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each day to common pursuits, and but one to bis Maker*. A Catholic mind would have taken a different view of human obligations, and would, under such circumstances, have been delivered at least from this cause of regret and apprehension. Vincent Caraffa, general of the Jesuits, taking recreation as usual after dinner, was asked what he would do if he knew that he was immediately to die. “I would do exactly what I am now doing," he replied ; "that is, I would unbend my mind with recreation t" Roderic de Hormazas being admonished, as we are told, by his guardian angel, that he was to die on the following day, after his usual morning devotions, spent the whole remainder of the day in the kitchen, discharging his office as cook, and then in the evening demanded to be anointed, which rite was no sooner administered than he expiredt. The dying discourse of John de Medicis to his children evinced the same view of the facility of dying. “My dear sons,” he said to them, “neither I nor any other born into this world ought with sorrow to leave worldly solicitudes to pass to eternal rest. I perceive that I approach the last days of my life, and in that which causes sadness to the effeminate and to cowards, I find the greatest comfort ; for it is by a disposition of nature that I arrive at the end of my course, and I consider how joyfully I set out on the passage from mortal to immortal life. Only pray God that I arrive at the salvation of my soul.” We have the same results on the death of Cornaro, of which Antonio Graziani, bishop of Amelia, was an eyewitness. “ The excellent old nan,” he says, “feeling his death near, did not regard the great passage with any alarm, but as if it were only passing from one house to another. Seated on his little narrow bed, he told me with a clear, sonorous voice, the motives which made him quit life with such a firm soul; he made vows for the happiness of my Commendone, the Venetian cardinal, to whom he wished to write with his own hand a letter of advice and consolation, saying that he thought he might live two days longer; but soon after growing much weaker, he again asked for the succours of religion, and holding in his hands, with fixed grasp, a little crucifix, he exclaimed, looking at it stedfastly, Joyous and full of hope I shall go with thee, my good God! Then closing his eyes, as if to sleep, he left us with a faint sigh." Thus, by taking a few examples, this question, I think, may be said to be practically answered. Catholicism makes it easy to die. As St. Thomas of Villanova says, “Non solum horribilis non est mors, sed placida etiam amabilis vigilantis.” The Cid even seems to transfer to the act of dying the idea of a common
* Diary of a Late Physician. + Bartolus, in ejus vita.
feudal duty, saying in his testament, “ As for my soul, He who created it has full right to have it.” Thus die persons under the central influence. They have so much joy and peace about them, it were a sin to wish their life beyond that minute.
So do they pass away.” The sweet death of Brother Bernard, the Franciscan, was so gracious, that actually his countenance appeared more beautiful after it took place than when he was alive *; and the same observation is repeatedly made. With respect to the forms in which the positive assistance of religion is yielded to the dying, one must distinguish what we are told is the intention of the Church and her rite itself, from the ideas sometimes associated with popular language respecting them. Confession, in the first place, is a relief, not a burden to nature, which, in the case of crime, as the poet who sung Eugene Aram shows, can often ex-. tort it. Ulysses tells lies till the very last, so that even on arriving in Ithaca he invents what the boys of London would call a stunning falsehood to deceive the stranger who accosted him; when Minerva replies to him as follows :
Κερδαλέος κ' είη και επίκλοπος, ός σε παρέλθοι
Μύθων τε κλοπίων, οι τοι πεδόθεν φίλοι εισίν ή. The Homeric hero, however, in this respect is not a fair representative of man. Nature is attracted, not repulsed, by the Catholic discipline at death. “ Look up,” says the Church's holy messenger; “ I am come to help, not to afflict thee; I share thy sufferings. Why not acknowledge thy mistake ?”
Though content be call'd
“ To slip often,” says the old poet, who knew well the spirit of Catholicism, “ is incident to our nature, and excused by human frailty ; but to fall ever, damnable.” Life may be restored to all who have the will.
While we run
To the first pureness.” What is there in confession, then, described thus as it is by our ancient dramatic poets, to wound or to discourage? It is, besides, in general a manly voice that meets your ear in those sacred tribunals, not the prosy tediousness of an old woman. Again, to anoint the sick with oil, hoping and praying that their body even may be cured as well as their soul, has nothing surely in itself that "the gorge rises at,” or to alarm and sadden any one. We read in the book entitled Gemma Prædicantium of a vision which declared that extreme unction, instead of determining, is often instrumental in guarding off death, and restoring the health of those who receive it. Certainly, setting all such assurances aside, it would be hard to show that meeting death sacramentally armed with a sentiment of being prepared to live or die, sequestered from a sense of human sins, and with a foretaste of those divine ideas which change the spirit by a heaven of bliss, must neces. sarily be more alarming than that mode of departing wbich is seen elsewhere, “ with not one tinge of sanctuary splendour," not a sight or sound to recall the sense of supernatural security, when the only consolation is such as can be given by some one individual speaking for himself, or by the world, or by philosophy and science using terms in its dialect to puzzle desperate ignorance in those hours when
“ The congregated college have concluded
That labouring art can never ransom nature
From her unaidable estate." “ You must have comfort,” they will say, while crucifying perhaps the patient with their faces, and gaping strangely upon one another ; and to what amounts their comforting? They might hear in return the taunt of poor Flamineo, in the old tragedy, “ Your comfortable words are like honey. They relish in your mouth that's whole ; but in mine that's wounded they go down as if the sting of the bee were in them.” See, on the other hand, they who come from shrift, and though it be in a sick chamber, how often is it, like Juliet,“ with merry look.” To Goethe even these very solemn rites seemed beautiful; they lead him to remark how the whole life of man is sanctified and made one by the Catholic sacraments ; " and so,” he concludes, “ through a brilliant circle of holy acts, the beanty of which we have only briefly hinted at, the cradle and the grave, however far asunder they may chance to be, are bound in one continuous circle.” Besides, even the necessity of such things in all cases seems to exist only in a mere popular and unfounded idea arising from a certain horror inspired by the thought of departing without some distinctive sign of Christianity being made, as when one died
unhouseld, unaneld,” as poets say. Alphonso Antonio de Sarasa, in his treatise on the art of always rejoicing, says expressly that we should acquiesce in death both as to the manner and circumstances, as well as to the time, and that death without the sacraments should be accepted with cheerfulness as the will of God; and St. Gertrude being asked if such a death would not distress her, “ Truly,” she replied, “I should be far more distressed were I in the least matter to be unwilling to conform to the will of God *.” It seems clear that the early anachorites frequently died thus, left the world unseen, and had known, too, that they would so fade away, while they took no steps to avoid that contingency. As for other accessaries to a pious end, no thraldom is imposed on any one. Even the ancient monks felt free to indulge their particular fancy in regard to the manner of departing. St. Benedict would die standing ; so he was sustained erect in the arms of his disciples till he expired.
In fine, the central principles combined in Catholicism, always in accordance with what is innocent and good in nature, seem to leave in free action all the natural remedies which exist against the fear of death, and in consequence of that sanction to change in many cases the view which men would otherwise have taken of what the philosopher called the most terrible of all terrible things.
It is a great thing to have sanctioned by the highest authority that one can conceive, and consecrated, as it were, so as to be more secure against every danger arising from a sophistical use of reason, all the heroic forces which exist in human nature. “ The effeminate clinging to life as such, as a general or abstract idea, is,” says Hazlitt, “ the effect of a highly civilized and artificial state of societ If we look into the old histories and
* Ars semper Gaud. xv. p. 1.
romances before the belles-lettres neutralized human affairs, and reduced passion to a state of mental equivocation, we find the heroes and heroines not setting their lives ‘at a pin's fee.' There is at least more of imagination in such a state of things, more vigour of feeling and promptitude to act, than in our lingering, languid, protracted attachment to life for its own poor sake. It is perhaps also better, as well as more heroical, to strike at some daring or darling object, and if we fail in that, to take the consequences manfully, than to renew the lease of a tedious, spiritless, charmless existence. Was there not a spirit of martyrdom, as well as a spice of reckless energy, in this bold defiance of death ? Had not religion something to do with it; the implicit belief in a future life, which rendered this of less value, and embodied something beyond it to the imagination ; so that the rough soldier, the fervent lover, the valorous knight, could afford to throw away the present venture, and take a leap into the arms of futurity, which the modern sceptic shrinks back from, with all his boasted reason and vain philosophy, weaker than a woman! I cannot help thinking so." Undoubtedly the fostering of certain natural resources against the fear of death is one result of central principles ; for when we have passed through all the labyrinthine roads of human life, we find at the end, terminating at the centre in Catholicism, an exit also which leads out into free nature, so that man on embracing supernatural truth becomes then truly natural and heroic. But in the natural sphere exist many principles that dispel the apprehension of death. Man," says a living writer, “was meant to be not the slave but the master of circumstances ; and in proportion as he recovers his humanity, in every sense of that great obsolete word—in proportion as he gets back the spirit of manliness, which is self-sacrifice, affection, loyalty to an idea beyond himself, a God above himself
, so far will he rise above circumstances, and wield them at his will *.” Central principles, by restoring him to nature, impart the true, manly character ; and therefore, for the sake of honour, rightly understood, and for the sake of love, to confine our observations to only these two instances, he braves and despises death. Honour, love, manhood, these are things more important, in reference to meeting death, than many acquisitions of the head, which occupy men in schools. St. Anselm said with his last breath, “ I should have wished before I died to write down my ideas on the origin of evil ; for I have made researches which will now be lost.” Noble and affecting sentence, no doubt! but perhaps it may be allowable to suggest that it indicates also, as we before observed, a danger to which the mere literary and philosophic character is more liable than the unbookish and unpre