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his mirth in tears? You are, or, peradventure, have been a lover; a * dismissed bachelor," perchance, one that is “lass-lorn.”
Come, then, and weep over the dying bed of such a one as thyself. Weep with us the death of poor Abraham Slender.
DAVY TO SHALLOW.
“ Master Abram is dead, gone, your Worship, dead! Master Abram! Oh! good your Worship, a's gone. A never throve, since a' came from Windsor' was his death. I called him rebel, your Worship-but a' was all subject-a' was subject to any babe, as much as a King--a' turned, like as it were the latter end of a lover's lute--- was all peace and resignment--a' took delight in nothing but his Book of Songs and Sonnets-a' would go to the Stroud side under the large beechtree, and sing, till 'twas quite pity of our lives to mark him; for his chin grew as Jong as a muscle.-Oh! a' sung his soul and body quite away-a' was lank as any greyhound, and had such a scent! I hid his love-songs among your Worship's law-books; for I thought, if a' could not get at them, it might be to his quier; bit a' snuffed 'em out in a moment. Good your Worship, liave the wise woman of Brentford secured-Masier Abram may have been conjured--Peter Simple says, a never looked up after a' sent for the wise woinan -Marry, a' was always given to look down afore his elders ; a' might do it, a' was given to it-your Worship knows it; but then 'twas peak and pert with him, marry, in the turn of his heel-A' died, your Worship, just about one, at the crow of the cock. I thought liow it was with him ; for a' talked as quick, aye, inarry, as glib as your Worship, and a smiled, and looked at his own nose, and called “ Sweet Ann Page." I asked him if a would eat-so a' bad us commend him to bis cousin Robert (a' Worship so before) and bad us get hot meat, for a' would not never called your
“ nay” to Anu agaip. But a' never lived to touch it-a' began all a moment to sing “Lovers all, a Madrigall.” 'Twas the only song Master Abram ever learnt out of book, and clean by heart, your Worship-and so a’ sung and smiled, and looked askew at his own nose, and sung, and sung on, till his breath waxed sliorier, and shorter, and shorter, and a' fell into a struggle and died. Alice Shortcake craves, she may make his shroud.”.
Should these specimens fail to rouse your curiosity to see the whole, it may be to your loss, gentle reader, but it will give small pain to the spirit of him that wrote this little book; my fine-tempered friend, J. W.-for not in authorship, or the spirit of authorship, but from the fullness of a young soul, newly kindling at the Shakspearian flame, and bursting to be delivered of a rich exuberance of conceits,-1 had almost said kindred with those of the full Shakespearian genius itself, were these Letters dictated. We remember when the inspiration caine repon when the plays of Henry the Fourth were first put into his hands. We think at our recommendation he read them, rather late in life, though still he was but a youth. He may heve forgotten, but we cannot, the pleasant evenings which ensued at the Boar's Head (as we called our tavern, though in reality the sign was not that, nor the street Eastcheap, for that honoured place of resort has long since. passed away) when over our pottle of Sherris he would talk you nothing but pure Falstaff the long evenings through. Like his, the wit of J. W. was deep, recondite, imaginative, full of goodly, figures and fancies. Those evenings have long since passed away, and nothing comparable to them has come in their stead, or can come.
66 We have heard the chimes at midnight.”
* Vide Merry Wives of Windsor, latter part of Ist scene, Ist act.
CHARGE OF FRIGHTENED DEATH-BEDS: DEATHS OF VOLTAIRE,
LUTHER, CALVIN, &c. ['The following article was written in answer to some lately revived calumnies. We omit a few words at the beginning, because they name a party paper, and are written with more of the spirit of party than we admit into these our sequestered columns. We must only observe, that the Abbé Barruel was mentioned, as the authority always quoted for these stories. We must add too, that with all our respect for Voltaire's wonderful talents and benevolence, we do not think he had enough of what is emphatically called sentiment, to enter into all that might be made of the Christian system; but he had grown up in the thick of its abuses, was inspired against it by the very share he preserved of its own spirit, and was assuredly, in the eyes
of all who can reason as well as feel, much more of the real Christian than his ca. lumuiators. They pretend, though they are far from believing, that his opposition will have done good to the Christian doctrine; and so it will, but not in their sense. The extraordinary, undeniable, and still increasing effect which he produced upon the world, has even assisted, and will continue to assist, the true part of it; that part of it, in which he believed with his heart if not with his tongue; and which, by the way, those very calumniators have always done their best to hamper and confound. The paragraphs relatiog to Paine's death-bed are omitted for want of room.]
The first person who gave a genuine account of the death as well as life of Voltaire, was a man no less illustrious for his virtues than talents,—Condorcet. IIis account was confirmed and given inore in detail by a writer, who was furnished with every possible means of getting at the truth by Voltaire's family and connexions, the portfolios of men of letters, and the manuscript memoirs of the philosopher's secretary, Longchamp. The substance is as follows:--Voltaire, int extreme old age, beheld his bust crowned at the theatre at Paris, amidst the tears and shouts of an enthusiastic multitude.
They will ,” said he," with pleasure." Honours and gratitude crowded upon him. Among others who came to pay him their homage (mark this, Englishmen) was Franklin, who asked him for his benediction upon his little grandson. The philosopher in giving it, said he could not resist speaking for a moment the native tongue of his visitor.
" will give," said he, “the only benediction besitting a grandson of Mr. Franklin;" and then laying his hand on the child, pronounced in English, God and Liberty." The sensibility he witnessed on all sides, roused all the fire of his youth. He said that the treatment he experienced gave him hopes of being able to propose to the Academy the eulogy of Coligny (the Huguenot Admiral slain in the Massacre of St. Bartholomew). He advised the Academy to remodel their dictionary, and took for his portion the letter A, upon which he went stoutly to work. Ile took immoderate draughts of coffee, the better to keep his old age awake; then opium to counteract the coffee, but it only assisted it; and all these efforts and emotions hastened his last
hour. Another shock of the most pleasing kind awaited him when he lay down to die. - This was the reversal of the decree agaiost M. Lally Tolendal's father, a cause in which the saviour of Calas and Serven bad interested himself. The last sentence he dictated was on this subject, and has become more interesting to us all every day. “ I die content,” said he,
32" for the reign of Justice has commenced.” (It was destined to have a bloody commencement, it is true, like the Christian
religion; but it has survived all shocks, and will triumph.) At length his hour arrived. The Curate of St. Sulpice, a vain, servile, and haughty simpleton, who had made his appearance before to no purpose, and who borned to have the honour of converting him, intruded on his last moments. It i
was told him the Curate was come; upon which he raised himself a little, embraced him, and said " Accept my respects, Sir.” It seemed in the minds of the byestanders, as if he meant to say charitable towards you: do not torment me.
But the Curate again demanded, in a loud and confident tone, Sir, do you recognize the divinity of Jesus Christ ??? “Sir," replied
66 leave me to '
** reiterated the Curate,
. o the divinity of Jesus Christ ?”. It was then that the dying philosopher, rousing up all his departing strength, and putting into one senfeuce the whole substance of his theological writings, uttered those Jast, and memorable words" For the love of God, speak to me no more of that man."
It is in this real account of the matter, that the reader will see all the causes of the false ones. The bigots were doubly enraged at this proof of his invincible faith, and, according to their old plan (as we shall presently shew) loaded it with every misrepresentation which could be şet in motion by revenge, mortified rgotism, hypocrisy, the downfal of priesterast, and the death-bed fears which are, or ought to be, the natural result of such a barbarity as the belief in eternal punishment.is
The late French philosophers in general, --many of whom, as D'Alembert, Montesquieu, Helvetius, &c. were the most amiable men in the world, died in a manner becoming them. Rousseau diedl, gazing with enthusiasm on a setting suit, Their predecessors the English philosophers and deists, died with similar calmıness, -Collins, Shaftesbury, Adam Smith, Gibbon, &c. But the greatest stumbling-block to the feet of those who bring 6 good tidings of eternal punishment, was the death of Hume, recorded by his friend Adam Smith. It was so chearful, that they were then shocked in a different manner, and wished to die, for their parts, trembling and in decent fear. And thus it has been always. If you are known to die with their trembling and decent fear, then they say you are frightened ; if with placidity, it is want of feeling; if with chearfulness, it is impudent temerity; and if nobody can prove
how you died, of course it was raving. Your only refuge is to send and ask how you are to die; only you must take care to ask but one sect, or you will have twenty, different confessions recommended, all indispensibly necessary and every one damning the other.
And now a word or two of Mr. Barruel's predecessors in these precious arts of misrepresentation, formerly defended as well as attacked under the name of pious frauds. The story of a friglitened
death-bed is the oldest as well as saddest joke io theological history, Father Menochio, a Jesuit, one of the most popular authorities among the Catholics, has a chapter in his tissue of Learned Treatises, upon the unhappy deaths of Arch-heretics.* He begins with the old legend of Ebion, who for denying the divinity of Christ, was killed by the fall of a bathing-house. But what will the Protestants, who are so fond of attributing unhappy death-beds to the Deists, say to the unhappy death-beds attributed to all their venerable leaders by the Catholics? Oh,="a.weak invention of the enemy,” of course!
But it was strong enough to mislead millions of the Christian world, and would have done 80 to this day, if such practices had not been exposed. The same brother-Jesuit of Barruel, Father Menochio, quotes two authoritative gentlemen of the name of Bozius and Cocleus, who say that Luther died of suffocation after a hearty supper. This is possible, as he was a gross bodied person; but that illustrious obscure, Mr: Božius, says that one of Luther's own servants (afterwards converted) told him his master had hung himself. This is possible also, but who believes it, coming from such authors ?" The same Bozius says that Ecolampadius was run through by the devil with fiery darts; and quotes Luther's own authority for it, with whom Ecolampadius had differed. Such is sure to be the cause of these scandalous stories. Osiander, according to the same Catholic authority, after being struck dumb, "died horribly, like a beast.” Martin Bucer, whom Milton uses with such reverence in his treatise on Divorce, was visited on his death-hed, to the great terror of the persons present, by “ a horrible dæmon,” who dashed him from the bed in such a dreadful manner as to sprinkle his bowels about the room. Calvin, the great leader of the Protestant misrepresenters of death-beds, has an assortment of horrors suitable to the doctrines he preached. Not content with quoting Beza, as the authority for his having had a shocking set of diseases for four years, colic, gout, stone, asthma, vomiting of blood, &c. &c. he is said to have died of a death which cannot be mentioned, and which was softened down (for so the relators, with a horrible humour, put it) into a death by vermin.
Another Catholic book with which the kindness of a friend has fur. nished 45,-a sort of classical dictionary,--says pithily of Calvin, that lie was a great rascal of Saxony (he was a Frenchman) who out of vanity raised up a villainous sect, giving great trouble to the Romish Church, and withdrawing from it the Scotch and other people. He led a very vicious life, was a debauchee, and convicted of a harrible sin. (It is not said what.) He suffered a grievous death, being eaten up with vermin.--Nuovo Dizionario Portico ed Islorico.p. 70. Venezia.-No later than 1712.
And now what does all this prove, but that men embittered by the exclusiveness of faith, and unsoftened by the charities of philosophy, have all delighted to misrepresent one another? There are men undoubtedly, of all beliefs and non-beliefs, who had unhappy as well as happy deaths: and one thing is certain, that wherever the death has
* Le Stuore, overo Trattenimenti Eruditi del Padre Gio. Stefano Menochio, &c. &c. Parte Prima, p. 209.
been of the unhappy sort in question, it has been produced by a belief, habitual or otherwise, in one of the most favourite and horrible dogmas of the Christian church,--the belief in eternal punishment. How many Christians in all probability have died wretched, as they lived, because of their inability to reconcile so shocking a doctrine with the goodness of their Maker? What a life did poor Cowper pass, for that reason ! And then as to the happy death-beds of religionists, what do they prove for the exclusive excellence of faiths, in which so many have died miserably? What does Addison's death, for instance (if he really died it; Walpole says that he died of too frequent a recurrence to the exhiliration of the bottle ; but this is no proof that he did not die in the other way also) but what does Addison's ostentation about “ See how a Christian can die," prove against a death in any other faith? Do we suppose that no Mussulman dies happy, and that he might not say with as much logic, “See how a Mahometan can die?" The young Mussulman mentioned by Gibbon, exclaimed in battle, “I see a black-eyed Houri waiting for me at the gate of Heaven, and waving a green handkerchief ;” and so saying, he rushed into the thick of the fight, a willing victim.
The truth is, that a death-bed proves nothing but that a man can live no longer. A belief in shocking dogmas may make it unhappy ; and a non-belief in them may help to make it easy. But what absurdity is it to expect of any man that he shall be in his easiest or his most confirmed state of mind, at the moment of all others when he is most sick and feeble ? The wonderful thing after all is, not that some men
been terrified at such moments by the recurrence of the dogmas inflicted
upon their childhood, but that so many men, in spite of them, have died so calmly, so courageously, so triumphantly.
May knowledge and charity go on increasing, till none of us shall suffer more than the physical evils of death ; and none of us, above all, be capable of feeling any kind of delight in holding up the unhappy deaths, real or pretended, of others.
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