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plete revolution which was effected in this sphere by the influence of Christianity.
A few words may be added on the later phases of this mournful history. The Reformation does not seem to have had any immediate effect in multiplying suicide, for Protestants and Catholics held with equal intensity the religious sentiments which are most fitted to prevent it, and in none of the persecutions was impatience of life largely displayed. The history at this period passes chiefly into the new world, where the unhappy Indians, reduced to slavery, and treated with atrocious cruelty by their conquerors, killed themselves in great numbers; till the Spaniards, it is said, discovered an ingenious method of deterring them, by declaring that the master also would commit suicide, and would pursue his victims into the world of spirits. In Europe the act was very common among the witches, who underwent all the sufferings with none of the consolations of martyrdom. Without enthusiasm, without hope, without even the consciousness of innocence, decrepit in body, and distracted in mind, compelled in this world to endure tortures, before which the most impassioned heroism might quail, and doomed, as they often believed, to eternal damnation in the next, they not unfrequently killed themselves in the agony of their despair. A French judge named Remy tells us that he knew no less than fifteen witches commit suicide in a single year.2
l'In our age, when the Spani- severity into the next life.'ards extended that law which was Donne's Biathanatos, p. 56 (ed. made only against the cannibals, 1644). On the evidence of the that they who would not accept early travellers on this point, see the Christian religion should incur the essay on · England's Forgotten bondage, the Indians in infinite Worthies,' in Mr. Froude's Short numbers escaped this by killing Studies. themselves, and never ceased till ? Lisle, pp. 427-434. Sprenger the Spaniards, by some counter- has noticed the same tendency feitings, made them think that among the witches he tried. See they also would kill themcelves, Calmeil, De la Folie (Paris, 1845), and follow them with the same tome i. pp. 161, 303-305.
In these cases, fear and madness combined in urging the victims to the deed. Epidemics of purely insane suicide have also not unfrequently occurred. Both the women of Marseilles and the women of Lyons were afflicted with an epidemic not unlike that which, in antiquity, had been noticed
among the girls of Miletus." In that strange mania which raged in the Neapolitan districts from the end of the fifteenth to the end of the seventeenth century, and which was attributed to the bite of the tarantula, the patients thronged in multitudes towards the sea, and often, as the blue waters opened to their view, they chanted a wild hymn of welcome, and rushed with passion into the waves.2 But together with these cases, which belong rather to the history of medicine than to that of morals, we find many facts exhibiting a startling increase of deliberate suicide, and a no less startling modification of the sentiments with which it was regarded. The revival of classical learning, and the growing custom of regarding Greek and Roman heroes as ideals, necessarily brought the subject into prominence. The Catholic casuists, and at a later period philosophers of the school of Grotius and Puffendorf, began to distinguish certain cases of legitimate suicide, such as that committed to avoid dishonour or probable sin, or that of the soldier who fires a mine, knowing he must inevitably perish by the explosion, or that of a condemned person who saves himself from torture by anticipating an inevitable fate, or that of a man who offers himself to death for his friend.3 The effect of the
i On modern suicides the reader a verse of their song : may consult Winslow's Anatomy of
• Allu mari mi portati Suicide ; as well as the work of M.
Se voleti che mi sanati, Lisle, and also Esquirol, Maladies
Allu mari, alla via, mentales (Paris, 1838), tome i. pp.
Così m'ama la donna inia, 526-676.
Allu mari, allu mari, 2 Hecker's Epidemics of the Middle Ages (London, 1844), p.
Mentre campo, t'aggio amari.' 121. Hecker in his very curious 3 Cromaziano, Ist. del Suicidio, essay on this mania, has preserved caps. viii. ix.
Pagan examples may frequently be detected in the last words or writings of the suicides. Philip Strozzi, when accused of the assassination of Alexander I. of Tuscany, killed himself through fear that torture might extort from him revelations injurious to his friends, and he left behind him a paper in which, among other things, he commended his soul to God, with the prayer that, if no higher boon could be granted, he might at least be permitted to have his place with Cato of Utica and the other great suicides of antiquity. I In England, the act appears in the seventeenth century and in the first half of the eighteenth to have been more common than upon the Continent, and several partial or even unqualified apologies for it were written. Sir Thomas More, in his Utopia,' represented the priests and magistrates of his ideal republic permitting or even enjoining those who were afflicted with incurable disease to kill themselves, but depriving of burial those who had done so without authorisation. Dr. Donne, the learned and pious Dean of St. Paul's, had in his youth written an extremely curious, subtle, and learned, but at the same time feeble and involved, work in defence of suicide, which on his deathbed he commanded his son neither to publish nor destroy, and which his son published in 1644. Two or three English suicides left behind them elaborate defences, as did also a Swede named Robeck, who drowned himself in 1735, and whose treatise, published in the following year, acquired considerable celebrity.4 But
Cromaziano, pp. 92–93. ter fogs. The statistics onade in
2 Montesquieu, and many Con- the present century prove beyond tinental writers, have noticed this, question that they are most numeand most English writers of the rous in summer. eighteenth century seem to admit 3 Utopia, book ii. ch. vi. the charge. There do not appear,
4 A sketch of his life, which however, to have been any accu- was rather curious, is given by rate statistics, and the general Cromaziano, pp. 148–151. There statements are very untrustworthy. is a long note on the early literaSuicides were supposed to be turo in defence of suicide, in Duespecially numerous under the de- mas, Traité du Suicide (Amsterdam, pressing influence of English win- 1723), pp. 148–149. Dumas was
the most influential writings about suicide were those of the French philosophers and revolutionists. Montaigne, without discussing its abstract lawfulness, recounts, with much admiration, many of the instances in antiquity. Montesquieu, in a youthful work, defended it with ardent enthusiasm.2 Rousseau devoted to the subject two letters of a burning and passionate eloquence, in the first of which he presented with matchless power the arguments in its favour, while in the second he denounced those arguments as sophistical, dilated upon the impiety of abandoning the post of duty, and upon the cowardice of despair, and with a deep knowledge of the human heart revealed the selfishness that lies at the root of most suicide, exhorting all who felt impelled to it to set about some work for the good of others, in which they would assuredly find relief. Voltaire, in the best-known couplet he ever wrote, defends the act on occasions of extreme necessity.4 Among the atheistical party it was warmly eulogised, and Holbach and Deslandes were prominent as its defenders. The rapid decomposition of religious opinions weakened the popular sense of its enormity, and at the same time the humanity of the age, and also a clearer sense of the
a Protestant minister who wrote Essais, liv. ii. ch. xiii. against suicide. Among the 2 Lettres persanes, lxxvi. English apologists for suicide 3 Nouvelle Héloïse, partie iii. (which he himself committed) was let. 21–22. Esquirol gives a curiBlount, the translator of the Life ous illustration of the way the of Apollonius of Tyana, and Creech, influence of Rousseau penetrated an editor of Lucretius. Concern- through all classes. A little child ing the former there is a note in of thirteen committed suicide, Bayle's Dict. art. 'Apollonius.' leaving a writing beginning : Je The latter is noticed by Voltaire in lègue mon âme à Rousseau, mon his Lettres Philos. He wrote as a corps à la terre.'— Maladies menmemorandum on the margin of his tales, tome i. p. 588. Lucretius,' .N.B. When I have * In general, however, Voltaire finished my Commentary I must was extremely opposed to the phikill myself;' which he accordingly losophy of despair, but he certainly did—Voltaire says to imitate his approved of some forms of suicide. favourite author. (Voltaire, Dict. See the articles. Caton' and 'Suiphil. art. “Caton.')
cide,' in his Dict. philos.
true limits of legislation, produced a reaction against the horrible laws on the subject. Grotius had defended them. Montesquieu at first denounced them with unqualified energy, but in his later years in some degree modified his opinions. Beccaria, who was, more than any other writer, the representative of the opinions of the French school on such matters, condemned them partly as unjust to the innocent survivors, partly as incapable of deterring any man who was resolved
the act. Even in 1749, in the full blaze of the philosophic movement, we find a suicide named Portier dragged through the streets of Paris with his face to the ground, hung from a gallows by his feet, and then thrown into the sewers ;' and the laws were not abrogated till the Revolution, which, having founded so many other forms of freedom, accorded the liberty of death. Amid the dramatic vicissitudes, and the fierce enthusiasm of that period of convulsions, suicides immediately multiplied. The world, it was said, had been "empty since the Romans.'2 For a brief period, and in this one country, the action of Christianity appeared suspended. Men seemed to be transported again into the age of Paganism, and the suicides, though more theatrical, were perpetrated with no less deliberation, and eulogised with no less enthusiasm, than among the Stoics. But the tide of revolution passed away, and with some qualifications the old opinions resumed their authority. The laws against suicide were, indeed, for the most part abolished. In France and several other lands there exists no legislation on the subject. In other countries the law simply enjoins burial without religious ceremonies. In England, the burial in a highway and the mutilation by a stake were abolished under George IV.; but the monstrous injustice of confiscating to the Crown the entire property of the deliberate suicide still
Lisle, Du Suicide, pp. 411, Romains.'—St.-Just, Procés 412.
Danton. 2 Le monde est vide depuis les