« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
“ dure the cross, despising the shame.” Cato had not patience to do the one, and Brutus was too proud to do the other. That fortitude is not complete, which cannot do both. But surely, Cato might have lived, though Cæsar conquered; and Brutus have left the world with a quiet conscience, though he had forborne to stab the dictator or himself. Of the Roman ladies nil nisi bonum.-But there have been martyrs of that sex among us Christians, who could have shown to them likewise “a more excellent way. There cannot be a finer or more just representation of this matter than that given by Mrs. Chapone in the story of FIDELIA, first published in the Adventurer, No. 77, &c. and afterwards reprinted in a little volume, entitled, Miscellanies in Prose and Verse. Every female, who, on account of her crimes, her miseries, or both, may be tempted to put a period to her life, should read that story. She may read it again and again, with increasing pleasure and improvement. Nor let me omit this opportunity of recommending to general pe rusal a charming Ode, published among the poems of Mr. Warton, styled THE SUICIDE, in which the best of poetry is applied to the best of purposes.
“ The power of committing suicide is regarded " by Pliny as an advantage which men possess even “ above the Deity himself.”
Shame upon Pliny for uttering such a sentiment! but more shame upon Mr. Hume for retailing it in a Christian country! The thought is equally blasphemous and absurd ;-blasphemous, in exalting man above the Deity, on so wretched an account; absurd, because as God is liable to no calamities, he cannot need the means to escape them.
Since the appearance of the unbelieving fraternity among us in these latter days, they have been celebrated for many extraordinary qualities ; but their characteristic virtue, I think, has been modesty. A remarkable instance of this virtue has manifested itself in their conduct respecting the publication of a certain edifying pamphlet, entitled, Doubts of the Infidels ; or, Queries relative to Scriptural Inconsistencies and Contradictions—Submitted to the Consideration of the Bench of Bishops-By a weak Christian. It stole abroad in so humble and reserved a manner, without the name of printer or vender, that it was a long time before I heard there was such a pamphlet in being. Informed, however, by a friend, that there certainly was such a thing, and that he had actually seen it, I made application to several booksellers of note in town; but they declared they knew nothing of the matter.
As I am one of those who love to learn what is stirring, I was not to be easily put by; and therefore rested not, till I had made myself master of a copy. Happy in my prize, with my hand upon my pocket I betook myself immediately home, and having provided the implement necessary for the purpose, began to open the leaves.
In the process of this operation, the first words that caught my eye were the following, in page v, of the epistle dedicatory to my lords the bishops : " In
ner chambers of the holy Inquisition-Whips,
cords, pullies, screws, wheels, iron-crows, and red. “ hot pincers.” Having no predilection for good things of this particular kind, I resumed my work, determining not to peep any more, till I came to the top of page 20, where my attention was again forcibly arrested by the expressions, Ripping women with “ child, dashing infants to pieces against the rocks, “and broiling men to death with slow fires."
I now laid down the pamphlet, and considered with myself, what had happened lately among us, to occasion this lamentable yelping. Sometimes I thought the archbishop of York, in the course of his last visitation, must have wedged some northern here. siarch under the screw, and with one turn of the machine, to the great diversion of the company, cracked all the bones in his skin, like the claws of a lobster. At other times I concluded (though no mention had been made of it in the Morning Chronicle) that his grace of Canterbury had invited the bishops to dine with him upon a roasted infidel, whipped to death by his chaplains. That one of these events had taken place, there seemed to be little doubt, though it was impossible to say which."
I finished, however, my task of leaf-opening, and began to read regularly; when I found that a deed had been done still more atrocious and petrifying than either of the above; for that, by an act of parliament procured by these same bloody-minded prelates of ours, the infidels are now obliged, on a Sunday evening, to blaspheme in PRIVATE !
This is a falling off, to which my memory furnishes me with nothing simnilar, unless it be the story of a man much given to the 'use of the long bow, who asserted one morning to his family, that he had just seen forty couple of dogs running through the yard. It being denied that so many were kept in the country, “Nay,” cried he, “I am sure there " were twenty." The audience still continuing sceptical, “ Why then,” said he with perfect gravity, “it "was our little brown cur!" For such “ cruel, barbarous, and inhuman"
usage, these gentlemen are determined, it seems, to have their revenge upon the church, and really think themselves able, at this time of day, to write revela. tion out of the world, in a twelve-penny pamphlet! Take this whole business together, and it is enough to make the weeping philosopher laugh.
In the thirty sections of their pamphlet, they have produced a list of difficulties to be met with in reading the Old and New Testament. Had I been aware of their design, I could have enriched the collection with many more, at least as good, if not a little better. But they have compiled, I dare say, what they deemed the best, and, in their own opinion, presented us with the essence of infidelity in a thumb phial, the very fumes of which, on drawing the cork, are to strike the bench of bishops dead at
Let not the unlearned Christian be alarmed, “ as “though some strange thing had happened to him,"