Here was a man who now for the first time found himself looking into the eyes of death--who was passing through one of those rare moments of experience when we feel the truth of a commonplace, which is as different from what we call knowing it, as the vision of waters upon the earth is different from the delirious vision of the water which cannot be had to cool the burning tongue. When the commonplace 'We must all die' transforms itself suddenly into the acute consciousness 'I must die--and soon,' then death grapples us, and his fingers are cruel; afterwards, he may come to fold us in his arms as our mother did, and our last moment of dim earthly discerning may be like the first.
Those who think about death, carrying with them their existing ideas and emotions, usually assume that they will have, during their last hours, ideas and emotions of like vividness. but they do not fully recognize the implication that the feeling faculty, too, is almost gone. The imagine the state to be one in which they can have emotions such as they now have on contemplating the cessation of life. But at the last all the mental powers simultaneously ebb, as do the bodily powers, and with them goes the capacity for emotion in general. It is, indeed, possible that in its last stages consciousness is occupied by a not displeasurable sense of rest.