We do not find in the his­to­ries that the Romans were willing to die for no cause, but the English kill them­sel­ves without any ima­gi­na­ble rea­son that com­pels them to do it ; they kill them­sel­ves in the very bosom of hap­pi­ness. This act for the Romans was the effect of edu­ca­tion : it deri­ved from their man­ners of thin­king and their cus­toms ; for the English it is the effect of an ill­ness1 ; it comes from the phy­si­cal state of the machine, and is inde­pen­dent of any other cause.

There is good rea­son for thin­king it is a flaw in the fil­tra­tion of the ner­vous humor ; the machine, the motor for­ces of which are at every moment inac­tive, is weary of itself ; the mind is aware of no pain, but of a cer­tain dif­fi­culty of exis­ting. Pain is a local afflic­tion that makes us desire to see that pain cease ; the weight of life is an afflic­tion that has no par­ti­cu­lar loca­tion, and makes us desire to see this life end.

It is clear that the civil laws of some coun­tries may have had rea­sons to stig­ma­tize self-homi­cide, but in England one can no more punish it than one puni­shes the effects of mad­ness.

It could well be complicated by scurvy, which, especially in some countries, makes a man strange and unbearable to himself (Voyages de François Pyrard, part II, ch. xxi).