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Roscommon, at the moment he expired, with an energy of voice (says his biographer) that expressed the most fervent devotion, uttered two lines of his own version of "Dies Iræ!"
Waller, in his last moments, repeated some lines from Virgil and Chaucer took his farewell of all human vanities by a moral ode, entitled, "A ballad made by Geffrey Chauycer upon his dethe-bedde lying in his grete anguysse.'
The muse that has attended my course (says the dying Gleim, in a letter to Klopstock*) still hovers round my steps to the very verge of the grave." A collection of songs, composed by old Gleim on his death-bed, it is said, were intended to be published.
Chatellard, a French gentleman, beheaded in Scotland, for having loved the Queen, and even for having attempted her honour, Brantome says, would not have any other viaticum than a poem of Ronsard. When he ascended the scaffold, he took the hymns of this poet, and for his consolation read that on death; which, he says, is well adapted to conquer its fear. He preferred the poems of Ronsard to either a prayer-book or his confessor: such was his passion.
The Marquis of Montrose, when he was condemned by his judges to have his limbs nailed to the gates of four cities, the brave soldier said that, "he was sorry he had not limbs sufficient to be nailed to all the gates of the cities in Europe, as monuments of his loyalty. As he proceeded to his execution, he put this thought into beautiful verse.
Philip Strozzi, when imprisoned by Cosmo the First, great Duke of Tuscany, was apprehensive of the danger to which he might expose his friends, (who had joined in his conspiracy against the duke,) from the confessions which the rack might extort from him. Having attempted every exertion for the liberty of his country, he considered it no crime therefore to die. He resolved on suicide. With the point of the sword, with which he killed himself, he first engraved on the mantle-piece of the chimney, this verse of Virgil:
Exoriare aliquis nostris ex ossibus ultor.
Such persons realize that beautiful fiction of the ancients, who represent the swans of Cayster singing at their death; and have been compared to the nightingale singing with a thorn on its breast.
The following anecdotes are of a different complexion: they may perhaps excite a smile. We have given them the title of GRAMMATICAL DEATHS
Pere Bouhours was a French grammarian, who had been justly accused of paying too scrupulous an attention to the • Klopstock's Death in "L'Allemagne;" vol. i. p. 252.
minutiæ of letters. He was more solicitous of his words than his thoughts. It is said, that when he was dying, he called out to his friends (a correct grammarian to the last,) "Je Vas, ou je VAIS mourir; l'un ou l'autre se dit!"
When Malherbe was dying, he reprimanded his nurse for making use of a solecism in her language! And when his confessor represented to him the felicities of a future state in low expressions, the dying critic interrupted him: "Hold your tongue," he said, "your wretched style only makes me out of conceit with them!"
Several persons of science have died in a scientific manner. -Haller, the greatest of physicians, beheld his end approach with the utmost composure. He kept feeling his pulse to the last moment, and when he found that life was almost gone, he turned to his brother physician, and observed, "My friend, the artery ceases to beat,"--and almost instantly expired.
De Lagny, who was intended by his friends for the study of the law, having fallen on an Euclid, found it so congenial to his disposition, that he devoted himself to mathematics In his last moments, when he retained no further recollection of the friends who surrounded his bed, one of them, perhaps to make a philosophical experiment, thought proper to ask him the square of 12; the dying mathematician instantly, and perhaps without knowing that he answered it, replied, "144."
The following lines, from the pen of Mrs. Barbauld, in an address to the Deity, express the desires and hopes of a real Christian in the contemplation of death :
"O when the last, the closing hour draws nigh,
The following article is not of a pleasing description, but nevertheless proper to be inserted in "The Book of Curiosities." It is ANTHROPOPHAG, OR MEN-EATERS:
The Cyclops, the Lestrygons, and Scylla, are all represented in Homer as Anthropophagi, or man-eaters, and the female phantoms, Circe and the Syrens, first bewitched with a show of pleasure, and then destroyed. This, like the other parts of Homer's poetry, had a foundation in the manners of the times preceding his own. It was still in many places the age spoken of by Orpheus,
"When men devour'd each other like the beasts,
History gives us divers instances of persons driven by excess of hunger to eat their own relations. And also out of revenge and hatred, where soldiers, in the heat of battle, have been known to be carried to such an excess of rage, as to tear their enemies with their teeth.
The violence of love has sometimes produced the same effect as the excess of hatred.
Among the Essedonian Scythians, when a man's father died, his neighbours brought him several beasts, which they killed, mixed up their flesh with that of the deceased, and made a feast.
Among the Massageti, when any person grew old, they killed him, and ate his flesh; but if the party died of sickness, they buried him, esteeming him unhappy.
Idolatry and superstition have caused the eating more human flesh, than both love and hatred put together.
There are few nations but have offered human victims to their deities; and it was an established custom to eat part of the sacrifices they offered.
It appears pretty certain, from Dr. Hawkesworth's account of the voyages to the South Seas, that the inhabitants of New Zealand ate the bodies of their enemies. Mr. Petit has a learned dissertation on the nature and manners of the Anthropophagi. Among other things, he disputes whether or no the Anthropophagi act contrary to nature? The philosophers, Diogenes, Chrysippus, and Zeno, followed by the whole body of Stoics, held it a very reasonable thing for men to eat each other.
According to Sextus Empiricus, the first laws were those made to prevent men from eating each other, as had been done until that time.
The Greek writers represent Anthropophagi as universal before Orpheus.
Leonardus Floroventius informs us, that having fed a hog with hog's flesh, and a dog with dog's flesh, he found a repugnance in nature to such food; the former lost all his bristles; the latter its hair, and the whole body broke out in blotches.
If even this horrid practice of eating human flesh originates from hunger, still it must be perpetuated from revenge: as death must lose much of its horror among those who are accustomed to eat the dead; and where there is little horror at the sight of death, there must be less repugnance to murder.
We shall conclude this chapter with AN ACCOUNT OF A WILD MAN, given by M. Le Roy.
In 1774, a wild man was discovered in the neighbourhood of Yuary. This man, who inhabited the rocks near a forest, was very tall, covered with hair like a bear, very nimble, and of a gay humour. He neither did, nor seemed to intend, harm