Page images
PDF
EPUB

names, to be excluded from the society of the honorable and peaceable! . .

If some such method of redress were to have the sanction and patronage of a few honorable and truly courageous characters, the murderous fashion of duelling, would quickly yield to infamy, the usurped name of Honor!

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

ESSAY VI.

SELF-MURDER.

If the world had not given so many horrible proofs of this very unnatural sin, human reason could hardly be persuaded, that man would inflict so barbarous an outrage against himself.

Life, that precious loan from the Almighty Author, is of sacred and immortal principle ! it is an emanation of Deity! For God created man in his own image, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul!" Will he not therefore be dismayed to make a ferocious attack on that which is of divine original? Will he dare, by ruffian violence on his own body, force the spirit from its tenement to appear before Heaven's tribunal reeking with blood and murder? He will--he is tired of life!

dismayed

Friends betray and enemies persecute, fear and disgrace, poverty and despair, calamities of every description so distract and torture him, that under this intolerable weight of complicated misery, imagine him to say, that he can bear up no longer, and therefore,

comes death as his friend and deliverer; or else, with an arrogant contempt of life, he refuses to hold it, subject to those casualities, which are inseparable from mortality; and will go on even to applaud the act of selfmurder, and call it a Roman virtue! but though a heathen gloss is borrowed to varnish over so foul an act, yet pride, cowardice and infidelity, will be found in almost every instance of suicide, to have been the real causes.

That

re

That examples of suicide are to be produced from the un-christian world, we readily admit; and in cases of extremity, self-murder was considered by them as necessary and laudable; hence it was, that Demosthenes and Hannibal are said to have been constantly provided with an effectual poịson to dispatch themselves, rather than they would fall into the hands of their enemies.

The Stoick Philosophers, who considered all things to lię under an irresistible necessity; and the Epicureans, who expected no future state, consistently with such principles, abandoned themselves to these fatal courses.

Poets and orators never seem more eloquent; than when they describe the death of Cato, who, not able to endure Cæsar's government, though he had born with Pompey's, “ plunged a dagger into his breast, tore his own entrails, and that he might taste death, rent his soul from his body, and

P %

that

that with his own hands." The moral Seneca* never spake in higher praise of virtue than he did of this action; he imagined that all the Gods descended into Utica to consider this spectacle,

Plato himself, when he commands those only to be interred in lonesome solitary places, and without the usual solemnities, who, through cowardice and unmanly fear, butchered themselves, evidently implies some palliation and excuse for those who killed themselves on very urgent and honorable occasions: but the unlimited practice of suicide was considered, even by the heathen, as opprobrious, and those who were guilty of it, except in very extraordinary instances, forfeited their rights to decent burial, and were clandestinely put into the ground, for

* Liquet mihi cum magno spectasse gaudio Deos; cum vir ille acerrimus sui vindex gladium sacro pectori infigit, dum viscera spargit & animam manu educit.

Sen. De. Prövid. c. ii.

they

« PreviousContinue »