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struggles of my life:--No, the idea summer seat? Shall I sbade it from of corruption is not so terrible, as the the beams of the sun, that you may thought that Eve should see me die: sit and view your children coming ? she, who was created with me, who, Adam. Rise, Selima, most beloved of all the beings whom ! love, stands of my daughters: be not uneasy for the foremost in my affections, --will thy father's sake. I have now to conshe die with me? Thou knowest it; verse with Seth on serious subjects.and thou only who didst pronounce Thou hast not bound the vine so bizh the curse.
to the elm as thou saidst thou wouldst: Fifth Scone,
go, and be at pouce: thou knowest I
love that elm tree more than all other Adam. Seth.
trees, for my Abel planted it.-Go, Adam. Thou returnest; bast thou
Selima. pravcu, my son?
R. H. Seth. Ofi, to Ucaven, have my pray
[To be continued.] ers been raised; but never did I pray as on this day. Adam. But, my son, if Eve should
An Essay ON SUICIDE AND come with her children, shall they see
DUELLING. me die? Go, my son, and tell them (Read at a Literary Society.) that I will offer my sacrifice alone,
For the Universal Magazine. and not .
Seiht to 'cannot leave you at this. The subject of suicide, are well
juncture, my father. During my life I have ever been obedient to your
known. Several acute writers, in commands; but, on this day, forgive our times, have drawn their pens in me if I transgress them. Šelima is favour of it; but the number bears already gone, and has imparted her no proportion to those who have grief to Eve; for she implored me to written against it. If I were to reexplain the reason of ny sorrow; I gulate my opinion by the number of yielded to her intreaty, and informed authorities, therefore, I could be at her of the anxiety and dread with no loss which side to adopt ; but it which you repaired to the altar. appears to me that the reasonings on
Adam. Then let them come; my the other side are by far the most heart will sooner break.
conclusive. Seth. I hear the sound of steps: it We are naturally led, from suicide, is Selima.
to consider the practice of duelling, Adam. They come already: ()! iny now so universal both in Europē and children, my children ! amoug the America. This practice is daily gainfather am I not the most miserable? ing ground, and bids detiance io laws
and authorities. Doubts may be enSixth Scene.
tertained if this be the best mode of ADAM. SETH. SEL:MA.
securing justice to the individuals Adam ( aside). She is pale, as Abel wlio resort to it; but, in my opinion, was, when he lay stretclied by the none can be entertained of its general altar.
advantage to society. Selima. Be pot angry, my father, To these two subjects I mean to that I have deviated from your orders, dedicate this essay. Have compassion with your Selima!
Before entering upon
arguments When I hastened to join my mother, by which I conceive suicide is justifimiy anxiety and fears were so great able, it may not be improper to remark, regarding you, i hat a sudden dimness that there is no great danger that the came over my eyes, and I know not world will ever be depopulated from what since bas happened. Be not the prevalence of such doctrines. It angry with me, faiber, that I did not is so comfortable a thing to live and hasien to the bower. O! my father, move upon this earih, there are sa she embraces his knees) be not sorrow many pleasures and enjoyments in full dispelihose clouds of grief which the reach of every condition of men, hover round your brow. Shall I strew and adapted to every age, that how. some cooling leaves on your favorite ever much we may be convinced of
our right to take our leave when we prosecuting our own advantage, may, it is a right of which we shall deed, we indirectly prosecute that of seldom indeed be inclined to avail the community. So long then as we ourselves. Even when we are de- can live with advantage to ourselves, prived of all these pleasures and en)- to those who are dependent on us, or joyments, in the dungeon of the cap- the community at large, our reason tive, and the sick man's apartment, will tell us that we ought to live; hope seldom fails to enter, and to and when we can no longer do so, whisper to us that our pains and de- that we ought not to live, but to reprivations are only for a season.- sign that which is prejudicial to ourThere is no occasion earnestly to im- selves and beneficial to none. Whatpress us with the merit of keeping our ever is in the power of man is subject post to the last. It is a post we keep to his reason, and he bas power over with great good will, and a post which, bis own life as well as the power of if we relinquish, there is no doubt will giving life to otliers. te immediately tilled; for we all know There are many situations in which that the entries into this world are a man finds that life is a burden to only limited by the want of vacancies. him, and not an advantage, and that It would appear, then, that there is he can be of no advantage but a burno such great merit in keeping a den to others. In such cases he is post which can never be in want of bound in duty to consult his reason, occupants.
and to obey its dictates. If it proI shall endeavour to show, in the pounce that he ought to take his leave, first place, that Suicide may be jus- it is criminal in him not to take it.tifiable.
He will consider whether his situation Our chief difference from the other is irretrievably bad, or the proportion animals consists in the enjoyinent of that the chance of its amelioration a very superior reason. The degree bears to a contrary probability, or the of it which they possess seldom ex- importance of the result that might tends beyond the power of discerning follow an alteration in his situation, those means which are necessary for however improbable, and he will dethe preservation of life; and they ap- cide accordingly. He is not bound pear to us invariably to follow every to remain in life because all probapropensity of their natures, complete bility of an alteration in his situation ly engrossed with the present, and is not extinguished; but, as in every careless of consequences. It is very other action of his life, he weighed different with our species. When the probabilities of advantages and pleasure, in her most bewitching disadvantages attending it, so, here, form, beckons to us, and keen desire he will determine his advantage, by urges us on, the future consequences considering on which side the probaof the action rush-upon our mind, bility lies. Before a man brings a and serve to regulate our behaviour. child into the world, it is not enough We must often relinquish the enjoy- that it is not impossible he may afterment of the present for fear of the wards be enabled to maintain it, he future; and submit to present evil for ought to see a probability that he will tbe sake of future good.
be enabled, otherwise he will be held This reason is the guide to which reprehensible for all the misery to we are bound at all times to listen, which he may have given occasion. and to be regulated by in all our There are some cases of such exactions. What appears right or wrong treme misery, that no doubt can be to our own reason we are bound to entertained of the advantage which adopt or reject; and no action of our the removal of the objects would life can be indifferent; it must either prove to themselves and the combe right or wrong.
munity. Suppose a man deprived of We are brought into this world for the use of ali his faculties by a palsy, the purpose of taking a share in the and thrown a burden on ihe 'conbusiness of this world. Every action munity: with the food that supports of our life, then, should either be di- him, another member might be suprected to our own advantage or the ported usefully to the world and ad. advantage of the community. In vantageously to himself.
CNIVERSAL MAG. VOL. XIV. D
suppose an individual mutilated in continually upon him a phial of poison, such a manner as to render him for which he might use in falling into the ever useless to the world, and racked enemy's hands, from a persuasion that with pain which will only cease with his relations would sacrifice the inhis existence; why should such a terests of his country for the sake of being be forced to prolong his life? again possessing him.
W36 this not It is meritorious to suiter when bene- valorous ?-Was he to put his own ficial consequences are to result from life in competition with the interests it; but where is the merit of suffering of his country? This is a strong case, without advantage to any one ? -- but admit its justice and you admit Numerous cases can be figured where the principle, that the disposal of a existence is painful and burdensome man's life is to be regulated by the to ourselves and useless to others, distates of bis reason. and where every known law of phy- It has been said, that this world is sics forbids us to indulge any hopes a wilderness, through which we must of amendment.
toil, with here and there a few oazes How far we may be called on to to preserve and refreshi us when oversupport the evils of life, when our come wiib fatig!e,to enable us to reach existence can be beneficial to others, the end of our journey ; that our life though painful to ourselves, is a was intended to be beset with troubles question which will be determined and toils; that our great merit is in according to the nature of these properly supporting these ; and that we claims, and the magnitude of the evils. have no right to shake ourseives free of
Now, considering this world as not them. I do not believe that the great our ultimate destination, but that we Creator of the universe could delight are to be rewarded and punished in in the misery of his creatures, howanother according to our deserts in ever short. I do not believe, there. this;-How will ihe case stand? As fore, that this world was intended to far as I can see it still remains the be a scene of misery. I see, on the same. The only rule, I can conceive, contrary, that it abounds with every by which my actioris here are to be degree of enjoyment, and that we tried in another state of existence, is have most extensive capabilities of the degree in which I have aided or enjoyment. I see that the majority neglected my own good and the good of men really enjoy a great degree of of the community, which I am sup. happiness, and, comparatively, a small posing to be the same. Now, how degree of misery; and, of that misery could it aid my own good to suffer that they owe the most to their owu pain and misery without relief, or aid vices. I cannot bring myself to think the good of the community when ibis that those individuals who may fall existence was not only protracted into extreme misery, without their without advantage to them, but hung oun fault, could be selected as the as a dead weight upon them? Wheu objects of divine severity; no more my reason told me that I could no than I can bring myself to think that longer be of use, and that I was a that being would be displeased at burden),-would not my further stay their freeing themselves from their be, in fact, robbing others of their wretchedness by the means which be share? Instead, then, of furthering has put in their power. I conceive the business of the world, I should be that it must be displeasing to the impeding it. My reason ihen tells me Deity to see any of his creatures that my situation in another world wretched; and I look upon the liwill be better or worse as I deserve berty of death to be the means which well in this; and that I can only de- le bas put in their power to escape serve well in this by doing all the from their misery. He regulated the good I can. When I can no longer universe by general laws; the genedo good but evil, or when more ad- rai lappiness of man is one of them, vantage to society will result from and his misery an accident, but an my death than my life, the path I accident not without a remedy. ought to pursue cannot be mistaken. It njay be said, that, in subjecting When the affairs of the great fre- 'us to close trials, purposes may be derick were at the worst, he carried served which are hid from our sight,
But ive are not entitled to presume They find themselves in the world any such purposes. We can only see and continue to vegetate, anxious only with the measure of sight which we for the gratification of their anmal have received; and according as things propensities. Luckily, as their enjoyappear to us, so are we to conduct ments are few, their distresses are ourselves. My reason tells me that equally few : their misery therefore is if I injure another, I am criminal; seldom such as to suggest the idea of and that I am praiseworthy in pro- putting an end to it with their life. portion as I am productive of good. Ignorant of the nature of the human But it does not iell me that to live frame, and of the laws of diseases, it in pain and sorrow, and useless to is impossible for them to know when the community and myself, can be their situation does or does not admit productive of good, or that to cease of remedy. The hope of recovery to live can be considered as an injury. must influence them to the last.
Mr. Smith says, that the opinion of But even these rude savages, when the ancient philosophers on this sub- they see a certainty of extreme misery ject do not seem agreeable to nature, before them, instinctively act as the and are merely to be considered as most enlightened Philosophers would the refinements of philosophy; and perhaps in their situation. Whenever that we never hear of an American the slaves, who were brought from Indian putting himself to death to Africa, had an opportunity, they escape from pain.
leaped overboard. Even afier they Philosophy must have been won- were landed in the West Indies, and derfully diffused at Rome when the pains were taken to reconcile them spectacle of Perseus, led in triumph to their situation, suicide was exceedthrougļ the streets, inspired the ing's common among them. crowd, who beheld him, win a uni- Elwards mentions a great many tribes versal feeling of contempt for the who were movie disposed to suicide min who could live to such a degra- than others: those were most disdation.
posed who had been most free and But why are we always to judge of happy in their own country, as was the nature of man from the appear- naturally to be concluded. It was no ance he exhibits in a rude siate of uncommon thing to see a whole plansociety? Is it not more liberal to tation depopulated in this manner.form our opinion of him from the ap. They who left the world in this way pearance be assumes in those stages were by no means blamed by the surof society where his moral qualities vivors. On the contrary, they were hare attained a perfection as well as considered to have done what was bis physical. These moral qualities laudable, and to have entered upon require exertion for their development the enjoyment of such a state of hapas well as the piiysical; and, in some piness as fell in with their conceptions. states of society, we know that many The native Americans, too, when reof them have little or no exercise. duced to slavery, are still more disHence the stupidity in which many posed to suicide than the Africans. regions of the world are plunged. In Every attenipt to make the Carribs several nations the dawning of reason work, according to my information, is hardly perceptible. Of the pro- has ended in their suicide. dential restraint upon conduct, the But, Mr. Smith says, that the North distinguishing feature of civilized and American Indians never commit suienlightened man, they have literally cide. They have no occasion : those not the smallest conception. Every who are taken prisoners are either propensity of their nature they gratity killed or adopted as fellow warriors. when the occasion offers, in the man- If they are to be killed, it is hardly ner of the animals around them, with- worth their while to do themselves out anxiety for the consequence.- what will be so soon done for them. Such a people are urged by no liberal They might indeed save the horrible views to give life to others, or re- torments which attend their execuStrained from giving it; and they will. tion; but it is a point of honour with in like manner, be urged by no liberal them to support their tornents, which views to put an end to their own, they know car not be long, in the
same manner as it is a point of honour the other was equally bound to supwith the women of India to subunit port his. Rude nations are always themselves voluntarily to a most hor- unfeeling and illiberal, because they rible death. Every country has its are ignorant. Occupied entirely with
their own existence, their thoughts The Indians keep no prisoners, for seldom wander beyond their physical the best of all reasons, because they needs. The inferences they draw, are unable to maintain them. Perhaps and the comparisons they make, are were they to preserve their prisoners, only such as are unavoidably forced and expose them to a life of misery, on ihem. There is no wonder, then, we should soon see how far their that in the few exercises they make patience would support it. In the of their reason, they should almost century before last, a foreigner was always err. Hence the multitude of taken up in Scotland on pretence of absurd laws in every rude state, and being a Popishı spy. He underwent the universal belief in
de every kind of torture at Edinburgh mons, magicians, and witches, and firmly, without being prevailed on to every thing incongruous and unnatuconfess. · At last, it was suggested by ral, and the curious devices fallen upon a cunning old judge that he should to insure security from their power. be kept in prison, and constantly But yet it is only in some of these pricked with pins, to prevent him countries where they have stumbled from sleeping. At the end of four- upon the idea of considering suicide teen days he confessed, for the pri- as a crime. There are several people, vilege of being hanged.
that I have read of, who never trouHow far suicide prevails in the dif- bled their heads about the matter. ferent countries of the world, and in Be it as it may, it would be as unwhat light it is viewed, I am unid- fair to conclude unfavourably to suiformed. I remember to have read, cide, because some rude nations conthat it is exceedingly common in Ja- demned it, as it would be lo conclude pan, and that a man there will kill in favour of child-murder, which is himself on receiving the slightest af- almost universally prevalent among front or injury.
them. The laws against suicide, in some If we are to be influenced by precountries, though certainly very un- judices on the subject, by examples, necessary, may, however, be easily and not by reasonings, I contess accounted for. All those laws origi- that I would decide for the practice nated in the infancy of society, when which was sanctioned with the apt'ie views of its members are always probation of a succession of the contined, and often erroneous. Tc greatest men of the two most enone of these beings, in good health, lightened nations the world has yet who felt the instinctive love of life seen; of the nations who have disstrong within him, it would appear played a perfection which the huunaccountable that another should be man race, if it ever equal, seems induced to part with it: and, because doomed never to surpass. I speak it was unaccountable, it would appear not of the mass of the people, but of annatural. He had, perhaps, himself the men whose situation enabled them had a share of distress, but he never to think with advantage;, and cerfelt such a degree of it as to inspire tainly whenever a comparison is him with the resolution, and, in its drawn between the mental powers most violent access, had cheered him- displayed by those men, deprived of self with his recovery. He would the aids which accident and experience be unable to conceive how every other have since conferred on the world, man should not feel and act as he did. and the degree of mind displayed by When a case of such accumulated the most enlightened of our contemmisery occurred as to inspire the ob- poraries, the comparison will bardly ject of it with a wish for death, m. be to our advantage. These men able to estimate the difference of this might be mistaken, but they never case from any thing he had expe- shut their eyes on truth. They might rienced himself, he would conclude, not be aware of a reasoning, but when that, as be supported his owa distress, they were aware, they boldly and de