In the Reign of King Charles I., the Company of Stationers, into whose Hands the Printing of the Bible is committed by Patent, made a very remarkable Erratum or Blunder in one of their Editions: For instead of Thou shalt not commit Adultery, they printed off several thousands of Copies with Thou shalt commit Adultery. Archbishop Laud, to punish this their Negligence, laid a considerable Fine upon that Company in the Star-Chamber.
By the Practice of the World, which prevails in this degenerate Age, I am afraid that very many young Profligates, of both Sexes, are possessed of this spurious Edition of the Bible, and observe the Commandment according to that faulty Reading.
Adulterers, in the first Ages of the Church, were excommunicated for ever, and unqualified all their Lives from bearing a Part in Christian Assemblies, notwithstanding they might seek it with Tears, and all the Appearances of the most unfeigned Repentance.
I might here mention some ancient Laws among the Heathens which punished this Crime with Death: and others of the same Kind, which are now in Force among several Governments that have embraced the Reformed Religion. But because a Subject of this Nature may be too serious for my ordinary Readers, who are very apt to throw by my Papers, when they are not enlivened with something that is diverting or uncommon; I shall here publish the Contents of a little Manuscript lately fallen into my Hands, and which pretends to great Antiquity, tho' by Reason of some modern Phrases and other Particulars in it, I can by no means allow it to be genuine, but rather the Production of a Modern Sophist.
It is well known by the Learned, that there was a Temple upon Mount Ætna dedicated to Vulcan, which was guarded by Dogs of so exquisite a Smell, (say the Historians) that they could discern whether the Persons who came thither were chast or otherwise. They used to meet and faun upon such as were chast, caressing them as the Friends of their Master Vulcan; but flew at those who were polluted, and never ceased barking at them till they had driven them from the Temple.
My Manuscript gives the following Account of these Dogs, and was probably designed as a Comment upon this Story.
'These Dogs were given to Vulcan by his Sister Diana, the Goddess of Hunting and of Chastity, having bred them out of some of her Hounds, in which she had observed this natural Instinct and Sagacity. It was thought she did it in Spight to Venus, who, upon her Return home, always found her Husband in a good or bad Humour, according to the Reception which she met with from his Dogs. They lived in the Temple several Years, but were such snappish Curs that they frighted away most of the Votaries. The Women of Sicily made a solemn Deputation to the Priest, by which they acquainted him, that they would not come up to the Temple with their annual Offerings unless he muzzled his Mastiffs; and at last comprimised the Matter with him, that the Offering should always be brought by a Chorus of young Girls, who were none of them above seven Years old. It was wonderful (says the Author) to see how different the Treatment was which the Dogs gave to these little Misses, from that which they had shown to their Mothers. It is said that the Prince of Syracuse, having married a young Lady, and being naturally of a jealous Temper, made such an Interest with the Priests of this Temple, that he procured a Whelp from them of this famous Breed. The young Puppy was very troublesome to the fair Lady at first, insomuch that she sollicited her Husband to send him away, but the good Man cut her short with the old Sicilian Proverb, Love me love my Dog. From which Time she lived very peaceably with both of them. The Ladies of Syracuse were very much annoyed with him, and several of very good Reputation refused to come to Court till he was discarded. There were indeed some of them that defied his Sagacity, but it was observed, though he did not actually bite them, he would growle at them most confoundedly. To return to the Dogs of the Temple: After they had lived here in great Repute for several Years, it so happened, that as one of the Priests, who had been making a charitable Visit to a Widow who lived on the Promontory of Lilybeum, return'd home pretty late in the Evening, the Dogs flew at him with so much Fury, that they would have worried him if his Brethren had not come in to his Assistance: Upon which, says my Author, the Dogs were all of them hanged, as having lost their original Instinct.
I cannot conclude this Paper without wishing, that we had some of this Breed of Dogs in Great Britain, which would certainly do Justice, I should say Honour, to the Ladies of our Country, and shew the World the difference between Pagan Women and those who are instructed in sounder Principles of Virtue and Religion.Translation of motto: