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In my opinion, a folemn judicial death is too great an honour for an atheist, tho' I must allow the method of exploding him, as it is practised in this ludicrous kind of martyrdom, has fomething in it proper enough to the nature of his offence.

There is indeed a great objection againft this manner of treating them. Zeal for religion is of so aetive a nature, that it feldom knows where to reft for which reafon I am afraid, after having difcharged our atheists, we might poffibly think of fhooting off our fectaries ; and as one does not foresee the viciffitude of human affairs, 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 thefe gentlemen in too ludicrous a manner, I must confefs, for my own part, I think reafoning against fuch unbelievers upon a point that shocks the common fense 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 thofe perfons who have any fcheme of religious worship, I am for treating fuch with the utmost tenderness, and fhould endeavour to fhew them their errors with the greateft temper and humanity; but as thefe mifcreants are for throwing down religion in general, for ftripping mankind of what themselves own is of excellent ufe in all great focieties, 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 thofe of scorn and mockery.

X

Wednesday,

390 Wednesday, May 28.

Non pudendo fed non faciendo id quod non decet, impudentiæ nomen effugere debemus.

Tull.

The way to avoid the reputation of impudence, is not to be ashamed of what we do, but never to do what we ought to be ashamed of.

ANY are the epiftles I receive from ladies ex tremely afflicted that they lie under the observa

tion of fcandalous people, who love to defame their neighbours, and make the unjufteft interpretation of innocent and indifférent actions. They defcribe their own behaviour fo unhappily, that there indeed lies fome cause of fufpicion upon them. It is certain, that there is no authority for perfons who have nothing elfe to do, to pafs away hours of converfation upon the mifcarriages of other people, but fince they will do fo, they who value their reputation fhould be cautious of appearances to their disadvantage: But very often our young women, as well as the middle-aged and the gay part of thofe growing old, without entering into a formal league for that purpose, to a woman agree upon a fhort way to preferve their characters, and go on in a way that at belt is only not vicious. The method is, when an ill-natured or talkative girl has faid any thing that bears hard upon fome part of another's carriage, this creature, if not in any of their little cabals, is run down for the moft cenforious dangerous body in the world. Thus they guard their reputation rather than their modefty; as if guilt lay in being under the imputation of a fault, and not in a commiffion of it. Òrbicilla is the kindest poor thing in the town, but the moft blushing creature living: It is true, fhe has not lott the fenfe of fhame, but fhe has loft the fenfe of innocence. If the had more confidence, and never did any thing which ought to ftain her cheeks, would

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the not be much more modeft without that ambiguous fuffufion, which is the livery both of guilt and innocence? Modesty confifts in being confcious of no ill, and not in being afhamed 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 fcandalous 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 filent or ineffectually malicious. Spencer, in his Fairy Queen, fays admirably to young ladies under the distress of being defamed;

The beft, faid be, that I can you advife,
Is to avoid th' occafion of the ill;
For when the caufe, whence evil doth arife,
Removed is, th' effect furcsafeth fill.
Abstain from pleasure, and retrain your will,
Subdue difire, and bridle loofe delight:
Ufe fcanty diet, and forbear your fill;
Shun fecrecy, and talk in open fight:

So fhall you foon repair your prefent evil plight.

Instead of this care over their words and actions, recommended by a poet in old Queen Bes's days, the modern way is to do and fay what you pleafe, and yet be the prettiest fort of woman in the world. If fathers and brothers will defend a lady's honour, the is quite as fafe as in her own innocence. Many of the diftreffed, who fuffer under the malice of evil tongues, are fo harmless that they are every day they live afleep 'till twelve at noon; concern themselves with nothing but their own perfons 'till two; take their neceffary food between that time and four; vifit, go to the play; and fit up at cards till towards the enfuing morn: and the malicious world fhall draw conclufions from innocent glances, fhort whispers, or pretty familiar ralleries with fashionable men, that thefe fair ones are not as rigid as veftals: It is certain, fay thefe goodeft crea. tures very well, that virtue does not confift in conftrained behaviour and wry faces, that must be alowed: but there is a decency in the afpect and man

ner

ner of ladies contracted from a habit of virtue, and from general reflexions that regard a modeft conduct, all which may be understood, though they cannot be defcribed. A young woman of this fort claims an esteem mixed with affection and honour, and meets with no defamation; or if fhe does, the wild malice is overcome with an undisturbed perfeverance in her innocence. To fpeak freely, there are fuch coveys of coquettes about this town, that if the peace were not kept by fome impertinent tongues of their own fex, which keep them. under fome reftraint, 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 1 may think of tale-bearers or flanderers, I cannot wholly fupprefs them, no more than a general would difcourage fpies. The enemy would eafily furprise him whom they knew had no intelligence of their motions. It is fo far otherwise with me, that I acknowledge 1 permit a the flanderer or two in every quarter of the town, to live in the characters of coquettes, and take all the innocent freedoms of the reft, in order to fend me information of the behaviour of their refpective fifterhoods.

But as the matter of refpect to the world, which looks on, is carried on, methinks it is fo very easy to be what is in the general called virtuous, that it need not oft one hour's reflexion in a month to preferve that appellation. It is pleasant to hear the pretty rogues talk of virtue and vice among each other: She is the laziest creature in the world, but I must confefs ftrictly virtuous; the peevisheft huffey breathing, but as to her virtue, fhe is without blemish: She has not the leaft charity for any of her acqaintance, but I muft allow her rigidly virtuous. As the unthinking part of the male world call every man a man of honour who is not a coward; fo the croud of the other fex terms every woman who will not be a wench, virtuous.

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No 391

Thursday, May 29.

Non tu prece pofcis emaci,

Qua nifi feductis nequeas committere divis:
At bona pars procerum tacitâ tibabit acerrâ.

Haud cuivis promptum eft, murmurque humilefque fufurres
Tollere de templis ; & aperto vivere voto.

Mens hona, fama, fides; hæc clarè,

ut audiat hofpes, Illa fibi introrfum, & fub lingua immurmurat: Ofi Ebullit patrui præclarum funus ! Et Ofi

Sub raftro crept argenti mihi feria dextro
Hercule! pupillumve utinam, quem proximus hæres
Impeilo, expungam!·
Perf. Sat. 2. v.

Thy pray'rs the test of heav'n will bear;
Nor need'ft thou take the gods afide, to hear:
While others, e'en the mighty men of Rome,
Big fwell'd with mifchief, to the temples come;
And in low murmurs, and with coftly smoke,
Heav'ns help, to profper their black vows, invoke.
So boldly to the gods mankind reveal

3.

What from each other they, for fhame, conceal,
Give me good fame, ye Pow'rs, and make me juft
Thus much the rogue o public ears will trust.
In private then When wilt thou, mighty Jove,
My wealthy uncle from this world remove?

Or O thou thund'rer's fon, great Hercules,
That once thy bounteous deity would please
To guide my rake, upon the chinking found
Of fome vaft treafure. hidden under ground!
O were my pupil fairly knock'd o' th' head!

I fhou'd poffefs th' eftate if he were dead. DRYDEN.

W

HERE Homer reprefents Phoenix, the tutor of Achilles, as perfuading his pupil to lay afide his refentment, and give himfelf up to the intreaties of his countrymen, the poet in order ro make

him

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