townsend to ricardo
[Answered by 531b]
Figgs Marsh, Mitcham July 20th. 1823
Altho’ I have not the honour of knowing you, permit me to offer you my best thanks for the manner in which you have advocated the cause of religious freedom, and the important point of free discussion, and the liberty of the Press, whenever those topics have come under the consideration of the House of Commons during the present Session: and however much I might regret that your efforts, combined with those of Mr. Hume, and Sir Francis Burdett, proved of no avail in the House, I rejoice in the assurance that they were duly appreciated by the enlightened part of the Community out of it. Your Arguments, together with those Gentlemen who delivered their Sentiments on the same side, against the folly, as well as the injustice, of punishing Men for their Opinions, were, as the Examiner justly observed, admirable, clear, powerful conclusive-convincing, and the effect arising from the impression which they must have made upon the minds of those who perused them I have no doubt will ere long be fully evinced.
To Yourself Sir, as also to the above named Gentlemen, all those Individuals who know how to estimate the importance of Political and Religious liberty, cannot but feel greatly indebted, for the open and candid manner which you have shown yourselves the enemies to every species of persecution; and when I see Gentlemen of talents, fortune, and integrity, standing up and holding such just and liberal Sentiments, undismayed by the taunts of the bigot, and the frowns of the interested; I say, when I behold Gentlemen sitting in Parliament manfully contending for the rights of the people, and that too, in a strain of reasoning that cannot be refuted, I am (notwithstanding the gloom which at present obscures the political horizon) led to cherish the hope that by such exertions, I shall yet see the day when there will be a less expensive and more happy form of Government established in this Country than at present; and that in fact, when Tyranny and Superstition shall be banished from our Thresholds, and never more venture to violate our Sanctuaries.
To conclude, as one of a numerous body of Men who profess Republican principles, I cannot withhold my admiration of your conduct with respect to that much injured, and much calumniated, and misrepresented Individual, Mr. Carlile; and whose Sister’s Petition you so ably supported. It is in pursuing such a course as this Sir, that you secure the affections of all honest and well-meaning Men; and as you appear to be actuated by a sense of the manifest wrong, in imposing penalties for opinions expressed, either with regard to Theology, or Politics, I cannot suppose for a moment that you will relax in your endeavours to effect free toleration, or that you will permit yourself to be deterred therefrom, by any insults which the fanatic, and the placeman, may think proper to offer you; but that you will prove the Patriot, to stand by and advocate the great cause of free discussion as alone calculated to elicit truth, and that you will not fail to denounce the iniquitous and cruel proceedings which continue to be exercised towards those, who seek for the Reformation of the Government.—I am Sir
With the highest respect Your mo. Obed.t. Serv.
Jn P. Townsend
David Ricardo Esqr. M.P.
P.S. My situation in life precludes me from openly declaring my Opinions, and therefore I write this in perfect confidence; but there are several Letters of mine in the “Republican”, with no other Address than that of “London”, I will, if you see no objection thereto, procure this to be inserted likewise, but certainly not without your permission.