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of forfeiting their honour, as an act of religion; but it was feldom practifed by the gay votaries of Epicurus, who esteemed life as being fruitful of happinefs under almoit any circumstances.
Our modern Epicureans, who have affiduoufly felected whatever was the worst in all the ancient fyftems, have in this refpect deviated from the example of their founder; and fince to commit fuicide has been held contrary to religion, it is become fashionable with thefe con. fistent reasoners to contend for its expediency. There is, however, little danger that their tenets on this fubject will ever rife into general eftimation. A few may amufe themselves indeed with fantallical fpeculations; but whatever counteracts the instincts of nature will never be commonly practifed.
"Whether the love of life be an habitual paffion, refulting from the greater proportion of good than of evil in this ftate of existence; or whether it be an innate principle implanted in us at our firft creation; either way, felf-prefervation appears to be the ordinance of Providence. The advocates for natural religion agree, that we can only know the Creator's will by those general arrangements, which are called the laws of nature. Now by what means fhould we be proper judges, when it is lawful or expedient to difpenfe with them?
"But waving these higher fpe. culations, as well as thofe arguments founded on religious principles, which have fo fuccefsfully been urged against fuicide-if I can produce moral, and, ftill more, felfifh arguments against its expediency in any cafe, the difquifition will be more adapted to the notions and capacities of my antagonists. "In the first place I would ob1785.
ferve, that however a momentary  refolution may fortify the mind, however other motives may be predominant on fome particular occa fions, death is in reality the evil and is the prime caufe why other which is most generally dreaded, evils are accounted fuch. Who pities the difeafe that is not mortal? Tell a company, that their friend or neighbour is confined to his chamber by the gout in the extre mities; that he is not only difabled from helping himself, but fuffers the most excruciating torture in his fingers or his toes; the narrative will hardly chace a single fmile from the countenances of the auditors, or give birth to one ferious reflection. other time, that the fame person is Tell this company, at anin the crisis of a fever, that he is of life is expected immediately to deprived of fenfe, and that the fcene clofe, and you may prefently obferve the difference between the fentiment or apprehention of pain and death. An apoplexy is an awful and alarming event; many local complaints will occafion treble the pain, and yet these neither excite our pity nor our apprehenfions.
Most of the human paffions, been traced with equal truth and even avarice and ambition, have ingenuity into the love of life. The former is derived from the exceffive care of providing for our fubfiftadmiration of others; and this adence: the object of the latter is the miration is coveted only because we can make it fubfervient to the obtaining of the means and the comforts of life. This is certainly the origin of ambition; though in the prefent ftate of fociety men are ambitious from cuftom and example.
"Poverty is dreaded, because it mere pain of starving of which men leads to death: it cannot be the
are apprehenfive; for many of the Romans adopted that mode, as one of the eafieft of putting an end to their existence: and there is nothing truly dishonourable in unmerited poverty. As to the loisf honours and dignities, it will admit of the fame folution. I speak of the first principles, of the fpring of thefe paffions.
"If, therefore, the love of life, and the fear of loting it, be the caufe of most of our uneatinels, the contradiction and falfe reafoning are manifeft, in flying for a remedy to the very evil which is the prime occafion of that mental agitation, which we unde go, and which we wifh to avoid.
"The viciffitudes of all fublunary things contradict the expediency of fuicide on any occafion. Revolutions as fudden as attonithing have taken place in the human conftitution, both with and without the aid of medicine; and experience affures us, that it is abfurd to defpair in any stage of a distemper. As to those evils and afflictions, which depend upon the capricioufnefs of the human mind, it must neceffarily be impoffible to anfwer for their duration. The deaths of Cato and of Brutus have been justly cenfured as premature of the former, I remember lord Bolingbroke has fomewhere afferted, he thould have died at Munda, not at Utica. The trembling Claudius, after the aflaffination of his nephew, expecting immediate death, is accidentally difcovered by a common foldier, and, dragged by the feet from his hiding-place, is faluted emperor. Nor is the unfrequency of fuch events fufficient to warrant the abandoning of ourselves to defpair.
"Though Epicurus is faid by fome to have admitted of the expediency of fuicide on certain occa
fions, his arguments in favour of fortitude under pain and affliction make fo directly against it, that we muft either attribute the charge to the ignorance and mistake of thofe who have commented on his doctrines, or account it one of those contradictions and inconfiftencies too often apparent in the fytems produced by the unaffifted efforts of human reafon. The evils of life, fays this philofopher, are either bodily or mental. As bodily pain is certainly an evil, a wife man wi endeavour to avoid it; but when he cannot, he will be careful not to magnify it by fancy or opinion. If pain be very intenfe, it must prefently ceafe; if it continue long, habit will leffen its rigour; and feveral intervals will occur of eaie, if not of happiness: as he remarks, that most chronical distempers admit of a greater proportion of pleafure in life than of pain.
If patience and fortitude can leffen and alleviate so much of real corporal fuffering as we find they do, much more effectual will they prove in the evils of the mind, fince the greater part of thefe depend upon opinion. If our anxiety proceed from a fenfe of guilt, the true remedy is future virtue and penitence. But if, fays Epicurus, we are made unhappy by the lofs of external goods, it is our own fault that we over-rate their value. Wealth and dignities are mere cheats of the imagination; and even the lofs of friends, though it may leftèn, it cannot defroy the fatisfaction of a wife man, whofe chief fource of pleafure is in himfelf; in the exercife of his faculties, the inveftigation of truth, and those sublimer occupations, which the lofs of externals cannot interrupt. In fine, fince a wife man ought to be informed of the uncertainty of all fuch
TRAGIC STORY of a PORTUGUESE GENTLEMAN who died
the act of suicide as the effect of cowardice. I believe, that, in fuch cafes, fear is not always the predo minant paffion; but that jealousy, reientment, indignation, or remorie, are as frequently the motives of fuicide, as even the apprehenfion of fhme: nor can any confideration move me to enrol a Cato, a Brutus, or even a Clive, in the litt of cowards, Till fome better folution is offered, I fhall, for my own part, continue to admire, with all proper refpect, the ftoical juftice of our inqueft juries, who, with equal fagacity and candour, extenuate the offence against reafon and fociety, by the verdict Lunacy;"
[From the Obferver. ]
HE following fory is fo
had not had it from good authority in the country where it happened, I fhould have confidered it as the invention of fome poet for the fable of a drama.
"A Portuguese gentleman, whom Ifhall beg leave to defcribe no otherwife than by the naine of Don Juan, was lately brought to trial for poifoning his half-ufter by the fame father, after the was with child by him. This gentleman had for fome years before his trial led a wery folitary life at his caftle in The neighbourhood of Montremos, a town on the road between Litbon and Badajos, the frontier garrifon of Spain: I was fhewn his caftle, as I paffed through that dismal country, about a mile diftant from The road, in a bottom furrounded with cork trees, and never faw a
more melancholy habitation. The made against
this gentleman, were fo ftrong, and the ftory was in fuch general circu lation in the neighbourhood where he lived, that although he laid out the greatest part of a confiderable income in acts of charity, nobody ever entered his gates to thank him for his bounty, or folicit relief, except one poor father of the Jeronymite convent in Montremos, who was his confeffor, and acted as his almoner at difcretion.
"A charge of fo black a nature, involving the crime of inceft as well as murder, at length reached the ears of juice, and a commiffion was fent to Montremos to make inquiry into thecafe. The fuppofed criminal made no attempt to elcape, but readily attended the fummons of the commillioners. Upon the trial it came out, from the confeffion of the pri O z foner,
foner, as well as from the depofition of witnesses, that Don Juan had lived from his infancy in the family of a rich merchant at Lisbon, who carried on a confiderable trade and correfpondence in the Brazils. Don Juan being allowed to take this merchant's name, it was generally fuppofed that he was his natural fon; and a clandestine affair of love having been carried on between him and the merchant's daughter, Jofepha, who was an only child, the became pregnant, and a medicine being administered to her by the hands of Don Juan, fhe died in a few hours after, with all the fymptoms of a perfon who had taken poifon. The mother of the young lady furvived her death but a few days; and the father threw himself into a convent of Mendicants, making over by deed of gift the whole of his property to the fuppofed murderer.
In this account there feemed a strange obfcurity of facts; for fome made ftrongly to the crimination of Don Juan, and the last mention ed circumstance was of fo contradictory a nature, as to throw the whole into perplexity; and therefore to compel the prifoner to a farther elucidation of the cafe, it was thought proper to interrogate him by torture.
"Whilft this was preparing, Don Juan, without betraying the leaft alarm upon what was going forward, told his judges that it would fave them and himself fome trouble, if they would receive his confeffion upon certain points, to which he fhould truly fpeak, but beyond which all the tortures in the world could not force one fyllable. He faid that he was not the fon, as was fuppofed, of the merchant, with whom he lived, nor allied to the deceased Jofepha any
otherwife than by the tenderest ties of mutual affection and a promise of marriage, which, however, he acknowledged had not been folemnized: that he was the fon of a gentleman of confiderable fortune in the Brazils, who left him an infant to the care of the merchant in queftion: that the merchant, for reafons best known to himself, chose to call him by his own name, and this being done in his infancy, he was taught to believe that he was an orphan youth, the fon of a dis ftant relation of the person who adopted him. He begged his judges therefore to obferve, that he never understood Jofepha to be his fifter; that as to her being with child by him, he acknowledged it, and prayed God forgiveness for an offence, which it had been his intention to repair by marrying her; that with refpect to the medicine, he certainly did give it to her with his own hands, for that she was fick in confequence of her pregnancy, and being afraid of creating alarm or fufpicion in her parents, had required him to order certain drugs from an apothecary, as if for him felf, which he accordingly did; and he verily believed they were faithfully mixed, inafmuch as he ftood by the man whilst he prepared the medicine, and faw every ingredient feparately put in.
"The judges thereupon afked him, if he would take it on his confcience to fay, that the lady did not die by poifon. Don Juan, bursting into tears for the first time, anfwered, to his eternal forrow he knew that the did die by poifon.Was that poifon contained in the medicine he took? It was-Did he impute the crime of mixing the poifon in the medicine to the apothecary, or did he take it on himfelf? Neither the apothecary nor himielt
Tragic STORY of a PORTUGUESE GENTLEMAN.
Imfelf was guilty.-Did the lady, from a principle of fhame (he was then asked), commit the aft of fuicide, and infufe the poifon without his knowledge?-He started into horror at the queflion, and took God to witness that he was innocent of the deed.
his upper garments, laid him on the kept his fingers on his pulfe and rack a furgeon was called in, who the executioners were directed to begin their tortures. They had given him one fevere ftretch by ligatures fixed to his extremities, and paffed over an axle, which was upon his muscles and joints, by the turned by a windlafs: the strain action of this infernal engine, was offerings by a horrid crash in every dreadful, and nature spoke her fuflimb: the fweat started in large drops upon his face and bofom, yet the man was firm amidst the agonies of the machine: not a groan efcapintendant of the hellish work, deed, and the fiend who was fuperclared they might increase his torments upon the next tug, for that his pulfe had not varied a stroke, nor abated of its ftrength in the fmallest degree.
"The judges feemed now confounded, and for a time abftained from any farther interrogatories, debating the matter amongst themfelves by whifpers; when one them obferved to the prisoner, that, according to his confeffion, he had faid fhe did die by poifon, and yet, by the answers he had now given, it fhould feem as if he meant to acquit every perfon on whom fufpicion could poffibly reft; there was, however, one interrogatory left, which, unnatural as it was, he would put to him for form's fake only, before they proceeded to greater extremities, and that queftion involved the father or mother of the lady. Did he mean to impute the horrid intention of murdering their child to the parents? No, replied the prifoner, in a firm tone of voice, I am certain no fuch intention ever entered the hearts of the unhappy parents, and I fhould be the worst of finners if I imputed it to them. The judges upon this declared with one voice that he was trifling with the court, and gave orders for the rack: they would, however, for the last time, demand of him, if he knew who it was that did poifon Jofepha, to which he answered, without hefitation, that he did know, but that no tor tures fhould force him to declare it. As to life, he was weary of it, and they might difpofe of it as they faw fit; he could not die in greater tortures than he had lived.
"They now took this perempto ry recufant, and, ftripping him of
gun a fecond operation with more "The tormentors had now beviolence than the former, which their devilish ingenuity had contrived to vary, fo as to extort acuter pains from the application of the engine to parts that had not yet had their full fhare of the first agony; when fuddenly a monk rushed into the chamber, and called out to the judges to defift from torturing that feffion of the murderer from his innocent man, and take the conjudges, the executioners let go the own lips. Upon a signal from the ped audibly into their fockets with engine at once, and the joints fnapthe elafticity of a bow. Nature funk under the revulfion, and Don Juan fainted on the rack. monk immediately with a loud voice exclaimed, Inhuman wretches, The delegates of hell, and agents of for the guilty, and take off your the devil, make ready your engine bloody hands from the innocent; for