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Poetical And Grammatical Deaths
by [?]

A lui rivolgi il ciglio.
Guardo chi t’ offro, e poi
Lasci, Signor, se vuoi,
Lascia di perdonar.

“I offer to thee, O Lord, thine own Son, who already has given the pledge of love, enclosed in this thin emblem. Turn on him thine eyes: ah! behold whom I offer to thee, and then desist, O Lord! if thou canst desist from mercy.”

“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 lyrical poems, entitled “Last Hours,” composed by old Gleim on his death-bed, was intended to be published. The death of Klopstock was one of the most poetical: in this poet’s “Messiah,” he had made the death of Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, a picture of the death of the Just; and on his own death-bed he was heard repeating, with an expiring voice, his own verses on Mary; he was exhorting himself to die by the accents of his own harp, the sublimities of his own muse! The same song of Mary was read at the public funeral of Klopstock.

Chatelar, 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 our old critic says is well adapted to conquer its fear.

When the Marquis of Montrose 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 verse.

Philip Strozzi, 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 as no crime therefore to die. He resolved on suicide. With the point of the sword, with which he killed himself, he cut out on the mantel-piece of the chimney this verse of Virgil:–

Exoriare aliquis nostris ex ossibus ultor.
Rise some avenger from our blood!

I can never repeat without a strong emotion the following stanzas, begun by Andre Chenier, in the dreadful period of the French revolution. He was waiting for his turn to be dragged to the guillotine, when he commenced this poem:–

Comme un dernier rayon, comme un dernier zephyre
Anime la fin d’un beau jour;
Au pied de l’echafaud j’essaie encore ma lyre,
Peut-etre est ce bientot mon tour;

Peut-etre avant que l’heure en cercle promenee
Ait pose sur l’email brillant,
Dans les soixante pas ou sa route est bornee
Son pied sonore et vigilant,

Le sommeil du tombeau pressera ma paupiere–

Here, at this pathetic line, was Andre Chenier summoned to the guillotine! Never was a more beautiful effusion of grief interrupted by a more affecting incident!

Several men of science have died in a scientific manner. Haller, the poet, philosopher, and physician, 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, observing, “My friend, the artery ceases to beat,” and almost instantly expired. The same remarkable circumstance had occurred to the great Harvey: he kept making observations on the state of his pulse, when life was drawing to its close, “as if,” says Dr. Wilson, in the oration spoken a few days after the event, “that he who had taught us the beginning of life might himself, at his departing from it, become acquainted with those of death.”