Among those whom I have known, but one has rehearsed the scene of his own death, and that publicly. Such a scene was written by Laurence Housman as a suitable supplement to his Little Plajis of St Francis, for production at University College, London. Like Gilles de Rais, who used to play the part of Gilles de Rais in the Mystery of Orleans, Mr Housman undertook the role of himself upon his own death-bed. The example is surely inspiring; the experience couid not but be salutary. But I doubt if the reality has ever that forn-talised completeness which is so often found in fiction, film and drama. It is probably unwise, basing one’s plans upon such models, to assume that the family can be introduced severally for admonitions, blessings and curses. I, for one, cannot cut off my son with a shilling: I might manage the shiffing, but I have no son.
     And if I had a son I doubt very much whether he would be there on time to receive my final malediction. The only thing that can be counted on is one’s self; but with Heaven and Hell in the picture the stakes are surely high enough to satisfy even the most histrionic egoist.
     So, whether we babble of green fields (the twenty-third psalm, surely?) or of beds for all who come, it is all one. The least of death is that which buzzed in the ears of Marlowe’s Edward II—
And tells me if I sleep I never wake—.
     This were a trifling matter, unworthy of the Muses. Lost beauty and lost love eclipse such death. The final, the pertinent query remains:
Is there night


And rest for human labours? Do not you
And all the world, as I do, out-stare Time,
And live, like funeral lamps, never extinguished?
The ejies of Heaven
See but their certain motions, and then sleep:
The rages of the ocean have their slumbers
And quiet silver calms; each violence
Crowns in his end a peace; but mj fixed fires
Shall never, never set.

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