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After burial come the different quiddities as to the existence of the Manes. All men, after their last day,1 return to what they were before the first; and after death there is no more sensation left in the body or in the soul than there was before birth. But this same vanity of ours extends even to the future, and lyingly fashions to itself an existence even in the very moments which belong to death itself: at one time it has conferred upon us the immortality of the soul; at another transmigration; and at another it has given sensation to the shades below, and paid divine honours to the departed spirit, thus making a kind of deity of him who has but just ceased to be a man. As if, indeed, the mode of breathing with man was in any way different from that of other animals, and as if there were not many other animals to be found whose life is longer than that of man, and yet for whom no one ever presaged anything of a like immortality. For what is the actual substance of the soul, when taken by itself? Of what material does it consist? Where is the seat of its thoughts? How is it to see, or hear, or how to touch? And then, of what use is it, or what can it avail, if it has not these faculties? Where, too, is its residence, and what vast multitudes of these souls and spirits2 must there be after the lapse of so many ages? But all these are the mere figments of childish ravings, and of that mortality which is so anxious never to cease to exist. It is a similar piece of vanity, too, to preserve the dead bodies of men; just like the promise that he shall come to life again, which was made by Democritus;3 who, however, never has come to life again himself. Out upon it! What downright madness is it to suppose that life is to recommence after death! or indeed, what repose are we ever to enjoy when we have been once born, if the soul is to retain its consciousness in heaven, and the shades of the dead in the infernal regions? This pleasing delusion, and this credulity, quite cancel that chief good of human nature, death, and, as it were, double the misery of him who is about to die, by anxiety as to what is to happen to him after it. And, indeed, if life really is a good, to whom can it be so to have once lived?

How much more easy, then, and how much more devoid of all doubts, is it for each of us to put his trust in himself, and guided by our knowledge of what our state has been before birth, to assume that that after death will be the same.

1 He views the state after death in the same light as Democritus and Epicurus, utterly denying the immortality of the soul; though it cannot be said that he looks upon life in the same cheerful, laissez-faire manner in which it was regarded by the latter of these philosophers.

2 Hardouin remarks, that the ancients made a distinction between the souls of the dead, and their spirits or shades, "umbræ." The former were supposed to remain on the earth, while the latter were removed either to Elysium or to Tartarus, according to the character or actions of the deceased.—B.

3 According to Varro, Democritus directs, that the body shall not be burnt after death, hut preserved in honey; on which Varro remarks, how greatly such a practice would tend to raise the price of that article.—B.

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