IT is easy to conceive circumstances not widely different from those of actual life that would, if not altogether, at least very largely, take from death the gloom that commonly surrounds it. If all the members of the human race died either before two or after seventy; if death was in all cases the swift and painless thing that it is with many; and if the old man always left behind him children to perpetuate his name, his memory, and his thoughts, Death, though it might still seem a sad thing, would certainly not excite the feelings it now so often produces. Of all the events that befall us, it is that which owes most of its horror not to itself, but to its accessories, its associations, and to the imaginations that cluster around it. 'Death,' indeed, as a great stoical moralist said, 'is the only evil that can never touch us. When we are, death is not. When death comes, we are not.'
The composition of treatises of consolation intended to accustom men to contemplate death without terror was one of the favourite exercises of the philosophers in the Augustan and in the subsequent periods of Pagan Rome. The chapter which Cicero has devoted to this subject in his treatise on old age is a beautiful