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Title: Cremation of the Dead - Its History and Bearings Upon Public Health
Author: Eassie, William
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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       *       *       *       *       *










  [_All rights reserved_]







Shortly after having accepted, from the members of the Council of
the Cremation Society of London, the office of Secretary, a wish
was expressed to me by the President of the Metropolitan Branch of
the British Medical Association, that I should prepare a paper upon
the Bearings of Cremation upon Public Health. A short paper, with
this title, was therefore read, and was afterwards published in the
Journal of the Association by the Editor, Mr. Ernest Hart. It was so
favourably received by all, that I have been induced to extend my
enquiries and so render the work, if possible, more acceptable as an
exposition of the subject. I am sensible of its many defects, but I
trust that it will be found to furnish some useful information which
cannot well be obtained elsewhere, besides proving an assistance to
those who are desirous of studying the question more fully.



  _December, 1874._





  The probable sanitary origin of Cremation--Not necessarily
  opposed to Religion--General reasons--Wisdom of adopting it
  in cases of epidemics--Sundry objections treated--The
  decorousness of the practice--Cremation desirable in the
  battlefield--In cases of murrain--In the destruction of
  condemned food, &c.                                             1-23



  Exposure, or the absence of all burial--Consignment to the
  deep--Petrifaction--Envelopment in some solid material--Burial
  in the earth--Embalming preparations--Desiccation of the
  body--Cremation a widely-spread practice--Examples of
  quasi-cremation                                                  24-40



  State of things thirty years ago--The new cemeteries--Space
  allowed for, and the depths of interments--Vault burial--A
  well-chosen cemetery--An improperly-chosen one--The closing
  and regulation of old burial-grounds, &c.--Materials
  for coffins                                                      41-52



  Churchyards and the evils resulting from some of them--How the
  living are affected by them--Disorders caused by putrid
  emanations--Dangers of inhaling the atmosphere of some
  burial-grounds--Vaults--Poisoning of wells and
  water-courses--Laxity of many interments                         53-67



  Promoters of the practice of Cremation and prospects of its
  adoption in Italy--In Switzerland--In France--In Belgium--In
  Austria--In Germany--In America--In England--Sir Henry
  Thompson's work--The Cremation Society of London, its objects,
  &c.                                                              68-88



  Ancient modes of cremation as illustrated by recent burnings in
  Italy, India, Siam, and North America--Modern experiments
  in Italy, Germany, and England--The Siemens' apparatus,
  its construction, perfect working, and economy--Proposed
  procedure--Disposal of the ashes--Description of cinerary
  vessels, old and new--Conclusion--Bibliography of the
  subject                                                         89-130


(_All at end of book._)





   IV. URNS.






Cremation of the dead is neither new in theory nor in practice. In
the England of modern times, however, the question has only recently
assumed recognised importance. And the more one considers cremation,
the more one finds himself wondering how it has come to pass that
we practise burial, with its many faults, and do not burn our dead.
Thousands amongst us are now beginning to feel thankful that the
dead are soon to 'rule our spirits from their urns' in a realistic
and not alone in a poetical sense. They think there is something
majestic and even pleasurable in the idea that it will ere long be
possible, on all civilised shores, to leave their mother earth, not
with a partial, but with a fully consummated sacrifice upon her
altar, bidding her adieu none the worse, but rather the better, for
their sojourn with her. They groan and labour under the burden of
enforced burial, and 'hail with satisfaction and joy the prospect
that a chariot of fire may receive them instead of the cold and
darksome grave.'

The scheme has met with some enemies, and injudicious promoters of
the system have not proved the least of them. The idea that it was
sought to make it compulsory, was an unfortunate utterance. The
notion of producing illuminating gas for general purposes from the
combustion of the bodies was another mischievous idea.[1] Equally so
was the proposal for the erection of a tall shaft in the cemetery
grounds, where the gases could be seen consuming--something after
the fashion, I suppose, of the twelfth century's _lanternes des
morts_. The publication of crude and undigested fancies does more
harm than good to the subject they are meant to benefit.

  [1] The original proposer of this scheme was M. Rudler, who proposed
  it to Dr. Caffe, of Paris, in 1857.

It has been urged that the practice of burning the dead had its
origin in a heathen religion, but it is not wise to accept the
imputation. Let us take Greece for an example. All historians inform
us that the people of ancient Greece practised inhumation. But when
they did practise cremation, they nowhere associated the burning
of the dead with the worship of the gods. And we are at liberty to
argue from this fact that neither did the aboriginal peoples from
whom they derived it, regard it as an act with which religion had
aught to do, the story of Odin notwithstanding. And the reason why
the Greeks did not practise it earlier, was doubtless simply because
the bulk of the colonists came from countries where another system
prevailed. Cecrops and Danaus, who were instrumental in colonising
Athens and Argos, were Egyptians, and Cadmus, the founder of Thebes
in Bœotia, was a Phœnician.[2] Neither of these nations burnt their
dead, but practised another system of burial.

  [2] Jamieson.

There can, I think, be little doubt that the burning of the dead
was originally resorted to upon sanitary grounds, and as a means of
protecting the living from the effects of corruption. Putridity was
observed to be loathsome and dangerous, and it was found that the
practice of burning, and that only, at once resolved the body into
its first elements. In Scandinavia, the dead were disposed of by
fire from the earliest recorded times, and the great antiquity of
the custom amongst the Celtæ, Sarmatians, and neighbouring nations,
has never been doubted.[3] It was practised in our islands also in
pre-historic times.

  [3] _Ibid._

Cremation was the prevailing custom from remote ages in Scythia,
or what is now called Tartary, and we are free to believe that
its origin was similarly a hygienic one. The Scythians were the
progenitors of the Thracians, and we read that these latter observed
incineration from the earliest date.[4] The Thracians in their turn
introduced the practice amongst the Greeks, although it is possible
that a portion of the Hellenes learnt it from the Phrygians, who
again very probably obtained it from India. The Greeks, too,
evidently adopted it from motives of sanitary reform; at all events,
there was no religious question involved in it. About 1500 B.C.,
the Greeks invariably buried their dead;[5] they had not learnt
the valuable lesson. They do not seem to have burned them either
in the ninth century before Christ, for the Institutes of Lycurgus
specify the manner in which burial was to be performed. In the time
of Socrates, however, 500 B.C., cremation appears to have become
optional, for Plato makes Socrates say that he did not care whether
he was burned or buried. It was, however, common enough about 100
B.C.; I myself have dug up on the site of Dardanus relics of this
kind of sepulture. Time rolled on, and in their turn the Romans,
who also originally inhumed,[6] borrowed the salutary practice,
performing it first inside the city, and then extramurally. It did
not become general in Rome, however, until towards the close of the
Republic. Towards the end of the fourth century it became much
neglected, and finally the Christians, inimical to the practice,
although it was nowhere forbidden in the New Testament, made
haste to abolish it in Europe. Burial and burning appear to have
been practised contemporaneously for some little time, on our own
Yorkshire wolds for example,[7] but ultimately the former triumphed.

  [4] Herodotus.

  [5] Cicero.

  [6] Pliny.

  [7] Canon Greenwell.

I have said that the process of burning the dead is nowhere
specially forbidden in the New Testament, and neither is it in the
older Scriptures. Moses nowhere legislates against it, and it is
reasonable to suppose that he must have heard of it, having been a
considerable traveller. The early Jews are said to have objected
to burning because they held the idea that the soul holds more or
less intercourse with the body for a year after death. That the
ancient race held this notion is corroborated by the 'dwelling among
tombs and enquiring of spirits.'[8] The Hebrews were also said to
have interred in caves or tombs--from Abraham down to Joseph of
Arimathea--from a fear of premature interment, since the sun was
not allowed to go down twice upon the unburied dead. It is more
reasonable to suppose that the motive of public health was the
correct one. Possibly they might have burned their dead also--as
in nearly all originally well-wooded countries--if they had been
possessed of fuel.[9] This was a drawback, and from what I have seen
of Palestine, I doubt whether at any time sufficient fuel could
have been found for everyday use in this way. When visited by a
pestilence, however, the Rabbis admit that fires were kept burning
in the valley of Tophet to consume the dead.[10] This was apparently
a universal custom. When Homer hinted that the frequency of the
kindling of the funeral pyres was owing to the contagion sent by
Apollo, he alluded to the practice.[11] And without doubt cremation
was the proper treatment at such times, and would spare the horrid
sights witnessed when large common graves are dug. Interments of
this class are never free from danger. Instances are known where
these communal graves have been opened up and the disease of the
dead sufferers once more let loose upon the living.

  [8] Jamieson.

  [9] Cremation is not opposed to Jewish doctrines.--'Jewish
  Chronicle,' April 10, 1874.

  [10] Frazer.

  [11] 'Iliad.'

Fortunately for sanitary science, cases are upon record where a
disturbance of the interred victims of infectious epidemics has
been followed by a fresh outbreak, and thus we are fairly warned
of the danger. In 1828, Professor Bianchi explained how the dire
reappearance of the plague at Modena was due to an excavation
made in some ground where, 300 years previously, the victims of
the plague had been interred. At Eyam, in Derbyshire, remarks Mr.
Cooper,[12] the digging up of the plague burial-grounds caused an
immediate outbreak of disease. Mr. Cooper also describes how the
excavations made for sewers in the site where the victims of the
plague of 1665 were buried, enhanced the virulence of the cholera
which visited London during the year 1854. Mr. Simon had previously
warned the authorities of what would result from any disturbance of
the spot.[13] Dr. Playfair also declares that the fever prevalent
in Rome is due to the exhalations from the soil, which is saturated
with organic matter.

  [12] 'On the Causes of some Epidemics.' Glasgow, 1874.

  [13] 'The plague-pit,' says the 'Lancet' of September 16, 1854, 'is
  situated within the area bounded by Argyll Place, King Street, Tyler
  Street, Little Marlborough Street being directly over the pit.'

In 1843, when the parish church of Minchinhampton was rebuilding,
the soil of the burial-ground, or what was superfluous, was disposed
of for manure, and deposited in many of the neighbouring gardens.
The result was that the town was nearly decimated. I have lately
made personal inquiries upon the spot, and find that the mischief
which resulted has been even understated. The outbreak of the plague
in Egypt in 1823 has also been traced to the opening of a disused
burial-ground at Kelioub, fourteen miles from Cairo. Two thousand
perished in the village, and Cairo suffered fearful mortality.
The outbreak of plague from this cause is also vouched for by M.
Pariset, who was sent to Egypt by the French Government to inquire
into the cause of the plague. Even the exhalations of a single
corpse buried twelve years have been known to engender a dangerous
disease in a whole convent.[14]

  [14] H. W. Hemsworth.

I think it may be accepted as proven that the burning of the dead
was of purely sanitary origin, and that it is erroneous to consider
it a religious one. It became identified with heathen worship,
because then everything was heathen. In Italy, the Abbé Bucellati,
of Pavia, deprecates the idea that cremation can in any way be
considered heretical; at the most, says he, it can only be called a
rash project. The Rev. Mr. Long, of Zurich, for his part, insists
that religion has no title to mix itself up with the question. The
subject is essentially one of health, and will so remain. We may
almost say that so prominently did the practice bring forth the idea
of purification in the minds of its original observers, that several
semi-religious mystifications were born of it. Thus the body was
supposed by some to be unclean after the soul had left it, and that
fire alone could purify it. Others held that by burning the body
the soul was finally loosed from the clay, and cleansed from the
contaminations which it contracted in the flesh.

In order to arrive at a correct idea of all the modes of sepulture
followed out in this country since the islands were first populated,
it would be necessary to consult almost an endless variety of
archæological, ethnological, and anthropological works. Professor
Rolleston has, however, lately reprinted a paper of his, upon the
methods of 'Sepulture observable in late Romano-British and early
Anglo-Saxon times, in this country,' and it deals with as much of
the question as answers the present purpose. He shows that burning
of the dead was not resorted to by the early Christians of England,
and he quotes Mr. Kemble to the effect that all Anglo-Saxon burials
without cremation in England are Christian. This says nothing for
or against the desirability of the reintroduction of cremation
amongst us. The question, however, is a curious and interesting one,
and all would doubtless wish to know whether or not the examples
of cremation already recorded from fifteen counties in England
are all heathen. When some of the graves were opened they were
found to contain fragments of charcoal, but that again must not be
necessarily taken as an evidence of cremation. It was but the other
day that a wooden bowl full of charcoal was found in the tomb of
Leonardo da Vinci. In the middle ages it was common to place a
vessel full of ashes on the pillow of a dying Christian and to bury
it with him; and the practices would seem identical. The reason for
finding 'shards, flints, and pebbles' in the later and possibly
Christian graves has also led to some curious discussion. It is
inferred that it was probably allowed in earlier Christian times,
and only discarded about the time of Shakespeare.[15] The whole
controversy must be left in the hands of those who, like Professor
Rolleston, are prosecuting researches into the early methods of
burial, and who have opportunities and attainments for coming to a
right and final conclusion.

  [15] Rolleston.

It would be supremely foolish to object to the burning of the dead
on the score of its being completely a heathen practice, and as if
burial in the ground was not at one time open to the same objection.
Not only so, but the battle between torch and spade was fought out
in early times as now.

A writer of the second century admits that many of the Gentiles
disapproved of cremation on the score of the cruelty which it did to
the body, which did not deserve such penal treatment.[16] This is
exactly what some are declaring now. An exclamation is even to be
found in an old Greek poet asking Prometheus to take back the fire
which he had procured them.[17] Just as now a few Christians are
contesting the propriety of burning the dead upon any consideration
whatever, so the heathens were disputing the like question before
the advent of Christianity. Heraclitus advocated burning--Thales and
Hippon burial. Up to this day the Persian fire-worshippers will have
naught to do with cremation because they regard it as a profanation
of their deity. Nay, peoples are still disputing in countries
which are painted in pagan black upon our missionary maps, and
where Christians as yet have no footing. In Japan, the Shinto sect
practises burial, the Monto sect cremation.[18] In Madras Presidency
the votaries of Vishnu are burned, and those of Siva are buried in
the common way. Amongst the hill tribes of North Aracan one tribe
buries its dead in graves dug in the villages, the adjacent one
burns its dead after the fashion of the neighbouring Burmese.[19]
And to quote one more example, some tribes of the Miau-Tsi--who are
all of them zealous Buddhists--burn their dead, whilst others do

  [16] Tertullian.

  [17] Jamieson.

  [18] 'Lancet.'

  [19] St. A. St. John.

  [20] Rev. J. Edkins.

People are every now and then solemnly informed that it is
unadvisable to practise cremation because it is supposed to militate
against a belief in the resurrection.[21]

  [21] The Earl of Shaftesbury once remarked to an eminent promoter of
  the present cremation movement, with regard to this very prevalent
  and erroneous notion, that it was altogether unreasonable. 'What,'
  said he, 'would in such a case become of the blessed martyrs?'

But the ancient Romans, as has been explained by his Grace the
Bishop of Manchester, believed in the immortality of the soul, which
is a collateral idea, and _they_ practised the burning of the dead.
They did not believe in the resurrection of their present bodies,
it is true, neither do many now.[22] The truth, on examination,
however, appears to be that the early Christians objected to it
because it was practised by the pagans, and because it was necessary
to draw a strong barrier line between the two faiths. The ostensible
objection which they found to burning was that their bodies had
been redeemed and renewed in God's image. They taught that it was
unlawful to burn the dead, because the penalty of fire had been
remitted. The body was to be buried, and was thus held to be in
readiness for the last trump. They did not believe that it was
impossible to raise up the martyrs which were even then burnt, but
they were not to burn. The breach between the two faiths was not at
first an utter one, however. The Christians interred in the same
places as the heathens, and even painted and engraved upon the
catacombs representations of the heathen gods and goddesses.[23] The
breach, however, widened, and then came the more Christian emblems
of wreaths of flowers, angels, and children. Later on in succession
came the Good Shepherd, the cross, the crucifixion scene, and so
on,[24] gradually leading up to the skull and cross-bones of the
last century. By this time the Christians heard of burning with
horror. But a classical reaction set in about the time of Pope and
Dryden, and now again may be seen in every churchyard the broken
shaft, the inverted torches, and other emblems. It would also be
fairly impossible to count the number of marble urns which 'in pride
of place' rest upon the monuments in our cemeteries.

  [22] 'I presume that it has been shown beyond doubt that the
  material particles which make up our bodies are in a constant state
  of flux, the entire physical nature being changed every seven years;
  so that if all the particles which once entered into the structure
  of a man of fourscore were reassembled, they would suffice to make
  seven or eight bodies.'--Rev. A. K. H. B.

  [23] Dean Stanley.

  [24] _Ibid._

Many other groundless objections have been imported into the
cremation question. For instance, some demur to burning because
the body of our Saviour was not so treated. Can anything be more
puerile than this when once it is examined? Our Saviour's body
was not burnt simply because HE was a Jew, and the Jews practised
burial in sepulchres. HE performed several of HIS greatest miracles
owing to this very practice. But if we are to follow the prototype
so closely, why do we practise burial in the earth? And why do we
not lay our dead in roomy sepulchres? I have perused most, if not
all, of the religious objections which have been urged against
cremation, and I humbly say that they appear to me to be outside
the pale of argument altogether. They rank only as very respectable
crotchets, and never rise above mere sentiment. The truth is, that
the question of burying the dead or of burning them ought never to
have been made, if ever it has seriously been made, a religious
question. As professing Christians we should take the advice of a
late writer, and take care that the burning of the dead does not
fall into altogether infidel hands, and so become at last a symbol
of irreligion.[25] It would be wise also to commence adding to the
Hymnals[26] compositions which would suit the new and more rational
order of things, and so prepare the weaker brethren for what one
cannot help calling the inevitable.

  [25] I. O. in 'Church Review.'

  [26] Cremation has already been made the subject of verse upon the
  Continent. Dr. Moretti, of Cannero, in the 'Annali di Chimica,'
  1872, has given to the world some excellent verses; and Professor
  Polizzi, in a poem published at Girgenti, 1873, and dedicated to
  the memory of Dr. Salsi, has also eloquently apostrophised the
  subject. Some two-and-twenty stanzas in the Milanese dialect were
  published in 1874, by Civelli of Milan. I have also seen some German
  verses, signed 'Dranmor,' and a short but charming poem in the same
  language by Justinius Kerner. It is a matter of regret that those of
  our own poets who have been in favour of burning the dead did not
  enshrine their proclivities in verse. Southey, for instance, wrote
  that the custom of interment 'makes the idea of a dead friend more
  unpleasant. We think of the grave, corruption, and worms: burning
  would be better.' But he left us no poetry on the subject.

Cremation has been objected to[27] on the score of its being an
indecent mode of disposal of our dead, but I for one differ from
this view entirely. Anyone who resides on a main road leading to a
large metropolitan cemetery, will be able to speak with certainty
as to the indecency of very much which they witness appertaining to
the present mode of sepulture. And how anyone can be found to uphold
against all argument the present unfeeling shams of paid mourners
with 'wands, batons, feathers, and fooleries,' indulged in simply
from custom's sake and a dread of what the world would say if the
'conventional costumes and mock expressions of woe' were omitted, I
cannot imagine. The funerals of the rich are always conducted with
decorum, but those of the poor are often hideously the reverse of
this, and tend, I am sure, more than anything to blunt the finer
feelings of our nature.

  [27] It forms no part of my purpose to defend cremation against
  those who consider that its practice might lead to the commission of
  crime owing to the entire destruction of the body. This and other
  objections have been suitably dealt with in the work of Sir Henry

We shall have occasion to notice in the proper place the proposed
procedure in the new order of things, but may here remark that when
cremation has once taken place, shorn of no religious rite, the
ashes may be placed in urns or interred in ground duly set apart for
the purpose, and surrounding the machinery for incineration. Or
they may be removed to distant and loved churchyards without fear
of evil effects following. I think that the likeliest place for the
reception of the relics would be the vaults of our churches, where
they could be taken charge of by the ministers of religion. Once
in charge of appointed persons, no unseemly litigation could take
place as to the possession of them. In Siam the ashes are sometimes
buried in the grounds surrounding the temples, and a small pyramidal
mound erected over them.[28] There could be no objection to treat
them so here, but if urned they could be equally well placed in a
columbarium,[29] and proper inscriptions put over the receptacles,
as was done on the small stone sarcophagi of Italy. An English
Catholic writes to the effect that cremation would once more enable
us to bury our dead in the churches,[30] and the suggestion would
commend itself to many minds. Some such practice is hinted at in the
book of Isaiah. On All Saints' day[31] the vaults could be thrown
open for public resort.

  [28] Crawfurd.

  [29] See Plate VI.

  [30] 'Building News,' April 18, 1874.

  [31] Or All Souls' day. Some most touching scenes are witnessed in
  continental cemeteries on this occasion, more particularly in France
  and North Germany.

In both ancient Greece and Rome the dwelling-house was made the
repository of the funeral urns; at all events, the practice was
carried on for a very long period. The Thebans at one time had a
law that no one should build a house without a specific repository
for the dead.[32] It is possible that private mausoleums could with
due decency be attached to ancestral mansions in our country,[33]
but such cases will necessarily be rare. Even then they should be
subjected to proper supervision. It would most certainly prove
unseemly for the poorer classes to place them, as has been mooted,
in their residences, subject to all the inconveniences of removal
and other easily imagined drawbacks. Disrespect and irreverence
only could follow such a recommendation. The Theban regulation just
adverted to proves that the heathens, as they are called, were not
to be charged with any lack of respect to their departed dead.
On the contrary, the most tender sentiments are wound round the
practice of cremation. Hercules is reported to have burnt the body
of Argius, because only in this way could he return the son to a
sorrowing father.[34] Nay, in some cases the reverence for the dead
became transcendental, and the rites of cremation were carried to
such an extent that the funeral pile was shapen like an altar, and
bedewed with wine and incense. This, however, was in the decadence
of the nation. Nor was this all, for sometimes an altar called an
_acerra_ was afterwards built before the sepulchre.

  [32] Potter.

  [33] See Plate V.

  [34] Jamieson.

These few remarks upon the cremation of human bodies have as yet
referred only to those which have succumbed to the ordinary evils
of life; but I cannot forbear recording my conviction that it would
be wise in the stricken field to have recourse to the practice.
During the sittings of the recent International Sanitary Congress
a paper was read by Professor Reclam of Leipzic, in which he most
strongly urged the adoption of cremation after destructive battles.
He described a new portable burning apparatus capable of reducing
the carcase of a horse to ashes within two hours, and at a cost
of four shillings' worth of fuel. He moreover declared that the
dead, both men and horses, left on the battlefield of Gravelotte
might have been by the aid of such machinery reduced to 'a harmless
heap of white ashes in four days.' One thing is certain: science,
which invented the mitrailleuse, could easily devise a proper

  [35] Mr. Hemsworth has suggested an apparatus for the purpose.

Combatants who have been slain, or who have perished through
sickness, are buried as haste dictates, and often imperfectly. I
saw, during the war, relics of the dead protrude from the Sebastopol
trenches. The bodies at Metz were in many cases exhumed by the
Germans and re-interred, because the superficial burial rendered
them dangerous to adjoining tenements, and a source of contamination
to watercourses. At Sedan the same thing occurred, only in this
instance the dead bodies were consumed with pitch and straw.[36]
Cremation is the only practice which seems commendable in times of
warfare. Numerous dead Saracens were burnt by the King of Castile.
During the wars between the English and the Burgundians and the
French--the latter led by Joan of Arc--the dead were on one occasion
piled up outside the city of Paris, and consumed in one huge pyre.
After the late battle of Cuenca, the Carlists threw many of their
dead into fires presumably lit for the purpose. Surely it would
be well for sanitation's sake, that the slain were burnt, as in
the olden times, upon days set apart by arrangement of neutrals.
The Genevan and other Conventions could scarce find nobler work to
inaugurate than this. It would be a wise repetition of history,
should another great war unfortunately break out, if the combatants
would adopt this salutary practice of 3,000 years ago. With the
ancient Athenians, when soldiers fell in battle it was the custom
to collect them into tents, where they lay for a few days, in order
to ensure recognition. Each tribe then conveyed their dead in
cypress shells to the _Ceramicos_ or place of public burning; an
empty hearse following behind in memory of the missing. It is not
necessary, however, that the dead should be burned internationally.
During the Trojan war--and since the discoveries of Dr. Schliemann
we are almost at liberty to believe in it--men were sent out from
each side to collect the dead, and the Trojans and allies burnt
on separate pyres. There can be no doubt whatever that the dead
were so treated. I have always considered that one or more of the
huge earth tumuli on the plains of Troy, which I have frequently
visited, would prove to cover ancient funeral pyres, and this point
was put beyond all dispute by Mr. Frank Calvert in 1859. He opened
up the Hanai-Tepeh tumulus there, and found an immensity of ashes,
corresponding to what might have been expected after a great burning
of the dead. He came to the conclusion that this was the site of the
funeral pyre raised by the Trojans after the first truce.[37]

  [36] Dr. Parkes, 'Practical Hygiene,' 4th edit. 1874.

  [37] 'J. Arch. Soc.' vol. xvi.

Were cremation practised now-a-days in times of warfare, and with
our improved appliances, there would be no costly monuments to be
kept up by the invaders, such as we now jealously maintain on the
heights of Sebastopol[38]--nothing be left behind to recall a
strife best forgotten. The ashes of our warrior dead could even be
brought home to lie in the fatherland. When Nestor recommended the
bodies of the slain Achæans to be burnt close to the ships, in order
that the survivors might be able to carry home the bones, and raise
over them a common tomb,[39] he proved himself much wiser than our

  [38] The commissioners sent to report upon the state of the English
  graveyards in the year 1872 found no less than 130 cemeteries
  occupied by our dead. Forty-five of them contained no monuments, and
  65 only headstones of the commonest kind. The French had gathered
  together some 28,000 of _their_ dead, and formed one large _campo
  santo_. The English commission reported that it would require
  5,000_l._ to put the graveyards in seemly order, and an annual
  expenditure of some 200_l._ more. It appears that the graves have
  been frequently rifled by the Tartar peasantry in search of rings
  and other valuables. See 'Daily Telegraph,' Oct. 30, 1874.

  [39] 'Iliad.'

The general adverse feeling to burning even the dead bodies of
animals at the present day, has without doubt often brought about
serious evils. During the Crimean war the putrefaction of numberless
horses in and around the French camps became ultimately a serious
matter,[40] and had they been destroyed by fire no evil effects
could have followed. Why were they not destroyed by fire?--for fear
of offending the prejudices of their allies? For one reads that in
the battle of Paris, on March 30, 1814, 4,000 horses which were
killed, were burnt twelve days afterwards. It is doubtful, too,
whether or not the removal of diseased cattle from our midst by
burial only, is sufficient to stamp out a very virulent plague. I
find that during the great plague of 1865, in Great Britain alone
132,000 cattle were attacked; 17,368 of which were killed, and
81,368 of which died.[41] Had a few hecatombs been slain and burnt
at the commencement of the visitation, or had the initial thousand
of sickly ones been slain and consumed by fire in Russia, the steppe
murrain would have been speedily stamped out.

  [40] Dr. Parkes.

  [41] Gamgee on the 'Cattle Plague.'

In a similar manner should be treated the whole of the meat seized
as unfit for food. In Gloucester, some years ago, and when the
mayor had no power to fine the vendors of bad butchers' meat, the
carcases were, it is said, destroyed by fire outside the city wall.
Would that such jurisdiction existed now! In the metropolis alone,
thousands of tons of animal food are yearly condemned, to say
nothing of fruit and vegetables. The State should burn these up with
even more alacrity than contraband of custom. And the purification
by fire might be even extended to the humblest things. It has been
said that the lower animals which perish in our midst must perforce
send thousands of pounds of mephitic vapour daily into the air,
if left unburnt.[42] It is not necessary to enumerate what else
it would be desirable to destroy in this way. They can be seen in
nearly every river, canal, and pond, in every ditch, gutter, and
even street.

  [42] Frazer.

Medical men are the chief exponents of the good results which will
follow the adoption of cremation, and with one exception the whole
of the foreign writers upon the subject are professors of some
branch of medical science. It is the same in our own country.[43]

  [43] The last public utterance was made by Dr. Wheelhouse, of Leeds,
  in his address of October in the present year. He says:--

  'Do we not shun, and that most wisely, the presence of those
  afflicted with infectious diseases so long as they remain amongst
  us; and yet, no sooner are they removed by death, than we are
  content, with tender sympathy indeed, and most loving care it is
  true (but with how much wisdom?), to lay them in the ground that
  they may slowly dissipate their terribly infectious gases through
  the soil, and saturating that, may thereby recharge the rains of
  heaven, as they filter through it, with all their virulence and
  terrible power of reproduction in the systems of the living. I
  am not the thorough and entire believer in the disinfecting and
  depurating power of the soil that I once was; for terrible examples
  of its failure have, in my judgment, come under my notice.

  'Sir Henry Thompson has lately sounded a note of alarm on this
  subject; and though, for the present, it may fall upon ears
  unheeding or unsympathetic, I yet venture to think that, in time to
  come, his warning will be enforced by stern necessity, and that some
  better method of disposing of our dead will take the place of the
  burial so honoured and revered by us.'



It will be necessary for my purpose to give a short description
of the chief modes of disposing of the dead, and to quote a very
few examples of each practice. In instancing such examples, I
will as much as possible confine myself to my note-books of the
last four years, and by so doing the matter will not only be more
likely to possess novelty, but it will have been based upon the
late observations of our distinguished travellers and possess

The first method of disposal which I will mention is Exposure,
which might be better described as no burial at all. The Colchians
and Phrygians at one time hung the dead bodies upon the limbs of
trees,[44] and some of the Indians of the Plains of North America
to the present day do little else, since they expose their dead,
after a rude bandaging, upon platforms erected upon the top of tall
poles. Many ancient nations, however, purposely exposed their dead
to the predatory instinct of animals. For instance, the Syrcanians
abandoned their dead to wild dogs.[45] The ancient Ethiopians threw
their dead into the water, to be devoured by aquatic animals.[46]
The Parsees, as far back as 400 B.C., and for an untraced time
previously, exposed their deceased friends upon high gratings to
feed birds of prey, and such 'towers of silence' are in use up to
the present day. Dr. Aveling informs me that in India they are
accustomed to carry the body to the top of a hill and place it upon
a stone slab, returning for it in order to bury it when the bones
are picked clean. Disturbances have frequently taken place of late
between the Hindoos and Parsees owing to this practice, for the
vultures and other birds often let fall portions of the body during
their flight into the gardens of the former. And speaking still of
our own times, the Hindoos often expose their dead by the banks of
their sacred river to the attacks of the river monsters; some of
them even, when fuel is scarce, cast the partly burnt body into the
Hooghly. Some Kaffir tribes also remove the dead out of sight to
spots in the bush, where they are devoured by wild beasts.[47]

  [44] Frazer.

  [45] Spondanus.

  [46] Frazer.

  [47] 'Iron.'

Casting the body into the deep is another form of exposure, with
the reservation that although it is understood to be in the nature
of things that it will be devoured by the lower animals, this is not
the primary motive. The practice is common with all maritime nations
on the occurrence of deaths out at sea. Burial in the sea generally
has, however, of late been recommended as a panacea for the ills
seen to be consequent upon inhumation. One writer[48] pictures
the 'dead ship' daily departing from the strand with its lifeless
burden, and reverently and prayerfully committing the bodies to the
bosom of the 'mystic main,' until the time when the sea shall give
up its dead. But there is little to recommend the practice, even if
the idea were not revolting to a people who exist largely upon fish
and crustaceans. When a flight of locusts was some years ago swept
by a storm into the Bay of Smyrna, many people there would not feed
upon fish for a considerable time afterwards, and what would the
feeling be if only the dwellers in our littoral towns and villages
followed out burial in the sea? Even the _sinking_ of the bodies
with heavy weights down to the ocean's depths would be hazardous.
The only people who appear to practise sea-burial are the aborigines
of the Chatham Islands. When a fisherman there departs this life,
they put a baited rod in his hand, and, after lashing him fast in
a boat, send him adrift to sea.[49] But I need not further continue
the subject,[50] and I think that it may be taken for granted, that
sea-burial, or immarment, or immersion, or aquation, or whatever
names the method may be known by, will never become general. The
ancient Lacustrine dwellers did not practise water-burial, but
disposed of their dead upon _terra firma_, evidently from motives
that have already been explained.

  [48] Veritz.

  [49] Welch and Davis.

  [50] Dr. Parkes, in the chapter upon the _Disposal of the Dead_, in
  'Practical Hygiene,' evidently leans to the opinion that burial in
  the sea _might_ suit maritime nations.

A method of petrifaction has lately been broached, and has met with
some adherents. Something is to be produced similar to a relic which
I once saw for sale in Manchester, taken from a guano-bed about
thirty years ago, and which had been interred in the phosphates
about a hundred and fifty years previously. In a cave in the Bay of
Nipea, a number of bodies were discovered which had been petrified
by the waters of some springs. The latest mode of effecting this
kind of sanitary preservation was practised upon the body of
Mazzini; and the result was, I understand, very disappointing.

A system of inhumation analogous to that practised when
stone-coffins were in use is now agitating in Germany.[51] It is
proposed to encrust the subject over with a cement, and, after
placing it in a sarcophagus of similar artificial material, to pour
more of the same matter in a fluid state around it, so that the dead
would be entombed in a solid matrix of long-enduring material. But
those who are practically acquainted with the nature of cements, or
rather with the impossibility of resting assured that proper cements
would always be used, will know that it is more than likely that,
out of the 32,000 who are said to die annually per million, one-half
of the bodies would be enveloped in an impoverished material,
which would speedily fall to pieces, with disastrous results. Dr.
Sedgwick has expressed himself as certain that even plaster of
Paris would prove ineffective in preventing the exhalations from
coffins. Supposing, too, that each of the defunct required a space
of one cubic yard only, where could cemeteries be obtained which
could afford permanently to alienate 32,000 cubic yards of space
per million annually? The scheme carries wildness upon its very
face. Something analogous to this system of burial was the strange
one carried out by the ancient Peruvians. A late traveller[52] has
described some of the Huacas, as the places were called, and the
well-preserved remains of which are still to be seen. It was a
system of piling up coffins of plaster in pyramid fashion, to such
an extent that one of these pyramidal mounds measures over 14½
millions of cubic feet. One carefully examined measured over 3½
millions of cubic feet, and was one mass of half-mummified bodies.
As fast as a death took place, a chamber of sun-dried material was
prepared upon the mound, and the body laid in it; and although
the material of which the mound was composed was little else than
mud-plaster, these cellular-built Huacas possessed a wonderful power
of resistance to decay. One of them, in 1854, had occasion during
the war to accommodate a battery of artillery on its summit.

  [51] Dr. von Steinbeis.

  [52] Mr. H. J. Hutchinson.

Many of the ancient peoples buried in caves. The primeval races
frequently used the caverns once inhabited by the extinct beasts
for this purpose.[53] The ancient Persians hewed out holes in the
mountains with the same view. The early Arabians also hid their dead
in caves, in order to protect them from wild beasts. Burial-caves of
some ancient Russian peoples are found along the Borysthenes.[54]
To this class of burial might also be said to belong all those
tombs which were built up in chambers with rude pieces of stone,
and whether afterwards heaped over with earth or not. A tomb of
this latter description was the huge barrow of the Emperor Yung-Lo,
with its extensive megalithic avenue leading to its centre, by way
of which the dead was visited or the tomb cleansed.[55] The stone
lines on Dartmoor may have originally belonged to this category.
Even at the present day the Inguishes of the Caucasus bury in vaults
of masonry built above ground, with an aperture in the west side by
which the corpse is introduced, and which is afterwards filled up
with stones.[56]

  [53] Buckland.

  [54] Frazer.

  [55] Lieut. Oliver.

  [56] Howarth.

We now approach _burial in the earth_, and the common practice
of the present day. It is not needful, however, to say much here
concerning it, as it will be treated of in a separate chapter, where
its shortcomings will also be noted. The most persistent practisers
of inhumation[57] are the Chinese. They seem rarely to have followed
any other system of burial. Long before the Christian era they used
coffins, and previous to committing them to the ground inserted
in them gold and silver valuables. But at that time they did not
form grave-mounds or fence them round with extensive palisades.[58]
The secret of their attachment to burial in the earth lies in the
fact that they believe that the body must rest comfortably in the
grave, or misfortune will follow the family.[59] The Chinese are
therefore particularly anxious about the suitableness of the burial
site, and sometimes a priest is consulted and a fresh interment
made. This superstition has considerable disadvantages, because
the dead not being interred in enclosed spaces, as with us, but
at the fancy of the relatives, it is sometimes impossible to make
roadways from place to place. They oppose tramways and railways for
this reason, and riots with the Franks have already taken place
in consequence. The Chinese never desecrate the graves of even
foreign sailors, and have been known to inter cast-ashore bodies
with the greatest attention. To wherever they themselves wander,
and whether they die and are buried in California or in Australia,
they are eventually re-interred in the Flowery Land, in the mortuary
erections of the villages dear to them. It is therefore not uncommon
to see a China-bound vessel from San Francisco well freighted with
the bones of disinterred Celestials. On the hills in China the
graves are often allowed to remain undisturbed for years, whilst
in the low-lying districts the bones are gathered up as soon as
possible.[60] There is no such thing there as a burying-ground or

  [57] This word conveys the meaning of burial in the actual earth
better perhaps than any other.

  [58] Wylie.

  [59] Dr. Eatwell.

  [60] Lockhart.

The treatment of the dead known as embalming was carried on by
the ancient Egyptians from apparently the remotest times. They
believed in the transmigration of souls, and their return in three
thousand years to the same body; hence the practice. Long before
the sumptuous mummy-pits were commenced by the later races, the
system was in full observance. There have lately been exhibited[61]
a bone necklace and two flint bracelets which were found in a very
rude mummy-pit on the edge of the Plain of Thebes, and doubtless
these represent the distant antiquity of Egypt. Flint instruments
have also been found in mummy-cases.[62] The extent of country
over which mummifying must have extended was enormous, if, as is
urged,[63] there was any kinship between the red races of Europe and
America and the Egyptians--who all practised embalming in some shape
or form--and as was supposed to be the case from the existence of
pyramid building in all three countries.

  [61] By Mr. McCullum in 1873.

  [62] Rossellini.

  [63] By Professor Gennarelli.

Embalming has continued to meet with supporters in most
civilised countries, but little practical result follows, for
the opportunities of practising it are few and far between. Some
literature exists on the subject, and a few treatises have been
published upon it in our own country, notably one by Surgeon
Greenhill in 1705. Mummifying preparations were, I find, patented
by Orioli in 1859, by Morgan in 1863, by Audigier in 1864, and by
Larnandes in 1866. Suggestions for a partial embalmment were also
published in 1860 by Copping and in 1863 by Spicer. The filling of
the arterial and vascular systems with concentrated solutions was
also proposed by Spear, Scollay, and by two Parisians, in the year
1867; and yet another patent was issued in 1868. But we may assume
that an universal system of embalmment is undesirable in our times.
There is no purpose to serve in withholding from nature her very
own. Cases may be imagined in which the practice would be advisable;
but, as a rule, the earth's surface is required for the living, not
for the dead; and we have, at least here, no underground caves. Had
the Egyptians lived in a damp climate such as ours, there would have
been no embalming. It is not every country that is suited to the
practice. The people of Etruria were, it is now supposed, Egyptian
in descent, but they were content with images of mummies only. The
failures we ourselves have met with, and which are to be seen in the
Royal College of Surgeons Museum[64] and other places, are quite
sufficient to disenchant anyone. The Egyptian authorities themselves
eventually abolished the practice.[65] What would they have said if
they had lived to see their revered dead and their sacred animals
carted away and sold as a drug, or worse still, as a manure?
Professor Coletti has wisely remarked that when a man passes over
to the majority[66] he should speedily become 'a handful of simple
earth and nothing more.'

  [64] See the body of Mrs. Van Butchell, embalmed by Dr. Hunter and
  Mr. Carpenter in 1775.

  [65] Walker.

  [66] What a majority this must be, if the human skeleton from
  the Florida Reef is rightly estimated by Agassiz at 10,000 years
  old, the Egyptian relics from the Limant Bay borings by Rosière
  at 30,000, the remains from the New Orleans forest by Dowler at
  50,000 years, and if the human bones found at the Illinois river, at
  Natchez, at Calaveras, at Anguilla Island, and in the Ashley river,
  are correctly stated by Schmidt, Dickeson, Whitney, Rijgersma,
  Holmes, Lubbock, and others, as contemporaneous with the mammoth and

There is a system of burial somewhat analogous to embalming,
which consists of drying up the body, and then interring it. The
ancient Peruvians used to dry their dead in the sun, and inter
them in a sitting posture, bound in cotton cloth, the quantity of
saltpetre in the ground completing the desiccation.[67] The Huacas
or huge pyramidal burial mounds of these people, which were so
constructed that each added body, with its funeral accessories, had
its own clay-mortar enclosure, prove also that some rude attempt
at embalmment was practised.[68] To the present day races are
discovered which possess some knowledge of the art. A tribe in South
Australia practise the following system. They place the deceased in
a sitting posture near the top of the hut, and keep up fires until
the body is dry, when they proceed to bandage it. Eventually they
hide it away amongst the branches of trees.[69] In another remote
part of the world, Japan, the Aino aboriginals, when a chief dies,
lay the body out at the door of the hut, remove the viscera, and
wash it daily in the sun for a whole year. When completely dried,
the remains are put in a coffin and buried.[70] In India beyond the
Ganges, the Looshais also practise a desiccation of the dead.[71]
And the manner in which the body of our noble traveller Dr.
Livingstone was prepared previous to bringing him home, would seem
to point to the prevalence of such a custom, or to the tradition of
one, amongst the African races.

  [67] Hutchinson.

  [68] Bradley.

  [69] Hutchinson.

  [70] St. John.

  [71] Dr. A. Campbell.

There remains now only cremation to notice, the origin of which
practice is lost in obscurity. It would serve little purpose to
compile a mere list of the countries in which it was practised.
Sufficient now to say that nearly all the ancient peoples observed
it, the Chinese and the Jews being notable exceptions to this
rule. The ancient Germans burnt their dead;[72] so did the ancient
Lithuanians--placing the ashes in urns of unburnt clay, and burying
them in mounds, as is proved by an exploration of the great barrows
near Sapolia in Russia.[73] Over our own islands also, cremation
seems to have been common. Urns are still unearthed from time to
time in England, and in parts of Ireland--one part of Antrim
especially--the ground is almost studded with burial sites of
this character. In Scotland, too, many similar remains have been
discovered. In Hindoostan the system is all but universal, and
in Siam, where the ashes are frequently placed in urns of great
value,[74] it doubtless existed from the first peopling of the
country. The people of Pegu and Laos also burn their dead;[75] and
in Burmah, when a Buddhist priest of rank dies, the body is embalmed
in honey, laid in state for a time, and then sometimes blown up with
gunpowder together with its hearse.

  [72] Tacitus.

  [73] Bogouschefsky.

  [74] Crawfurd, &c.

  [75] Feudge.

Scarcely a year passes over our heads without adding to our list
of cremation-practising peoples. Thus we have lately learnt that
amongst the Gāro Hill tribes of Bengal, the dead are kept for four
days and burnt at midnight within a few yards of their residences,
the ashes being put into a hole in the ground dug upon the exact
spot where the burning took place, and a small thatched building
erected over the grave, which is afterwards allowed to fall to
pieces.[76] The Khāsi Hill tribes also practise cremation of the
dead, and the ashes are collected in an urn, and temporarily
buried close by, until it is deemed proper to remove them to the
family depository of the tribe.[77] Some of the Aracan tribes
of Further India also burn their dead, leaving at the place of
cremation some packets of rice, a neglect of which custom is a bar
to inheritance.[78] And not only from remote Asia do instances of
cremation come before us, but from America, where the practice was
little suspected. Thus the Cocopa Indians there practise it to the
present day, laying the body upon logs of mezquite wood, burning it,
with the effects of the deceased, and placing the ashes in urns with
peculiar ceremonies.[79] The Digger Indians also burn their dead,
the nearest relative collecting the ashes and mixing with them the
gum of a tree. This they smear on their heads in evident imitation,
one would suppose, of the Israelites when in mourning.[80] I could
quote numerous other examples of the practice of burning the dead,
tracing them satisfactorily, I have reason to think, to sanitary
motives. Some of the systems observed, however, are excessively
puzzling; for instance, the triple treatment of the Singpho people,
who embalm, burn, and bury in rotation. The bodies are first of all
dried in coffins made for the purpose, whereupon the mummy is burnt,
the ashes being deposited in mounds, which last are eventually
covered over with conical roofs.[81]

  [76] Elliot.

  [77] Major Godwin-Austen.

  [78] St. A. St. John.

  [79] Professor Le Conte.

  [80] Chapman.

  [81] Griffiths.

Many other strange matters connected with mortuary observances,
incomprehensible I am afraid at present, would confront the student
of burial customs. Why, for instance, should the Greeks who burnt
their dead place in the tomb vases and other things esteemed by
the deceased?[82] and why do we find the same practice in vogue as
far off as Madagascar, where they do not burn their dead?[83] Why
also should the Scythians of old have burnt the body, and also the
chattels of the deceased?[84] Why should the Patagonians of to-day
bury the body and burn the chattels,[85] and the Shan-doo tribes of
Aracan, where cremation is common, burn neither and bury both?[86]
Or if these questions are easily answered, why, if not for sanitary
reasons, should any people have gone to the trouble and expense
of cremation, when exposure or burial in the earth was so easy to
perform and absolutely costless?[87]

  [82] Vitruvius.

  [83] Dr. Oliver.

  [84] Herodotus.

  [85] Journal Anth. Inst.

  [86] St. A. St. John.

  [87] In ancient Greece, unteethed infants, suicides, and
  lightning-stricken people, were forbidden the _privileges_ of

When the necessity for cremation has once become a settled
conviction with a people, nothing but the pressure of a conquering
race or religion inimical to the practice will eradicate it. In
parts of Madras where fuel is dear, the body is reduced to ashes
with dried cow-dung and wood. In Siam, if poverty forbids immediate
cremation, the body is first buried, and when the cost of the
process can be borne, the body is disinterred and given to the
purifying flame. Rather too than lose the benefits of cremation,
when wood was scarce and when it was forbidden to cast the partly
consumed bodies in the river, the poor people of Bengal, with, for
that race, even avidity, are closing with the proposal of Sir Cecil
Beadon to erect a Cinerator, and thus departing from their ancient
traditional routine.[88] Not even the recurring cases of premature
burning, such as that not long ago at Ramkistopore, can wean the
Hindoos from the burning _ghat_. They will risk their lives in
war time in order to collect fuel to bury a dead comrade.[89] In
any country where cremation is practised, it is only when there
is absolutely no property whatsoever that burning is omitted. For
instance, a Zaisaugh amongst the Kalmucks, whose property will
pay for a proper offering, can have his dead body burnt, and only
the utterly poor are buried or abandoned.[90] More than this, in
order to establish apparently a proper regard for the practice, and
preclude any laxity in its observance, a sham burning is carried
out by some peoples. Should, for example, a Khāsi Hill tribe man die
whilst on a distant expedition, and his body not be recoverable,
some cowries or shell money are burnt with the deceased man's
clothes, and the ashes placed in the family repository.[91]

  [88] The first devised cinerator was that of Col. Thos. Martin, and
  in it any number of bodies could be calcined at a time, and still
  allow of a separate collection of the ashes. This cinerator was in
  the shape of a pentagon, to accommodate the various castes, and had
  a separate place allotted to the Brahmins.

  [89] 'Iron.'

  [90] Liadov.

  [91] Godwin-Austen.

There are several spurious kinds, or half-and-half schemes, of
cremation. For instance, the Fresendajians place their dead
in vases of aquafortis.[92] Caustic potash and other chemical
substances have also been proposed for placing in the coffin.[93]
A quasi-burning--the burial of the bodies in quicklime--is also
practised by the Sephardic Jews of Gibraltar and North Africa. Even
recently, the Spanish and Portuguese Jews have made use of this
system at the Mile End cemetery, London.[94] During the Prussian
occupation of Chalons, numbers of typhus-stricken dead were interred
in this material, but the result was unsatisfactory.[95] At York
can be seen a casting inside which a Roman lady was so burned, but
whether intentionally or not, it is impossible to say.

  [92] Frazer.

  [93] Professor P. Gorini, author of 'I vulcani sperimentali,'
  is said to have made some experiments in his laboratory at Lodi
  during the month of September 1873, with a liquid composition of
  which he preserves the secret, and which envelopes in flames and
  completely destroys without noise or odour whatever animal substance
  is immersed in it. But some doubts have been raised as to its

  [94] 'Jewish Chronicle.'

  [95] See p. 64.



In order to properly estimate the improved condition of things
during the present day, and under the present regulations as to
burial, it will be necessary to examine the state in which our
graveyards were found before these new regulations were in force.
Let us take, then, our metropolitan burying-places as they existed a
little more than twenty years ago.

A very good idea of the lamentable want of proper space for burial
in the metropolis in 1843 was furnished by Mr. Sopwith, who showed
by a plan that the extent of intramural space then provided was
just about half of what it ought to be, even at the standard of
110 burials per acre. At that time things were in a most desperate
state, the burials at the parochial yards of St. Mary's-at-Hill, St.
George's Burial Ground in Uxbridge Road, and St. Olave's, Tooley
Street, averaging 1,204 per acre. The grounds belonging to other
religionists were in some cases worse; for the interments in the
Roman Catholic yards at Moorfields and Dockhead, in the Baptist
ground at Woolwich and in the Congregationalist fields at Stepney,
averaged 1,278 per acre. But the parochial burial-grounds of St.
Giles's, St. Pancras, and St. John's Chapel of Ease, exceeded
the last-named figure by 282, and, horrible to relate in these
days--when we calculate that, to properly accommodate even 52,000
annual metropolitan dead with decennially renewed interments, we
should want at least 500 acres--the burials in the new Bunhill
General Burial Ground reached the astounding figure of 2,323 per

This was a fearful state of things, it must be admitted, but it
was even exceeded in point of hideousness by many of the yards of
our country towns, and even of our villages, where one might have
supposed no necessity for overcrowding existed. The reader who is
anxious to examine these revolting details for himself can see
them in the reports of the evidence taken before the Parliamentary
Commissions of 1842, of 1843, and of 1850. These reports were
issued by Lords Carlisle and Ashley, and by Mr. Edwin Chadwick and
Dr. Southwood Smith, and revealed horrors beyond all that could
have been imagined. Nor were some of the villages of Switzerland
better situated with regard to accommodation than our own. Read for
instance the condition of the churchyard of Schuls, as described by
Professor Reclam.[96]

  [96] In the 'Gartenlaube,' No. 19, 1874.

Since 1843, however, many of the parochial and general
burial-grounds of the metropolis have been closed altogether, and
the same has been done in many parts of the country. During the
ten years which elapsed between 1852 and 1862, about 500 Orders
in Council were issued, by means of which, says the great legal
authority upon the laws of burial,[97] some four thousand old
burial-grounds have been closed or regulated. Regulation generally
means the forbidding of interments in a churchyard which has been
reported against by the Medical Officer of Health, except in the
case of family graves. A London churchyard has just been regulated
in this way.[98] During the ten years alluded to, some 400 local
burial boards were constituted. Within that period also nearly
one and a half millions were raised for the use of the parochial
cemeteries by the ratepayers.

  [97] Baker, 'Laws relating to Burial,' 4th ed. London: 1874. Mr.
  Baker was kind enough to read over the proof of this chapter.

  [98] By Dr. Tripe.

Some cemeteries properly so called existed in 1843, but their area
in the metropolitan districts amounted to only 260 acres, and the
annual number of burials performed amounted to nearly 3,400. Of
this number the burials in the East London, in the City of London
and Tower Hamlets, and in the Kensal Green Cemeteries, made up over
two-thirds. The number of burials per acre in the East London
Cemetery, Mile End, was 154, in Kensal Green 17, and in Norwood 5.
In 1850 the Board of Health condemned the cemetery at Brompton, but
interments are still carried on there, with, it must be, anything
but satisfactory results to the houses which surround it. What
will it be twenty years hence, if the interments go on as now?
Several new cemeteries have been opened, it is true, for instance
a magnificent cemetery at Woking. Others again are being projected
for places where interments have been found difficult to obtain,
notably, one for the south of London. At the present moment a
company is being formed to work a cemetery at East Ham, two miles
nearer to the city than Ilford cemetery. As the site is upwards of
two miles beyond the metropolitan area, no sanction is required
from the Secretary of State, and yet it is adjacent to some very
populous parishes, whence, as is set forth, numerous interments
may be expected. The site occupies 115 acres, 45 of which it is
purposed to reserve for burials, the other 70 to be sold in lots for
building purposes. Then again come cemeteries of ease as they might
be called, belonging to parochial boards whose churchyards are full.
To this category belongs a burial-ground just commencing in a parish
in the Northern suburbs of London, within 500 yards of a reservoir
constructed since 1871 at a cost of 25,000_l._ The formation is
clay, and is easily drained into the main drainage system, but
the fear is that at some future time the exhalations will affect
the water in the reservoir, especially if it be uncovered. These
two last examples will show how nearly omission may be made a
non-transgression of a law.

Our burial laws specify that each dead adult shall be entitled
to four superficial yards of earth. Allowing for the predominant
deaths amongst children, this would be an average of three yards.
This thirty-six superficial feet is about the space allowed to each
body by the authorities of Stuttgart and Munich; but in Würtemberg
fifty-four feet are accorded, and in some parts of Austria as
much as ninety feet is awarded to each adult. The common practice
with us is to allow about a quarter of an acre of burial-ground
to each 1,000 head of population, where the soil is favourable;
but some authorities double this allowance, and leave room for
embellishing the ground. Wise cemetery companies also allow a space
between each alternate row of grave-spaces, in order to prevent
trampling. They, moreover, encourage the purchase of family freehold
grave-plots containing three or six grave-spaces. It is true that
the proprietors of the burial-ground profit by this payment in
anticipation; but the benefit accrues largely to the public as well,
for it does not become necessary to open the same grave should two
members of a family die with but a short interval of time between.
For the rest, a commodious grave-space presupposes a sufficiency
of soil to absorb the gases, allows the grave to be opened without
the earth of the adjoining one falling into it, dispenses with the
shoring up of the sides with planks, and provides sufficient space
for suitable monuments. As a general rule, one-sixth of the entire
acreage of a cemetery will also of a necessity be appropriated for
roads and paths, for sites of lodges and chapels, and botanical

The depth at which burial is practised varies much, but it is
usually from eight to ten feet in soil propitious to decay. Six feet
would suffice, it might be; but, as the intention is to be able
to reopen the graves fourteen years after the burial of an adult,
and eight years after the burial of a child, a fair maximum depth
is resorted to. When a burial has taken place in an allotment, the
above period of lying fallow can only be shortened should it be
necessary to open the grave to inter another member of the family.
In such a case, a foot of earth must be interposed.[99] The law
is also distinct on the point that no one shall be buried in any
unwalled grave within four feet of the ordinary level of the ground,
unless it be a child, and then not less than three feet of soil
shall lie above it.

  [99] During an official enquiry held by Mr. Holland, in November
  1874, into the management of the Tooting cemetery, it transpired
  that four or five inches of intervening earth had been deemed
  necessary by the inspector of the cemetery, instead of the twelve
  inches stipulated by law. In the case of private graves the coffins
  had been laid without any intervening earth at all.

When the coffin is not laid in contact with the soil, but entombed
in a vault or walled grave, the occupied space is covered by a
stone cemented down, air-tight, upon a ledge in the wall, and the
raising of which is for ever forbidden. The entombment may also be
made by an air-tight surrounding of concrete. The best practice of
vault burial is to place some charcoal or disinfectant along with
the coffin, so that no foul gas shall escape should reopening be
necessary. When old vaults underneath churches are reported upon and
found inimical to public health, the churchwardens can be compelled
to remove the contents elsewhere, and disinfect the vaults, charging
the poor-rates with the expenses. No interment is now allowed under
any new place of worship, except with the authority of the Secretary
of State. During the ten years, too, which followed the passing of
the Burial Acts in 1852, more than one hundred church vaults in the
metropolis were disinfected and sealed up.

Cemeteries, and not churchyards, are now the chosen sites for
interments. These cemeteries are permitted to be located upon
any piece of ground, provided that the usual restrictions are
not set at naught.[100] A well-chosen cemetery[101] is one whose
soil is dry, close, and yet porous, permitting the rain and its
accompanying air to reach a reasonable depth, and so expedite
decay. The formation is also well covered with vegetable mould,
which assists in neutralising any hurtful emanations and encourages
the growth of shrubs. The subsoil is also of such a kind as to
need no underdraining, and such as will prevent the water lodging
in any grave or vault.[102] It will also stand exposed to the
north or north-east winds, which are dry, and which do not hold
the putrefactive gases in solution, like the moist south or
south-westerly winds.

  [100] The Congress of Hygiene at Brussels recommended an intervening
  space of 400 mètres between a cemetery and any habitation.

  [101] The Greek word cemetery means a sleeping-place, and the idea
  of rest would be far better conveyed if only ashes were laid there,
  as no further atomical change would be possible.

  [102] In the Tooting cemetery enquiry, November 1874, it was proved
  that although the subsoil required draining, the merest surface
  drainage had been resorted to. The Burial Board admitted that in one
  instance a coffin had been deposited in a grave with water in it
  sufficient to cover it.

Cemeteries can be made upon clay soils, if properly drained by
deep cross-drains, and by pipe-drains laid from grave-space to
grave-space, duly conducted into the main drain, or by causing the
first interments to be made near the drain, strewing gravel at the
bottom of each grave opened out, and similarly connecting with this
porous layer each new grave with a previous one. When the soil does
not admit percolation downwards, it is necessary to get rid of the
surface water by laying a line of pipes at the upper end of each
row of graves, and so intercepting it. Or upright pipes are placed,
reaching down to the bottom of the grave and to the artificially
placed gravel then communicating with the drain. The clayey soils
of some burial-grounds have also been improved by the admixture of
sand and gravel when refilling the graves. But, even after all this
expense, the gases evolved during decay are retained very often
in the soil, and, after thirty or more years, little or no change
will have been effected. The laws of nature are thus contravened;
for she has ordained that, in good soil, all but the larger bones
shall disappear in twelve years. If interments be made in the worst
of clays, sudden heat will open up fissures in the ground with
lamentable results.

An improperly chosen graveyard, then, may be said to be one where
the soil is dense and clayey, and impervious to moisture. It will
be insufficiently drained, necessitating the use of planks to walk
upon in wet weather. It will be too close to the abodes of the
living, too small to permit proper planting, the graves covered, it
may be, with flat stones, which prevent the passage downwards of
the air and rain, and surrounded, moreover, by high walls which
exclude the fresh air. The ground will be stony and insufficiently
covered with vegetable soil. No natural outfall will exist, and
the drainage-water must be pumped up, the bare idea of which is
horrible. It will be near also to water-bearing strata, or to a
reservoir. Long before decomposition has taken place, owing to the
smallness of the site and the impossibility of obtaining any more
land except at high building prices, the organic matter hidden out
of sight will be far too large in proportion to the area. From the
foregoing we may conclude that a proper site for a cemetery is not
everywhere obtainable, and that serious mistakes must often be made.

The older burial-grounds can be closed at the expiration of a
month's notice given by duly qualified persons, on the order of the
Privy Council, and any one assisting at a burial contrary to that
order is liable to fine and imprisonment.

The Ecclesiastical Commissioners can grant, in certain cases,
a faculty permitting the erection of schools in churchyards,
especially when the grounds have been closed under the Burials Act;
and never shall I forget a school of this description in one of our
largest cities. Old burial-grounds can be converted to more common
secular purposes under certain restrictions, as may be witnessed
almost every day in London. In such cases the remains must be
decorously removed to some consecrated ground, after due notice to
the relatives. An example of this may be observed at the present
moment at the demolished church of St. Antholin, London; only in
this case the remains have not been carted away as usual to the City
of London Cemetery at Ilford, but have been placed in a monster
vault constructed at the base of the tower, which is the only part
of the church that is to remain. In this vault have been placed over
200 chests, each containing the contents of a grave.

If the closed burial-ground be taken under the Land Clauses Act
for public improvements, and converted into sites for building,
the freeholder obtains the sum at which it was valued previously
to the passing of the Act, and the building may proceed. In the
City of London the Commissioners may, with the Bishop's consent,
arrange with the churchwardens for the appropriation of any disused
burial-ground. Sometimes, as in the case of the Bunhill Fields
ground, the space may be laid out and preserved as an open space by
a corporation, and a burial board may do the like with all ancient
graveyards within their jurisdiction. The authorities, however,
I believe, provide that, in burial-places so closed, vertical
tombstones shall not be thrown down and made use of as a paving,
and, as a general rule, the growth of grass is encouraged for
sanitary purposes.

I have given an account of the past and present state of the burial
laws, because it was necessary to do so in order to estimate the
position which any better system of dealing with our dead will
occupy. It cannot be said that no pains have been taken to lessen
the horrors of the tomb, for I have taken the trouble to make a
list of the proposed improvements in the paraphernalia of death
which have appeared[103] since 1781, and everything seems to
have been considered. From 1781 to 1825 the main thing studied
was security against the rifling of the grave; and then on to
1871 followed plans for all kinds of coffins in stone, marble,
granite, slate, porcelain, earthenware, bitumen, asphalte, paper,
peat, india-rubber, iron, and glass. Glass has been the favourite
material, just as it was in old Italy, where it was mostly selected
to enshrine the ashes collected from the pyre. It is melancholy to
peruse these strivings after the impossible, and to see what fond
but unavailing attempts have been made to rob inhumation of its

  [103] Patent Office Records.



In order to form a comprehensive idea of the salutary benefits which
will accrue from a general observance of cremation, or even from
a limited adoption of the scheme--which, by the way, is nowhere
forbidden by the statutes of the land--it will be necessary to
review cursorily the positive evils for which past inhumation is
answerable. I will therefore attempt to point out from carefully
collected and other authentic sources, chiefly from the reports of
the Parliamentary Commissioners, how the dead have poisoned and
still poison the living.

It seems to be generally admitted that the fœtid air exhaled from
the dead is fatal if breathed in a concentrated state, and that,
even when dissipated by the wind, it lowers the vital powers of the
community.[104] Cases of instant death to grave-diggers, notably
to three in Paris in September 1852, from accidentally inhaling
the concentrated miasma which escapes from coffins, have been
recorded. Slower deaths from exposure to the same evil, through what
is designated low fever, are very common. Undertakers have given
evidence to the effect that they have suffered from faintness and
nausea, even when they have not been cognisant of any offensive

  [104] 'The decomposition of bodies gives rise to a very large amount
  of carbonic acid. Ammonia and an offensive putrid vapour are also
  given off. The air of most cemeteries is richer in carbonic acid
  (·7 to ·9 per thousand--Ramon de Luna), and the organic matter is
  perceptibly large when tested by potassium permanganate.'--Dr.
  Parkes, 'Practical Hygiene,' 4th edit. 1873.

Dr. Riecke reported that putrid emanations 'operate in two ways, one
set of effects being produced through the lungs by impurity of air
from the mixture of irrespirable gases, the other set through the
olfactory nerves by powerful, penetrating, and offensive smells.'
Dr. Southwood Smith says that, when present in the atmosphere,
morbific animal matter is 'conveyed into the system through the thin
and delicate walls of the air-vesicles of the lungs in the act of
respiration,' and instances how the vapour of turpentine, if only
inhaled when walking through a recently painted room, will exhibit
'its effects in some of the fluid excretions of the body even more
rapidly than if it had been taken into the stomach.'

So with the vapour which arises from an overcrowded and even from
any churchyard. People who are accustomed to reside near badly
regulated graveyards are mostly unable to detect the serious
nuisance by the sense of smell; but medical men, accustomed to the
dissecting-room, can recognise it directly, and can even distinguish
it from the foul odours arising from sewers. In a case at
Manchester, where a main sewer ran through the graveyard, the graves
drained into it, and the smell of the dead came into the houses
through the untrapped sinks. Mr. Roe stated on oath that he once
traced exudation from a churchyard in St. Pancras parish into the
road-sewer thirty feet distant, and that this would have resulted
even if the sewer had been cemented or concreted over. These
cases will prove that there are more sources of danger than from
surface-emanations. The rule seems to be that, where the graveyards
and roads are paved, and the stones laid horizontally, the escape of
the deleterious matter is either into the wells or sewers. If, as in
many instances, the surface of the burial-ground be above that of
the street, the loathsome matter may even be seen trickling down the
walls of enclosure. Some most sickening cases were published in 1851
in the report issued by the General Board of Health.

If the formation of a deep sewer will suffice to drain dry all the
wells near its line of march, then the sinking of a well near a
burial-ground must help to drain the latter. There is a complication
when drains in the neighbourhood of graveyards are tide-locked at
intervals; and an instance of this was given by Dr. Reid, who stated
that careful examination of the air in the Houses of Parliament,
thirty years ago, resulted in the discovery that it was very much
vitiated, both by night and by day, from their proximity to St.
Margaret's burial-ground.

The disorders commonly complained of in the neighbourhood of
burial-grounds are headaches, diarrhœa, and ulcerated sore throats.
According to a report of the French Academy of Medicine, the putrid
emanations of Père-la-Chaise, Montmartre, and Montparnasse, have
caused frightful diseases of the throat and lungs, to which numbers
of both sexes fall victims every year. 'Thus a dreadful throat
disease which baffles the skill of our most experienced medical men,
and which carries off its victims in a few hours, is traced to the
absorption of vitiated air into the windpipe, and has been observed
to rage with the greatest violence in those quarters situated
nearest to cemeteries.' An officer once stated to Mr. Chadwick, that
when a building looking over a certain Liverpool churchyard was used
as a barracks, he and his men always suffered from dysentery. It was
related by Messrs. Houlier and Fernel that, during the prevalence
of the plague in Paris in the beginning of the eighteenth century,
'the disease lingered longest in the neighbourhood of the _Cimetière
de la Trinité_, and that there the greatest number had fallen
a sacrifice.' In such desperate plight also were the houses which
abutted upon the churchyard of St. Innocent, that the vapour was
_seen_ to rise from the soil, and the stench was unbearable. It is
on record, too, that, when a large common grave, fifty feet deep,
was dug in the same cemetery in the following year, candles would
not burn in the cellars of the adjacent houses, and those who only
approached their apertures were immediately seized with alarming
attacks. The walls of the cellars streamed down also with an
offensive moisture. Numerous other instances might here be quoted.

It was proposed by M. Fourcroy to analyse the foul gases evolved
from bodies which had been interred in this oversaturated soil;
but no grave-digger would venture to assist in its collection,
because it resulted in almost sudden death if inhaled in the
concentrated form near the body, and even at a distance, 'when
diluted and diffused through the atmosphere, produced depression
of the nervous system and an entire disorder of its functions.' As
a rule, the grave-diggers there had a cadaverous appearance and
all the other signs of slow poisoning. M. Patissier also noticed
several cases where death resulted from digging the graves. Doubts
have been expressed as to the baneful effect of putrid emanations
upon grave-diggers; but, as Mr. Chadwick has observed, if a number
of these men be compared with a number of men following healthier
occupations, it will be found that the mephitic influences entail
a loss of at least one-third of the natural duration of life and
working ability. As a rule, none but the healthiest and most robust
men choose this trade, and they drink very freely, in order to
overcome the nervous depression caused by unhealthy emanations, live
on stimulating foods, and work but for a few hours per day.

Professor Parkes has described and named the offensive gases and
putrid vapours given off by churchyards.[105] Professor Pettenkofer
has also proved the presence of carbonic acid gas in the ground-air
under houses, and the effects produced by this pulse-lowering gas.
Dr. Reid examined at Manchester some graves which had been dug some
hours previously, and found that it was necessary to have recourse
to mechanical or chemical ventilation before the men could descend
into them. The carbonic acid gas simply flowed into these deeply dug
graves from the porous surrounding soil, like so much water. In the
same way also this poisonous gas finds its way into the churches
whose floors are below the level of the churchyards. Professor
Selmi, of Mantua, has lately discovered in the strata of air which
has remained during a time of calm for a certain period over a
cemetery, organisms which considerably vitiate the air and which
are dangerous to life. This was proved after several examinations.
When the matter in question was injected under the skin of a pigeon,
a typhus-like ailment was induced, and death ensued on the third

  [105] See foot-note, p. 53.

  [106] Dr. De Pietra Santa.

The dangers of inhaling the atmosphere of churches or chapels under
which burial-vaults are made use of or interments made, have been
repeatedly pointed out.[107] In other lands besides our own have
these dangers been suspected and detected. The Tuscan Government
requested Signor Piattoli to thoroughly investigate the subject, and
his report has been confirmed by eminent men of various nations.
As having taken place in our own land, Dr. Copeland mentions the
case of a gentleman who was poisoned by a rush of foul air from the
grated openings on the sides of the church steps, and who died from
a malignant fever in a few days' time, communicating the same to his
wife with a fatal result. The same fever has been known to seize
pew-openers when cleansing and shaking the mattings of the floor.
After a vault had been opened, the smell was at times overpowering.
It was the opinion of Mr. Chadwick, after examining some hundreds
of witnesses of all kinds, that entombment in vaults was a more
dangerous practice than interment in the earth, because of the
liability of the coffins to burst.

  [107] 'In vaults the air contains much carbonic acid, carbonate
  or sulphide of ammonium, nitrogen, hydrosulphuric acid, and
  organic matter. Fungi and germs of infusoria abound.'--Dr. Parkes,
  'Practical Hygiene,' 4th ed.

We may, therefore, for our purpose, assume that, even under the most
favourable circumstances, hurtful emanations must perforce rise out
of burial-grounds, there being no more natural escape for the gases
of decomposition than by levitation. These gases will rise to the
surface through eight or ten feet of gravel, just as coal-gas will
do, and there is practically no limit to their power of escape. The
danger is always persistent in the cases of dry and porous soils,
exactly those which are most fitted for cemetery purposes. In a
churchyard at Stuttgart, in which only five hundred bodies were
interred yearly, and not more than one in each grave, the north-west
wind rendered the emanations from the dead perceptible in houses
two hundred and fifty paces distant. It will thus be seen that
the soil best fitted to ensure decay is exactly the worst one for
neighbouring houses. Unless there can be some artificial means taken
to bring about the slow combustion of these gases, as, for instance,
by layers of charcoal, the gases must continue to escape in a foul
condition. But who would recommend so extraordinary a procedure as

The dangers resulting from improper burial have of late been
intentionally slighted, but there is abundance of evidence to
prove that the air in the neighbourhood of choked-up graveyards is
inimical to public health. Some sensitive people are even taken ill
when walking past a cemetery.[108] I know myself a gentleman who
can detect an unwholesome smell half a mile distant from a certain
cemetery in the N.W. district of London. It is unfortunate that so
little weight is attached to the report of the last Commissions upon
Interments. The question of the poisoning of the air in the vicinity
of burial-grounds is just now, however, undergoing a searching
investigation at the hands of the Massachusetts State Board of
Health, and an analysis will be prepared[109] of the answers
elicited. Water believed to be contaminated with cemetery washings
is sought for analysis. Questions are also asked as to the induction
or aggravation of disease in houses contiguous to cemeteries, and
whether the sickness was attributable to poisoned wells or foul
air, or both. The report will, without doubt, confirm all that our
leading physicians say as to the evils of injudicious burial. There
must be something radically wrong where fresh meat becomes tainted
in a single night.[110]

  [108] Raulin.

  [109] By Dr. Adams, of Pittsfield.

  [110] Frazer.

What shall we say of the poisoning of our wells and water-supplies
by too adjacent burial-grounds? Professor Brande has instanced a
case of a well near a churchyard, the water of which had derived not
only odour, but colour, from the soil, and gave it as his opinion
that the water in all superficial springs near burial-grounds is
simply filtered through accumulated decomposition. Some wells near
a churchyard in Leicester were disused some time ago because of a
perceptible taint in the water, and, in Versailles, several wells
which were situated below the churchyard of St. Louis stank so much
as to require shutting up. During the Peninsular War, our troops
suffered greatly from low fevers and dysentery, caused by being
obliged to drink the water from wells which were sunk too closely
to the interred sick. Troops have often been compelled to change
their encampments owing to this kind of water-poisoning. Cases
are on record where men have been seriously injured by excavating
amidst some water which had drained from graves. In Paris M. Ducamp,
not long ago, discovered a spring which was entirely derived from
the rain which fell in the cemeteries and from the liquids of
decomposition; and the foolish people, discovering that it possessed
the peculiar sulphur-like taste which is always concomitant with
decaying organic matter, purchased it as a mineral water!

Dr. Mapother has visited the churchyards of many Irish towns, and
has 'generally found them placed on the highest spot near the most
central part, whence of course all percolations descend into the
wells.' One churchyard he particularly describes 'as lying so low
that the water from the river overflows it in wet weather, and,
notwithstanding this circumstance, from 30,000 to 40,000 people are
supplied from this river.'[111]

  [111] The cemeteries at Finchley, according to Mr. Lowe, are drained
  into an open brook, and the drainage eventually runs into the River
  Brent. The cemetery at Tooting at the present moment discharges into
  an open ditch, and this flows into the River Wandle, from which many
  of the inhabitants in its vicinity are accustomed to draw supplies.

Instances of water-poisoning have been several times noticed of
late years. The monumental cemetery of Milan, for example, is
situated upon a hill some 180 yards to the north of the city, and
Professors Parvesi and Rotondi have discovered in the wells of the
Place Garibaldi, the water of which is collected from the valleys
below the cemetery, undoubted traces of organic matter. Professor
Reinhard also relates that during the murrain some cattle which fell
victims were buried near Dresden at a depth of twelve feet, but that
during the following year the water of a well some 100 feet distant
from the pit gave off a fœtid odour, and showed the unmistakable
presence of deleterious matter. At even twenty feet distance the
analysis discovered considerable impregnation. During the Prussian
occupation of Chalons, the city was visited by an outbreak of
typhus, and to arrest the progress of the epidemic the dead were
massed together in a corner of the city cemetery and interred, being
first covered over with a quantity of quick-lime. At the end of
some weeks, and after an episode of wet weather, the drinking water
in the neighbourhood was affected by the influx of matter from the
interred bodies and the lime, as was proved by an analysis made by
M. Robinet.[112]

  [112] Dr. De Pietra Santa.

The latest authenticated case of water-poisoning from infiltration
of this kind is given by Dr. De Pietra Santa. He confines himself to
quoting the example of the hamlets of Rotondella and Bollita, the
cemeteries of which, placed upon the summit of a wooded hill, and at
a considerable distance from the houses, have still been the means
of carrying contagion into their midst. At the foot of the hill
upon which the cemetery was perched emerged the springs destined
for the daily use of the inhabitants, and these being the products
of pluvial waters which had once spread over the surface of the two
cemeteries, the water had filtered through the earth and become
impregnated with the elements of the dead bodies. This contaminated
water eventually produced a fearful epidemic. Dr. Pappenheim says
that, if organic chemistry had made more progress, if, above all,
the organic matters contained in drinkable waters were known,
springs would be easily found containing putrefied substances, to
the great injury of those who use the water, and it would be easily
discovered that the evils came from a distant cemetery. People,
however, are now more and more alive to the danger of subterranean
infiltration from dead matter, and the use of wells in towns and
cities is now nearly unknown. In Paris a law forbids the sinking of
a well within one hundred yards of any cemetery, but in some cases
two hundred yards has proved an insufficient distance. In parts of
Germany, again, the minimum distance allowed by law is one hundred

A great many cases could be raked up against the present mode of
burial; but I will not act the part of a special pleader. One
might, however, point out that instances have occurred in which
burial-grounds have been washed away by the bursting of reservoirs.
In 1854, at Herrenlauersitz, upwards of one hundred bodies, the
majority still encoffined, were washed out of their resting-places
by an inundation, and floated into gardens, harvest-fields, and
houses, nor were they wholly recovered until a fortnight after the

It would be manifestly unfair to charge against proper interment
the loose manner in which it is practised in many parts of the
globe. But the evil is so persistent a one that I cannot refrain.
It might be forgiven to the poor heathens of Eastern Australia to
bury their dead in shallow graves, for there predatory animals
are scarce, and want of civilisation could be pleaded for them.
But how can we overlook the practices in the Mahomedan cemeteries
of Calcutta? I am informed by a gentleman[113] who was for thirty
years Church missionary there, that these burial-grounds of Islam
'have long been a crying evil, and the nurses of cholera, fever,
and dysentery.' The bodies are also frequently devoured by jackals.
So, for the matter of that, are the bodies of the Ainos.[114] But
then the Ainos are heathens and the Mahomedans are--well, people
who ought to know better. They are incorrigible, however, as I have
myself seen. Even in Syria at the present hour many modern Moslem
graves, although lined and roofed with slabs of basalt, are open and
their inmates exposed.[115] But a travelled Osmanli would perhaps
retort and point out that Père-la-Chaise was visited by a monomaniac
who was able nightly to tear up a number of bodies.[116]

  [113] The Rev. S. Long.

  [114] Lieut. Holland.

  [115] Burton.

  [116] In 1849.

I will conclude with one more example of the laxity with which
interments are conducted. In the streets of Valparaiso, in Chili, a
large and flourishing city of 75,000 inhabitants, many of whom are
British and French, may be seen the Cerro de la Concepcion, a hill
long since constructed into a cemetery, which is so saturated with
decomposition that it has lately rent asunder and exposed the city
to the foulest of all exhalations. And what is the consequence? Why,
the coffins and the contents have now frequently to be submitted to
the flames, in the full view of the population.



  [117] For further details under this head, see 'La Crémation des
  Morts,' par Dr. Pietra Santa.

It will perhaps prove interesting to consider the present position
of the question in some of the chief countries of the civilised

Italy has been the pioneer of cremation, as far as arguments and
experiments go, although not the first to reduce it to everyday
practice. Here, many centuries ago, it was seen in all its olden
glory. Italy too was, I believe, the first to put a veto upon
the introduction of the diseased dead into the country without
previously reducing them to ashes, as in the case of a person who
died of yellow fever in America.[118]

  [118] Dr. Borgiotti, quoted by Dr. Golfarelli.

The project of cremation was laid before the International Medical
Congress of Florence in 1869 by Professors Coletti and Castiglioni,
and was favourably received by the whole assembly. The same opinion
was arrived at by those who took part in the Congress of Rome in
1871. The Royal Institute of Lombardy (Science and Letters), in
order to encourage the study of the question, offered the 1877
quinquennial Secco-Comneno prize for an essay upon the subject
which would best meet objections and which would best illustrate
from actual experiments upon the lower animals that the method was
convenient, speedy, economical, and decent. In a second manifesto
laid before the two Houses of Parliament, the Institute reiterated
its conviction that the adoption of incineration would prove a new
era in the march of civilisation, and expressed hopes that Italy
would lead the van in the great movement. The elevated position held
by these early advocates of the system gave a huge impetus to the

Very important papers have been laid not only before the Royal
Institute of Lombardy, but also before the Academy of Padua, and the
Society (Medico-physique) of Florence. In order to popularise the
practice of cremation, conferences have also been held at Florence,
Milan, Naples, Genoa, and Venice. The columns of the public press
have also been taken due advantage of, and many interesting articles
have appeared upon the matter. Later on, Professor Maggiorani made
a representation in favour of the scheme to the Senate. The Chamber
of Deputies was also appealed to to sanction the practice, and
Drs. Bono and Amati convoked a congress at the central city of
Milan in April 1874, when upwards of 500 people interested in the
matter met, and listened to discourses upon the subject spoken or
communicated to them by Drs. Polli, Pini, Coletti, Musati, Amati,
Tarchini-Bonfanti, Sacchi, and Du Jardin. The conclusion unanimously
arrived at was to appeal to the Italian Parliament to insert in
the new sanitary code an article permitting cremation under the
supervision of the syndics of the commune. During the sitting
Professor Sacchi observed that if the Italians resorted to cremation
they would only be following the customs of their forefathers, as
might be observed on all sides of them--a remark which has proved
true to the very letter, for at the present moment, near the Campo
Santo at Bologna, an exhibition has been opened where may be seen
not only very elegant vases containing ashes, and dug up in that
cemetery, but also skeletons from the same place.[119] In no part
of Italy perhaps can the relative worth of cremation and burial be
better seen than in Bologna. Both practices were contemporaneous
there about 700 B.C.

  [119] 'Echo,' Sept. 23, 1874.

The works written in Italy upon cremation are of considerable
importance. In 1857 Professor Coletti contributed a paper to the
Academy of Science and Letters of Padua,[120] in which he strongly
recommended cremation. This was followed by an article in 1866 by
Dr. V. Giro, also approving the practice.[121] In 1867, and again in
1870, Dr. Du Jardin called attention to the many advantages offered
by cremation,[122] which first communication was followed by a
paper by Dr. P. Castiglioni, similarly advising its adoption.[123]
Dr. Golfarelli, previously alluded to, also read a paper before
the conference held at Florence in 1871, of course all in its

  [120] 'Sulla Cremazione dei Cadaveri.'

  [121] 'Sulla Incinerazione dei Cadaveri.'

  [122] 'Sulla Cremazione dei Cadaveri.'

  [123] _Ibid._

  [124] _Ibid._

Dr. Polli, whose labours on this subject are so well known,
published in 1872 a very interesting memoir upon cremation.[125] Dr.
G. Pini gave to the world his sentiments in its favour in 1871,[126]
and again in 1873,[127] explaining the various and most likely
methods of procedure. An historical review of the subject was also
issued from the pen of Dr. F. Valerani in 1872.[128] Dr. G. B. Ayr
eloquently advocated the burning of the dead in 1872-3,[129] and
again in the latter year the system was upheld by Dr. Fornari.[130]

  [125] 'Sulla Incinerazione dei Cadaveri.'

  [126] 'La Cremazione dei Cadaveri.'

  [127] _Ibid._

  [128] 'Sulla Incinerazione dei Cadaveri.'

  [129] 'La Cremazione e l'Igiene.'

  [130] 'Humatio vel Crematio.'

In 1873 Dr. C. Musatti published a very interesting historical
dissertation upon the subject,[131] and gave his opinion that at the
beginning of the process means might easily be taken to ascertain
whether the subject was in a trance. In 1873 Dr. F. Anelli published
an article[132] in which he dealt with some objections urged by
Dr. Rota, in 1872,[133] against the burning of the body, stating
it as his own opinion that whilst burial recalled the middle ages
and even the times of barbarism, cremation represented progress and
civilisation. Much the same view was taken by Dr. O. Giacchi in a
memoir read in Florence in 1873.[134] Dr. L. Brunetti also explained
the methods of incineration in a brochure published in 1873,[135]
and in the same year Professor Amati published a letter,[136] in
which amongst other things the economy of cremation was argued.
Several articles followed from the pens of Drs. Peyrani and Foldi.
The most complete work, however, issued from the Italian press was
that of Dr. F. dell' Aqua, published in 1874.[137] A very valuable
historical report of the question has also been recently issued by
M. Biondelli.[138]

  [131] 'Intorno alla Cremazione dei Cadaveri.'

  [132] 'La Cremazione dei Cadaveri.'

  [133] 'L'Incinerazione dei Cadaveri è ammissibile?'

  [134] 'La Cremazione dei Cadaveri.'

  [135] _Ibid._

  [136] 'Sulla Cremazione dei Cadaveri.'

  [137] 'La Cremazione dei Cadaveri.'

  [138] 'La Cremazione dei Cadaveri umani.'

The above represent for the most part the chief writers upon the
subject of cremation in Italy. And, as will be noticed, all, with
one notable exception, were learned professors and doctors. The
only productions inimical to the scheme were the dissertation of
Dr. Rota, which was sentimental to a degree,[139] the brochure of
Professor F. Zinno, which might come under the same category,[140]
and some utterances upon the subject from clerical points of
view.[141] The muses were also invoked on both sides, and poems upon
the subject have been published by Dr. A. Moretti and Professor

  [139] 'L'Incinerazione dei Cadaveri è ammissibile?'

  [140] 'Inumazione, Imbalzamazione e Cremazione dei Cadaveri.'

  [141] In the 'Osservatore Cattolico.'

  [142] In the 'Annali di Chimica,' &c.

In Switzerland cremation has found an admirable and indefatigable
champion in Dr. Wegman-Ercolani, whose articles and works[143]
upon the subject have excited the greatest attention. Owing to
his exertions two associations have been founded, at Aran and at
Zurich, and others are in process of organisation, for the purpose
of instilling into the minds of the public the superior advantages
which this method of disposal of the dead offers over the ordinary
mode of burial. A public meeting held at Zurich in 1874 was attended
by 2,000 persons, and a speech was made then by Dr. Ercolani, in
the course of which the sentimental objections raised by Professors
Blermer and Clœtia were energetically combated. On the same occasion
Dr. Goll also defended incineration as a sanitary scheme. The
Rev. Pastor Long followed, with some interesting remarks upon
the religious side of the question, one of them akin to the now
celebrated saying of his Grace the Bishop of Manchester, to the
effect that with the Creator resurrection was as easy from the ashes
as from the dust of a skeleton.[144] Mr. Long declared the urn to be
a symbol far more poetical than the tomb or the mausoleum.

  [143] In the 'Gazette d'Andelfingen.' See also 'Leichenverbrennung
  als rationellste Bestattungsart.'

  [144] The same remark was made by Napoleon at St. Helena, when
  expressing his wish that his body might be burnt.

Professor Weith, who made a journey to Italy to consult with the
professors there as to the practicability of several methods of
burning, also pronounced in favour of cremation. Professor Kinkel
gave in a public adhesion to the system, and remarked that to him
burial in the earth seemed a flagrant violation of the idea of
eternal repose. He would rather destroy the body at once than bury
it in cemeteries, and, after a lapse of time, dig up the skeleton
and submit it to the flames. The meetings in Zurich have been
carefully watched by the neighbouring nations and warmly approved
of, particularly at Milan.[145] Cremation will soon be duly
established in Switzerland.

  [145] Le 'Pungolo' de Milan.

The question of cremation has been considerably agitated in France.
A memoir written by Legrand d'Aussy,[146] in the year V. of
the Republic, put very succinctly the necessity of substituting
cremation for inhumation, and the project was shortly after laid
before the Tribune, Article 5 of which manifesto left it optional
for each family to choose between the two modes of sepulture.[147]

  [146] 'Sépultures Nationales.'

  [147] It is worthy of notice, that upwards of thirty years ago
  Honoré de Balzac, in his novel _Madame Jules_, represents the
  husband of the dead lady as applying to the Minister of the Interior
  for leave to burn her body, and upon obtaining it, he put the ashes
  in an urn, and placed the latter in his cabinet. He was evidently in
  favour of the scheme, and chose to record his approval of it in this

The Institute of France later on offered a prize of 1,500 francs
for a report upon the scientific side of the question, and of forty
dissertations sent in, the only fear expressed was concerning
the possibly excessive price of the fuel necessary to a complete

Dr. Caffe, to whom I am indebted for several interesting
communications, published in 1856, and again in 1867, _résumés_
upon the whole subject which are eminently worthy of conservation.
He leans to the idea of the formation of _columbaria_, similar to
the sepulchral chambers of the Romans, and in his letter to me
he says, 'that the presence of ancestral urns is calculated to
restrain many a one who is tempted to tread the path of crime and
ruin.' M. Bonneau,[148] Drs. Lapeyrère,[149] Dechambre,[150] and
Latour,[151] have also inserted several valuable articles in their
various journals. Dr. Latour emphatically remarks also that if the
human race had for the last 3,000 years practised, for instance,
embalming, there would not have been to-day a portion of the earth's
surface which was not occupied by a mummy. Dr. Lapeyrère upholds
cremation, citing as a chief reason the dangers which may result to
public health when there are many thousands of dead soldiers.

  [148] 'La Presse.'

  [149] 'France Médicale.'

  [150] 'Gazette Hebdomadaire.'

  [151] 'L'Union Médicale.'

Inspector Laveran having called the attention of the Council
of Public Health to the necessity of resorting to cremation,
Intendant-General Robert proceeded to ask the advice of the Medical
Chief of the Army Staff, but I understand that the result arrived
at was of a very undecided character. The Medical Chief of the army
also called together the two Councils of Public Health of Paris and
Versailles, in order to take proper steps under the circumstances
which immediately followed the late investment of Paris. Baron
Larrey issued a report upon the general subject, and laid down
the conditions upon which a cemetery should be chosen under such
pressing circumstances. He recommended interment in deep pits, and
the use of quick-lime, as being a slow kind of cremation and as not
offensive to religious and other feelings.

The most recent document is the report presented to the Municipal
Council of Paris in 1874 by M. Herold respecting the establishment
of a new cemetery at Méry-sur-Oise. Many interesting passages
are to be found in it, advocating the _permissive_ practice. The
chief French dissertations upon the question of cremation are,
however, those of Dr. De Pietra Santa, who published them at first
in 'l'Union Médicale.' They were afterwards published with some
additions in 1873.[152] This last work,[153] which embraces all that
previously appeared from his pen, must be regarded as a complete
manual of the subject, and I am indebted to its pages for much of
the information given in this chapter. He has carefully traced the
modern history of cremation, and has accorded to Sir Henry Thompson
great meed of praise. He deplores, however, the paucity of sympathy
which the subject has met with in France. The scruples of some, the
open objections of others, and the listlessness of all, have been
only too apparent. The learned doctor may, however, rest assured
that when calmer times fall upon France, his work will be studied
with the care to which it is entitled, and the commission which
he seeks will be appointed to consider the question. In less quiet
times the question as to the site of a new cemetery would have been
linked with a query as to the best kind of cinerator. France will
not forget Dr. Santa, and a place will be reserved for him in the
roll of her benefactors. At the present moment the Prefect of the
Seine has addressed a circular to all the cremation societies in
Europe, asking for information respecting burning of the dead, with
an offer to exchange publications issued upon the subject.

  [152] 'La Crémation des Morts en Italie.'

  [153] 'La Crémation des Morts en France et à l'étranger.'

In Belgium no practical results have as yet been arrived at; still
cremation is affirmatively upheld by very many persons. In a small
country like this, where the cemeteries alone occupy over 18,000
acres, the useless waste of land alone would in due time insure the
adoption of burning.

The home-produced literature of cremation in Belgium is small in
extent, but reprints of Italian and other authors are common. The
admirable work of Dr. Polli, for instance, was translated and
published in 1873.[154] Another translation appeared in the 'Presse
Médicale Belge' during the same year. The 'Gazette de Bruxelles' of
March 1873 also contained articles upon the subject.[155] During the
year 1874, a _séance_ was held at Brussels through the exertions of
M. Adolphe Prins, an _avocat_ of that city, and the manner in which
the subject was received by the artistic and literary _élite_ augurs
well for the future of cremation in that country.[156]

  [154] By Dr. Janssens in the 'Journal de la Société Royale des
  Sciences Médicales et Naturelles de Bruxelles,' 1873.

  [155] 'Brûlez les corps et ne les ensevelissez pas.'

  [156] 'L'Indépendance Belge,' avril 1874.

The exhibition of Professor Brunetti's examples of cremation at
the International Exposition of Vienna gave perhaps the first
strong impulse to a study of this subject in Austria, and the
unsatisfactory state of the cemeteries in Vienna has convinced a
great number of the desirability of resorting to cremation. In
February 1874 the Municipal Council of Vienna unanimously passed
a proposition to the effect that the superior administration be
asked to provide for the immediate carrying out of the system
of cremation, now that the question of a new cemetery had been
mooted. One of the council, M. Geissler, was mainly instrumental in
bringing forward the motion. At the same time the Imperial Academy
of Medicine are making an appeal to the professors of hygiene and
chemistry in the Empire for a complete report upon the subject. The
cremation committee is formed of five persons, Drs. Hoser, Gauster,
Novak, Haschek, and Steniger.[157]

  [157] 'Brûlons nos morts,' 1874.

The municipality of Vienna--the annual mortality of which place is
about 20,000--acting upon the advice given by the Board of Health
in that city, has now decided that cremation shall be carried out
by those who prefer it, upon the plan inaugurated at Leipzig. The
cemeteries of Vienna are not only well filled with dead, but they
are unpleasantly near to the city. A plot of ground has therefore
lately been acquired by the municipality, about five miles from
the centre of the city. This new cemetery was opened in November
1874, and on the same day the five Catholic churchyards were closed
against all further interments. With the poor, however, the removal
of the body from the mortuary chamber to the mortuary building of
the district, and then next morning to a distant cemetery, is a
serious matter.

Nothing can apparently look more charming than a cemetery sparsely
dotted with monuments, as, for instance, the Necropolis at Woking,
seen from the railway station; but they speedily, far too speedily,
fill. The cost of conveying bodies to these distant cemeteries must
also be taken into account. In Vienna, where the city burial-grounds
are 'more than full,' the question of conveyance to the new cemetery
has provoked a great deal of angry discussion, and has been the
means of bringing into notice several schemes for the transportation
of the bodies to the site of burial. Mr. von Felbinger, engineer,
and Mr. Hubetz, architect, there, have submitted a scheme of
pneumatic burial to the municipal council. They propose to erect
in the city a central temple, from which a subterranean passage
would lead to the cemetery. A line of rails would be laid down in
this passage, and an iron car with its freight of coffins would be
propelled through it by means of a blast of compressed air. The
tubular passage would be five feet in diameter, and by the aid of a
150 H.P. engine they would undertake to convey the car some 15,000
feet in ten minutes. The funeral ceremony would be performed at the
central chapel, and it would be optional with the mourners as to
witnessing the actual interment at the cemetery terminus. The temple
would be built with three distinct compartments, so to speak; one
for the accommodation of the Roman Catholics, one for Protestants,
and one for the use of the Jews.

The question of burning the dead has therefore come to the front,
and a society called the 'Urne' has been constituted to realise the
idea. Several meetings have been held, the persons present giving
their most cordial support to the movement. Hitherto little or no
opposition has been met with from clerical parties.[158] It has
been stated, moreover, that a donation of 30,000 florins has been
presented to the society by a wealthy lady, in order to help on the

  [158] 'Times,' May 1874.

Cremation has met with the greatest enthusiasm in various parts of
Germany, as might have been expected from so practical a people. The
authorities in the town of Dresden, in Saxony, offered to make it
conditionally legal, provided that its advantages were thoroughly
made manifest by the promoters, which must have been duly done
inasmuch as the _Presse_ of Dresden informs the world that the first
corpse was reduced to ashes in the Whitsuntide of 1874.[159] When
the ashes were withdrawn, the funeral ceremony was celebrated in the
usual manner. Several other cremations have also taken place there.

  [159] On the fourth day of Pentecost.

The best German apparatus for cremation is that constructed by
Professor Reclam and Mr. Friedrich Siemens, C.E., and was first
tested upon the lower animals on June 2, 1874, in the presence of
Drs. Fleck, Küchenmeister, Roth, and other medical celebrities.[160]
Mr. Steinmann, of Dresden, also made some improvement upon the
Siemens apparatus as at first produced.

  [160] 'Cologne Gazette,' June 11, 1874.

In Berlin an apparatus is also in course of construction, and a
pamphlet has lately been issued by the Association for Burning the
Dead there, which is intended to combat any prejudices that may
exist against the adoption of the practice. At a recent meeting
of the council representing the Jewish congregations of Berlin, a
motion was brought forward and adopted by a large majority, to take
immediate steps for the introduction of cremation in one of the
Jewish cemeteries.[161] The wholesome practice is also being warmly
taken up in other large towns.

  [161] 'Jewish Chronicle,' April 10, 1874.

The chief works upon the subject which have been hitherto published
in Germany have been those of Drs. Trusen,[162] Küchenmeister,[163]
and Reclam.[164] The last work is a very complete defence of the
system. Mr. Steinmann has also published a work upon the best kind
of furnace.[165]

  [162] 'Die Leichenverbrennung,' 1855, and 'Denkschrift von
  Leichenverbrennung,' 1860.

  [163] 'Ueber Leichenverbrennung,' 1874.

  [164] 'De la Crémation des Cadavres,' 1874.

  [165] 'Sur le Procédé régénérateur et la manière de le pratiquer.'

In America the same active propaganda is going on in favour of
incineration of the dead, and the New York Incremation Society
have applied to the Legislature of that State for an act of
incorporation. Amongst the promoters are to be numbered some of
the most distinguished men in America. The Society accepts the
obligation of burning the bodies of its members, unless objections
are raised by the relatives of the deceased. A German Society
has also been formed in New York. Both Societies have progressed
considerably in point of numbers, and the system of reduction to
be chosen has even been decided upon. The chief work on the subject
hitherto published in America is that of Professor Frazer,[166] and
must have considerably enlightened the nation as to the true merits
of cremation. It is not very long since a Persian gentleman in an
Eastern State, who wished to burn the remains of his dead wife, was
personally assaulted by an ignorant mob and compelled to resort to
ordinary burial.[167] But several cases of cremation of human bodies
have been performed in America.[168]

  [166] In the 'Penn Monthly,' June 1874, and since reprinted

  [167] 'Chicago Daily Inter-Ocean,' March 1874.

  [168] Henry Laurens, first President of the American Congress, and
  later on, George Opdyks.

In England several attempts have been made from time to time to
popularise the idea of burning the dead. Perhaps the earliest
literary production in its favour was that of Sir Thomas
Browne.[169] Amongst later productions is one by Dr. J. Jamieson,
written entirely from an historical point of view.[170] Another
work was issued in 1857 by a 'Member of the Royal College of
Surgeons,'[171] and papers have also occasionally been written in
various periodicals. Several articles favourably treating it from
the religious side of the question have also appeared.

  [169] 'Hydriotaphy, or Urn Burial,' 1658, and other editions.

  [170] 'Origin of Cremation.' Proceedings of the Royal Society of
  Edinburgh, vol. viii.

  [171] 'Burning the Dead, or Urn Sepulture,' by Mr. Chas. Cobbe.
  A few copies are still obtainable from Knowles, Celbridge Place,
  Bayswater, London.

The benefits of cremation have been persistently brought before
the authorities of London, and by none more energetically than Dr.
Lord,[172] but as a matter of course nothing could be done, as a
suitable means of cineration was not at hand.

  [172] Medical Officer of Health for Hampstead. Reports for the years
  1857-1858, 1864, 1867, 1873, and 1874.

The only practical work which has ever appeared in England is that
of Sir Henry Thompson,[173] the first part of which appeared in the
'Contemporary Review' of January 1874, and the second part in the
March number. It treats of the question entirely from the practical
side, and it will be impossible to understand the full merits of
cremation without perusing it. Its appearance has marked a new era
in the history of the question, and the whole of the foreign press
are unanimous in its praise. Indeed nearly every European nation
has now translated it for itself. It has awakened in our land an
interest which cannot possibly subside, and its arguments have found
a willing confirmation in the minds of thousands of all classes.
There can be no doubt also that the kind of apparatus chosen by Sir
Henry Thompson, after several crucial tests, will prove the most
suitable one which can be devised.[174]

  [173] 'Cremation.' H. S. King & Co., London. 2nd ed. 1_s._

  [174] Since the publication of Sir Henry Thompson's work, and the
  reports of the active propaganda which is being carried on abroad,
  a great number of articles, favourable or well inclined to the
  practice, have appeared in the public press: for instance, in
  the 'Daily News,' 'Telegraph,' 'Standard,' 'Morning Advertiser,'
  'Globe,' 'Saturday Review,' 'Court Journal,' and numerous
  illustrated and other papers. The 'British Medical Journal,'
  'Lancet,' 'Medical Press and Circular,' 'Medical Record,' 'Sanitary
  Record,' 'Students' Journal and Hospital Gazette,' &c., have also
  borne witness to its value as a sanitary measure. Both Church and
  Nonconformist journals have moreover written in its favour, and
  several able articles have appeared in the periodicals, for example,
  in the 'Dublin University Magazine' and 'Westminster Review.'
  Most valuable assistance, demanding special notice, has also been
  rendered to cremation by that highly scientific periodical, 'Iron.'
  The process has also been made the subject of discussion in various
  debating societies, and in May 1874 the Cambridge University Union
  adopted a motion by 101 votes to 42 in favour of introducing it into

The Cremation Society of London, which is intended as a parent
society with which others in any part of the land can be affiliated,
was founded on January 13, 1874, by some of our most representative
men, and shortly after a declaration[175] was issued to the public
which had the effect of proving to the founders of the Society
how very prevalent and how widely spread was the antipathy to the
present mode of burial. The aim of the Society is to promote the
substitution of cremation for burial, by diffusing information on
the subject, by co-operating with foreign Societies, and by raising
funds to obtain an apparatus of the most approved kind, together
with a suitable site, so that, for those who desire the performance
of cremation after death, ample means should be available for the
purpose. The letters of adhesion to the scheme which have been
already received have come from every class of society, from Peers
to the humblest commoners.

  [175] 'We disapprove the present custom of burying the dead, and
  desire to substitute some mode which shall rapidly resolve the body
  into its component elements by a process which cannot offend the
  living, and shall render the remains absolutely innocuous. Until
  some better method is devised, we desire to adopt that usually known
  as Cremation.'

  The conditions of membership are:--

  I.--Adhesion by signature to the above declaration.

  II.--The payment of an annual subscription of one guinea, or a
  single payment of ten guineas.

  In order to carry out the above objects it has been resolved to
  raise funds for the purpose of carrying into operation the practice
  of cremation through the agency of cemetery companies, parochial and
  municipal authorities, or other public bodies.

Chief in its favour, in point of numbers, after the general public,
come physicians and surgeons, and after these ministers of religion
of all shades, Fellows of Colleges, officers of the Army and Navy,
&c., in about equal degree. The number of ladies who have joined
the movement is considerable, and some of them have proved the most
active members. The Preliminary Council of the Society includes
names of the highest standing in the country in Science, Literature,
and Art, and the list is continually being extended. There is every
prospect now of being able to accomplish the object sought by the
promoters. Some preliminary negotiations were entered into with a
large cemetery company, but came to no practical result, the board
of management 'not being able to lift their eyes to the dignity of
the subject.' Steps are being taken at the present moment to enlist
more contributing members in the Society, and to enable it, with
augmented funds, to purchase a site for itself whereon to erect a
suitable apparatus. Several donations, one of considerable amount
from a well known philanthropic lady, have been received by the



It is not my intention to describe the funeral rites of the ancient
Greeks and Romans &c.,[176] because the practices of some Eastern
nations at the present day somewhat resemble them, and it will
consequently be sufficient to refer to some of these. Moreover,
descriptions of cremation in classic times may be met with in every
encyclopædia. Full details of these ancient forms of sepulture will
also be found in numerous antiquarian works.[177]

  [176] In the play of 'Virginius' the body of Virginia is represented
  as having been placed in an urn, and when the distraught father
  enquires for his missing daughter, the vase is placed in his hands
  by the sorrowing lover. When this scene is presented, the thrill
  which seizes the audience is succeeded by a sensation of admiration
  at the eminently superior system of the ancients. I have seen the
  actor Brooke in this tragedy, and the effect which he here produced
  was inexpressible. Many whom I have consulted as to the feelings
  engendered at this point, have invariably declared that they were
  at the time complete converts to cremation, and that the sense of
  approval only left them when they began to realise how impossible
  were funeral pyres in this country. Happily the Siemens apparatus is
  now at hand, and its suitability proved beyond all cavil.

  [177] Laurentius, 'De funeribus antiquorum;' Kirchmannus, 'De funere
  Romanorum;' Montfaucon, 'Les funérailles des Grecs, des Romains,'
  &c.; Muret, 'Cérémonies funèbres de toutes les nations;' Porcacchi,
  'Funerali antichi;' and many others to be found in public libraries.

For a similar reason I will not describe the burning of the
bodies of Williams and Shelley.[178] The ceremony was moreover
somewhat harrowing owing to the impossibility of obtaining proper
materials for the purpose. It will be more interesting to the
reader to furnish him with a description of a still later instance
of cremation; I allude to the burning of the body of the Rajah of
Kellapore at Florence in 1873, and I quote here the description of
the affair as given by Dr. Pini in the _Gazetta di Milano_.

  [178] _See_ Trelawney's 'Last Days of Shelley and Byron.'

     At the hour of midnight the mortal remains of the Indian
     prince were carried to the banks of the river. The funereal
     pile consisted of a heap of wood, about five feet square,
     firmly fixed and secured to the ground by seven bars of iron.
     A second heap of wood was thrown loosely around. After certain
     religious ceremonies, the pile was powdered with camphor and
     other aromatic substances, and the dead rajah was laid upon it.
     The body was anointed with pure naphtha, the features covered
     by a mask of some greasy substance, and all the limbs covered
     with resinous matter, betel-leaves, perfumes, and powdered
     sandal-wood. The corpse was then covered with more layers of
     wood, alternated with inflammable substances, and the next of
     kin to the prince set fire to the pile. Although the flame was
     fanned by a strong wind, the body was barely consumed at seven
     o'clock the next morning. At ten, when the fire had almost
     entirely burned out, nothing remained but a heap of ashes. An
     Indian priest collected a small quantity from the centre of the
     heap; the remainder was thrown to the wind, in the direction of
     the current of the Arno.[179]

  [179] It has been seriously debated by some eminent men whether or
  not the ashes should be utilised, instead of being thrown away or
  gathered for preservation in urns.

Let us now see how cremation is performed at the present day among
the poor in India.[180] The Madras correspondent of the 'Medical
Times and Gazette' thus describes the mode practised in Madras:--

     The actual process of burning here is simple and effective, and
     well suited for people amongst whom fuel is one of the dearest
     of the necessaries of life, besides being subject to a tax,
     which has been greatly mitigated by the present governor. A
     bed is prepared; it is said in the old books that it should
     be as long as a man with his arm extended above his head, a
     fathom wide, and a space deep; it is also said that it ought
     to be on rising ground, so that the water poured on the ashes
     may easily run off. On this bed is laid a layer of wood and
     'bratties'--that is, cakes of dried cow-dung, which in this
     country is the most frequent form of fuel. The body, which is
     brought on an open bier, is laid on this, and covered with fresh
     layers of wood and bratties. Fire is set to the heap, which
     is then covered with a thinnish layer of earth. The process,
     which lasts altogether twelve hours or more, is divisible
     into two portions:--First, the fire is allowed to char and
     smoulder, out of the free access of air, till all the heap
     becomes a glowing red-hot mass, just as in charcoal-burning or
     ballast-burning at home. But after the fire has penetrated the
     whole heap it is poked up, the air admitted, and there is a
     thorough blazing fire, which goes on burning till all the fuel
     is turned into ashes, amongst which are discernible some of the
     hardest bones--as the malar, temporal, and shafts of the long

  [180] The cost of a Hindoo funeral of the humbler class in the
  neighbourhood of Poona, according to Col. Martin, is as follows:--

    |                                                 | R. | A. | P. |
    |                                                 +----+----+----+
    | Bamboo sticks for making the trestle            |  0 | 14 |  0 |
    | Dungaree cloth for winding sheet                |  1 |  8 |  0 |
    | Twine for binding the trestle                   |  0 |  2 |  0 |
    | One bundle of kurbie for placing on trestle     |  0 |  1 |  6 |
    | Golal powder for sprinkling over the body       |  0 |  2 |  0 |
    | Flowers and betel-leaves for placing upon it    |  0 |  2 |  0 |
    | Saffron for the sprinkling water                |  0 |  2 |  0 |
    | Vessel for carrying fire                        |  0 |  2 |  0 |
    | Piece of gold or pearl for placing in the mouth |  0 |  8 |  0 |
    | Three copper pice to tie in the clothes         |  0 |  0 |  9 |
    | Rice, &c., for dropping on the road, &c.        |  0 |  4 |  0 |
    | Sandal-wood for burning                         |  0 |  1 |  0 |
    | Firewood for making fire                        |  7 |  0 |  0 |
    | Oil or ghee for increasing the flame            |  1 |  0 |  0 |
    | Refreshments for friends                        |  0 |  8 |  0 |
    |                                                 +----+----+----+
    | Total                                           | 12 |  7 |  3 |

The above describes a funeral of the poorer kind, but in a late
number of the 'Bombay Times' appears an interesting account of the
burning of the body of Mr. Veneyekras Juggonath Sunkersett, an
eminent citizen of that city.

     The funeral procession from the house of the deceased was
     sufficiently large to demand a special report. Not less than a
     thousand persons figured therein, 'every family in the caste
     having furnished one or two of its male members to swell
     the melancholy cortège.' Bareheaded, and dressed in white
     garments, the procession marched slowly on. First came an array
     of link-bearers; then, also surrounded by lighted torches,
     and borne aloft on the shoulders of six men, the corpse was
     carried, preceded by Brahmin priests chanting a monotonous
     dirge. Arrived at the burning-ground--a spot to which admittance
     is made difficult--the body, lying on a bier, was deposited on
     the ground, the torch-bearers forming a circle around. The bier
     consisted simply of split bamboo sides and arms, with a rush
     bottom, and was subsequently broken to pieces and burnt. The
     object of depositing the bier on the ground was to allow all
     present to take a last look at the features of their friend and
     leader. Many simply salaamed, others knelt and appeared to pray,
     while others indulged in tumultuous ululation.

     During the time occupied in these last farewells, the men
     attached to the burning-ground had been busily employed in
     erecting the funeral-pyre; and the corpse was at length lifted
     off the bier, and placed on the pile. Officiating Brahmins
     then anointed the body with a mixture of which the principal
     constituent was ghee. Hard by was piled a heap of fragrant
     sandal-wood, split into thin faggots, and these the relatives
     of the deceased laid one by one upon the body, the priests all
     the while reciting prayers for the dead.[181] This ended, the
     servitors of the dead-ground built up the pyre to its proper
     height with common firewood. All being ready for the final
     ceremony, the Brahmins lit a small fire of sandal-wood, and,
     having consecrated it, gave a flaming brand to each of the
     kinsmen present, whose duty it was to light the pyre. Then the
     flames shot up into the air, a canopy of smoke overhung the
     spot, and all was over. The mourners dispersed, and by midnight
     nothing remained of our well-known citizen but a handful of
     white ashes and a few calcined bones.

  [181] The following compilation from a burial service of the
  Brahmins, who are the priests of all the other castes of Hindoos
  that burn their dead, may prove interesting to the reader. It is
  extracted from the 'Sacred Anthology.'

  '_O Earth!_ to thee we commend our brother: of thee he was formed,
  by thee he was sustained, and unto thee he now returns.

  '_O Fire!_ thou hadst a claim on our brother during life: he
  subsisted by thy influence in nature: to thee we commit his body,
  thou emblem of purity; may his spirit be purified on entering a new
  state of existence.

  '_O Air!_ while the breath of life continued, our brother respired
  by thee: his last breath is now departed, to thee we yield him.

  '_O Water!_ thou didst contribute to the life of our brother: thou
  wert one of his sustaining elements: his remains are now dispersed,
  receive thy share of him who has now taken an everlasting flight.'

During the past year the remains of the Hon. Narayan Wassadeo, a
member of the Legislative Council of Bombay, were solemnly burnt on
the burning-ground at Sonapore, and the ceremony is thus described
in the 'Times of India,' Aug. 6, 1874:--

     The body was placed, after it was recovered from under the
     ruins, on the floor of a large apartment at the rear of one
     of the wings of the house; and the female members of the
     family, seating themselves around it, gave themselves up to
     uncontrollable grief. The unhappy widow was overwhelmed by the
     dreadful calamity which had befallen her. A great number of the
     leading members of the European and various native communities
     called and took a last look at the remains as they lay covered
     with a white robe, the lower part of the face being alone

     The procession started at about 7 P.M. The bier, composed of
     two long pieces of bamboo, with a couple of cross-pieces, and
     covered with a rich white shawl, was upheld by the deceased's
     eldest brother and three of his most intimate friends and
     relatives. The sacred fire, which had been kindled with due
     ceremonies at the house, was carried in front in a brazen vessel
     by the deceased's son. The funeral was largely attended, not
     only by members of his own caste, but by those of other castes
     and denominations. When the procession reached Sonapore the bier
     was placed on the ground while the pyre was being constructed.
     Men with short crowbars made six holes in the earth, and in each
     of these was placed a rough piece of timber about four or five
     feet high. The posts, ranged two and two, were about a yard
     distant from each other. Three logs about six feet long each
     were placed on pieces of wood between each pair of uprights,
     so as to allow a free draught under the whole. A number of
     smaller logs were placed on these large ones, and were covered
     with sandal-wood, which made a sort of bed for the reception
     of the body. While this was being done, a number of torches
     of sandal-wood were being carefully ignited by the deceased's
     son at the sacred fire, which he had brought with him for the
     purpose. Prayers were said while the ignition was in progress.
     All being ready, the bier was brought to the side of the pyre,
     and the body was divested of all covering, except a cloth around
     the loins. It was then lifted on to the pyre, which was by
     this time between three and four feet high. The upright posts
     confined the body on either side, and prevented the possibility
     of its rolling off. Small blocks of sandal-wood, of various
     lengths--from six inches to two feet--were placed lightly on
     the body. The deceased's son then took a brazen vessel full of
     water, and carefully sprinkled a circle on the earth around the
     funeral pile. He next seized a brand from the sacred fire, and
     applied it to some dried leaves, or similar combustibles, placed
     under the pyre. That did not set fire to the pyre, however,
     and was not intended to be more than a compliance with the
     ceremonial; the brand was red, but not blazing, and a spark or
     two only fell from it. The relatives were then, as is usual in
     such cases, led away from the pyre by the friends around, so
     as to spare their feelings as much as possible. When they were
     taken a few yards off, and their backs turned to the pyre, large
     logs, similar to those at the base, were placed over the body,
     which now became completely concealed--all but the feet, which
     were left exposed either by accident or design. The friends
     applied matches to the sandal-wood brands, and, when they
     blazed up, set fire to the combustibles. Owing doubtless to the
     dampness of the ground, and occasional drops of rain, it was
     a matter of some difficulty to get the mass to burn. Cocoanut
     oil was thrown on the wood, and screens were held by men so as
     to regulate the draught; and, after a long interval, the pyre
     blazed up fiercely. In three hours only a handful of ashes
     remained of him who was but that morning the influential leader
     of the Hindoo community, full of life and hope.

The above two cremations may be regarded as sumptuous ones, and far
above the means of the common people. With the latter an incomplete
burning was often performed with revolting results. Descriptions of
these failures have frequently been given by travellers of more or
less veracity. The matter was lately taken into consideration by the
English authorities, and this has led to the suppression of such
imperfect cremations.

     By the order of Sir Cecil Beadon a cinerator was erected
     at Calcutta for the burning of human bodies; and various
     regulations were issued with the view of abolishing the ancient
     system of imperfect cremation. The funeral pyre was not
     absolutely prohibited within the limits of the city; but the
     disgusting custom of throwing partially-consumed bodies into
     the river was at once put down. Sir Cecil Beadon also forcibly
     suggested that all bodies should be taken outside of the city,
     to be burned in some suitable place set apart and enclosed for
     the purpose. Against this excellent proposition a fearful outcry
     was raised, and the municipality was induced to confine the
     suggested improvement to building the cinerator on the site of
     the old burning-ghât, on the banks of the Hooghly. At first the
     Hindoos objected to use the cinerator; but, on finding that it
     involved no interference with their religious rites or feelings,
     they partially acquiesced in its use. The cinerator built at
     Calcutta was not quite a success; but the bodies were consumed
     to ashes, and the fumes carried away through a tall chimney or

  [182] 'Iron.'

I am informed by the Sanitary Commissioner of Madras, that the
Cinerator[183] erected by the authorities is scarcely ever used, but
he is of opinion that if the Siemens principle of a furnace were
exhibited before the educated Hindoos they would very probably
adopt it.

  [183] See foot-note, p. 39.

Here is another extract explanatory of the reform just alluded to.

     From the Health Officer's Report to the Bombay Municipality we
     find that the cost of fuel for cremation is exceedingly heavy;
     and that a body cannot be consumed under four hours. 'On more
     than one occasion bodies have not been totally consumed, the
     relations having brought too scanty a supply of firewood.' In
     this document we also find a recommendation 'that a cinerator
     be erected at the burning-ghât, which would be at the disposal
     of the poor on the payment of a small fee. By this means the
     Hindoo community would get accustomed to it, and would see its
     advantage. A body would be put in at one end of a closed vessel,
     which in its transit through the cinerator would be exposed to
     intense heat, and after a certain time drawn out and opened. The
     ashes of the deceased would alone remain, which could be carried
     away and kept.'

As it may prove interesting to some reader, I will now give a
description of a cremation ceremony of the very highest class, as
performed in Siam, in which country, as has been stated elsewhere,
only those dead are buried whose survivors cannot pay the fees of
the priests. It is said to be from the pen of a lady[184] who was a
resident for several years in that country, and is an extract from
a paper of hers which appeared in a late number of 'Lippincott's

  [184] F. A. Feudge.

     Burning is now, and has been for centuries, the universal custom
     in Siam--preferred, it is supposed, because of the facility it
     affords for removing the precious dust of the loved and lost.
     In old, aristocratic houses I have seen arranged in the family
     receptacle massive golden urns, containing the ashes of eight,
     ten, or twelve generations of ancestors; and these are cherished
     as precious heirlooms, to descend through the eldest male branch.

     The time, expense, and character of a burning depend mainly
     on the rank and wealth of the parties, though the ceremony
     is always performed by the priests, and always within the
     precincts of a temple. The only exception is in seasons of
     epidemics or when the land is laid waste by famine. Among the
     better classes the dead body is laid unmutilated, save by the
     removal of the intestines, in a coffin, and it is more or less
     carefully embalmed, according to the time it is to be kept. If
     the deceased belonged to a private family of moderate means, the
     burning takes place from four to six days after death; if he was
     wealthy, but not high-born, the body may be kept a month, but
     never longer, while the remains of a noble lie in state from two
     to six months, according to his rank; and for members of the
     royal family a still longer period intervenes between the death
     and the burning. But, whatever the interval, the body must lie
     in state, and the relatives make daily prostrations, prayers,
     and offerings during the whole time, beseeching the departed
     spirit to return to its disconsolate friends.

     When the time for the funeral has arrived, the body is laid
     in a receptacle on the summit of a stately pyramid, the form
     and material of which indicate the wealth and position of the
     deceased. It is thickly gilded, and the receptacle lined with
     plates of solid gold when the body has belonged to one of royal
     lineage and well-filled coffers. The last is quite as essential
     as the first to a gorgeous Oriental funeral, since for rank
     without money an East Indian has ever the most profound contempt.

     Both requisites were fortunately united in the person of the
     queen-mother of King Pra-Nang-Klau. At the funeral of this
     aged queen there was such a display of Oriental magnificence
     as rarely falls to the lot of Western eyes to witness. The
     embalmed body lay in state under a golden canopy for eight
     months; the myrrh, frankincense, and aromatic oils used in its
     preparation cost upwards of one thousand pounds, and the golden
     pyre above twenty thousand. The hangings were of the richest
     silks and velvets, trimmed with bullion fringe and costly lace,
     and the wrappings of the body of pure white silk, embroidered
     with pearls and precious stones. Incredible quantities of
     massive jewellery decked the shrunken corpse, and a diadem of
     glittering gems cast its prismatic radiance over the withered
     features. Tiny golden lamps, fed with perfumed oil, burned day
     and night around the pyre, while every portion of the vast
     saloon was decorated with rare and beautiful flowers, arranged
     in all the various forms of crowns, sceptres, temples, angels,
     birds, lanterns, wreaths, and arches, till Flora herself might
     have wondered at the boundless resources of her domain. Day and
     night musical instruments were played, dirges wailed forth,
     and prostrations perpetually performed; while twice every day
     the king, attended by his whole court, made offerings to the
     departed spirit, beat his breast, tore his hair, and declared
     life 'utterly unendurable without the beloved one.'

     All this was kept up for eight months, and then the scene
     changed for one of festivity. For thirty days, during most of
     which time I was present, there was a succession of _levées_,
     concerts, and theatricals, with feats of jugglery, operas, and
     fireworks; and then the embalmed body, surrounded by perfumes
     and tiny faggots of sandal-wood, was consumed by fire, and the
     ashes collected by the high-priest or his deputy in a golden
     urn, and deposited, with other relics of royalty, in the king's

How very different from the above is a cremation amongst the North
American Indians (the Cocopa tribe), on the Colorado river! Here
is an account of one published in a late New York paper by an
eyewitness, Professor Le Conte.

     A short distance from the collection of thatched huts which
     composed the village, a shallow ditch had been dug in the
     desert, in which were laid logs of the mezquite (Prosopis and
     Strombocarpus), hard and dense wood, which makes, as all Western
     campaigners know, a very hot fire with little flame or smoke.
     After a short time the body was brought from the village,
     surrounded by the family and other inhabitants, and laid on the
     logs in the trench. The relatives, as is usual with Indians, had
     their faces disfigured with black paint, and the females, as is
     the custom with other savages, made very loud exclamations of
     grief, mingled with what might be supposed to be funeral songs.
     Some smaller faggots were then placed on top, a few personal
     effects of the dead man added, and fire applied. After a time
     a dense mass of dark-coloured smoke arose, and the burning of
     the body, which was much emaciated, proceeded rapidly. I began
     to be rather tired of the spectacle, and was about to go away,
     when one of the Indians, in a few words of Spanish, told me
     to remain, as there was something yet to be seen. An old man
     then advanced from the assemblage, with a long pointed stick in
     his hand. Going near to the burning body, he removed the eyes,
     holding them successively in the direction of the sun, with
     his face turned towards that luminary, repeating at the same
     time some words which I understood from our guide were a prayer
     for the happiness of the soul of the deceased. After this,
     more faggots were heaped on the fire, which was kept up for
     perhaps three or four hours longer. I did not remain, as there
     was nothing more of interest, but I learned on inquiry that
     after the fire was burned out it was the custom to collect the
     fragments of bone which remained, and put them in a terra-cotta
     vase, which was kept under the care of the family.

From these old-world practices--for they are old-world practices,
although performed at the present day--we will now turn aside to
examine into the modern and improved systems of cremation. The
extracts which I shall make will be mostly from the work of Dr. De
Pietra Santa.[185] First of all come the experiments made by Dr.
Polli at the gas works in Milan.

  [185] The descriptions of Dr. Santa are so admirably translated in
  'Iron,' that I quote from that paper nearly in full.

     In a cylindrical retort of refracting clay, used for the
     distillation of coal-gas, was placed the body of an unfortunate
     poodle dog, drowned for contravention of the muzzle laws
     promulgated by the police. The dog weighed twenty-two and a half
     pounds. The apparatus was heated by a crown of flames issuing
     from a perforated circular tube. In order to render combustion
     as active as possible, the coal-gas was mixed with a certain
     quantity of pure air. Our readers will recollect this addition
     of atmospheric air is the principle of the Bunsen burner, which
     ensures perfect combustion of coal-gas, and produces a maximum
     of heat with a minimum of light. The cremation lasted several
     hours, producing a thick smoke, &c. After carbonisation, the
     skilful chemist succeeded in obtaining complete incineration,
     that is to say, the calcination of all the solid parts of the
     body, which weighed one pound fourteen-and-a-half ounces.

     Satisfied with the result of this experiment, which proved
     the possibility of reducing the carcase of an animal to ashes
     by ordinary coal-gas, Dr. Polli proceeded with a second and
     more complete experiment. One improvement was the disposition
     of a vertical retort in such manner as to consume the gaseous
     products of combustion. This is easily effected by placing at
     the upper orifice of the retort a second ring of gas jets. On
     this occasion better arrangements were made for carrying out the
     principle of the Bunsen burner, with the result of producing
     the complete incineration of a dog weighing forty-two and
     three-quarter pounds in the space of a couple of hours. On this
     occasion the solid residue weighed only two pounds and some

     Few have given more time and study to practical cremation than
     Professor Brunetti. This gentleman sent a case of apparatus
     to the Vienna Exhibition, and records his conviction--arrived
     at after five experiments upon human bodies--that the total
     incineration of a corpse and the complete calcination of the
     bones by fire is, under ordinary conditions, impossible. He has
     tried various combustibles, gas retorts, closed vessels, and
     the open air, and has arrived at the conclusion that special
     apparatus is indispensable to the success of any attempt at
     perfect cremation. His apparatus consists of an oblong furnace
     built of ordinary, or, still better, of refracting brick, and
     furnished with ten side openings, in order to give the power of
     regulating at will the draught, and consequently the intensity
     of the fire. In the upper part is a cornice of tiles, destined
     to support an iron framework, above which is the dome-shaped
     roof, furnished with cast-iron shutters, which may be opened
     or closed by means of regulators, to shut in the flame and
     concentrate the heat. The body to be incinerated is placed
     upon a thin metallic plate, suspended by stout iron wire. The
     operation may be divided into three sections. Firstly, the
     kindling of the body; secondly, its combustion; thirdly, the
     incineration of the soft parts, and the calcination of the
     bones. Wood having been piled up in the furnace and lighted, the
     body catches fire at the end of half an hour. A considerable
     quantity of gas is now evolved, and the moveable shutters come
     into operation. The body then burns freely, and, if the pile of
     wood have been deftly arranged, complete carbonisation ensues
     at the end of a couple of hours. The shutters are then opened,
     another sheet of metal is lowered over the carbonised mass to
     concentrate the heat still more, and the wood is renewed. By
     means of this apparatus, and at the cost of 160 or 180 lbs. of
     wood, complete cremation is achieved in two hours more. When
     the furnace is cold, the residue is collected and placed in a
     funereal urn. The last experiment of Dr. Brunetti was made upon
     the body of a man who died, at the age of fifty, of chronic

A description of a Siemens apparatus as constructed for use in
Germany is given by Professor Reclam in an article entitled 'Die
Feuerbestattung' in the 'Gartenlaube.' A sketch of it in action,
partly copied from this article, is given in Plate I.

     It consists of (1) a gasometer for the manufacture of the gas
     necessary to heat the furnace; (2) the furnace itself, with a
     regulator and a space for burning; (3) a chimney to take away
     the smoke &c. We may conceive a large, beautiful dead-house
     built for the purposes of cremation. In the midst, but invisible
     to those present, is a furnace. The funeral procession arrives
     at the house, and enters it the same as the churchyard is now
     entered. When the coffin has been placed on the tressel, and
     the usual ceremony ended, it is let down into the grave and
     disappears. In a short time after it is let down the covering of
     the furnace is removed, and replaced when it has received the

     The process of cremation is effected by means of heated air. The
     gasometer is put in action by the consumption of coal, charcoal,
     peat, or wood. The gas thus produced is conducted through a pipe
     provided with a regulating-valve, where, meeting with a stream
     of air, also under regulation, it is converted into a flame.
     This flame extends through the room which has the regulator,
     so that the brick material which is piled up there is heated
     to white heat, and kept to this. The flame still continuing,
     supplies heat till the furnace or place for the reception of
     the body is heated to a weak red heat, when the flame escapes
     through a pipe into the chimney.

     As soon as the furnace is in the condition thus described, the
     process of cremation goes on. The covering of the furnace is
     removed by the man who superintends the burning of the bodies.
     It is put back again, and the body subjected to the action of
     the red heat for a longer or a shorter time, according to its
     physical condition. After this is done the gas-valve is closed,
     and the air in consequence goes through the regulator into the
     place for burning. It is here heated in the regulator nearly to
     red heat, in which condition it comes to the bodies already,
     in some measure, dried, so that decomposition soon follows.
     The bones are decomposed by the action of the heat, while the
     carbonate dissolves, and the lime remains as dust. To collect
     this dust an instrument is provided, that it may be placed in a
     jar, or any other vessel, and preserved by the relatives of the

  [186] From a translation in the 'Saturday Journal.'

The most perfect apparatus, however, yet devised for the reduction
of a body to ashes is that adopted by Sir Henry Thompson. From his
work upon cremation I take the following description, which will be
always studied with interest. This extract will fitly conclude these

     A powerful reverberating-furnace will reduce a body of more
     than average size and weight, leaving only a few white and
     fragile portions of earthy material, in less than one hour. I
     have myself personally superintended the burning of two entire
     bodies, one small and emaciated, of 47 lbs. weight, and one of
     144 lbs. weight, not emaciated, and possess the products--in the
     former case weighing 1¾ lb.; in the latter, weighing about
     4 lbs. The former was completed in twenty-five minutes, the
     latter in fifty. No trace of odour was perceived--indeed, such a
     thing is impossible--and not the slightest difficulty presented
     itself. The remains already described were not withdrawn till
     the process was complete; and nothing can be more pure, tested
     by sight or smell, than they are; and nothing less suggestive
     of decay or decomposition. It is a refined sublimate, and not a
     portion of refuse, which I have before me. The experiment took
     place in the presence of several persons. Among the witnesses of
     the second experiment was Dr. George Buchanan, the well-known
     medical officer of the Local Government Board, who can testify
     to the completeness of the process.

     In the proceeding above described, the gases which leave the
     furnace-chimney during the first three or four minutes of
     combustion are noxious; after that they cease to be so, and
     no smoke would be seen. But these noxious gases are not to be
     permitted to escape by any chimney, and will pass through a flue
     into a second furnace, where they are entirely consumed; and the
     chimney of the latter is smokeless--no organic products whatever
     can issue by it. A complete combustion is thus attained. Not
     even a tall chimney is necessary, which might be pointed at as
     that which marked the site where cremation is performed. A small
     jet of steam, quickening the draught of a low chimney, is all
     that is requisite. If the process is required on a large scale,
     the second furnace could be utilised for cremation also, and
     its product passed through another, and so on without limit.

This plan, however, has been thrown into the shade by subsequent

     By means of one of the furnaces invented by Dr. Wm. Siemens, I
     have obtained even a more rapid and more complete combustion
     than before. The body employed was a severe test of its powers,
     for it weighed no less than 227 lbs., and was not emaciated. It
     was placed in a cylindrical vessel about 7 feet long, by 5 or 6
     feet in diameter, the interior of which was already heated to
     about 2,000° Fahr. The inner surface of the cylinder is smooth,
     almost polished, and no solid matter but that of the body is
     introduced into it. The product, therefore, can be nothing more
     than the ashes of the body. No foreign dust can be introduced,
     no coal or other solid combustible being near it: nothing but
     heated hydrocarbon in a gaseous form, and heated air. Nothing
     is visible in the cylinder before using it--a pure, almost
     white, interior--the lining having acquired a temperature of
     white heat. In this case the gases, given off from the body so
     abundantly at first, passed through a highly-heated chamber,
     among thousands of interstices made by intersecting firebricks,
     laid throughout the entire chamber, lattice-fashion, in order
     to minutely divide and delay the current, and expose it to an
     immense area of heated surface. By this means they were rapidly
     oxidised, and not a particle of smoke issued by the chimney;
     no second furnace, therefore, is necessary by this method to
     consume any noxious matters, since none escape. The process was
     completed in fifty-five minutes; and the ashes, which weighed
     about 5 lbs., were removed with ease.

After such brilliant results--results at once expeditious, cleanly,
and economical--well might Sir Henry Thompson challenge Mr.
Holland[187] 'to produce so fair a result from all the costly and
carefully managed cemeteries in the kingdom,' and safely might he
even offer him twenty years 'in order to elaborate the process.'

  [187] Medical Inspector of Burials for England and Wales.

An ordinary Siemens' regenerative furnace for cremation makes use of
only hot blast, it being considered that the organic substance to
be consumed would supply sufficient hydrogen and carbon, and that
only hot air is required to produce excellent results. But a perfect
apparatus would be constructed upon the principle exhibited in Plate
II., which represents the cremation apparatus devised by Dr. C. W.
Siemens, F.R.S., of Westminster.

The body to be reduced to its elements is placed in the chamber A
(fig. 1), which is iron-cased and lined inside with a substance
able to resist the highest temperature. Figs. 1 and 2 represent
the consuming arrangement, which may form a portion of the chapel
itself. Figs. 3 and 4 show the gas-producer, where the gaseous fuel
is produced, and this may be situated at some distance from the
building where the cremation is performed. These gas-producers are
not only separate from the cinerator, where the heat is required,
but may be multiplied or extended, so as to supply any number of
cinerators, and so separately reduce a plurality of bodies. At the
back of the heating chamber A are placed four firebrick-celled
regenerative chambers for gas and air, seen in section at fig. 2,
and these work in pairs. The gas carried from the gas-producer is
directed into the gas regenerator, and the entering air into the air
regenerator, and in these regenerators both gas and air are heated,
attaining a temperature equal to a white heat before they reach the
chamber A in which the body is laid. The heated air, after passing
upwards through the regenerator, enters the consuming chamber at
B, and the heated gas enters it at C. They thus enter the chamber
separately, and with a sufficient velocity to impinge against the
door of the chamber; but when they meet at the point D in the
chamber, the gas and air mingle and add to the carried heat that due
to the mutual chemical action. The result is a devouring flame. One
pair of regenerators are always employed in conducting the heated
air and gas into the chamber A, whilst the other pair are employed
in carrying away the combined gases or expended fuel to the chimney.
This expended fuel is nevertheless an immensely hot flame, and on
its way to the chimney it proceeds downwards through one pair of
the regenerators, the upper portion of which it heats intensely.
Nearly the whole of the heat of the expended fuel is left in the
regenerators, and the smokeless gases which enter the chimney to be
cast into the air rarely exceed 300° Fahr. By means of valves the
regenerators and air-ways which were carrying off the expended fuel,
can be instantly used for carrying air and gas into the reducing
chamber, and the heat left in them consequently utilised. Not only
is a saving of 50 per cent. in fuel thus effected, but the noxious
gases from the body would be entirely consumed in their passage down
through the regenerators.

The gas-producer itself (figs. 3 and 4) works in the following
manner:--The coal is supplied to the charging-box E every three
hours or so, and slides down an inclined plane, the upper portion of
which is solid and covered with firebricks. Upon this sloping bed
the fuel is heated, and its volatile constituents are liberated,
just as in a gas retort, leaving about 60 per cent. of carbonaceous
matter, the complete combustion of which is brought about by the
air which enters through the open part of the grate at the foot
of the sloping bed. More carbonic acid gas is now evolved, and
this non-combustible gas passes through the red-hot fuel, taking
up in its passage another equivalent of carbon, and so becoming
an inflammable gas, or what is called carbonic oxide. Should it
be considered advisable to make use of steam, each cubic foot of
which yields as much inflammable gas as five cubic feet of air, a
pipe of water is allowed to run at the foot of the grate, and is
there converted into steam by the radiant heat. The combustible
gases now pass into the main gas flue, and inasmuch as this gas
flue must contain an excess of pressure above the exterior air, so
as to prevent the inroad of atmospheric air into the gas flue, and
consequent partial combustion, the gas is allowed to rise--which it
will do by its initial heat--some score of feet above the producers,
and is carried horizontally through the wrought iron tube F into
and then down into the furnace. The flat-lying tube being exposed
to the air causes the gas in its passage through it to lose about
200° Fahr. of temperature, which increases its density, adds weight
to the descending column of gas, and presses it on to the furnace.
One estimable feature in this system of gas-producing is that
the production can be arrested for half a day without deranging
the producer, the fuel and brickwork being sufficiently bulky to
maintain a dull red heat for that period. Air cannot enter the
grate unless the gases given off in the producer are withdrawn to
the furnace; and when the gas valve of the furnace is reopened, the
production of the gases is once more continued.[188]

  [188] For a scientific description of the patent regenerative gas
  furnace which took the prize medal at the London Exhibition of
  1862 and the _grand prix_ at the Paris Exposition of 1867, see
  the 'Journal of the Chemical Society' for July 1873; the lecture
  delivered by the late Professor Faraday at the Royal Institution on
  June 20, 1862; and the description published by Dr. Siemens, London,

  The minimum cost of a _complete_ establishment for cremation upon
  the foregoing model, i.e., for the furnace and gas-producer as given
  in Plate II., but not including a mortuary building, would be as

  |                                       | Furnace | Gas-producer |
  |                                       +---------+--------------+
  |                                       |     £   |      £       |
  | Ordinary brickwork             about  |     40  |      30      |
  | Fire brickwork                   "    |    230  |      30      |
  | Lime, sand, fireclay, &c.        "    |     35  |      10      |
  | Cast iron                        "    |    100  |      30      |
  | Wrought iron                     "    |     60  |      20      |
  | Valves, regulators, levers, &c.  "    |     50  |      10      |
  | Timber                           "    |      5  |      --      |
  | Cooling tube, &c.                "    |     --  |      50      |
  | Chimney, &c.                     "    |     --  |     100      |
  |      Total 800_l._; add freight and contingencies.             |

It has been urged against cremation by sentimentalists, that if the
burning could be observed in even an improved apparatus, the process
would prove a harrowing one, recall in fact to mind the horrors
described by the Comte de Beauvoir in his Indian reminiscences.[189]
But no such thing would result, for whilst being consumed the body
would remain of itself perfectly motionless and without visible
contraction or convulsion. Several late human cremations which have
taken place in the Siemens Works in Dresden, have been purposely
witnessed by eminent scientific men and others, through the glass
panel of the door which is always provided for the use of the
manufacturing operator, and the utter absence of anything which
could prove in the least distressing to the mind, the eye, or the
imagination, is vouched for by all. The current of combined air and
gas simply plays upon the body with a transparent flame, until the
whole becomes incandescent. There is not even the least effluvium.
In a late experiment, when nearly a quarter of a ton of animal
matter underwent cinerary treatment at Dresden, the gases between
the flue and the chimney proper were intercepted by an aspirator,
and found perfectly inodorous.[190] Once incandescent, the body soon
assumes a hue of translucent white, and then speedily crumbles into

  [189] 'Voyage autour du Monde.'

  [190] For full details of the carbonisation, see the 'Morning
  Advertiser,' Oct. 20 and Nov. 15, 1874, and the 'Morning Post,' Nov.
  13, 1874, which contain translations from the German press.

The quantity of ashes left from a body of average weight has been
foretold by Sir Henry Thompson almost to the fraction of a pound.
There is no doubt whatever also that the time named by him as
sufficient for entire reduction will be borne out in practice. As
regards the cost of cremation, Sir Henry is most assuredly correct
in lauding its economy over interment. The cost of the fuel expended
during the last three cremations in Germany did not exceed 3_s._,
plus of course the percentage to be charged for attendance, and
for the use of the apparatus, which latter would be trifling
were it in constant use. When the clerical fees and all the costs
of conveyance, &c., are added thereto, the whole sum would not
necessarily exceed that of a seventh-class funeral in London.[191]

  [191] About 6_l._

  |  Place     |       |   |    |Weight| Weight of| Cost  |Time |           |
  |   of       | Date  |Sex|Age |  of  | ashes of |  of   | of  | Authority |
  | cremation  |       |   |    | body,|   body   | fuel  |crem-|           |
  |            |       |   |    | about|          |       |ation|           |
  |            |       |   |    | lbs. |   lbs.   |_s_ _d_|min. |           |
  |Padua       |Mar.10,| F | 35 | 116  |   6      |  --   | --  |Brunetti   |
  |            | 1869  |   |    |      |          |       |     |           |
  |  "         |Jan.20,| M | 45 |  99  |   3·06   |  --   | --  |    "      |
  |            | 1870  |   |    |      |          |       |     |           |
  |  "[192]    |May15, | " | 50 |  90  |   4·06   | 2   4 | 85  |    "      |
  |            | 1870  |   |    |      |          |       |     |           |
  |Breslau[193]|Sep.22,| F |aged|  70  |   3·00   | 3   0 | 70  |'Tageblatt'|
  |            | 1874  |   |    |      |          |       |     |           |
  |Dresden[194]|Oct.9, | " | 26 |  --  |   3·75   |  --   | 75  |F. Siemens |
  |            | 1874  |   |    |      |          |       |     |           |
  |Same        |Nov.6, | " | 23 |  --  |6 lbs.    |  --   | 78  |    "      |
  |apparatus[195]| 1874|   |    |      |(with wood|       |     |           |
  |            |       |   |    |      | coffin)  |       |     |           |

The above Table represents the details of six recent human

  [192] Three other experiments were made upon human remains by Dr.
  Brunetti, with nearly similar results.

  [193] An emaciated corpse from the town hospital.

  [194] Wife of an English baronet.

  [195] Wife of a South German physician.

  [196] In case any reader would like to compare the above results
  with those derived from the cremation of the lower animals, I append
  the following recent instances variously treated.

  | Place of | Subject  | Weight of | Weight of |   Time   |   Authority   |
  |cremation |          |  corpse   |   ashes   | occupied |               |
  |          |          |  lbs.     |  lbs.     |    min.  |               |
  |Milan     |   dog    |  22·50    |  1·85     |     --   |  Dr. Polli    |
  |  "       |    "     |  42·75    |  2·12     |    120   |       "       |
  |  "       | two dogs |  53       |  2        |    360   |  Dr. Teruzzi  |
  |London    |   pig    |  47       |  1·75     |     25   |Sir H. Thompson|
  |  "       |    "     | 144       |  4        |     50   |       "       |
  |Birmingham|    "     | 227       |  5        |     55   |       "       |
  |Dresden   |  horse   | 202       | 16        |     --   |  Dr. Reclam   |
  |  "       |    "     | 460       | 23        |    240   |       "       |
  The cost for fuel, in even this last huge experiment, did not exceed 4_s._

The body to be burnt would, in the first instance, soon after
death[197] be placed, perhaps, in a coffin of some light material,
and taken in due time to the mortuary,[198] ready for conveyance
to the 'cinerator.' And, as it is very desirable that the ashes of
the body should be kept separate from those of any coffin, a shroud
of some imperishable material will be carefully sought after by
inventors. The ancient Greeks made use of sheets of asbestos, which
is a fibrous form of hornblende;[199] and those of the Egyptians
who performed cremation enclosed the body in a receptacle of
amianth, which is a similar incombustible mineral substance.[200]
Whether these materials will resist the intense heat of the Siemens
apparatus remains to be seen; for I have had no opportunities of
making experiments. Wood, at all events, is likely to be rejected,
on account of the residue of carbon, &c. (charcoal), which might
not be easily separated from the more precious relics. Lead would be
equally objectionable, for, although easily fusible, it possesses
certain disadvantages easily to be imagined. In all probability the
most suitable material for the inner coffin, which alone is to be
submitted to the impingement of the hot blast, will be zinc. This
metal would entirely disappear in the fierce heat, the reason being
that it is volatile, and would distil off--its boiling-point being
800° Cent.,[201] or 500° Fahr. below the minimum temperature which
will reign in the chamber of the apparatus.

  [197] When the body has to be conveyed for a very long distance
  to the place of cremation, it might be necessary to practise some
  simple method of embalming, and this any surgeon is capable of
  performing. In the case of the English lady who was recently taken
  to Dresden, Mr. Garstin of London was resorted to.

  [198] There is no doubt that public mortuaries will soon be
  established throughout the country, as in some parts of the
  Continent and in some large English towns now. Sanitary science
  calls aloud for their establishment generally, and the practice of
  permitting the dead to remain in the habitable rooms of the poor has
  proved very repugnant to decency and inimical to public health.

  [199] The princes of Tartary use this mountain silk, as it is
  called, even now.

  [200] Frazer.

  [201] Wanklyn.

The English and the German machinery for the reduction of the body
to ashes vary in a few particulars, but the general construction is
the same, as will have been perceived. In one Dresden arrangement
the body is lowered into a receiver below, and the idea of interment
is thus in a manner preserved.[202] In the English arrangement
this is otherwise, and the coffin is made to gradually slide into
the receiver, like a ship launched into water. The anguish induced
by the moment of departure is in this way somewhat ameliorated,
as there is no noise of lowering-machinery to grate upon the ear.
At certain appointed words in our beautiful funeral service--for
instance, 'ashes to ashes'--a curtain might be partially withdrawn,
and the body, encased in a suitable shell, would gravitate slowly
into the chamber of the apparatus, which would then immediately
close noiselessly; to be opened only after the due reduction of the
body. The utmost privacy would be insured, and no strange eyes could
gaze upon it[203] during the period of incineration. The funeral
service could also be made to occupy the whole of the time necessary
for sublimation if it were so desired, or a eulogy or other
reference to the departed might form the subject of a discourse. The
ashes could afterwards be collected, and reverentially placed in an
urn,[204] or other suitable receptacle, and conveyed to their last
resting-place. Plate III. represents a view of a mortuary chapel,
such as would probably be required in a Christian cemetery; and the
scene there represented will serve to show how completely decorous
the procedure would be.[205] And one may here remark that the great
advances made by science can nowhere better be evidenced than by a
comparison between the modern and ancient systems of cremation.
However well disguised in beautiful language--as, for instance, by
Bulwer in the 'Last Days of Pompeii'--the barbarity of the method
practised in classical times will be sensibly felt in the background.

  [202] See Plate I.

  [203] At the cremation of the body of an English lady at Dresden in
  October last, arrangements were made for observing the progress of
  combustion, and this was permitted under the peculiar circumstances.
  It is not however intended anywhere to practise even a partial
  exposure, nor would the English pattern of cinerator permit it. When
  the time needful for reduction has been accurately calculated, such
  exposure will be unnecessary. With the improved apparatus half an
  hour will probably be sufficient.

  [204] A cubic space of six inches would accommodate the ashes of the
  strongest man.

  [205] This drawing was kindly made for me by my friend Mr. E. F. C.
  Clarke, architect, of London, whose pencil has also furnished me
  with the sketch of the family columbarium in Plate V.

It is likely enough that whenever cremation is again practised,
urns will form the chosen receptacles of the ashes. Vases or urns
have always been associated with sepulture in classical times. The
finest vases which have come down to us from antiquity were not
originally intended for sepultural purposes, but for the adornment
of the mansion. Frequently, however, these were deposited in the
tombs along with the unburnt body,[206] as being the objects most
valued by the deceased when living. The survivors doubtless held it
as sacrilegious to make use of these favourite objects, for they are
found unmolested even now.

  [206] The tombs in Magna Græcia and Etruria were subterranean ones,
  the body being laid upon the ground, and around it were placed the
  painted vases. The tombs were made to bear as much resemblance as
  possible to the abodes of the living, and the walls were frequently
  painted with scenes from the upper world.

It is worthy of remark that amongst the Ojibois Indians of the
present day the canoe, gun, and blanket, which are laid upon the
grave of each one of the tribe, although newly purchased, are never
made use of again, nor ever stolen.[207] Many other Indian tribes
observe the same custom;[208] and the Moldavians and the Caubees as

  [207] A. P. Reid.

  [208] Nicolo di Coti.

  [209] J. E. Price.

The custom of depositing the painted vases in tombs ceased about the
time when Italy and Sicily fell completely under Roman dominion. The
Romans, who burnt their dead, deposited their ashes in urns, as we
have seen. No ashes, it may be said generally, have been found in
the Greek tombs of Italy, but the Romans made use of the vases found
in tombs made by the Greeks there, as cinerary urns for their dead;
and this appropriation was not uncommon. In the case of a member of
the Roman family of Claudia an ancient Egyptian vase, now in the
Louvre, was utilised in this manner.

The ancient painted vases are now divided into six classes,
embracing forty-nine various shapes.[210] The styles are also
divided into Early or Egyptian, Archaic Greek, Severe or
Transitional, Beautiful or Greek, Florid, and into those of the
Decadence period. Should cremation be extensively adopted nowadays,
it is not unlikely that all these forms and styles will be laid
under contribution. A friend[211] has kindly drawn for the present
work a dozen urns, adapted for the reception of human ashes (_see_
Plate IV.). Fig. 1 is Archaic in shape; fig. 3 belongs to the
Perfect or Beautiful forms; and fig. 2 represents a shape often
used during the Florid era. The others are original designs based
upon classic lines, but not referable to any one period. Some very
elegant forms of the ancient vases, copied from gems and other
archæological resources, are to be found embodied in the monuments
of the churchyards and cemeteries of the present day.[212]

  [210] H. M. Westropp.

  [211] The artist, Mr. J. E. Newton, an exhibitor at the Royal
  Academy of 1874. I have engraved a few of his designs.

  [212] The above remarks do not refer to those monster urns in which
  the whole body was entombed unburnt. Some of these measure six feet
  in length and four and a half feet in width. One found at Dardanus
  was able to accommodate six persons. See the 'Illustrated London
  News' of April 26, 1856.

Had the practice of cremation followed uninterruptedly down to
our times, the receptacles for the ashes would doubtless have
been shaped according to the prevailing taste of each period of
architecture. For instance, the genius of the Semicircular style,
which prevailed from the sixth to the twelfth centuries, and
embraced the Anglo-Saxon and Norman periods, would have left its
own peculiar mark, just as it has done upon the fonts which were
sculptured during its sway. The Early Pointed, the Geometrical, and
the Decorated and Late or Perpendicular Gothic periods would, in a
similar manner, have influenced the symmetry of the vases produced
between the twelfth and fifteenth centuries, and contributed
their own quota of beautiful shapes. And, speaking generally,
ecclesiastical taste, which presided over every detail of church
construction down even to the piercing of the keys, would have been
as easily recognisable in the vases which contained the ashes of the

It is impossible to prophesy in what direction the taste of the
future may wander as regards the shape of cinerary vessels,
but there can be no doubt whatever that in many instances they
will assume a distinctly ecclesiastical character. The classic
patterns of vases and urns would be in excellent keeping with the
architecture of churches built after Greek and Roman models; whilst
they might appear otherwise if exposed to view in the niches of the
walls of a Gothic fane. But it may fairly be predicted that the
architectural style of the church will have to bow to the varying
tastes of the worshippers, and just as we see in Westminster
Abbey--that beautiful example of the Early Pointed style--the
utmost diversity of taste in the monuments which cluster upon its
walls, so the walls and vaults of our churches must necessarily
accommodate every type of fancy whenever cremation resumes its sway.
Cinerary vessels, in accordance with revived mediæval taste, will
probably predominate. Some, it may be, will even assume the shapes
of ancient reliquaries.[213] There is no reason why these vessels
should not vary, in material and design, with the taste or means of
the relatives. Glass, precious metals, and even gems, might with
propriety be introduced. Urns of gold and silver were not uncommon
in ancient times, and are even yet used in Siam.

  [213] My friend Mr. Clarke has very kindly sketched, in elucidation
  of this view, the vessels shown in the family mausoleum sketched in
  Plate V.

With reference to the material of which cinerary urns were formerly
made, pottery was chiefly chosen on account of the facility of
manufacture, but they were frequently constructed of marble,
alabaster, and glass. Perhaps the most beautiful cinerary urn in
the world was the Barberini or Portland vase, now in the British
Museum, and which contained the ashes of the Emperor Alexander
Severus. It was made of blue glass upon which a coating of white
glass was overlaid, and the latter cut cameo fashion into a number
of emblematical figures. Glass was frequently adopted in Italy for
cinerary urns, and will probably be the favourite material once more.

Besides the placing of the ashes of the dead in urns, use was
frequently made of small stone sarcophagi, and these latter are
found in several of the ancient Greek burial-grounds in Anatolia.
This will possibly be the form adopted in the future, should
an interment of the ashes be chosen in preference to their
ennichement. But this is not to say that urns are not equally
suitable for laying in the earth if constructed with that view.
Probably both forms of containing vessels will be patronised, just
as was the case in olden times. In ancient Dardanus stone sarcophagi
are commonly found, whilst at Batak, nearer the supposed site of
Troy, urns only were discoverable; and yet the ornaments upon the
smaller articles of pottery, found in both sarcophagi and urns, were
identical in pattern, as far as I can recollect.[214]

  [214] Numbers of these relics were dug up at both places, in 1855
  and 1856, by Mr. Spencer Wells, Dr. Kirk, Mr. Calvert, Mr. Brunton,
  myself, and others.

The cinerary urns of the Romans were for the most part at one time
placed in underground vaults, the walls of which were pierced with
arched recesses for their reception, and, from the resemblance of
the numerous niches to a collection of pigeon-holes, the place was
called a _columbarium_. Two fine columbaria can be seen at Rome,
one in the Vigna Codini and another in the Villa Doria. Should
this system of storing away the cinerary urns be adopted in our
churches, the crypts would for the most part resemble the sketch
given in Plate VI., which is an enlargement and rearrangement of
the columbarium given in Westropp's 'Handbook of Archæology.' There
can be no doubt that this will prove the most popular method of
disposing of the urns in modern cities where cremation is about to
be practised. The catacombs in our cemeteries, or what pass as such,
will also admirably enshrine the urns. It is not at all unlikely
that in some instances the walls of the churches themselves will
in future be constructed so as to receive the remains, and bear
some sort of resemblance to the famous church at Cologne where the
osteological relics are placed around the fane.[215] But in the case
of urn sepulture the appearance would be far more æsthetical. In all
probability the wall spaces would be apportioned out into family
receptacles, and the orifices closed with suitable metal gratings
ornamentally treated. I have furnished an imaginary view of this
kind of treatment at the upper part of Plate VI.

  [215] The church of St. Ursula; the bones are said to be those of
  the Eleven Thousand Virgins.

My task is now completed; but before I lay down the pen I would
say to those who are desirous of promoting the cause of cremation,
Do so, within due bounds, fearlessly. Do not believe that the
practice is in any way opposed to religion, for such a belief has
no anchorage in truth. And in order to practically bring nearer to
us the time when our much-enduring mother earth shall no longer
be systematically poisoned, all those who are favourable to the
institution of cremation should forthwith put into writing their
desire that their remains shall not be buried, but shall be consumed
according to the method of cremation best attainable.

If every individual promoter, male or female, of fifteen years old
and upwards--without reference to the possession of property in any
way--would, in view of the uncertainty of life, place such a request
in his or her writing-desk, cremation would speedily prevail. The
change from burial will otherwise be a protracted one, since few
persons have enough strength of mind to run counter to the general
custom, fearing the indignation of other relatives of the deceased.
The weakest persons, however, have still a greater repugnance to
doing anything contrary to the expressed wishes of the dead. If,
therefore, such a wish can be exhibited, it will not only, as a
rule, be religiously complied with, but all friends, whatever their
own opinions, will be amply satisfied.[216]

  [216] This is urged by Mr. Baker, the author of the 'Laws relating
  to Burial,' in a letter addressed to me.


     SIR THOMAS BROWNE--_Hydriotaphia, or Urn-Burial._ 1658.

     DR. J. JAMIESON--_Origin of Cremation._ Proc. R. S. of Ed., 1817.

     GRIMM--_Ueber das Verbrennen der Leichen._ Berlin Acad. Sc.,

     DR. J. P. TRUSEN--_Die Leichenverbrennung._ Breslau, 1855.

     HERMANN RICHTER--Article in the _Gartenlaube_, No. 49. 1856.

     the Dead, or Urn-sepulture Religiously, Socially, and Generally
     considered._ 1857.

     COL. T. MARTIN--_Specification of a Cinerator, for use of
     Brahmins and other Hindoo Castes, &c._ Poonah, 1864.

     PROFESSOR COLETTI--_Memoria sulla Incinerazione dei Cadaveri._
     'Memoria letta all' Accademia di Scienze e Lettere di Padova,'
     January 11, 1857. Reproduced in the _Gazetta Medica Prov.
     Venete_, 1866.

     DR. J. P. TRUSEN--_Denkschrift zur Leichenverbrennung._ Namslau,

     DR. GIRO--'Sull' Incinerazione dei Cadaveri.' Padova: _Gazetta
     Medica Prov. Venete_. 1866.

     THE REV. A. K. H. B.--_Recreations of a Country Parson._ 2nd
     Series. 'Essay concerning Churchyards.' London, 1866.

     DR. DU JARDIN--'Studii e Proposte sulla Cremazione.' _La
     Salute._ Genoa, 1867.

     LIEBALL--_Der Welt Verderben durch Leichenbeerdigung und das
     neue Paradies durch Leichenverbrennung._ München, 1868.

     PROFESSOR CASTIGLIONI--_Sulla Cremazione dei Cadaveri._ Firenze,

     DR. DU JARDIN--'La Guerra e le sue Vittime; l'Incinerazione ed
     il Seppellimento dei Cadaveri.' _La Salute._ 1870.

     H. W. HEMSWORTH--'Incremation by State Regulation.' _Rectangular
     Review._ October, 1870.

     J. LEFORT--'Remarques sur l'Altération des Eaux de Puits par le
     Voisinage des Cimetières.' _Bull. de l'Académie de Médecine_, t.
     36. 1871.

     PROFESSOR GOLFARELLI--_Discorso sullo stesso Argomento._
     Firenze, April 1871.

     PROFESSOR GORINI--_I Vulcani sperimentali._ 1872.

     PROFESSOR POLLI--_Sulla Incinerazione dei Cadaveri._ Letta al
     Reale Instituto Lombardo. Reproduced in French by Dr. Janssens,
     in the _Presse Médicale Belge_.

     DR. G. PINI--'La-Cremazione dei Cadaveri.' _Gazetta di Milano_
     of September 26 and 27, and December 29, 1872; also of November
     17 and 23, 1873; also separate publication: same title. Milano,

     DR. ROTA--_L'Incinerazione dei Cadaveri è ammissibile?_ Chiari,

     DR. G. B. AYR--'La Cremazione e l'Igiene.' _Annali di Chemica di
     Milano._ December 1872 and January 1873.

     DR. A. MORETTI--'Nota Poetica.' _Annali di Chemica._ Milan,
     December 1872.

     DR. O. GRANDESSO-SILVESTRI--'Sull' Incinerazione dei Cadaveri
     umani.' _Annali di Medicina Pubblica_, No. 29, 1872; and
     _Gazetta Medica Prov. Venete_. October 1872.

     DR. F. VALERANI--Articles in the _Opinione di Firenze_, December
     1872, and in the _Emporio Pittoresco di Milano_, No. 442. 1873.
     Reproduced in the _Schweiz Grenzpost_, January 18, 1873.

     PROFESSOR POLIZZI--_Carme dedicato alla Signora Emilia Salsi._
     Girgente, 1873.

     P. FORNARI--'Humatio vel crematio,' in the Journal _La Guida del
     Maestro elementare Italiano_. Torino, March 1873.

     DR. J. E. NEILD--_On the Advantages of Burning the Dead._
     Melbourne, 1873.

     PROFESSOR E. A. PARKES--_Practical Hygiene_, Articles on
     _Disposal of the Dead_, &c. London, 1873.

     DR. C. MUSATTI--'Intorno alla Incinerazione dei Cadaveri.'
     _Giornale Veneto di Scienze Mediche._ Venezia, February 1873.
     Also _Gaz. Med. Prov. Ven._ Padova, 1874.

     DR. F. ANELLI--'La Cremazione dei Cadaveri.' _Ann. di Chim._
     Milano, April 1873.

     DR. O. GIACCHI--'La Cremazione dei Cadaveri.' _Gazetta
     Medica-Lombardia._ Milano, 1873.

     PROFESSOR BRUNETTI--_La Cremazione dei Cadaveri._ Padova, 1873.
     Also in _L'Opinione_. March 11, 1874.

     An Article, entitled 'Brûlez les Corps et ne les ensevelissez
     pas,' in the _Gazette de Bruxelles_. March 30, 1873.

     DR. DE PIETRA SANTA--'La Crémation des Morts en Italie.' _Union
     Médicale_, September 1873. Afterwards published separately.

     PROFESSOR AMATO AMATI--'Sulla Cremazione dei Cadaveri.' _Annali
     di Chimica._ Milano, October 1873.

     DR. CAFFE--Numerous Articles in his _Journal des Connaissances
     Médicales_. Paris, 1873 &c.

     Articles on 'Beerdigung und Verbrennung der Leichen,' in the
     _Volksblatt des Bezirkes_. Zürich, October 25, 28, and 30, 1873.

     PROFESSOR ZINNO--'Sulla Inumazione, Imbalsamazione e Cremazione
     dei Cadaveri,' in _Piria: Giornale di Chimica_. June 30, July
     13 and 15, and August 15, 1873. 'Ancora sulla Cremazione dei
     Cadaveri,' in _Piria_. Palermo, October 1873.

     PROFESSOR GORINI--_La Conservazione della Salma di Mazzini_, p.
     45. Genova, 1873.

     Article in _L'Osservatore Cattolico Milano_. 1873.

     SIR HENRY THOMPSON--'Our Treatment of the Dead.' _Contemporary
     Review._ January 1874. 'Cremation,' March 1874. Republished
     together under the title of _Cremation: the Treatment of the
     Body after Death_. 2nd ed. King and Co., London, 1874.

     CAJO PEYRANI--Article in _Il Presente_. Parma, 1874.

     DR. CARLO FOLDI--'La Cremazione,' in _Il Sole_. Milano, 1874.

     Article on 'La Cremazione dei Cadaveri,' in _Il Popolo
     Cattolico_. Milano, 1874.

     VEGMANN-ERCOLANI--_Bericht über die offentlichen Versammlungen
     zur Besprechung der Leichenverbrennungsfrage in Zürich._
     Zürich, 1874. Also _Ueber Leichenverbrennung als rationellste
     Bestattungsart_. 4th ed. Zürich, 1874.

     M. A. PRINS--Conference at Brussels; reported in an Article, 'La
     Crémation des Morts,' in _L'Indépendance Belge_. April 12, 1874.

     PROFESSOR RECLAM--Articles in the _Allg. Augsburger Zeitung_.
     March 6, 1874. 'Die Feuerbestattung,' in the _Gartenlaube_,
     No. 19. 1874. With drawing of furnace. The latter Article was
     reproduced, with the plate, in the _Saturday Journal_, September

     DR. F. KÜCHENMEISTER--_Ueber Leichenverbrennung._ Erlangen, 1874.

     PROFESSOR UNGER--Article in the _Göttinger Anthropologischen
     Vereins_, Part I. 1874.

     Three Articles, 'Begraben oder Verbrennen,' in the _Siesta_.
     Frankfort, May 1874.

     Articles on 'Cremation' in _Iron_. January 3 and June 13, 1874.

     PROFESSOR P. FRAZER.--'The Merits of Cremation.' _Penn Monthly_,
     June 1874; _Transatlantic_, August 1874. Since printed

     A work entitled _Brúlons nos Morts_. _La Crémation._ Paris,
     1874. Reviewed by M. F. Sarcey in the _XIX. Siècle_, June 5,

     THE BISHOP OF LINCOLN--_Sermon_ delivered at Westminster Abbey,
     July 5, 1874, and since published.

     FEUILLETON in _L'Abeille Médicale_, 'De la Crémation des
     Cadavres.' July 13, 1874.

     DR. A. BAGINSKY--_Die Leichenverbrennung vom Standpunkt der

     DR. S. BERNSTEIN--_Ueber Pietät gegen die Todten._ These two
     latter Papers were delivered before the Cremation Society of
     Berlin. Berlin, 1874.

     BERNARDINO BIONDELLI--_La Cremazione dei Cadaveri umani
     esaminata._ Milano, 1874.

     DR. FELICE DELL' ACQUA--_La Cremazione dei Cadaveri._ Milano,
     April 1874.

     DR. D. PIETRA SANTA--_La Crémation des Morts en France et à

     DR. MANTEGAZZA--'Cremazione dei Cadaveri,' in the _Nuova
     Antologia_. Firenze, September 1874.

     REV. H. R. HAWEIS--_Ashes to Ashes. A Cremation Prelude._
     London, 1874.


  Apparatus, cost of best modern, 113

  -- inoffensiveness of the modern, 106, 112, 114

  Ashes, depositing in churches, 16, 124

  -- -- in urns, 119

  -- interment of, 16, 36, 123

  -- time necessary for reduction to, 115

  -- weight of, 115

  Burials, crowded, 41, 67

  -- dangers of, 6, 18, 53

  -- depths of, 46

  -- in caves, 5, 29

  -- in vaults, 47, 59

  -- near habitations, 44, 54

  Burial-grounds, inundations of, 48, 63, 65

  -- -- draining of, 48

  -- -- old, 50

  Burial laws, 41

  Cattle, burial of, 63

  Cemeteries, 43, 47

  -- conveyance to distant, 80

  Churchyards, closing of, 50, 80

  Churchyard vapours, 54, 58, 60

  Coffins, 52

  Columbaria, 16, 75, 124

  Common graves during epidemics, 6

  Cost of modern system of cremation, 114

  -- -- old systems, 91, 100

  Cremation and burial practised together, 5, 9, 11, 70

  -- -- medical science, 23

  -- amongst ancient peoples, 4, 11, 19, 35

  -- during epidemics, 6

  -- half-and-half schemes of, 40, 64, 76

  -- in America, 83

  -- in Austria, 79

  -- in battlefields, 18

  -- in Belgium, 78

  -- in England, 85

  -- in France, 75

  -- in Germany, 82

  -- in India, 11, 35, 36, 91

  -- in Italy, 68

  -- in modern times, 19, 36, 38, 82, 84

  -- in North America, 37, 101

  -- in Siam, 98

  -- in Switzerland, 73

  -- judicious promotion of, 125

  -- late experiments on, 82, 90, 97, 102, 106, 113, 115

  -- modern approved processes, 109, 117

  -- not opposed to the doctrine of the resurrection, 8, 12, 74

  -- objections to old systems of, 90, 97

  -- of condemned food, &c., 22

  -- of diseased human dead, 68

  Cremation of diseased, cattle, 21

  -- of offensive matters, 22

  -- societies, 73, 81, 82, 83, 86

  -- time occupied by, 115

  Dangers of burial, 6, 18, 53

  -- -- opening up old burial-grounds, 6

  Dead, burial in caves, 29

  -- -- in solid materials, 27

  -- -- in the earth, 11, 30

  -- drying up of the, 29, 34

  -- embalming of the, 31, 36, 37, 76, 100, 116

  -- exposure of the, 24

  -- petrifaction of the, 27

  Diseases caused by churchyards, &c., 56

  Family graves, 45

  Family receptacles for ashes, 16, 99

  Graveyards, draining of, 48

  -- old, 50

  Interment of the ashes, 16, 36, 123

  Injudicious promoters of cremation, 2

  Judicious promotion of cremation, 125

  Laws relating to burial, 41

  Mortuary chapel for cremation, 105-118

  Objections to cremation, 5, 13, 15

  Parkes, Dr., quoted, 53, 59

  Poetry upon cremation, 14

  Poisoning of the living, 56

  -- -- water supplies, 51

  Sanitary origin of cremation, 8

  Siemens' cremation apparatus, 105, 109

  Sir Henry Thompson on cremation, 23, 77, 85, 106, 114

  Time occupied by cremation, 115

  Urns, &c., 119

  Vaults, burial in, 47, 59

  Water-supply, poisoning of, 51

  Weight of ashes, 115

  Works upon burial, 42, 89

  -- -- cremation, 127



        PLATE I.




        PLATE II.




        PLATE III.


        _E. F. C. Clarke Del._



        PLATE IV.


         _J. E. Newton, Del._



        PLATE V.


        _E. F. C. Clarke Del._




        PLATE VI.


        _E. F. C. Prontis Del._


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