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lieved the existence of a God; and taking up a straw which lay before him on the ground, assured them that alone was sufficient to convince him of it; alleging several arguments to prove that it was impossible, nature alone could create any thing.
I was the other day reading an account of Casimir Lyszinski,* a gentleman of Poland, who was convicted and executed for this crime. The manner of his punishment was very particular. As soon as his body was burnt, his ashes were put into a cannon, and shot into the air towards Tartary.
I am apt to believe, that if something like this method of punishment should prevail in England, such is the natural good sense of the British nation, that whether we rammed an atheist whole into a great gun, or pulverized our infidels, as they do in Poland, we should not have many charges.
I should, however, propose, while our ammu. nition lasted, that instead of Tartary, we should always keep two or three cannons ready pointed towards the Cape of Good Hope, in order to shoot our unbelievers into the country of the Hottentots.
In my opinion, a solemn judicial death is too great an honour for an atheist, though I must allow the method of exploding him, as it is practised in this ludicrous kind of martyrdom, has something in it proper enough to the nature of his offence.
* Lyszinski suffered at Warsaw in 1689, but it does not appear that he ever published any thing.
There is indeed a great objection against this manner of treating them. Zeal for religion is of so active a nature, that it seldom knows where to rest; for which reason I am afraid, after having discharged our atheists, we might possibly think of shooting off our sectaries; and, as one does not foresee the vicissitudes of human af. fairs, it might one time or other come to a man's own turn to fly out of the mouth of a demiculverin.
If any of my readers imagine that I have treated these gentlemen in too ludicrous
a manner, I must confess, for my own part, I think reasoning against such unbelievers upon a point that shocks the common sense of mankind, is doing them too great an honour, giving them a figure in the eye of the world, and making people fancy that they have more in them than they really have.
As for those persons who have any scheme of religious worship, I am for treating such with the utmost tenderness, and should endeavour to show them their errors with the greatest temper and humanity; but as these miscreants are for throwing down religion in general, for stripping mankind of what themselves own is of excellent use in all great societies, without once offering to establish any thing in the room of it; I think the best way of dealing with them is to retort their own weapons upon them, which are those of scorn and mockery. BUDGELL.
No. 390. WEDNESDAY, MAY 28.
Non pudendo, sed non faciendo id quod non decet, impudentiæ nomen effugere debemus.
TULL. The way to avoid the imputation of impudence, is not to
be ashamed of what we do, but never to do what we ought to be ashamed of.
Many are the epistles I receive from ladies extremely afflicted that they lie under the observation of scandalous people, who love to defame their neighbours, and make the unjustest interpretation of innocent and indifferent actions. They describe their own behaviour so unhappily, that there indeed lies some cause of suspicion upon
them. It is certain that there is no authority for persons who have nothing else to do, to pass away hours of conversation upon the miscarriages of other people; but since they will do so, they who value their reputation should be cautious of appearances to their disadvantage. But
very often our young women, as well as the middle aged, and the gay part of those growing old, without entering into a formal league for that purpose, to a woman, agree upon a short way to preserve their characters, and go on in a way that at best is only not vicious.
The method is, when an ill-natured or talkative girl has said any thing that bears hard upon some part of another's carriage, this creature, if not in any of their little cabals, is run down for the most censorious dangerous body in the world. Thus they guard their reputation rather than their modesty; as if guilt lay in being under the imputation of a fault, and not in the commission of it. Orbicilla is the kindest poor thing in the town, but the most blushing creature living: it is true she has not lost the sense of shame, but she has lost the sense of innocence. If she had more confidence and never did any thing which ought to stain her cheeks, would she not be much more modest without that ambiguous suffusion, which is the livery both of guilt and innocence? Modesty consists in being conscious of no ill, and not in being ashamed of having done it. When people go upon any other foundation than the truth of their own hearts for the conduct of their actions, it lies in the power of scandalous tongues to carry the world before them, and make the rest of mankind fall in with the ill, for fear of reproach-On the other hand, to do what you ought, is the ready way to make calumny either silent or ineffectually malicious. Spenser, in his Fairy Queen, says admirably to young ladies under the distress of being defamed,
“The best,' said he, that I can you advise,
Is to avoid th' occasion of the ill;
Remov'd is, th' effect surceaseth still.
Subdue desire, and bridle loose delight;
Shun secrecy, and talk in open sight:
Instead of this care over their words and actions, recommended by a poet in old Queen Bess's days, the modern way is to say and do what you please, and yet be the prettiest sort of woman in
the world. If fathers and brothers will defend a lady's honour, she is quite as safe as in her own innocence. Many of the distressed, who suffer under the malice of evil tongues, are so harmless, that they are every day they live asleep till twelve at noon; concern themselves with nothing but their own persons till two; take their necessary food between that time and four; visit, go to the play, and sit up at cards till towards the ensuing morn; and the malicious world shall draw conclusions from innocent glances, short whispers, or pretty familiar railleries with fashionable men, that these fair ones are not as rigid as vestals. It is certain, say these 'goodest' creatures very well, that virtue does not consist in constrained behaviour and wry faces, that must be allowed: but there is a decency in the aspect and manner of ladies, contracted from a habit of virtue, and from general reflections that regard a modest conduct; all which may be understood, though they can not be described. A young women of this sort claims an esteem mixed with affection and honour, and meets with no defamation; or if she does, the wild malice is overcome with an undisturbed perseverance in her innocence. To speak freely, there are such coveys of coquettes about this town, that if the peace were not kept by some impertinent tongues of their own sex, which keep them under some restraint, we should have no manner of engagement upon them to keep them in any tolerable order.
As I am a Spectator, and behold how plainly one part of womankind balance the behaviour of the other, whatever I may think of tale-bearers