Imagens das páginas

Second Edition, 1914.
Third Edition, 1918.


O Pain, I know thee and I fear to know

Thee better. Yet I know that to mankind

Thou art a friend, warner, corrector, guide,

A guardian angel watching o'er the eoul.

Mysterious power divine, wise Nature's goad

For mortals towards light and progress fair.

Only when all is known—no secrets hid—

Wilt thou be understood. And thou, O death.

What is thy meaning? Some there are of men

Deny thee quite. "There is no death," they say;

But ever with veil'd aspects com'st thou still.

Is life for practice and experience,

To help the soul to its development?

Death's message in that case to all might be:

"Give place to others, let them have their chance,

And do thou move aside and wait awhile!

Perchance thou'st work'd so hard thou needest rest.

Perchance thou'st misspent time or wasted it.

Repent then, and use thy next life better,

For self-improvement and for other's good,

To make thee worthy of eternity

And fitting company for just men's souls." *

F. P. W.

* My prose or " vers libre" of the first portion of this was kindly put into blank verse (the first eleven lines) for me by the late Alfred Schuster, not long before his death (November 20th, 1914). In regard to the lines commencing with Give place to others, I do not imply that anyone can possibly have more than his share of life. In fact, whether he lives to 20, BO, or 150 years, his life is indeed short (if his faculties have persisted) from my point of view.

Many different paths of life-experience lead to the same thoughts and to partial opening of the gates of Truth, but many of them lead indeed through darkness and pain, and the lamps of Truth and Peace cannot always be distinguished in the distance. F P W


The first edition of this book consisted of a series of articles reprinted, with many alterations and additions, from the Numismatic Chronicle, 1909-10, Nos. 36-38. The present edition, though further illustrated and greatly enlarged, is certainly not an exhaustive treatise on the "iconography" of death,1 and still less does it aim at being anything like a complete "anthology " 2 of the vast existing stores of poetry and epigrams relating to the subject of death3; neither is it a treatise on actual death

1 An " Iconography of Death " would, amongst other things, have to describe and illustrate all the antique sculptures of "Dying Warriors," "Dying Barbarians," "Dying Amazons," &c. (including, of course, the so-called "Dying Gladiator " in the Capitoline Museum at Rome), the sculptured "Masks of Expiring Warriors," by Andreas Schliiter (about 1699) on the keystones of the window-arches in the Court of the "Zeughaus" (Arsenal) at Berlin, and innumerable sculptures and paintings, of various periods, representing the death of historical individuals, idealistic personifications, and characters of romance. The "literary aspects of death," including a study of famous deaths and deathbed-scenes as described in history and romance, have attracted a good deal of attention, especially among physicians and surgeons, and numerous (mostly rather short) essays exist on the subject.

1 Dr. Andrew Macphail, in the preface to his Book of Sorrow (1916), claims for that excellent anthology of his, that it "contains all that has been said—all, indeed, that can be said—upon the theme of sorrow." I might almost as well make the preposterous claim for this book of mine—that it contains all that has been said, all that can be said, upon the Aspects of Death.

3 For some of the French poetry from the fifteenth century to modern times, relating to death, including part of Victor Hugo's Epopte du Ver and Theophile Gautier's Comidie de la Mart, see Leon Larmand, Les Pontes de la Mori (L. Michaud, Paris). Amongst very early French poetry on death there are thirteenth-century versions of Le dit des trois morts et des trois vifs, and the curious late twelfth-century Vers de la Mart, attributed to the monk Helinant de Fvoidmont or to Thibaud de Marly. In the edition printed at Paris in 1835, as the work of T. de Montmorency, Seigneur de Marly, called Thibaud de Marly, the following lines (p. 26) may be taken as an example of the spelling :—

"Mors, tu abas a un seul jour
Aussi le roi dedans sa tour
Con le pouvre dessous son toit."

These lines appear as follows in the Paris edition of 1905 (p. 20) by F. Wulff and E. Walberg, who attribute the poem to Helinant, Moine de Froidmont:—

"Morz, tu abaz a un seul jor
Aussi le roi dedenz sa tor
Com le povre dedenz son toit."


(" thanatology "), nor a description of actual death (" thanatography "), but it is intended to be an essay on the mental attitudes towards ideas of death (" thanatopsis ") and immortality, and the various ways in which (from ancient Greek and Roman to modern times) they have, or may be supposed to have, affected the living individual—his mental and physical state, and especially the direction and force of his actions—as illustrated by epigram, poetry, and minor works of art, especially medals, engraved gems, jewels, &c.

The book is divided into four parts. The first is meant to serve as an introduction to the whole subject. The second is an arrangement and analysis of the various possible aspects of death and the mental attitudes towards the idea of death; this also explains the headings under which illustrative works of art may conveniently be grouped. The third deals with the medals and coins; and in the fourth engraved gems, finger-rings, jewels, representations on ancient pottery, &c, bearing on the subject, are described. The repetitions which occur in various parts of the book will, it is hoped, be excused on the ground of convenience for purposes of reference.4

I wish to thank and express my great obligation to all those who have assisted me, especially Mr. H. A. Grueber, the late Mr. Warwick Wroth, Mr. G. F. Hill, Mr. J. Allan, Sir C. H. Read, Mr. A. H. Smith, Mr. H. B. Walters, Mr. E J. Forsdyke, Mr. If. L. Binyon, and other officials, or late officials, of the British Museum; Mr. W. W. Watts, Mr. E. B. D. Maclagan, and other officials of the Victoria and Albert Museum; the late Sir John Evans, President of the Royal Numismatic Society, Lady Evans, Dr. H. B. Storer, Dr. Oliver Codrington, Dr. C. F. L. Leipoldt, Dr. Ernest Schuster, Mr. Alfred Schuster, Mr. Martin Beinicke, Dr. J. B. zum Busch, Dr. G. Dorner, Mr. A. H. Donaldson, Mr. W. Wale, Mr. E. Jordan, Mr. W. T. Ready, and Mr. L. Forrer; and, needless to say, the authors of books and papers to which I have referred, from some

4 For the author has certainly no hope that anyone will read the book right through as some persons read novels.


of which I have extensively quoted. To the Contessa Caetani LovatelK's Thanatos I am particularly obliged for references to ancient inscriptions and epigrams. Dr. -J. D. Eolleston has furnished me with several references to the Greek Anthology, and I have made much use of Lord Neaves's little book, The Greek Anthology, 1874 (W. Blackwood & Sons), and of W. E. Paton's edition (Loeb Classical Library). The Kev. H. P. Dodd's Epigrammatists has, of course, been of great assistance to me. A second and enlarged edition of Dodd's book was published in Bohn's Eeference Library in 1875, and is much too little known. Mr. C. J. S. Thompson has kindly drawn my attention to various objects of interest in the newly founded Wellcome Historical Medical Museum, to which I am indebted for some of my illustrations. In preparing the present edition I have made much use of Mrs. Arthur Strong's very suggestive Apotheosis and After Life. To Mr. W. Wale I am indebted for many further quotations. In regard to figures 25 and 26 I have made use of illustrations in Kuackfuss's Kunstler-Monographien.

If Eabbi Hillel was right in saying that death presents various aspects only to the unwise, then indeed very few human beings are really wise, for to most persons the aspect varies from time to time, according to moods and circumstances. Age certainly often modifies the aspect, as Mr. Edmond G. A. Holmes recently stated that it had done in his own case.5 As for death's real aspect, there have been seers enough, both in ancient and modern times, who have told us of their wonderful though contradictory visions; but, with Edward Young (Night Thoughts), one may well exclaim:—

"Who can take
Death's portrait 1 The tyrant never sat."

• It obliged him to alter many of the stanzas in his poem "To Death," included in The Creed of My Heart and Other Poems, London, 1912.

The study of human ideas of death derives most of its interest from human aspects of life. The aspects of the one are naturally more or less dependent on and modified by the aspects of the other. Death is as necessary as birth for the continuance and progress of the human race, and corporeal life in the higher organisms cannot even be imagined without death (except, indeed, in regard to the doctrine of the immortality of germplasm 6). A man's ideas on death depend largely on the particular conditions of his own life and his surroundings, whilst his ideas and ideals of life may be considerably modified by his views and hopes regarding the nature of death and the nature of the human soul.

In this book, bulky though it has now become, I have not endeavoured to point out all the possible effects on the living of the various aspects of death as presented by medals, &c. It would, for instance, be quite unnecessary to explain that contemporary medals representing a decapitation for high treason might, at the time when they were issued, have exercised a deterrent influence on those who saw them. Vide the medals commemorating the execution of Monmouth and Argyle in 1685, with the inscription "Ambitio malesuada ruit." The "toyshop" medals (also described in this book), issued in London on the loss of Minorca in 1756, may actually have played a part in bringing the unfortunate Admiral Byng to his death. It is pleasanter to think that the satirical " pattern" for a bank-note (" not to be imitated "), designed by George Cruikshank in 1818, and published by William Hone in Ludgate Hill, really helped to put an end to the death-penalty for forgery of banknotes.

La Rochefoucauld said that man could no more look

• August Weismann's teaching. In regard to this and the French views of Bichat and Claude Bernard, and various physiological and philosophical aspects of life and death, see A. Dastro, Life and Death, translated by W. J. Greenstreet, London, 1911.

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »