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in England, that none of these exertions of the inventive faculty have for their object the benefit of the laboring classes who are without property. On the contrary, they are for the most part only calculated to foster monopolies on a great scale, and thus take the bread out of their mouths. They do not increase the production of food, and so far from cheapening the necessaries of life, their sole object is to furnish people abroad with cheap clothing, which they are enabled to do partly by increasing, partly by reducing the wages of labor to the minimum of starving by inches. They administer exclusively to the profit or pleasure of the wealthy millionaire, not to the comforts of those who, toiling without capital, are consequently forever precluded from sharing the profits of that machinery which can only be procured and put in operation at an immense expense. What advantage is it to the poor man who is tied to one spot, and who can scarcely earn his daily bread by incessant toil, that others are enabled to travel at the rate of fifty miles an hour at an expense he cannot afford, or get the news in the hundredth part of the time they did in the dark ages of post riders and stage coaches? All these great improvements may have enabled England to pay the 50,000,000, sterling, of these beneficial public burdens, but it has been by the sacrifice of "The ox that treadeth out the corn."
So far, then, from coinciding with the British Political Economists, we conclude this portion of our discussion with confidently asserting that the present poverty and depression of so large a portion of the people of England may be traced in its original causes to the public debt and taxes, with their legitimate progeny the paper system, all acting on a surplus population. This is the grand trio which has produced the strange phenomenon, which Mr. Carlyle ascribes to witchcraft, of a government possessing all the attributes of almost incalculable wealth, contrasted with a people, industrious, economical and ingenious, crying out for bread, in the midst of boundless plenty. Neither earthquakes, nor famine, nor pestilence, nor any of those Scourges which Providence sometimes lets loose on nations for inscrutable purposes, can compare in their ravages with the lingering, hopeless, interminable grievances inflicted by that great stimulant to industry, economy and invention,-a vast national debt, and its inevitable consequences. It is the bloodsucker of nations; and it might be asserted with equal truth, that this insatiable reptile gives back the tide of life he extracts from his victim, as that governments return to their subjects the money they screw from them by taxations. It can never
return to the same pockets whence it is taken, any more than the blood taken from one man can infuse life and vigor into the veins of another.
It is only once in a great while that the avenging dispensations of Providence fall on communities and nations, or that a whole people become victims to war, pestilence, or famine. But the leaden burden of hopeless toil, the long-protracted miseries of cold and hunger, only alleviated by plunging into drunkenness and sensuality, and knowing no intermission as they descend from father to son, accumulating by the waythese constitute the disease of the heart of nations, "the worm that never dies, the fire which is never quenched." Is any degree of power, any eminence of glory, an adequate compensation for the sufferings of millions of our fellow creatures? In vain may we tell these poor victims of "industry, economy and invention," of the vast extent of the British Empire; the glory of the nation; the magnitude of its commerce; the perfection of its arts; the refinement of a small part of its society; and the lustre reflected on the most insignificant member of the United Kingdom by this accumulation of grandeur. All other considerations are superseded by the absence of the necessaries of life, and he who wants bread wants everything.
As this article has already extended to an inconvenient length, without the subject being exhausted, we propose to resume, and conclude it in our next number.
AN AMATEUR SUICIDE.
PECULIAR circumstances at an early age disgusted me with life. I never could thoroughly make up my mind to the intolerable bore of existence. Getting up in the morning was a nuisance to me, and going to bed at night an act which I performed with indescribable reluctance. My means were limited, and I hated economy. My admiration of beauty was intense, and I failed to inspire love. My ambition was great, and I could not get a footing in politics, literature, or any other worldly pursuit. My disposition was indolent, and I was forced to work. My pride was excessive and my position obscure. All these facts conspired to put me out of temper with life, and in love
with death. I was always wishing myself dead. To die became the great object of my life. I finally resolved on suicide. Having resolved on self-destruction, the only question, that remained to be decided, was how to accomplish the operation. No doubt the thing was easy enough in itself. There was drowning myself, and blowing one's brains out with a revolver, and stabbing one's self with a stiletto, and hanging one's self with a rope, besides jumping off a house-top, drinking laudanum and prussic acid, and a dozen other fashionable methods.
Nevertheless, I recoiled from them all; for, to speak candidly, I was very much afraid of hurting myself in the process of killing. This I take to be the great reason why so many people remain alive nothwithstanding the obviously superior advantages of suicide. I say obvious advantages, for what is the use of going through so many years of toil, care and sorrow, only to die after all, when the object might be accomplished at once in the easiest possible manner. Not that it is so easy as it seems. I once tried to drown myself, and was fished out of the river and held up by the heels with my head downwards by a philanthropist, who had but a superficial knowledge of pathology; after which, hot bricks were applied to my feet, indeed so hot that the skin was taken off their soles, and I ultimately recovered to a very painful sense of consciousAgain, a friend of mine imperfectly shot himself, and lived in extreme agony for three whole weeks. Numbers of men have jumped from prodigious heights and yet escaped with broken limbs and compound fractures. As for stabbing, it requires an immense amount of courage to strike a sharp piece of cold steel any effectual depth into one's flesh; and laudanum cases are one-half of them failures; while it is no easy matter to obtain prussic acid at all, and commoner poisons are apt to produce convulsions and internal writhings of a most unsatisfactory nature.
I determined to avoid all these "petites miseres de la mort humaine," and die at home at ease, just as the "gentlemen of England," in the way, live at home on the same principle. After mature reflection, as suicide was a science little cultivated in America, I selected the foreign mode, and adopted the plan by which French lovers occasionally put an end to their troubles. I only regretted that the want of either wife or mistress to share the ceremony compelled me to take my departure from earth in an unorthodox and solitary manner. I proposed to a philosophic friend to accompany me; but he apologised for declining the invitation, as he had just insured his life, and sui
cide would have vitiated the policy. He recommended me, however, to make my will in his favor, and appoint him sole executor, which I promised to do; but which, as I had nothing to leave but debts, I on reflection considered a superfluous
Accordingly I conveyed surreptitiously a certain quantity of charcoal and an iron brazier into my bed-room, and having rammed a bolster, a great coat, and a hearth rug up the chimney to prevent ventilation, I carefully closed the windows, lighted a fire in the brazier, and went to bed with a somewhat nervous foreboding of suffocation. In a short time the fumes of the charcoal began to affect me, and I was rapidly becoming insensible, when a sudden glare of light roused me from my torpor to the dim perception of the fact, that I was in a fair way of perishing by a means infinitely more fearful and less philosophical than, in my most death-desiring moments, I had dreamed of. My shirt, which I had thrown over the back of a chair, had, it seemed, caught fire from the brazier, and the flames had communicated already to a table covered with books and papers. There was no time to be lost. I rushed to the door, unbolted it, and in a few minutes found myself in the street shivering with cold, and covered only with my nightgown. Some neighbors took me in, and as the house was burned to the ground, no suspicion of my intentions ever got wind. But this failure taught me a severe lesson, and I resolved to adopt a less hazardous method on the next occasion.
Shortly afterwards, feeling still the same distaste for, and weariness of life, I hit upon a plan as remarkable as it was ingenious. I procured an alarm-clock, and so arranged matters that at a fixed hour a heavy weight should fall from a bracket on which it was carefully balanced, and by its descent strangle me in my sleep, with a cord passed in a slip knot round my neck. To be thus unconsciously garroted, appeared to me a magnificent contrivance, for to die in a state of somniferousness was the great object of my studies.
All was arranged. I sat up two nights carousing with some friends, to whom I candidly imparted my project, which they took to be an excellent joke; and on the third evening I lay down utterly exhausted, and fell asleep in a few minutes. I never expected to wake again on this side of Styx. Nevertheless, I was aroused by a hideous nightmare. I dreamed that I was in New Zealand, and that the head cook of a chief of aboriginals was cutting off my nose with a knife made of a flint. I tried to rise, but was held down by the fearful phan
tom of my dream, and found, after awhile, that instead of garroting me as I had intended, the faithless rope had slipped over my nose, which the falling weight had, by the effect of its terrible jerk, disfigured in a probably permanent manner.
This disgusted me with the clock-work system of suicide, and at the same time gave me an additional motive to selfdestruction, for of all things a disfigurement of the nasal feature is most apt to put a man out of conceit with himself and the world. It took me full six months to get over this experience, and devise a new method of carrying out my fatal resolution.
I next hit upon a very original but also very expensive idea, which nothing but a lucky windfall, in the shape of a small legacy, would have enabled me to execute. This was neither more nor less than to ascend in a balloon, inhale chloroform, and at the moment of becoming insensible fire a pistol into the balloon, and thus, falling from an height of perhaps two or three miles, be dashed to pieces in a state of insensibility. I bought the balloon, ascended, inhaled the chloroform, and fired the pistol. By an unlucky fatality, the balloon (which, as the ball only passed through the lower part of the globe, descended with comparative slowness) fell obliquely into the Hudson river, and I was picked up by a steamer which was passing, without any serious bodily injury.
It so happened that the steamer itself burst its boilers within three hours afterwards, but chancing to be standing at the bows of the vessel, I was one of the few who escaped unhurt. I took a hint, however, from this circumstance, and for three months traveled incessantly to and fro between New York and Albany, in confident expectation of another catastrophe of the kind. Strange to say, I escaped from even this ordeal; so that I began to fear that I held a charmed life, and that nothing short of a jump down the throat of a crocodile, or the crater of Mount Vesuvius, would answer my purpose. I even speculated as to whether driving myself mad, might not be a sort of spiritual suicide more easily attainable; and, on this theory, I read all the works on metaphysics and political economy I could lay hold off. But beyond an increased abhorrence of existence, I gained nothing by the labor, except perhaps an occasional nap at odd times, during which I occasionally dreamed of turning Mormon, and marrying fifty wives as a desperate resource, if things came to the worst or the maddest.
My final attempt is to be made this night. I am now writing, seated on a barrel of gunpowder. Before retiring to