An anonymous comment on the suicidal inclinations of great men appeared among the regular articles in an 1850 issue of the highly regarded journal of mental hygiene, the Annales médico-psychologiques. “Some curious rapprochements might be drawn,” the author suggested, “given the frequency with which this thought occurs among celebrated men; but it is clear that if insanity were the sole possible explanation, only the lot of the common people would be desirable.” On one level, this statement represents an editorial contribution to an intense debate taking place in the journal's pages concerning the relationship between suicide and insanity. Although most nineteenthcentury observers associated self-destructive behavior with mental instability, viewing the individual who sought to put an end to his existence as weak, if not perverse, a certain mystique also surrounded suicide at this time. Images of Christian martyrs who willingly courted death in preference to leading lives of pagan dishonor, of the self-sacrificing heroes of antiquity, existed alongside more contemporary renderings of unrequited lovers and world-weary young men familiar to readers of Romantic novels and the faits divers. A longing for death was a sign of sensitivity and artistic promise. “Suicide,” wrote the influential critic, Saint-Marc Girardin, “is not the malady of one who is simple of heart or in mind; it is the malady of the refined and of philosophers.” Alphonse de Lamartine, George Sand, Alfred de Musset, Benjamin Constant, and the Vicomte de Chateaubriand all confessed to having been tempted to kill themselves in their youth. No less an idol than Napoleon Bonaparte was known to have entertained morbid ideas on occasion.