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distinguished to be greater or less, according to their
who publickly and solemnly declared before the congregation, that they took to wife their several kept mistresses, which was allowed as valid marriage, the priests not having time to pronounce the ceremony in form. At St. Bride's church in Fleet street, Mr. Woolston (who writ against the miracles of our Saviour) in the utmost terrours of conscience, made a publick recantation. Dr. Mandevil" (who had been groundlessly reported formerly to have done the same) did it now in good earnest at St. James's gate; as did also at the Temple church several gentlemen, who frequent coffeehouses near the bar. So great was the faith and fear of two of them, that they dropped dead on the spot; but I will not record their names, lest I should be thought invidiously to lay an odium on their families and posterity. Most of the players, who had very little faith before, were now desirous of having as much as they could, and therefore embraced the Roman catholick religion: the same thing was observed of some bawds, and ladies of pleasure. An Irish gentleman out of pure friendship came to make me a visit, and advised me to hire a boat for the ensuing day, and told me, that unless I gave earnest for one immediately, he feared it might be too late; for his countrymen had scCured almost every boat upon the river, as judging, that in the general conflagration, to be upon the water would be the safest place. There were two lords, and three commoners, who, out of scruple of conscience, very hastily threw up their pensions, as imagining a pension was only an annual retaining bribe. All the other great pensioners, I was told, had their scruples quieted by a clergyman or two of distinction, whom they happily consulted.
* Author of the Fable of the Bees, a book intended to subvert not only religion but virtue, by showing that private vices are publick benefits.
Vol. XVII. B B OUlt
It was remarkable, that several of our very richest tradesmen of the city, in common charity, gave away shillings and sixpences to the beggars, who plied about the church doors; and at a particular church in the city, a wealthy churchwarden with his own hands distributed fifty twelvepenny loaves to the poor, by way of restitution for the many great and costly feasts, which he had eaten of at their expense.
Three great ladies, a valet de chambre, two lords a customhouse officer, five half pay captains, and a baronet (all noted gamesters) came publickly into a church at Westminster, and deposited a very considerable sum of money in the minister's hands; the parties, whom they had defrauded, being either out of town, or not to be found. But so great is the hardness of heart of this fraternity, that among either the noble, or vulgar gamesters (though the profession is so general) I did not hear of any other restitution of this sort. At the same time I must observe that (in comparison of these) through all parts of the town, the justice and penitence of the highwaymen, housebreakers, and common pickpockets, was very remarkable.
The directors of our publick companies were in such dreadful apprehensions, that one would have thought a parliamentary inquiry was at hand; yet so great was their presence of mind, that all the Thursday ". morning morning was taken up in private transfers, which by malicious people was thought to be done with design to conceal their effects. I forbear mentioning the private confessions of particular ladies to their husbands; for as their children were born in wedlock, and of consequence are legitimate, it would be an invidious task to record them as bastards; and particularly after their several husbands have so charitably forgiven them. o The evening and night through the whole town were spent in devotions both publick and private ; the churches for this one day were so crowded by the nobility and gentry, that thousands of common people were seen praying in the publick streets. In short, one would have thought the whole town had been really and seriously religious. But what was very remarkable, all the different persuasions kept by themselves, for as each thought the other would be damned, not one would join in prayer with the other. At length Friday came, and the people covered all the streets; expecting, watching and praying. But as the day wore away, their fears first began to abate, then lessened every hour, at night they were almost extinct, till the total darkness, that hitherto used to terrify, now comforted every freethinker and atheist. Great numbers went together to the taverns, bespoke suppers, and broke up whole hogsheads for joy. The subject of all wit and conversation was to ridicule the prophecy, and rally each other. All the quality and gentry were perfectly ashāmed, nay, some utterly disowned that they had manifested any signs of religion. But the next day even the common people, as well B B 2. dS as their betters, appeared in their usual state of indifference. They drank, they whored, they swore, they lied, they cheated, they quarrelled, they murdered. In short, the world went on in the old channel. I need not give any instances of what will so easily be credited, but I cannot omit relating, that Mr. Woolston advertised in that very Saturday's Evening Post a new treatise against the miracles of our Saviour; and that the few, who had given up their pensions the day before, solicited to have them continued: which, as they had not been thrown up upon any ministerial point, I am informed was readily granted.