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IV

WE MUST RID DEATH OF THAT WHICH GOES BEFORE

"THE doctors and the priests," said Napoleon, "have long been making death grievous." Let us, then, learn to look upon it as it is in itself, free from the horrors of matter and stripped of the terrors of the imagination. Let us first get rid of all that goes before and does not belong to it. Thus, we impute to it the tortures of the last illness; and that is not right. Illnesses have nothing in common with that which ends them. They form part of life and not of death. We easily forget the most cruel sufferings that restore us to health; and the first sun of convalescence destroys the most unbearable memories of the chamber of pain. But let death come; and at once we overwhelm it with all the evil done before it. Not a tear but is remembered and used as a reproach, not a cry of pain but becomes a cry of accusation. Death alone bears the weight of the errors of nature or the ignorance of science that have uselessly prolonged torments in whose name we curse death because it puts an end to them.


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