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For many, as Crantor tells us, and those very wise men, not now but long ago have deplored the condition of human nature, esteeming life a punishment, and to be born a man the highest pitch of calamity; this, Aristotle tells us, Silenus declared when he was brought captive to Midas. I think it best to quote the expressions of the philosopher himself, in his book entitled Eudemus, or Of the Soul, wherein he speaks after this manner:—

‘Wherefore, thou best and happiest of mankind, if we think those blessed and happy who have departed this life, then it is not only unlawful but even blasphemy to speak any thing that is false or contumelious of them, since they are now changed into a better and more refined nature. And this my opinion is so old, that the original and author of it is utterly unknown; but it hath been derived down to us even from eternity, so established is the truth of it. Besides, thou seest what is so familiar in men's mouths, and hath been for many years a trite expression. What is that, saith he? He answered him: It is best not to be born at all; and next to that, it is more eligible to die than to live; and this is confirmed even by divine testimony. Pertinently to this they say that Midas, after hunting, asked his captive Silenus somewhat urgently, what was the most desirable thing amongst men. At first he would return no answer, but was obstinately silent. At last, when Midas would not give over importuning him, he broke out into these words, though very unwillingly: ' Thou seed of an evil genius and precarious offspring of hard fortune, whose life is but for a day, why dost thou compel me to tell thee those things it is better thou wert ignorant of? For those live the least disturbed who know not their misfortunes; but for men, the best for them is not to be [p. 327] born at all, nor to be made partakers of the most excellent nature; not to be is best for both sexes. This should have the first place in our choice; and the next to this is, when we are born, to die as soon as we can.' It is plain therefore, that he declared the condition of the dead to be better than that of the living.’

I could bring millions of examples to justify this topic, but I will not be long.

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