-top:6.0pt;margin-right:0cm;margin-bottom:6.0pt;
margin-left:0cm"><span lang="EN-GB">I would that every Masons' Lodge should have<br>
A library of good Masonic lore.<br>
The Arts and Sciences we should explore,<br>
And all that's calculated Man to save<br>
From ignorance and vice. Mere sign and word<br>
Were never masonry: they help to guard<br>
The Craft from cowans; but the great reward<br>
Is his who fights with Masonry's keen sword<br>
To slaughter error. Men have labour'd hard<br>
Age after age, to chronicle each thought<br>
They felt was worthy; and all Masons ought<br>
To cherish and to spread them, and to guard<br>
Them from destruction. Thus a choice Library,<br>
By all good Masons, ever must well-treasured be.</span></p>

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Aug 24, 2020, 10:35:08 PM8/24/20
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In
1827, Robert Beverley, the Deputy Provincial Grand Master for the North and East
Ridings of Yorkshire, wrote to the Grand Secretary about the turmoil which had
overtaken the Humber Lodge in Hull, the oldest lodge in the province. The lodge
had decided to build a masonic hall. The landlord of the inn where the lodge had
hitherto met was upset about his potential<span style="mso-spacerun: yes">&nbsp;
</span>loss of earnings. In a desperate attempt to prevent the lodge leaving his
premises, the landlord arranged for two constables to be placed at the inn door
on the evening of a lodge meeting. When the master appeared, the constables
arrested him (on what grounds are not clear) and carried him off to prison.</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">&nbsp;<o:p>
</o:p>
</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">After
a great tumult, the master was released. The lodge decided, not surprisingly, to
move elsewhere. The lodge's former landlord sought revenge. He persuaded three
other members of the lodge, the most prominent of whom was a Brother Roach, to
blackball everyone proposed for membership of the lodge, so that it would
eventually collapse for lack of members. The rest of the lodge eventually
realised what was going on, and expelled the blackballers.</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">&nbsp;<o:p>
</o:p>
</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">Brother
Beverley seemed to view these events with equanimity. The immediate occasion of
his letter to Grand Lodge was an action of Brother Roach which he regarded as
far more heinous. In<span style="mso-spacerun: yes">&nbsp; </span>the words of
the letter, 'Brother Roach, highly indignant at the scrape he has brought
himself into, has commenced proceedings so unmasonic as in<span style="mso-spacerun: yes">&nbsp;
</span>my opinion to call loudly for some punishment. He takes about with him
Carlisles publications on masonry, lends them to people, not masons, to read,
and assures them all the secrets of masonry are there fully and completely
exposed - and that anybody purchasing Carlile's book may know the whole secret
for 2s 9d.'</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">&nbsp;<o:p>
</o:p>
</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">This
was not the only occasion on which publications by Richard Carlile figured in a
lodge dispute. Curiously, the argument again involved the keeper of an inn used
by a masonic lodge. In 1844, a formal complaint was made by the Master and
Senior Warden of the Lodge of Hope and Charity in Kidderminster against Richard
Smith, the landlord of the Black Horse Inn, where the lodge met. They accused
Smith of calling the Senior Warden a damned liar and a hypocrite in open lodge.
The Senior Warden, Dr William Roden, went on to add the following: 'On the same
occasion, and whilst a Brother was being passed to the second degree, Bro. Smith
had in his possession in open lodge a book called 'Carlile's Manual' which he
opened inside the Book of Constitutions, as though to prevent notice. He was
writing with a pencil either in the book itself, or a piece of paper placed in
the book...I feel confident he was noting down those parts of the ceremony which
differed from the Master's in the Chair and the system in Carlile's Book.' To
support Roden's complaint, George Caswell, a past master of the lodge, added
that Smith had produced 'Carlile's Manual of Freemasonry' in the smoke room of
his inn.</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">&nbsp;<o:p>
</o:p>
</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">In
answering the complaints, Smith did not deny possessing Carlile's book. In fact,
he said Dr Roden, who had brought the complaint, had on many occasions asked to
borrow Carlile's book and had offered to contribute towards the cost of
purchasing it. Moreover, Roden himself had used Carlile's manual when initiating
masons. Smith further alleged that Caswell had also possessed Carlile's book,
and had lent and sold copies to members of the lodge. Smith declared that he did
not know it was an offence to possess this book, particularly as another member
of the lodge had regularly offered to sell copies to newly initiated brothers.</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">&nbsp;<o:p>
</o:p>
</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">This
is the little red book which caused such controversy. It is one in a long line
of publications which purport to reveal all the secrets of masonic ritual,
passwords and signs. Carlile's Manual is one of the most long-lived of these
publications, having first appeared in 1825 and been fairly continuously in
print since 1831. Carlile's book is one of the most comprehensive of these
exposures of freemasonry, containing in addition to craft and royal arch rituals
those of many additional degrees. For some of the additional degrees, Carlile's
publication is in fact the earliest evidence of their ritual. Although published
by a non-mason, this book has proved to be one of the most successful
publications dealing with freemasonry, possibly because, as at Kidderminster, it
has been used by masons themselves in learning ritual, a testament to the care
with which Carlile did his work. Diane and Rebecca tell me that, after Gould's
History, Carlile's Manual is the book most frequently brought into the library
here for evaluation.</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">&nbsp;<o:p>
</o:p>
</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">One
wonders whether any of the freemasons at Kidderminster noticed a curious report
of a death in <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:
normal">The Times</i> in 1843, and connected it with the little book that they
had been using in their lodge meetings. The Times reported the death of the
eccentric gentleman Richard Carlile, and described how he had left his body to
be dissected. Initially Carlile had stipulated that his body should be given to
the famous surgeon Sir William Lawrence for dissection and that his bones should
be afterwards burnt. Lawrence refused to have anything to do with this body, so
Richard Grainger, a surgeon who was later a pioneer of sanitary reform, agreed
to lecture on the body. A great crowd gathered in the old operating theatre at
St Thomas's to view the proceedings, but the governors, hearing whose body was
to be the subject of the lecture, refused to allow the dissection to proceed,
for fear that it might suggest that the hospital supported the religious views
of the dead man. This man, so notorious that, even when he was dead surgeons
refused to dissect him, was the Richard Carlile who produced the <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">Manual
of Freemasonry</i>. Why was he reviled in this way, and what connection did his
work on freemasonry have with his other views?</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">&nbsp;<o:p>
</o:p>
</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">Carlile
was one of a group of working class radicals who, in the early nineteenth
century, produced the first English working class political and philosophical
literature. He was a pugnacious republican and opponent of conventional religion,
who popularised the works of the radical social philosopher and deist, Thomas
Paine. By conducting a brave and determined campaign, supported by his family
and dozens of associates, Carlile effectively broke government censorship of the
book trade, and perhaps did more than any single man to create modern freedom of
the press. He espoused and publicised a wide range of causes that seemed very
outlandish at the time but which are now more commonplace, such as vegetarianism,
alternative medical treatments, birth control, divorce, and equality for women.
Yet he was a man of unpredictable views who managed to alienate many of his own
supporters. His intellectual inheritance is in many ways puzzling - when,
shortly after his death, members of the London Secular Society tried to raise
funds for a monument in Kensal Green, they were unsuccessful, and only a handful
of people attended the commemoration for the centenary of his death in 1943. It
is only in recent years that Carlile's pivotal position in nineteenth century
radical politics has become more evident. Carlile has, for example, emerged as
something of a forefather of modern political protest. As a recent commentator
Joss Marsh has put it: 'the Chartists' jailhouse refusals, the suffragettes'
hunger strikes, the self-starvations and blanket rebellions of IRA terrorists
and internees: all alike look back to Richard Carlile'.</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">&nbsp;<o:p>
</o:p>
</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">When
in 1939, S. J. Fenton published a pioneering study of Carlile in <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">Ars
Quatuor Coronatorum</i> (this was the first modern scholarly account of Carlile,
predating G.D.H. Cole's biography by four years, but is hardly known outside
masonic circles), the Master of Quatuor Coronati lodge expressed relief that the
only reason that Carlile was of interest to the lodge was his publication of the
<i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">Manual of Freemasonry</i>, so that the
lodge did not have to concern itself with the rest of his activities. It is very
easy to suggest that Carlile's interest in freemasonry was simply another of his
many intellectual hobby-horses, akin to his enthusiasm for phrenology. However,
it is striking that the <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">Manual of
Freemasonry</i> is the only work of Carlile's prodigious output to have remained
continuously in print. Moreover, Carlile went to a lot of trouble towards the
end of his life to ensure that the book stayed in print, suggesting that he felt
it was one of his most important achievements. Carlile's views on freemasonry
are essential for understanding the later stages of his career, and explaining
some of his views which alienated his supporters, particularly on trade unions.
Finally, Carlile's publications on freemasonry are important for helping to
understand his connections with other radicals.</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">&nbsp;<o:p>
</o:p>
</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">Carlile
was born in Ashburton in Devon in 1790. His father had been by turns a shoemaker,
exciseman, teacher and soldier, and had published a book of mathematical adages,
but drank heavily, and abandoned his wife and children. Richard's mother was
deeply religious and tried to drill her beliefs into her children, but what
Richard remembered most vividly about his Devon upbringing were what he called
the wasteful activities of his teenage years, such as badger baiting, squirrel
chasing, Oak Apple Day, and, above all, the burning of effigies of figures such
as Guy Fawkes and, ironically the man who was afterwards to become Carlile's
great hero, Tom Paine. Carlile received a very basic education at charity
schools, and in 1803 became a tinplate worker, making pots, pans and other
utensils. It was a bad trade to choose, as hand plate working was being
undermined by competition from northern factories. Carlile struggled to make a
living, moving first from Devon to Portsmouth, and then finally moving to London.
In 1812 or 1813, under the influence of Anglican advocates of moderate deism, he
briefly contemplated taking holy orders, but instead, he married Jane, the
daughter of a poor Hampshire cottager. Within five years they had three sons.</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">&nbsp;<o:p>
</o:p>
</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">From
1813 to 1817, Carlile worked for tinplate firms in Blackfriars and Holborn.
London was at that time in a ferment of radical discussion and agitation, its
streets crowded with tractsellers hawking William Cobbett's <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">Political
Register</i> and other cheap papers aimed at working class radicals. Carlile was
intoxicated by this heady atmosphere of debate and discussion. By the winter of
1816-1817, like many other workmen, he faced a bleak prospect as his employers
reduced his hours. He began attending reform meetings, and in 1817 wrote his
first essays. They were not very accomplished, prompting a comment from William
Cobbett that 'A half-employed mechanic is too violent'. Nevertheless, in March
1817 Carlile gave up tin plate working to devote himself full-time to radical
politics, selling such papers as <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:
normal">The Political Register </i>and the <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">Black
Dwarf</i>. He afterwards remembered 'Many a day traversed thirty miles for the
profit of eighteen pence'.</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">&nbsp;<o:p>
</o:p>
</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">Among
the contacts which<span style="mso-spacerun: yes">&nbsp; </span>Carlile formed
at this time was William Sherwin, who briefly published a radical journal called
<i style="mso-bidi-font-style:
normal">The Republican</i>, and in 1819 produced the more substantial <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">Sherwin's
Political Register</i>. The risks involved in publishing political literature of
this kind were considerable. The 1799 Unlawful Societies Act, which required the
registration of freemasons' lodges, also stipulated severe penalties, including
transportation, for the sale of publications which breached various strict
regulations. In March 1817, the Home Office ordered magistrates summarily to
arrest the publishers of blasphemous and seditious writings. Sherwin and Carlile
came up with an ingenious scheme. Carlile would be the nominal publisher of
Sherwin's paper and run the various legal risks. In return, Sherwin would
finance the publications, help provide copy, and give Carlile use of his
premises in Fleet Street. Prison was evidently at this time a better bet for
Carlile than starvation or the workhouse, and the arrangement with Sherwin
enabled Carlile to launch himself as a radical publisher.</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">&nbsp;<o:p>
</o:p>
</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">Carlile
seized his chance enthusiastically, and flooded the streets of London with cheap
political publications. Apart from the <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">Weekly
Register</i>, Carlile also published political parodies by William Hone, Robert
Southey's <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">Wat Tyler</i> (disavowed by its
now respectable author on its first appearance), and many pamphlets designed to
show that Britain was, in Carlile's words, 'a continued mass of Corruption,
Falsehood, Hypocrisy and Slander'. Above all, Carlile published the works of Tom
Paine, and Carlile's growing reverence for Paine is evident in his decision to
name his third son after his hero. In 1817, Carlile was imprisoned for the first
time, for blasphemy and sedition, committed by publishing an article maintaining
that the poor were enslaved politically. On his release, Carlile returned to his
publishing activities with renewed fervour. He also played an energetic part in
the Westminster election campaign of the celebrated radical politician Henry
Hunt.</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">&nbsp;<o:p>
</o:p>
</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">At
this stage, Carlile was indistinguishable from many of the other London radical
figures engaged in the struggle for parliamentary reform. In the words of
Carlile's biographer, Joel Wiener, ' His obduracy was beginning to mark him out
for advancement, but as yet he did little more than to repeat the ideas of
others. Feelings of inferiority weighed heavily on him. He had a dumpy physical
appearance; his West Country speech sounded awkward to London workers on those
infrequent occasions when he attempted public oratory; and he was conscious of
the inadequacies of his formal education. Yet singleness of purpose could, he
realised, compensate for many defects'. It was the example of Paine which was
responsible for the next stage in Carlile's development, and the study of
freemasonry was to play a significant part in<span style="mso-spacerun: yes">&nbsp;
</span>this process.</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">&nbsp;<o:p>
</o:p>
</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">Paine's
writings had been vigorously prosecuted ever since their first appearance, and
they were consequently difficult to obtain. Carlile, convinced that Paine's
works were 'the only standard political writings worth a moment's notice', felt
that, if only Paine could be readily available in cheap editions, the momentum
for reform would be unstoppable. First of all, Carlile published Paine's
political works. This was risky enough, but the first indication that Carlile
was about to cross the rubicon came in 1818, when he published Paine's <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:
normal">Essay on the Origins of Free Masonry</i>. Although Carlile had
previously published some anti-religious squibs, this was the first sign of his
growing interest in religious matters.</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">&nbsp;<o:p>
</o:p>
</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">Paine's
short <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:
normal">Essay on</i> <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">the Origins of Free
Masonry</i> is a good example of his strengths as a writer. Unlike many other
writings on freemasonry at this time, it is detached, almost to the point of
being sympathetic in tone, very clearly written, and thoroughly researched.
Paine's proposition is laid out clearly at the beginning: 'It is always
understood that Free Masons have a secret which they carefully conceal; but from
everything that can be collected from their own accounts of Masons: their real
secret is no other than their origin, which but few of them understand; and
those who do envelope it in mystery.' The mystery was, according to Paine, as
follows: 'Masonry...is derived, and is the remains of the religion of the
ancient Druids; who, like the magi of Persia and the priests of Heliopolis in
Egypt, were priests of the Sun. They paid worship to this great luminary, as the
great visible agent of a great invisible first cause...'</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">&nbsp;<o:p>
</o:p>
</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">Paine's
suggestion that freemasonry was a remnant of the Druid religion was not a new
one. It had previously been anticipated by eighteenth-century writers such as
William Stukeley and John Cleland, the author of <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">Fanny
Hill</i>. The Ancient Order of Druids was formed in 1781 by freemasons who
sought to restore the druidical components to masonic ritual. The importance of
Paine's essay on freemasonry lies instead in its relationship to his other
religious writings. His essay formed part of a reply, unpublished at the time of
his death, to an attack by the Bishop of Llandaff on Paine's infamous work, <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">The
Age of Reason</i>. <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:
normal">The Age of Reason</i>, partly written while Paine was imprisoned in
revolutionary France, was, at one level, a compelling attack on christianity,
and, on the other, an argument for the necessity of a more generalised deistic
religion. The <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">Essay on Freemasonry</i>
developed this thesis further by arguing that Christianity was a perversion of
the ancient worship of the sun, and that freemasonry preserved these tenets in a
purer form. Paine favoured a return to the ancient sun religion, developing a
new solar method of chronology which he used to date his letters. This
aspiration to return to the old sun religion was to haunt radical freethought
for much of the nineteenth century. The <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">Essay
on Freemasonry</i> was unpublished by Paine when he died, but a version,
omitting the more abusive comments on christianity, was published by his
executrix in 1810. The <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">Essay</i> was
afterwards reprinted in this expurgated form in French in 1812. Carlile's 1818
edition was apparently the first unexpurgated edition of Paine's <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">Essay</i>,
and reflects the assiduousness with which Carlile tracked down texts of Paine's
works. Carlile's version was to form the basis of all subsequent editions of
Paine's <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:
normal">Essay</i>.</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">&nbsp;<o:p>
</o:p>
</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">Having
printed the <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:
normal">Essay on Free Masonry</i>, the obvious next step for Carlile was to
produce a cheap edition of Paine's infamous <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">Age
of Reason</i>. All previous attempts to publish this work in England had ended
in the prosecution of the publisher. In December 1818, Carlile produced a cheap
edition of <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">The Age of Reason</i>, aimed at
the working class reader. Within a month, a prosecution against him for selling <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">The
Age of Reason</i><span style="mso-spacerun: yes">&nbsp; </span>was brought by
the Society for the Suppression of Vice. Carlile responded by publishing further
freethought tracts, and the government and the Vice Society worked together to
bring a dozen prosecutions against Carlile between January and September 1819.
Street vendors selling Carlile's publications were arrested, and his book stocks
seized. The more Carlile was prosecuted, the more his business boomed. He moved
to larger premises at 55 Fleet Street, which he christened 'The Temple of
Reason', and which became the chief outlet for radical publications in London.
He later recalled how 'I knew the face of almost every public man in London, by
their coming into my shop for pamphlets'. Carlile was invited to join Henry Hunt
as a speaker at a mass meeting for parliamentary reform at St Peter's Fields in
Manchester. When the peaceful meeting was attacked by the Manchester yeomanry,
Carlile saw their sabres 'cutting very near' him, and within minutes was
surrounded by dying men, women and children.</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">&nbsp;<o:p>
</o:p>
</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">Escaping
from Manchester, Carlile published eye witness reports of the 'Peterloo
Massacre' in the first issues of his new venture, a journal called <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">The
Republican</i>. Joel Wiener summarises the importance of <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">The
Republican</i> as follows: 'By the end of 1825, when <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:
normal">The Republican</i><span style="mso-spacerun: yes">&nbsp; </span>had run<span style="mso-spacerun: yes">&nbsp;
</span>its course after six contentious years, it had established itself as one
of the premier working-class journals of the early nineteenth century'. But <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">The
Republican</i>'s greatest years were yet to come. Carlile's more immediate
concern was a trial for blasphemous libel in publishing <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:
normal">The Age of Reason</i>. Since the 1790s, radicals had used such trials as
a means of gaining publicity, and a great set-piece trial was an indispensable
rite of initiation for a major radical leader. Carlile seized his chance
gleefully. He read aloud lengthy extracts from <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:
normal">The Age of Reason</i>, which were entered verbatim into the court
record, so that anyone printing the record of the trial, a public document,
could print <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">The Age of Reason</i> without
fear of prosecution. He attempted to summon the Archbishop of Canterbury, the
Chief Rabbi and the Astronomer Royal as witnesses, so that he could interrogate
them on the truth of certain passages in the Bible. Despite all these stunts,
Carlile was found guilty on two counts of blasphemous libel, and sentenced to
three years in Dorchester gaol and a fine of fifteen hundred pounds.</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">&nbsp;<o:p>
</o:p>
</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">Carlile
was imprisoned in Dorchester from November 1819 to November 1825. These were
perhaps his greatest years. Carlile in a sense pioneered the prison protest.
Just as Nelson Mandela was latterly able to use letters and faxes to work
towards majority rule in South Africa while still in prison, so Carlile turned
his gaol cell in Dorchester into a 'Repository of Reason' and the focal point of
the struggle for freedom of speech. In return for a weekly payment, Carlile was
given a light, airy room, containing a sink, bed and desk, as well as some
oddments of furniture and a set of weights for training. These were donated by
friends and supporters, who also sent him razors, hosiery, night caps and other
gifts. Carlile was allowed to purchase his own provisions and hired two servants,
one to run errands and the other to do laundry and cleaning. However, Carlile
was kept away from other prisoners and visitors were discouraged. He was allowed
only three hours exercise a week, and, when permitted this luxury, 'he was led
out as a caged animal and exhibited to the gaze of the passing curious',
degrading treatment which was remembered long afterwards in the small Dorset
town.</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">&nbsp;<o:p>
</o:p>
</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">Carlile
developed a programme of rigorous mental and physical training. He read and
wrote ceaselessly, constantly asking for supplies of books and periodicals.
During the time of his imprisonment, he read thousands of books sent by his wife
and friends. He bathed regularly at a time when this was an unusual habit,
avoided alcohol, followed a vegetarian diet, used 'natural' herbal remedies when
ill, and recommended the drinking of herbal tea. His aim in following such a
regime was to make his personal behaviour moderate and temperate, but the
immediate effect was to make him very fat.</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">&nbsp;<o:p>
</o:p>
</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">In
planning the battle for the freedom of the press from his gaolroom, the first
footsoldiers deployed by Carlile were his family. He insisted that they should
face the risks involved in continuing his publication activities. His wife Jane,
though personally unsympathetic to her husband's political activities, loyally
took over the publishing house, and was duly sent to join her husband in
Dorchester for two years. Carlile's sister Mary-Anne then took over, and was
also eventually dispatched to Dorchester. By this time, Carlile's gaolroom was
getting rather crowded - he complained that 'locked up as I am with wife, sister
and child I find it difficult to accomplish the necessary quantity of reading
and writing'. He demanded that Jane and Mary-Anne should be completely silent,
but they refused. The strains of this communal imprisonment contributed to the
subsequent breakdown of Carlile's marriage.</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">&nbsp;<o:p>
</o:p>
</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">From
July 1821, Carlile asked for volunteers to sell his publications, and the 'battle
of the shopmen' began. Dozens of working class volunteers offered to sell
Carlile's publications, and more than twenty were convicted and imprisoned
between 1821 and 1824. These volunteers altogether served more than two
centuries in gaol. Carlile carefully directed their trials from Dorchester.
These tactics were incredibly successful. By jamming up the courts and prisons,
and keeping the issue of freedom of the press constantly in the public eye,
Carlile simply wore the government out. By 1825, the attorney general had thrown
in the towel. There were no more prosecutions for publication of <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:
normal">The Age of Reason</i>.</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">&nbsp;<o:p>
</o:p>
</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">The
kind of ingenuity used to defeat the government is evident from the clockwork
apparatus known as 'invisible shopman' used at one stage in Carlile's shop in
Fleet Street. Customers selected the name of a forbidden publication, which was
then dispatched by a series of chutes, flaps and pulleys, so that the customers
never knew who sold it to them Experiments were also made with speaking tubes.
But the battle was not just about freedom of thought. Carlile was the first
reformer to popularise the aggressively deist views of French Enlightenment
thinkers such as Holbach and Volney. Supporters of Carlile formed themselves
into debating clubs, known as Zetetic societies after the Greek word for truth,
which engaged in 'infidel' anti-christian and scientific debate.</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">&nbsp;<o:p>
</o:p>
</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">Meanwhile
a flood of publications issued from Dorchester gaol, which, it was claimed, was
the only place in the country where true freedom of expression could be found.
Of these productions, the most influential was <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">The
Republican</i>, which was avidly consumed by Carlile's supporters throughout the
country. In 1825, in opening the twelfth volume of <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">The
Republican</i>, Carlile declared that 'my last effort in Dorchester gaol will be
the annihilation of Free Masonry, at least, such an exposure of it, as will
shame sensible and honourable men from joining it, and draw many from it'. He
wrote breathlessly to one of his Sheffield supporters saying that he was 'full
of Masonry', and asking him to send twelve of the best steel pens to furnish him
for the battle. He urged another correspondent not to be ill until the exposure
of freemasonry was complete. He promised to provide 'the only correct history of
masonry', which would be a great blow to superstitition. By exposing masonry as
empty tom-foolery, he would also, by analogy, expose christianity: 'I shall
strike the very roots of masonry, and, in so doing, I shall un-christianize
thousands'.</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">&nbsp;<o:p>
</o:p>
</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">Throughout
the second half of 1825, <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">The Republican </i>was
filled with transcripts of the rituals not only of craft masonry, but also of
the Royal Arch and many additional degrees, interspersed with Carlile's comments.
Many features distinguished Carlile's exposure from earlier works. First, it was
explicitly linked to Carlile's attacks on the monarchy and religion, and used
the kind of mocking rhetoric and satire which characterised radical publications
of the period. There were dedications and open letters to George IV, urging him
to give up his position as Grand Patron of Masonry and patronize mechanics'
institutes instead. Carlile notes 'I recollect reading...of the Duke of Sussex
toasting his mother, as the mother of six masons. If she had been the mother of
six practical house-building masons, it would have been more to her credit...'</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">&nbsp;<o:p>
</o:p>
</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">However,
despite the acerbic tone of Carlile's commentary, he also provides a
wide-ranging and well-informed account of the history of freemasonry. He had
assembled a comprehensive masonic library at Dorchester, including the works of
William Preston, George Oliver, Samuel Hemming and Waller Rodwell Wright,
together with earlier exposures such as <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">Jachin
and Boaz </i>and works by non-masons, such as Thomas de Qunicey's essay on the
origins of freemasonry and Rosicrucianism. He had obtained part of the library
of William Finch, a tailor from Canterbury who published commentaries on masonic
ritual. Although Finch was only following the lead given by Preston and others,
he fell foul of Grand Lodge, and eventually died, crushed, in Carlile's view, by
the opposition of Grand Lodge. Carlile remembered as a young man sheltering from
the rain in Finch's bookshop, and being fascinated by the masonic prints and
emblems displayed there. Carlile made very intelligent use of the materials he
had assembled in Dorchester. For example, he was one of the first authors to
emphasise the distinction between operative masonry and the modern speculative
freemasonry which developed from 1717. In reprinting the so-called Leyland-Locke
manuscript from Preston, he expressed doubts about the authenticity of the
document because of the appearance of words such as 'chemistry', the grounds on
which the document is indeed today considered a forgery.</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">&nbsp;<o:p>
</o:p>
</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">The
most remarkable feature of Carlile's exposure is the accuracy of the printing of
the ritual and its comprehensiveness. His skills as a textual critic are evident
from the care with which he blends information from various books, particularly
Hemming and Finch. He also made extensive use of manuscripts provided by some of
his supporters who had been masons. For example, a Bristol mason who wrote a
letter of support to Carlile signed 'Hiram the Second' was probably the source
of<span style="mso-spacerun:
yes">&nbsp; </span>the bye-laws of the Baldwyn Encampment printed with the
Knight Templar ritual. Carlile's frequent complaints about the cost of this 'masonic
trash' suggest that he also purchased manuscripts containing ritual of
additional degrees. A 1796 attack on the additional degrees, <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">A
Word to The Wise</i>,<span style="mso-spacerun: yes">&nbsp; </span>notes that
the masonic Knights Templars often read their ritual from manuscript, suggesting
that it was not of any great antiquity. Finch and others also sold manuscript
copies of ritual, charging by the line, and some of these rituals were acquired
by Carlile.</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">&nbsp;<o:p>
</o:p>
</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">As
Carlile's study of freemasonry developed, its tone changed. Again, the most
important influence was that of Paine. At first, Carlile argued that there was
not a shred of antiquity in masonic ritual. But, on rereading Paine's <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">Essay
on Freemasonry</i>, Carlile felt that Paine was right in suggesting that
freemasonry in some way reflected ancient forms of religion. Carlile decided
that masons had forgotten the true significance of their craft, and that he
would have to teach it to them. 1825 was to be for masons AL (the year of light)
1. Carlile declared that: 'I shall masonify masons, not only by teaching them
what is morality, about which they talk without understanding; but by showing
them what is the real meaning of all their boasted secrets, about which they
talk without understanding'.</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">&nbsp;<o:p>
</o:p>
</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">The
twelfth volume of <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:
normal">The Republican</i> was perhaps the first exposure of masonic ritual
directed at a large working-class audience. The weekly circulation of The
Republican was at that time about 12,000 (with a much higher readership), and,
as Carlile's discussion of freemasonry gradually unfolded, it was avidly
followed by his supporters. One correspondent wrote that 'Thy blow at masonry is
a masterpiece, and when completed will be one of the best books for lending out
that could be put in a library. I know several who intend to avail themselves of
the residing of it by that means'. Susannah Wright, a Nottingham woman who had
been imprisoned for selling Carlile's books, sent details of an Oddfellow ritual
supplied by her husband. Another correspondent sent a Druid ritual. Again, the
versions of these rituals in <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:
normal">The Republican</i> are among the earliest such texts surviving for these
organisations. Carlile went on to expose God, by displaying a provocative
caricature in the window of his Fleet Street shop, which caused unruly crowds to
gather.</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">&nbsp;<o:p>
</o:p>
</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">At
the end of 1825, Carlile was unexpectedly released from Dorchester gaol. In the
final numbers of <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:
normal">The Republican</i>, Carlile had published some attacks on christianity
by the Rev. Robert Taylor, one of the most bizarre figures in the radical world
at this time, and, on his release from Dorchester, Carlile formed a close
alliance with Taylor.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes">&nbsp;</span></span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">Taylor
had drifted into the priesthood after graduating from Cambridge, and was
appointed to a post in a country parish in Sussex. On meeting a deist there,
Taylor was easily won over to his views. Taylor became convinced that all
religions derived from sun worship and that Christianity, by substituting Christ
for the sun, was blasphemous. He wrapped up these ideas in an elaborate panoply
of spurious astrological and etymological learning. Becoming a pariah in<span style="mso-spacerun: yes">&nbsp;
</span>the English church, Taylor went to Dublin, which soon became too hot to
hold him. Pitching up in London, he began to preach at deist gatherings, held as
mock services on Sundays. Taylor was a natural showman, and an ebullient
speaker. He often wore baroque clerical attire which shocked his audiences.
Henry Hunt called him 'The Devil's Chaplain'. Taylor's sermons were reprinted
under the title 'The Devil's Pulpit', with the epigram 'and a bonnie pulpit it
is'. Much of these sermons read like a kind of mocking music hall patter, as in
this extract on John the Baptist:</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">&nbsp;<o:p>
</o:p>
</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">John
the Baptist! John the Baptist! How d'ye do, Johnny? Where d'ye come from? Who
are you when you're at home? What d'ye mean by making ducks and drakes of the
people - by sousing them i' the horse-pond? What d'ye mean by the kingdom of
heaven being <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:
normal">at hand</i>?</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">&nbsp;<o:p>
</o:p>
</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">The
lecture concluded with Taylor gobbling like a turkey.</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">&nbsp;<o:p>
</o:p>
</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">Carlile's
study of freemasonry had convinced him that it concealed ancient deist truths.
Taylor's arguments reinforced his conviction that the value of christianity was
also in its allegorical representation of ancient moral truths. Just as Carlile
had taught masons the true meaning of masonry, so he and Taylor would now teach
the true meaning of christianity. Carlile and Taylor set out on 'infidel
missions', and Carlile became prone to even more extreme statements, such as (prefiguring
John Lennon) 'I am the Jesus Christ of this Island, and of this age'. In truth,
a more appropriate label might have been, by analogy with the title given to
Taylor, 'The Devil's Freemason'.</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">&nbsp;<o:p>
</o:p>
</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">In
May 1830, Carlile and Taylor's partnership reached its climax when they opened
the Rotunda in Blackfriars Road, which became the focus of radical and
freethought activity during the period leading to the passing of the Reform Act
in 1832. The Rotunda was a large complex containing a theatre, lecture rooms,
refreshment and game rooms, which later became the Surrey Institute. Taylor
spoke two or three times weekly, presenting what can only be described as
multi-media presentations, with the signs of the zodiac painted on the dome of
the theatre, and spectacular use of lighting and theatrical effects,
particularly during Taylor's most popular performances, <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">Raising
the Devil </i>and <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">Sons of Thunder</i>.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes">&nbsp;
</span>Taylor was sometimes accompanied by a female chorus playing guitars. From
the time the Rotunda opened, Carlile was keen that Taylor should examine the
allegories of freemasonry, and Carlile hoped it might even be possible publicly
to enact masonic rituals at the Rotunda.</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">&nbsp;<o:p>
</o:p>
</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">Eventually,
in 1831, Taylor was ready to give a course of lectures on freemasonry. Thus, at
the supreme moment of the Reform crisis, the main centre of radical activity in
London was preoccupied with the spiritual allegories of freemasonry. Taylor's
aim in these talks is clearly explained at the beginning: 'I shall prove Free
Masonry to be the combined result of the Egyptian, Jewish and Christian
superstitions, and absolutely identical with the celebrated Eleusinian mysteries
of Greece, the Dionysian mysteries, or the Orgies of Bacchus, and the Christian
mysteries of the sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ, which are absolutely
not more different in any respect from each other, than the customs and forms of
any Lodge of Freemasons in England may be from those of a Lodge in any of the
nations of the Continent'. Carlile urged freemasons to attend Taylor's lectures,
pointing out that they coincided with a quarterly communication. He attempted to
hire Freemasons' Hall so that Taylor could repeat his lectures to a masonic
audience. Taylor’s lectures were printed in <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:
normal">The Devil's Pulpit</i>, and also issued separately. They continued to be
read for many years afterwards. The copy of <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:
normal">The Devil's Pulpit</i> in the Library and Museum of Freemasonry was
issued as late as 1881-1882 by the Freethought Press, run by Charles Bradlaugh
and Annie Besant. Although the Library's copy of the separate issue of Taylor's
Discourses on Freemasonry doesn't have a date or place of publication, it looks
as if it was also issued by Bradlaugh and Besant at about the same time.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes">&nbsp;</span></span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">&nbsp;<o:p>
</o:p>
</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">To
accompany Taylor's lectures, Carlile reissued the material from volume twelve of
<i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">The Republican </i>as a separate book,
entitled <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">An Exposure of Freemasonry: or, a
mason's printed manual, with an introductory Key-stone to the Royal Arch of
Freemasonry</i>, considerably revising and refining his edition of the rituals.
Anxious to stress the allegorical meaning of freemasonry, Carlile inserted new
introductions, omitting the attacks on freemasonry itself and stressing its
spiritual interest. As Carlile put it, 'My great object is here to instruct
Masons as well as others, and not to give them offence. They ask for light. Here
is light. They ask for fellowship. Here is the only basis of fellowship'.
Carlile's aim was the same as Taylor's: to expose the ancient mysteries
preserved in freemasonry. To quote Carlile again, 'the Key Stone of the Royal
Arch of Freemasonry is the ancient science of the zodiac, with its moral
counterpart of human culture made mysterious in its secret and priestly
associations; which is also the science of all religions that pretend to
revelations; and also of the religion of the Druids, and of all the Pagans from
Hindostan to Rome'.</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">&nbsp;<o:p>
</o:p>
</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">Carlile
was also increasingly influenced by the researches of Godfrey Higgins, a retired
soldier who settled in West Yorkshire and became an energetic social reformer.
Higgins was a pioneering scholar of comparative religion, and sought again to
demonstrate that all religions derived from an ancient sun religion. Higgins
became a mason to investigate the ritual of freemasonry for himself; though he
refused to join the Royal Arch or Knights Templar for fear of compromising his
scholarship. Carlile recalled a conversation with Higgins in which Higgins had
said that there were only two masons in England - the Duke of Sussex and himself.
Carlile responded that he and Taylor were the third and fourth (he afterwards
dropped the reference to Taylor when they fell out).</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">&nbsp;<o:p>
</o:p>
</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">In
1836, the Exposure was reissued by Carlile's son Alfred as<i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">
The Manual of Masonry</i>. The title <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">Manual
of Freemasonry</i> was finally adopted when the work was first issued in a
single volume in 1845.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes">&nbsp; </span>The Library
and Museum of Freemasonry contains the most comprehensive collection in the
country of the different editions of Carlile's work, and the introductions to
the successive editions from an essential key to understanding the development
of Carlile's thought. Carlile increasingly to emphasised the moral allegory of
freemasonry, as well as its importance in understanding the history of religion.
This played an important part in the development of Carlile's later view of the
Bible, as an allegory of the creation of man's intellect. In his later years,
Carlile began to see all religion as the story of the struggle of the good man
to communicate knowledge. From this, it was a short step for Carlile to identify
himself with Christ, Mohammed or Buddha: a man whose great struggle in life had
been to communicate knowledge to others.</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">&nbsp;<o:p>
</o:p>
</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">Carlile
and Taylor suffered further long periods of imprisonment, and were eventually
unable to keep the Rotunda going. Carlile, disappointed by Taylor's self-pitying
behaviour in prison, fell out with him. Carlile's marriage also finally broke
up, and Carlile entered on a 'moral marriage' with one of his supporters,
declaring that reform should begin at home and that amicable separations should
be permitted. Carlile's views of marriage, and his advocacy of birth control,
alienated some of his supporters; further divisions were created by Carlile's
views on trade unions. Carlile's reasons for opposing trade unions were closely
linked to his views on freemasonry. Carlile had a long-standing antipathy to
political associations of any kind, declaring that 'they are a field for noisy
and worthless men to declaim in' and stating that 'nine out of ten of all the
associations of the country<span style="mso-spacerun: yes">&nbsp; </span>are
arrangements for the profit of a public house...' But stories of the use of
initiation rituals and secret oaths by trade unions horrified Carlile. '</span><span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language:EN-US">There
is one thing very desirable to be done at once for and by these trades' unions',
he wrote, `and that is to break up their secret character, their oaths and
ceremonial nonsense.' When the Tolpuddle Martyrs were arrested for carrying out
such an initiation, Carlile ran a caricature of the ceremonies on the front page
of his periodical, <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">The Gauntlet</i></span><span lang="EN-GB">.
</span><span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language:EN-US">`A greater piece of
quackery has never been played off upon mankind', he thundered. To the Tolpuddle
men, he declared: 'You have degraded yourselves. I present you today with a
picture of your degradation.' If you want nonsense, said Carlile, why pay more
when you could buy his exposure of freemasonry for five shillings?<o:p>
</o:p>
</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language:EN-US">&nbsp;<o:p>
</o:p>
</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-US" style="mso-ansi-language:EN-US">Through
the difficult struggles of his last years, the main thread which ran through
Carlile's life was his <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">Manual of
Freemasonry</i>. One aspect of the publication of the Manual illustrates how
Carlile was concerned to keep it in print. Like many reformers of his
generation, Carlile was anxious to emphasise his moral respectability. The
borderline between the blasphemy of which Carlile was accused in printing Paine
and obscenity through pornographic publication was a fine one. Some radical
printers felt that freedom of the press meant freedom to publish pornography as
well. Thus one radical printer William Dugdale not only printed Shelley's banned
poem Queen Mab, but was also one of London's leading pornographers. Carlile felt
such activities were disreputable, and fell out with his sons when they worked
with Dugdale. Nevertheless, towards the end of Carlile's life, the<i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">
Manual of Freemasonry </i></span><span lang="EN-GB">was printed by Dugdale. It
seems that Carlile may have been sufficiently anxious to ensure that the Manual
stayed in print, that he was willing to countenance its publication by a printer
of whom he disapproved.</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">&nbsp;<o:p>
</o:p>
</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">Although
Carlile's <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:
normal">Manual</i> was bought by many masons, its impact on freemasonry was
apparently limited. Carlile reported that a secretary of a London lodge had told
him that all the signs and passwords were changed because of his exposure, but
there is no evidence that this happened. Carlile also claimed that his
publications had led to the formation of the Anti-Masonic Party in the United
States following the murder of William Morgan, but again there is no evidence to
show that Carlile's publications had much influence on events in America.
Shortly after the <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">Manual</i> was reissued
in book form by Carlile, George Claret began printing masonic ritual, a process
which led eventually to the emergence of the modern official ritual books.
Carlile's work may have encouraged Claret to proceed, but the publications of,
for example, William Finch had already paved the way for this work. Similarly,
the appearance of the <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">Freemason's
Quarterly Review</i> in 1834 may have been partly prompted by a feeling that
institutional freemasonry should also make use of the power of the press, but
this is only tangentially connected with Carlile.</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">&nbsp;<o:p>
</o:p>
</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">The
real interest of Carlile's work on freemasonry lies in the way it offers new
perspectives on the radical tradition in Britain. It is difficult to find strong
lines of continuity in British radical thought, but an interest in freemasonry
appears to be one such thread, which has been largely neglected. This interest
began with Paine and his essay on freemasonry, but it is also evident in the
work, for example, of William Hone and George Cruickshank, who made liberal use
of masonic symbolism in their satirical publications. From Paine, there is a
link through Carlile to the modern secularist movement. Carlile was very close
to George Jacob Holyoake, who was imprisoned for blasphemy because he opposed
the use of public money to build churches. Holyoake was very interested in the
Oddfellows, and, to the outrage of the Oddfellows, won a competition for
composing new lectures for use in Oddfellow ceremonies. Holyoake's interest in
freemasonry is apparent from his proposal that the London secular guild should
be a 'freemasonry in freethought'. When the young freethinker Charles Bradlaugh
was thrown out of his home, Carlile offered him lodgings. Bradlaugh was to
become an active freemason, joining a craft lodge in Tottenham, and resigning in
protest at the appointment of the Prince of Wales as Grand Master. Bradlaugh was,
of course, closely associated with Annie Besant who introduced co-Masonry into
England. In 1896, Moncur Conway, an associate of Bradlaugh and Besant, produced
the modern edition of Paine's Essay on Freemasonry, thus bringing the wheel full
circle. Conway Hall in Theobald's Road was named after Moncur Conway, and Conway
Hall, with its Sunday morning rationalist lectures,<span style="mso-spacerun: yes">&nbsp;
</span>may be regarded as the modern descendant of Carlile and Taylor's Rotunda.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</span></span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">&nbsp;<o:p>
</o:p>
</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">At
first sight, Carlile's career is very difficult to sum up, but there is one
strong thread running through it which can be easily overlooked. Carlile's
passion was the written word and the printed book. Like all his generation of
working class publishers and pamphleteers, he was intoxicated by the power of
the printing press. This is nowhere better expressed than in one of his letters
to George IV printed in <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">The Republican, </i>with
which I would like to end:</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">&nbsp;<o:p>
</o:p>
</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">Sir,</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">When
the art of printing was discovered, there arose, on the part of those who ruled
the people of Europe, a great dread of printed books. The first book submitted
to the press was the bible, and a printed Bible then had precisely the same or a
more terrifying effect, than the printed investigation of the Bible called the 'Age
of Reason'...</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">I
counsel you to throw off all dread of printed books and to send out a flaming
proclamation, inviting all to free discussion, upon all subjects. We shall then
hear nothing but the cry of 'God Bless the King: we have gotten a wise king at
last'.</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">&nbsp;<o:p>
</o:p>
</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">I
am, Sir, your prisoner,</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">&nbsp;<o:p>
</o:p>
</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">For
printing books,</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">&nbsp;<o:p>
</o:p>
</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">Richard
Carlile.'<span style="mso-spacerun:
yes">&nbsp;&nbsp; </span><i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal"><span style="mso-spacerun:
yes">&nbsp;</span></i></span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0">&nbsp;</p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">&nbsp;<o:p>
</o:p>
</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-right: 15.0pt; margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight:
normal"><span lang="EN-GB" style="color:black">Further Reading</span></b><span lang="EN-GB">&nbsp;&nbsp;<o:p>
</o:p>
</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">This
lecture is heavily reliant on the excellent biography of Carlile by Joel H.
Wiener, <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:
normal">Radicalism and Freethought in nineteenth-century Britain: the Life of
Richard Carlile</i>, Contributions in labor history no. 13 (Westport, Conn, and
London: Greenwood Press, 1983). Wiener is unusual among labour historians in
that he gives full weight to Carlile's interest in freemasonry. Prior to Wiener's
full treatment, the best biography of Carlile available was the anniversary
publication by G.D.H. Cole, <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">Richard
Carlile, 1790-1843</i>, Fabian Biographical Series, no. 13 (London: Victor
Gollancz and Fabian Society, no. 13, 1943). The biography by Guy Aldred, <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">Richard
Carlile, Agitator: his life and times</i> (London: Pioneer Press, 1923) is a
hagiographical exercise by a writer operating very much in Carlile's own
tradition. All modern writers on Carlile have overlooked the important article
by masonic historian S. J. Fenton, 'Richard Carlile: His Life and Masonic
Writings', <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:
normal">Ars Quatuor Coronatorum</i> 49 (1952), pp. 83-121, where Fenton achieved
the extraordinary feat of talking to a masonic lodge about Carlile while also,
in the words of one member of the lodge, 'steering his course so as to avoid the
Scylla and Chrybdis of Religion and Politics'. Fenton's article includes a
detailed bibliography of Carlile's writings on freemasonry, with a full listing
of different editions of the <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">Manual</i>. A
large selection of Carlile's papers are in the Huntington Library, San Marino,
California, and I am grateful to the Curator of Manuscripts there for providing
me with microfilms of them. The Home Office files in the Public Record Office (particularly
the HO 42 class) naturally contain a great deal of material about Carlile.</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent: 15.0pt; margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">&nbsp;<o:p>
</o:p>
</span></p>
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0"><span lang="EN-GB">On
Robert Taylor, see I.D. McCalman, 'Popular Irreligion in early Victorian England:
infidel preachers and radical theatricality in 1830s London' in <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">Religion
and Irreligion in Victorian Society: Essays in Honour of R.K.Webb</i>, ed. R. W.
Davis and R. J. Helmstadter (London: Routledge, 1992), pp. 51-67. McCalman's
works are helpful in placing Carlile in the context of radical activity
generally; see particularly: <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">Radical
Underworld: prophets, revolutionaries and pornographers in London, 1795-1840</i>
(Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988); 'Ultra-radicalism
and convivial debating-clubs in London, 1795-1838', <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:
normal">English Historical Review</i> 102 (1987), pp. 309-333; 'Unrespectable
Radicalism: Infidels and Pornography in early nineteenth-century London', <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">Past
and Present</i> 104 (1984), pp. 74-110. Other important works placing Carlile in
the context of the infidel and republican tradition are: Joss Marsh <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">Word
Crimes: blasphemy, culture, and literature in nineteenth-century England</i>
(Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1998); Frank Prochaska, <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">The
Republic of Britain 1760-2000</i> (London: Allen Lane, 2000); Edward Royle, <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">Radical
politics, 1790-1900. Religion and unbelief</i> (London: Longman, 1971); idem, <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">Victorian
infidels: the origins of the British Secularist Movement, 1791-1866</i>
(Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1974); Edward Royle and James Walvin, <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:
normal">English Radicals and Reformers 1760-1848</i> (Brighton: Harvester,
1982); <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">The infidel tradition : from Paine
to Bradlaugh</i>, edited by Edward Royle (London: Macmillan, 1976).
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