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THE MISTAKE OF THE DOCTORS IN PROLONGING THE PANGS OF DEATH
ONE day, this prejudice will strike us as barbarian. Its roots go down to the unacknowledged fears left in the heart by religions that have long since died out in the mind of men. That is why the doctors act as though they were convinced that there is no known torture but is preferable to those awaiting us in the unknown. They seem persuaded that every minute gained amidst the most intolerable sufferings is snatched from the incomparably more dreadful sufferings which the mysteries of the hereafter reserve for men; and, of two evils to avoid that which they know to be imaginary, they choose the real one. Besides, in thus postponing the end of a torture, which, as good Seneca says, is the best part of that torture, they are only yielding to the unanimous error which daily strengthens the circle wherein it is confined: the prolongation of the agony increasing the horror of death; and the horror of death demanding the prolongation of the agony.