Among the most remarkable attempts at suicide upon record is that of a man in Fressonville, in Picardy, as related by Dr. Winslow, who was actuated by a desire to ring his own death knell. To accomplish this object he hanged himself to the clapper of the church-bell. But, fortunately, he chose an hour at which it was not customary for the bell to ring, and attention was attracted in time to save his life. Another very deliberate attempt, probably the most extraordinary ever known, was that made by an Italian shoemaker, named Matthew Lovat. This case was originally reported by Dr. Bergierre, afterward enlarged upon by Dr. Winslow in his "Anatomy of Suicide," and has since been frequently quoted by various writers. The history of the case in brief is that the man determined to imitate as nearly as possible the crucifixion of our Saviour, and therefore deliberately set about making a cross, and providing himself with all the adjuncts of that scene. "He perceived that it would be difficult to nail himself firmly to the cross, and therefore made a net which he fastened over it, securing it at the bottom of the upright beam and at the ends of the two arms. The whole apparatus was tied by two ropes, one from the net and the other from the place where the beams intersected one another. These ropes were fastened to the bar above the window, and were just sufficiently long to allow the cross to lie horizontally upon the floor of the apartment. Having finished these preparations, he next put on his crown of thorns, some of which entered his forehead; then, having stripped himself naked, he girded his loins with a white handkerchief. He then introduced himself into the net, and, seating himself on the cross, drove a nail through the palm of his right hand by striking its head upon the floor until the point appeared on the other side. He now placed his feet upon a bracket he had prepared for them, and with a mallet drove a nail completely through them both, fastening them to the wood. He next tied himself to the cross by a piece of cord around his waist, and wounded himself in the side with a knife which he used in his trade. The wound was inflicted two inches below the hypochondrium, toward the internal angle of the abdominal cavity, but did not injure any of the parts which the cavity contains. Several scratches were observed upon his breast which appear to have been done by the knife in probing for a place which should present no obstruction. The knife, according to Lovat, represented the spear of the passion. All this he accomplished in the interior of his apartment, but it was necessary to show himself in public. To accomplish this he had placed the foot of the cross upon the window-sill, which was very low, and by pressing his fingers against the floor he gradually drew himself forward until, the foot of the cross overbalancing the head, the whole machine
Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/328
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.