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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/333

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SEA-BUTTERFLIES.

natural right to deprive himself of it, as it is better not to live than to live in pain." Montesquieu, Montaigne, Dr. Donne, and others have advanced similar ideas; but it is needless to say that their arguments can find support only in the minds of those who believe that "death endeth all."

The tendency has always been to palliate the act, and the verdict, "committed suicide while laboring under temporary aberration of mind," has become a stereotyped phrase. This verdict was frequently rendered in earlier times for the purpose of preventing the property of the deceased from reverting to the crown, and it has been kept alive in more recent times by the desire, which is inherent in every human breast, to speak kindly of the dead. It is evident, however, that such a verdict should only be: rendered when the actions of the deceased have been such as to point very strongly to insanity, or where the autopsy shows undoubted lesions of the brain. Under such conditions no other verdict would be just. But when one becomes "a deserter from the army of humanity," and resorts to suicide as a means of escape from the trials of life, the act is merely a confession of weakness, which, while it may awaken feelings of compassion, certainly does not call for palliation. There are conditions of life, I will admit, to which death might seem far preferable; but though our misfortunes may be such as to make us long for the grave, we must, to slightly change the noble words of Burke, "even in despair live on," remembering that—

"Our time is fixed, and all our days are numbered;
How long, how short, we know not; this we know,
Duty requires we calmly wait the summons,
Nor dare to stir till Heaven shall give permission."

 

SEA-BUTTERFLIES.
By Prof. CARL VOGT.

THE little boat lay ready at the dock of Nice; I had at that time to depend upon my own hands. The idea that a permanent station could be established on the sea-coast, with laboratories in which the student could find in one place all the aids he would need in the investigation of sea-animals, had not yet occurred to any one. It was not till I had worked two years in Nice, and had suffered all the inconveniences and loss of time that come from deficiency of means, that I devised plans for building such an establishment, which all came to no result till Herr A. Dohrn, with unexampled energy, founded the zoological station in Naples, a model that has been imitated in nearly all coast countries.