Note on the e-text: this Renascence Editions text was provided by Ben R. Schneider, Lawrence University, Wisconsin. It is in the public domain. "Florio's Translation of Montaigne's Essays was first published in 1603. In 'The World's Classics' the first volume was published in 1904, and reprinted in 1910 and 1924." Content unique to this presentation is copyright © 1998 The University of Oregon. For nonprofit and educational uses only.
F, AS some say, to philosophate be to doubt; with much more reason to rave and fantastiquize, as I doe, must necessarily be to doubt: For, to enquire and debate belongeth to a scholler, and to resolve appertaines to a cathedrall master. But know, my cathedrall, it is the authoritie of Gods divine will, that without any contradiction doth sway us, and hath her ranke beyond these humane and vaine contestations. Philip being with an armed band entered the countrie of Peloponnesus, some one told Damidas the Lacedemonians were like to endure much if they sought not to reobtaine his lost favour. 'Oh varlet as thou art (answered he). And what can they suffer who have no feare at all of death?' Agis being demanded, how a man might do to live free, answered; 'Despising and contemning to die.' These and a thousand like propositions, which concurre in this purpose, do evidently inferre some thing beyond patient expecting of death it selfe to be suffered in this life: witnesse the Lacedemonian child, taken by Antigonus, and sold for a slave, who urged by his master to perform some abject service; 'Thou shalt see (said he) whom thou hast bought, for it were a shame for me to serve, having libertie so neere at hand;' and therewithall threw himselfe headlong downe from the top of the house. Antipater, sharply threatning the Lacedemonians, to make them yeeld to a certaine request of his; they answered, shouldest thou menace us worse than death, we will rather die. And to Philip, who having written unto them that he would hinder all their enterprises; 'What? (say they) wilt thou, also hinder us from dying?' That is the reason why some say that the wise man liveth as long as he ought, and not so long as he can. And that the favourablest gift nature hath bequeathed us, and which removeth all meanes from us to complaine of our condition, is, that she hath left us the key of the fields. She hath appointed but one entrance unto life, but many a thousand ways out of it: Well may we want ground to live upon, but never ground to die, in; as Boiocalus answered the Romanes. Why dost thou complaine against this world? It doth not containe thee: If thou livest in paine and sor row, thy base courage is the cause of it. To die there wanteth but will.Ubique mors est. optime hoc cavit Deus,And it is not a receipt to one malady alone; Death is a remedy against all evils: It is a most assured haven, never to be feared, and often to be sought: All comes to one period, whether man make an end of himselfe, or whether he endure it; whether he run before his day, or whether he expect it: whence soever it come, it is ever his owne, where ever the threed be broken, it is all there, it's the end of the web. The voluntariest death is the fairest. Life dependeth on the will of others, death on ours. In nothing should we so much accommodate our selves to our humors as in that. Reputation doth nothing concerne such an enterprise, it is folly to have any respect unto it. To live is to serve, if the libertie to dye be wanting. The common course of curing any infirmitie is ever directed at the charge of life: we have incisions made into us, we are cauterized, we have limbs cut and mangled, we are let bloud, we are dieted. Goe we but one step further, we need no more physicke, we are perfectly whole. Why is not our jugular or throat-veine as much at our command as the mediane? To extreme sicknesses, extreme remedies. Servius the Grammarian being troubled with the gowt, found no better meanes to be rid of it than to apply poison to mortifie his legs. He cared not whether they were Podagrees or no, so they were insensible. God giveth us sufficient privilege, when be placeth us in such an estate, as life is worse than death unto us. It is weaknesse to yeeld to evils, but folly to foster them. The Stoikes say it is a convenient naturall life, for a wise man, to forgoe life, although he abound in all happinesse, if he doe it opportunely: And for a foole to prolong his life, albeit he be most miserable, provided he be in most part of things, which they say to be according unto nature; As I offend not the lawes made against theeves when I cut mine owne purse, and carry away mine owne goods; nor of destroyers when I burne mine owne wood; so am I nothing tied unto lawes made against m urtherers, if I deprive my selfe of mine owne life. Hegesias was wont to say, that even as the condition of life, so should the qualitie of death depend on our election. And Diogenes meeting with the Philosopher Speusippus, long time afflicted with the dropsie, and therefore carried in a litter, who cried out unto him, All haile Diogenes: And to thee no health at all (replied Diogenes), that endurest to live in so wretched an estate. True it is, that a while after, Speusippus, as overtired with so languishing a condition of life, compassed his owne death. But this goeth not without some contradiction: For many are of opinion, that without the expresse commandment of him that hath placed us in this world, we may by no meanes forsake the garrison of it, and that it is in the hands of God only, who therein bath placed us, not for our selves alone, but for his glory, and others services when ever it shall please him to discharge us hence, and not for us to take leave: That we are not borne for our selves, but for our Countrie: The Lawes for their owne interest require an accompt at our hands for our selves, and have a just action of murther against us. Else as forsakers of our owne charge, we are punished in the other world.
Eripere vitam memo non homini potest:
At nemo mortem: mille ad hanc aditus patent. -- Sen. Theb. act. i. sc. I.
Each where death is: God did this well purvey,
No man but can from man life take away,
But none barres death, to it lies many a way.Proxima deinde tenent maesti loca, qui sibi lethumThere is more constancie in using the chaine that holds us than in breaking the same; and more triall of stedfastnesse in Regulus than in Cato. It is indiscretion and impatience that hastneth our way. No accidents can force a man to turne his backe from lively vertue: She seeketh out evils and sorrowes as her nourishment. The threats of fell tyrants, tortures and torments, executioners and torturers, doe animate and quicken her.
Insontes peperere manu, lucemque perosi
Projecere animas. -- Virg. Æn. vi. 434.
Next place they lamentable hold in hell,
Whose hand their death caused causelesse, (but not well)
And hating life did thence their soules expell.Duris ut ilex tonsa bipennibusAnd as the other saith,
Nigræ feraci frondis in Algido
Per damna, per cædes, ab ipso
Ducit opes animumque fero. -- Hor. iv. Od. iv. 57.
As holme-tree doth with hard axe lopt
On hils with many holme-trees topt,
From losse, from cuttings it doth feele,
Courage and store rise ev'n from steele,Non est putas virtus, pater,It is the part of cowardlinesse, and not of vertue, to seeke to squat it selfe in some hollow lurking hole, or to hide her selfe under some massie tombe, thereby to shun the strokes of fortune. She never forsakes her course, nor leaves her way, what stormie weather soever crosse her.
Timere vitam, sed malis ingentibus
Obstare, nec se vertereac vetro dare. -- Sen. Theb. act. i. sc. I.
Sir, 'tis not vertue, as you understand,
To feare life, but grosse mischiefe to withstand,
Not to retire, turne backe, at any hand.
Rebus in adversis facile est contemnere mortem.
Fortius ille facit, qui miser esse potest. -- Mart. xi. Ep. lvii. 15.
Tis easie in crosse chance death to despise:
He that can wretched be, doth stronger rise.Si fractus illabatur orbis,The avoyding of other inconveniences doth most commonly drive us into this, yea, sometimes the shunning of death makes us to run into it.
Impa vidam ferient ruinæ. -- Hor. iii. Od. iii. 7.
If the world broken should upon her fall,
The ruines may her strike, but not appall.Hic, rogo, non furor est, ne moriare, mori? -- Mart. ii. Epig. lxxx. 2.As those who for feare, of a break-necke downe-fall, doe headlong cast themselves into it.
Madnesse is't not, say I,
To dye, lest you should dye?--- multos in summa pericula misitPlato in his Lawes, alots him that hath deprived his neerest and deerest friend of life (that is to say, himselfe) and abridged him of the destinies course, not constrained by any publike judgement, nor by any lewd and inevitable accident of fortune, nor by any intolerable shame or infamy, but through basenesse of minde, and weakenesse of a faint-fearful courage, to have a most ignominious and ever-reproachfull buriall. And the opinion which disdaineth our life is ridiculous: For in fine it is our being. It is our all in all. Things that have a nobler and richer being nay accuse ours: But it is against nature, we should despise, and carelesly set our selves at naught: It is a particular infirmitie, and, which is not seene in any other creature, to hate and disdaine himselfe. It is of like vanitie, that we desire to be other than we are. The fruit of such a desire doth not concerne us, forasmuch as it contradicteth and hindereth it selfe in it selfe. He that desireth to be made of a man an Angell doth nothing for himselfe: He should be nothing the better by it: And being no more, who shall rejoyce or conceive any gladnesse of this change or amendment for him?
Venturi timor ipse mali fortissimus ille est,
Qui promptus metuenda pati, si cominus instent,
Et diferre potest. -- Lucan. vii. 104.
The very feare of ils to come, hath sent
Many to mighty dangers: strongest they,
Who fearfull things t'endure are ready bent
If they confront them, yet can them delay.
---usque adeo mortisformidine, vitæ
Percepit humanos odium, lucisqe videndæ,
Ut sibi consciscant maerenti pectore lethum,
Obliti fonte currarum hunc esse timorem. -- Lucr. iii. 79.
So far by feare of death, the hate of life,
And seeing light, doth men as men possesse,
They grieving kill themselves to end the strife,
Forgetting, feare is spring of their distresse.Debet enim misere cui forte ægreque futuram est,The security, indolencie, impassibility, and privation of this lifes evils, which we purchase at the price of death, bring us no cornmoditie at all. In vaine doth he avoid warre that cannot enjoy peace; and bootlesse doth he shun paine that hath no meanes to feele rest. Amongst those of the first opinion, great questioning hath beene, to know what occasions are sufficiently just and lawfull to make a man undertake the killing of himselfe, they call that ευλογον εζαγωγην (Alex. Aphrod.) a reasonable orderly out-let. For, although they say a man must often dye for slight causes, since these that keepe us alive are not very strong; yet is some measure required in them. There are certaine fantasticall and brainesicke humors, which have not only provoked particular men, but whole Nations to defeat themselves. I have heretofore aleaged some examples of them: And moreover we reade of certaine Milesian virgins, who upon a furious conspiracie hanged themselves one after another, untill such time as the Magistrate provided for it, appointing that such as should be found so hanged, should with their owne halters be dragged naked thorow the streets of the citie. When Threicion perswadeth Cleomenes to kill himselfe, by reason of the bad and desperate estate his affaires stood in, and having escaped a more honourable death in the battell which he had lately lost, moveth him to accept of this other, which is second to him in honour, and give the Conqueror no leisure to make him endure, either another death, or else a shamefull life, Cleomenes, with a Lacedemonian and Stoike courage, refuseth this counsell as base and effeminate: It is a receipt (saith he) which can never faile me, and whereof a man should make no use, so long as there remaineth but one inch of hope: That to live, is sometimes constancie and valour; That he will have his very death serve his Countrie, and by it shew an act of honour and of vertue. Threicion then beleeved, and killed himselfe. Cleomenes did afterwards as much, but not before he had tried and assayed the utmost power of fortune. All inconveniencies are not so much worth that a man should dye to eschue them. Moreover, there being so many sudden changes and violent alterations in humane things, it is hard to judge in what state or point we are justly at the end of our hope:
Ipse quoque esse in eo tum tempore, cum male possit
Accidere. -- Ibid. 905.
For he, who shall perchance prove miserable,
And speed but ill, should then himselfe be able
To be himselfe, when ils may chance unstable.Sperat et in saeva victus gladiator arena,All things, saith an ancient Proverb, may a man hope for so long as he liveth: yea, but answereth Seneca, wherefore shall I rather have that in minde; that fortune can do all things for him that is living, than this; that fortune hath no power at all over him who knoweth how to dye? Josephus is seene engaged in so apparent-approaching danger, with a whole nation against him, that according to humane reason there was no way for him to escape; notwithstanding being (as he saith) counselled by a friend of his, at that instant, to kill himselfe, it fell out well for him to opinionate himselfe yet in hope: for fortune, beyond all mans discourse, did so turne and change that accident, that without any inconvenience at all, he saw himselfe delivered: whereas on the contrarie Brutus and Cassius, by reason of the down-fall and rashnesse, wherewith before due time and occasion they killed themselves; did utterly lose the reliques of the Roman libertie, whereof they were protectors. The Lord of Anguien in the battell of Serisolles, as one desperate of the combats successe, which on his side went to wracke, attempted twice to run himselfe thorow the throat with his rapier and thought by precipitation to bereave himselfe of the enjoying of so notable a victorie. I have seene a hundred Hares save themselves even in the Grey-hounds jawes: Aliquis carnifici suo superstes fuit. (Sen. Epist. xiii.) 'Some man hath outlived his Hang-man.'
Sit licet infesto pollice turba minax.
The Fencer hopes, though down in lists he lye,
And people with turn'd hand threat's he must dye.Multa dies variusque labor mutabilis eviPlinie saith there are but three sorts of sicknesses, which to avoid, a man may have some colour of reason to kill himselfe. The sharpest of all is the stone in the bladder, when the urine is there stopped. Seneca, those onely, which for long time disturbe and distract the offices of the minde. To avoid a worse death, some are of opinion, a man should take it at his owne pleasure. Democritus, chiefe of the Ætolians, being led captive to Rome, found meanes to escape by night but being pursued by his keepers, rather, than he would be taken againe, ran himselfe thorow with his sword. Antinous and Theodotus, their Citie of Epirus being by the Romans reduced unto great extremitie, concluded, and perswaded all the people to kill themselves. But the counsell, rather to yield, having prevailed, they went to seeke their owne death, and rushed amidst the thickest of their enemies, with an intention rather to strike than to ward themselves. The Iland of Gosa, being some yeares since surprised and over-run by the Turkes, a certaine Sicilian therein dwelling, having two faire daughters ready to be marrried, killed them both with his owne hands, together with their mother, that came in to help them. That done, running out into the streets, with a crossebow in one hand and a caliver in the other, at two shoots slew the two first Turks that came next to his gates, then resolutely drawing his sword, ran furiously among them, by whom he was suddenly hewen in peeces: Thus, did he save himselfe from slavish bondage, having first delivered his owne from it. The Jewish women, after they had caused their children to be circumcised, to avoid the crueltie of Antiochus, did headlong precipitate themselves and them unto death. I have heard it credibly reported that a gentleman of good quality being prisoner in one of our Gaols, his parents advertized that he should assuredly be condemned to avoid the infamie of so reproachfull a death, appointed a priest to tell him that the best remedy was to recommend himselfe to such a with such a saint, with such, and such a vow, and to continue eight dayes without taking any sustenance, what faintnesse or weaknesse soever he should feele in himselfe. He believed them, and so without thinking on it, was delivered out of life and danger. Scribonia perswading Libo her nephew, to kill himselfe, rather than to await the stroke of justice, told him that for a man to preserve his owne life, to put it into the hands of such as three or foure dayes after should come and seek it, was even to dispatch another man's business, and that it was no other than for one to serve his enemies to preserve his bloud, therewith to make food. We read in the Bible that Nicanor the persecutor of Gods law, having sent his satellites to apprehend the good old man Rasi as for the honour of his vertue, surnamed the father of the Jewes; when that good man saw no other means left him, his gate being burned, and his enemies ready to lay hold on him, chose rather than to fall into the hands of such villaines and be so basely abused against the honour of his place, to dye nobly, and so smote himselfe with his owne sword; but by reason of his haste, having not thoroughly slaine himselfe, he ran to throw himselfe downe from an high wall, amongst the throng of people, which making him roome, he fell right upon his head. All which notwithstanding, perceiving life to remaine in him, he tooke heart againe; and getting up on his feet, all goared with bloud and loaden with strokes, making way through the prease, came to a craggy and downe-steepy rock, where, unable to go any further, by one of his wounds with both his hands pulled out his guts, and tearing and breaking them cast them amongst such as pursued him, calling and attesting the vengeance of God to light upon them. Of all violences committed against conscience, the most in mine opinion to be avoided is that which is offered against the chastitie of women. Forasmuch as there is naturally some corporall pleasure commixt with it, and therefore the dissent cannot fully enough be joyned thereunto; and it seemeth that force is in some sort intermixed with some will. The ecclesiastical storie hath in especiall reverence sundry such examples of devout persons who called for death to warrant them from the outrages which some tyrants prepared against their religion and consciences. Pelagia and Sophronia, both canonised, the first, together with her mother and sisters, to escape the outrageous rapes of some souldiers, threw her selfe into a river; the other, to shun the force of Maxentius, the Emperor, slew her selfe. It shall peradventure redound to our honour in future ages, that a wise author of these dayes, and namely a Parisian,, doth labour to perswade the ladies of our times rather to hazard upon any resolution than to embrace so horrible a counsell of such desperation. I am sorie that to put amongst his discourses he knew not the good saying I learnt of a woman at Tholouse, who had passed through the hands of some souldiers: 'God be praised,' said she, 'that once in my life I have had my belly full without sinne.' Verify these cruelties are not worthy of the French curtesie. And God be thanked, since this good advertisement, our ayre is infinitely purged of them. Let it suffice that in doing it they say no, and take it, following the rule of Marot. The historie is very full of such, who a thousand ways have changed lingering, toylsome life with death. Lucius Aruntius killed himselfe, as he said to avoid what was past and eschue what was to come. Granius Sylvanus and Statius Proximus, after they had beene pardoned by Nero, killed themselves, either because they scorned to live by the favour of so wicked a man, or because they would not another time be in danger of a second pardon, seeing his so easie-yielding unto suspicions and accusations against honest men. Spargapises, sonne unto Queene Tomiris, prisoner by the law of warre unto Cyrus, employed the first favour that Cyrus did him by setting him free, to kill himselfe, as he who never pretended to reap other fruit by his liberty, than to revenge the infamie of his taking upon himselfe. Boges, a Governor for King Xerxes, in the country of Ionia, being besieged by the Athenians army, under the conduct of Cymon, refused the composition to returne safely, together with his goods and treasure, into Asia, as one impatient to survive the loss of what his master had given him in charge; and after he had stoutly, and even to the last extremity, defended the towne, having no manner of victuals left him; first he all the gold and treasure, with whatsoever he imagined the enemy might reap any commoditie by, into the river Strimon . Then having caused a great pile of wood to be set on fire, and made all women, children, concubines and servants to be stripped and throwne into the flames, afterward ran in himselfe, where all were burned. Ninachetuen, a lord in the East Indies, having had an inkling of the King of Portugales viceroys deliberation to dispossess him, without any apparent cause of the charge he had in Malaca, for to give it unto the King of Campar, of himselfe took this resolution: First, he caused an high scaffold to be set up, somewhat longer than broad, underpropped with pillars, all gorgeously hanged with rich tapestrie, strewed with flowers and adorned with precious perfumes. Then, having put on a sumptuous long robe of cloth of gold, richly beset with store of precious stones of inestimable worth, he came out of the palace into the street, and by certaine steps ascended the scaffold, in one of the corners whereof was a pile of aromaticall wood set afire. All the people of the citie were flocked together to see what the meaning of such unaccustomed preparation might tend unto. Ninachetuen, with an undanted, bold, yet seeming discontented countenance, declared the manifold obligations which the Portugal nation was endebted unto him for, expostulated how faithfully and truly he had dealt in his charge; that having so often witnessed, armed at all assayes for others, that his honour was much dearer unto him than life, he was not to forsake the care of it for himselfe; that fortune refusing him all means to oppose himselfe against the injurie intended against him, his courage at the least willed him to remove the feeling thereof, and not become a laughing stocke unto the people, and a triumph to men of lesse worth than himselfe, which words, as he was speaking, he cast himselfe into the fire. Sextilia, the wife of Scaurus, and Praxea, wife unto Labeo, to encourage their husbands to avoid the dangers which pressed them, wherein they had no share (but in regard of the interest of their conjugal affection), voluntarily engaged their life, in this extreme necessitie, to serve them as an example to imitate and company to regard. What they performed for their husbands, Cocceius Nerva acted for his countrie, and though lesse profitable, yet equall in true love. That famous interpreter of the lawes, abounding in riches, in reputation, in credit, and flourishing in health about the Emperour, had no other cause to rid himselfe of life but the compassion of the miserable estate, wherein he saw the Romane commonwealth. Nothing can be added unto the daintinesse of the wifes death of Fulvius who was so inward with Augustus. Augustus perceiving he had blabbed a certaine secret of importance, which he on trust had revealed unto him, one morning comming to visit him, he seemed to frowne upon him for it; whereupon as guilty, he returneth home as one full of despaire, and in piteous sort told his wife that sithence he was falne into such a mischiefe, he was resolved to kill himselfe; shee, as one no whit dismaied, replied unto him: 'Thou shalt doe but right, since having so often exprienced the incontinence of my tongue, thou hast not learnt to beware of it, yet give me leave to kill my selfe first,' and without more adoe ran her selfe thorow with a sword. Vibius Virius despairing of his cities safetie, besieged by the Romans, and mistrusting their mercie, in their Senates last consultation, after many remonstrances employed to that end, concluded that the best and fairest way was to escape fortune by their owne hands. The very enemies should have them in more honour, and Hanniball might perceive what faithfull friends he had forsaken. Enviting those that should allow of his advice to come and take a good supper, which was prepared in his house, where, after great cheere, they should drinke together whatsoever should be presented unto him; a drinke that shall deliver our bodies from torments, free our mindes from injuries, a nd release our eyes and eares from seeing and hearing so horrible mischiefes, which the conquered must endure at the hands of most cruell and offended conquerors. 'I have,' quoth he, 'taken order that nen fit for that purpose shall be ready, when we shall be expired, to cast us into a great burning pile of wood.' Diverse approved of his high resolution, but few did imitate the same. Seven and twentie Senators followed him, who after they had attempted to stifle so irkesome and suppress so terror-moving a thought, with quaffing and swelling of wine, they ended their repast by this deadly messe: and enter-bracing one another, after they had in common deplored and bewailed their countries misfortunes, some went home to their owne house, othersome stayed there, to be entombed with Vibius in his owne fire, whose death was so long and lingering, forsomuch as the vapor of the wine having possessed their veines, and slowed the effect and operation of the poyson, that some lived an hour after they had seen their enemies enter Capua, which they caried the next day after, and incurred the miseries and saw the calamities which at so high a rate they had sought to eschue. Taurea Iubellius, another citizen there, the Consull Fulvius returning from that shameful slaughter which he had committed of 225 Senators, called him churlishly by his name, and having arrested him; 'Co;nmand, 'quoth he unto him, 'that I also be massacred after so many others, that so thou maiest brag to have murthered a much more valiant man than ever thou wast.' Fulvius, as one enraged, disdaining him; forasmuch as be had newly received letters from Rome contrarie to the inhumanitie of his execution, which inhibited him to proceed any further; Iubellius, continuing his speech, said: 'Sithence my Countrie is taken, my friends butchered, and having with mine owne hands slaine my wife and children, as the onely meane to free them from the desolation of this ruine, I may not dye the death of my fellow citizens, let us borrow the vengeance of this hatefull life from vertue:' And drawing a blade he had hidden under his garments, therewith ran himselfe thorow, and falling on his face, died at the Consuls feet. Alexander besieged a Citie in India, the inhabitants whereof, perceiving themselves brought to a very narrow pinch, resolved obstinately to deprive him of the pleasure he might get of his victorie, and to gether with their Citie, in despite of his humanitie set both the Towne and themselves on a light fire, and so were all consumed. A new kinde of warring, where the enemies did all they could, and sought to save them, they to loose themselves, and to be assured of their death, did all a man can possibly effect to warrant his life. Astapa, a Citie in Spaine, being very weake of wals and other defences, to withstand the Romanes that besieged it; the inhabitants drew all their riches and wealth into the market-place, whereof having made a heap, and on the top of it placed their wives and children, and encompassed and covered the same with drie brush wood that it might burne the easier, and having appointed fifty lusty young men of theirs for the performance of their resolution, made a sally, where following their determined vow, seeing they could not vanquish, suffered themselves to be slaine every mothers childe. The fifty, after they had massacred every living soule remaining in the Citie, and set fire to the heap joyfully leaped there-into, ending their generous liberty in a state rather insensible than dolorous and reproachfull; showing their enemies that, if fortune had beene so pleased, they should as well have had the courage to bereave them of the victory as they, had to yeeld it them both vaine and hideous, yea, and mortall to those who allured by the glittering of the gold that moulten ran from out the flame, thicke and threefold approching greedily unto it, were therein smothered and burned, the formost being unable to give back, by reason of the throng that followed them. The Abideans, pressed by Philip, resolved upon the very same, but being prevented, the King whose heart abhorred to see the fond-rash precipitation of such an execution (having first seized upon and saved the treasure and moveables, which they had diversly condemned to the flames and utter spoyle) retiring all the Souldiers, granted them the full space of three dayes to make themselves away, that so they might doe it with more order and leisure; which three dayes they replenished with blood and murther beyond all hostile cruelty: And which is strange, there was no one person saved that had power upon himselfe. There are infinite examples of such-like popular conclusions, which seeme more violent by how much more the effect of them is more universall. They are lesse than when severall. What discourse would not doe in each one, it doth in all the vehemence of societie ravishing particular judgements. Such as were condemned to dye in the time of Tiberius, and delaid their execution any while, lost their goods, and could not be buried; but such as prevented the same, in killing themselves, were solemnly enterred, and might at their pleasure bequeath such goods as they had to whom they list. But a man doth also sometimes desire death, in hope of a greater good. 'I desire,' saith Saint Paul, 'to be out of this world, that I may be with Jesus Christ: and who shal release me out of these bonds?' Cleombrotus Ambraciota, having read Platoes Pheadon, was so possessed with a desire and longing for an after-life, that without other occasion or more adoe, he went and headlong cast himselfe into the sea. Whereby it appeareth how improperly we call this voluntarie dissolution despaire; unto which the violence of hope doth often transport us, and as often a peacefull and setled inclination of judgement. Iaques du Castell, Bishop o Soissons, in the voyage which Saint Lewes undertooke beyond the seas, seeing the King and all his army ready to returne into France, and leave the affaires of Religion imperfect, resolved with himselfe rather to goe to heaven; And having bidden his friends farewell, in the open view of all men, rushed alone into the enemies troops, of whom he was forthwith hewen in pieces. In a certaine kingdome of these late-discovered Indies, upon a day of a solemne procession, in which the idols they adore are publikely carried up and down upon a chariot of exceeding greatnesse: besides that, there are many seene to cut and slice great mammocks of their quicke flesh to offer the said idols; there are numbers of others seene who, prostrating themselves alongst the ground, endure very patiently to be mouldred and crushed to death under the chariots wheels, thinking thereby to purchase after their death a veneration of holinesse, of which they are not defrauded. The death of this Bishop, armed as we have said, argueth more generositie and lesse sense: the heat of the combat ammusing one part of it. Some common-wealths there are that have gone about to sway the justice and direct the opportunitie of voluntarie deaths. In our Citie of Marseille they were wont in former ages ever to keepe some poison in store, prepared and compounded with hemlocke, at the Cities charge, for such as would upon any occasion shorten their daies, having first approved the reasons of their enterprise unto the six hundred Elders of the Towne, which was their Senate: For otherwise it was unlawfull for any body, except by the Magistrates permission, and for very lawfully-urgent occasions, to lay violent hands upon himselfe. The very same law was likewise used in other places. Sextus Pompeius, going into Asia, passed thorow the Iland of Cea, belonging to Negropont; it fortuned whilest he abode there (as one as one reporteth that was in his companie) that a woman of great authority, having first yielded an accompt unto her Citizens and shewed good reasons why she was resolved to end her life, earnestly entreated Pompey to be an assistant at her at her death, that so it might be esteemed more honourable, which he assented unto; and having long time in vaine sought, by vertue of his eloquence (wherein be was exceeding ready) and force of perswasion, to alter her intent and remove her from her purpose, in the end yeelded to her request. She had lived foure score and ten yeares in a most happy state of minde and body, but when lying on her bed, better adorned than before she was accustomed to have it, and leaning on her elbow, thus she bespoke: 'The Gods, O Sextus Pompeius, and rather those I forgoe than those I goe unto, reward and appay thee, for that thou hast vouchsafed to be both a counsellor of my life and a witnesse of my death. As for my part, having hitherto ever tasted the favourable visage of fortune, for feare the desire of living overlong should make me taste of her frownes, with an happy and successfull end I will now depart, and set free the remainder of my soule, leaving behind me two daughters of, mine, with a legion of grand-children and nephewes.' That done, having preached unto and exhorted all her people and kinsfolks to an unitie and peace, and divided her goods amongst them, and recommended her household Gods unto her eldest daughter, with an assuredly-staide hand she tooke the cup wherein the poyson was, and having made her vowes unto Mercurie, and prayers to conduct her unto some happy place in the other world, roundly swallowed that mortall potion; which done, she intertained the progresse of her behaviour, and as the parts of her body were one after another possessed with the cold operation of that venom: untill such time as shee felt it worke at the heart and in her entrals, shee called her daughter to doe her the last office and close her eyes. Plinie reporteth of a certaine Hiperborean nation, wherein, by reason of the mild temperature of the aire, the inhabitants thereof commonly never dye, but when they please to make themselves away, and that being weary and tired with living they are accustomed at the end of a long-long age, having first made merry and good cheare with their friends, from the top of an high-steepy rocke appointed for that purpose, to cast themselves headlong into the sea. Grieving-smart, and a worse death seeme to me the most excusable incitations.
Rettulit in melius, multos alterna revisens
Lusit, et in solido rursus fortuna locavit. -- Virg. Æn. xi. 426.
Time, and of turning age the divers straine,
Hath much to better brought, fortunes turn'd traine,
Hath many mock 'd, and set them fast againe.