Front Page Titles (by Subject) APPENDIX, No. I. p. 87.: OF SUICIDE - An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, Vol. I.
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APPENDIX, No. I. p. 87.: OF SUICIDE - William Godwin, An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, Vol. I. 
An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, and its Influence on General Virtue and Happiness, vol. 1 (London: G.G.J. and J. Robinson, 1793).
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APPENDIX, No. I. p. 87.
motives of suicide: 1. escape from pain.—2. benevolence.—martyrdom considered.
BOOK II. CHAP. II. APPENDIX. Motives of suicide.THIS reasoning will explain to us the long disputed case of suicide. “Have I a right under any circumstances to destroy myself in order to escape from pain or disgrace?” 1. Escape from pain Probably not. It is perhaps impossible to imagine a situation, that shall exclude the possibility of future life, vigour and usefulness. The motive assigned for escape is eminently trivial, to avoid pain, which is a small inconvenience; or disgrace, which is an imaginary evil. The example of fortitude in enduring them, if there were no other consideration, would probably afford a better motive for continuing to live.
2. Benevolence “Is there then no case in which suicide is a virtue?” What shall we think of the reasoning of Lycurgus, who, when he determined upon a voluntary death, remarked, “that all the faculties a rational being possessed were capable of a moral use, and that, after having spent his life in the service of his country, a man ought, if possible, to render his death a source of additional benefit?” This was the motive of the suicide of Codrus, Leonidas and Decius. If the same motive prevailed in the much admired suicide of Cato, if he were instigated by reasons purely benevolent,BOOK II. CHAP. II. Appendix it is impossible not to applaud his intention, even if he were mistaken in the application.
The difficulty is to decide in any instance whether the recourse to a voluntary death can overbalance the usefulness I may exert in twenty or thirty years of additional life. But surely it would be precipitate to decide that there is no such instance. There is a proverb which affirms, “that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” It is commonly supposed that Junius Brutus did right in putting his sons to death in the first year of the Roman republic, and that this action contributed more than any other cause, to generate that energy and virtue for which his country was afterwards so eminently distinguished. The death of Cato produced an effect somewhat similar to this. It was dwelt on with admiration by all the lovers of virtue under the subsequent tyrants of Rome. It seemed to be the lamp from which they caught the sacred flame. Who can tell how much it has contributed to revive that flame in after ages, when it seemed to have been so long extinct?
Let it be observed that all martyrs [Editor: illegible Greek word] are suicides by theMartyrdom considered very signification of the term. They die for a testimony [Editor: illegible Greek word]; that is, they have a motive for dying. But motives respect only our own voluntary acts, not the violence put upon us by another.