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BOOK I, CHAPTER XIV

67

very soon.” — “It is better then,” he retorted, “for me to carry Him my recommendations myself.”[1]

(c) In the kingdom of Narsinga,[2] to this day, the wives of the priests are buried alive with their deceased husbands. All other wives are burned at the obsequies of their husbands, not with fortitude simply, but gaily. And when the body of their deceased king is burned, all his wives and concubines, his favourites, and every sort of official and public servant, forming a great multitude, rush so light-heartedly to the fire, to throw themselves into it with the master, that they seem to regard it as a great honour to be his companions in death.[3] (a) During our last wars in Milan, with so many captures and recaptures, the people, being made impatient by such perpetual alternations of fortune, so deliberately chose death, that I have heard my father say that he heard of as many as five-and-twenty heads of families who had made way with themselves in one week; an incident resembling that of the Xantians, who, besieged by Brutus, were seized pell-mell — men, women, and children — with so fierce a craving for death, that there is nothing done to escape death which they did not do to escape life; so that Brutus scarcely could save a very small number.[4]

(c) Every belief is strong enough to cause men to espouse it at the cost of life. The first article of that fine oath that Greece took and kept to in the Median war was that every man should exchange life for death rather than their laws for those of the Persians.[5] In the war between the Greeks and the Turks, what numbers of them are seen accepting violent death rather than renounce their faith and be baptised! A test of which no form of religion is incapable.

The kings of Castile having banished the Jews from their

  1. See Bonaventure Des Periers, Les Nouvelles Recreations.
  2. This name was often given by the Portuguese and others to Vijayanagar. The Hindu Empire of Vijayanagar included for 200 years, from the middle of the fourteenth to the middle of the sixteenth century, the whole of Southern India below the 15th degree of latitude.
  3. See Goulard’s translation of Bishop Osorio’s Histoire du roi Emmanuel de Portugal (1581).
  4. See Plutarch, Life of Brutus.
  5. See Diodorus Siculus, V, 29, and many other sources.