With toilsome steps I pass thro' life's dull road,
No packhorse half so weary of his load;
And when this dirty journey shall conclude,
To what new realms is then my way pursu'd?
Say then, does the unbody'd spirit fly
To happier climes, and to a better sky?
Or sinking, mix with dust and kindred clay,
And sleep a whole eternity away?
Or shall this form be once again renew'd,
With all its frailties, and its hopes endu'd
Acting once more, on this detested stage,
Passions of youth, infirmities of age?
I see in Tully what the antients thought,
And read unprejudic'd what moderns taught,
But no conviction from my reading springs,
Most dubious in the most important things.
Yet one short moment would at once explain,
What all philosophy has sought in vain,
Would clear all doubt, and terminate all pain.
Why then not hasten the decisive hour,
Still in my view, and ever in my power?
Why should I drag along this life I hate,
Without one thought to mitigate the weight?
Why this mysterious being forced t'exist,
When every joy is lost, and every hope dismist?
In chains and darkness wherefore should I stay,
And mourn in prison, while I keep the key.
(Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, "Verses on Self-Murder, address'd to—" (signed 'by a Lady') in London Magazine (June 1749); in Eighteenth-Century Poetry, ed. David Fairer and Christine Gerrard, Blackwell, 2014, 222-23).