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first attempt, by one of the fanatic adherents of Spain, to assassinate the William, Prince of Orange, who took the lead in the revolt of the Netherlands, the ball passed through the bones of his face, and brought him to the ground. In the instant of time that preceded stupefaction, he was able to frame the notion that the ceiling of the room had fallen and crushed him. The cannonshot which plunged into the brain of Charles XII. did not prevent him from seizing his sword by the hilt. The idea of an attack, and the necessity for defence, were impressed upon him by a blow which we should have supposed too tremendous to leave an interval for thought. But it by no means

months. More, the Platonist, who was afflicted | leisure to feel, and the mind to reflect. On the in this way, described his feelings by the expressive comparison, that he was as a fish out of its element, which lay tumbling in the dust of the street. With all the kindness bestowed upon the sick, there is sometimes a disposition to judge them by the standard of our own healthy sensations, and blame them for failings which are the effects of disease. We complain that they are selfish, not always remembering that it is the importunity of suffering which makes them exacting; we call them impatient-forgetful that, though ease can afford to wait, pain craves immediate relief; we think them capricious, and overlook that fancy pictures solace in appliances which aggravate upon trial, and add disappointment to distress. There follows that the infliction of fatal violence is acis not any situation in which steady minds and companied by a pang. From what is known of sweet dispositions evince a greater superiority over the first effects of gun-shot wounds, it is probable the hasty and sensual part of mankind; but self- that the impression is rather stunning than acute. control adapts itself to the ordinary exigencies of Unless death be immediate, the pain is as varied life, and if surprised by evils with which it has as the nature of the injuries, and these are past not been accustomed to measure its strength, the counting up. But there is nothing singular in the firmest nerve and the sunniest temper are over-dying sensations, though Lord Byron remarked the come by the sudden violence of the assault. Un-physiological peculiarity, that the expression is less the understanding is affected, irritability and waywardness constantly diminish when experience has shown the wisdom and duty of patience, and there soon springs up, with well-ordered minds, a generous rivalry between submission on the one hand, and forbearance on the other. From the hour that sin and death entered into the world, it was mercy that disease and decay should enter A sick room is a school of virtue, whether we are spectators of the mortality of our dearest connections, or are experiencing our own.


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invariably that of languor, while in death from a stab the countenance reflects the traits of natural character-of gentleness or ferocity-to the latest breath. Some of the cases are of interest to show with what slight disturbance life may go on under mortal wounds till it suddenly comes to a final stop. A foot-soldier at Waterloo, pierced by a musketball in the hip, begged water from a trooper who chanced to possess a canteen of beer. The wounded man drank, returned his heartiest thanks, mentioned that his regiment was nearly exterminated, Violent often differs little from natural death. and, having proceeded a dozen yards in his way to Many poisons destroy by setting up disorders re- the rear, fell to the earth, and with one convulsive sembling those to which flesh is the inevitable movement of his limbs concluded his career. heir; and, as in ordinary sickness, though the "Yet his voice," says the trooper, who himself disorder may be torture, the mere dying is easy. tells the story, gave scarcely the smallest sign The drugs which kill with the rapidity of light- of weakness." Captain Basil Hall, who in his ning, or which act by lulling the whole of the early youth was present at the battle of Corunna, senses to sleep, can first or last create no suffering has singled out from the confusion which consigns worthy of the name. Fatal hemorrhage is an- to oblivion the woes and gallantry of war, another other result both of violence and disease, and from instance extremely similar, which occurred on that the example of Seneca-his prolonged torments, occasion. An old officer, who was shot in the after his veins were opened, and his recourse to a head, arrived pale and faint at the temporary hossecond method of destruction to curtail the bitter-pital, and begged the surgeon to look at his wound, ness of the first-was held by Sir Thomas Browne to be a dreadful kind of death. Browne was more influenced by what he read than by what he saw, or he must have observed, in the course of his practice, that it is not of necessity, nor in general, an agonizing process. The pain depends upon the rate at which life is reduced below the point where sensibility ends. The sluggish blood of the aged Seneca refused to flow in an ample stream, and left him just enough vigor to feel and to suffer.

A fuller discharge takes rapid effect, and renders the suffering trifling by making it short. An obstruction by respiration is, beyond comparison, more painful than total suffocation.

To be shot dead is one of the easiest modes of terminating life; yet, rapid as it is, the body has

which was pronounced to be mortal.
"Indeed, I
feared so," he responded with impeded utterance;
"and yet I should like very much to live a little
longer-if it were possible." He laid his sword
upon a stone at his side, as gently," says Hall,
as if its steel had been turned to glass, and
almost immediately sunk down upon the turf."

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Drowning was held in horror by some of the ancients who conceived the soul to be a fire, and that the water would put it out. But a Sybarite could hardly have quarrelled with the death. The struggles at the outset are prompted by terror, not by pain, which commences later, and is soon succeeded by a pleasing languor; nay some, if not the majority, escape altogether the interval of suffering. A gentleman, for whose accuracy

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we can vouch, told us he had not experienced the slept forever unless his companions had happily slightest feeling of suffocation. The stream was succeeded in kindling a fire. The scene was transparent, the day brilliant, and as he stood repeated thousands of times in the retreat from upright he could see the sun shining through the Moscow. "The danger of stopping," says Beauwater, with a dreamy consciousness that his eyes pré, who was on the medical staff, was univerwere about to be closed upon it forever. Yet he sally observed, and generally disregarded." Exneither feared his fate, nor wished to avert it. A postulation was answered by a stupid gaze, or by sleepy sensation which soothed and gratified him the request to be allowed to sleep unmolested, for made a luxurious bed of a watery grave. A sleep was delicious, and the only suffering was in friend informed Mothe-le-Vayer, that such was his resisting its call. Mr. Alison, the historian, to delight in groping at the bottom, that a feeling of try the experiment, sat down in his garden at anger passed through his mind against the per- night when the thermometer had fallen four desons who pulled him out. It is probable that grees below zero, and so quickly did the drowsisome of our readers may have seen a singularly ness come stealing on, that he wondered how a striking account of recovery from drowning by a soul of Napoleon's unhappy band had been able highly distinguished officer still living, who also to resist the treacherous influence. And doubtspeaks to the total absence of pain while under less they would all have perished if the fear of the waves; but adds a circumstance of startling death had not sometimes contended with the luxinterest—namely, that during the few moments of ury of dying. Limbs are sacrificed where life consciousness the whole events of his previous life, escapes, and such is the obtuseness of feeling that from childhood, seemed to repass with lightning- passengers in the streets of St. Petersburg rely like rapidity and brightness before his eyes: a on one another for the friendly warning that their narration which shows on what accurate knowl- noses are about to precede them to the tomb. An edge the old oriental framed his story of the sul- appearance of intoxication is another common tan who dipped his head into a basin of water, result, and half-frozen people in England have and had, as it were, gone through all the adven- been punished for drunkards—an injustice the tures of a crowded life before he lifted it out more galling, that in their own opinion the state again. No one can have the slightest disposition was produced by the very want of their sovereign to question the evidence in this recent English case; but we do not presume to attempt the physiological explanation.

the shrinking of his feet. There is the less to wonder at in the contradiction between his precepts and his practice. In proportion to the danger which his mind foretold was the ease with which his vigilance was overpowered and disarmed.

specific, "a glass of something to keep out the cold." The whole of the effects are readily explained. The contracting force of the cold comThat to be frozen to death must be frightful presses the vessels, drives the blood into the intetorture many would consider certain from their rior of the body, and the surface, deprived of the own experience of the effects of cold. But here life-sustaining fluid, is left torpid or dead. A we fall into the usual error of supposing that the part of the external circulation takes refuge in the suffering will increase with the energy of the brain, and the congestion of the brain is the cause agent, which could only be the case if sensibility of the stupor. The celerity of the operation, remained the same. Intense cold brings on when not resisted by exercise, may be judged speedy sleep, which fascinates the senses, and from the circumstance that, in the few instants fairly beguiles men out of their lives. A friend Dr. Solander slept, his shoes dropped off through of Robert Boyle, who was overtaken by the drowsiness while comfortably seated on the side of a sledge, assured him that he had neither power nor inclination to ask for help; and unless his companions had observed his condition he would have welcomed the snow for his winding-sheet. But the most curious example of the seductive power of cold is to be found in the adventures of the botanical party who, in Cook's first voyage, were caught in a snow-storm on Tierra del Fuego. Dr. Solander, by birth a Swede, and well acquainted with the destructive deceits of a rigorous climate, admonished the company, in defiance of lassitude, to keep moving on. "Whoever," said he, "sits down will sleep-and whoever sleeps will perish." The doctor spoke as a sage, but he felt as a man. In spite of the remonstrances of those whom he had instructed and alarmed, he was the first to lie down. A black servant, who followed the example, was told he would die, and he replied that to die was all he desired. But the doctor despised his own philosophy; he said he would sleep first, and go on afterwards. Sleep he did for two or three minutes, and would have the doctor

It was a desire worthy of Caligula that the victims of the state should taste their death. The barbarous maxim has never lacked patrons in barbarous times, nor has humanity always kept pace with refinement. Manners continued to soften, and still it was not thought wrong that in heinous cases a forfeited life should be wrung out by any torture, however lengthened and intense. The physicians of Montpelier in the sixteenth century received from the French government the annual present of a criminal to be dissected alive for the advancement of science. The theory of the medical art could have gained nothing to justify lessons which brutalized its professors. No amount of skill can supply to society the place of respect for life and sympathy for suffering.* Savage buf* When the poison-tampering queen in Cymbeline tells

foonery was sometimes employed to give an edge |"Yes," and received a kiss of peace, proceeded to cruelty. Among a hundred and fifty persons executed in France in the reign of Henry II., by every variety of device, for an insurrection against the salt-tax, three were found guilty of killing two collectors, and exclaiming as they threw the bodies into the river, " Go, wicked salt-tax gatherers, and salt the fish in the Charente." The grave and reverend seigniors who sat in judgment exerted their ingenuity to devise a scene in mimicry of this passionate outburst of infuriated men. Their legs and arms having first been broken with an iron bar, the culprits, whilst yet alive, were thrown into a fire, the executioner calling after them in obedience to the sentence, "Go, mad wretches, to roast the fish of the Charente that you have salted with the bodies of the officers of your sovereign lord and king." The assassin of Henry IV. was tortured for hours-his guilty hand burnt off, his flesh torn with pincers, molten lead and boiling oil poured into his wounds -and the tragedy concluded by yoking horses to his arms and legs, and tearing him limb from limb. The frightful spectacle was made a court entertainment, and lords, ladies, and princes of the blood remained to the end, feasting their eyes with his contortions and their ears with his cries. Much nearer our own times, when Damiens, who was half-crazed, struck at Louis XV. with a penknife, and slightly wounded him in the ribs, the entire scene was again acted over, and again high-born dames were the eager spectators of the torment. Generations of luxury had given to the manners of court minions the polish of steel, and its hardness to their hearts.

Executions in England were less appalling than in France, and the circumstances of cruelty became sooner abhorrent to the disposition of the nation. But there was enough which revolts our humaner feelings, and the embowelling of traitors in particular was a frequent horror. A contemporary writer has preserved the details of the death of Sir Thomas Blount, in the reign of Henry IV. He was hanged in form, immediately cut down, and seated on a bench before the fire prepared to consume his entrails. The executioner, holding a razor in his hand, knelt and asked his pardon. "Are you the person," inquired Sir Thomas, appointed to deliver me from this world?" and the executioner having answered,


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Your Highness

Shall by such practice but make hard your heart; and on this reply, in one of those notes which modern editors usually sneer at, but to which Mr. Knight occasionally (as here) does more justice, we read:-"The thought would probably have been more amplified had our author lived to be shocked with such experiments as have been performed in later times by a race of men who have practised torturing without pity, and are yet suffered to erect their heads among human beings." So wrote Dr. Johnson-and he himself could hardly have anticipated the systematic devilishness of many French and some English surgeons in our own day.

with the razor to rip up his belly. In this way
perished many of the Roman Catholics who had
sentence of conspiracies against Elizabeth. Either
from the caprice of the executioner, or the private
instructions of his superiors, the measure dealt
out was extremely unequal. Some were per-
mitted to die before the operation was begun,
some were half-strangled, and some, the instant
the halter had closed round their throats, were
seized and butchered in the fulness of life. In
the latter cases, at least, much of the rigor of the
sentence was at the discretion of the wretch who
carried it into effect; and as the friends of the
criminal bribed him when they could afford it, to
plunge his knife into a vital part, it is to be pre-
sumed that he regulated his mercy by his avarice.
Lord Russell remarked, that it was a pretty thing
to give a fee to be beheaded. But the custom of
presenting fees to the headsman had the same
origin with these gratuities to the hangman-the
desire of his victims to propitiate a functionary
who, unless they paid him like gentlemen, had it
always in his power to behave like a ruffian.
In the reign of George III. the letter of the law
of treason was brought into harmony with what
had long been the practice, and it was enacted
that until life was extinct the mutilation of the
body should not be commenced.
was an evidence of the complete revolution in
public opinion. Instead of grades of anguish,
simple death is the highest punishment known to
the law. The horror of violence, the agony of
suspense, the opprobrium of mankind, the misery
of friends, the pangs of conscience, the dread of
eternity, form a compilation of woe which requires
no addition from bodily torture. Every year con-
tributes to falsify the old reproach, that fewer
hours had been devoted to soften than to exas-
perate death. Modern investigations have all
been directed the other way; and the desire is
universal, that even the criminal, whose life is
most justly the forfeit of his crime, should find
speedy deliverance.

The change

Hanging has prevailed more universally than any single mode of execution-nay, more, perhaps, than all other methods combined. Recommended by simplicity, and the absence of bloodshed, it is at the same time a death from which imagination revolts. None would, prior to experience, be conceived more distressing, for the agony might be expected to be realized to utmost intensity in the sudden transition from the vigor of health to a forced and yet not immediate death. Many indeed fancy that the fall of the body dislocates the neck, when the consequent injury to the spinal cord would annihilate life at the instant of the shock. But this is among the number of vulgar errors. Though a possible result, it very rarely occurs, unless a special manoeuvre is employed to produce it. Before revolutionary genius had discarded the gibbet in France, Louis, the eminent professor, struck with the circumstance

that the criminals in Paris were some instants in

When a nerve

dying, while those of Lyons hung a lifeless mass be changed, and (as impostors pretended and the moment the rope was strained by their weight, dupes believed) to be changed for the better, the learned from the executioner the trick of trade reforming mania extended to the execution of which spared his victims a struggle. In flinging criminals, and Dr. Guillotin, a weak, vain coxthem from the ladder he steadied with one hand comb, who revived with improvements an old the head, and with the other imparted to the body machine, had the honor of giving his name to an a rotatory movement which gave a wrench to the adopted child whose operations have ensured himneck. The veritable Jack Ketch of the reign of self from oblivion. The head, he assured the James II., who has transmitted his name to all tender-hearted legislature, would fly off in the the inheritors of his office, may be conjectured twinkling of an eye, and its owner suffer nothing. from a story current at the time to have been in It has since been maintained that, far from feelthe secret, for it was the boast of his wife that, ing nothing, he suffers at the time, and for ten though the assistant could manage to get through minutes afterwards-that the trunkless head the business, her husband alone was possessed of thinks as usual, and is master of its movements— the art to make a culprit "die sweetly." Where that the ear hears, the eye sees, and the lips the fall is great, or the person corpulent, disloca- essay to speak. M. Sue, the father of the novtion might take place without further interference, elist, whose theories of human physiology have a but, with an occasional exception, those who are thorough family resemblance to his son's reprehanged perish simply by suffocation. There is sentations of human nature, went so far as to connothing in that circumstance to occasion special tend that "the body felt as a body and the head regret. An immense number of persons recov- as a head." The experience of the living sets the ered from insensibility have recorded their sensa- first of these assertions at rest. tions, and agree in their report that an easier end of sensation is severed from its communication could not be desired. An acquaintance of Lord with the brain, the part below the lesion ceases Bacon, who meant to hang himself partially, lost to feel. The muscular power often continues, his footing, and was cut down at the last extrem- but sensibility there is none. The head is not ity, having nearly paid for his curiosity with his disposed of so readily, for since it is the centre of life. He declared that he felt no pain, and his feeling, it is impossible in decapitation to infer the only sensation was of fire before his eyes, which torpor of the brain from the callousness of the changed first to black and then to sky-blue. These body. But it would require the strongest evicolors are even a source of pleasure. A Captain dence to prove that sensation survives the shock; Montagnac, who was hanged in France during and the evidence, on the contrary, is exceedingly the religious wars, and rescued from the gibbet weak. The alleged manifestations of feeling are at the intercession of Viscount Turenne, com- only what occur in many kinds of death where plained that, having lost all pain in an instant, he we know that the pain is already past. No one had been taken from a light of which the charm frequently appears to die harder when the face is defied description. Another criminal, who escaped uncovered than the man that is hanged, and yet by the breaking of the cord, said that, after a sec- all the time there is horror on his countenance, ond of suffering, a fire appeared, and across it the within he is either calm or unconscious.* If most beautiful avenue of trees. Henry IV. of those who stood by the guillotine had been equally France sent his physician to question him, and curious about other modes of dying, they would when mention was made of a pardon, the man answered coldly that it was not worth the asking. The uniformity of the description renders it useless to multiply instances. They fill pages in every book of medical jurisprudence. All agree that the uneasiness is quite momentary, that a pleasurable feeling immediately succeeds, that colors of various hue start up before the sight, and that these having been gazed on for a trivial space, the rest is oblivion. The mind, averted from the reality of the situation, is engaged in scenes the most remote from that which fills the eye of the spectator-the vile rabble, the hideous gallows, and the struggling form that swings in the wind. Formerly in England the friends of the criminal, in the natural belief that while there was life there was pain, threw themselves upon his legs as the cart drove away, that the addition of their weight might shorten his pangs. A more sad satisfaction for all the parties concerned could not well be conceived.

In the frenzy of innovation which accompanied the French revolution, when everything was to

*The face after hanging is sometimes natural, but more commonly distorted. Shakspeare has given a vivid and exact description of the change in the speech where Warwick points to the indications of violence which prove that the Duke of Gloster had been murdered :

But see, his face is black and full of of blood;
His eyeballs further out than when he lived,
Staring full ghastly like a strangled man;

His hair upreared, his nostrils stretched with struggling;
His hands abroad displayed, as one that grasped
And tugged for life, and was by strength subdued.

The great poets beat the philosophers out of the field. They have the two-fold faculty essential to description-the eye which discriminates the characteristic circumstances, and the words which bring them up like pictures before the mind. By "his hands abroad displayed" must be understood that they were thrust to a distance from the body, which is an impulse with persons who are stifled by force. That the hands themselves should be wide open is inconsistent with the fact, and with the idea of "grasping." They are sometimes clenched palms-another instance among many, after what we with such violence that the nails penetrate the flesh of the know of the sensations in hanging, how little the convul sive movements of the dying are connected with pain. The circumstance is not surprising, now that the splendid investigations of Sir Charles Bell, which may challenge comparison with anything that has ever been done in physiology, have demonstrated that the nerves of motion are distinct from the nerves of feeling, and that they are capable of acting independently of one another.

have known that the peculiarity was not in the turned, and had it refitted to the parent stock. On signs, but in the interpretations they put upon the following day it had begun to unite, and on them. The lips move convulsively-the head, the fourth the old nose was again incorporated say they, is striving to speak-the eyes are wide with the old face. The Polish doctors may have open, and are therefore watching the scene before founded their hopes on some examples of the kind. them; as if it was not common in violent death But they overlooked that time was an element in for lips to quiver when the mind was laid to rest, the cure, and that life must be sustained while adand for eyes to stare when their sense was shut. hesion was going on. They seem to have imagIt is affirmed, however, that the eyes are some-ined that the neck and head would unite together times fixed upon cherished objects. But were the upon the first application, with the same celerity anguish, as is asserted, "full fine, perfect," the that they had flown asunder at the stroke of the head, instead of employing itself in the contem- executioner. With the exception of these sages plation of friends, would be absorbed in its own of Poland, nobody, until the guillotine had been intolerable torments. The illusion is probably busy in France, appears to have dreamt that after produced by the relatives themselves, who look in head and body had parted company life or feeling the direction of the eyes, which then appear to could subsist. Decapitation, as the most honorreturn the gaze. But it is neither necessary nor able, was the most coveted kind of death, and safe to find a solution for every marvel. Few Lord Russell scarcely exaggerated the general have had the opportunity, and fewer still the opinion when he said, shortly before his fatal mocapacity, for correct observation. The imagina- ment, that the pain of losing a head was less than tion of the spectator is powerfully excited, and a the pain of drawing a tooth. Hatred to the guilslight perversion suffices to convert a mechanical lotine has had a large influence upon later judgmovement into an emotion of feeling or an effort ments. The instrument for the punishment of the of the will. There are not many of the ordinary guilty became the instrument of guilt, and there is statements which rest upon the testimony of com- an inclination to extend to the machine a part of petent observers; and most of the extraordinary, the opprobrium which attaches to those who put it such as the blushing of Charlotte Corday when in motion. And unquestionably there are moral her cheek was struck by the villain who held up associations, independent of every physical considher head, are not attested by any witness whatso-eration, which will always render it the most ever. Though everybody repeats them, no one loathsome and sickening of all the contrivances can tell from whence they came. It is a point by which felons are made to pay the penalty of upon which M. Sue and his school have not been exacting. One of the number mentions a man, or to speak more correctly, the head of a man, who turned his eyes whichever way they called him; and having thus digested the camel without difficulty, he grows scrupulous about the gnat, and cannot be confident whether the name of the person was Tillier or De Tillier. It is an epitome of the plan upon which many of the papers on the subject are penned. The authors take care of the pence and leave the pounds to take care of themselves. For our own part, we believe that the crashing of an axe through the neck must completely paralyze the sensation of the brain, and that the worst is over when the' is uncertain evidence of the pain he endures. The head is in the basket.


The punishment of the wheel was among the deaths exploded by the guillotine, and out of a spirit of hostility to everything which preceded the Revolution, the barbarities that attended it have been grossly exaggerated. The criminal fastened to a St. Andrew's cross had his limbs fractured with an iron bar. Though each blow might be conjectured to be a death in itself, the notorious Mandrin laughed on receiving the second stroke, and when the confessor reproved his levity, replied that he was laughing at his own folly in supposing that sensibility could survive the first concussion. The demeanor of a culprit

timid shriek with apprehension-the brave by the The section of physiologists who would hardly energy of self-control can continue calm in the refuse credit to the unpunctuated averment that extremest torture. Mandrin was of that class of King Charles walked and talked half an hour men whose minds are not to be penetrated by the after his head was cut off, are left behind by some iron which enters the flesh, and his indifference Polish physicians, who were persuaded that by perhaps was partly assumed. But such blows bringing into contact the newly severed parts they have certainly a stunning effect, and render the could make them reünite. They had sufficient punishment far less dreadful than we are accusfaith in their folly to petition that the head when tomed to picture it. From the cross the mangled it had grown to the shoulders might be suffered to body was transferred to the wheel-the back remain, and obtained a promise that their work curved over the upper circumference, and the feet should be respected, and the revivified criminal and head depending downwards. Here it was spared a second execution. Among the authenti- common, according to some who have written cated curiosities of surgery is the case of a soldier, since, for the unhappy wretches to linger for who had his nose bitten off in a street riot, and hours-writhing with agony, and often uttering thrown into the gutter. He picked up the frag- blasphemies in their torment. Happen now and ment, deposited it in the house of a neighboring then it did, but common it was not. Of those surgeon, and, having pursued the aggressor, re- condemned to the wheel, all except the worst de

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