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was time for him to leave it. He seemed to chuse Death, only because he had no longer a Relish for his Happiness.
The deplorable Case of Richard Smith (another Suicide) arose from a quite different Cause. This Person was tempted to destroy himself, by the Reflection on his Misfortunes. He saw himself reduced from Wealth to Poverty, and the Calamity of this Reverse heightend by Sickness. He beheld a Wife whom he lov’d, involv'd in remediless Misery with himself; all that Fortune had left them, was a helpless Infant in the Cradle. * In this Condition the up happy Couple came to a joint Resolution of ending their Troubles at once. After a iad Embrace, they first killed the Child, and then hung themielves (kneeling by each other) to the Top of the Bed. I don't remember any
Instance of Suicide attended with such tranquility of Execution as chis.
i heir Letter to Mr B--d--), their Coulin, was as remarkable. Amongst other Passages it contained this. “ We believe (say they) God “ will pardon us, we have quitted Life because we were ruin'd, past all “ Remedy; and we have killed our Chiid, leaft he hould be as wretch
ed as ourselves.”
It is odd, that after taking away their Child's Life, thro' a pretended Piry, these People writ to a Friend to take Care of their Dog and Car. It is probable they thought the Charge of the one of more Consequence than the Care of the others.
All these tragical Stories which fill the English News Papers, have given Strangers room to think, that Suicide is more common in England than elsewhere. I question, however, whether Paris does not afford aś many Infances of this kind of Folly, as London ? - at least if our Gazettes kept an exact Register. But by the Wision of our Govern ment the publick Papers are better regulated, and the Calamities of privace People concealed from the View of Scandal. All that I will ven. ture to say, there is no great Danger this Infatuation Mould ever become epidemical : Nature has taken Care to keep it in due Bounds. Hope and Fear are two powerful Agents ready to llop che Hands of Suicide. It is to no purpose to tell us of Countries, where a Council was ellablished, to grant the Citizens a Permission to kill themselves, on hearing their Reasons for it. I either doubt the Fact, or believe those Magistrates had very little Business.
There is one Thing appears a little more extraordinary on this Subject, which in my opinion, merits an atientive Enquiry The antient Heroes, both Greek and Roman, in their respective Civil Wars, frequently practised Suicide ; and yet in the modern Commotions of Europe, I mean those of the League in France, and tic Guelph and Gibeline Jars in Italy, we don't find one Chief that killd himself. own, that thele lalt were Christians, and that the Principles of a Catholic Warrior, and a Pagan Hero, are widely different ; but I want to know why thesa Christian Generals, whom their Religion with-held from destroying their own Lives, made no Scruple of poisoning, affaffinating, or bu
See rbis Caraftrophe wirb the Letters at large, in the Gentleman's Magazine
Reading their Enemies
. Are not such Actions as contrary to Chriftianity às Suicide itself?
To resume the Argument. — How comes it, that Brutus, Cato, Caffius, Anthony, Otho, and so many other great Men of Antiquity, have dy'd fo resolutely by their own Hands, while our modern Heroes have patiently been led to Execution, or languished out Life in tedious Iur prisonment? Some preted to say, that these Antients wanted true Courage, that Cato acted like a Coward, and that it would have been more heroick for him to have submitted to Cæfar: These Thoughts may do in an Ode, or serve to embellish an Oracion.
But it is certäin, that a violent Death calmly determined upon, is so far from being á Märk of Pufillanimity, that it is a Victory over Nature: Such an Action is a Proof of Rage, not of Weakness. When such a Man falls into a Frenzy, we don't say he is feeble, but that his Strength is superhatural, and the Effect of his Disease.
The Pagan Religion forbade Suicide as exprefly as the Chriftian. By
Proxima deinde tenent inafti loca, qui fibi le hunt
The second Place of these fad Realmns of Night,
Sach was the Fate of Suicide, according to the Pagan Religion, and yet in spite of these infernal Penalties it denounced, it was reckoned a Point of Honour to die this Way, lo contradictory are the Manners of Men sometimes to their Principles. Thus Duelling is unhappily creditable amongst us, tho' equally repugnant to our Religion, and forbid by Reason and by our Laws. If Cato and Cæfar, Antony and Augustus, did not decide their Quarrels this way, it was not because they had it is
Courage, than our French Heroes : If the D. of Montmerency, the Mareschals of Marillac de Thou, or St. Mars, chose rather to be led to Execution, like Highwaymen, than to kill themselves, as Brutus and Calfius ; it does not follow they had less Fortitude, or Sense of Honour than the Romans? The true Realon is, that Suicide was then the Fashion at Rome, and Beheading was the Mode at Paris. The Women on the Coafts of Malabar and Coromandel, burn themselves on their Husbands Funeral Pile. Have they more Resolution than Cornelia, or the Roman Matrons ? No, --- but it is the Cultom of that Country for the Women to expose themselves to the Flames that consume their Husbands.
Opinion, Custom, o'er Mankind preside,
Thro' Life they rule us, and in Death they guide !
Digne du Trône Auguste où l'on vit tes Ancêtres,
Inonde ton Empire,
Et leur longue Querelle
La Nation tremblante
Veux-tu priver le Monde
De fa Main respectée,
Embellisoient nos Villes,
BEAUX Arts, Enfans du Ciel, de la Paix & des Graces,
Nos Mains découragées,
Tout passe, tout retombe
Rois, suivez son exemple ;
EXTRACT of M. Maupertuis's Letter, in Relation
to the Comet, of March 1742.
N the ad. of March M. Grante discover'd at the Observatory Royal of Paris. It appear'd indeed, an Age too late to give any Confternation; and yet perhaps, no Epocha could be more seasonable for its being respected this way, if we consider the important Revolutions which have preceded, or those which may follow it. Thanks to good Descartes, our Times are more enlightened, than to imagine that the Aspect of a Comet has any Influence on the Destiny of Monarchs, or the Affairs of Europe. Those who were most troubled about it,were only uneasy, it took up fo great a Share in the publick Conversation. In return it has produced this Letter, which is more than sufficient to balance their complaints. It is addressed to a Lady, who had ak'd it of Mr Maupertuis, and whose Commands he thought it his Duty to obey.
Our Author begins with mentioning the high Efteem Comets have been regarded with in all Ages. Not a Century ago, says he, Aftro• logy was the prevailing Talte at Court and City. The Astronomers, • Naturalists and Divines of all Ages, agreed in looking on Comets as the • Signals of the most important Events. The celebrated Tycho (Brabe)
treats all who disbelieve this Article as guilty of Impiety.
• Strange! that Comets, after being so long the Terrors of Mankind, • are fallen into such Disreputation, that we don't suppose them fic for any thing but giving People Colds.
• To prove that Comets have really a secret Influence over terrestrial • Affairs (our Author who does not enter into a metaphyfical Disquisition • of the Point) thinks it necessary, that this Influence should be autho« rised by either Revelation, Reason, or Experience, which is by no • means the Case.
• Nor have the opinions, relating to the Nature and Origin of Co• mets, been less strange than the Effects ascribed to them.
• Kepler conceiv'd them to be a Kind of igneous Monsters that sported • in the Air, as Whales do in the Ocean ; others supposed them celestial • Messengers to foretel some approaching Calamity. Others believe them • only tranfient Appearances, or Phenomena caused by the Reflection por Refraction of Light.
• Aristotle afferts, they are Meteors form'd by the Exhalations of the • Earth and Water, and this Sentiment prevailed as long as the Peripate
rick School had its Reign.
• The Chaldeans (according to M. Maupertuis) had juster Notions of • Comets, which they regarded as perpetual Stars, or rather a Kind of • of planetary Bodies, of whose Courses they had formed some Calcu• lations. Seneca (as quoted by him) is of the same Sentiments, and * speaks of these celestial Luminaries in a Manner fo agrecable to the