Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/382

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his sweet nature and upright manliness—while overcome by grief at the death of his wife, with his own hand sought rest beyond.

Michael Angelo, after receiving a painful injury to his leg by falling from a scaffold while at work upon The Last Judgment, became so melancholy that he shut himself in his room, refused to see any one, and "resolved to let himself die." Fortunately, his intentions were frustrated by the celebrated physician Bacio Rontini, who learned by accident of his condition.

Vittoria Alfieri, of whom it has been said that every event in his life is either a factor of disease or a symptom of mental alienation, attempted suicide in Holland, while making one of his restless trips through Europe in search of change.

Kotzebue, who at last met a tragic death at the hand of an assassin, was at one time so melancholy that he meditated self-destruction. Happily, however, as he tells us, his habit of composition was so firmly fixed that he went on with his work and produced one of his finest dramas, Misanthropy and Repentance.

Cowper, as is well known, when bowed down by religious melancholy, made two unsuccessful attempts upon his life.

Chateaubriand, the brilliant representative of French literature, became so thoroughly discontented with himself and the world that he attempted to take his life.

Dupuytren, the distinguished anatomist and surgeon, whose kindly nature induced him to leave a large share of his fortune for the establishment of a benevolent institution for the relief of distressed medical men, contemplated suicide even when at the acme of his fame.

Cavour, "the regenerator of Italy," and one of the greatest of modern statesmen, twice attempted to kill himself.

Lincoln, as Herndon tells us in The True Story of a Great Life, was subject to fits of extreme melancholy. Nicolay also says that beneath his apparently cheerful and sunny nature there was an undercurrent of deep sadness. At one time, according to Herndon, his melancholy reached such proportions that his friends, "fearing a tragic termination, watched him closely day and night." At this time Lincoln himself wrote: "I am now the most miserable man living. To remain as I am is impossible. I must die, or be better, as it appears to me." While thus suffering he wrote and published a paper on suicide. But, to the glory of civilization, the shadows lifted, and he lived to place his name in perpetual honor by freeing the nation from "the incubus of slavery."

Lamartine, poet, statesman, and orator, when overcome by reverses which were as sudden as his successes had been, looked longingly toward the tomb.