Imágenes de páginas

Now, to judge of the Constancy and Resolution of a

Man, that does not yet believe himself to be

ufrd^fh certainly in Danger, tho' he really is, is no

Fortitude as Reason; and 'tis not enough, that he dies in

manywbobtnje this Proceeding, unless he did purposely put

Ko Derth'1TM himself upon it for this End. It commonly 0 ia , ^jjs ou{^ mo^ jyjen) t}iat: tney fa a good

Face upon the Matter, and speak big, to acquire a Reputation, which they hope also, whilst living, to enjoy. Of all that I have seen die, Fortune has disposed their Countenances, and not their Design; and even of those who, in ancient Times, have dispatched themselves, 'tis much to be noticed, whether it were a sudden, or a lingering Death. That cruel Roman Emperor, would say of his Prisoners, That he would make them feel Death; and if any one killed himself in Prison, That Fellow, said he, has escaped from me. He was prolonging Death, and making it felt by Torments.

Vidimus et toto quamvis in corf ore cæso.
Nil animœ lethale datum moremque nefandœ
Durum sevitiœ, pereuntis parcere morti *.

i. e.

And in tormented Bodies we have seen,

Amongst those Wounds none that have mortal been;

Inhuman Method of dire Cruelty,

That means to kill, yet will not let Men die!

In plain Truth, it is no such great Matter, for a Man in Health, and in a settled Frame of Mind, to resolve to kill himself; it is very easy to boast before one comes to the Push: Insomuch that Heliogabalus, the most effeminate Man in the World, amongst his most sensual Pleasures, contrived to make himself die delicately, when he should be forced to it. And, * that his Death1 might not 4 give the Lye to the rest of his Life, had purposely built

* a sumptuous Tower, the Front and Base whereof was

* covered and laid with Planks enriched with Gold and

* precious Stones, thence to precipitate himself; and also

* caused

* Lucan. lib. ii. v. 178, &c.

* Æl. iamprid. p. 112, 113. Hist. August.


« caused Cords, twisted with Gold and Crimson Silk, to « be made, wherewith to strangle himself •> and a Sword, « with the Blade of Gold, to be hammered out to fall up'on; and kept Poison in Vessels of Emerald and Topaz, « wherewith to poison himself, according as he should like 'to chuse either of these Ways of Dying.'

Impiger, et fortis virtute coafta b.

By a forc'd Valour resolute and brave.

Yet, as for this Person, the Effeminacy of his Preparations makes it more likely, that his Heart would have failed him, had he been put to the Test. But in those who, with great Resolution, have determined to dispatch themselves, we must examine, whether it were with one Blow which took away the Leisure of feeling the Effect: For it is to be questioned, whether perceiving Life, by little aad little, to steal away, the Sentiment of the Body mixing itself with that of the Soul, and the Means of repenting being offered, whether, I fay, Constancy and Obstinacy, in so dangerous a WiU, is to be found.

In the Civil Wars of Cæsar % Lucius Domitius, being taken in Jfruzzo, and thereupon poisoning The Cowardice himself, afterwards repented of it. It has cyDomitius> happened, in our Time, that a certain Per- and others, son being resolved to dispatch himself, and ybofetmtdrt^ not having gone deep enough at the first £g££ Thrust, the Sensibility of the Flesh repul- Diatbm sing his Arm, he gave himself three or fowr Wounds more, but could never prevail upon himself to thrust home. Whilst d Plantius Syhanus was upon his Trial, Virgulantia, his Grandmother, sent him a Poniard, with which, not being able to kill himself, he made his Servants to cut his Veins. e Albucilla, in Tiberiush Time, having, to kill himself, struck with too much Tenderness,

gave gave his Adversaries Opportunity to imprison, and put him to Death their own Way. And that great Leader Demosthenes, after his Rout in Sicily, did the fame; and C. Pembria f, having struck himself too weakly, intreared his Servant to kill him outright. On the contrary, ■ Oftorius, who could not make Use of his own Arm, disdained to imploy that of his Servant to any other Use, but only to hold the Poniard straight and firm, whilst he run his Neck full drive against it, so that it pierced thro' his Throat. 'Tis, in Truth, a Morsel that is to be swallowed without chewing, and requires the Palate of an Ostridge; and yet Adrian, the Emperor, made his Physician mark and incircle, in his Pap, the very Place wherein the Man he had ordered to kill him, was to give the Stab. For this Reason it was, that Cæsar, being asked, * What Death he « thought to be the most desired?' Made Answer, « The * least premeditated, and the shortest ".' If Cæsar dared to say it, it is no Cowardice in me to believe it. ''A short 4 Death, says Pliny, is the Sovereign Happiness of Hu'man Life.' They do not much care to own it: No one can fay, that he is resolved for Death, who boggles at it, and cannot undergo it with his Eyes open. They that we fee, in exemplary Punishments, run to their Death, hasten and press their Execution, do it not out of Resolution, but they will not give themselves Leisure to consider it; it does not trouble them to be dead, but to die.

b Lucan. lib. iv. v. 798. Edit. Grov. in Octavo. c Plutarch in the Life ot Julius Gusar, C. 10.

* Tacit. Annal. lib. iv.

* Idem, ibid. lib. \u

* Emori nolo, fed me esse mortuum nihili æstimo '.

i. e. To be dead is nothing to me; but I fear to die.

'Tis a Degree of Constancy, to which I know, by Experience, that I could arrive, like those who plunge themselves into Dangers, as into the Sea, with their Eyes shut.


{ Plutarch in the Life of Nicias, c. ip.
8 Tacit. Annal. lib. xvi.
h Suet in J. Caefare, sect. 87.
1 Nat. Hist. lib. vii. c. 53.

k Epicbarmus, the Greek Philosopher, was the Author of the Verse, here translated, by Cicero, into Latin Prose. 1 Cic. T»sc. lib. i. c. 8.

There is nothing, in my Opinion, more illustrious, in the Life of Socrates, than that he had thirty she constant whole Days wherein to ruminate upon the and resolute Sentence of his Death; to have digested it, Death °s So-. all that Time, with a most assured Hope, crateswithout Emotion, and without Alteration, and with Words and Actions rather careless and indifferent, than any Way stirred or discomposed by the Weight of such a Thought. That Pomponius Atticus, to whom Cicero writes 5-^ j)eatj, Bf so oft, being sick, caused Agrippa, his Son-in- Pomponius law, and two or three more of his Friends, to Attjcus, by be called to him, and told them, ',n That F*fin*'

* having found all Means practised upon him, for his Re

* covery, to be in vain, and that all he did to prolong his 'Life, did also prolong and augment his Pain; he was 'resolved to put an End both to one and the other, de

* siring them to approve of his Deliberation, or, at least,

* not to lose their Labour in endeavouring to dissuade

* him.' Now, having chosen to destroy himself by Abstinence, his Disease was accidentally so cured, and the Remedy he made Use of to kill himself, restored him to Health. His Physicians and Friends rejoicing at so happy an Event, and, coming to congratulate him, were, nevertheless, very much deceived, it being impossible for them to make him alter his Purpose; he telling them,

* That, be it as it' would, he must, one Day, die, 'and that, being now so far on his Way, he would save

* himself the Labour of beginning again another Time.' This Man, having surveyed Death at Leisure, was not only not discouraged at meeting it, but fully bent on it: For being satisfied, that he had engaged in the Combat, he thought he was obliged, in Honour, to fee the End on't. 'Tis far beyond not fearing Death, to desire to taste and relish it.

The Story of the Philosopher Cleanthes is very like this. c "He having his Gums swelled and rotten, cleanthes'/

* his Physicians advised him to great Absti- Resolution to

* nence: Having fasted two Days, he was <*«•'

Vol. II. C c * so * so much, that they pronounced him cured, and per

m Corn. Nepos, in the Life of Attkus.

"Di'i- Latrt. in the Life of Cle ant be:, lib. viii, sect, 176.

* mitted him to return to his ordinary Course of Diet:

* He, on the contrary, already tasting some Sweetness in

* this Faintness of his, would not be persuaded to go 1 back, but resolved to proceed, and to finish the Course

* he had so far advanced in.'

Tullius Marcellinus °, a young Man of Rome, having a The resolute mind to anticipate the Hour of his Destiny, Death of a in order to be rid of a Disease that was more young Roman. Trouble to him, than he was willing to endure •, tho' his Physicians assured him of a certain, tho* not sudden Cure, called a Council of his Friends, to consult about it: * Some, says Seneca, gave him the Coun

* sel, which, from Pusillanimity, they would have taken

* themselves •, others, out of Flattery, prescribed what 1 they thought he would best like:' But a Stoic said

* thus to him: p Do not teaze thyself, Marcellinus, as if ■ thou didst deliberate of a Thing of Importance j 'tis 'no great Matter to live; thy Servants and Beasts live;

* but it is a great Thing to die handsomely, wisely, and

* with Fortitude: Do but think how long thou hast done 'the same Thing -, eat, drink, and sleep; drink, sleep,

* and eat. We are incessantly wheeled round in one and

* the same Circle; not only ill and insupportable Acci'dents, but even the Satiety of living, inclines a Man to 'desire to die.' Marcellinus did not stand in Need of a Man to advise, but of a Man to assist him; his Servants were afraid to meddle in the Business: But this Philosopher gave them to understand, c That Domestics are suspected, even when it is in Doubt, whether the Death of the Master were voluntary, or no; otherwise, that it

: would he of as ill Example to hinder him, as to kill 1 him;' forasmuch as,

Invitum qui servat, idem facit Occidents *.

i. e.

Who makes a Man to live against his Will,
As cruel is, as if he did him kill.


»• Sencc. Ep. 77. f Idem, ib. 1 Iforat. in Art. Port. y. 467.


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