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and infidelity, but often attended with the same bad consequences A religion founded on madness and enthusiasm, is almost as bad as no religion at all; and what is worst, the unhappy errors of particular sects expose the purest religion in the world to the scoffs of unbelievers. Shallow witlings exercise their little talents for ridicule on matters of religion, and fall into atheism and blasphemy in order to avoid bigotry and enthusiasm. The weakness of the sectaries strengthen them in their ridiculous notions, and produce many other evils, as will appear from the following short history.
In the glorious reign of Queen Elizabeth there resi ded in these kingdoms a worthy lady called Religion. She was remarkable for the sweetness of her temper; which was cheerful without levity, and grave without moroseness. She was also particularly decent in her dress as well as behaviour, and preserved with uncommon mildness the strictest regularity in her family. Though she had a noble genius, and led a very sober life, yet in those days she kept the best company, was greatly admired by the Queen, and was even intimate with most of the maids of honour. What became of her and her family is not known; but it is very certain, that they have at present no connection with the polite world. Some affirm, that the line is extinct; though I have indeed been told, that the late Bishop Berkley and the present Bishops of and are descended from the principal branches of it, and that some few of the family are resident on small livings in the country.
We are told by a certain fashionable author, that there were formerly two men in a mad house at Paris, one of whom imagined himself the Father, and the other the Son. In like manner, no sooner did the good lady Religion disappear, but she was personated by a crazy old beldam called Superstition. But the cheat was instantly discovered; for, instead of the mild disci
pline, with which her predecessor ruled her family, she governed entirely by severity, racks, wheels, gibbets, sword, fire and faggot. Instead of cheerfulness she introduced gloom, was perpetually crossing herself with holy water, and, to avert the terrible judgments of which she was hourly in fear, she compiled a new almanack, in which she wonderfully multiplied the number of red letters. After a miserable life she died melancholy mad, but left a will behind her, in which she bequeathed a very considerable sum to build an hospital for religious lunatics; which, I am informed, will speedily be built on the same ground, where the Foundery, that celebrated Methodist meeting-house, now stands.
Superstition left behind her a son called Atheism, begot on her by a Moravian teacher at one of their Love-Feasts. Atheism soon shewed himself to be a most profligate abandoned fellow. He came very early upon town, and was a remarkable blood. Among his other frolicks he turned author, and is said to have written in concert with lord Bolingbroke. After having squandered a large fortune, he turned gamester, then pimp, and then highwayman; in which last occupation he was soon detected, taken, and thrown into Newgate. He behaved very impudently in the condemned hole, abused the Ordinary whenever that gentleman attended him, and encouraged all his fellow prisoners, in the Newgate phrase, to die hard. When he came to the gallows, instead of the psalm he sung a bawdy catch, threw away the book, and bid Jack Ketch tuck him up like a gentleman. Many of his relations were present at the execution, and shook their heads, repeating the words of Mat in the Beggar's Opera, Poor fellow! we are sorry for you, but it is what we must all come to."
N° 62. THURSDAY, APRIL 3, 1755.
Qualem Cereris vult esse sacerdos.
What female, though to Papal modes they run,
HAVING lately informed my readers, that the Female Parliament is now sitting, 1 shall proceed to lay before them the substance of a debate, that happened in the Committee of Religion, and which was unexpectedly occasioned by a Motion that was made by miss Graveairs. This Committee had long been looked upon as useless, but for form sake continued to meet, though it was adjourned immediately: but one day, there being more members present than usual, the Chair-woman was no sooner in the chair, than the lady abovementioned addressed her in the following speech.
It is with no less surprise than concern, that I reflect on the danger, to which the greater part of my sex, either through ignorance or choice, are now exposed; and I have the strongest reasons to believe, that nothing but the vigorous and timely resolutions of this wise assembly can prevent them from changing their religion, and becoming Roman Catholicks. What subject can be more interesting and important to us, whether we consider ourselves as a Committee of Religion, a Parliament of Women, or an Assembly of Protestants? Was such a design to be carried into execution, the free use of our tongues would be taken
away; we should never be suffered perhaps to speak to the other sex, but through grates and bars; and this place of our assembly would be probably the abode of nuns and friars. But lest you should think me thus alarmed without reason, I shall now lay before you the grounds of my complaint; that, if it is not too late, we may prevent the evil, or, if it is, we may guard against it.
My fears are grounded on those remarks, that have long been made on the dress of the sex. Constant as the men have styled us to the love of change, little have they imagined, that Popery was invariably the object, to which every innovation was designed to lead. So long ago as when, to the honour of our sex, a Queen was upon the throne, it was the fashion, as we may learn from Pope, for the ladies to wear upon their breasts a flaming Cross. The same fashion has been transmitted to the present times. What, Madam, is this but downright Popery? In the Catholic countries they are contented with erecting crucifixes in their roads and churches; but alas! in this protestant kingdom crosses are alike to be seen in places sacred and profane, the court, the play house: and (pardon me ladies!) this venerable assembly itself is not without them. I am apt to suspect, that this heterodox introduction of the Cross into the female dress had an higher original than the days of Queen Anne, whose affection for the church was very well known. It seems rather to have been imported among us, together with the Jesuits, by the popish consorts of the first or second Charles: or perhaps the ladies first wore it in complaisance to the English Pope Joan, Queen Mary. This much is certain, that at the same time our pious reformer Queen Elizabeth expelled the cross from our altars, she effectually
* Upon her breast a sparkling Cross she wore.
RAPE OF THE LOCK.
secured the necks of our ladies from this superstition by the introduction of the Ruff.
The next part of our dress that I shall mention, which savours of popery, is the Capuchin. This garment in truth has a near resemblance to that of the friar, whose name it bears. Our grandmothers had already adopted the Hood; their daughters by a gradual advance introduced the rest; but far greater improvements were still in store for us. We all of us remember, for it is not above two years ago, how all colours were neglected for that of purple. In purple we glowed from the hat to the shoe; and in such request were the ribbons and silks of that favourite colour, that neither the milliner, mercer, nor dyer himself could answer the demand. Who but must think, that this arose from Popish principles? And though it may be urged, that the admired Fanny, who first introduced it, is no nun, yet you may all remember that the Church of Rome herself has been styled the Scarlet, or as some rendered it, the Purple Whore.
But to prove indisputably our manifest approaches to Popery, let me now refer you to that fashionable cloak, which, sorry I am to see it, is wore by the far greater part even of this assembly, and which indeed is with great propriety styled the Cardinal. For were his holiness the Pope to be introduced among us, he would almost fancy himself in his own conclave; and were I not too well acquainted with my sisters principles, I myself should be induced to think, that to those in such grave attire nothing but a cloyster and a grate was wanting. As to those of gayer colours, you need not be told, that there are white and grey friars abroad, as well as black and as the English are so remarkable for improving on their originals, we shall not be then surprised at the variety of colours that appear among us.
It has been whispered too, that some of my sisters