Deathbed scenes

- Scene 6 -
A general


10 April 1847

ook, we are at present in a princely, luxurious chamber. Here, everything is full of gold and silver and of the most precious gems and - for the world - of the most precious paintings. The floor of the chamber is laid with the finest rugs and the great plate glass windows are hung with curtains, the cost of which would feed a thousand poor for a whole month. Cupboards, tables, sofas, chairs and a great many more princely furnishings of great value adorn the chamber, which is permeated by all sorts of aromatic scents, and the most renowned physicians are surrounding the bed, richly embossed with gold, in which the worldly prominent patient is waiting in vain for his recovery.
One conference after another is held and the medication is changed hourly. In the adjoining room, two monks are praying continuously, taking turns from Latin books in red and black print, and wherever there is a prayer house or some chapel, a solemn mass is held for the recovery of our great general. But it is all in vain. For neither in the pharmacy, the breviary nor in the missal is there any help, and here it says for once: "Come and let us see of what kind your deeds are!"
Look at the sick man, how courageous he is! But this courage is only a sham, for inwardly our hero could expire for fear and despair, cursing the very painful illness like a hussar who curses his horse, which refuses to obey him. It all fits nicely together. There the monks are praying -of course with a reverence which cannot be rivaled and added to, which is joined to quite a different wish propter certum quoniam (because of a certain matter). But it is always strange if the one for whom prayers are outwardly said, curses abominably.
Now his pain increases, becoming almost unbearable, and our patient, inflamed with anger, raises himself up to the astonishment of those surrounding him and shouts full of rage: "O you accursed life! Can you, Creator, if you exist, not take it from me in a more painless manner. On such a miserable life all the devils, if they exist, can defecate and I myself would, if I could! Hah, you silliest beasts of doctors, the whole lot of you are not worth a rap, give me a well-loaded pistol, so that I myself may write a medicine for this dog's and whore's life through the brain, with one report safely freeing the same of any further torment!"
A protomedicus approaches the sickbed, trying to feel the pulse and calm down the patient. But the noble patient raises himself up and says: "Just come here, you rascal, you miserable dog of a doctor, so that I can vent my justified anger on you! Go to the devil, you silly rascal! Would you not like to torment me again with Opium? Look how clever these rascals are; as soon as they are at their wits' end, they come with Opium. Then the sick man falls asleep and they do not have to fear the justified complaints lasting for hours. And they will laugh into their sleeve and calculate how much each of them will be able to charge according to the third table after my death! Ha ha ha, I certainly see through your plans! So away with you, you evil dogs, or I will rid you with my last strength of this miserable whores' life! Hah, who are the two black rascals I can see in the adjoining room? What are these fellows doing? I almost believe they are praying for my soul! Who has ordered them to do it? Out with them, or I get up and shoot them down like dogs!"
Look, following this explosion on the part of the supreme commander, the monks make off at once. The physicians keep shrugging their shoulders more and more, the patient falls silent and amid the most horrid distortions of the face the death-rattle sets in. However, being unable to observe more in the patient, we proceed at once to the spirit world and shall make our brief observations as to how our hero will enter into the spirit world.
You see, we are already there, and there on the same bed lies the patient in an identically looking room. He is still gasping, as you can easily see, drawing air painfully and biting his tongue in the silent rage of his angry soul.
But there, you see, is already the sole death angel in readiness to liberate the enraged soul of our hero from its excessively proud and arrogant aristocratic flesh. The angel is armed with a flaming sword - as a sign of his great power lent him by Me and as a sign of his courage and his total lack of fear before such great heroes of the earth, as well as before the whole hell.
You see, now the last grain of sand in the urn of time has fallen for this hero, and the angel touches him with his flaming sword and speaks: "Rise, you feeble Soul, and you, proud dust, fall back into the ocean of your bottomless nothingness!"
Look, now the body disappears and the bed and the chamber full of earthly splendor are no longer visible. Instead, as you can easily see, a very dark ashen-gray, decrepit-looking soul rises, standing on loose sand, which threatens to swallow it. It looks around, angry, distraught and shy. However, it sees itself in a different way from how we see it - it sees itself still as a general decorated with all his medals and with a sword.
"Were am I?" the hero now says, "Which devil has taken me here? Nothing, and again nothing. Wherever I turn my eyes, there is nothing. Look down there, also below me there is nothing!
Am I a sleepwalker - or dreaming - or should I actually have died? Oh, this is truly an accursed, silly state! To be sure, I am quite well now and feel no pain, remember every little detail in my life. I was extremely sick. I have scrutinized the silly doctors, have sent the two hypocrites to the devil and have also, of course, owing to the strong, unbearable pain, said some rude things to the Creator; all this I very well remember! I also know that I was very angry and ready to tear everything apart in my rage. But now all this is past. It would be all right, if only I knew where I really am and what has gone on with me?!"
There is a little light around me, but the farther out I direct my gaze, the darker it becomes, and I see nothing, nothing, nothing, and again nothing! This is really accursed! Truly, he who does not go to the devil under these circumstances, win not do so in eternity!
Strange, strange, I keep becoming more wide-awake, more alive, but at the same time it keeps getting emptier around me. I must surely be in a sort of lethargy? However, those who are afflicted with it, are said to hear and see everything happening around them
- but I hear and see nothing except myself; so this can be no lethargy. It is here neither cold nor warm, nor totally dark, although the light is truly not blinding. What I find incomprehensible is that I am in this solo state very merry and in high spirits, so that I could be a clown; and yet, I have as Figura shows, surely not been more solitary in the womb than here. Truly, if I had here such a little thing, eh, such a thing -well, such a thing - yes, yes, all right - if I had such a harlot with me, I could even forget myself, that I - confound it, the general together with his five dozen ancestors! Truly, I would give anything for the most common harlot!
If only I could find out where I really am? If this state of affairs should last much longer, this condition could become damned boring! Have once heard something of a God, want to earnestly turn to Him. Have earlier behaved somewhat rudely towards Him. But, if He exists, He will not hold it against me. Hallo, my God, my Lord! If you exist, help me out of this queer, unfortunate situation!"
You see, at once an angel comes along and speaks: "Friend, you will remain in this situation until the last drop of your pride has been drained out of you, whereby the last drop of blood will be paid of the blood of many thousands of your brothers shed by you. Throw away all your insignia as a general, and you will find more ground and more light and also company - but beware of your own kind, or you will be lost! Above all, turn to the Lord, and your path will be short and easy. Amen."
You see, at this stage our hero is not prepared to follow this advice. Therefore, the angel leaves him; he will be kept in suspension for several hundred years more.
From this you can draw your conclusions as to his "water", and so nothing further of him.