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For the Literary Magazine.

on sudden death.

I WAS lately in a company where
the conversation turned upon the
most eligible mode of dying. Vari-
ous were the sentiments expressed
upon this interesting subject. A
lingering and natural death was ge-
nerally preferred, because such a
one afforded opportunity of peni-
tence and reformation, and of ar-
ranging all our private affairs. A
violent death, if foreseen, possessed,
indeed, most of these advantages,
but then such a death is likely to be
regarded with extreme reluctance;
whereas it is the quality of disease
to slacken the hold which the appe-
tites and passions have of life, and
to disrobe the terrestrial scene of
most of its ordinary attractions.

This conclusion was not without
objections, but these objections were
overruled by superior arguments,
and the debate appeared to end, for
once, in unanimity. At length an
old gentleman, who had hitherto
been silent, was asked to give his
opinion. He modestly observed, that
the conclusion generally acquiesced
in implied a life not conformable to
reason or religion. As life was at
best precarious, it was the duty of

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every one, in relation to his own
Safety hereafter, the benefit of his
survivors, and the honour of his
name, to be always prepared to
die. We ought so to live, that
our sudden death can produce no
mischief to ourselves or our sur-
vivors, but that which is insepa-
rable from death in any form.....
These conditions being granted, he
begged leave to relate the death of
Leonard Euler, one of the best and
wisest men which the present age
has produced, and one whom it was
his most fervent wish to resemble
both in life and death.

The company eagerly assenting
to this proposal, he related it in
these terms:

“ Leonard Euler had retained all
his facility of thought to the age of
seventy-six, and, apparently, all his
mental vigour: no decay seemed to
threaten the sciences with the sud-
den loss of their greatest ornament.
One day, after amusing himself with
calculating, on a slate, the laws of
the ascending motion of air-balloons,
the recent discovery of which was
then making a noise all over Eu-
rope, he dined with a friend and his
family, talked of Herschell's planet,
and of the calculations which deter-
mined its orbit. A little after, he
called his grandchild to his knee,
and fell a playing with him as he
drank tea, when suddenly the cup,
which he held in his hand, dropped
from it, and he ceased to calculate
and to breathe.”


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