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happiness was with dozing old age in its easy | figured to him his end by a vision of the night. John Hunter has solved the mystery, if mystery it can be called, in a single sentence: "We sometimes," he says, "feel within ourselves that we shall not live, for the living powers become weak, and the nerves communicate the intelligence to the brain." His own case has often been quoted among the marvels of which he afforded the rational explanation. He intimated on leaving home that if a discussion, which awaited him at the hospital, took an angry turn, it would prove his death. A
fied the prophecy, and he expired almost immediately in an adjoining room. There was everything to lament in the circumstance, but nothing at which to wonder, except that any individual could show such disrespect to the great genius, a single year of whose existence was worth the united lives of his opponents. Hunter, in uttering the prediction, had only to take counsel of his own experience without the intervention of invisible spirits. He had long labored under a disease of the heart, and he felt the disorder had reached the point at which any sharp agitation would bring on the crisis. A memorable instance of the weakness which accompanies the greatness of man when an abusive appellation could extinguish one of the brightest lights that ever illumined science. No discoverer has left more varied titles to fame, and none has given more abundant evidence that he would have added to the number the longer he lived, for his mind teemed with original ideas, and fast as one crop was cleared away another sprang up.
chair, as well as with youth in the pride and exuberance of life, and if its feelings are less buoyant they are more placid. To die piecemeal carries with it a frightful sound, until we learn by observation that of all destroyers time is the gentlest. The organs degenerate without pain, and, dwindling together, a perfect harmony is kept up in the system. Digestion languishes, the blood diminishes, the heart beats slower, and by imperceptible gradations they reach at last their lowest term. Drowsiness increases with the decline of the pow-colleague gave him the lie; the coarse word veriers-life passes into sleep, sleep into death. De Moivre, the master of calculation, spent at eighty twenty hours of the twenty-four in slumber, until he fell asleep and awoke no more. His was a natural death unaccompanied by disease, and, though this is uncommon, yet disease itself lays a softer hand upon the aged than the young, as a tottering ruin is easier overthrown than a tower in its strength. The first symptom of approaching death with some is the strong presentiment that they are about to die. Ozanam, the mathematician, while in apparent health, rejected pupils from the feeling that he was on the eve of resting from his labors, and he expired soon after of an apoplectic | stroke. Flechier, the divine, had a dream which shadowed out his impending dissolution, and, believing it to be the merciful warning of Heaven, he sent for a sculptor and ordered his tomb. Begin your work forthwith," he said at parting; "there is no time to lose ;" and unless the artist had obeyed the admonition, death would have proved the quicker workman of the two. Mozart wrote his requiem under the conviction that the monument he was raising to his genius would, by the power of association, prove a universal monument to his own remains. When life was flitting fast, he called for the score, and musing over it, said, "Did I not tell you truly that it was for myself I composed this death-chant?" Another great artist, in a different department, convinced that his hand was about to lose its cunning, chose a subject emblematical of the coming event. His friends inquired the nature of his next design, and Hogarth replied, "The end of all things." "In that case," rejoined one of the number, "there will be an end of the painter." What was uttered in jest, he answered in earnest, with a solemn look and a heavy sigh: "There will," he said-" and therefore the sooner my work is done the better." He commenced next day, labored upon it with unintermitting diligence, and when he had given it the last touch, seized his palette, broke it in pieces, and said, "I have finished." The print was published in March under the title of " Finis," and in October "the curious eyes which saw the manners in the face" were closed in dust. Our ancestors, who were prone to look into the air for causes which were to be found upon earth, ascribed these intimations to supernatural agency. It was conjectured that the guardian genius, who was supposed to attend upon man, infused into his mind a friendly though gloomy foreboding, or more distinctly pre
Circumstances which at another time would excite no attention are accepted for an omen when health is failing. The order for the Requiem with Mozart, the dream with Flechier, turned the current of their thoughts to the grave. The death of a contemporary, which raises no fears in the young and vigorous, is often regarded by the old and feeble as a summons to themselves. Foote, prior to his departure for the continent, stood contemplating the portrait of a brother-actor, and exclaimed, his eyes full of tears, "Poor Weston!" In the same dejected tone he added, after a pause, "Soon others shall say, Poor Foote !"—and, to the surprise of his friends, a few days proved the justice of the prognostication. The expectation of the event has a share in producing it, for a slight shock completes the destruction of prostrate ener gies. Many an idle belief in superstitious times lent a stimulus to disease, and pushed into the grave those who happened to be trembling on its brink. Kings and princes took the shows of the skies for their particular share. Louise of Savoy, the mother of Francis I., when sick of a fever, saw, or fancied she saw, a comet. "Ha!" she exclaimed, "there is an omen which appears not for people of low degree: God sends it for us great. Shut the window; it announces my death; I must prepare." Her physicians assured her she was not in a dying state. Unless," "she replied, "I had seen the sign of my death I should have said the same, for I do not myself feel that I am
sinking." She sank, however, from that time, | spite of his apparent indifference to death, there and died in three days. Confidence in the physi- was an anxiety in the pause when he was momencian is proverbially said to be half the cure, be- tarily expecting the axe to descend, which had all cause it keeps up hope, and lends to the body the but proved fatal. support of the mind; but when despair coöperates with the distemper, they reäct upon one other, and a curable complaint is easily converted into a mortal disease. The case of Wolsey was more singular. The morning before he died he asked Cavendish the hour, and was answered past eight. "Eight of the clock," replied Wolsey, "that can not be eight of the clock, eight of the clocknay, nay, it cannot be eight of the clock, for by eight of the clock shall you lose your master." The day he miscalculated-the hour came true. On the following morning as the clock struck eight his troubled spirit passed from life. Cavendish and the bystanders thought he must have had a revelation of the time of his death, and, from the way in which the fact had taken possession of his mind, we suspect that he relied upon some astrological prediction which had the credit of a revelation in his own esteem.
When disease passes into dying, the symptoms usually tell the tale to every eye. The half-closed eyes, turned upwards and inwards, sink in their sockets; the balls have a faded, filmy look; the temples and cheeks are hollow, the nose is sharp; the lips hang, and, together with the face, are sometimes pale from the failure of the circulation, and sometimes livid from the dark blood which creeps sluggishly through the veins. Startling "likenesses to relations, and the self of former days, are sometimes revealed when the wasting of the flesh has given prominence to the framework of the face. The cold of death seizes upon the extremities and continues to spread-a sign of common notoriety from time immemorial, which Chaucer has described in verse, Shakspeare in still more picturesque prose. The very breath strikes chill; the skin is clammy; the voice falters and loses its own familiar tones-grows sharp and Persons in health have died from the expecta- thin, or faint and murmuring-or comes with an tion of dying. It was once common for those who unearthly muffled sound. The pulse, sometimes perished by violence to summon their destroyers previously deceitful, breaks down; is first feebler to appear within a stated time before the tribunal and then slower; the beats are fitful and broken of God; and we have many perfectly attested by pauses; the intervals increase in frequency and instances in which, through the united influence duration, and at length it falls to rise no more. of fear and remorse, the perpetrators withered The respiration, whether languid or labored, beunder the curse and died. Pestilence does not comes slow at the close; the death-rattle is heard kill with the rapidity of terror. The profligate at every expulsion of air; the lungs, like the pulse, abbess of a convent, the Princess Gonzaga of Cleves, and Guise, the profligate Archbishop of Rheims, took it into their heads for a jest to visit one of the nuns by night, and exhort her as a person who was visibly dying. While in the performance of their heartless scheme they whispered As an abstract description of man would fit to each other" She is just departing," she departed everybody, although forming a portrait of no one, in earnest. Her vigor, instead of detecting the deaths have their individual peculiarities, in which trick, sank beneath the alarm, and the profane the differences of detail do not affect the likeness of pair discovered in the midst of their sport that the outline. Many traits are frequent which are they were making merry with a corpse. A con- far from usual. Some when they are sinking toss demned gentleman was handed over to some the clothes from their chests, and though the French physicians, who, to try the effects of imag- attendants, indefatigable in enforcing their own ination, told him that it was intended to despatch notions of comfort, replace them unceasingly, they him by bleeding-the easiest method known to are as often thrust back. There must be opprestheir art. Covering his face with a cloth, they sion in the covering, or it would not be thrown off; pinched him to counterfeit the prick of a lancet, but the patient himself is frequently unconscious, placed his feet in a bath, as if to encourage the and the act is instinctive, like the casting aside the stream, and conversed together on the tragic symp-bed-clothes on a sultry night in the obliviousness toms supposed to arise. Without the loss of a of sleep. Others pick at the sheets, or work them drop of blood his spirit died within him from the between their fingers, which may be done in obemental impression, and when the veil was raised dience to an impulse of the nerves, or to excite by he had ceased to live. Montaigne tells of a man friction the sense of touch, which is growing bewho was pardoned upon the scaffold, and was numbed. We have seen persons among the lower found to have expired while awaiting the stroke. orders burst into tears at witnessing an action Cardinal Richelieu, in hope to extract a confession which conveyed to their minds a sentence of death. from the Chevalier d'Jars, had him brought to the The senses are constantly subject to illusions. block, and though he comported himself with ex- The eyes of the dying will conjure up particles traordinary courage and cheerfulness, yet when, which they mistake for realities, and attempt to an instant or two after he had laid down his head, catch them with their hand, or if they are looking his pardon was announced to him, he was in a state at the bed they suppose them specks upon the of stupefaction which lasted several minutes.
become intermittent in their action; a minute or two may elapse between the efforts to breathe, and then one expiration, which has made "to expire" synonymous with "to die," and the conflict with the body is over.
In clothes, and assiduously endeavor to brush them
away. The awful shadow cast by death throws | intellect of Falstaff has degenerated into sillia solemnity over every object within its range, ness, but he knows what he says, and comprehends and gives importance to actions that would other- what he sees. When the sensibility to outward wise be thought too trivial for notice. Ears, soon impressions is lost or disordered, and the mind is to be insensible to sound, are often assailed by delirious, the dying dream of their habitual occuimaginary noises, which sometimes assume the pations, and construct an imaginary present from form of words. Cowper, who was afterwards the the past. Dr. Armstrong departed delivering medthrall of fancied voices, which spoke as his morbid ical precepts; Napoleon fought some battle o'er spirit inspired, heard three times, when he hung again, and the last words he muttered were tête himself in earlier days, the exclamation, "'Tis d'armée. Lord Tenterden, who passed straight from over!" The old idea that the monitor of man the judgment seat to his death-bed, fancied himself summoned him when his final minute had arrived, still presiding at a trial, and expired with, Gentlemay easily have been founded upon actual occur- men of the jury, you will now consider of your verrences, and the agent was invented to explain dict. Dr. Adam, the author of the "Roman Anaway an undoubted and mysterious effect. Shak- tiquities," imagined himself in a school, distribspeare, who possessed the power to press every-uting praise and censure among his pupils; But it thing into his service, has recorded the superstition in Troilus and Cressida :
grows dark, he said; the boys may dismiss; and instantly died. The physician, soldier, judge, Hark! you are called; some say the Genius so schoolmaster, each had their thoughts on their Cries COME! to him that instantly must die! several professions, and believed themselves enThe workings of the mind, when taken in con- gaged in the business of life when life itself was nection with the physical weakness, are often issuing out through their lips. Whether such prominent among the symptoms of dissolution. words are always an evidence of internal conMany of the ancients held the novissima verba in sciousness, may admit of a doubt. The mind is high esteem. They imagined that the departing capable of pursuing a beaten track without attendimbibed a divine power from that world to which ing to its own operations, and the least impulse they were bound, and spoke like gods in propor-will set it going when every other power has fled tion as they were ceasing to be men. Though the De Lagny was asked the square of twelve when
he was unable to recognize the friends about his bed, and mechanically answered, one hundred and forty-four. Repetitions of poetry are frequent in this condition, and there is usually a want of coherence and intonation which appears to indicate a want of intelligence, and leaves the conviction, expressed by Dr. Symonds, that the understanding is passive. But upon many occasions it is perfectly obvious that the language of the lips is suggested by the mental dream. The idea of Dr. Adam, that it was growing dark, evidently arose from the fading away of the vision, as the thick darkness of death covered his mind and clouded his perceptions. The man himself is his own world, and he lives among the phantoms he has created, as he lived among the actual beings of flesh and blood, with the difference, perhaps, that the feelings, like the picture, are faint and shadowy.
belief is extinct, that the prophet's mantle descends upon the shoulders of the dying, there are some who maintain that as the body wanes the mind often shines with increasing lustre. Baxter called a church-yard the market-place where all things are rated at their true value, and those who are approaching it talk of the world, and its vanities, with a wisdom unknown before. But the idea that the capacity of the understanding itself is enlarged -that it acquires new powers and fresh vigor, is due, we conceive, to the emotion of the listeners. The scene impresses the imagination, and the overwrought feelings of the audience color every word. Disease has more frequently an injurious effect, and the mind is heavy, weakened, or deranged. Of the species of idiotey which ushers in death, Mrs. Quickly gives a perfect description in her narrative of Falstaff's end-an unrivalled piece of painting, and deeply pathetic in the midst of its humor:-"After I saw him fumble with the There is a description of dying delirium which sheets, and play with flowers, and smile upon his resembles drunkenness. Consciousness remains, fingers' end, I knew there was but one way, for but not self-control. The individual nature appears his nose was as sharp as a pen, and 'a babbled in its nakedness, unrelieved by the modifications of green fields." Falstaff, to whom a tavern chair which interest imposes. A woman, who had comwas the throne of human felicity, and whose heart bined an insatiable appetite for scandal with the was never open to a rural impression, amusing extremest caution in retailing it, fell into this state himself with flowers like a child-Falstaff, the a few hours before she died. The sluice was impersonation of intellectual wit, and who kept a opened, and the venom and malice were poured sad brow at the jests which moved the mirth of out in a flood. Her tones, which in health were every one besides, regarding his fingers' ends with low and mysterious, grew noisy and emphaticsimpering imbecility-there is an epitome of the the hints were displaced by the strongest terms melancholy contrasts which are constantly wit- the language could afford-and the half-completed nessed, and which would be mournful indeed if sentences, which were formerly left for imagwe did not know that the bare grain is not quick-ination to fill up, all carried now a tail and a ened except it die, and that the stage of decay must sting. "I verily believe," said her husband precede its springing into newness of life. The afterwards, "that she repeated, in that single
day, every word she had heard against anybody has fairly retired, the system has been too much from the time she was a child." The concentra- depressed to rebound. The temporary revival is tion of the mind upon a single topic, the variety rarely complete; but a partial intermission, from and distinctness of the portraits, the virulence and its comparative ease, creates a considerable change energy of the abuse, the indifference to the tears of sensation. Hence the pause in the disorder has of her children-heart-broken that their mother received the name of a "lightening before death”should pass from the world uttering anathemas a removal of the load of pain and stupor by which against all her acquaintances, living and dead— | the patient was previously oppressed. Shakspeare made a strange and fearful exhibition, one more impressive than a thousand sermons to show the danger of indulging an evil passion.
confines the term to the merriment of mind which usually accompanies the relief. Paley has said, and he wrote after many visitations of gout, that the subsidence of pain is a positive pleasure which few enjoyments can exceed. The observation is sometimes strikingly illustrated in surgical operations, when neither the smarting of the wound, nor the attendant horrors, have the power to disturb the sense of satisfaction which directly ensues. Sir Charles Bell opened the windpipe of a man attacked with spasms of the throat, and who was dying through want of air. The incision closed with the convulsive throbs, and it was necessary to slit out a piece of the cartilage; but when the man, whose face was lately a picture of distress, who streamed with the sweat of suffering, and who toiled and gasped for life, breathed freely through the opening, he fell fast asleep while half-a-dozen candles threw their glare upon his eyes, and the surgeons, with their hands bathed in his blood, were still at work upon the wound, inserting materials to keep it open. A soldier, struck in the temple, at Waterloo, with a musket-ball, had his skull sawn through with a trephine by Mr. Cooper, the author of the "Surgical Dictionary," and a bone pulled out which had been driven half an inch into the substance of the brain. Nearly lifeless before, he instantly sat up, talked with reason and complacency, and rose and dressed the same day. The transition is little less sudden in the "lightening before death;" and though the debility is usually too great for exuberance of spirits, there is sometimes a gentle gayety which would have a contagious charm if it were not the signal of a coming gloom, made a hundred fold more dark by the contrast with the short-lived mirth, never in this world-unless by the tearful eye of memory -to be beheld again.
A fatal malady sometimes appears to make a stop the patient lives and breathes; and his friends, who had considered him as belonging to another world, are overjoyed that he is once more one of themselves. But it is death come under a mask. The lifting up from the grave is followed by a relapse which brings down to it again without return. A son of Dr. Beattie lay sick of a fever, which suddenly left him; the delirium was succeeded by a complete tranquillity, and the father was congratulating himself on the danger being over, when the physicians informed him truly that the end was at hand. Death from hydrophobia is not seldom preceded by similar appearance of recovery. A victim of this disorder, in which every drop of liquid aggravates the convulsions, and the very sound of its trickling is often insupportable, was found by Dr. Latham in the utmost composure, having drank a large jug of porter at a draught. The nurse greeted the physician with the exclamation, "What a wonderful cure!" but in half an hour the man was dead. Sir Henry Halford had seen four or five cases of inflammation of the brain where the raving was succeeded by a lucid interval--the lucid interval by death. One of these was a gentleman who passed three days in a lunatic violence, without an instant's cessation or sleep. He then became rational, settled his affairs, sent messages to his relations, and talked of a sister lately dead, whom he said he should follow immediately, as he did in the course of the night. Many such instances are upon record; and Cervantes must have witnessed something of the kind, or he would not have ventured to restore Don Quixote to reason in his final illness, make him abjure knight-errantry, and die a The moment which converts a sensitive body to sensible, as he had lived a worthy, man; for, inanimate matter is often indistinguishable; but throughout his adventures, he displays a loftiness one would hardly think that any who had deliberof principle and a rectitude of purpose, which give ately contemplated a corpse-icy, stiff, and moan elevation to his character, and render him tionless, with nothing of humanity except the estimable when most ridiculous. Sir Henry Hal-form-could suppose that life might put on the ford cautioned the younger members of his profes- borrowed likeness of shrunk death," and men, sion against these appearances, which have often who were still of the present world, be consigned deluded physicians themselves. The medical at- by mistake to a living tomb. Yet many persons, tendant of Charleval, a French versifier, called out especially women, are so haunted with the idea, exultingly to a brother of the faculty who entered that they will almost fear to sleep, lest they should the room, "Come and see, the fever is going!" wake with six feet of earth for their covering and After a moment's observation, the other, more ex- a coffin for their bed. Solemn physicians abroad perienced, replied, "No-it is the patient." The for in England these terrorists boast no eduamendment is not real unless the pulse has im-cated disciples-have written books to accredit the proved; the energies of life are otherwise worn belief, and add a deeper horror to the grave. out; and either the inertness of the disease pro- Each successive production of the kind, however, ceeds from a want of power to sustain it, or, if it is little more than a resuscitation of its forgotten
overthrown by the very endeavor to prop it up. Timidity itself would take courage on reading the terrific register of the credulous Fontenelle. examination of his proof, while it indicates the precautions that are prudent to be taken, will reassure those who are accustomed to shrink from the semblance of death, with its frightful accompaniments, far more than they dread the reality; for it will show that, unless by culpable recklessness and haste, there is no possibility that a single individual should be entombed before his time.
That he would be rowed back, for he was not yet dead.
He waked in the boat, and to Charon he said
predecessor, from which it differs about as much the belief by authentic examples, the edifice is as the Almanac of this year from the Almanac of last. In 1834, Julia de Fontenelle, a man of science-if several lines of philosophical titles written after his name are a voucher for the character -published his "Medico-legal Researches on the Uncertainty of the Signs of Death," which volume is at present, we believe, the standard one on the subject. The horror of being buried alive was his least motive for rousing up the public to a sense of their danger. Convinced, he said, that unwholesome diet and evil passions, the abuse of drugs and the ignorance of physicians, are but too The first page shows how much his criticism successful in swelling the number of the undoubted has been outstripped by his zeal, for he counts dead, he conceives it his duty in compensation among the victims of error the Emperor Zenon. to preserve to society the many who were only who is said to have been interred when he was dead in appearance. He seems to have persuaded drunk by the order of his wife, ambitious of his himself that burial-grounds are a species of human crown. M. Fontenelle himself relates, that for slaughter-house, and, if he had read the English two nights he continually cried from his capacious Martyrology, would have seen something more sepulchre," Have mercy on me! Take me out!" than a lying legend in the story of St. Frithstane, and surely his petition would not have been in who, saying one evening masses for the dead in vain if they had buried him in good faith through the open air, as he pronounced the words requies- an unhappy mistake. Horrors never come singly: cant in pace, heard a chorus of voices from the it is added, that in his hunger he ate up his shoes surrounding graves respond loudly Amen. M. and the flesh of his arms. A case among the Fontenelle's hopes of recruiting the population accidents, that of an Archbishop Géron-when or from churchyards are grounded on a hundred where he lived is not told-has a close resemcases of apparent deaths gleaned from the entire blance to the end of poor Zenon : history of the world-a rather slender counterpoise to the victims of passion, gluttony, drugs, and physicians, even if the instances were all well founded and all to the purpose. "He cheats by But the persons who heard him shouting from the pence, is cheated by the pound." But of his supulchre refused to believe him, and he was left examples those which are true are inapplicable, to his fate. There was an abbé who had better and those which are applicable are unsubstantiated. Juck. He revived on the way to the grave; and The marvellous is most credible when left to his attendants having thought fit to bury his cat the imagination; the attempt to verify it dissipates with him, which sat like a night-mare upon his the illusion. Supernatural appearances seemed chest, the abbé employed his returning strength to be probable when the argument rested on the to drive off the incubus. The animal mewed with general belief; nothing more unlikely when the the pain, and more regard being paid to the respecific facts were collected and weighed. A vol- monstrances of a cat than to those of an archbishume of ghost stories is the best refutation of op, the procession was stopped, and the coffin ghosts. That persons, by every outward sign unscrewed. Out jumped the cat, and immediately long dead, have revived, is also among the opin-after the dead man followed, and took to his heels. ions that have found adherents in all countries, The bearers are said to have been "frozen with and many are the superstitions to which it has fear;" and the cat and the abbé must have pargiven rise. Roger North, in his Life of the Lord taken of the chill. Some who came off with life Keeper, mentions that the Turks, if a noise is have yet had reason to rue the misconception. heard in a tomb, dig up the corpse, and, as one A gentleman of Rouen, returning from a tour just method of making matters sure, chop it into pieces. as his wife was being borne to the tomb, he orHe adds, that some English merchants, riding at dered back the coffin, and had a surgeon to make Constantinople in company with a Janizary, passed five-and-twenty incisions on the corpse-a strange an aged and shrivelled Jew, who was sitting on a method of cherishing the remnant of existence, if sepulchre. The Janizary never doubted that of he suspected any. Nevertheless, at the twentythis sepulchre the Jew himself was the rightful sixth incision, which went deeper than the rest, tenant, and ordered him back to his grave, after she mildly inquired "What mischief they were rating him soundly for stinking the world a sec-doing her ?" and she survived to bear her husband ond time. Nations sunk lower in barbarism give six-and-twenty children--a pledge for every gash. credence to fables still more absurd, though they An English soldier showed more vigor and less do not exceed in extravagance what we might ex- endurance than this meekest of women. pect from the exaggerations of ignorance and ter- carried to the dissecting-room of a French hespiror, if the cries and struggles of buried men had tal, where a student, to practise anatomy, cut his been heard disturbing the stillness of the tomb; jugular vein. Furious with rage and pain, he but the moment an effort is made to substantiate leapt upon the student and flung him to the