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ceiling of the room had fallen and crushed | with the death. The struggles at the outset him. The cannon-shot which plunged into are prompted by terror, not by pain, which the brain of Charles XII. did not prevent commences later, and is soon succeeded by him from seizing his sword by the hilt

. The a pleasing languor ; nay some, if not the maidea of an attack and the necessity for de- jority, escape altogether the interval of suffence were impressed upon him by a blow fering. A gentleman, for whose accuracy which we should have supposed too tremen- we can vouch, told us he had not experienced dous to leave an interval for thought. But the slightest feeling of suffocation. The it by no means follows that the infliction of stream was transparent, the day brilliant, fatal violence is accompanied by a pang: and as he stood upright he could see the From what is known of the first effects of sun shining through the water, with a gun-shot wounds, it is probable that the im- dreamy consciousness that his eyes were pression is rather stunning than acute. . Un about to be closed upon it for ever. Yet less death be immediate, the pain is as varied he neither feared his fate, nor wished to as the nature of the injuries, and these are avert it. A sleepy sensation which soothed past counting up. But there is nothing and gratified him made a luxurious bed of a singular in the dying sensations, though watery grave. A friend informed Mothe-leLord Byron remarked the physiological pe- Vayer, that such was his delight in groping culiarity, that the expression is invariably at the bottom, that a feeling of anger passed that of languor, while in death from a stab through his mind against the persons who the countenance reflects the traits of natural pulled him out. It is probable that some character-of gentleness or ferocity—to the of our readers may have seen a singularly latest breath. Some of the cases are of in- striking account of recovery from drowning terest to show with what slight disturbance by a highly distinguished officer still living, life may go on under mortal wounds till it who also speaks to the total absence of pain suddenly comes to a final stop. A foot- while under the waves ; but adds a circumsoldier at Waterloo, pierced by a musket- stance of startling interest-namely, that ball in the hip, begged water from a trooper during the few moments of consciousness the who chanced to possess a canteen of beer. whole events of his previous life, from childThe wounded man drank, returned his hood, seemed to repass with lightning-like heartiest thanks, mentioned that his regiment rapidity and brightness before his eyes : a was nearly exterminated, and, having pro- narration which shows on what accurate ceeded a dozen yards in his way to the rear, knowledge the old Oriental framed his story fell to the earth, and with one convulsive of the Sultan who dipped his head into a movement of his limbs concluded his career. basin of water, and had, as it were, gone “ Yet his voice,” says the trooper, who him through all the adventures of a crowded life self tells the story, “ gave scarcely the small before he lifted it out again. No one can est sign of weakness." Captain Basil Hall, have the slightest disposition to question the who in his early youth was present at the evidence in this recent English case ; but we battle of Corunna, has singled out from the do not presume to attempt the physiological confusion which consigns to oblivion the explanation. woes and gallantry of war, another instance That to be frozen to death must be frightextremely similar, which occurred on that ful torture, many would consider certain from occasion. An old officer, who was shot in their own experience of the effects of cold. the head, arrived pale and faint at the tem- But here we fall into the usual error of supporary hospital, and begged the surgeon to posing that the suffering will increase with look at his wound, which was pronounced the energy of the agent, which could only to be mortal. “ Indeed, I feared so,” he be the case if sensibility remained the same. responded with impeded utterance—“and Intense cold brings on speedy sleep, which yet I should like very much to live a little fascinates the senses and fairly beguiles men longer—if it were possible.” He laid his out of their lives. A friend of Robert Boyle, sword upon a stone at his side, "as gently," who was overtaken by the drowsiness while says Hall," as if its steel had been turned comfortably seated on the side of a sledge, to glass, and almost immediately sunk dead assured him that he had neither power nor upon the turf.”

inclination to ask for help; and unless his Drowning was held in horror by some of companions had observed his condition he the ancients who conceived the soul to be a would have welcomed the snow for his windfire, and that the water would put it out. ing-sheet. But the most curious example But a Sybarite could hardly have quarreled of the seductive power of cold is to be found


in the adventures of the botanical party who, the stupor. The celerity of the operation, in Cook's first voyage, were caught in a when not resisted by exercise, may be judged snow-storm on Tierra del Fuego. Dr. So- from the circumstance that in the few instants lander, by birth a Swede, and well acquaint- Dr. Solander slept, his shoes dropped off ed with the destructive deceits of a rigorous through the shrinking of his feet. There is climate, admonished the company, in defi- the less to wonder at in the contradiction ance of lassitude, to keep moving on. between his precepts and his practice. In “Whoever,” said he, “sits down will sleep proportion to the danger which his mind —and whoever sleeps will perish.” The foretold was the ease with which his vigilDoctor spoke as a sage, but he felt as a man. ance was overpowered and disarmed. · In spite of the remonstrances of those whom It was a desire worthy of Caligula that the he had instructed and alarmed, he was the victims of the state should taste their death. first to lie down. A black servant, who fol- The barbarous maxim has never lacked lowed the example, was told he would die, patrons in barbarous times, nor has humanand he replied that to die was all he desired. ity always kept pace with refinement. ManBut the Doctor despised his own philosophy;. ners continued to soften, and still it was not he said he would sleep, first, and go on thought wrong that in heinous cases a forafterward. Sleep he did for two or three feited life should be wrung out by any torminutes, and would have slept for ever unless ture, however lengthened and intense. The his companions had happily sueceeded in physicians of Montpellier in the sixteenth kindling a fire. The scene was repeated century received from the French Governthousands of times in the retreat from Mos- ment the annual present of a criminal to be cow. “ The danger of stopping,” says dissected alive for the advancement of sciBeaupré, who was on the medical staff, “was The theory of the medical art could universally observed, and generally disre- have gained nothing to justify lessons which garded.” Expostulation was answered by a brutalized its professors. No amount of stupid gaze, or by the request to be allowed skill can supply to society the place of reto sleep unmolested, for sleep was delicious, spect for life and sympathy for suffering. * and the only suffering was in resisting its Savage buffoonery was sometimes employed call. Mr. Alison, the historian, to try the to give an edge to cruelty. Among a hunexperiment, sat down in his garden at night dred and fifty persons executed in France in when the thermometer had fallen four de- the reign of Henry II., by every variety of grees below zero, and so quickly did the device, for an insurrection against the saltdrowsiness come stealing on, that he won- tax, three were found guilty of killing two dered how a soul of Napoleon's unhappy collectors, and exclaiming as they threw the band had been able to resist the treacherous bodies into the river, “Go, wicked salt-tax influence. And doubtless they would all therers, and salt the fish in the Charente.” have perished if the fear of death had not The grave and reverend seigniors who sat in somelimes contended with the luxury of dy- judgment exerted their ingenuity to devise ing. Limbs are sacrificed where life escapes, and such is the obtuseness of feeling that * When the poison-tampering Queen in Cymbepassengers in the streets of St. Petersburgh line tells the Doctorrely on one another for the friendly warning

“I will try the force that their noses are about to precede them of these thy compounds on such creatures as to the tomb. An appearance of intoxication We count not worth the banging (but none human)"— is another common result, and half-frozen her medical confidant repliespeople in England have been punished for drunkards—an injustice the more galling,

* Your Highness

Shall by such practice but make hard your heart ;'' that in their own opinion the state was produced by the very want of their sovereign and on this reply, in one of those notes which modspecific, "a glass of something to keep out

ern editors usually sneer at, but to which Mr. Knight the cold.” The whole of the effects are

occasionally (as here) does more justice, we read :

“The thought would probably have been more amreadily explained. The contracting force plified had our author lived to be shocked with such of the cold compresses the vessels, drives the experiments as have been performed in later times blood into the interior of the body, and the by a race of men who have practiced torturing withsurface, deprived of the life-sustaining fluid, out pity, and are yet suffered to erect their heads is left torpid or dead. A part of the exter

among human beings.” So wrote Dr. Johnson—and

he himself could hardly have anticipated the sysnal circulation takes refuge in the brain, and tematic devilishness of many French and some Eng. the congestion of the brain is the cause of | lish surgeons in our own day.

a scene in mimicry of this passionate out- | into effect; and as the friends of the crimiburst of infuriated men. Their legs and nal bribed him, when they could afford it, to arms having first been broken with an iron plunge the knife into a vital part, it is to be bar, the culprits, whilst yet alive, were thrown presumed that he regulated his mercy by his into a fire, the executioner calling after them avarice. Lord Russell remarked, that it was in obedience to the sentence,“ Go, mad a pretty thing to give a fee to be beheaded. wretches, to roast the fish of the Charente But the custom of presenting fees to the that you have salted with the bodies of the headsman had the same origin with these officers of your sovereign lord and king.” The gratuities to the hangman—the desire of his assassin of Henry IV. was tortured for hours, victims to propitiate a functionary who, un-his guilty hand burnt off, his flesh torn less they paid him like gentlemen, had it alwith pincers, molten lead and boiling oil ways in his power to behave like a ruffian. poured into his wounds—and the tragedy In the reign of George III. the letter of the concluded by yoking horses to his arms and law of treason was brought into harmony legs, and tearing him limb from limb. The with what had long been the practice, and it frightful spectacle was made a court enter- was enacted that until life was extinct the tainment, and lords, ladies, and princes of mutilation of the body should not be commenthe blood remained to the end, feasting their ced. The change was an evidence of the eyes with his contortions and their ears with complete revolution in public opinion. Inhis cries. Much nearer our own times, when stead of grades of anguish, simple death is Damiens, who was half-crazed, struck at the highest punishment known to the law. Louis XV. with a penknife, and slightly The horror of violence, the agony of suspense, wounded him in the ribs, the entire scene the opprobrium of mankind, the misery of was again acted over, and again high-born friends, the pangs of conscience, the dread of dames were the eager spectators of the tor-eternity, form a compilation of woe which ment. Generations of luxury had given to requires no addition from bodily torture. the manners of court minions the polish of Every year contributes to falsify the old resteel, and its hardness to their hearts. proach, that fewer hours had heen devoted

Executions in England were less appalling to soften than to exasperate death. Modern than in France, and the circumstances of investigations have all been directed the cruelty became sooner abhorrent to the dis- other way; and the desire is universal, that position of the nation. But there was enough even the criminal, whose life is most justly which revolts our humaner feelings, and the the forfeit of his crime, should find speedy emboweling of traitors in particular was a deliverance. frequent horror. A contemporary writer Hanging has prevailed more universally has preserved the details of the death of Sir than any single mode of execution—nay, more, Thomas Blount, in the reign of Henry IV. perhaps, than all other methods, combined. He was hanged in form, immediately cut Recommended by simplicity, and the absence down, and seated on a bench before the fire of bloodshed, it is at the same time a death prepared to consume his entrails. The exe- from which imagination revolts. None cutioner, holding a razor in his hand, knelt would, prior to experience, be conceived and asked his pardon.“ Are you the per- more distressing, for the agony might be exson," inquired Sir Thomas, “appointed to pected to be realized to utmost intensity in deliver me from this world ?" and the execu- the sudden transition from the vigor of health tioner having answered “ Yes," and received to a forced and yet not immediate death. a kiss of peace, proceeded with the razor to Many, indeed, fancy that the fall of the body rip up his belly. In this way perished many dislocates the neck, when the consequent inof the Roman Catholics who had sentence jury to the spinal cord would annihilate life for conspiracies against Elizabeth. Either at the instant of the shock. But this is

among from the caprice of the executioner, or the the number of vulgar errors. Though a posprivate instructions of his superiors, the mea-sible result, it very rarely occurs, unless a sure dealt out was extremely unequal. Some special maneuvre is employed to produce it. were permitted to die before the operation Before revolutionary genius had discarded was begun, some were half-strangled, and the gibbet in France, Louis, the eminent prosome, the instant the halter had closed round fessor, struck with the circumstance that the their throats, were seized and butchered in criminals in Paris were some instants in dying, the fullness of life. In the latter cases, at while those of Lyons hung a lifeless mass the least, much of the rigor of the sentence was moment the rope was strained by their weight, at the discretion of the wretch who carried it learned from the executioner the trick of trade which spared his victims a struggle. | natural belief that while there was life there In flinging them from the ladder he steadied was pain, threw themselves upon his legs as with one hand the head, and with the other the cart drove away, that the addition of imparted to the body a rotatory movement their weight might shorten his pangs. A which gave a wrench to the neck. The ver- more sad satisfactiou for all the parties conitable Jack Ketch of the reign of James II., cerned could not well be conceived. who has transmitted his name to all the in- In the frenzy of innovation which accomheritors of his office, may be conjectured panied the French Revolution, when everyfrom a story current at the time to have thing was to be changed, and (as impostors been in the secret, for it was the boast of his pretended and dupes believed) to be changed wife that though the assistant could manage for the better, the reforming mania extended to get through the business, her husband to the execution of criminals, and Dr. Guilalone was possessed of the art to make a lotin, a weak, vain coxcomb, who revived culprit “die sweetly." Where the fall is with improvements an old machine, had the great, or the person corpulent, dislocation honor of giving his name to an adopted might take place without further interference, child whose operations have insured himself but with an occasional exception, those who from oblivion. The head, he assured the are hanged perish simply by suffocation. tender-hearted legislature, would fly off in There is nothing in that circumstance to occa- the twinkling of an eye, and its owner suffer sion special regret. An immense number of nothing. It has since been maintained that, persons recovered from insensibility have re- far from feeling nothing, he suffers at the corded their sensations, and agree in the re- time, and for ten minutes afterward,—that port that an easier end could not be desired. the trunkless head thinks as usual, and is An acquaintance of Lord Bacon, who meant master of its movements,—that the ear bears, to hang himself partially, lost his footing, the eye sees, and the lips essay to speak. and was cut down at the last extremity, hav- M. Sue, the father of the novelist, whose ing nearly paid for his curiosity with his life. theories of human physiology have a thorough He declared that he felt no pain, and his only family resemblance to his son's representasensation was of fire before his eyes, which tions of human nature, went so far as to changed first to black and then to sky-blue. contend that “the body felt as a body and These colors are even a source of pleasure. the head as a head." The experience of A Captain Montagnac, who was hanged in the living sets the first of these assertions at France during the religious wars, and rescued rest. When a nerve of sensation is severed from the gibbet at the intercession of Viscount from its communication with the brain, the Turenne, complained that, having lost all part below the lesion ceases to feel. The pain in an instant, he had been taken from a muscular power often continues, but sensilight of which the charm defied description. bility there is none. The head is not disAnother criminal, who escaped by the break- posed of so readily, for since it is the centre ing of the cord, said that, after a second of of feeling, it is impossible in decapitation to suffering, a fire appeared, and across it the infer the torpor of the brain from the calmost beautiful avenue of trees. Henry IV. lousness of the body. But it would require of France sent his physician to question him, the strongest evidence to prove that sensaand when mention was made of a pardon, the tion survives the shock; and the evidence, on man aswered coldly that it was not worth the contrary, is exceedingly weak. The althe asking. The uniformity of the descrip- leged manifestations of feeling are only tions renders it useless to multiply instances. what occur in many kinds of death where They fill pages in every book of medical we know that the pain is already past. No jurisprudence. All agree that the uneasiness one frequently appears to die harder when is quite momentary, that a pleasurable feel the face is uncovered than the man that is ing immediately succeeds, that colors of hanged, and yet all the time there is horror various hue start up before the sight, and on his countenance, within he is either calm that, these having been gazed on for a trivial or unconscious.* If those who stood by the space, the rest is oblivion. The mind, avert

* The face after banging is sometimes natural, ed from the reality of the situation, is enga- but more commonly distorted. Shakspeare has ged in scenes the most remote from that which given a vivid and exact description of the change in fills the eye of the spectator,—the vile rab- the speech where Warwick points to the indications ble, the hideous gallows, and the struggling of violence which prove that the Duke of Gloster

had been murdered :form that swings in the wind. Formerly in

" But see, his face is black and full of blood; England the friends of the criminal, in the

His eye- balls further out than when he lived, VOL XIX. NO. I.


guillotine had been equally curious about they came. It is a point upon which M. Sue other modes of dying, they would have and his school have not been exacting. One known that the peculiarity was not in the of the number mentions a man, or to speak signs, but in the interpretations they put upon more correctly, the head of a man, who them. The lips move convulsively,—the turned his eyes whichever way they called head, say they, is striving to speak, the him; and having thus digested the camel eyes are wide open, and are therefore watch- without difficulty, he grows scrupulous ing the scene before them; as if it was not about the gnat, and cannot be confident common in violent death for lips to quiver whether the name of the person was Tillier when the mind was laid to rest, and for eyes or De Tillier. It is an epitome of the plan to stare when their sense was shut. It is upon which many of the papers on the subaffirmed, however, that the eyes are some- ject are penned. The authors take care of times fixed upon cherished objects. But were the pence and leave the pounds to take care the anguish, as is asserted, “ full, fine, per- of themselves. For our own part, we befect,” the head, instead of employing itself lieve that the crashing of an axe through the in the contemplation of friends, would be ab- neck must completely paralyze the sensation sorbed in its own intolerable torments. The of the brain, and that the worst is over when illusion is probably produced by the rela- the head is in the basket. tives themselves, who look in the direction of The section of physiologists who would the eyes, which then appear to return the hardly refuse credit to the unpunctuated gaze. But it is neither necessary nor safe to averment that King Charles walked and find a solution for every marvel. Few have talked half an hour after his head was cut had the opportunity, and fewer still the ca- off, are left behind by some Polish physipacity, for correct observation. The imagi- cians, who were persuaded that by bringing nation of the spectator is powerfully excited, into contact the newly severed parts they and a slight perversion suffices to convert a could make them reunite. They had suffimechanical movement into an emotion of cient faith in their folly to petition that the feeling or an effort of the will. There are not head when it had grown to the shoulders many of the ordinany statements which rest might be suffered to remain, and obtained a upon the testimony of competent observers ; promise that their work should be respected, .and most of the extraordinary, such as the and the revivified criminal spared a second blushing of Charlotte Corday when her execution. Among the authenticated curioscheek was struck by the villain who held ities of surgery is the case of a soldier, who up her head, are not attested by any had his nose bitten off in a street riot, and witness whatsoever. Though every body thrown into the gutter. He picked up the repeats them, no one can tell from whence fragment, deposited it in the house of a

neighboring surgeon, and, having pursued Staring full ghastly like a strangled man;

the aggressor, returned, and had it refitted to His bair u preared, his nostrils stretched with struggling; the parent stock. On the following day it His hands abroad displayed, as one that grasped And tugged for life, and was by strength subdued.” had begun to unite, and on the fourth the

old nose was again incorporated with the The great poets beat the philosophers out of the old face. The Polish doctors may have field. They have the two-fold faculty essential to description,—the eye which discriminates the char- founded their hopes on some examples of acteristic circumstances, and the words which bring the kind. But they overlooked that time them up like pictures before the mind. By“ his was an element in the cure, and that life hands abroad displayed” must be understood that must be sustained while adhesion was going they were thrust to a distance from the body, which

on. They seem to have imagined that the is an impulse with persons who are stifled by force. That the hands themselves should be wide open is neck and head would unite together upon inconsistent with the fact and with the idea of the first application, with the same celerity “grasping.” They are sometimes clenched with that they had flown asunder at the stroke such violence that the nails penetrate the flesh of of the executioner. With the exception of the palms,-another instance among, many, what we know of the sensations in Changing, how these sages of Poland, nobody, until the guillittle the convulsive movements of dying are con

lotine had been busy in France, appears to nected with pain. The circumstance is not surpris- have dreamt that after head and body had ing now that the splendid investigations of Sir parted company life or feeling could subsist. Charles Bell

, which may challenge comparison with Decapitation, as the most honorable, was anything that has ever been done in physiology, the most coveted kind of death, and Lord have demonstrated that distinct from the nerves of feeling, and that they Russell scarcely exaggerated the general are capable of acting independently of one another. I opinion when he said, shortly before his fatal

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