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own name has been as little made use of as possible : but the season of the year advancing too fast to admit of much longer delays in the present condition of France, Mons. Torcy, in the name of the king, set a letter to Mons. Pettecum, wherein he says, “That the king is willing all the preliminary articles shall rest as they are doing the treaty for the 37th.'
SHEER-LANE, FEBRUARY 20.
I have been earnestly solicited for a further term for wearing the fardingal, by several of the fair sex, but more especially by the following petitioners.
• The humble petition of DEBORAH Hark, SARAH
THREADPAPER, and RachEL THIMBLE, spinsters, and single women, commonly called waiting-maids, in behalf of themselves and their sisterhood,
Showeth, * That your worship has been pleased to order and command, that no person or persons
presume to wear quilted petticoats on forfeiture of the said petticoats, or penalty of wearing ruffs, after the seventeeth instant now expired.
· That your petitioners have, time out of mind, been entitled to wear their ladies' clothes, or to seli the same.
· That the sale of the said clothes is spoiled by your worship's said prohibition.
• Your petitioners therefore most humbly pray, that your worship will please to allow, that all gentlewomen's gentlewomen may be allowed to wear the said dress, or to repair the loss of such a perquisite in such manner as your worship shall think fit.
* And your petitioner,' &c.
I do allow the allegations of this petition to be just; and forbid all persons, but the petitioners, or those who shall purchase from them, to wear the said garment after the date hereof.
No.137. THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 1709-10.
Tercentum tonat ore Deos, Erebumque, Chaosque,
VIRG. Æn. iy. 510,
SHEER-LANE, FEBRUARY 22.
all or /
Dick REPTILE and I sat this evening later than the rest of the club; and as some men are better company when only with one friend, others when there is a larger number, I found Dick to be of the former kind. He was bewailing to me, in very just terms, the offences which he frequently met with in the abuse of speech; some use ten times more words than they need; some put in words quite foreign to their purpose; and others adorn their discourses with oaths and blasphemies, by way of tropes and figures. What my good friend started dwelt
upon me after I came home this evening, and led me into an inquiry with myself
. Whence should arise such strange excrescences in discourse ? where
future state, and lull themselves into a stupid security against the terrors of it. If one were to take the word priestcraft out of the mouths of these shallow monsters, they would be immediately struck dumb. It is by the help of this single term that they endeavour to disappoint the good works of the most learned and venerable order of men, and harden the hearts of the ignorant against the very light of nature, and the common received notions of mankind. We ought not to treat such miscreants as these upon the foot of fair disputants; but to pour out contempt upon them, and speak of them with scorn and infamy, as the pests of society, the revilers of human nature, and the blasphemers of a Being whom a good man would rather die than hear dishonoured. Cicero, after having mentioned the great heroes of knowledge that recommended this divine doctrine of the immortality of the soul, calls those small pretenders to wisdom, who declared against it, certain minute philosophers, using a diminutive even of the word little, to express the despicable opinion he had of them. The contempt he throws upon them in another passage, is yet more remarkable; where, to show the mean thoughts he entertains of them, he declares he would rather be in the wrong with Plato, than in the right with such company.'
There is indeed nothing in the world so ridiculous as one of these grave philosophical Free-thinkers, that hath neither passions nor appetites to gratify, no heats of blood, nor vigour of constitution, that can turn his systems of infidelity to his advantage, or raise pleasures out of them which are inconsistent with the belief of an hereafter. One that has neither wit, gallantry, mirth, nor youth, to indulge by these notions, but only a poor, joyless, uncomfortable vanity of distinguishing himself from the rest of mankind, is rather to be regarded as a mischievous lunatic, than a mistaken philosopher. A chaste infidel, a speculative libertine, is an animal that I should not believe to be in nature, did I not sometimes meet with this species of men, that plead for the indulgence of their passions in the midst of a severe studious life, and talk against the immortality of the soul over a dish of coffee.
I would fain ask a minute philosopher, what good he proposes to mankind by the publishing of his doctrines ? Will they make a man a better citizen, or father of a family; a more endearing husband, friend, or son? Will they enlarge his public or private virtues, or correct any of his frailties or vices? What is there either joyful or glorious in such opinions ? do they either refresh or enlarge our thoughts? do they contribute to the happiness, or raise the dignity of human nature? The only good, that I have ever heard pretended to, is, that they banish terrors, and set the mind at ease. But whose terrors do they banish ? It is certain, if there were any strength in their arguments, they would give great disturbance to minds that are influenced by virtue, honour, and morality, and take from us the only comforts and supports of affliction, sickness, and old age. The minds, therefore, which they set at ease, are only those of impenitent criminals and malefactors, and which, to the good of mankind, , should be in perpetual terror and alarm.
I must confess; nothing is more usual than for a free-thinker, in proportion as the insolence of scepticism is abated in him by years and knowledge, or humbled and beaten down by sorrow or sickness, to reconcile himself to the general conceptions of reasonable creatures; so that we frequently see the apostates turning from their revolt toward the end of their lives, and employing the refuse of their
parts in promoting those truths which they had be fore endeavoured to invalidate.
The history of a gentleman in France is very well known, who was so zealous a promoter of infidelity, that he had got together a select company of disciples, and travelled into all parts of the kingdom to make converts. In the midst of his fantastical success he fell sick, and was reclaimed to such a sense of his condition, that after he had passed some time in great agonies and horrors of mind, he begged those who had the care of burying him, to dress his body in the habit of a capuchin, that the devil might not run away with it; and, to do further justice upon himself, desired them to tie an halter about his neck, as a mark of that ignominious punishment, which, in his own thoughts, he had so justly deserved.
I would not have persecution so far disgraced, as to wish these vermin might be animadverted on by any legal penalties; though I think it would be highly reasonable, that those few of them who die in the professions of their infidelity, should have such tokens of infamy fixed upon them, as might distinguish those bodies which are given up by the owners to oblivion and putrefaction, from those which rest in hope, and shall rise in glory. But at the same time that I am against doing them the honour of the notice of our laws, which ought not to suppose there are such criminals in being, I have often wondered, how they can be tolerated in any mixed conversations, while they are venting these absurd opinions; and should think, that if, on any such occasion, half a dozen of the most robust Christians in the company would lead one of these gentlemen to a pump, or convey him into a blanket, they would do very good service both to church and state. I do not know how the laws stand in this