The Spectator, Volume 2. eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,123 pages of information about The Spectator, Volume 2..

The Catalogue of these is however very short; even Vanini [4] the most celebrated Champion for the Cause, professed before his Judges that he believed 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; alledging several Arguments to prove that ’twas impossible Nature alone could create anything.

I was the other day reading an Account of Casimir Liszynski, a Gentleman of Poland, who was convicted and executed for this Crime. [5] 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 Ammunition 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, tho’ 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.

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 Vicissitude of human Affairs, it might one time or other come to a Man’s own turn to fly out of the Mouth of a Demi-culverin.

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 shew 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.


[Footnote 1:  The book was bought in 1711 for L28 by Mr. Walter Clavel at the sale of the library of Mr. Charles Barnard.  It had been bought in 1706 at the sale of Mr. Bigot’s library with five others for two shillings and a penny.  Although Giordano Bruno was burnt as a heretic, he was a noble thinker, no professed atheist, but a man of the reformed faith, who was in advance of Calvin, a friend of Sir Philip Sydney, and as good a man as Mr. Budgell.]

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The Spectator, Volume 2. from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.