Historical Reprints Religion Prisoner for Blasphemy

Prisoner for Blasphemy

Prisoner for Blasphemy
Catalog # SKU3323
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 1.00 lbs
Author Name George William Foote
ISBN 10: 1610336828
ISBN 13: 9781610336826


Prisoner for Blasphemy

George William Foote

This little volume tells a strange and painful story; strange, because the experiences of a prisoner for blasphemy are only known to three living Englishmen; and painful, because their unmerited sufferings are a sad reflection on the boasted freedom of our age.

Large Print, 15 point font



My own share in this misfortune is all I could pretend to describe with fidelity. Without (I hope) any meretricious display of fine writing, I have related the facts of my case, giving a precise account of my prosecutions, and as vivid a narrative as memory allows of my imprisonment in Holloway Gaol. I have striven throughout to be truthful and accurate, nothing extenuating, nor setting down aught in malice; and I have tried to hit the happy mean between negligence and prolixity.

Whether or not I have succeeded in the second respect the reader must be the judge; and if he cannot be so in the former respect, he will at least be able to decide whether the writer means to be candid and bears the appearance of honesty. One reason why I have striven to be exact is that my record may be of service to the future historian of our time. It is always rash to appeal to the future, as a posturing English novelist did in one of his Prefaces; and it is well to remember the witticism of Voltaire, who, on hearing an ambitious poeticule read his Ode to Posterity, doubted whether it would reach its address. But it is the facts, and not my personality, that are important in this case.

My trial will be a conspicuous event in the history of the struggle for religious freedom, and in consequence of Lord Coleridge's and Sir James Stephen's utterances, it may be of considerable moment in the history of the Criminal Law. It is more than possible that I shall be the last prisoner for blasphemy in England.

That alone is a circumstance of distinction, which gives my story a special character, quite apart from my individuality. As a muddle-headed acquaintance said, intending to be complimentary, Some men are born to greatness, others achieve it, and I had it thrust upon me.


In the merry month of May, 1881, I started a paper called the Freethinker, with the avowed object of waging "relentless war against Superstition in general and the Christian Superstition in particular." I stated in the first paragraph of the first number that this new journal would have a new policy; that it would "do its best to employ the resources of Science, Scholarship, Philosophy and Ethics against the claims of the Bible as a Divine Revelation," and that it would "not scruple to employ for the same purpose any weapons of ridicule or sarcasm that might be borrowed from the armoury of Common Sense."

As the Freethinker was published at the people's price of a penny, and was always edited in a lively style, with a few short articles and plenty of racy paragraphs, it succeeded from the first; and becoming well known, not through profuse advertisement, but through the recommendation of its readers, its circulation increased every week. Within a year of its birth it had outdistanced all its predecessors. No Freethought journal ever progressed with such amazing rapidity. True, this was largely due to the fact that the Freethought party had immensely increased in numbers; but much of it was also due to the policy of the paper, which supplied, as the advertising gentry say, "a long-felt want."

Although the first clause of its original programme was never wholly forgotten, we gradually paid the greatest attention to the second, indulging more and more in Ridicule and Sarcasm, and more and more cultivating Common Sense. A dangerous policy, as I was sometimes warned; but for that very reason all the more necessary. The more Bigotry writhed and raged, the more I felt that our policy was telling. Borrowing a metaphor from Carlyle's "Frederick," I likened Superstition to the boa, which defies all ponderous assaults, and will not yield to the pounding of sledge-hammers, but sinks dead when some expert thrusts in a needle's point and punctures the spinal column.

352 pages - 7 x 8½ softcover
ISBN-10: 1610336828
ISBN-13: 9781610336826

: *
: *
: *
Type the characters you see in the picture:

Sapphic Flames
Moll Flanders (Kindle)
Border Rifles, The
New Gospel of Interpretation
Farthest North
Amazons, The