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Title: Report on the sanitary conditions of the labouring population of Great Britain. - A supplementary report on the results of a special inquiry - into the practice of interment in towns.
Author: Chadwick, Edwin
Language: English
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                          SUPPLEMENTARY REPORT





                            HOME DEPARTMENT,


                          EDWIN CHADWICK, ESQ.
                           BARRISTER AT LAW.

  _Presented to both Houses of Parliament, by Command of Her Majesty._






 Sources of information on which the Report is founded, § 1            1

 Grounds of exception to the admitted necessities of the abolition
   of intra-mural interment examined, § 1                              2

 The evidence as to the innocuousness of emanations from human
   remains: negative evidence, § 2                                     4

 The facts in respect to such alleged innocuousness incompletely
   stated, § 3                                                         7

 Positive evidence of the propagation of acute disease from putrid
   emanations, §§ 5 and 6                                             10

 Specific disease communicated from human remains—positive
   instances of, §§ 8 and 10                                          14

   decay and from bodies in a state of putrefaction, § 10             21

 Summary of the evidence in respect to the sanitary question as to
   the essentially injurious nature of such emanations, &c., § 11     23

 Difficulty of tracing distinctly the specific effects of
   emanations from burial-grounds in crowded towns, amidst
   complications of other emanations, § 13                            23

 Tainting of wells by emanations from burial-grounds, § 14            24

 Danger of injurious escapes of putrid emanations not obviated by
   deep burial, § 21                                                  28

 General conclusions that all interments in churches or in towns
   are essentially of an injurious and dangerous tendency, § 23       30

  _Injuries to the Health of Survivors occasioned by the delay of

 The greatest proportion of deaths occur in the single rooms in
   which families live and sleep, § 25                                31

 Instances of the common circumstances of their deaths; and of the
   deleterious effects of the prolonged retention of the body in
   the living and sleeping room, from the western districts of the
   metropolis, § 26—from the eastern districts, §§ 27 and 28—from
   Leeds, § 34                                                        31

 Numbers of deaths from epidemic, endemic, and contagious disease;
   and consequent extent of dangers from the undue retention of the
   body amidst the living, § 38                                       43

 Moral evils produced by the practice, §§ 41 and 42                   45

 The delay of Interments amongst the Labouring Classes in part
   ascribable to the difficulty of raising excessive Funeral
   Expenses, § 40                                                     45

 Evidence of undertakers on the funeral expenses and modes of
   conducting the funerals of different classes of society, §§ 43
   and 44                                                             46

 _Specific effects of excessive Funeral Expenses on the economy of
                      the Labouring Classes._

 Extent of pecuniary provision made in savings’ banks and benefit
   societies for funeral expenses, §§ 53 and 55—Abuse of the
   popular feeling of anxiety in respect to interments; and waste
   and distress occasioned to them, §§ 56 and 57                      55

 Demoralizing effect of multiplied insurances for large payments
   for funeral expenses on the occurrence of deaths, §§ 60 and
   61—Illegality of the practice. § 66—Case for interference for
   the prevention of crime, and measures for the reduction of the
   excessive expenses, §§ 69 and 71                                   63

          _Aggregate Expenses of Funerals to the Public._

 Small proportion of clerical burial dues to the undertaker’s
   expenses, § 74                                                     69

 Heavy proportion of funeral expenses in unhealthy districts, §
   75—Efficient sanitary measures the most efficient means of
   diminishing the miseries of frequent interments, § 81              71

 Failure of the objects of excessive expenditure on
   funerals—solemnity or proportionate impressiveness not obtained,
   § 84—and unattainable in crowded and busy districts, §
   85—Increasing desertion of intra-mural burial-grounds, § 89        79

  _Means of diminishing the evil of the prolonged retention of the
                      Dead amidst the Living._

 Obstacles to the early removal of the dead examined, § 89—Grounds
   for the apprehension of interment before life is extinct. §
   90—Institution for the reception and care of the dead previous
   to interment formed in Germany, § 96—Success of, in abating the
   apprehensions of survivors, § 97—Practical evidence of the
   necessity of some such institution, and increasing use of
   inferior places for the same purpose in this country, §§ 101 and
   10                                                                 84

     _Proposed Remedies by the extension of separate Parochial
          Establishments in Suburban Districts examined._

 Claims of the suburbs to protection from the undue multiplication
   of inferior burial-places in them, § 105                           97

 Instance of the trial of suburban parochial burial-grounds for the
   parishes of St. Martin-in-the-Fields and St. James, Westminster,
   §§ 166 and 108                                                     97

 Objections to the management of parochial boards stated by the
   Rev. William Stone, of Spitalfields, and others, § 109            100

 Increased expense from numerous small and inefficient
   establishments, § 110                                             104

 Unavoidable inefficiency of management by, § 111                    105

 Grounds for the conclusion that such establishments would
   ultimately rather extend than abate the evil, § 112               106

 _Practicability of ensuring for the Public superior Interments at
                         reduced Expenses._

 Evidence of undertakers as to the practicable reductions in the
   expenses of funerals without any reduction in proper solemnity,
   §§ 113 and 115 to 120                                             107

 Necessity of the provision of trustworthy responsible information
   to the survivors at the time of deaths as to what is necessary
   and proper, §§ 121, 122, 123, and 124                             113

 Objections to the abandonment of the necessities of the population
   in respect to burial as a source of profit to private and
   irresponsible trading associations, § 126                         114

   _Examples of successful Legislation for the improvement of the
                      practice of Interment._

 In America, § 127—in Germany, § 128—Mode of protecting the public
   from extortionate charges in Prussia, § 129—Regulations of
   funerals and application of the proceeds to public purposes, §
   131—Excessive numbers of deaths and funerals consequent on the
   low sanitary condition of the Parisian population, § 133          119

 Agency of superior officers of public health employed to
   superintend interments in America, § 135—in Germany, §
   136—Example of the inefficiency of the agency employed at Paris,
   § 137—Consequences of mixing up private practice with public
   duties, § 138                                                     125

    _Experience in respect to the Sites of Places of Burial and
        Sanitary Precautions necessary in respect to them._

 In regard to sites, § 140—to the time of the natural decay of
   bodies, § 143—to the depth of graves, § 144—to the space for
   graves; and the greater extent of space requisite for the same
   numbers of a depressed town population than for a healthy rural
   population, § 145—Data for the spaces requisite for the burials
   arising from the deaths in the metropolis, § 146 to § 150         127

 Why careful planting requisite for cemeteries, §§ 151 and 152       131

       _Extent of Burial-grounds existing in the Metropolis._

 Summary of the extent of the burials by the chief religious
   communities, § 155—Disclaimer of private burial-grounds, §
   156—Extent of cemetery companies’ estimates for burials, §§ 157
   and 158—Diminution of public demand for burials in lead and in
   catacombs, § 160—Dangers to the living of ill-regulated burials,
   and legislation on, § 162—Improvements in all existing material
   arrangements for burials practicable. § 164—Defective
   arrangements in private cemeteries, §§ 165 and 166—Examples of
   improved ceremonial arrangements, §§ 169 and 171                  133

     _Moral influence of seclusion from thronged places, and of
          Decorative Improvements in National Cemeteries._

 Statement by Mr. Wordsworth of the loss of salutary influence by
   burial in towns, § 172—Effects of careful visible arrangements
   on the mental associations of the population stated, §
   173—Examples of the influence of cemeteries on the continent, §§
   174 and 175—Sir Christopher Wren’s plan for the exclusion of
   intra-mural burying places on the rebuilding of the City of
   London, § 176—Practice of the primitive Christians to bury
   outside cities, § 177                                             172

 Superior agency of the _clerici_ employed in burial: and a special
   agency of public officers of health instituted in the east, §
   177                                                               148

 Opinion of the Rev. H. H. Milman on the means of the re-investment
   of the funeral services with religious influences                 150

 Dispositions manifested in this respect amongst the lower classes,
   § 178 to 181                                                      153

 The duties in respect to honouring the dead, as stated by Jeremy
   Taylor                                                            157

 _Necessity and nature of the superior Agency requisite for private
          and public protection in respect to Interments._

 Functions of an officer of health exemplified in respect to the
   verification of the fact and cause of death, §§ 184 to
   190—Nature of his intervention and aid to the survivors, and the
   reduction of the expenses of funerals, § 191—For the protection
   of the survivors on the occurrence of deaths from infectious or
   contagious disease, §§ 193 to 200—Evidence of the acceptability
   of the visits of such officers to the houses of the labouring
   classes for the purpose of mortuary registration, § 201           163

 Jurisprudential value of the appointment of officers of health in
   the prevention of murders and secret deaths, §§ 202 to 204        171

 Service in supplying the want of coroners’ inquests in Scotland,    174

 Advantages to science from the improvement of the mortuary
   registration, § 209—to medical science from bringing classes of
   cases, or common effects from common causes, under one view, §§
   212 to 215                                                        179

     _Proximate Estimate of the Reductions in Funeral Expenses
             practicable under National arrangements._

 Total expenses of funerals in the metropolis, § 219—Economy of few
   large and inefficient as compared with many small and efficient
   establishments, §§ 221 and 222—Expenses of an adequate staff’ of
   officers of health, §223                                          185

 Daily number of deaths and funerals in the metropolis and in
   provincial towns, § 224                                           189

 Claims of existing interests to compensation, §§ 228, 229, and 230  191

 Why payment of fees and expenses at the time of the funerals
   proposed to be retained, §§ 233 and 234                           193

 Applicability of conclusions from the metropolis to the provincial
   towns, § 235                                                      195

 Summary of conclusions:—

         1. As to the evils which require remedies, § 237            197

         2. As to the means available for the prevention or
   mitigation of these evils, § 248                                  199



    1. Regulations for the establishment of officers for the care
         of the dead and for conducting funerals at Franckfort,
         with plans of the houses of reception                       205

    2. Regulations for the examination and care of the dead at
         Munich                                                      218

    3. Examination of Mr. Abrahams, surgeon, registrar of deaths,
         on the defective arrangements for the verification, and
         on the effects produced on the physical and moral
         condition of children by the undue pressure of the
         causes of disease and death                                 223

    4. Examination of Mr. Blencarne, medical officer of the City
         of London Union, on the extent to which the proportions
         of deaths are preventive by sanitary measures               226

 5, 6, Extracts from the testimony of Dr. Wray, Mr. Porter, and
  & 7.   Mr. Paul, medical officers of the city of London, on the
         same subjects                                            229–32

    8. Extract from Dr. La Chaise’s account of population in the
         badly lighted and ventilated and badly cleansed
         districts of Paris                                          233

    9. Note on the probable effects producible on the
         proportionate mortality and numbers of burials, of
         structural arrangements, such as those designed for the
         City of London by Sir Christopher Wren                      234

   10. Letter from the superintendent registrar of Stockport on
         cases of infanticides committed partly for the sake of
         burial money                                                235

   11. Returns of the proportion of deaths to the population in
         each registrar’s district in the metropolis in the year
         1839, the excess in number of deaths and funerals beyond
         a healthy standard, the average age of death of gentry,
         tradesmen, and artisans, and average years of life lost
         by premature deaths in each district, according to the
         Carlisle table of life insurance, and the proportion of
         deaths from epidemics, and the registrars’ returns of
         the chief causes of death in the lower districts            239

   12. Examples of ordinary undertakers’ bills in the metropolis     267

       Lord Stowell’s exposition of the law of England in respect
         to perpetuities in burial-grounds                           269

   13. View of the extent of intra-mural burial-ground provided
         as compared with the extent of extra-mural burial-ground
         required for the metropolis; and the comparative
         proportions of space occupied for the burial of persons
         of different religious denominations, and as trading
         burial-grounds                                              272

       Return of the amount of burial fees received in some of
         the larger parishes in the metropolis                       273

       Returns of the number of burials in each of the
         burial-grounds in the metropolis                            274

                      SANITARY REPORT.—SUPPLEMENT.

                          INTERMENTS IN TOWNS.

           _To the Right Honourable Sir James Graham, Bart.,
                        &c.,      &c.,      &c._


In compliance with the request which I have had the honour to receive
from you, that I would examine the evidence on the practice of
interment, and the means of its improvement, and prepare for
consideration a Report thereon, I now submit the facts and conclusions

It has been remarked, as a defect in the General Report on the evidence
as to the sanitary condition of the labouring population, that it did
not comprise any examination of the evidence as to the effects produced
on the public health, by the practice of interring the dead amidst the
habitations of the town population. I wish here to explain that the
omission arose from the subject being too great in its extent, and too
special in its nature, to allow of the completion at that time, of any
satisfactory investigation in relation to it even if it had not then
been under examination by a Committee of the House of Commons, whose
Report is now before the public.

                  *       *       *       *       *

To obtain the information on which the following report is founded, I
have consulted, as extensively as the time allowed and my opportunities
would permit, ministers of religion who are called upon to perform
funereal rites in the poorer districts: I have made inquiries of persons
of the labouring classes, and of secretaries and officers of benefit
societies and burial clubs, in the metropolis and in several provincial
towns in the United Kingdom, on the practice of interments in relation
to those classes, and on the alterations and improvements that would be
most in accordance with their feelings: I have questioned persons
following the occupation of undertaker, and more especially those who
are chiefly engaged in the interment of the dead of the labouring
classes, on the improvements which they deem practicable in the modes of
performing that service: I have consulted foreigners resident in the
metropolis, on the various modes of interment in their own countries: I
have examined the chief administrative regulations thereon in Germany,
France, and the United States: and I have consulted several eminent
physiologists as to the effects produced on the health of the living, by
emanations from human remains in a state of decomposition. I need
scarcely premise that the moral as well as the physical facts developed
in the course of this inquiry are often exceedingly loathsome; but
general conclusions can only be distinctly made out from the various
classes of particular facts, and the object being the suggestion of
remedies and preventives, it were obviously as unbecoming to yield to
disgusts or to evade the examination and calm consideration of those
facts, as it would be in the physician or the surgeon, in the
performance of his duty with the like object, to shrink from the
investigation of the most offensive manifestations of disease.

§ 1. It appears that the necessity of removing interments from the midst
of towns is very generally admitted on various considerations,
independently of those founded on the presumed injurious effects arising
from the practice to the public health. I believe an alteration of the
practice is strongly desired by many clergymen of the established
church, whose incomes, even with the probable compensation for the loss
of burial dues, might be expected to be diminished by the discontinuance
of _intra-mural_ interments. Exemptions from a general prohibition of
such interments are, however, claimed in favour of particular
burial-grounds, situate within populous districts, of which grounds it
is stated that they are not over-crowded with bodies, and of which it is
further alleged that they have not been known, and cannot be proved, to
be injurious to the public health.

The statements as to the innocuousness of particular graveyards are
supported by reference to the general testimony of a number of medical
witnesses of high professional position, by whom it is alleged that the
emanations from decomposing human remains do not produce specific
disease, and, further, that they are not generally injurious. The
practical consequences of these doctrines extend beyond the present
question, and are so important in their effects on the sanitary economy
of all towns, as apparently to require that no opportunity should be
lost of examining the statements of facts on which they are founded.

The medical evidence of this class has generally been given in answer to
complaints made by the public, of the offensiveness, and the danger to
health which arises from the practice of dissection in schools of
anatomy amidst crowded populations. The chief fact alleged to prove the
innocuousness of emanations from the dead is that professors of anatomy
experience no injury from them. Thus, Dr. Warren, of Boston, in a paper
cited by M. Parent Duchâtelet, states, that he has been accustomed all
his life to dissecting-rooms, in which he has been engaged night and
day. “It has sometimes happened to me,” he observes, “after having
dissected bodies in a state of putrefaction, to have experienced a sort
of weakness and the loss of appetite; but the phenomena were never
otherwise than transient. During the year 1829, the weather being
excessively hot, decomposition advanced with a degree of rapidity such
as I have rarely witnessed: at that season the emanations became so
irritating, that they paralyzed the hands, producing small pustules and
an excessive itching, and yet my general health was in nowise affected.”

Again, whilst it is stated by M. Duchâtelet that students who attend the
dissecting-rooms are sometimes seriously injured, and even killed by
pricks and cuts with the instruments of dissection, yet it is denied
that they are subject to any illness from the emanations from the
remains “other than a nausea and a dysentery for two or three days at
the commencement of their studies.” Fevers the students of medicine are
confessedly liable to, but he says it is only when they are in
attendance on the living patients in the fever wards.

Sir Benjamin Brodie pointed out to me, that from the precautions taken,
by the removal of such portions of the viscera as might be in an
advanced state of decomposition, and from the ventilation of
dissecting-rooms being much improved, the emanations from the bodies
dissected are not so great as might be supposed; nevertheless, he

  There is no doubt that there are few persons who during the
  anatomical season are engaged for many hours daily in a
  dissecting-room for a considerable time, whose health is not
  affected in a greater or less degree; and there are some whose
  health suffers considerably. I have known several young men who have
  not been able to prosecute their studies in the dissecting-room for
  more than three or four weeks at a time, without being compelled to
  leave them and go into the country. The great majority, however, do
  not suffer to that extent, nor in such a way as to cause
  interruption to their studies; and, altogether, the evil is not on a
  sufficiently large scale to attract much notice, even among the
  students themselves.

A writer on public health, Dr. Dunglison, maintains that “we have no
satisfactory proof that malaria ever arises from animal putrefaction
singly;” and as evidence of this position he adduces the alleged fact of
the numbers of students who pass through their education without injury;
yet he admits—

  In stating the opinion that putrefaction singly does not occasion
  malarious disease, we do not mean to affirm that air highly charged
  with putrid miasmata may not, in some cases, powerfully impress the
  nervous system so as to induce syncope and high nervous disorder; or
  that, when such miasmata are absorbed by the lungs in a concentrated
  state, they may not excite putrid disorders, or dispose the frame to
  unhealthy erysipelatous affections. On the contrary, experiment
  seems to have shown that they are deleterious when injected; and
  cases are detailed in which, when exhaled from the dead body, they
  have excited serious mischief in those exposed to their action.
  According to Percy, a Dr. Chambon was required by the Dean of the
  Faculté de Médecine of Paris to demonstrate the liver and its
  appendages before the faculty on applying for his licence. The
  decomposition of the subject given him for the demonstration was so
  far advanced, that Chambon drew the attention of the Dean to it, but
  he was required to go on. One of the four candidates, Corion, struck
  by the putrid emanations which escaped from the body as soon as it
  was opened, fainted, was carried home, and died in seventy hours;
  another, the celebrated Fourcroy, was attacked with a burning
  exanthematous eruption; and two others, Laguerenne and Dufresnoy,
  remained a long time feeble, and the latter never completely
  recovered. “As for Chambon,” says M. Londe, “indignant at the
  obstinacy of the Dean, he remained firm in his place, finished his
  lecture in the midst of the Commissioners, who inundated their
  handkerchiefs with essences, and, doubtless, owed his safety to his
  cerebral excitement, which during the night, after a slight febrile
  attack, gave occasion to a profuse cutaneous exhalation.”

An eminent surgeon, who expressed to me his belief that no injury
resulted from emanations from decomposing remains, for he had suffered
none, mentioned an instance where he had conducted the post mortem
examination of the corpse of a person of celebrity which was in a
dreadful state of decomposition, without sustaining any injury; yet he
admitted, as a casual incident which did not strike him as militating
against the conclusion, that his assistant was immediately after taken
ill, and had an exanthematous eruption, and had been compelled to go to
the sea side, but had not yet recovered. Another surgeon who had lived
for many years near a churchyard in the metropolis, and had never
observed any effluvia from it, neither did _he_ perceive any effects of
such emanations at church or anywhere else; yet he admitted that his
wife perceived the openings of vaults when she went to the church to
which the graveyard belonged, and after respiring the air there, would
say, “they have opened a vault,” and on inquiry, the fact proved to be
so. He admitted also, that formerly in the school of anatomy which he
attended, pupils were sometimes attacked with fever, which was called
“the dissecting-room fever,” which, since better regulations were
adopted, was now unknown.

§ 2. In proof of the position that the emanations from decomposing
remains are not injurious to health at any time, reference is commonly
made to the statements in the papers of Parent Duchâtelet, wherein he
cites instances of the exhumation of bodies in an advanced stage of
decomposition without any injurious consequences being experienced by
the persons engaged in conducting them.

At the conclusion of this inquiry, and whilst engaged in the preparation
of the report, I was favoured by Dr. Forbes with the copy of a report by
Dr. V. A. Riecke, of Stuttgart. “On the Influence of Putrefactive
Emanations on the Health of Man,” &c., in which the medical evidence of
this class is closely investigated. In reference to the statements of
Parent Duchâtelet on this question, Dr. Riecke observes—

  When Parent Duchâtelet appeals to and gives such prominence to the
  instance of the disinterments from the churchyard of St. Innocens,
  and states that they took place without any injurious consequences,
  although at last all precautions in the mode of disinterring were
  thrown aside, and that it occurred during the hottest season of the
  year, and therefore that the putrid emanations might be believed to
  be in their most powerful and injurious state, I would reply to this
  by asking the simple question, what occasion was there for the
  disinterment? Parent Duchâtelet maintains complete silence on this
  point; but to me the following notices appear worthy of attention.
  In the year 1554, Houlier and Fernel, and in the year 1738, Lemery,
  Geoffroy, and Hunaud, raised many complaints of this churchyard; and
  the two first had asserted that, during the plague, the disease had
  lingered longest in the neighbourhood of the Cimetière de la
  Trinité, and that there the greatest number had fallen a sacrifice.
  In the years 1737 and 1746 the inhabitants of the houses round the
  churchyard of St. Innocens complained loudly of the revolting stench
  to which they were exposed. In the year 1755 the matter again came
  into notice: the inspector who was intrusted with the inquiry,
  himself saw the vapour rising from a large common grave, and
  convinced himself of the injurious effects of this vapour on the
  inhabitants of the neighbouring house.[1] “Often,” says the author
  of a paper which we have before often alluded to, “the complexions
  of the young people who remain in this neighbourhood grow pale. Meat
  sooner becomes putrid there than elsewhere, and many persons cannot
  get accustomed to these houses.” In the year 1779, in a cemetery
  which yearly received from 2000 to 3000 corpses, they dug an immense
  common grave near to that part of the cemetery which touches upon
  the Rue de la Lingerie. The grave was 50 feet deep, and made to
  receive from 1500 to 1600 bodies. But in February, 1780, the whole
  of the cellars in the street were no longer fit to use. Candles were
  extinguished by the air in these cellars; and those who only
  approached the apertures were immediately seized with the most
  alarming attacks. The evil was only diminished on the bodies being
  covered with half a foot of lime, and all further interments
  forbidden. But even that must have been found insufficient, as,
  after some years, the great work of disinterring the bodies from
  this churchyard was determined upon. This undertaking, according to
  Thouret’s report, was carried on from December, 1785, to May, 1786;
  from December, 1786, to February, 1787; and in August and October of
  the same year: and it is not unimportant to quote this passage, as
  it clearly shows how little correct Parent Duchâtelet was in his
  general statement, that those disinterments took place in the
  hottest seasons of the year. It is very clear that it was exactly
  the coldest seasons of the year which were chosen for the work; and
  though in the year 1787 there occurs the exception of the work
  having been again begun in August, I think it may be assumed that
  the weather of this month was unusually cold, and it was therefore
  thought the work might be carried on without injurious effects. It
  does not, however, appear to have been considered safe to continue
  the work at that season, since the report goes on to state that the
  operations were again discontinued in September.

  Against those statements of Parent Duchâtelet, as to the
  innocuousness of the frequent disinterments in Père La Chaise,
  statements which are supported by the testimony of Orfila and
  Ollivier, in regard to their experience of disinterments, I would
  here place positive facts, which are not to be rejected. “I,” also
  remarks Duvergie, “have undertaken judicial disinterments, and must
  declare that, during one of these disinterments at which M.
  Piedagnel was present with me, we were attacked with an illness,
  although it was conducted under the shade of a tent, through which
  there was passing a strong current of wind, and although we used
  chloride of lime in abundance, M. Piedagnel was confined to his room
  for six weeks.” Apparently, Duvergie is not far wrong when he states
  his opinion that Orfila had allowed himself to be misled by his
  praiseworthy zeal for the more general recognition of the use of
  disinterments for judicial purposes, to understate the dangers
  attending them, as doubtless he had used all the precautions during
  the disinterments which such researches demand: and to these
  precautions (which Orfila himself recommended) may be attributed the
  few injurious effects of these disinterments. It, however, deserves
  mentioning, that, if Orfila did undertake disinterments during the
  heat of summer, it must have been only very rarely; at least,
  amongst the numerous special cases which he gives, we find only two
  which took place in July or August, most of the cases occurred in
  the coldest season of the year. I cannot refrain from giving, also,
  the information which Fourcroy gained from the grave-diggers of the
  churchyard of St. Innocens. Generally they did not seem to rate the
  danger of displacing the corpses very high: they remarked, however,
  that some days after the disinterment of the corpses the abdomen
  would swell, owing to the great development of gas; and that if an
  opening forced itself at the navel, or anywhere in the region of the
  belly, there issued forth the most horribly smelling liquid and a
  mephitic gas; and of the latter they had the greatest fear, as it
  produced sudden insensibility and faintings. Fourcroy wished much to
  make further researches into the nature of this gas, but he could
  not find any grave-digger who could be induced by an offered reward
  to assist him by finding a body which was in a fit state to produce
  the gas. They stated, that, at a certain distance, this gas only
  produced a slight giddiness, a feeling of nausea, languor, and
  debility. These attacks lasted several hours, and were followed by
  loss of appetite, weakness, and trembling. “Is it not very
  probable,” says Fourcroy, “that a poison so terrible that when in a
  concentrated state, it produced sudden death, should, even when
  diluted and diffused through the atmosphere, still possess a power
  sufficient to produce depression of the nervous energy and an entire
  disorder of their functions? Let any one witness the terror of these
  grave-diggers, and also see the cadaverous appearance of the
  greatest number, and all the other signs of the influence of a slow
  poison, and they will no longer doubt of the dangerous effects of
  the air from churchyards on the inmates of neighbouring houses.”

After having strenuously asserted the general innocuousness of such
emanations, and the absence of foundation for the complaints against the
anatomical schools, Parent Duchâtelet concludes by an admission of their
offensiveness, and a recommendation in the following terms:—

  “Instead of retaining the ‘debris’ of dissection near the theatres
  of anatomy, it would certainly be better to remove them every day:
  but as that is often impracticable, there ought, on a good system of
  ‘assainissement,’ to be considered the mode of retaining them
  without incurring the risk of suffering from their infection.”

After describing the mode of removing the “debris,” he concludes—

  “Thus will this part of the work be freed from the inconveniences
  which accompanied and formed one of the widest sources of
  ‘infection,’ and of the disgust which were complained of in the
  theatres of anatomy.”

§ 3. The statements of M. Duchâtelet respecting the innocuousness of
emanations from decomposing animal and vegetable remains, observed by
him at the _chantiers d’équarrissage_, or receptacle for dead horses,
and the _dépôts de vidange_, or receptacle of night soil, &c., at
Montfaucon, near Paris, are cited in this country, and on the continent,
as leading evidence to sustain the general doctrine; but as it is with
his statements of the direct effects of the emanations from the
grave-yards, so it is with relation to his statements as to the effects
of similar emanations on the health of the population; the facts appear
to have been imperfectly observed by him even in his own field of
observation. In the Medical Review, conducted by Dr. Forbes, reference
is made to the accounts given by Caillard of the epidemic which occurred
in the vicinity of the Canal de l'Ourcq near Paris in 1810 and
subsequent years:—

  In the route from Paris to Pantin (says he), exposed on the one side
  to the miasmatic emanations of the canal, and on the other, to the
  putrid effluvia of the _voiries_, the diseases were numerous, almost
  all serious and obstinate. This disastrous effect of the union of
  putrid effluvia with marsh miasmata, was especially evident in one
  part of this route, termed the Petit Pont hamlet, inhabited by a
  currier and a gut-spinner, the putrid waters from whose operations
  are prevented from escaping by the banks of the canal, and exposed
  before the draining to the emanations of a large marsh. This hamlet
  was so unhealthy, that of five-and-twenty or thirty inhabitants I
  visited about twenty were seriously affected, of whom five died.

In the carefully prepared report on the progress of cholera at Paris,
made by the commission of medical men, of which Parent Duchâtelet was a
member, it is mentioned, as a singular incident, that in those places
where putrid emanations prevailed, “le cholera ne s'est montré ni plus
redoutable ni plus meurtrier que dans autres localities.” Yet the
testimony cited as to this point is that of the Maire, “whose zeal
equalled his intelligence,” and he alleges the occurrence of the fact of
the liability to fevers which M. Duchâtelet elsewhere denies.

  “I have also made some observations which seem to destroy the
  opinions received at this time, as to the sanitary effect of these
  kinds of receptacles; for,

  “1st. The inhabitants of the houses situated the nearest to the
  depôt, and which are sometimes _tormented_ with fevers, have never
  felt any indisposition.”

§ 4. To prove the innocuousness of emanations from human remains on the
general health, evidence of another class is adduced, consisting of
instances of persons acting as keepers of dissecting rooms, and
grave-diggers, and the undertakers’ men, who it is stated have pursued
their occupations for long periods, and have nevertheless maintained
robust health.

The examination of persons engaged in processes exposed to miasma from
decomposing animal remains in general only shows that habit combined
with associations of profit often prevents or blunts the perceptions of
the most offensive remains. Men with shrunken figures, and the
appearance of premature age, and a peculiar cadaverous aspect, have
attended as witnesses to attest their own perfectly sound condition, as
evidence of the salubrity of their particular occupations. Generally,
however, men with robust figures and the hue of health are singled out
and presented as examples of the general innocuousness of the offensive
miasma generated in the process in which they are engaged. Professor
Owen mentions an instance of a witness of this class, a very robust man,
the keeper of a dissecting room, who appeared to be in florid health
(which however proved not to be so sound as he himself conceived), who
professed perfect unconsciousness of having sustained any injury from
the occupation, and there was no reason to doubt that he really was
unconscious of having sustained or observed any; but it turned out, on
inquiry, that he had always had the most offensive and dangerous work
done by an inferior assistant; and that within his time he had had no
less than eight assistants, and that every one had died, and some of
these had been dissected in the theatre where they had served. So,
frequently, the sextons of grave-yards, who are robust men, attest the
salubrity of the place; but on examining the inferiors, the
grave-diggers, it appears, where there is much to do, and even in some
of the new cemeteries, that as a class they are unhealthy and
cadaverous, and, notwithstanding precautions, often suffer severely on
re-opening graves, and that their lives are frequently cut short by the
work.[2] There are very florid and robust undertakers; but, as a class,
and with all the precautions they use, they are unhealthy; and a master
undertaker, of considerable business in the metropolis, states, that “in
nine cases out of ten the undertaker who has much to do with the corpse
is a person of cadaverous hue, and you may almost always tell him
whenever you see him.” Fellmongers, tanners, or the workmen employed in
the preparation of hides, have been instanced by several medical writers
as a class who, being exposed to emanations from the skins when in a
state of putrefaction, enjoy good health; but it appears that all the
workmen are not engaged in the process when the skins are in that state,
and that those of them who are, as a class, do experience the common
consequences. The whole class of butchers, who are much in the open air
and have very active exercise, and who are generally robust and have
florid health, are commonly mentioned as instances in proof of the
innocuousness of the emanations from the remains in slaughter-houses;
but master butchers admit that the men exclusively engaged in the
slaughter-houses, in which perfect cleanliness and due ventilation are
neglected, are of a cadaverous aspect, and suffer proportionately in
their health.

Medical papers have been written in this country and on the continent to
show that the exposure of workmen to putrid emanations in the employment
of sewer cleansing has no effect on the general health; and when the
employers of the labourers engaged in such occupations are questioned on
the subject, their general reply is, that their men “have nothing the
matter with them:” yet when the _class_ of men who have been engaged in
the work during any length of time are assembled; when they are compared
with classes of men of the same age and country, and of the like periods
of service in other employments free from such emanations, or still more
when they are compared with men of the same age coming from the purer
atmosphere of a rural district, the fallacy is visible in the class, in
their more pallid and shrunken aspect—the evidence of languid
circulation and reduced “tone,” and even of vitality—and there is then
little doubt of the approximation given me by an engineer who has
observed different classes of workmen being correct, that employment
under such a mephitic influence as that in question ordinarily entails a
loss of at least one-third of the natural duration of life and working

The usual comment of the employers on the admitted facts of the
ill-health and general brevity of life of the inferior workmen engaged
in such occupations is, “But they drink—they are a drunken set;” and
such appears frequently, yet by no means invariably, to be the case. On
further examination it appears that the exposure to the emanations is
productive of nervous depression, which is constantly urged by the
workmen as necessitating the stimulus of spirituous or fermented
liquors. The inference that the whole of the effects are ascribable to
the habitual indulgence in such stimuli is rebutted by the facts
elicited on examination of other classes of workmen who indulge as much
or more, but who nevertheless enjoy better health, and a much greater
average duration of life. It is apt to be overlooked that the weakly
rarely engage in such occupations, or soon quit them; and that, in
general, the men are of the most robust classes, and have high wages and
rather short hours of work, as well as stimulating food. A French
physician, M. Labarraque, states in respect to the tanners, that,
notwithstanding the constant exposure to the emanations from putrid
fermentations, it has not been “remarked” of the workmen of this class
that they are more subject to illness than others. A tanner, in a manual
written for the use of the trade, without admitting the correctness of
this statement, observes: “Whatever may be the opinion of M. Labarraque
on this point, we do not hesitate to declare the fact that this species
of labour cannot be borne by weakly, scrofulous, or lymphatic

§ 5. So far as observations have been made on the point (and the more
those reported upon it are scrutinized, the less trustworthy they appear
to be), workmen so exposed do not appear to be peculiarly subject to
epidemics; many, indeed, appear to be exempted from them to such an
extent as to raise a presumption that such emanations have on those
“acclimated” to them an unexplained preservative effect analogous to
vaccination. That one miasma may exclude, or neutralize, or modify the
influence of another, would appear to be _primâ facie_ probable. But it
is now becoming more extensively apparent that the same cause is
productive of very different effects on different persons, and on the
same persons at different times; as in the case mentioned by Dr. Arnott
of the school badly drained at Clarendon Square, Somers’ Town, where
every year, while the nuisance was at its height, and until it was
removed by drainage, the malaria caused some remarkable form of disease;
one year, extraordinary nervous affection, exhibiting rigid spasms, and
then convulsions of the limbs, such as occur on taking various poisons
into the stomach; another year, typhoid fever; in another, ophthalmia;
in another, extraordinary constipation of the bowels, affecting similar
numbers of the pupils. Such cases as the one before cited with respect
to the depôt for animal matter in Paris, where the workmen suffered very
little, whilst the people living near the depôt were “tormented with
fevers,” are common. The effects of such miasma are manifested
immediately on all surrounding human life (and there is evidence to
believe they are manifest in their degree on animal life[4]), in
proportion to the relative strength of the destructive agents and the
relative strength or weakness of the beings exposed to them; the effects
are seen first on infants; then on children in the order of their age
and strength; then on females, or on the sickly, the aged, and feeble;
last of all, on the robust workmen, and on them it appears on those
parts of the body that have been previously weakened by excess or by
illness. Whilst M. Parent Duchâtelet was looking for immediate
appearances of acute disease on the robust workmen living amidst the
decomposing animal effluvium of the Montfaucon, I have the authority of
Dr. Henry Bennett for stating that he might have found that the
influence of that effluvium was observable on the sick at half a mile
distant. “When I was house surgeon at St. Louis,” says Dr. Bennett, “I
several times remarked, that whenever the wind was from the direction of
the Montfaucon, the wounds and sores under my care assumed a foul
aspect. M. Jobert, the surgeon of the hospital, has told me that he has
repeatedly seen hospital gangrene manifest itself in the wards
apparently under the same influence. It is a fact known to all who are
acquainted with St. Louis, that the above malady is more frequent at
that hospital than at any other in Paris, although it is the most airy
and least crowded of any. This, I think, can only be attributed to the
proximity of the Montfaucon. Indeed, when the wind blows from that
direction, which it often does for several months in the year, the
effluvium is most odious.” As an instance of a similar influence of
another species of effluvium, not observed by the healthy inhabitants of
a district, it is stated that at a large infirmary in this country, when
the piece of ornamental water, which was formerly stagnant in front of
the edifice, had a greenish scum upon it, some descriptions of surgical
operations were not so successful as at other times, and a flow of fresh
water has been introduced into the reservoir to prevent the miasma.

The immediate contrasts of the apparent immunity of adults to
conspicuous attacks of epidemics, may perhaps account for the persuasion
which masters and workmen sometimes express, that they owe an immunity
from epidemics to their occupation, and that the stenches to which they
are exposed actually “purify” the atmosphere. Numbers of such witnesses
have heretofore been ready to attest their conviction of the
preservative effect, and even the positive advantages to health, of the
effluvia generated by the decomposition of animal or of vegetable
matter, or of the fumes of minerals, of smoke, soot, and coal gas. But
though they do not peculiarly suffer from epidemics, it is usually found
that they are not exempted. In a recent return of the state of health of
some workmen engaged in cleansing sewers, whilst it appeared that very
few had suffered any attack from fever, nearly all suffered bowel
attacks and violent intestinal derangement. If the effects of such
emanations invariably appeared in the form of acute disease, large
masses of the population who have lived under their influence must have
been exterminated. In general the poison appears only to be generated in
a sufficient degree of intensity to create acute disease under such a
conjunction of circumstances, as a degree of moisture sufficient to
facilitate decomposition, a hot sun, a stagnant atmosphere, and a
languid population. The injurious effects of diluted emanations are
constantly traceable, not in constitutional disturbance at any one time;
they have their effect even on the strong, perceptible over a space of
time in a general depression of health and a shortened period of
existence. This or that individual may have the florid hue of health,
and may live under constant exposure to noxious influences to his
sixtieth or his seventieth year; but had he not been so exposed he might
have lived in equal or greater vigour to his eightieth or his ninetieth
year. A cause common to a whole class is often, however, not manifest in
particular individuals, but is yet visible in the pallor and the reduced
sum of vitality of the whole class, or in the average duration of life
in that class, as compared with the average duration of life of another
class similarly situated, in all respects except in the exposure to that
one cause.[5] The effects of a cause of depression on a class are
sometimes visible in the greater fatality of common accidents. An excess
of mortality to a class is almost always found, on examination, to be
traceable to an adequate cause. From the external circumstances of a
class of the population, a confident expectation may be formed of the
sum of vitality of the class, though nothing could be separately
predicated of a single individual of it. If the former vulgar notions
were correct as to the salubrity of the stenches which prevail in towns,
the separate as well as the combined results of these several supposed
causes of salubrity must be to expel fevers and epidemics from the most
crowded manufacturing districts, and to advance the general health of
the inhabitants above that of the poorer rural population; but all such
fallacies are dissipated by the dreadful facts on the face of the
mortuary records showing a frequency of deaths, and a reduction of the
mean duration of life, in proportion to the constancy and the intensity
of the combined operation of these same causes.[6]

§ 6. The observations of the effects of such emanations on the general
health of classes of human beings have been corroborated by experiments
on animals.

§ 7. Another doctrine more extensively entertained than that above
noticed, is, that although putrid emanations are productive of injury,
they are not productive of specific disease, such as typhus. The medical
witnesses say, that they were exposed to such emanations in
dissecting-rooms, where bodies of persons who have died of small-pox,
typhus, scarlatina, and every species of disease, are brought; that they
pursued their studies in such places, and were unaware of typhus or
other disease having been taken by the students in them, though that
disease was frequently caught by students whilst attending the living in
the fever wards.[7]

The strongest of this class of negative evidence appears to be that of
undertakers, all of whom that I have seen state that neither specific
disease nor the propagation of any disease was known to occur amongst
them, from their employment. Neither the men who handle, or who
“coffin,” the remains; nor the barbers who are called in to shave[8] the
corpses of the adult males; nor the bearers of the coffins, although,
when the remains are in an advanced state of decomposition, the liquid
matter from the corpse frequently escapes from the coffin, and runs down
over their clothes, are observed to catch any specific disease from it,
either in their noviciate, or at any other time. When decomposition is
very far advanced, and the smell is very offensive, the men engaged in
putting the corpse into the coffin smoke tobacco; and all have recourse
to the stimulus of spirituous liquor. But it is not known that, by their
infected clothes they ever propagate specific disease in their families,
or elsewhere. Neither does this appear to be observed amongst the
medical men themselves.[9]

§ 8. On the other hand, the undertakers observe such instances, as will
be stated in their own words in a subsequent part of the report, where
others have caught fever and small-pox, apparently from the remains of
the dead, and they mention instances of persons coming from a distance
to attend funerals, who have shortly afterwards become affected with the
disease of which the person buried had died. Of the undertakers it is
observed, that being adults, they were likely to have had small-pox. Dr.
Williams, in a work stated to be of good authority, on the effects of
morbid poisons, relates the case of four students infected with
small-pox by the dead body of a man who had died of this disease, that
was brought into the Windmill-street Theatre, in London, for dissection.
One of them saw the body, but did not approach it; another was near it,
but did not touch it; a third, accustomed to make sketches from dead
bodies, saw this subject, but did not touch it; the fourth alone touched
it with both his hands; yet all the four caught the disease. Sir
Benjamin Brodie mentions cases which occurred within his own knowledge,
of pupils who caught small-pox after exposure to the emanations in the
dissecting-room from the bodies of persons who had died of that disease.

Dr. Copeland, in his evidence before the Committee of the House of
Commons, adduced the following remarkable case, stated to be of fever
communicated after death:—

  About two years ago (says he) I was called, in the course of my
  profession, to see a gentleman, advanced in life, well known to many
  members in this house and intimately known to the Speaker. This
  gentleman one Sunday went into a dissenting chapel, where the
  principal part of the hearers, as they died, were buried in the
  ground or vaults underneath. I was called to him on Tuesday evening,
  and I found him labouring under symptoms of malignant fever; either
  on that visit or the visit immediately following, on questioning him
  on the circumstances which could have given rise to this very
  malignant form of fever, for it was then so malignant that its fatal
  issue was evident, he said that he had gone on the Sunday before
  (this being on the Tuesday afternoon) to this dissenting chapel, and
  on going up the steps to the chapel he felt a rush of foul air
  issuing from the grated openings existing on each side of the steps;
  the effect upon him was instantaneous; it produced a feeling of
  sinking, with nausea, and so great debility, that he scarcely could
  get into the chapel. He remained a short time, and finding this
  feeling increase he went out, went home, was obliged to go to bed,
  and there he remained. When I saw him he had, up to the time of my
  ascertaining the origin of his complaint, slept with his wife; he
  died eight days afterwards; his wife caught the disease and died in
  eight days also, having experienced the same symptoms. These two
  instances illustrated the form of fever arising from those
  particular causes. Means of counteraction were used, and the fever
  did not extend to any other members of the family.

  Assuming that that individual had gone into a crowded hospital with
  that fever, it probably would have become a contagious fever. The
  disease would have propagated itself most likely to others, provided
  those others exposed to the infection were predisposed to the
  infection, or if the apartments where they were confined were not
  fully ventilated, but in most cases where the emanations from the
  sick are duly diluted by fresh air, they are rendered innocuous. It
  is rarely that I have found the effects from dead animal matter so
  very decisive as in this case, because in the usual circumstances of
  burying in towns the fetid or foul air exhaled from the dead is
  generally so diluted and scattered by the wind, as to produce only a
  general ill effect upon those predisposed; it affects the health of
  the community by lowering the vital powers, weakening the digestive
  processes, but without producing any prominent or specific disease.

Mr. Barnett, surgeon, one of the medical officers of the Stepney Union,
who has observed the symptoms observable in those persons who are
exposed to the emanations from a crowded grave-yard, thus describes

  They are characterized by more or less disturbance of the whole
  system, with evident depression of the vital force, as evinced
  throughout the vascular and nervous systems, by the feeble action of
  the heart and arteries, and lowness of the spirits, &c. These
  maladies, I doubt not, if surrounded by other causes, would
  terminate in fever of the worst description. The cleanliness, &c.,
  of the surrounding neighbourhood, perhaps, prevents this actually
  taking place.

  Some years since a vault was opened in the church-yard (Stepney),
  and shortly after one of the coffins contained therein burst with so
  loud a report that hundreds flocked to the place to ascertain the
  cause. So intense was the poisonous nature of the effluvia arising
  therefrom, that a great number were attacked with sudden sickness
  and fainting, many of whom were a considerable period before they
  recovered their health.

  The vaults and burial ground attached to Brunswick chapel,
  Limehouse, are much crowded with dead, and from the accounts of
  individuals residing in the adjoining houses, it would appear that
  the stench arising therefrom, particularly when a grave happens to
  be opened during the summer months, is most noxious. In one case it
  is described to have produced instant nausea and vomiting, and
  attacks of illness are frequently imputed to it. Some say they have
  never had a day’s good health since they have resided so near the
  chapel-ground, which, I may remark, is about five feet above the
  level of the surrounding yards, and very muddy—so much so, that
  pumps are frequently used to expel the water from the vaults into
  the streets.

The bursting of leaden coffins in the vaults of cemeteries, unless they
are watched and “tapped” to allow the mephitic vapour to escape, appears
to be not unfrequent. In cases of rapid decomposition, such instances
occur in private houses before the entombment. An undertaker of
considerable experience states:—

  “I have known coffins to explode, like the report of a small gun, in
  the house. I was once called up at midnight by the people, who were
  in great alarm, and who stated that the coffin had burst in the
  night, as they described it, with ‘a report like the report of a
  cannon.’ On proceeding to the house I found in that case, which was
  one of dropsy, very rapid decomposition had occurred, and the lead
  was forced up. Two other cases have occurred within my experience of
  coffins bursting in this manner. I have heard of similar cases from
  other undertakers. The bursting of lead coffins without noise is
  more frequent. Of course it is never told to the family unless they
  have heard it, as they would attribute the bursting to some
  defective construction of the coffins.”

The occurrence of cases of instant death to grave-diggers, from
accidentally inhaling the concentrated miasma which escapes from
coffins, is undeniable. Slower deaths from exposure to such miasma are
designated as “low fevers,” and whether or not the constitutional
disturbances attendant on the exposure to the influence of such miasma
be or not the true typhus, it suffices as a case requiring a remedy,
that the exposure to that influence is apt to produce grievous and fatal
injuries amongst the public.

§ 9. Undertakers state that they sometimes experience, in particularly
crowded grave-yards, a sensation of faintness and nausea without
perceiving any offensive smell. Dr. Riecke appears to conclude, from
various instances which are given, that emanations from putrid remains
operate in two ways,—one set of effects being produced through the lungs
by impurity of the air from the mixture of irrespirable gases; the other
set, through the olfactory nerves by powerful, penetrating, and
offensive smells. On the whole, the evidence tends to establish the
general conclusion that offensive smells are true warnings of sanitary
evils to the population. The fact of the general offensiveness of such
emanations is adduced by Dr. Riecke also as evidence of their injurious

  Another circumstance which must awaken in us distrust of putrid
  emanations, is the powerful impression they make on the sense of
  smell. It certainly cannot be far from the truth to call the organ
  of smell the truest sentinel of the human frame. “Many animals,”
  observes Rudolphi, “are entirely dependent on their sense of smell
  for finding out food that is not injurious; where their smell is
  injured they are easily deceived, and have often fallen a sacrifice
  to the consequent mistakes.” Amongst all known smells, there is,
  perhaps, no one which is so universally, and to such a degree
  revolting to man, as the smell of animal decomposition. The roughest
  savage, as well as the most civilized European, fly with equal
  disgust from a place where the air is infected by it. If an instinct
  ever can be traced in man, certainly it is in the present case: and
  is instinct a superfluous monitor exactly in this one case? Can
  instinct mislead just in this one circumstance? Can it ever be, that
  the air which fills us with the greatest disgust, is the finest
  elixir of life, as Dumoulins had the boldness to maintain in one of
  his official reports. Hippolyte Cloquet, in his Osphrestologie has
  attempted to throw some light on the effect of smell on the human
  frame, and though we must entirely disregard many of the anecdotes
  which he has blended into his inquiry, yet the result remains firmly
  proved that odours in general exert a very powerful influence on the
  health of men, and that all very acutely impressing smells are
  highly to be suspected of possessing injurious properties.

§ 10. I beg leave on this particular topic to submit the facts and
opinions contained in communications from two gentlemen who have paid
close and comprehensive attention to the subject.

Dr. Southwood Smith, who, as physician to the London Fever Hospital, and
from having been engaged in several investigations as to the effects of
putrid emanations on the public health, must have had extensive means of
observation, states as follows:—

  1. That the introduction of dead animal matter under certain
  conditions into the living body is capable of producing disease, and
  even death, is universally known and admitted. This morbific animal
  matter may be the product either of secretion during life or of
  decomposition after death. Familiar instances of morbific animal
  matter, the result of secretion during life, are the poisons of
  small-pox and cow-pox, and the vitiated fluids formed in certain
  acute diseases, such as acute inflammations, and particularly of the
  membranes that line the chest and abdomen. On the examination of the
  body a short time after death from such inflammations, the fluids
  are found so extremely acrid, that even when the skin is entirely
  sound, they make the hands of the examiner smart; and if there
  should happen to be the slightest scratch on the finger, or the
  minutest point not covered by cuticle, violent inflammation is often
  produced, ending, sometimes within forty-eight hours, in death. It
  is remarkable, and it is a proof that in these cases the poison
  absorbed is not putrid matter, that the most dangerous period for
  the examination of the bodies of persons who die of such diseases is
  from four to five hours after the fatal event, and while the body is
  yet warm.

  That the direct introduction into the system of decomposing and
  putrescent animal matter is capable of producing fevers and
  inflammations, the intensity and malignity of which may be varied at
  will, according to the putrescency of the matter and the quantity of
  it that is introduced, is proved by numerous experiments on animals;
  while the instances in which human beings are seized with severe and
  fatal affections from the application of the fluids of a dead animal
  body to a wounded, punctured, or abraded surface, sometimes when the
  aperture is so minute as to be invisible without the aid of a lens,
  are of daily occurrence. Though this fact is now well known, and is
  among the few that are disputed by no one, it may be worth while to
  cite a few examples of it, as specimens of the manner in which the
  poison of animal matter, when absorbed in this way, acts; a volume
  might be filled with similar instances.

  The following case is recorded by Sir Astley Cooper:—Mr. Elcock,
  student of anatomy, slightly punctured his finger in opening the
  body of a hospital patient about twelve o’clock at noon, and in the
  evening of the same day, finding the wound painful, showed it to Sir
  Astley Cooper after his surgical lecture. During the night the pain
  increased to extremity, and symptoms of high constitutional
  irritation presented themselves on the ensuing morning. No trace of
  inflammation was apparent beyond a slight redness of the spot at
  which the wound had been inflicted, which was a mere puncture. In
  the evening he was visited by Dr. Babington, in conjunction with Dr.
  Haighton and Sir Astley Cooper; still no local change was to be
  discovered, but the nervous system was agitated in a most violent
  and alarming degree, the symptoms nearly resembling the universal
  excitation of hydrophobia, and in this state he expired within the
  period of forty-eight hours from the injury.

  The late Dr. Pett, of Hackney, being present at the examination of
  the body of a lady who had died of peritoneal inflammation after her
  confinement, handled the diseased parts. In the evening of the same
  day, while at a party, he felt some pain in one of his fingers, on
  which there was a slight blush, but no wound was visible at that
  time. The pain increasing, the finger was examined in a stronger
  light, when, by the aid of a lens, a minute opening in the cuticle
  was observed. During the night the pain increased to agony, and in
  the morning his appearance was extremely altered; his countenance
  was suffused with redness, his eyes were hollow and ferrety; there
  was a peculiarity in his breathing, which never left him during his
  illness; his manner, usually gay and playful, was now torpid, like
  that of a person who had taken an excessive dose of opium, he
  described himself as having suffered intensely, and said that he was
  completely knocked down and had not the strength of a child, and he
  sunk exhausted on the fifth day from the examination of the body.

  George Higinbottom, an undertaker, was employed to remove in a shell
  the corpse of a woman who had died of typhus fever in the London
  Fever Hospital. In conveying the body from the shell into the
  coffin, he observed that his left hand was besmeared with a moisture
  which had oozed from it. He had a recent scratch on his thumb. The
  following morning this scratch was inflamed; in the evening of the
  same day he was attacked with a cold shivering and pain in his head
  and limbs, followed the next by other symptoms of severe fever; on
  the fourth day there was soreness in the top of the shoulder and
  fulness in the axilla; on the fifth the breast became swollen and
  efflorescent; on the seventh delirium supervened, succeeded by
  extreme prostration and coma, and death took place on the tenth day.

  A lady in the country received a basket of fish from London which
  had become putrid on the road. In opening the basket she pricked her
  finger, and she slightly handled the fish. On the evening of this
  day inflammation came on in the finger, followed by such severe
  constitutional symptoms as to endanger life, and it was six months
  before the effects of this wound subsided and her health was

  Among many other cases, Mr. Travers gives the following, as
  displaying well the minor degrees of irritation, local and
  constitutional, to which cooks and others, in handling putrid animal
  matter with chapped and scratched fingers, are exposed:—A cook-maid
  practised herself on a stale hare, for the purpose of learning the
  mode of boning them, in spite of being strongly cautioned against
  it. A few days afterwards two slight scratches, which she remembered
  to have received at the time, began to inflame; one was situated on
  the fore-finger and the other on the ring-finger. This inflammation
  was accompanied with a dull pain and feeling of numbness, and an
  occasional darting pain along the inside of the fore-arm. The next
  day she was attacked with excruciating pain at the point of the
  fore-finger, which throbbed so violently as to give her the
  sensation of its being about to burst at every pulsation. The
  following morning constitutional symptoms came on; her tongue was
  white and dry; she had no appetite; there was great dejection of
  spirits and languor, and a weak and unsteady pulse. After suffering
  greatly from severe pain in the finger, hand, and arm, and great
  constitutional derangement and debility, the local inflammation
  disappeared in about three weeks, and she then began to recover her
  appetite and strength.

  2. It is proved by indubitable evidence that this morbific matter is
  as capable of entering the system when minute particles of it are
  diffused in the atmosphere as when it is directly introduced into
  the blood-vessels by a wound. When diffused in the air, these
  noxious particles are conveyed into the system through the thin and
  delicate walls of the air vesicles of the lungs in the act of
  respiration. The mode in which the air vesicles are formed and
  disposed is such as to give to the human lungs an almost incredible
  extent of absorbing surface, while at every point of this surface
  there is a vascular tube ready to receive any substance imbibed by
  it and to carry it at once into the current of the circulation.
  Hence the instantaneousness and the dreadful energy with which
  certain poisons act upon the system when brought into contact with
  the pulmonary surface. A single inspiration of the concentrated
  prussic acid, for example, is capable of killing with the rapidity
  of a stroke of lightning. So rapidly does this poison affect the
  system, and so deadly is its nature, that more than one physiologist
  has lost his life by incautiously inhaling it while using it for the
  purpose of experiment. If the nose of an animal be slowly passed
  over a bottle containing this poison, and the animal happen to
  inspire during the moment of the passage, it drops down dead
  instantaneously, just as when the poison is applied in the form of a
  liquid to the tongue or the stomach. On the other hand, the vapour
  of chlorine possesses the property of arresting the poisonous
  effects of prussic acid; and hence when an animal is all but dead
  from the effects of this acid, it is sometimes suddenly restored to
  life by holding its mouth over the vapour of chlorine.

  During every moment of life in natural respiration a portion of the
  air of the atmosphere passes through the air vesicles of the lungs
  into the blood, while a quantity of carbonic acid gas is given off
  from the blood, and is transmitted through the walls of these
  vesicles into the atmosphere. Now that substances mixed with or
  suspended in atmospheric air may be conveyed with it to the lungs
  and immediately enter into the circulating mass, any one may satisfy
  himself merely by passing through a recently painted chamber. The
  vapour of turpentine diffused through the chamber is transmitted to
  the lungs with the air which is breathed, and passing into the
  current of the circulation through the walls of the air vesicles,
  exhibits its effects in some of the fluid excretions of the body,
  even more rapidly than if it had been taken into the stomach.

  Facts such as these help us to understand the production and
  propagation of disease through the medium of an infected atmosphere,
  whether on a large scale, as in the case of an epidemic which
  rapidly extends over a nation or a continent, or on a small scale,
  in the sick chamber, the dissecting room, the church, and the

  Thus it is universally known that, when the atmosphere is infected
  with the matter of small-pox, this disease is produced with the same
  and even with greater certainty than when the matter of small-pox is
  introduced by the lancet directly into a blood-vessel in

  It is equally well known that, when the air is infected by particles
  of decomposing vegetable and animal matter, fevers are produced of
  various types and different degrees of intensity; that the
  exhalations arising from marshes, bogs, and other uncultivated and
  undrained places, constitute a poison chiefly of a vegetable nature,
  which produces principally fevers of an intermittent or remittent
  type; and that exhalations accumulated in close, ill-ventilated, and
  crowded apartments in the confined situations of densely-populated
  cities, where little attention is paid to the removal of putrefying
  and excrementitious matters, constitute a poison chiefly of an
  animal nature, which produces continued fever of the typhoid
  character. There are situations in which these putrefying matters,
  aided by heat and other peculiarities of climate, generate a poison
  so intense and deadly, that a single inspiration of the air in which
  they are diffused is capable of producing almost instantaneous
  death; and there are other situations in which a less highly
  concentrated poison accumulates, the inspiration of which for a few
  minutes produces a fever capable of destroying life in from two to
  twelve hours. In dirty and neglected ships, in damp, crowded, and
  filthy gaols, in the crowded wards of ill-ventilated hospitals
  filled with persons labouring under malignant surgical diseases or
  bad forms of fever, an atmosphere is generated which cannot be
  breathed long, even by the most healthy and robust, without
  producing highly dangerous fever.

  3. The evidence is just as indubitable that exhalations arise from
  the bodies of the dead, which are capable of producing disease and
  death. Many instances are recorded of the communication of small-pox
  from the corpse of a person who has died of small-pox. This has
  happened not only in the dwelling-house before interment, but even
  in the dissecting room. Some years ago five students of anatomy, at
  the Webb-street school, Southwark, who were pursuing their studies
  under Mr. Grainger, were seized with small-pox, communicated from a
  subject on the dissecting-table, though it does not appear that all
  who were attacked were actually engaged in dissecting this body. One
  of these young men died. There is reason to believe that emanations
  from the bodies of persons who have died of other forms of fever
  have proved injurious and even fatal to individuals who have been
  much in the same room with the corpse.

  The exhalations arising from dead bodies in the dissecting room are
  in general so much diluted by admixture with atmospheric air,
  through the ventilation which is kept up, that they do not commonly
  affect the health in a very striking or marked manner; and by great
  attention to ventilation, it is no doubt possible to pursue the
  study of anatomy with tolerable impunity. Yet few teachers of
  anatomy deny that without this precaution this pursuit is very apt
  to injure the health, and that, with all the precaution that can be
  taken, it sometimes produces such a degree of diarrhœa, and at other
  times such a general derangement of the digestive organs, as
  imperatively to require an absence for a time from the dissecting
  room and a residence in the pure air of the country. The same
  statements are uniformly made by the professors of Veterinary
  anatomy in this country. The result of inquiries which I have
  personally made into the state of the health of persons licensed to
  slaughter horses, called knackers, is, that though they maintain
  their health apparently unimpaired for some time, yet that after a
  time the functions of the nutritive organs become impaired, they
  begin to emaciate, and present a cadaverous appearance, slight
  wounds fester and become difficult to heal, and that upon the whole
  they are a short-lived race.

  The exhalations arising from dead bodies interred in the vaults of
  churches, and in church-yards, are also so much diluted with the air
  of the atmosphere, that they do not commonly affect the health in so
  immediate and direct a manner as plainly to indicate the source of
  these noxious influences. It is only when some accidental
  circumstances have favoured their accumulation or concentration in
  an unusual degree, that the effects become so sensible as obviously
  to declare their cause. Every now and then, however, such a
  concurrence of circumstances does happen, of which there are many
  instances on record; but it may suffice for the present to mention
  one, the particulars of which I have received from a gentleman who
  is known to me, and on the accuracy of whose statements I can rely.

  Mr. Hutchinson, surgeon, Farringdon-street, was called on Monday
  morning, the 15th March, 1841, to attend a girl, aged 14, who was
  labouring under typhus fever of a highly malignant character. This
  girl was the daughter of a pew-opener in one of the large city
  churches, situated in the centre of a small burial ground, which had
  been used for the interment of the dead for centuries, the ground of
  which was raised much above its natural level, and was saturated
  with the remains of the bodies of the dead. There were vaults
  beneath the church, in which it was still the custom, as it had long
  been, to bury the dead. The girl in question had recently returned
  from the country, where she had been at school. On the preceding
  Friday, that is, on the fourth day before Mr. Hutchinson saw her,
  she had assisted her mother during three hours and on the Saturday
  during one hour, in shaking and cleansing the matting of the aisles
  and pews of the church. The mother stated, that this work was
  generally done once in six weeks; that the dust and effluvia which
  arose, always had a peculiarly fœtid and offensive odour, very
  unlike the dust which collects in private houses; that it invariably
  made her (the mother) ill for at least a day afterwards; and that it
  used to make the grandmother of the present patient so unwell, that
  she was compelled to hire a person to perform this part of her duty.
  On the afternoon of the same day on which the young person now ill
  had been engaged in her employment, she was seized with shivering,
  severe pain in the head, back, and limbs, and other symptoms of
  commencing fever. On the following day all these symptoms were
  aggravated, and in two days afterwards, when Mr. Hutchinson first
  saw her, malignant fever was fully developed, the skin being burning
  hot, the tongue dry and covered with a dark brown fur, the thirst
  urgent, the pain of the head, back, and extremities severe, attended
  with hurried and oppressed breathing, great restlessness and
  prostration, anxiety of countenance, low muttering delirium, and a
  pulse of 130 in the minute.

  In this case it is probable that particles of noxious animal matter
  progressively accumulated in the matting during the intervals
  between the cleansing of it; and that being set free by this
  operation and diffused in the atmosphere, while they were powerful
  enough always sensibly to affect even those who were accustomed to
  inhale them, were sufficiently concentrated to produce actual fever
  in one wholly unaccustomed to them, and rendered increasingly
  susceptible to their influence by recent residence in the pure air
  of the country; for it is remarkable that miasms sometimes act with
  the greatest intensity on those who habitually breathe the purest

  The miasms arising from church-yards are in general too much diluted
  by the surrounding air to strike the neighbouring inhabitants with
  sudden and severe disease, yet they may materially injure the
  health, and the evidence appears to me to be decisive that they
  often do so. Among others who sometimes obviously suffer from this
  cause, are the families of clergymen, when, as occasionally happens,
  the vicarage or rectory is situated very close to a full
  church-yard. I myself know one such clergyman’s family, whose
  dwelling-house is so close to an extremely full churchyard, that a
  very disagreeable smell from the graves is always perceptible in
  some of the sitting and sleeping rooms. The mother of this family
  states that she has never had a day’s health since she has resided
  in this house, and that her children are always ailing; and their
  ill health is attributed, both by the family and their medical
  friends, to the offensive exhalations from the church-yard.

Dr. Lyon Playfair states as follows in his communication—

  There are two kinds of changes which animal and vegetable matters
  undergo, when exposed to certain influences. These are known by the
  terms of “decay” and “putrefaction.” Decay, properly so called, is a
  union of the elements of organic matter with the oxygen of the air;
  while putrefaction, although generally commencing with decay, is a
  change or transformation of the elements of the organic body itself,
  without any necessary union with the oxygen of the air. When decay
  proceeds in a body without putrefaction, offensive smells are not
  generated; but if the air in contact with the decaying matter be in
  any way deficient, the decay passes into putrefaction, and putrid
  smells arise. Putrid smells are rarely if ever evolved from
  substances destitute of the element nitrogen.

  Both decaying and putrefying matters are capable of communicating
  their own state of putrefaction or of decay to any organic matter
  with which they may come in contact. To take the simplest case, a
  piece of decayed wood, a decaying orange, or a piece of tainted
  flesh is capable of causing similar decay or putrefaction in another
  piece of wood, orange, or flesh. In a similar manner the decaying
  gases evolved from sewers occasion the putrescence of meat or of
  vegetables hung in the vicinity of the place from which they escape.
  But this communication of putrefaction is not confined to dead
  matter. When tainted meat or putrescent blood-puddings are taken as
  food, their state of putrefaction is frequently communicated to the
  bodies of the persons who have used them as food. A disease
  analogous to rot ensues, and generally terminates fatally. Happily
  this disease is little known among us, but it is of very frequent
  occurrence in Germany.

  The decay or putrefaction communicated by putrid gases or by
  decaying matters does not always assume one form, but varies
  according to the organs to which their peculiar state is imparted.
  If communicated to the blood it might possibly happen that fever may
  arise; if to the intestines, dysentery or diarrhœa might result; and
  I think it might even be a question worthy of consideration, whether
  consumption may not arise from such exposure. Certainly it seems to
  do so among cattle. The men who are employed in cleaning out drains
  are very liable to the attacks of dysentery and of diarrhœa; and I
  recollect instances of similar diseases occurring among some
  fellow-students, when I attended the dissecting-rooms.

  The effects produced by decaying emanations will vary according to
  the state of putrefaction or decay in which these emanations are, as
  well as according to their intensity and concentration. Thus it
  occurs frequently that persons susceptible to contagion may be in
  the vicinity of a fever patient without acquiring the disease. I
  know one celebrated medical man who attends his own patients in
  fever without danger, but who has never been able to take charge of
  the fever-wards in an infirmary, from the circumstance of his being
  unable to resist the influence of the contagion under such
  circumstances. This gentleman has had fever several times. This
  shows that the contagion of fever requires a certain degree of
  _concentration_ before it is able to produce its immediate effects.
  A knowledge of this circumstance has induced several infirmaries
  (the Bristol infirmary, for example) to abolish altogether
  fever-wards and to scatter the fever cases indiscriminately through
  the medical wards. Owing to this distribution, cases in which fever
  is communicated to other patients or nurses in the infirmary are
  very unfrequent, although they are far from being so in those
  hospitals where the fever cases are grouped together.

  I consider that the want of attention to the circumstance of the
  concentration of decaying emanations is a great reason that the
  effects of miasmata in producing fever is still a _questio vexata_.
  Thus there may be many church-yards and sewers evolving decaying
  matter, and yet no fever may occur in the locality. Some other more
  modified effect may be produced, according to the degree of
  concentration of the decaying matter, such as diarrhœa or even
  dysentery; or there may be no perceptible effects produced, although
  the blood may still be thrown into a diseased state which will
  render it susceptible to any specific contagion that approaches. It
  must be remembered that decaying exhalations will not always produce
  similar effects, but that these will vary not only according to the
  concentration, but also according to the state of decomposition in
  which the decaying matters are.

  The rennet for making cheese is in a peculiar state of decay, or
  rather is capable of a series of states of decay, and the flavour of
  the cheese manufactured by means of it varies also according to the
  state of the rennet. Just so with the diseases produced by the
  peculiar state or concentration of decaying matters or of specific
  contagions. When the Asiatic cholera visited this country many of
  the towns were afflicted with dysentery before the cholera appeared
  in an unquestionable form. In like manner the miasmata evolved from
  church-yards may produce injurious effects which may not be
  sufficiently marked to call attention until they assume a more
  serious form by becoming more concentrated. But notwithstanding the
  absence of marked effects, it is extremely probable that constant
  exposure to miasmata may produce a diseased state of the blood. Thus
  I had occasion to visit and report upon, amongst other matters, the
  state of slaughter-houses in Bristol. These are generally situated
  in courts, very inefficiently ventilated, as all courts are. I
  remarked that the men employed in the slaughter-houses had a
  remarkably cadaverous hue, and this was participated in a greater or
  less degree by the inhabitants of the court. So much was this the
  case, that in a court where the smells from the slaughter-house were
  so offensive that my companion had immediately to retire from
  sickness, I immediately singled out one person as not belonging to
  the court from a number of people who ran out of their houses to
  inquire the object of my visit. The person who attracted my
  attention from her healthy appearance compared with the others, had
  entered this court to pay a visit to a neighbour.

§ 11. That conclusions respecting such immensely important effects can
only be established by reasonings on facts frequently so scattered over
distant times and places as to require much research to bring them
together; that those conclusions are still open to controversy, and have
hitherto been maintained only by references to statements of distant
observations, whilst regularly sustained examinations of the events
occurring daily in our large towns might have placed them beyond a
doubt; may be submitted as showing the necessity of some public
arrangements to ensure constant attention, and complete information on
these subjects, as the basis of complete measures of prevention.

§ 12. The conclusions, however, which appear to be firmly established by
the evidence, and the preponderant medical testimony, are on every
point, as to the essential character of the physical evils connected
with the practice of interment, so closely coincident with the
conclusions deduced from observation on the continent, that from Dr.
Riecke’s report (and to which a prize was awarded by an eminent medical
association), in which the preponderant medical opinions are set forth,
they may be stated in the following terms:—

“The general conclusions from the foregoing report may be given as

“The injurious effect of the exhalations from the decomposition in
question upon the health and life of man is proved by a sufficient
number of trustworthy facts;

“That this injurious influence is by no means constant, and depends on
varying and not yet sufficiently explained circumstances;

“That this injurious influence is manifest in proportion to the degree
of concentration of putrid emanations, especially in confined spaces;
and in such cases of concentration the injurious influence is manifest
in the production of asphyxia and the sudden and entire extinction of

“That, in a state less concentrated, putrid emanations produce various
effects on the nerves of less importance, as fainting, nausea,
head-ache, languor;

“These emanations, however, if their effect is often repeated, or if the
emanations be long applied, produce nervous and putrid fevers; or impart
to fevers, which have arisen from other causes, a typhoid or putrid

“Apparently they furnish the principal cause of the most developed form
of typhus, that is to say, the plague (_Der Bubonenpest_). Besides the
products of decomposition, the contagious material may also be active in
the emanations arising from dead bodies.”

§ 13. Such being the nature of the emanations from human remains in a
state of decomposition, or in a state of corruption, the obtainment of
any definite or proximate evidence of the extent of the operation of
those emanations on the health of the population nevertheless appears to
be hopeless in crowded districts. In such districts the effects of an
invisible fluid have not been observed, amidst a complication of other
causes, each of a nature ascertained to produce an injurious effect upon
the public health, but undistinguished, except when it accidentally
becomes predominant. The sense of smell in the majority of inhabitants
seems to be destroyed, and having no perception even of stenches which
are insupportable to strangers, they must be unable to note the
excessive escapes of miasma as antecedents to disease. Occasionally,
however, some medical witnesses, who have been accustomed to the smell
of the dissecting-room, detect the smell of human remains from the
grave-yards, in crowded districts; and other witnesses have stated that
they can distinguish what is called the “dead man’s smell,” when no one
else can, and can distinguish it from the miasma of the sewers.

In the case of the predominance of the smell from the grave-yard, the
immediate consequence ordinarily noted is a head-ache. A military
officer stated to me that when his men occupied as a barrack a building
which opened over a crowded burial-ground in Liverpool, the smell from
the ground was at times exceedingly offensive, and that he and his men
suffered from dysentery. A gentleman who had resided near that same
ground, stated to me that he was convinced that his own health, and the
health of his children had suffered from it, and that he had removed, to
avoid further injury. The following testimony of a lady, respecting the
miasma which escaped from one burial-ground at Manchester, is adduced as
an example of the more specific testimony as to the perception of its
effects. This testimony also brings to view the circumstance that in the
towns it is not only in surface emanations from the grave-yards alone
that the morbific matter escapes.

  You resided formerly in the house immediately contiguous to the
  burying-ground of —— chapel, did you not?—Yes I did, but I was
  obliged to leave it.

  Why were you so obliged?—When the wind was west, the smell was
  dreadful. There is a main sewer runs through the burying-ground, and
  the smell of the dead bodies came through this sewer up our drain,
  and until we got that trapped, it was quite unbearable.

  Do you not think the smell arose from the emanations of the sewer,
  and not from the burying-ground?—I am sure they came from the
  burying-ground; the smell coming from the drain was exactly the same
  as that which reached us when the wind was west, and blew upon us
  from the burying-ground. The smell was very peculiar; it exactly
  resembled the smell which clothes have when they are removed from a
  dead body. My servants would not remain in the house on account of
  it, and I had several cooks who removed on this account.

  Did you observe any effects on your health when the smells were
  bad?—Yes, I am liable to head-aches, and these were always bad when
  the smells were so also. They were often accompanied by diarrhœa in
  this house. Before I went there, and since I left, my head-aches
  have been very trifling.

  Were any of the other inmates of the house afflicted with illness?—I
  had often to send for the surgeon to my servants, who were liable to
  ulcerated sore throats.

  And your children, were they also affected?—My youngest child was
  very delicate, and we thought he could not have survived; since he
  came here he has become quite strong and healthy, but I have no
  right to say the burying-ground had any connexion with his health.

§ 14. In the course of an examination of the Chairman and Surveyor of
the Holborn and Finsbury Division of Sewers, on the general management
of sewers in London, the following passage occurs:—

  “You do not believe that the nuisance arises in all cases from the
  main sewers? (Mr. Roe)—Not always from the main sewers. (Mr.
  Mills)—Connected with this point, I would mention, that where the
  sewers came in contact with church-yards, the exudation is most

  “Have you noticed that in more than one case?—Yes.

  “In those cases have you had any opportunities of tracing in what
  manner the exudation from the church-yards passed to the sewer?—It
  must have been through the sides of the sewers.

  “Then, if that be the case, the sewer itself must have given
  way?—No; I apprehend even if you use concrete, it is impossible but
  that the adjacent waters would find their way even through cement;
  it is the natural consequence. The wells of the houses adjacent to
  the sewers all get dry whenever the sewers are lowered.

  “You are perfectly satisfied that in the course of time
  exudations very often do, to a certain extent, pass through the
  brick-work?—Yes; it is impossible to prevent it.

  “Have you ever happened to notice whether there was putrid matter in
  all cases where the sewer passed through a burial-ground?—The last
  church-yard I passed by was in the parish of St. Pancras, when the
  sewer was constructing. I observed that the exudation from it into
  the sewer was peculiarly offensive, and was known to arise from the
  decomposition of the bodies.

  “At what distance was the sewer from the church-yard where you found
  that?—Thirty feet.”

Mr. Roe subsequently stated—

  “Mr. Jacob Post, living at the corner of Church-street, Lower Road,
  Islington, stated to our clerk of the works, when we were building a
  sewer opposite Mr. Post’s house, that he had a pump, the water from
  the well attached to which had been very good, and used for domestic
  purposes; but that, since a burying-ground was formed above his
  house, the water in his well had become of so disagreeable a flavour
  as to prevent its being used as heretofore: and he was in hopes that
  the extra depth of our sewer would relieve him from the drainage of
  the burying-ground, to which he attributed the spoiling of his

Professor Brande states that he has “frequently found the well-water of
London contaminated by organic matters and ammoniacal salts,” and refers
to an instance of one well near a church-yard, “the water of which had
not only acquired odour but colour from the soil;” and mentions other
instances of which he has heard, as justifying the opinion, that as
“very many of these wells are adjacent to church-yards, the accumulating
soil of which has been so heaped up by the succession of dead bodies and
coffins, and the products of their decomposition, as to form a filtering
apparatus, by which all _superficial_ springs must of course be more or
less affected.” Some of the best springs in the metropolis are,
fortunately, of a depth not likely to be considerably affected by such
filtration. In Leicester, and other places, I have been informed of the
disuse of wells near church-yards, on account of the perception of a
taint in them. The difficulty of distinguishing by any analysis the
qualities of the morbific matter when held in solution or suspension in
water, in combination with other matters in towns, and the consequent
importance of the separate examination already given to those qualities,
may be appreciated from such cases as the following, which are by no
means unfrequent. In the instance of the water of one well in the
metropolis, which had ceased to be used, in consequence of an offensive
taste (contracted, as was suspected, from the drainage of an adjacent
church-yard), it was doubted whether it could be determined by analysis
what portion of the pollution arose from that source, what from the
leakage of adjacent cesspools, and what from the leakage of coal-gas
from adjacent gas-pipes. In most cases of such complications, the
parties responsible for any one contributing source of injury are apt to
challenge, as they may safely do, distinct proof of the separate effect
produced by that one. Popular perceptions, as well as chemical analysis,
are at present equally baffled by the combination, and complaints of
separate injuries are rarely made. If, therefore, the combined evil is
to remain until complaints are made of the separate causes, and their
specific effects on the health, and until they can be supported by
demonstration, perpetual immunity would be ensured to the most noxious

The effects of unguarded interments have, however, as will subsequently
be noticed, been observed with greater care on the continent, and the
proximity of wells to burial-grounds has been reported to be injurious.
Thus it is stated in a collection of reports concerning the cemeteries
of the town of Versailles, that the water of the wells which lie _below_
the church-yard of St. Louis could not be used on account of its stench.
In consequence of various investigations in France, a law was passed,
prohibiting the opening of wells within 100 metres of any place of
burial; but this distance is now stated to be insufficient for deep
wells, which have been found on examination to be polluted at a distance
of from 150 to 200 metres. In some parts of Germany, the opening of
wells nearer than 300 feet has been prohibited.

§ 15. Where the one deleterious cause is less complicated with others,
as in open plains after the burial of the dead in fields of battle, the
effects are perceived in the offensiveness of the surface emanations,
and also in the pollution of the water, followed by disease, which
compels the survivors to change their encampments.

The fact is thus adduced in the evidence of Dr. Copeland:—

“It is fully ascertained and well recognized that the alluvial soil, or
whatever soil that receives the exuviæ of animal matter, or the bodies
of dead animals, will become rich in general; it will abound in animal
matter; and the water that percolates through the soil thus enriched
will thus become injurious to the health of the individuals using it:
that has been proved on many occasions, and especially in warm climates,
and several remarkable facts illustrative of it occurred in the
peninsular campaigns. It was found, for instance, at Ciudad Rodrigo,
where, as Sir J. Macgregor states in his account of the health of the
army, there were 20,000 dead bodies put into the ground within the space
of two or three months, that this circumstance appeared to influence the
health of the troops, inasmuch as for some months afterwards all those
exposed to the emanations from the soil, as well as obliged to drink the
water from the sunk wells, were affected by malignant and low fevers and
dysentery, or fevers frequently putting on a dysenteric character.”

§ 16. In the metropolis, on spaces of ground which do not exceed 203
acres, closely surrounded by the abodes of the living, layer upon layer,
each consisting of a population numerically equivalent to a large army
of 20,000 adults, and nearly 30,000 youths and children, is every year
imperfectly interred. Within the period of the existence of the present
generation, upwards of a million of dead must have been interred in
those same spaces.

§ 17. A layer of bodies is stated to be about seven years in decaying in
the metropolis: to the extent that this is so, the decay must be by the
conversion of the remains into a gas, and its escape, as a miasma, of
many times the bulk of the body that has disappeared.

§ 18. In some of the populous parishes, where, from the nature of the
soil, the decomposition has not been so rapid as the interments, the
place of burial has risen in height; and the height of many of them must
have greatly increased but for surreptitious modes of diminishing it by
removal, which, it must be confessed, has diminished the sanitary evil,
though by the creation of another and most serious evil, in the mental
pain and apprehensions of the survivors and feelings of abhorrence of
the population, caused by the suspicion and knowledge of the disrespect
and desecration of the remains of the persons interred.

§ 19. The claims to exemption in favour of burial-grounds which it is
stated are not overcrowded would perhaps be most favourably considered
by the examination of the practice of interment in the new cemeteries,
where the proportion of interments to the space is much less.

§ 20. I have visited and questioned persons connected with several of
these cemeteries in town and country, and I have caused the practice of
interments in others of them to be examined by more competent persons.
The inquiry brought forward instances of the bursting of some leaden
coffins and the escape of mephitic vapour in the catacombs; the tapping
of others to prevent similar casualties; injuries sustained by
grave-diggers from the escapes of miasma on the re-opening of graves,
and an instance was stated to me by the architect of one cemetery, of
two labourers having been injured, apparently by digging amidst some
impure water which drained from some graves. No precedent examination of
the evils affecting the public health, that are incident to the practice
of interment, appears to have been made, no precedent scientific or
impartial investigation appears to have been thought necessary by the
joint-stock companies, or by the Committees of the House of Commons, at
whose instance privileges were conferred upon the shareholders: no new
precautionary measures or improvements, such as are in use abroad,
appear consequently to have been introduced in them; the practice of
burial has in general been simply removed to better looking, and in
general, better situated places. The conclusion, however, from the
examination of these places (which will subsequently be reverted to) is,
that if most of the cemeteries themselves were in the midst of the
population, they would, even in their present state, often contribute to
the combination of causes of ill health in the metropolis, and several
of the larger towns.

§ 21. It has been considered that all danger from interments in towns
would be obviated if no burials were allowed except at a depth of five
feet. But bodies buried much deeper are found to decay; and so certain
as a body has wasted or disappeared is the fact that a deleterious gas
has escaped. In the towns where the grave-yards and streets are paved,
the morbific matter must be diffused more widely through the subsoil,
and escape with the drainage. If the interments be so deep as to impede
escapes at the surface, there is only the greater danger of escape by
deep drainage and the pollution of springs.

Dr. Reid detected the escape of deleterious miasma from graves of more
than 20 feet deep. He states—

  In some churchyards I have noticed the ground to be absolutely
  saturated with carbonic acid gas, so that whenever a deep grave was
  dug it was filled in some hours afterwards with such an amount of
  carbonic acid gas that the workmen could not descend without danger.
  Deaths have, indeed, occurred occasionally in some churchyards from
  this cause, and in a series of experiments made in one of the
  churchyards at Manchester, where deep graves are made, each capable
  of receiving from 20 to 30 bodies, I found in general that a grave
  covered on the top at night was more or less loaded with carbonic
  acid in the morning, and that it was essential, accordingly, to
  ventilate these grave-pits before it was safe to descend.

  This I effected on some occasions by means of a small chauffer
  placed at the top, and at one end of the grave a tube or hose being
  let down from it to the bottom of the grave. The fire was sustained
  by the admission of a small portion of fresh air at the top, and the
  air from the bottom of the grave was gradually removed as the upper
  stratum was heated by the fire around which it was conveyed; and
  when it had been once emptied in this manner a small fire was found
  sufficient to sustain a perpetual renewal of air, and prevent the
  men at work in the grave-pits from being subject to the extreme
  oppression to which they are otherwise liable, even when there may
  be no immediate danger. A mechanical power might be used for the
  same purpose; and chemical agents, as a quantity of newly slaked
  lime, are frequently employed, as they absorb the carbonic acid.
  From different circumstances that have since occurred, it appears to
  me probable that numerous examples of strata or superficial soil
  containing carbonic acid may be more frequently met with than is
  generally suspected, and that while in churchyards the presence of
  large quantities of carbonic acid may be frequently anticipated, its
  presence must not always be attributed solely to the result of the
  decomposition of the human body.

  The amount of carbonic acid that collects within a given time in a
  deep grave-pit intended to receive 20 or 30 bodies, is much
  influenced by the nature of the ground in which it is dug. In the
  case referred to, the porous texture of the earth allowed a
  comparatively free aerial communication below the surface of the
  ground throughout its whole extent. It was, in reality, loaded with
  carbonic acid in the same manner as other places are loaded with
  water; it was only necessary to sink a pit, and a well of carbonic
  acid was formed, into which a constant stream of the same gas
  continued perpetually to filter from the adjacent earth, according
  to the extent to which it was removed. From whatever source,
  however, the carbonic acid may arise, it is not the less prone to
  mingle with the surrounding air, and where the level of the floor of
  the church is below the level of the churchyard, there the carbonic
  acid is prone to accumulate, as, though it may be ultimately
  dispersed by diffusion, it may be considered as flowing in the same
  manner in the first instance as water, where the quantity is

  Again, where the drainage of the district in which the church may be
  placed is of an inferior description, and liable to be impeded
  periodically by the state of the tide, as in the vicinity of the
  Houses of Parliament, where all the drains are closed at high water,
  the atmosphere is frequently of the most inferior quality. I am
  fully satisfied, for instance, not only from my own observation, but
  from different statements that have reached me, and also from the
  observations of parties who have repeatedly examined the subject at
  my request, that the state of the burying-ground around St.
  Margaret’s church is prejudicial to the air supplied at the Houses
  of Parliament, and also to the whole neighbourhood. One of them,
  indeed, stated to me lately that he had avoided the churchyard for
  the last six months, in consequence of the effects he experienced
  the last time he visited it. These offensive emanations have been
  noticed at all hours of the night and morning; and even during the
  day the smell of the churchyard has been considered to have reached
  the vaults in the House of Commons, and traced to sewers in its
  immediate vicinity. When the barometer is low, the surface of the
  ground slightly moist, the tide full, and the temperature
  considerable—all which circumstances tend to favour the evolution of
  effluvia both from the grave-pits and the drains—the most injurious
  influence upon the air is observed. In some places not far from this
  churchyard fresh meat is frequently tainted in a single night, on
  the ground-floor, in situations where at a higher level it may be
  kept without injury for a much longer period. In some cases, in
  private houses as well as at the Houses of Parliament, I have had to
  make use of ventilating shafts, or of preparations of chlorine, to
  neutralize the offensive and deleterious effects which the
  exhalations produced, while, on other occasions, their injurious
  influence has been abundantly manifested by the change induced in
  individuals subjected to their influence on removing to another
  atmosphere. No grievance, perhaps, entails greater physical evils
  upon any district than the conjoined influence of bad drainage and
  crowded churchyards; and until the drainage of air from drains shall
  be secured by the process adverted to in another part of this work,
  or some equivalent measures, they cannot be regarded as free from a
  very important defect.

  The drainage of air from drains is, indeed, desirable under any
  circumstances; but when the usual contaminations of the drain are
  increased by the emanations from a loaded churchyard, it becomes
  doubly imperative to introduce such measures; and if any one should
  desire to trace the progress of reaction by which the grave-yards
  are continually tending to free themselves of their contents, a very
  brief inquiry will give him abundant evidence on this point. My
  attention was first directed to this matter in London ten years ago,
  when a glass of water handed to me at an hotel, in another district,
  presented a peculiar film on its surface, which led me to set it
  aside; and after numerous inquiries, I was fully satisfied that the
  appearance which had attracted my attention arose from the coffins
  in a churchyard immediately adjoining the well where the water had
  been drawn. Defective as our information is as to the precise
  qualities of the various products from drains, church-yards, and
  other similar places, I think I have seen enough to satisfy me that
  in all such situations the fluids of the living system imbibe
  materials which, though they do not always produce great severity of
  disease, speedily induce a morbid condition, which, while it renders
  the body more prone to attacks of fever, is more especially
  indicated by the facility with which all the fluids pass to a state
  of putrefaction, and the rapidity with which the slightest wound or
  cut is apt to pass into a sore.

Mr. Leigh, surgeon and lecturer of chemistry at Manchester, confirms the
researches made by Dr. Reid in that town, and observes on this subject—

  But the decomposition of animal bodies is remarkably modified by
  external circumstances where the bodies are immersed in or
  surrounded by water, and particularly, if the water undergo frequent
  change, the solid tissues become converted into adipocire, a fatty
  spermaceti-like substance, not very prone to decomposition, and this
  change is effected without much gaseous exhalation. Under such
  circumstances nothing injurious could arise, but under ordinary
  conditions slow decomposition would take place, with the usual
  products of the decomposition of animal matters, and here the nature
  of the soil becomes of much interest. If the burial-ground be in
  damp dense compact clay, with much water, the water will collect
  round the body, and there will be a disposition to the formation of
  adipocire, whilst the clay will effectually prevent the escape of
  gaseous matter. If on the other hand the bodies be laid in sand or
  gravel, decomposition will readily take place, the gases will easily
  permeate the superjacent soil and escape into the atmosphere, and
  this with a facility which may be judged of when the fact is stated,
  that under a pressure of only three-fourths of an inch of water,
  coal gas will escape by any leakage in the conduit pipes through a
  stratum of sand or gravel of three feet in thickness in an
  exceedingly short space of time. The three feet of soil seems to
  oppose scarcely any resistance to its passage to the surface; but if
  the joints of the pipes be enveloped by a thin layer of clay, the
  escape is effectually prevented.

  If bodies were interred eight or ten feet deep in sandy or gravelly
  soils, I am convinced little would be gained by it; the gases would
  find a ready exit from almost any practicable depth.

§ 22. He also expresses an opinion concurrent with that of other
physiologists, that the effects of these escapes in an otherwise
salubrious locality, soon attract notice, but their influence in
obedience to the laws of gaseous diffusion, developed by Dalton and
Graham, is not the less when scattered over a town, because in a
multitude of scents they escape observation. In open rural districts
these gases soon intermix with the circumambient air, and become so
vastly diluted that their injurious tendency is less potent.

Other physical facts which it is necessary to develope in respect to the
practice of interment may be the most conveniently considered in a
subsequent portion of this report, where it is necessary to adduce the
information possessed, as to the sites of places of burial, and the
sanitary precautions necessary in respect to them.

§ 23. From what has already been adduced, it may here be stated as a

That inasmuch as there appear to be no cases in which the emanations
from human remains in an advanced stage of decomposition are not of a
deleterious nature, so there is no case in which the liability to danger
should be incurred either by interment (or by entombment in vaults,
which is the most dangerous) amidst the dwellings of the living, it
being established as a general conclusion in respect to the physical
circumstances of interment, from which no adequate grounds of exception
have been established;—

That all interments in towns, where bodies decompose, contribute to the
mass of atmospheric impurity which is injurious to the public health.

    _Injuries to the Health of Survivors occasioned by the delay of

In order to understand the state of feeling of the labouring classes,
and the general influence upon them, and even the effects on their
health, of the practice of interment, it will be necessary to submit for
consideration those circumstances which immediately precede the
interment, namely, the most common circumstances of the death.

§ 24. In a large proportion of cases in the metropolis, and in some of
the manufacturing districts, one room serves for one family of the
labouring classes: it is their bed-room, their kitchen, their washhouse,
their sitting room, their dining room; and, when they do not follow any
out-door occupation, it is frequently their work room and their shop. In
this one room they are born, and live, and sleep, and die amidst, the
other inmates.

§ 25. Their common condition in large towns has been developed by
various inquiries, more completely than by the census. As an instance,
the results may be given of an inquiry lately made, at the instance and
expense of Lord Sandon, by Mr. Weld, the secretary of the Statistical
Society, as to the condition of the working classes resident in the
inner ward of St. George’s, Hanover Square, and in the immediate
vicinity of some of the most opulent residences in the metropolis. It
appeared that 1465 families of the labouring classes had for their
residence 2175 rooms, and 2510 beds. The distribution of rooms and beds
was as follows:—

        DWELLINGS.        │Number of║          BEDS.          │Number of
                          │Families.║                         │Families.
 Single rooms for each    │      929║One bed to each family   │      623
   family                 │         ║                         │
 Two rooms for each family│      408║Two beds to each family  │      638
 Three rooms for each     │       94║Three beds to each family│      154
   family                 │         ║                         │
 Four rooms for each      │       17║Four beds to each family │       21
   family                 │         ║                         │
 Five rooms for each      │        8║Five beds to each family │        8
   family                 │         ║                         │
 Six rooms for each family│        4║Six beds to each family  │        3
 Seven rooms for each     │        1║Seven beds to each family│        1
   family                 │         ║                         │
 Eight rooms for each     │        1║Dwellings without a bed  │        7
   family                 │         ║                         │
 Not ascertained          │        3║Not ascertained          │       10
                          │    —————║                         │    —————
           Total          │    1,465║          Total          │    1,465

Out of 5945 persons 839 were found to be ill, and yet the season was not
unhealthy. One family in 11 had a third room (and that not unoccupied)
in which to place a corpse. This, however, appears to be a favourable
specimen. From an examination made by a committee of the Statistical
Society into the condition of the poorer classes in the borough of
Marylebone, it appeared that the distribution of rooms amongst the
portion of population examined showed that not more than one family in a
hundred had a third room.

  No. occupying part of a room, 159 families, and 196 single persons.
  No. occupying one room        382 families, and  56 single persons.
  No. occupying two rooms        61 families, and   2 single persons.
  No. occupying three rooms       5 families, and   7 single persons.
  No. occupying four rooms        1 families, and   0 single persons.

§ 26. Mr. Leonard, surgeon and medical officer of the parish of St.
Martin’s-in-the-Fields, gives the following instances of the
circumstances in which the poorest class of inhabitants die, which may
be adduced as exemplifications of the dreadful state of circumstances in
which the survivors are placed for the want of adequate accommodation
for the remains immediately after death, and previous to the interment:—

  There are some houses in my district that have from 45 to 60 persons
  of all ages under one roof, and in the event of death, the body
  often occupies the only bed till they raise money to pay for a
  coffin, which is often several days. They are crowded together in
  houses situate in Off-alley, the courts and alleys opening from
  Bedfordbury, Rose-street, Angel-court, courts and alleys opening
  from Drury-lane and the Strand, and even in places fitted up under
  the Adelphi arches; even the unventilated and damp underground
  kitchens are tenanted. Of course the tenants are never free from
  fevers and diarrhœa, and the mortality is great. The last class
  live, for the most part, in lodging-rooms, where shelter is
  obtained, with a bed or straw, for from 2_d._ to 4_d._ per night,
  and where this is not obtainable, the arches under the Adelphi
  afford a shelter. In the lodging-rooms I have seen the beds placed
  so close together as not to allow room to pass between them, and
  occupied by both sexes indiscriminately. I have known six people
  sleep in a room about nine feet square, with only one small window,
  about fifteen inches by twelve inches; and there are some
  sleeping-rooms in this district in which you cannot scarcely see
  your hand at noon-day.

  How long is the dead body retained in the room beside the living?—If
  the person has subscribed to a club, or the friends are in
  circumstances to afford the expense of the funeral, it takes place,
  generally, on the following Sunday, if the death has occurred early
  in the week; but if towards the end of the week, then it is
  sometimes postponed till the Sunday week after, if the weather
  permit; in one case it was twelve days. In the other cases I have
  known much opposition to removal till after a subscription had been
  collected from the affluent neighbours; and in some instances, after
  keeping the body several days, I have been applied to to present the
  case to the relieving officer, that it might be buried by the
  parish. Amongst the Irish it is retained till after the wake, which
  “_is open to all comers_” as long as there is anything _dacent to
  drink or smoke_; but I must bear witness, also, to the frequent
  exhibition, in a large majority of the poor, of those affectionate
  attentions to the mortal remains of their relatives, which all are
  anxious to bestow, and which, notwithstanding the danger and want of
  accommodation, make them loth to part with them.

  In what condition is the corpse usually, or frequently,
  retained?—Amongst the Irish, it does not signify of what disease the
  person may have died, it is retained often for many days, laid out
  upon the only bed, perhaps, and adorned with the best they can
  bestow upon it, until the _coronach_ has been performed. Thus fevers
  and other contagious diseases are fearfully propagated. I remember a
  case of a body being brought from the Fever Hospital to
  Bullin-court, and the consequences were dreadful; and this spring I
  removed a girl, named Wilson, to the infirmary of the workhouse,
  from a room in the same court. I could not remain two minutes in it;
  the horrible stench arose from a corpse which had died of phthisis
  twelve days before, and the coffin stood across the foot of the bed,
  within eighteen inches of it. This was in a small room not above ten
  feet by twelve feet square, and a fire always in it, being (as in
  most cases of a like kind) the only one for sleeping, living, and
  cooking in. I mention these as being particular cases, from which
  most marked consequences followed; but I have very many others, in
  which the retention of the body has been fraught with serious
  results to the survivors.

  Will you describe the consequences of such retention?—Upon the 9th
  of March, 1840, M—— was taken to the Fever Hospital. He died there,
  and without my knowledge the body was brought back to his own room.
  The usual practice, in such cases, is to receive them into a
  lock-up-room, set apart for that purpose in the workhouse. I find
  that upon the 12th his step-son was taken ill. He was removed
  immediately to the Fever Hospital. Upon the 18th the barber who
  shaved the corpse was taken ill, and died in the Fever Hospital, and
  upon the 27th another step-son was taken ill, and removed also.

  Upon the 18th of December, 1840, I—— and her infant were brought,
  ill with fever, to her father’s room in Eagle-court, which was ten
  feet square, with a small window of four panes; the infant soon
  died. Upon the 15th of January, 1841, the grandmother was taken ill;
  upon the 2nd of February the grandfather also. There was but one
  bedstead in the room. They resisted every offer to remove them, and
  I had no power to compel removal. The corpse of the grandmother lay
  beside her husband upon the same bed, and it was only when he became
  delirious and incapable of resistance that I ordered the removal of
  the body to the dead-room, and him to the Fever Hospital. He died
  there, but the evil did not stop here: two children, who followed
  their father’s body to the grave, were, the one within a week and
  the other within ten days, also victims to the same disease. In
  short, five out of six died.

  In October, 1841, a fine girl, C——, died of cynanche maligna: her
  body was retained in a small back room. Upon the 1st of November
  another child was taken ill, and upon the 4th two others were also
  seized with the same disease.

  Upon the 2nd of February, 1843, H——, in Heathcock-court, died of
  fever. I recommended the immediate removal of the body from the
  attic room of small dimensions, but it was retained about ten days,
  the widow not consenting to have it buried by the parish, and not
  being able to collect funds sooner: their only child was seized with
  fever, and was several weeks ill.

  Upon the 3rd of March, 1843, B—— died of a fever in Lemontree-yard;
  the body was retained some days, in expectation of friends burying
  it, but in the mean time a child of B——, and one of a lodger in the
  same house, were infected.

  Upon the 13th March, 1843, I saw a family in Hervey’s-buildings,
  which is more open, and the rooms of a better class than those in
  some other situations. I found there the corpse of a person who had
  died of a fever; the father and mother were just taken ill, and a
  child was taken ill soon after. The foot of the coffin was within
  ten inches of the father’s head as he lay upon his pillow. I caused
  it to be removed as soon as possible, and the three cases terminated
  favourably. In the case in Bullin-court, mentioned before, the girl
  Wilson was affected with nausea vertigo, general prostration of
  strength, and trembling, the usual symptoms in these cases. Soon
  after her removal, the mother of the deceased was seized with
  typhus, and is now only so far recovered as scarcely to be able to
  go about and attend to another son, who is at present ill of the
  same disease. These are a few cases only in which serious evils
  followed on retention of the body. I could multiply them, if
  necessary; but they will suffice to show that there should be power
  of removal to some recognized place of safety given to the district
  medical officer for the benefit of the individuals concerned and the
  public at large. The rooms are often most wretched in which these
  cases occur; the neighbourhood is badly ventilated and drained, or
  often not drained at all, and if the medical officer were
  responsible for his acts, and bound to report regularly, there would
  be a sufficient guarantee that no unnecessary harshness would be
  exercised in the performance of a duty absolutely required for the
  preservation of the public health, and the safety of those dearest
  to the sufferers themselves.

  Comparing the effects of the practice of retaining the bodies before
  interment, with the effects of emanations from the dead after
  interment, when buried in crowded districts, which appears to you to
  be the most pernicious practice?—When a body is retained in a small
  room, badly ventilated, and often with a fire in it, the noxious
  gases evolved in the process of decomposition are presented to
  persons exposed to them in a highly concentrated form, and if their
  health is in a certain state favourable to receive the contagion,
  the effect is immediate. In crowded burial-grounds in which I have
  never seen a body at a less depth than three feet from the surface
  (allowing for the artificial building up of the ground to give
  apparent depth to the grave), the gases having this thickness of
  earth to penetrate, arrive at the surface in a divided state, and by
  small quantities at a time mix so gradually with the atmosphere,
  that it becomes comparatively harmless by dilution, and is scarcely
  perceptible. In confined situations, where the ground is limited in
  extent, the long continuance of gradual evolutions of noxious matter
  would, doubtless, be a cause of debility to surrounding inhabitants;
  but such instances, I think, are rare. I have made inquiry in the
  immediate neighbourhood of grave-yards, and I form my opinion from
  the result. There can be no doubt whatever as to the propriety of
  burial beyond the limits of towns, and if the corpse of the poor man
  could be deposited at a distance, without entailing a greater
  expense upon him, I think it would improve the health of our large
  towns very much; but I believe the retention of the corpse in the
  room with the living is fraught with greater danger than that
  produced by the emanations from even crowded grave-yards.

§ 27. The condition in which the remains are often found on the
occurrence of a death at the eastern part of the metropolis are thus
described by Mr. John Liddle, the medical officer of the Whitechapel
district of the Whitechapel Union.

  What is the class of poor persons whom you, as medical officer, are
  called upon to attend to?—The dock labourers, navigators,
  bricklayers’ labourers, and the general description of labourers
  inhabiting Whitechapel and lower Aldgate.

  On the occurrence of a death amongst this description of labourers,
  what do you find to be the general condition of the family, in
  relation to the remains. How is the corpse dealt with?—Nearly the
  whole of the labouring population there have only one room. The
  corpse is therefore kept in that room where the inmates sleep and
  have their meals. Sometimes the corpse is stretched on the bed, and
  the bed and bed-clothes are taken off, and the wife and family lie
  on the floor. Sometimes a board is got on which the corpse is
  stretched, and that is sustained on tressels or on chairs. Sometimes
  it is stretched out on chairs. When children die, they are
  frequently laid out on the table. The poor Irish, if they can afford
  it, form a canopy of white calico over the corpse, and buy candles
  to burn by it, and place a black cross at the head of the corpse.
  They commonly raise the money to do this by subscriptions amongst
  themselves and at the public-houses which they frequent.

  What is the usual length of time that the corpse is so kept?—The
  time varies according to the day of the death. Sunday is the day
  usually chosen for the day of burial. But if a man die on the
  Wednesday, the burial will not take place till the Sunday week
  following. Bodies are almost always kept for a full week, frequently

  What proportion of these cases may be positively contagious?—It
  appears from the Registrar-General’s Report (which, however, cannot
  be depended on for perfect accuracy, as the registrar’s returns are
  very incorrect,—I do not think I have been required to give a
  certificate of death upon more than three occasions), that in the
  year 1839, there were 747 deaths from epidemic diseases which formed
  about one-fifth of the whole of the deaths in the Whitechapel Union.

  Have you had occasion to represent as injurious this practice of
  retaining the corpse amidst the living?—I have represented in
  several communications in answer to sanitary inquiries from the Poor
  Law Commission Office, that it must be and is highly injurious. It
  was only three or four days ago that an instance of this occurred in
  my own practice, which I will mention. A widow’s son, who was about
  15 years of age, was taken ill of fever. Finding the room small, in
  which there was a family of five persons living, I advised his
  immediate removal. This was not done, and the two other sons were
  shortly afterwards attacked, and both died. When fever was epidemic,
  deaths following the first death in the same family were of frequent
  occurrence. In cases where the survivors escape, their general
  health must be deteriorated by the practice of keeping the dead in
  the same room.

  Do you observe any peculiarity of habit amongst the lower classes
  accompanying this familiarity with the remains of the dead?—What I
  observe when I first visit the room is a degree of indifference to
  the presence of the corpse: the family is found eating or drinking
  or pursuing their usual callings, and the children playing. Amongst
  the middle classes, where there is an opportunity of putting the
  corpse by itself, there are greater marks of respect and decency.
  Amongst that class no one would think of doing anything in the room
  where the corpse was lying, still less of allowing children there.

Mr. Byles, surgeon, of Spitalfields, states, that the above description
is generally applicable to the condition of the dwellings of the
labouring classes, and to the circumstances under which the survivors
are placed on the occurrence of a death in that district. He observes,

  In the more malignant form of fever, especially scarlatina, the
  instances of death following the first case of death are frequent.
  The same holds good in respect to measles, and in respect to
  small-pox in families where vaccination has been neglected. I have
  also known instances of children who had been vaccinated becoming
  the subject of fever apparently from the effluvia of the body of a
  child who had died of the small-pox. I have often had occasion
  urgently to represent to the parish and union officers the necessity
  of a forcible interference to remove bodies. Coffins have been sent
  and the bodies removed and placed in a vault under the church until
  interment, and the rooms limewashed at the expense of the parish.

  Were such removals resisted?—Not generally; they were in some few

§ 28. Mr. Bestow, a relieving officer of the adjacent district of
Bethnal Green, who is called upon to visit the abodes of those persons
of the labouring classes, who on the occurrence of death fall into a
state of destitution, thus exemplifies the common consequences of the
retention of the corpse in the living and working rooms of the family:—

  Is the corpse generally kept in the living or in the working
  room?—In the majority of cases the weavers live and work in the same
  room; the children generally sleep on a bed pushed under the loom.
  Before a coffin is obtained, the corpse is generally stretched on
  the bed where the adults have slept. It is a very serious evil in
  our district, the length of time during which bodies have been kept
  under such circumstances. I have frequently had to make complaint of
  it. We are very often complained to by neighbours of the length of
  time during which the bodies are kept. We have very often had
  disease occasioned by it. I have known, in one case, as many as
  eight deaths, from typhus fever, follow one death; there were five
  children and two or three visitors whose illness and deaths were
  ascribed to the circumstance.

  In January, 1837, a man named Clark, in George Gardens, in this
  parish, having been kept a considerable length of time unburied (I
  was informed beyond a fortnight), I was directed to visit the case,
  and I found the house consisted of two small rooms, wherein resided
  his wife and seven children. I remonstrated with them upon the
  impropriety of keeping the body so long, and offered either to bury,
  or to remove it, as it was then becoming very offensive. I was
  informed it would be buried on the following Sunday, as it would not
  be convenient for the whole of the relatives to attend the funeral
  earlier, and I understood a very great number did attend. I find
  that on the 30th of the same month (January) I was called again to
  visit Ann Clark, one of the family, in the same miserable abode, who
  was lying upon some rags, very ill of fever. I had her removed, but
  she ultimately died; and I again remonstrated with the family
  remaining in the same house, and offered to take them into the
  workhouse, which was declined, stating, it was their intention to
  remove in a few days to another house. And on the 20th of February,
  my attention was called to the same family, who had then removed to
  No. 3, Granby Row, not far from their former abode, and here I found
  the mother and the whole of the children (as I had predicted to
  them, if they persisted in their habits), all ill of fever without
  much hopes of their recovery. I had five removed to the London Fever
  Hospital immediately; but out of seven who were affected, two died.
  My attention was shortly afterwards directed to Henry Clark, of
  Barnet Street, who was a relative, and had taken fever (it was
  stated) by having attended the funeral of his friend; he, it seems,
  communicated it to his wife and two children, one of whom died; next
  followed Stephen Clark, of Edward Street, who, having visited the
  above-named relative, and attended the funeral of their infant
  shortly afterwards, had fever; also his wife and three children, one
  of whom died also. In August, 1837, I was called to visit the case
  of Sarah Masterton, No. 11, Suffolk Street, whose husband lay dead
  of fever; she was with two children in the same room, and the corpse
  not in a coffin. They were in the most deplorable condition, and so
  bad with fever that none of the neighbours would venture to enter
  the room with me. I had the dead body removed in a shell to our
  dead-house, and the woman and children to the infirmary in the
  workhouse. Two of them ultimately recovered; one died. In the same
  house, and in the upper room, I next found Robert Crisp, with a wife
  and child, upon whom I could not prevail to leave the place, and my
  urgent entreaties were treated with contempt and bad language.
  Ultimately, however, his child died, and not until then could I
  persuade him to get another place, neither would he have the infant
  removed, or come into the workhouse himself.

  William Procktor, residing in a miserable hut in Camden’s Gardens,
  of only one room, with a wife and two children, when visited, was
  found badly affected with fever, of which the wife died, and the
  body was kept in the same place wherein all the family resided and
  slept, for more than a week. The man was next attacked, and then the
  children; and for a considerable time they were attended by our
  medical officer, but I believe they all ultimately recovered.

His report book contained frequent instances of cases of the like

§ 29. Mr. T. Abraham, surgeon, one of the Registrars for the City of
London, who has had much practice as a parochial medical officer, was
asked upon this subject—

  In the course of your practice, have you had occasion to believe
  that evil effects are produced by the retention of the corpse in the
  house?—Yes; I can give an instance of a man, his wife, and six
  children, living in one room in Draper’s Buildings. The mother and
  all the children successively fell ill of typhus fever: the mother
  died; the body remained in the room. I wished it to be removed the
  next day, and I also wished the children to be removed, being afraid
  that the fever would extend. The children were apparently well at
  the time of the death of the mother. The recommendation was not
  attended to: the body was kept five days in the only room which this
  family of eight had to live and sleep in. The eldest daughter was
  attacked about a week after the mother had been removed, and, after
  three days’ illness, that daughter died. The corpse of this child
  was only kept three days, as we determined that it should positively
  be removed. In about nine days after the death of the girl, the
  youngest child was attacked, and it died in about nine days. Then
  the second one was taken ill; he lay twenty-three days, and died.
  Then another boy died. The two other children recovered.

  By the immediate removal of the corpse, and the use of proper
  preventive means, how many deaths do you believe might have been
  prevented?—I think it probable that the one took it from the other,
  and that, if the corpse of the first had been removed, the rest
  would have escaped, although I, of course, admit that the same cause
  which produced the disease in the mother might also have produced it
  in the children. I believe that, in cases of typhus, scarlatina, and
  other infectious diseases, it frequently happens that the living are
  attacked by the same disease from the retention of the body.

Mr. Blencarn, surgeon, one of the medical officers of the City of London
Union, was asked—

  Have you observed any evil effects following the practice of the
  long retention of the corpse in the house amidst the living?—Yes; I
  have observed effects follow, but I cannot say produced by them,
  though they were perhaps increased by them. In those cases which I
  have had, where there has been a succession of cases of fever in the
  same family, after a death it has generally occurred that the
  parties affected have complained two or three days before that they
  felt very unwell. Generally this has been the case. I have in such
  instances ordered them medicine immediately. Since the Union has
  been established, we have immediately removed all fever cases to the
  fever hospital.

  The retention of the corpse amidst the living, under such
  circumstances, must aggravate the mortality, must it not?—There
  cannot be a moment’s doubt about it.

§ 30. Mr. Barnett, surgeon, one of the medical officers of the Stepney
Union, thus exemplifies the effects of the practice in his own district.
After speaking of the prevalence of nervous depression, ascribable to
the contiguity to a crowded grave-yard, he says:—

  Similar symptoms are observable when the dead are kept any length of
  time in crowded apartments. I well recollect a child dying, during
  the summer months, of scarlet fever, and the parents persisted in
  keeping the corpse for a considerable period, notwithstanding the
  entreaties of the rest of the inmates to the contrary, all of whom
  complained of being ill therefrom. The result was the production of
  several cases of typhoid fever and much distress. A short time ago,
  I was requested to attend a family consisting of five persons; they
  resided in a room containing about 500 cubic feet, with but little
  light and much less ventilation. One child was suffering from
  small-pox, and died in a day or two: the corpse was allowed to
  remain in the room. The two other children were soon attacked by the
  disease, as well as a child belonging to a person residing in the
  same house, who was imprudent enough to bring it into this
  apartment, though cautioned not to do so. The stench arising from
  the living and dead was so intolerable that it produced in myself
  severe head-ache, and my friend, who accompanied me, complained of
  sudden nervousness. The parents of these children (one of whom is
  since dead) are suffering great debility.

  The similarity of symptoms produced in these cases might perhaps
  lead us to the conclusion that the cause was probably the same in
  all; consequently, whether this poison be diluted or concentrated,
  it should, at all times, be carefully avoided. For this purpose, I
  should recommend the early removal of the dead from such apartments,
  and a check to be put to the baneful practice of burying the dead so
  near the surface in crowded districts.

§ 31. The accounts given by the medical practitioners and persons who
are chiefly in attendance on the parties before death, are corroborated
by the evidence of undertakers and others engaged in providing goods and
services for the performance of the last rites for artisans of a
condition to defray the funeral expenses.

Mr. Wild, an undertaker, residing in the Blackfriars Road, London, who
inters between 500 and 600 bodies annually, of which about 350 are of
the working classes, states, that the time during which the corpse is
kept in the house varies from five to twelve days.

  The greater proportion of the working men in London live and sleep
  in one room only, do they not?—Three-fourths of the rooms we have to
  visit are single rooms; the one room is the only room the poor
  people have.

  When you visit the room, in what condition do you find the corpse?
  How is it laid out?—Generally speaking, we only find one bed in the
  room, and that occupied by a corpse. It frequently happens that
  there is no sacking to the bedding; when they borrow a board or a
  shutter from a neighbour, in order to lay out the corpse upon it;
  they have also to borrow other convenient articles necessary, such
  us a sheet. The corpse of a child is usually laid out on the table.
  The Irish poor have a peculiar mode of arranging the corpse; they
  place candles around the bed, and they have a black cross placed at
  the head of the bed.

  Is the practice of keeping bodies in the place of abode for a long
  time much altered in cases where the death has occurred from fever
  or any contagious disease?—Very seldom; they would keep them much
  longer if it were not for the undertaker, who urges them to bury
  them. In cases of rapid decomposition of persons dying in full habit
  there is much liquid; and the coffin is tapped to let it out. I have
  known them to keep the corpse after the coffin had been tapped
  twice, which has, of course, produced a disagreeable effluvium. This
  liquid generates animal life very rapidly; and within six hours
  after a coffin has been tapped, if the liquid escapes, maggots, or a
  sort of animalculæ, are seen crawling about. I have frequently seen
  them crawling about the floor of a room inhabited by the labouring
  classes, and about the tressels on which the tapped coffin is
  sustained. In such rooms the children are frequently left whilst the
  widow is out making arrangements connected with the funeral. And the
  widow herself lives there with the children. I frequently find them
  altogether in a small room with a large fire.

  Have you known instances of the spread of disease amongst the
  members of the family residing in the same room where the corpse is
  kept?—Some medical men have said that corpses of persons who have
  contagious diseases are not dangerous; but my belief is, that in
  cases of small-pox and scarlatina it is dangerous; and only the
  other day a case of this nature occurred,—a little boy, who died of
  the small-pox. Soon after he died, his sister, a little girl who had
  been playing in the same room, was attacked with small-pox and died.
  The medical attendant said, the child must have touched the corpse.
  A poor woman, a neighbour, went over to see one of these bodies, and
  was much afflicted and frightened, and I believe touched the body.
  She was certainly attacked with the small-pox, and, after lingering
  some time, died a few days since. The other day at Lambeth, the
  eldest child of a person died of scarlet fever. The child was about
  four years old; it had been ill a week. There were two other
  children, one was three years old and the other sixteen months. When
  the first child died there were no symptoms of illness for three
  days afterwards, the corpse of the eldest was kept in the house;
  here it was in a separate room, but the medical man recommended
  early interment, and it was buried on the fourth day. The youngest
  child had been taken by the servant into the room where the corpse
  was, to see it, and this child was taken ill just before the burial
  and died in about a week. The corpse of this child was retained in
  the house three weeks. It is supposed that the other child had also
  been taken into the room to see the corpse and touch it, and at the
  end of the three weeks it also died. The medical attendant was
  clearly of opinion that had the first child been early removed, it
  would have been saved. The undertaker’s men who have to put into
  coffins the corpses of persons who have died from any contagious
  disease, are sometimes sick and compelled to take instantly gin or
  brandy; and they will feel sickly for some hours after, but they are
  not known to catch the disease. I have often heard the men say on
  the morning following, “I have been able to take no breakfast
  to-day,” and have complained of want of appetite for some time

Mr. Jeffereys, an undertaker, residing in Whitechapel, gives a similar
account of the dreadful effects of this practice.

  It is stated that the practice of keeping the body in the house is a
  very great evil; how long have you known bodies to be kept in the
  house before interment?—I have known them to be kept three weeks: we
  every week see them kept until the bodies are nearly putrid:
  sometimes they have run away almost through the coffin, and the poor
  people, women and children, are living and sleeping in the same room
  at the same time. In some cases there is superstition about the
  interments, but it is not very frequent. Then when the corpse is
  uncovered, or the coffin is open, females will hang over it. A widow
  who hung over the body of her husband, caught the disease of which
  he died. The doctor told her he knew she must have kissed or touched
  the body: she died, leaving seven orphans, of whom four are now in
  an orphan asylum. A young man died not long since, and his body
  rapidly decomposed. His sister, a fine healthy girl, hung over the
  corpse and kissed it; in three weeks after she died also.

§ 32. The descriptions given by the labouring classes themselves of the
circumstances precedent to the removal of the body for interment, are
similar to those in the instances above cited. They are thus described
by John Downing, one of several respectable mechanics examined:—

  You, as secretary [of a burial society] are called upon to attend
  the funeral; are you not?—Yes, I am. It is part of our rules, also,
  that the secretary shall see the body and identify it. When old
  members, whom I have known, have been sick, I have visited them,
  although I am not obliged to do it.

  What in the case of death is the condition in which you generally
  find the corpse?—It is generally stretched out on a shutter, with a
  sheet over it. Children are generally laid out on the table.

  In how many cases do you find that those whom you visit, who may
  perhaps be considered to be of the class of respectable mechanics,
  do you find them occupying more than one room?—About one case in

  Have you observed any effects from the long retention of the body in
  the same room as the family?—Yes, I have known children to have
  taken the disease and die; I have also known the widow who has hung
  over the body and kissed it, become ill and die through it. I have
  known other cases where there has been severe illness. I have myself
  been made ill by visiting them; I have felt giddy in the head and
  very sick, and have gone to the nearest house of refreshment to get
  some brandy. I have felt the effects for two or three days.

§ 33. The next class of witnesses, who receive the remains at the place
of burial, attest the fact that the smell from the coffin is frequently
powerfully offensive, and that it is by no means an uncommon occurrence
that the decomposing matter escapes from it, and in the streets, and in
the church, and in the church-yard, runs down over the shoulders of the

§ 34. So far as the inquiry has proceeded in the provincial towns, it
appears that the practice of keeping the corpse in the crowded living
rooms does not differ essentially from the practice in the metropolis.
Mr. R. Craven, a surgeon residing at Leeds, who has had great experience
amongst that population, states—

  The Irish almost universally live huddled together in great numbers
  in a small space. I have often known as many as twenty human beings
  lodged and fed in a dirty filthy cottage with only two rooms. Great
  many live in cellar dwellings. I have frequently seen a cellar
  dwelling lodge a family of seven to ten persons, and that in close
  confined yards. I have seen a cellar dwelling in one of the most
  densely-populated districts of Leeds in which were living seven
  persons, with one corner fenced off and a pig in it; a ridge of clay
  being placed round the fence to prevent the wet from the pigsty
  running all over the floor, and to this cellar there was no

  I believe that a much larger proportion of the Irish attacked by
  fever, die, than of English. Children they do not make so much
  parade of, as here is greater difficulty of obtaining the funds for
  their burial. It is no uncommon thing to see a corpse laid out in a
  room where eight to twelve persons have to sleep, and sometimes even
  both sleep and eat.

He also states also that—

  Amongst the hand-loom weavers there is some difference. They
  generally live in cottages consisting of two small rooms or cellar
  dwellings; these have always a large space occupied by the loom; and
  in cottages of two rooms I have frequently seen two families
  residing having in the upper room two looms. When deaths occur in
  this class the corpse cannot be laid out without occupying the space
  where the family have to work (the father or mother weaving, and
  children winding or rendering other assistance), or in the room
  where they live and eat. This, I am of opinion, has a very debasing
  effect on the morals of this class of the community, making
  especially the rising generation so familiar with death that their
  feelings are not hurt by it: it has also a very injurious physical
  effect, frequently propagating disease in a rapid manner and to an
  immense extent.

§ 35. Mr. Christopher Fountaine Browne, one of the parochial surgeons of
Leeds, whose district comprehends a population of 45,000 persons,
chiefly of the working classes, states that:—

  The people amongst whom I practise generally occupy one room where
  they live in, and a bed-room above; but I have known many instances
  of a family, say a man, his wife, and from three to six children,
  having only one bed and one apartment for all purposes. But a great
  many dwellings there consist of only one room, and in many of the
  lodging-houses I have seen five or six beds in one small room, in
  which it has been acknowledged that from 12 to 14 persons have
  passed the night, and the air has been so bad that I have been
  compelled to stand at the window whilst visiting the patient.

He also states, that—

  He has seen many deaths take place in such houses when the body
  remains in the bed where it died; and I have known it remain two or
  three nights before interment. In Irish cases they keep them longer.
  I have seen a child lie in a down-stairs room in a corner, dead of
  small-pox, and another dying, and the house full of lodgers eating
  their meals. The length of time that a corpse is kept varies very
  much according to the disposition of the relatives and the means of
  procuring a burial, as there are no restrictions as to the length of
  time bodies are to be kept.

  I have observed, that in cases of small-pox disease frequently
  follows in rapid succession on different members of the same family.
  I have frequently known cases of a low typhoid character arise where
  many persons sleep in the same room: the addition of a death from
  any such cause of course increases the danger to the living.

In Manchester and in several northern districts, it appears that by
custom the corpse seldom remains unburied more than three or four days,
but during that time it remains in the crowded rooms of the living of
the labouring classes. Every day’s retention of the corpse is to be
considered an aggravation of the evil; but the evidence is to be borne
in mind that the miasma from the dead is more dangerous immediately
after death, or during the first and second day, than towards the end of
the week. In a proportion of cases decomposition has commenced before
the vital functions have ceased; immediately after death decomposition
often proceeds with excessive rapidity in the crowded rooms, which have
then commonly larger fires than usual.

§ 36. It is observed by some of the witnesses that usually, and except
by accident, and in few cases, the miasma from the remains of the dead
in grave-yards can only reach the living in a state of diffusion and
dilution; and that large proportions of it probably escape without
producing any immediately appreciable evil. The practice, however, of
the retention of the remains in the one room of the living brings the
effluvium to bear directly upon the survivors when it is most dangerous,
when they are usually exhausted bodily by watching, and depressed
mentally by anxiety and grief—circumstances which it is well known
greatly increase the danger of contagion. The males of the
working-classes in general die earlier than the females, and in the
greater number of cases the last duties fall to the widow; and the
prevalence of fatal disease chiefly amongst the children is frequently
attributed to the circumstance, that she is aroused from the stunning
effect of the bereavement by the necessity of going abroad and seeking
pecuniary aid, and making arrangements for the funeral, whilst the
children are left at home in the house with the corpse.

In Scotland, from an aversion to sleeping in the presence of the corpse,
it is the practice to sit up with it, and there is then much drinking of
ardent spirits. Mr. W. Dyce Guthrie speaks strongly of the evils
attendant upon the practice of the unguarded retention of the body under
such circumstances, and of the instances known by himself where persons
have come from a distance to attend the funeral of a departed friend,
and have returned infected with a disease similar to that which
terminated the friend’s existence. The concurrent and decided opinion of
himself and a number of other medical witnesses is, that the public
health is much more affected by the pestiferous influence of the corpse
during the interval of time that occurs from the moment of death, up to
the hour of the funeral, than it commonly is or can be after interment.

§ 37. Of the deaths which take place in the metropolis, it will be seen
that more than one-half are the deaths of the labouring classes. The
following table, taken from the Mortuary Registries during the year
1839, shows the numbers of deaths amongst the chief classes of society,
and the proportions of deaths from epidemic diseases. At least four out
of five of the deaths of the labouring classes, it will be remembered,
are stated to occur in the single living and sleeping room, that is to
say, upwards of 20,000 annually.

            │                     │       │         │Ratio of │
            │                     │ Ratio │Number of│ Deaths  │ Average
            │                     │  of   │ Deaths  │  from   │ Age at
            │                     │Deaths │  from   │Epidemic,│Death of
            │ Number of Deaths of │  of   │Epidemic,│Endemic, │the whole
            │     each Class.     │ Chil- │Endemic, │   and   │ Class,
            │                     │dren to│   and   │ Conta-  │including
            │                     │ Total │ Conta-  │  gious  │  Chil-
            │                     │Deaths.│  gious  │ Disease │  dren.
            │                     │       │Diseases.│to Total │
            │                     │       │         │ Deaths. │
            │       │Chil- │      │       │         │         │
            │       │ dren │      │       │         │         │
            │Adults.│under │Total.│       │         │         │
            │       │  10  │      │       │         │         │
            │       │Years.│      │       │         │         │
 Gentry,    │       │      │      │       │         │         │
   Profes-  │       │      │      │       │         │         │
   sional   │  1,724│   529│ 2,253│   1 in│      210│     1 in│       44
   Persons, │       │      │      │ 4–3/10│         │  10–7/10│
   & their  │       │      │      │       │         │         │
   Families │       │      │      │       │         │         │
 Tradesmen, │       │      │      │       │         │         │
   Clerks, &│  3,979│ 3,703│ 7,682│   1 in│    1,428│     1 in│       25
   their    │       │      │      │ 2–1/10│         │   5–4/10│
   Families │       │      │      │       │         │         │
 Undescribed│  2,996│ 2,761│ 5,757│   1 in│    1,051│     1 in│       28
            │       │      │      │ 2–1/10│         │   5–5/10│
 Labourers  │       │      │      │   1 in│         │     1 in│
   and their│ 12,045│13,885│25,930│ 1–9/10│    5,469│   4–8/10│       22
   Families │       │      │      │       │         │         │
 Paupers    │  3,062│   593│ 3,655│   1 in│      557│     1 in│       49
            │       │      │      │ 6–2/10│         │   6–6/10│
    Total   │ 23,806│21,471│45,277│   1 in│    8,715│     1 in│       27
            │       │      │      │ 2–1/10│         │   5–2/10│

In making up this table, all who were not distinguished as master
tradesmen were entered as mechanics. This circumstance would give to the
labouring classes an appearance of a higher average age of death than is
gained by them. On the other hand, some of the labouring classes will be
found to have died in the workhouse, which would perhaps keep the
average where it now stands, whilst if the registration were more
accurate, the average age of death of the middle classes might be found
to be about 27. The average age of death of 27 given for the whole
metropolis is not made as an average of the averages, but from the
average of the whole. The apparent high average of the age of death of
paupers arises from the smaller proportion of children amongst them: and
the larger proportion of aged adults who seek refuge in the

§ 38. The deaths registered from epidemic, endemic, and contagious
diseases during the year 1839, which was by no means an unhealthy year,
were as follows in Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, and Birmingham:—

                  │                 │   Deaths from   │ Ratio of Deaths
                  │ Total Number of │    Epidemic,    │  from Epidemic
                  │     Deaths.     │  Endemic, and   │ Disease to the
                  │                 │   Contagious    │ Total Number of
                  │                 │    Diseases.    │     Deaths.
 Liverpool        │            7,435│            1,844│1 in 4
 Manchester       │            6,774│            2,006│1 in 3–4/10
 Leeds            │            4,388│              965│1 in 4–5/10
 Birmingham       │            3,639│              747│1 in 4–9/10

The numbers of deaths which occurred during that year amongst the
labouring classes are not distinguished, but they were for the next year
as follows. And in the three first-named towns, I conceive that the
proportion of cases of deaths amongst those classes where the corpse is
kept in the living room, is in all probability as great as in the

                            Liverpool  5,597
                            Manchester 4,629
                            Leeds      3,395
                            Birmingham 2,715

I am unaware of any data existing in the towns in Scotland from which
any estimate can be made of the extent to which the evils in question
are prevalent there. In the recent Report on the Census, sufficient is
shown of the condition of the labouring population in the towns in
Ireland to prove, that in them, the evils must fall with at least as
great severity as they are described to occur in the worst, conditioned
districts in England.[11]

§ 39. If the returns and the statements of witnesses acquainted with the
crowded districts be correct, that four out of five families of the
labouring classes have each but one room, then every unit of upwards of
20,000 deaths per annum which occur in the metropolis, every unit of
4600 deaths of the labouring classes which occur annually at Liverpool,
must be taken as representing a horrible scene of the retention of the
corpse amidst the family in the manner described in the testimony of
those who have witnessed it;—and every unit of some 4000 deaths from
epidemics in the metropolis, and every third or fourth recorded death in
other towns, and even in crowded villages, represents a distressing
scene, and moreover a case of peculiar danger and probable permanent
injury to the survivors amongst whom it takes place. Great, however, as
may be the physical evils to them, the evidence of the mental pain and
moral evil generally attendant on the practice of the long retention of
the body in the rooms in use and amidst the living, though only noticed
incidentally, is yet more deplorable.

§ 40. The duty which attaches to male relations, or which a benevolent
pastor, if there were the accommodation, would exercise on the
occurrence of the calamity of death to any member of a family, is to
remove the sensitive and the weakly from the spectacle, which is a
perpetual stimulus to excessive grief, and commonly a source of painful
associations and visible images of the changes wrought in death, to
haunt the imagination in after-life. When the dissolution has taken
place under circumstances such as those described, it is not a few
minutes’ look after the last duties are performed and the body is
composed in death and left in repose, that is given to this class of
survivors, but the spectacle is protracted hour after hour through the
day and night, and day after day, and night after night, thus
aggravating the mental pains under varied circumstances, and increasing
the dangers of permanent bodily injury. The sufferings of the survivors,
especially of the widow of the labouring classes, are often protracted
to a fatal extent. To the very young children, the greatest danger is of
infection in cases of deaths from contagious and infectious disease. To
the elder children and members of the family and inmates, the moral evil
created by the retention of the body in their presence beyond the short
term during which sorrow and depression of spirits may be said to be
natural to them is, that familiarity soon succeeds, and respect
disappears. These consequences are revealed by the frequency of the
statements of witnesses, that the deaths of children immediately
following, of the same disease of which the parent had died, had been
accounted for by “the doctor,” or the neighbours, in the probability
that the child had caught the disease by touching the corpse or the
coffin, whilst playing about the room in the absence of the mother. Dr.
Reicke, in the course of his dissertation on the physical dangers from
exposure to emanations from the remains, mentions an instance where a
little child having struck the body of the parent which had died of a
malignant disease, the hand and arm of the child was dangerously
inflamed with malignant pustules in consequence. The mental effects on
the elder children or members of the family of the retention of the body
in the living room, day after day, and during meal times, until
familiarity is induced,—retained, as the body commonly is, during all
this time in the _sordes_ of disease, the progress of change and
decomposition disfiguring the remains and adding disgust to
familiarity,—are attested to be of the most demoralizing character. Such
deaths occur sooner or later in various forms in every poor family; and
in neighbourhoods where there are no sanitary regulations, where they
are ravaged by epidemics, such scenes are doubly familiar to the whole

§ 41. Astonishment is frequently excited by the cases which abound in
our penal records indicative of the prevalence of habits of savage
brutality and carelessness of life amongst the labouring population; but
crimes, like sores, will commonly be found to be the result of wider
influences than are externally manifest; and the reasons for such
astonishment, will be diminished in proportion as those circumstances
are examined, which influence the minds and habits of the population
more powerfully than precepts or book education. Among these
demoralizing circumstances, which appear to be preventible or removable,
are those which the present inquiry brings to light. Disrespect for the
human form under suffering, indifference or carelessness at death,—or at
that destruction which follows as an effect of suffering—is rarely found
amongst the uneducated, unconnected with a callousness to others’ pain,
and a recklessness about life itself. A known effect on uneducated
survivors of the frequency of death amongst youth or persons in the
vigour of life, is to create a reckless avidity for immediate enjoyment.
Some examples of the demoralization attendant on such circumstances
cannot but be apparent in the evidence arising in the course of this
inquiry into other practices connected with interments.

§ 42. On submitting the above to a friend, a clergyman, whose
benevolence has carried him to alleviate the sufferings in several
hundred death-bed scenes in the abodes of the labouring classes, and who
has been present, perhaps, at every death in his own flock, in a
wretchedly crowded parish, he writes in the following terms his

“The whole of this I can testify, from personal knowledge, to be just.
With the upper classes, a corpse excites feelings of awe and respect;
with the lower orders, in these districts, it is often treated with as
little ceremony as the carcase in a butcher’s shop. Nothing can exceed
their desire for an imposing funeral; nothing can surpass their efforts
to obtain it; but the deceased’s remains share none of the reverence
which this anxiety for their becoming burial would seem to indicate. The
inconsistency is entirely, or at least in great part, to be attributed
to a single circumstance—that the body is never absent from their
sight—eating, drinking, or sleeping, it is still by their side; mixed up
with all the ordinary functions of daily life, till it becomes as
familiar to them as when it lived and moved in the family circle. From
familiarity it is a short step to desecration. The body, stretched out
upon two chairs, is pulled about by the children, made to serve as a
resting-place for any article that is in the way, and is not seldom the
hiding-place for the beer-bottle or the gin if any visitor arrives
inopportunely. Viewed as an outrage upon human feeling, this is bad
enough; but who does not see that when the respect for the dead, that
is, for the human form in its most awful stage, is gone, the whole mass
of social sympathies must be weakened—perhaps blighted and destroyed? At
any rate, it removes that wholesome fear of death which is the last hold
upon a hardened conscience. They have gazed upon it so perpetually, they
have grown so intimate with its terrors, that they no longer dread it,
even when it attacks themselves, and the heart which vice has deadened
to every appeal of religion is at last rendered callous to the natural
instinct of fear.”

That it is possible by legislative means to stay the progress of this
dreadful demoralization, which must, if no further heed be taken of it,
go on with the increased crowding of an increasing population; that it
is possible to abate the mental and physical suffering; to extend to the
depressed urban districts an acceptable and benign and elevating
influence on such impressive occasions; may be confidently affirmed, and
will in a subsequent stage of this Report be endeavoured to be shown by
reference to actual examples of successful measures.

        _Expenses of Funerals and their effects on the Living._

§ 43. The practice of the long retention of the dead before burial being
the one from which the greatest evil accrues, the circumstances by which
the practice is chiefly influenced are the first submitted for

The causes which influence this practice amongst the greatest number of
the population appear to be, first, the expense of funerals—next, the
delay in making arrangements for the funeral,—the natural reluctance to
part with the remains of the deceased, and occasionally a feeling of
apprehension, sometimes expressed on the part of the survivors, against
premature interment.

The expense of interments, though it falls with the greatest severity on
the poorest classes, acts as a most severe infliction on the middle
classes of society, and governs so powerfully the questions in respect
to the present and future administrative arrangements, and involves so
many other evils, as to require as complete an exposition as possible of
its extent and operation.

The testimony of witnesses of the most extensive experience is of the
following tenor in London and the crowded town districts of England. Mr.
Byles, the surgeon, of Spitalfields, in reference to the delay of
interments, states—

  The difficulty of raising the subscription to bury the dead, is I
  apprehend one chief cause of the delay. When, in the instance of the
  death of a child, I ask why it cannot be interred earlier, the usual
  reply is, we cannot raise the money earlier.

Mr. Wild, the undertaker, states—

  The time varies from five to twelve days. This arises from the
  difficulty of procuring the means of making arrangements with the
  undertaker, and the difficulty of getting mourners to attend the
  funeral. They have a great number to attend, neighbours,
  fellow-workmen, as well as relations. The mourners with them vary
  from five to eight couple; it is always an agreement for five couple
  at the least.

One of the witnesses of the labouring classes, who had acted as
secretary to an extensive burial society, gives the following account of
the causes which operate to produce the delay.

  What is the average length of time they remain unburied?—Never less
  than a week. If they die in the middle of the week they are
  generally kept until the Sunday week. I have known instances,
  however, where they have been kept as long as a fortnight.

  What have been the causes of this retention of the body?—In general
  it has been the want of money to defray the dues. In some cases,
  however, the widow has been reluctant to part with the corpse.

  In what proportion of cases has this occurred?—It may have been in
  one case in thirty, as far as I can recollect.

§ 44. Mr. Baker, the coroner, stated to me that he has met with some
cases where inquests have been promoted in consequence of suspicions
excited amongst neighbours on account of the delay of interments; it
turned out that the deaths had been natural, and that the delay had
arisen from the difficulty of procuring money to defray the funeral
expenses. Mr. Bell, who for several years acted as clerk to Mr.
Stirling, the late coroner for Middlesex, even cites several dreadful
cases of children found dead in the metropolis, in which, on inquiry, it
was proved that the deaths were natural, but that the bodies had been
actually abandoned in consequence of the difficulty of raising the money
for interment, and the reluctance to apply for parochial aid.

§ 45. The nature of the expenses of interments in London, and their
operation on the whole practice, are most fully developed in the
examination of Mr. Wild.

  Supposing the expenses of interment reduced, and the conveniences
  increased, do you think that there would be much or any reluctance
  to early interment, on account of any general feeling of dislike on
  the part of the survivors to earlier removals or interments?—No, I
  do not think there would be any reluctance.

  In cases where the obstacles arising from the expense and the
  inconvenience preventing the attendance of friends do not exist, is
  there a frequent reluctance expressed to early interment?—It is not
  frequent. Sometimes, but very seldom, the deceased may have
  expressed a wish not to be hurried out of the house soon after he
  was dead.

  Do you find that there is less delay amongst the higher and middle
  classes?—There is certainly much less delay amongst them; but with
  them the corpses are early placed either in lead or in double
  coffins, and the delay is of less consequence.

  Amongst the poorer classes, is not the widow often made ill during
  the protracted delay of the burial?—Yes, very often. They have come
  to me in tears, and begged for accommodation, which I have given
  them. On observing to them, you seem very ill: a common reply is,
  “Yes, I feel very ill. I am very much harassed, and I have no one to
  assist me.” I infer from such expressions that the mental anxiety
  occasioned by the expense, and want of means to obtain the money, is
  the frequent cause of their illness. My opinion is, that unless the
  undertaker gave two-thirds of them time or accommodation for
  payment, they would not be able to bury the dead at all.

  Do you consider that funerals in general are made unnecessarily
  expensive?—Yes, they are, even under their present system
  unnecessarily expensive. The average price of funerals amongst the
  working classes for adults will be about 4_l._ This sum generally
  provides a good strong elm coffin, bearers to carry the corpse to
  the grave, pall and fittings for mourners. For children the average
  cost is 30_s._, but these charges do not include ground and burial

  Are they so even when the funerals are provided by burial societies,
  and made the subject of special attention?—In benefit societies and
  burial clubs there is generally a certain sum set aside for the
  burial, which sum is, I consider, frequently most extravagantly
  expended. This arises from the secretary, or some other officer of
  the club being an undertaker. When a death takes place the club
  money is not paid directly: it is usually paid on the club or
  quarterly night following. The member dying seldom leaves any money
  beyond the provision in his club to bury him, consequently the widow
  or nominee makes application to the secretary, who tells her that he
  cannot give any money to purchase mourning for herself and family
  until the committee meets; this may be three months after the death;
  but, says the secretary, “give me the funeral, I will advance you a
  few pounds upon my own account;” so that the widow is obliged to
  submit to any charge he may think fit to make. I do not mean to be
  understood that this is always the case—I am sorry to say it is of
  frequent occurrence.

  In general, are not the expenses of burial in the Dissenters’
  burial-grounds less than those of burial in the grounds belonging to
  the Established Church?—On the average one-third less.

  On the occasion of burial in Dissenters’ burial-grounds, is any
  question ever raised as to whether the deceased was a subscribing
  member of the community to which the grounds belong?—No question is
  ever asked.

  Of corpses of the labouring classes whom you yourself have buried in
  the burial-grounds of Dissenters, how many will have been of
  subscribing members of the community to which the grounds
  belong?—Not one in twenty.

  Then the preference arises from the greater cheapness of the burial
  in those grounds?—Yes, and the greater convenience. The burial,
  instead of being fixed at one particular hour, as in cases of
  burials in the Church, may be had within a range of three hours.
  This convenience has a great influence on the choice of places of

  Have burials in the Dissenters’ grounds been increasing of
  late?—Very much: their places of burial are in general no better;
  they are, indeed, in some instances worse than the grounds belonging
  to the parish churches, but they would, probably, have enlarged and
  improved them, and, at the rate at which they have proceeded, they
  would soon have three-fourths of all the burials;—chiefly on account
  of the increased cheapness and accommodation attendant on their

  Are the ordinary expenses and inconveniences of funerals generally
  severely oppressive to persons of the middle classes?—Very
  generally: it often occurs that a poor widow is crippled in her
  means through life by the expense of a funeral. An ordinary funeral,
  burial fees and all, will cost from 50_l._ to 70_l._, which will
  deprive her of 5_l._ a year from ten to fourteen years, besides the

  Without any deductions of the solemnity, for how much less might
  such a funeral be performed?—For about 50 per cent. less. Indeed, I
  have proved that practically for some time past.

  Is not much of the accompaniments of funerals which, as at present
  conducted, are deemed part of the solemnity, questionable in its
  effect as well as appropriateness? Is it not the effect of custom,
  rather than any choice or wish of the parties?—Merely customary: the
  term used in giving orders is, “provide what is customary.”

  Are you aware that the array of funerals, commonly made by
  undertakers, is strictly the heraldic array of a baronial funeral,
  the two men who stand at the doors being supposed to be the two
  porters of the castle, with their staves, in black; the man who
  heads the procession, wearing a scarf, being a representative of a
  herald-at-arms; the man who carries a plume of feathers on his head
  being an esquire, who bears the shield and casque, with its plume of
  feathers; the pall-bearers, with batons, being representatives of
  knights-companions-at-arms; the men walking with wands being
  supposed to represent gentlemen-ushers, with their wands:—are you
  aware that this is said to be the origin and type of the common
  array usually provided by those who undertake to perform
  funerals?—No; I am not aware of it.

  It may be presumed that those who order funerals are equally unaware
  of the incongruity for which such expense is incurred?—Undoubtedly
  they are.

  What is the cost of porters, the men who bear staves covered with
  black?—The cost of the mutes varies from 18_s._ to 30_s._ In some
  cases of respectable persons, where silk scarfs or fittings,
  including hat-bands and gloves, are used, 5_l._ 5_s._ is charged to
  families for those fittings. To parties in moderate circumstances,
  two guineas would be charged for the fittings and the pay.

  What is the charge for the person who walks with a scarf?—The usual
  charge to a respectable family would be a guinea, besides fittings,
  scarfs, gloves, and hat-bands, which would altogether amount to
  about two guineas and a half for this man.

  What is the charge for the plume of feathers borne on the head
  before the hearse?—The charge for the feathers would be about two
  guineas; then there is the man’s gloves, scarf, and fittings, which
  make it about three guineas and a-half.

  What is the charge per man bearing batons?—The charge, including
  silk fittings, will be about 22_s._ each man.

  What is the charge for each man bearing a wand?—About the same

  How many men of this description would be required for what is
  deemed a respectable funeral?—About twenty men; for if the coffin be
  a leaden one it would require about eight men to bear it.

  What other charges are there of the same kind?—There are velvets
  attached to the hearse, including feathers, and feathers to the
  horses, which makes from ten to fifteen guineas more.

  What is charged for the pall?—From one to four guineas would be
  charged for the use of the pall.

  What is it usual to give to the clergyman?—A silk scarf of three
  yards and a half, a silk hatband, and black kid gloves.

  What may be the expense of this?—About two guineas to the parties.

  Is anything usually given to the clerk?—Yes, the same as to the

  Is anything given to the sexton?—Yes, they do in respectable
  families, or rather the undertaker does so, for his own gain. The
  cost of the whole,—minister, sexton, and undertaker, will be about
  seven guineas to a respectable family, but it is usual to compound
  the matter by giving them money; I generally give the minister
  18_s._, and the clerk 15_s._, and the sexton, perhaps, 15_s._

  Is such an array as that described adopted in the case of the
  funerals of tradesmen as well as of other classes?—They have
  frequently the same number of men.

  A clergyman’s widow, who has solicited aid for her sons, whom she
  has found it difficult to educate, states that the expenses of her
  husband’s funeral were upwards of 110_l._ On being asked how she
  could incur such an expense, she states that she considered it her
  duty to have a respectable funeral, and ordered the undertaker to
  provide what was respectable; that she knew not what she ordered in
  that condition, and merely gave general orders. Now is not this a
  frequent case, and is not the undertaker’s usual interpretation of
  respectability that which is expensive, the parties knowing little
  about it?—Yes, that is frequently so.

  In the case of funerals of persons of moderate respectability
  costing, say about 60_l._, how many of such men as those described
  would there be attending it?—About fourteen.

  For a curate, or person of that condition, would there be that
  number and array?—Yes.

  What would be the expense of the funeral of a person of the
  condition of an attorney?—From 60_l._ to 100_l._; but this would not
  include the expense of tomb or monument, or burial-fees.

  If a person of such a condition were buried, would it be of about
  twenty attendants, with such an array as that described?—Yes; for
  such a person the cost would be about 100 guineas, exclusive of the

  There would then be the same number of attendants as those
  mentioned, about twenty men?—Yes, about twenty men.

  The funeral being ordered of an upholsterer, is it not usually
  provided by an undertaker?—Yes.

  In how many cases of funerals will there be “the second profit?”—In
  nearly two-thirds of the cases of burial in the upper classes.

  Is the same observation applicable to the funerals amongst the
  middle classes?—Yes; I think in nearly the same proportion.

  How much of the profit will be the profit of the upholsterer?—Nearly
  half: if the funeral costs 50_l._ to the upholsterer from the
  undertaker, it will cost about 100_l._ from the undertaker to the

  Is there much credit given in the business to respectable
  families?—Not much; for as soon as letters of administration are
  taken out the funeral expenses are discharged.

  The average expense of the funeral of an adult of the labouring
  class being about 4_l._, exclusive of the burial fees, and that of a
  child about 30_s._, what may be stated to be the ordinary expense of
  the funeral of a tradesman of the lowest class, as ordinarily
  conducted?—Of the very lowest class—of a class in condition not much
  beyond that of a mechanic, the funeral expenses might be from 10_l._
  to 12_l._

  What would be the ordinary expense for the funeral of a child of a
  person of this class?—The ordinary expense would be about 5_l._

  What would be the ordinary expense of the funeral of a tradesman of
  a better class?—From 70_l._ to 100_l._

  What do you consider would be a low average for the ordinary expense
  of the whole class of tradesmen’s funerals?—About 50_l._ would, I
  consider, be a low average for the whole class.

  What may be considered the average of ordinary expenses of the
  funerals of children of the class dying below 10 years of age?—About

  Might 100_l._ be taken as the average expense of the funeral of a
  person of the condition of a gentleman?—No; they range from 200_l._
  to 1,000_l._ I think that 150_l._ would be a low average.

  What may be considered the ordinary expense of the funeral of a
  child of this class?—About 30_l._ would be the average.

  What may be the ordinary expense of the funerals of persons of rank
  or title?—The expense varies from 500_l._ to 1500_l._ A large part
  of this expense has, however, commonly been for the removal of the
  remains from town to the family vault by a long cavalcade moving by
  very slow stages; but the conveyance by railway makes as much as
  500_l._ difference in the expense of a funeral of this class.

  What may be the average expense of the funeral of a child of this
  class?—About 50_l._

  Do you believe it to be practicable, by proper regulations, greatly
  to reduce the existing charges of interments?—Yes; a very great
  reduction indeed may be made, at least 50 per cent.

  May it be confidently stated that under such reductions, whatever of
  respectability in exterior is now attached to the trappings, or to
  the mode of the ceremony, might be preserved?—Oh, yes; I should say
  it might, and that they could scarcely fail to be increased.

§ 46. Mr. Dix, an undertaker, who inters from 800 to 1000 persons
annually, of whom about 300 are of the class of independent labourers,
being questioned on this topic, stated as follows:—

  The lowest average expense of a poor man’s burial, from extensive
  evidence, is stated to be about 5_l._; but that is where it is done,
  as it usually is, second or third hand. I frequently perform
  funerals three deep: that is, I do it for one person, who does it
  for another who does it for the relatives of the deceased, he being
  the first person applied to.

  The people then generally apply to the nearest person?—Yes, they do.
  Everybody calls himself an undertaker. The numerous men employed as
  bearers become undertakers, although they have never done anything
  until they have got the job. I have known one of these men get a new
  suit of clothes out of the funeral of one decent mechanic.

§ 47. The conclusions in respect to the unnecessary expense of funerals
appear to be applicable, with little variation, to the most populous
provincial towns. In the rural districts the expense of funerals of the
class of gentry appears to be even more expensive. In most of the
provincial towns the expense of the funerals of the more respectable
class of tradesmen does not appear to be much less than in London. In
Scotland, the expenses of the funerals of persons of the middle classes
appear, from a communication from Mr. Chambers, to vary from 12_l._ to
25_l._ In Glasgow the expenses of funerals of persons of the middle
class appear to vary from 12_l._ to 50_l._

§ 48. To persons of the condition of the widows of officers in the army
or navy, or of the legal profession, or of persons of the rank of gentry
who have but limited incomes, the expenses of the funerals often subject
them to severe privations during the remainder of their lives. The widow
is frequently compelled to beg pecuniary assistance for the education of
her children, which the superfluous expenses of the funerals of the
adult members of the family would have supplied; and these expenses are
incurred often in utter disregard of express requests of the dying, that
the funerals should be plain, and divested of unnecessary expense. The
expenses are often incurred equally against the wishes of the survivors.
The cause of this appears to be that the funeral arrangements, and the
determination of what is proper, and what customs shall be maintained,
fall, as shown by the evidence, to those who have a direct interest,—and
when the nature of their separate establishments are considered, are
commonly acting under a strong necessity,—in maintaining a system of
profuse expenditure. The circumstances of the death do not admit of any
effective competition or any precedent examination of the charges of
different undertakers, or any comparison and consideration of their
supplies; there is no time to change them for others that are less
expensive, and more in conformity to the taste and circumstances of the
parties. An executor who had ordered a coffin and service of the “most
simple description,” conformably to the intentions of the deceased,
expecting the coffin to cost not more than five pounds, having, under
peculiar circumstances, occasion to call for the bill previously to the
interment, found, to his surprise, that instead of five the charge for
the coffin amounted to nearly twenty pounds. “What,” he says, “could be
done? we could not turn the body out of the coffin: I would have paid
double rather than have disturbed the peace of the house on that solemn
occasion, by a dispute, or by an objection either to that charge, or to
the disgusting frippery with which those who attended the dead were
covered against their tastes.” The survivors, however, are seldom in a
state to perform any office of every-day life; and they are at the mercy
of the first comer. The supplies of the funeral goods and services, are,
therefore, a multiform monopoly, not apparently on the parts of the
chief undertakers, or original and real preparers of the funeral
materials and services, but of second or third parties living in the
immediate neighbourhood,—persons who assume the business of an
undertaker, and who obtain the first orders. The reason why the charges
are seldom or ever disputed after interment is that, however severe or
extortionate they may be, it would be more severe for the widow, or
survivor, or friends, to scrutinise the items, or resist the payment of
the total amount. Nor can it be expected of any individual to break
through such customs, however generally they may be disliked. All
isolated efforts to simplify the supplies and use of the goods and
_materiel_,—all objections to the demands for them are exposed to the
calumny that proper respect to the deceased is begrudged. A late right
reverend bishop, who thought it a moral duty to resist an extortionate
charge for such service, and he did so even in a court of law,—the
well-intended, but isolated effort, was fruitless. Another reason for
the impunity of the extortion is, that much of the funeral expenses are
from trust-funds of the higher and middle classes, who influence the
practice of the lower classes; and the trustees have but weak motives
and means to defend them. In so far as the funeral expenses are
concerned, such funds, as will appear in respect to the funds raised for
burial amongst the labouring classes, are an exposed prey.

§ 49. If there be any sort of service, which principles of civic polity,
and motives of ordinary benevolence and charity, require to be placed
under public regulation, for the protection of the private individual
who is helpless, it is surely this, at the time of extreme misery and
helplessness of the means of decent interment. On inspecting the
condition of the whole class of persons engaged in the performance of
the service of undertakers, it may be confidently stated that the class
who only act as agents, could not suffer, and must gain morally and
socially, and ultimately pecuniarily by a change that would be
beneficial to the public. No class can be otherwise than benefited by
change, from an occupation in which they are kept waiting and dependent
on profits which fall to them at wide and irregular intervals.
Notwithstanding the immensely disproportionate profits of these persons
in some cases, and the immense aggregate expenditure to the public,
there appear to be very few wealthy undertakers. They are described by
one of them, “as being some few of them very respectable, but the great
majority as men mostly in a small grubbing way of business.” In this
trade we have now the means of knowing to an unit, from the mortuary
registration, the amount of service required; and we have some means of
obtaining a proximate estimate of the number of persons engaged in its

§ 50. The number of deaths per diem in the metropolis (inclusive of the
death of those who die in the workhouses, whose interment being provided
for by the parish and union officers, are not cases for every-day
competition) is on an average of three years 114. The number of persons
whose sole business is that of undertakers, whose names are enumerated
in the Post-office Directory for the year 1843 for the metropolis is
275. Besides these there are 258 “undertakers and carpenters,” 34
“undertakers and upholsterers,” 56 “undertakers and cabinet-makers,” 51
“undertakers and builders,” 25 “undertakers and appraisers,” 19
“undertakers and auctioneers,” 7 “undertakers and house-agents,” 3
“undertakers and fancy cabinet-makers,” 2 “undertakers and packing-case
makers;” making in all no less than 730 persons for the 114 deaths, or
between six and seven undertakers waiting for the chance of every
private funeral. But these are masters who, whether they act as agents
or principals, have shops and establishments, and the list does not
include the whole of them, as the Directory is not understood to include
all the masters residing in bye-streets and places. Some have two and
three funerals per diem, and some eight or ten; and it is apparent, even
under the existing imperfect arrangements, the undertaker’s service
might be better performed by forty or fifty than by the 275 principals,
who have no other occupation, and whose establishments and expenses, as
well as the cost of their own maintenance, must, if the business be
equally distributed, be charged on little more than two funerals a-week.
If the business be not equally distributed, and a minority have (as will
have been perceived) a much larger share of the funerals than the rest,
the majority will be the more severely driven, as they are in fact, to
charge their expenses on a much smaller number of funerals. When the
additional number of tradesmen of mixed occupations are brought as
waiters for the chances of employment, the number of burials distributed
amongst them all is reduced to 10 funerals to every master in 11 weeks,
or less than one a-week each. It is stated, that much larger numbers
than are named in the Directory retain the insignia of undertakers in
their shop-windows, for the sake of the profits of one or two funerals
a-year. They merely transmit the orders to the furnishing undertaker,
who supplies materials and men at a comparatively low rate; and it is
stated that the real service is rendered by about sixty tradesmen of
this class, who compete with each other in furnishing the supplies to a
multitude of inferior tradesmen, probably exceeding 1000, amongst whom
the excessive profits arising from extortionate charges are thus
irregularly distributed. The profits of these agents or second parties
are often, however, divided with others by the system (which pursues the
head of the family to the last) of corrupting servants for their “good
word” or influence by bribes or allowances, against which the only
effectual defence is care to secure purchases at prices so low as to
preclude them. Physicians of great eminence have expressed their horror
at the facts of which they have been informed, of large sums of money
having been promised and given to head servants to secure to the
particular tradesman the performance of the funeral. The undertakers who
were questioned on the subject admitted explicitly that such is “an
occasional but not an universal practice,” and that such sums as 10_l._,
20_l._, and even 50_l._, have been known to have been given for such
orders, according to the scale of expense and profit of the funeral. One
undertaker stated that whenever a medical man took the trouble to bring
him an order for a funeral, he always, as a matter of course, paid him a
fee; and he believed it was a common practice. It was, however, only the
inferior practitioners who brought these orders. Physicians usually
carefully abstain from giving any recommendations of tradesmen in such

§ 51. Such being the state of the service as respects the multitude of
principals; the state of the service as respects the inferior dependents
is, that as at present conducted it is, as far as it goes, demoralizing.
The journeymen, who form the superfluous retinue of attendants for whom
so much expense is incurred, gain very little by their extravagant pay.
“They are,” says one master undertaker, “kept long waiting, and are
taken away to a distance from their homes, and are put to great expense
in drinking at public-houses, and acquiring very bad habits.” The
accounts given by undertakers themselves of the conduct of the men
composing the hired retinue of funerals, as at present conducted, are
corroborative of the following instance given by a gentleman who was a
witness of the scene described:—

  “If the relatives of one who has been honoured with what is called a
  respectable funeral could witness the scenes which commonly ensue,
  even at the very place where the last ceremony has been performed,
  they would be scandalized at the mockery of solemnity which has
  preceded the disgusting indecency exhibited at the instant when the
  mourners are removed. An empty hearse, returning at a quick pace
  from a funeral, with half a dozen red-faced fellows sitting with
  their legs across the pegs which held the feathers, is a common
  exhibition. But let the relatives see what has preceded the ride
  home of the undertaker’s men. In the spring of 1842, two friends
  walked into a village inn about twelve miles from London, for the
  purpose of dining. One had recently sustained a severe domestic
  calamity. The inn is generally distinguished for its neatness and
  quiet. All now seemed confusion. The travellers were shown up-stairs
  to a comfortable room. But the shouts, the laughing, the rapping the
  tables, the ringing the bells, in an adjoining room were beyond
  endurance; and when the landlady appeared with her bill of fare, she
  apologized for what was so different from the ordinary habit of her
  guests. “Is it a club feast?” “Oh, no, gentlemen; they are the
  undertaker’s men—blackguards I should say. They have been burying
  poor Lord——; he was much beloved here. Shame on them. But they will
  soon go back to town, for they are nearly drunk.” The travellers
  left the house till it was cleared of these harpies.”

§ 52. Men of the class who are every day to be seen stopping in parties
at public houses on their return from the places of burial, are
intrusted without care or selection to perform what may be shown to be
important sanitary and civil ministrations of enshrouding and preparing
the body for burial. The impressions created by the bearing of these
coarse, unknown, unrespected, irresponsible hands, add to the revolting
popular associations with death.

The extent of the public interests affected by so much of the practice
of interment, as the undertaker’s service embraces, will be better
appreciated in a subsequent stage of this report, and after the
consideration of the facts unfolded in the course of an examination of
the influence of the expenses of funerals specifically on the states of
mind, social habits and economy of the labouring classes in towns of

   _Specific Effects of the Expenses of Funerals, and Associations to
              defray them amongst the Labouring Classes._

§ 53. The desire to secure respectful interment of themselves and their
relations is, perhaps, the strongest and most widely-diffused feeling
amongst the labouring classes of the population. Subscriptions may be
obtained from large classes of them for their burial when it can be
obtained neither for their own relief in sickness, nor for the education
of their children, nor for any other object. The amount of the
twenty-four millions of deposits in the savings’ banks of the United
Kingdom is 29_l._ each depositor. Judging from particular
investigations, it would appear that upwards of 5_l._ of each deposit
may be considered a sum devoted to defray the expenses of burial, and
about as much more to provide mourning and other expenses. From six to
eight millions of savings may be considered as devoted to these objects.

§ 54. The following is an answer to some inquiries on the subject from
the secretary of the St. Martin’s Lane Provident Institution, an
institution in which the deposits amount to 1,168,850_l._, and the
depositors, amounting to upwards of 32,000, comprehend some of the most
frugal and respectable of the labouring classes:—

  As you wished me to mention any facts within my knowledge, arising
  out of this institution and its concerns, bearing upon the question
  of _sepulture_, I would first state, that the average _annual
  number_ of deaths occurring amongst our depositors (now about 32,000
  in number) in the course of the last nine years, has been 231;
  these, taking the last of such years for an example, are divisible
  under the classes shown by the subjoined statement. By reference to
  this statement it will be seen how large a class of our depositors
  consists of individuals of the poorer or labouring population; and
  amongst that class, in regard to the question of _sepulture_, from
  the opportunity afforded me of inspecting the charges made for
  funerals, I should say that the expenses incurred for the funeral
  and interment alone are seldom so little as 4_l._, generally amount
  to 5_l._ and upwards, and not unfrequently exceed 6_l._

  It is, I may observe, no uncommon practice for parties to leave
  deposits in their names, about the amount I have stated, for the
  very purpose of providing for the expenses of their interment, so as
  to ensure for themselves, under any change of circumstances, a
  decent burial; this feeling has prevailed so strongly in instances
  within my own knowledge, that, upon the happening of the death, the
  party has been found to have died at last an inmate of a poor house,
  and destitute of every kind of property, save only the little fund
  appropriated for the purpose I have stated. This feeling is not
  confined solely to the poorest class of our depositors: an instance
  lately occurred in which a depositor to the amount of 32_l._, made a
  special request that 20_l._ of this money might, in the event of her
  death, be paid only to _her undertaker_ on production of his account
  and of _her burial certificate_, and the balance to be paid to her
  relatives. The depositor died in the following year, and her wishes
  were accordingly carried into effect, with the concurrence of a
  relative, to whom it appeared she had communicated the arrangement
  she had thus made in regard to her money deposited with this

  Total Number ║
  of Deaths in ║Total Effects of such deceased Depositions, certified as
    the Year   ║           under the following Amounts, viz:—
 ending 31st of║
  March, 1842. ║
               ║     │     │     │     │     │     │     │     │ Amount
               ║ £50 │£100 │£200 │£300 │£400 │£450 │£600 │£800 │to £1000
               ║     │     │     │     │     │     │     │     │  and
               ║     │     │     │     │     │     │     │     │upwards.
      232      ║ 133 │ 32  │ 23  │ 10  │  1  │  5  │  6  │  6  │   16

Occurrences such as those above alluded to are not unfrequent. Those
who, as paupers, have led a life of dissipation, and have saved nothing
for other objects, have yet reserved and concealed a small hoard to
provide interment in a mode agreeable to their feelings. Besides the
immense amount of money reserved for this purpose in the savings’ banks,
it forms the great object of the benefit clubs: in most large towns
there are burial clubs instituted for no other purpose. In the town of
Preston nearly 30,000 persons, men, women, and children, are associated
in six large societies for the purpose of burial; the chief of these
clubs comprehends 15,164 members, and has since its commencement
expended upwards of 1,000_l._ per annum, raised in weekly contributions,
from a halfpenny and a penny to three-halfpence and two-pence per week.
A benevolent officer, in giving an account of this club, expresses a
hope that it may be practicable, in connexion with it, to get up some
provision for the living, in the shape of medical attendance for the
sick, an object which appears to have been entirely lost sight of in
these societies. Besides the burial societies, of which the funds are
deposited in the savings’ banks, there are others in which the funds are
placed out in the hands of private persons, traders, who pay interest
upon them.

§ 55. As an example of the allowances in the provincial clubs, it may be
mentioned, that on an examination of the rules of 90 friendly societies
at present existing in the borough and town of Walsall, comprising
upwards of 5000 members, it appeared that the allowances insured for
funerals were as follows:—that

                    For the Funeral │                   For the Funeral
                    of the Husband. │                    of the Wife.
 22 societies                pay £10│36 societies                 pay £3
 12                                8│16                                5
 8                                 7│14                                4
 3                                16│9                                 8
                                    │3                                 6
                                    │3                                 7

The burial allowances in the others were not specified.

§ 56. It must be premised, that it appears to be a serious error to
regard the arrangements of all of this class of clubs as the
arrangements of the poor people themselves; the arrangements are
evidence only of the intensity of their feelings on the subject of
interment, of their ignorance and their extensive need of information
and trustworthy guidance.

There are, for example, in Westminster, Marylebone, Finsbury, the City,
and the Tower Hamlets, districts of the metropolis, about 200 of such
societies, composed chiefly of the labouring classes, comprising from
100 to 800 members each, possessing aggregate amounts of deposits of
from 90_l._ to 1000_l._ each; raised in contributions of from
three-halfpence to two-pence per week, and paying on the death of a
member from 5_l._ to 10_l._ Besides these, there are clubs of a higher
description, mostly amongst the smallest class of tradesmen, where the
sums insured extend to sums as high as 200_l._, payable at the member’s
death, and are understood to be chiefly devoted to the payment of the
funeral expenses. The burial clubs for the labouring classes are
generally got up by an undertaker and by the publican at whose house the
club is held. The state of feeling addressed in the formation of these
societies is denoted by the terms of the placards issued at the joint
expense of the publican or of the undertaker, or rather of some mechanic
or person of another trade, who gets the business done by an undertaker.
These placards are frequently headed “In the midst of life we are in
death;” and the addresses are in such terms as the following, which is
taken from “The United Brothers’ and Sisters’ Burial Society,” held at
the Old Duke William public house, Ratcliffe Highway:—

  “In contemplating the many vicissitudes and changes incident to all
  persons of every station in life, and the many anxieties that crowd
  about our advancing years, more particularly the labouring class,
  through the uncertainty of employment, by long illness, or for want
  of friends reduced to extreme distress, and after a long and
  miserable life, and in expectation of that awful change which we
  must one time or other undergo, without ever providing for a decent
  interment, it will be some alleviation to our sufferings to remember
  that we bring no pecuniary burthen on our commiserating friends and
  relations, that at least we have divested our suffering families of
  that anxiety respecting our mortal remains which would add another
  pang to their already lacerated hearts: it too frequently occurs to
  the sorrow of many a feeling heart, who mourns over the deplorable
  loss of a beloved husband, wife, or friend; to obtain this desirable
  object, this society offers to the public, on easy terms, advantages
  worthy the consideration of persons in all stations of life.”

The terms of insurance are—

  “That to defray the necessary expenses of printing books, bills,
  &c., that members of the first class, if under the age of 55 years,
  shall pay 1_s._ entrance, and contribute 1_s._ per month to the box
  and 2_d._ per quarter to the secretary; and members of the second
  class, under the age of 55 years, shall pay 6_d._ entrance, and
  6_d._ per month to the box, and 2_d._ per quarter to the secretary;
  and every person above the age of 55 years, and members of the first
  class, to pay 2_s._ entrance, and contribute 1_s._ 6_d._ per month
  to the box, and 2_d._ per quarter to the secretary; and every member
  of the second class to pay 1_s._ entrance, and contribute 1_s._ per
  month to the box, and 2_d._ per quarter to the secretary. No more
  than 20 members will be admitted above the age of 60 years. They to
  be free in 12 months; nor shall any article that may be hereafter
  made exclude them.”

The benefits insured are to be—

  “That at the death of a free member, immediate notice shall be given
  to T. Scotcher, undertaker, who shall perform the funeral, and he
  shall inform one of the committee, and the first meeting night after
  the burial, his or her relation, next of kin, or nominee, on
  producing satisfactory evidence, will be entitled (if a member of
  the first class) to the sum of 10_l._; if a member of the second
  class, and above seven years, to 5_l._; if under the age of seven
  years, to 3_l._; but when the stock of this society amounts to
  150_l._ in the public funds, if a member in the first class admitted
  ten years, 12_l._ will be allowed; and if a member admitted ten
  years in the second class, 6_l._ will be allowed, deducting all
  arrears on the books; and for the credit of the society, the
  committee shall see the undertaker’s bill discharged.”

The publican is secured by a provision that the box shall not be removed
to any other public house; and the office of “J. Scotcher, undertaker
and founder of the Society,” is made permanent. An arbitrary rule, in
such terms as the following, is so couched (the officers being judges)
as to suppress complaint. This rule is common to other societies:—

  That if any member charge the committee, or any member thereof, or
  trustees, or secretary, with any improper practice in the management
  of the society, and cannot make it appear just, he or she shall be
  fined 5_s._, or be excluded.

It is to be observed that the high and exclusive spirit of some of the
rules would seem to show how little the body of the members are
consulted in the preparation of them. Thus, in the “Ancient Friendly
Society,” it is provided that “if any man sits down to drink with the
stewards to pay sixpence, whether a member or not.” It is provided in
the rules of the “Loyal United Friends,” that “if any person sit down to
drink with the committee he is to pay sixpence;” and it is the same with
a large proportion of the others.

In what is called an “improved burial society,” of the date of 1841,
called the East London Burial Society, held at the Swan public house,
Bethnal Green, the terms are:—

  That the members of this society shall pay their contributions
  weekly or monthly, and shall pay 1_d._ per quarter extra, to defray
  other expenses attending the society. Every member shall pay 1_d._
  per week for the first class, from two to fifty-five years; the
  second class, from ten to fifty-five years, 2_d._ per week; the
  third class, from ten to fifty-five years, shall pay 3_d._ per week.

Richard Crafer appears to be the president, and William Duggan
secretary; then Richard Crafer afterwards appears as the undertaker.
With respect to him the following is inserted as a fundamental rule of
the society:—

  That Richard Crafer, being the founder of this Society, shall be the
  undertaker, and no future articles shall remove him, so long as he
  gives general satisfaction to the society, and in case of his death,
  his eldest son shall claim the same for the benefit of the widow,
  and at her decease the same shall devolve on the eldest son living.

  Mr. William Duggan is appointed secretary, and for his attendance
  and services he shall be allowed the sum of 1_d._ per quarter, for
  as many members as there are on the society’s books: he will assist
  the society with his best advice, and register good and healthy
  members, and post the books. He shall be allowed 3_d._ each for all
  notices he may deliver on the society’s business, but not obliged to
  go more than two miles from the club-house.

This is preceded by the usual rule, that—

  Any member _coming_ to the society’s meeting-house in liquor, so as
  to disturb the proceedings, shall be fined 1_s._, and ordered to
  leave the room; and should any member charge the committee,
  secretary, president, trustees, or landlord with any unjust
  proceedings relative to the society, and cannot substantiate the
  same, he or she shall pay a fine not exceeding 10_s._ to the stock,
  or be excluded.

In the society of “United Brewers and Draymen,” of which J. Guy is
secretary and undertaker, one of the fundamental rules is, that—

  At the funeral of a member, the secretary shall provide fittings for
  porters and six pall bearers, for which he shall be allowed 1_l._,
  whether they are used or not, provided such member dies and is
  interred within three miles of any meeting-house.

The particulars of the provision commonly held out, is stated in the
following rule of the General Burial Society:—

  That the landlord for the time being shall be treasurer, and when
  there is sufficient cash, above what is necessary to supply the
  exigencies of the society, the same shall be vested in the public
  funds, in the names of the trustees appointed by the committee. The
  landlord, as treasurer, &c., shall give proper security for the due
  performance of his offices.

An evil entailed beyond the excessive amount of subscriptions paid for
an object that is but poorly obtained, is the impulse given by it to the
vice of drinking; to the destruction of real friendly sympathy amongst
the working classes, by making the announcement of the death to be
received as the demoralizing announcement of a coming carousal. Such
expenses can only be incurred in the absence of proper feeling, in the
face of destitute orphan children. The secretary of one of the better
ordered burial clubs, a working man, thus speaks of the regulations
which tend to drinking. He was asked—

  What number of members have you?—Two hundred, who pay sixpence per

  What is the publican’s advantage out of this?—The allowance is
  sixpence spending-money from each committee-man. I do not like this,
  and have wanted to change the place of meeting to a coffee-house,
  for the members frequently add a shilling to the sixpence
  spending-money, and are then not in a condition to begin business;
  but I find it is part of the rules of this, as well as of the other
  societies, that they shall be held at public houses.

  On the occasion of the funeral is there no drinking?—Yes, there is;
  that is another great evil, and I wish there was a way of remedying
  it. The family provide themselves with drink, and the friends coming
  also drink. I have known this to be to such excess, that the
  undertaker’s men, who always take whatever drink is given them, are
  frequently unfit to perform their duty, and have reeled in carrying
  the coffin. At these times it is very distressing. The men who stand
  as mutes at the door, as they stand out in the cold, are supposed to
  require most drink, and receive it most liberally. I have seen these
  men reel about the road, and after the burial we have been obliged
  to put these mutes and their staves into the interior of the hearse
  and drive them home, as they were incapable of walking. After the
  return from the funeral, the mourners commonly have drink again at
  the house. This drinking at the funeral is a very great evil.

Besides the regulations of meeting which lead to expenditure for
drinking, besides express regulations for allowances of drink, the
“funeral allowances” are sometimes read by the publican to mean
“expenditure” with him. The officers of a club in Liverpool having been
summoned before Mr. Rushton, the magistrate, for the non-payment of a
sum allowed by the rules, for funeral expenses, the steward of the club
attended, and in answer to the claim, stated that the complainant had
refused to take 4_s._ worth of whiskey at the house where the club
meetings were held, a quantity which had been used and allowed in that
and other clubs, as forming part of the “funeral expenses.”
Notwithstanding the usage, the magistrate refused to sanction the
steward’s reading of the term; and decided that the whole of the payment
of expenses must be in money and not in whiskey.

It is difficult to ascertain the amount spent in drink, but it appears
from the amount cited of the expenditure in the 90 societies at Walsall,
that the required allowance was 2_d._ per month, in others 3_d._, and
the aggregate sum spent in those clubs (if it were only limited to the
rule), must have amounted to 981_l._ 13_s._ 4_d._; but besides these
prescribed portions of drink, there are prescribed annual feasts, at
from 2_s._ 3_d._ to 3_s._ 6_d._ per member, amounting to an annual sum
of 257_l._ 10_s._, making a total of 1239_l._ 3_s._ 4_d._ per annum,
expended in such expenses. Besides these, there are decoration expenses,
in which one society alone expended between 70_l._ and 80_l._ Seventeen
of the societies had lost 1500_l._, and one of them 600_l._, through
various causes (such as the defalcations of secretaries), either
directly or indirectly, attributable to an inefficient system of
management. If the one year’s expenditure on drink, feast, and
decoration money, were placed out in the savings’ bank, at interest,
together with the amount of losses from mismanagement, the amount due to
the contributors, to this small group of societies, would, at the end of
10 years, have amounted to the sum of 5328_l._ 19_s._ 3_d._

§ 57. To prevent frauds, some of the rules provide that the secretary
shall see the body. For this service, in the society called the “Frugal
Society,” where 7_l._ is allowed for the interment, a fee of 2_s._ 6_d._
is allowed to him, and 4_s._ if he have to go from two to five miles for
the purpose. It is to be observed, that this is the usual fee provided
by such societies for any inspection of the body.

The publican is generally made the treasurer, and usually the money is
placed by him into the hands of his brewer, by whom from four to five
per cent. interest is paid for its use as capital. In other instances it
forms a capital for the publican himself; in some instances it is lent
to other tradesmen. Though failures of societies have occurred from the
failure of those to whom their funds have been lent, they do not appear
to have been so frequent as the failures from the erroneous bases in
respect to insurance on which they are generally founded.

§ 58. Believing that if the sums insured for burial in most of the
burial clubs were received in money, the premiums paid by the members of
these clubs are excessive, as compared with the premiums paid in the
higher classes of insurance offices, I have submitted a number of their
regulations, which may be considered specimens of the common terms of
assurance, to Mr. Jenkin Jones, the actuary of the National Mercantile
Life Assurance Society. His conclusions, which are confirmed by Mr.
Griffith Davies, the actuary of the Guardian Office, show that for a
risk, for which, if the Northampton tables were taken as the basis of
the assurance, that in the large society at Preston, where an annual
premium of 3_s._ 9_d._ would be taken for one risk by an assurance
office, 7_s._ 10_d._ is taken from the contributors by the club. The
General Friendly Society, for a risk for which 3_s._ 9_d._ would suffice
on the Northampton table, receives 11_s._ 5_d._ Instead of an average
premium of 5_s._ 2_d._, the “Friendly Society” takes 11_s._ 1_d._ If we
add 25 per cent., to the premium that would be charged according to the
Northampton rate (which is supposed to represent a higher mortality than
the average) for expenses of management, including books, stationery,
&c., and to cover the loss of interest occasioned by weekly or monthly
contributions, instead of annual premiums payable at the beginning of
each year, in nearly all these clubs the poor man pays an excess for
burial of, at least, one-third,—besides the expense of liquor more than
he would otherwise drink, which he is induced to take at the time of his
multiplied attendances to pay his weekly subscriptions. There are
various causes (which it would require a long report to specify) for the
failure of these clubs, and for the loss of the savings devoted to their
objects. The chief manager, the undertaker, has commonly an immediate
interest in the admission of bad lives, which bring him quick funerals.
The younger members often begin to perceive that they are subjected to
unduly heavy charges, and when they are in the majority, they break up
the society and divide the stock among them equally, and the older
members who have contributed from the commencement are mercilessly
deprived of the consolation for which they have during a great part of
their lives made the most constant sacrifices. Independently of the
excessive rates charged by these societies, the principle upon which the
charges are made is a very unjust one, viz.—that of charging the same
rate to each member, without reference to age.

§ 59. It will be seen from the following table that the “Friendly”
Society’s premium (11_s._ 1_d._) is rather more than double the average
of the Northampton (5_s._ 2_d._), and the premium by the Northampton
rates for ages 15 and 45 are 3_s._ 10_d._, and 7_s._ 9_d._; the premiums
of the “Friendly” Society, therefore, according to their own average,
ought not to be more for these ages than about twice these amounts, or
for age 15, 7_s._ 8_d._; age 45, 15_s._ 6_d._; but members between these
ages pay alike (11_s._ 1_d._), the younger member therefore pays 3_s._
5_d._ _more_ than he ought, and the older member 4_s._ 5_d._ less than
he ought.

          │“Friendly” Society │  Average Premium  │ Premium according
   Age.   │     Premium.      │ according to the  │to the Northampton
          │                   │ Northampton Rate. │       Rate.
          │  _s._      _d._   │  _s._      _d._   │  _s._      _d._
   7–45   │   11         1    │    5         2    │
     15   │                   │                   │    3        10
     45   │                   │                   │    7         9

And by the Northampton rate (upon the principle adopted by the society),
the younger member would have to pay 1_s._ 4_d._ more and the elder
member 2_s._ 7_d._ less than he ought. As an exemplification of the
instability of such societies, Mr. Tidd Pratt mentioned to me that at a
recent election of a poor man to a vacancy in the Metropolitan Benefit
Societies’ Asylum, a condition of which is that the candidate must be
above sixty years of age, and have been a member of a benefit society
more than ten years, there were 32 candidates, from whose documents it
appeared that the societies of no less than 14 out of the 32 had been
dissolved, and that some of them had belonged to two societies, and that
both had failed them. Such societies are nevertheless constantly renewed
on the old and unsafe foundations; and so intense is the prevalent
feeling on the subject of respectful interment, that to secure it, a
large proportion of the working population pay the same extravagant
premiums to several of these clubs, in the hope that one, at least, may
at the last avail them. On the death of a mechanic, the first business
of an experienced undertaker is to ascertain of how many societies the
deceased was a member, and to arrange the funeral accordingly. I am
informed that it is not unfrequent that such sums as fifteen, twenty,
thirty, and even forty pounds’ expenses are incurred for a mechanic’s
funeral under these circumstances. When two or three of the undertakers
of different clubs meet on the same search, and when they cannot agree
to “settle” between them their shares in the performance of the
funerals, very complex questions arise, which, it is stated, the
magistrates have great difficulty in settling.

§ 60. The exercise, on the parts of the lowest classes, of the feeling,
in itself so laudable and apparently susceptible of great moral good,
under proper guidance, has, in those districts where the burial
societies are conspicuous and numerous, led to dreadful incidental
consequences, displaying, amongst other things, the dangers of
disturbing natural responsibilities, and allowing interests to be placed
in operation against moral duties.

§ 61. The insecurity of the burial societies has, under the anxiety of
feeling of the working classes, lest they might fail of their object
from the failure of the club, led to multiplied insurances for adults,
thence for families, and for children; and thence has arisen high gains
on the death of each child,—in other words, a bounty on neglect and
infanticide. Those who are aware of the moral condition of a large
proportion of the population, will expect that such an interest would,
sooner or later, have its operation on some depraved minds to be found
in every class.

§ 62. Mr. Robert Hawksworth, the Visitor to the Manchester and Salford
District Provident Society, recently stated to me,—“Here, the mode of
conducting the funerals—the habits of drinking at the time of assemblage
at the house, before the corpse is removed, renewed on the return from
the funeral, when they drink to excess, the long retention of the body
in the one room, are all exceedingly demoralizing. The occasion of a
funeral is commonly looked to, amongst the lowest grade, as the occasion
of ‘a stir;’ the occasion of the drinking is viewed at the least with
complacency.” A minister in the neighbourhood of Manchester expressed
his sorrow on observing a great want of natural feeling, and great
apathy at the funerals. The sight of a free flow of tears was a
refreshment which he seldom received. He was, moreover, often shocked by
a common phrase amongst women of the lowest class—“Aye, aye, that child
will not live; it is in the burial club.”

The actual _cost_ of the funeral of a child varies from 1_l._ to 30_s._
The allowances from the clubs in that town on the occurrence of the
death of a child are usually 3_l._, and extend to 4_l._ and 5_l._ But
insurances for such payments on the deaths of children are made in four
or five of these burial societies; and an officer mentioned to me an
instance where one man had insured such payments in no less than
nineteen different burial-clubs in Manchester. Officers of these
societies, relieving officers, and others whose administrative duties
put them in communication with the lowest classes in those districts,
express their moral conviction of the operation of such bounties to
produce instances of the visible neglect of children, of which they are
witnesses. They often say—“You are not treating that child properly; it
will not live; is it in the club?” and the answer corresponds with the
impression produced by the sight. Mr. Gardiner, the clerk to the
Manchester Union, in the course of his exercise of the important
functions of registering the causes of death, deemed the cause assigned
by a labouring man for the death of a child unsatisfactory, and on
staying to inquire found that popular rumour assigned the death to
wilful starvation:—

  The child (according to a statement of the case) had been entered in
  at least ten burial clubs; and its parents had six other children,
  who only lived from nine to eighteen months respectively. They had
  received 20_l._ from several burial clubs for one of these children,
  and they expected to receive at least us much on account of this
  child. An inquest was held at Mr. Gardiner’s insistence when several
  persons, who had known the deceased, stated that she was a fine fat
  child shortly after her birth, but that she soon became quite thin,
  was badly clothed, and seemed as if she did not get a sufficiency of
  food. She was mostly in the care of a girl six or seven years of
  age: her father bore the character of a drunken man. He had another
  child, which was in several burial clubs, and was a year old when it
  died; the child’s mother stated that the child was more than ten
  months old, but she could not recollect the day of her birth; she
  thought its complaint was convulsions, in which it died. It had been
  ill about seven weeks; when it took ill, she had given it some oil
  of aniseeds and squills, which she had procured from Mr. Smith, a
  druggist. Since then she had given it nothing in the way of
  medicine, except some wine and water, which she gave it during the
  last few days of its life, when it could not suck or take gruel. It
  was in three burial clubs; her husband told her that they had
  received upwards of 20_l._ from burial clubs in which the other
  child had been entered; none of her children who had died were more
  than eighteen months old.

  A surgeon stated, that he made a _post-mortem_ examination of the
  body of deceased; it was then in an advanced state of decomposition,
  but not so far gone as to interfere with the examination. There was
  no appearance of external violence on the body, but there was an
  extreme degree of emaciation. The brain was healthy, and gave no
  indication of convulsions having been the cause of death; the
  process of teething had not commenced; had such been the case, it
  might have led to the supposition that fits might have occurred; the
  lungs, heart, stomach, and intestines were in a natural and healthy

  The jury having expressed it as their opinion that the evidence of
  the parents was made up for the occasion, and entitled to no credit,
  returned the following verdict:—“Died through want of nourishment;
  but whether occasioned by a deficiency of food, or by disease of the
  liver and spine, brought on by improper food and drink, or
  otherwise, does not appear.”

No further steps were taken upon this verdict; and the man enforced
payments upon his insurances from ten burial clubs, and obtained from
them a total sum of 34_l._ 3_s._ for the burial of this one child. Two
similar cases came under the notice of Mr. Coppock, the Clerk and
Superintendent-Registrar of the Stockport Union, in both of which he
prosecuted the parties for murder. In one case, where three children had
been poisoned with arsenic, the father was tried, with the mother, and
convicted at Chester, and sentenced to be transported for life, but the
mother was acquitted. In the other case, where the judge summed up for a
conviction, the accused, the father, was, to the astonishment of every
one, acquitted. In this case the body was exhumed after interment, and
arsenic was detected in the stomach. In consequence of the suspicion
raised upon the death, on which the accusation was made in the first
case, the bodies of two other children were taken up and examined, when
arsenic was found in the stomach. In all these cases payments on the
deaths of the children were insured from the burial clubs: the cost of
the coffin and burial dues would not be more than about 1_l._, and the
allowance from the club is 3_l._

§ 63. It is remarked, on these dreadful cases, by the Superintendent
Registrar, that the children who were boys, and therefore likely to be
useful to the parents, were not poisoned; the female children were the
victims. It was the clear opinion of the medical officers that
infanticides have been committed in Stockport to obtain the burial
money.[12] Cases of the culpable neglect of children who were insured in
several clubs had been observed at Preston. The collector of a burial
society, one of the most respectable in Manchester, stated to me strong
grounds for believing that it had become a practice to neglect children
for the sake of the money allowed. The practice of insuring in a number
of these clubs was increasing. He gave the following description of the
frauds to which the clubs were exposed:—

  A great number of individuals have themselves and family in two or
  more societies, and by that means realize a great sum of money at
  the death of any one of them; and I have no doubt at all in saying
  that a great many deaths are occasioned through neglect, when there
  is a great sum to be obtained at their decease. Such cases as these
  generally happen amongst the lower orders of society.

  In reference to cases of undoubted imposition, I will just name a
  few out of a great many. A person residing in Manchester wished to
  enter herself and grandchild into our society. We went to the house,
  and there were from ten to twelve individuals present, the greater
  part of them children,—two of them somewhere about three months old.
  I asked who it was that was going to enter? The mistress of the
  house spoke up, and said it was herself and her grandchild. I asked
  which was her grandchild? She took a very fine child in her arms and
  said that was it, and asked me would it do?—to which I answered,
  yes. The other was a very thin ghastly-looking child. I asked what
  was the matter with it? She said they could not tell; it had been so
  from the time it was born. I assure you, sir, it was an awful sight
  to look at. A thought struck me when I came out, that if that child
  died they might say it was the child I entered, so I determined to
  keep my eye on it every time I called, which was once a fortnight.
  In four months afterwards this thin child died, and according to my
  anticipations they brought a notice of death for the child I had not
  entered. I went down to visit, and on looking at it, and examining
  it, I pronounced it not the child I had entered. She said it was,
  and a great contest arose for about an hour, during which time I
  asked her were there not two children about the same age when first
  I came into her house? which she denied at first, but afterwards
  admitted it. I then asked her was not one of them a very fine and
  the other a very thin child? to which she answered, yes. I then
  asked her whether it was the finest or the thin one I entered? She
  answered, the finest one. I then asked her was that the fine one?
  She said, yes. I then asked her where was the thin child? She
  pointed to one that was sleeping in a bed, and said that was it. I
  looked at it, and said this was the child I entered. I then asked
  her how it was that this child which was sleeping had become so fat
  and the other so thin? to which she said she could not tell. Now I
  said to her, it is clear enough how you have done this; you showed
  me that living child, and gave me the name of the one that is dead,
  which she denied having done; and so we were compelled to give her
  the money because we had no means of finding it out but by some one
  in the house telling of her. But since, a little light has been
  thrown on it by her husband uttering a saying when he was drunk one
  day when I was there. This was the saying:—“A bright set of boys you
  are, burying the living for the dead!”—meaning that we gave burial
  money for a living child; but he was immediately stopped by his

  Another case, a woman in Salford, entered herself and two sons, and
  one of them was far gone in consumption; this we discovered and on
  asking, why she did it, she said she thought she could get a few
  pounds to bury him. Another, a man entered his wife, and she lay
  dying at the same time. When we asked him where his wife was, he
  pointed to a woman that was sitting by the fireside, and said that
  was her; but his wife died before she became a member. Another
  person, in order to obtain the funeral money, kept his child three
  weeks, until it was in a state of decomposition. The last case, out
  of many more that might be named, is rather ludicrous.

  A man and his wife, residing in Cotton-street, agreed that one of
  them, namely, the husband, should pretend to be dead, in order that
  the wife might receive his funeral money; accordingly the wife
  proceeds in due form to give notice of his death; the visiting
  officer on behalf of the society, whose duty it was to see the
  corpse, repairs to the house, enters the chamber, and inquires for
  the deceased; the should-be disconsolate widow points him to the
  body of her late husband, whose chin was tied up with a handkerchief
  in the attitude of death; he surveys the corpse—the eyelids seem to
  move; he feels the pulse, the certain signs of life are there: the
  officer pronounceth him not dead; she in return says, _he is dead_,
  for there has not been a _breath_ in _him_ since 12 o’clock last
  night. The neighbours are called in; a discussion ensues between the
  wife and the officer: some declare they saw the husband at the door
  that morning giving a light. He (the officer) requires her to bring
  a doctor; she goes, and says she can’t get one to come; the officer
  goes and brings one, who ordered him to be raised up in the bed, and
  having obtained some water, the doctor, while the man was sitting
  up, dashed it in his face.

The man was apprehended and taken before the magistrates for the fraud.
Sir Charles Shaw, the Commissioner of Police, directed that he should be
produced in court in the same dress in which he had been laid out and
was apprehended, which produced a very salutary effect.

§ 64. The evidence in respect to the crimes committed under such
circumstances may be carried into wider ramifications. Some of the
better constituted societies have perceived the evil of insurances,
carried to the extent of entirely removing responsibilities, or creating
bounties, to the promotion of the event insured against, and have
endeavoured to abate the evil, as far as they could, by the adoption of
a condition, that no payment should be made where a party was found to
have been a member or to have insured in another club.

§ 65. The collector of the society, whose exemplification of one class
of frauds is above cited, stated, that they were about to adopt the
common rule of the insurance societies, that all claims should be
forfeited for an act of suicide; for they had even instances which
showed that men held their own lives on so loose a tenure as to throw
them away on apparently slight motives. In one instance a man went to
the secretary, and asked whether, if he were to commit suicide, his
widow would be entitled to the burial money? The secretary stated that,
there being no rule against it, he thought, the survivor would be
entitled. The man, having fully satisfied himself on this point, went
away and took poison. The amount of burial money gained was supposed to
be 50_l._ In another case, the letter announcing to the widow the
benefit he had secured, grew indistinct from the working of the poison
and the sinking of life whilst the man was writing it, until it was
nearly illegible. But the occurrence of such facts, showing a
recklessness of life, with a degree of strength of domestic affections
which induces them to encounter violent deaths for the sake of the
survivors, is not confined to one class of society. Soon after the
practice of insuring from insurance companies, the payment of large sums
on the deaths of parties began to extend as a mode of providing for
families, instances occurred where tradesmen and persons of the higher
and middle classes, having effected insurances on their own lives,
committed suicide with the view apparently of securing to their families
the benefit of the sums insured. It is understood that the experience of
such cases, and the obvious inducement which persons having in view to
commit suicide to effect insurances on their lives, and thus defraud the
offices, led to the precaution, now almost universal, of inserting the
condition, which, however, is confined to insurance by persons on their
own lives; that “if the assured shall die by his own act, whether sane
or insane,” the policy shall be void. Yet frauds are occasionally
committed by persons who must know that they have not long to live.

§ 66. Multiplied payments on one death are contrary to the spirit, at
the least, of the law. A payment of a sum certain to parish officers, to
be relieved from any future payments in respect to an illegitimate
child, has been declared to be illegal. “One of the principles on which
that decision is founded is, that the payment of a large sum for the
support of a child gives the parish a degree of interest in the child’s
death, and might have a tendency to induce the officers to relax in
their duty towards it.”[13]

§ 67. In the higher order of life insurances, the legislature has
endeavoured to arrest the dangerous tendency of insuring beyond the
interest, by providing, by statute 14 Geo. III., c. 48, that persons
insuring the lives of others shall have an interest in such lives; and
it is a principle of insurance law that where a risk paid for has not
been run, the premiums shall be returned; and it would seem to be a
principle of common law that insurances beyond the actual interest are
void. In the case of Fauntleroy, the banker, who insured his life in the
Amicable Office for 6000_l._, the claim was resisted on the fact that he
had been attainted, convicted, and executed for forgeries committed
since the insurance, and the House of Lords held the insurance to be
void on the plainest principles of public policy. The Lord Chancellor,
in delivering the judgment of the house, said—“Is it possible that such
a contract could be sustained? Is it not void upon the plainest
principles of public policy? Would not such a contract (if available)
take away one of those restraints operating on the minds of men against
the commission of crimes,—namely, the interest we have in the welfare
and prosperity of our connexions? Now, if a policy of that description,
with such a form of condition inserted in it in express terms, cannot,
on grounds of public policy, be sustained, how is it to be contended
that in a policy expressed in such terms as the present, and after the
events which have happened, that we can sustain such a claim?”[14]

§ 68. The Benefit clubs in large towns cannot easily take effectual
measures against the multiplication of insurances, which indeed their
own instability to some extent justifies, and they may find their
account, in paying sums beyond the legal authority, as the higher
insurance offices avowedly do, in paying on policies to parties who have
had no legal interest in the life insured. An officer of one of these
large insurance establishments declared, that if they had acted upon the
decision of the courts in the case of Godson _v._ Boldero, “they might
as well have shut their doors.”

§ 69. Although the practice referred to, of multiplied insurances of
sums payable on the death of children, appears happily to have broken
out into infanticides only in the districts mentioned, yet as the means
and the temptation are left equally open in all, the necessity of
preventing them, as far as a direct legislative act may, is submitted,
by a short provision prohibiting payments beyond the actual cost of
interment, and directing the return of the premiums or subscriptions
where they have been given to more than one club.

§ 70. The means for the most direct protection of infantile life, and
for giving additional security for life in general, will be subsequently
submitted for consideration, with the evidence as to the means and the
necessity of the appointment of medical officers for the protection of
the public health.

§ 71. A collateral means of security, and of the abatement of other
evils incidental to the practice of interments, will be found in the
practicable administrative measures for reducing the unnecessary expense
of interments, and, by consequence, of the temptations to crime
constituted by the apparent expediency of the insurance of the payment
of large sums to meet that expense.

It will, moreover, on further examination, become apparent, in this as
in some other branches of public expenditure, that a course which
attains increased efficiency with the popular desiderata in respect to
interments is a course of economy.

     _Total Expenses of Funerals to different Classes of Society._

§ 72. In the following table is given a proximate estimate of the total
expenses of funerals of the persons of each class in the metropolis:—

             │        │        │                  │         │  Annual
             │        │        │                  │         │Expenses of
             │ Total  │        │                  │         │Funerals in
             │ Number │        │                  │         │England and
             │   of   │        │                  │  Total  │  Wales:
             │Funerals│        │                  │Expenses │estimating
             │of each │        │                  │ of the  │    the
             │ Class  │ Number │                  │Funerals │proportions
             │  that  │   of   │ Expenses of Each │ of all  │ of Deaths
    Class.   │  have  │Children│ Funeral of Each  │   the   │  of each
             │ taken  │under 10│ Class, Inclusive │ Persons │Class to be
             │place in│Years of│ of Burial Dues.  │ of each │the same as
             │  the   │  Age.  │                  │ Class,  │  in the
             │Metrop- │        │                  │inclusive│Metropolis,
             │olis in │        │                  │   of    │  and the
             │the Year│        │                  │Children.│  Average
             │ 1839.  │        │                  │         │Expenses of
             │        │        │                  │         │each Class
             │        │        │                  │         │ to be the
             │        │        │                  │         │   same.
             │        │        │Adults. │Children.│         │
             │        │        │£.  _s._│ £.  _s._│   £.    │    £.
 Gentry, &c. │   2,253│     529│100    0│  30    0│  188,270│  1,735,040
 Tradesmen,  │   5,757│   2,761│ 50    0│  14    0│  250,792│  2,370,379
   1st cls.  │        │        │        │         │         │
 Tradesmen,  │        │        │        │         │         │
   2nd cls.  │   7,682│   3,703│ 27   10│   7   15│  103,728│
   and unde- │        │        │        │         │         │
   scribed   │        │        │        │         │         │
 Artisans,   │  25,930│  13,885│  5    0│   1   10│   81,053│    766,074
   &c.       │        │        │        │         │         │
             │        │        │        │         │         │
 Paupers     │   3,655│     593│      13_s._      │    2,761│
             │        │                           │  ———————│
             │        │   Total expense for the   │  626,604│
             │        │        Metropolis         │         │
             │        │                                     │  —————————
             │        │Proximate Estimate of the Expense for│
             │        │  the Total Number of Funerals in one│  4,871,493
             │        │  Year, England and Wales            │

The above, which can only be submitted as a proximate estimate,
certainly shows an amount of money annually thrown into the grave, at
the expense of the living, which exceeded all previous anticipations;
and yet, from the information derived from the inspection of collections
of undertakers’ bills for funerals, I cannot but consider it an under
rather than an over estimate, and that the actual expenses of interment
in the metropolis would be found, on a closer inquiry, to be nearly a
million per annum. Hypothetical estimates of the amount of money which
must be expended to maintain so large a body of men as that engaged in
the business and service of the undertaker are confirmatory of this
view. Even in Scotland the expense of the decent burial of a labouring
man is not less than 5_l._, exclusive of the expense of mourning. I have
been shown the payments on account of burials of an affiliated
association of a convivial and benevolent character called the “Odd
Fellows,” which has upwards of 150,000 affiliated members, chiefly of
the better class of artisans, in different parts of the country. With
them, the payments usually amount to 10_l._ per funeral. The expenses of
burial of some of the smaller descriptions of shopkeepers may not much
exceed the expense of the undescribed class, which is taken us an
average between the sum set down for labourers and that for tradesmen;
but the latter is certainly a low average for the metropolis. All the
information tends to show that the expenses of the funerals of persons
in the condition of gentry are, on the average (inclusive of burial
dues), much higher than the sum stated. From inquiries I have made as to
the practice in the offices of the Masters in Chancery, where executors’
accounts are examined, I learn that if an undertaker’s bill is 60_l._ or
70_l._ (exclusive of burial dues), for a person whose rank in life was
that of the clergy, officers of the army or navy, or members of the
legal or medical professions, “it would, according to all usage, be
allowed as of course, and notwithstanding it should turn out that the
estate was insolvent.”[15] The cost of the funerals of persons of rank
and title, it will have been seen, varies from 1500_l._ to 1000_l._, or
800_l._, or less, as it is a town or country funeral. The expenses of
the funerals of gentry of the better condition, it will have been seen,
vary from 200_l._ to 400_l._, and are stated to be seldom so low as
150_l._ § 45.

§ 73. The average cost of funerals of persons of every rank above
paupers in the metropolis may, therefore, be taken as 14_l._ 19_s._
9_d._ per head. In some of the rural districts, and in the smaller
provincial towns, where the distinct business of an undertaker has not
arisen, coffins are made by carpenters, and services are supplied at a
very moderate cost; but the allowances from the benefit and burial clubs
throughout the country, of which instances have been given, may be
stated as instances of the general expense to the labouring classes. To
persons of the middle or higher classes, who give orders to undertakers
in the metropolis, for funerals to be performed in the country, the
expense is further enhanced by the extra expense of carriage; so that
there is ground for believing that the same average prevails throughout
Great Britain, and that the total annual expense of funerals cannot be
much less than between four and five millions per annum.

§ 74. Out of 5_l._ expended for the common funeral of an adult artisan
in the metropolis, about 15_s._ will be the burial dues. Of this 15_s._
about 3_s._ may be stated as the amount the clergyman will receive. The
surplice fees vary in different places from 2_s._ for the lowest class,
rising with the condition to 5_l._ 5_s._, or more; but taking the
average of all cases which occur in the metropolis, and on the
experience of the ministers of several parishes, the burial fees, which
form their chief emolument, that which was anciently denominated “Soul
Scot,” might perhaps be fairly taken as at 7_s._ 2_d._ per case, which
is the average of the burial fees in some of the principal parishes in

_Different proportions of the Expenses of Burials to the Community in
healthy and unhealthy Districts._

§ 75. It is a prevalent popular error, not unsanctioned by doctrines
held by several eminent public writers, that “as one disease disappears
so another springs up,” that the positive “amount of mortality, the
common lot,” is the same to all classes. But death, besides differing in
the period to different individuals, differs widely in the numbers of
burials, and in the consequent expenses to different families, classes,
and districts. It is the _number_ as well as the separate expense of
each of the funerals which occur during the year to each _class_ of
persons, or to different districts, which determines the total expense
of burial to the class or district. Thus, to the poorer classes, living
in wretched habitations, as those comprised in Bethnal Green and
Whitechapel, there is one burial to every 31 of the inhabitants, whilst
in the contiguous district of Hackney there is only one burial to every
56 of the inhabitants yearly. In Liverpool there is one burial per annum
to every 30 of the inhabitants, whilst in the county of Hereford there
is one burial only to every 55 of the inhabitants. If the existing
charge of burial, at the above rates of expense to each class of
individuals, were commuted for an annual payment, commencing at birth,
as a premium for the payment of 100_l._, 50_l._, and 5_l._, payable at
the undermentioned periods respectively, it would in the metropolis and
the county of Hereford be nearly as follows:—

         CLASS.         │      METROPOLIS.      │    HEREFORDSHIRE.
                        │          │   Annual   │          │   Annual
                        │ Average  │Payment for │ Average  │Payment for
                        │  Age at  │ Burial to  │  Age at  │ Burial to
                        │  Death.  │   every    │  Death.  │   every
                        │          │Individual. │          │Individual.
                        │  Years.  │£. _s._ _d._│  Years.  │£. _s._ _d._
 Gentry                 │    44    │1   1    10 │    45    │1   1    0
 Tradesmen or Farmers   │    25    │1   6     8 │    47    │0   9    9
 Labourers              │    22    │0   3     2 │    39    │0   2    9
                        │    ——    │            │    ——    │
 Average of all Classes │    27    │            │    39    │

Supposing each member of the family to have been assured at birth, a
labourer’s family in Herefordshire consisting of five persons would have
to pay yearly 13_s._ 9_d._, and there a farmer’s family of the same
number would have to pay 2_l._ 8_s._ 9_d._ yearly; whilst in London for
an artisan’s family of five, the yearly payment would be 15_s._ 10_d._
and for a tradesman’s family it would be 6_l._ 13_s._ 4_d._ per annum.
To insure the payment of the average cost of funerals, 14_l._ 7_s._
5_d._ at the end of 27 years, on the metropolitan chances of life, the
annual payment would be 7_s._, whilst on the Herefordshire chances of
life of 39 years to all born high or low the sum would be only 4_s._ Or
to take another form of displaying the comparative burthen; the general
average cost of each burial being 14_l._ 7_s._ 5_d._, and the annual
_proportions_ of deaths being different from the average duration of
life—being 1 of every 40 in the metropolis, a poll-tax to defray the
burial expenses must there be 7_s._ 2¼_d._; whilst in Hereford the
proportions of deaths being one in every 55, the poll-tax on all of the
inhabitants to meet the charge would be 5_s._ 3_d._ per head.

§ 76. It appears, therefore, that in considering the means of relief
from the evils connected with the number and expenses of burial, it
should at the same time be borne in mind that the primary means of
abatement and relief of the misery of frequent funerals will be found in
the means of the removal of the developed and removable causes of
premature mortality. Had the annual mortality amongst the population in
the high, open, and naturally-drained district of Hackney been the same
proportionate amount of mortality as that in the contiguous, but low,
ill-drained, ill-cleansed, and ill-ventilated district of Bethnal Green
and Whitechapel, instead of 759 deaths per annum, Hackney would have
upwards of 1138 deaths, and an expense of 5448_l._ more for funerals
during the year than it has. So the county of Hereford, if it were
afflicted with the same amount of mortality as that which prevails in
Liverpool, would have 1488 more deaths annually and an additional
expenditure of 21,390_l._ per annum in burials. How directly, certainly,
and powerfully, defective sanitary measures in respect of drainage and
cleansing, bear upon health and life, and, by consequence, on the
frequency of burials, will be seen in the latter portions of the
examination of Mr. Blencarne, surgeon, one of the medical officers of
the City of London Union, and of Mr. Abraham, surgeon, one of the
Registrars of Deaths in the same Union; which I select as an instance,
because the City stands high in wealth, in endowed charities, and in
supposed immunity from the removable or preventible causes of

§ 77. Two individual cases which were narrated by the physician who
attended them, will serve to convey a conception of a large proportion
of the common cases denoted by the units of the statistical evidence
derived from towns, and will illustrate more clearly the economy of the
prevention of sickness and death, as a superior economy of the incidents
of sickness as well as of funerals.

One case was that of an intelligent industrious man who had been foreman
to a tradesman, and having married and established himself as a master
tradesman, had a family of children. To diminish the expense of his
family he took a house which he let off to lodgers, retaining to himself
only the garrets and the underground or kitchen floor. He had five
children who became unhealthy and were attacked with cachectic diseases
and scald head; and the expense of an apothecary to the family during
one year was 59_l._: but still more serious disease afterwards
appearing, a physician was called in, who perceiving the impure air of
the apartments, pointed out the causes of the varied illness which had
prevailed, and the remedy—removal from the house.

In another case the foreman of a brewery married a healthy wife, who
gave birth to seven children, of whom six died at various ages, while
young, from diseases evidently springing from impure air. The source of
this impure air was an ill-constructed cesspool in the lower part of the
house, the stench of which was pointed out by the physician, who
happened to have a perception of such causes, and advised the immediate
removal of the family. Since that time they have had two other children,
who with the third which escaped, are now living in their better lodging
in the enjoyment of good health; the last of the children who died, when
“ailing,” was sent to the purer atmosphere of a rural district, and
returned in robust health, but soon after his exposure to the impure
atmosphere was attacked with fever, of which he died within a fortnight.

It was in the power of neither of these persons to obtain an amendment
of the general system of drainage, which occasioned the atmospheric
impurity under which they suffered; but the actual expenses of
structural measures of prevention would not, as an entire outlay, have
amounted to half the apothecary’s bill for drugs in the first case, or
of the expenses of the funerals (superadded to the expenses of drugs) in
the second case; but if the expenses of those structural arrangements
were defrayed by an annual payment of instalments of principal and
interest, spread over a period of 30 years, or a period coincident with
the benefit, the expense of the extended or combined measure of
prevention would not be more than 1_l._ 5_s._ 10_d._ per tenement, or
perhaps a small proportion of that sum, to the individual family.[18]

§ 78. But to return to collective examples. Mr. Blencarne, on a view of
the sanitary condition of the population, and the causes of mortality
within his district, expresses a confident opinion that in that district
the average amount of mortality might be reduced one-third by efficient
sanitary measures. The saving by a reduction of 71 funerals yearly, or
one-third of the burials in that district, at the average expense of
funerals for the metropolis, would amount to nearly 1020_l._ per annum.
If, as appears to be practicable, there were a reduction of one-half of
the expenses of the other two-thirds of the average number of funerals,
the total saving from this source would be 2040_l._ per annum to the
population inhabiting, according to the last census, 1416 houses. Now
the annual share of the expense of the chief structural sanitary
arrangements, supposing every house in the district to be deficient,
would, on the proximate estimate, amount to a sum of 1829_l._, or less
than the amount saved by the reduction of the funeral expenditure,
giving the health and longevity, and all the moral and social savings,
_plus_ the mere pecuniary saving; these remoter savings being in
themselves unquestionably far greater than can be represented by the
pecuniary items directly economised.

§ 79. Whosoever will carefully examine what has been done in scattered
and fortuitous instances amongst persons of the same class, following
the same occupation, living in the same neighbourhoods, and deriving the
same amount of incomes, and will from such examinations judge of the
inferences as to what may be done by the more systematised application
of the like means, will not deem the representation extravagant, that
the same duration of life may be given to the labouring classes that is
enjoyed by professional persons of the first class; or that it is
possible to attain for the whole of a town population such average
durations of life as are attained by portions of existing towns; or say,
such an average as is attained by the population of the old town of
Geneva, that is to say of 45 years, or six years higher than appears to
be attained by the whole population of the county of Hereford, which, as
we have seen, is 39 years.

§ 80. To take another example. If the proportion of deaths to the
population in the Whitechapel Union were reduced to the proportion of
deaths to the population in Herefordshire, then, instead of 2307
burials, there would only be 1305 burials per annum; and if the cost of
the remaining burials were reduced 50 per cent. of the average present
cost, then the saving of funeral expenses to the Whitechapel district
would be at the rate of more than 23,000_l._, or nearly 3_l._ per house
on the inhabited houses of the district; about half that sum being
deemed sufficient to defray the expense of the proposed structural
improvements. The funeral expenses in the parish of Hackney on the
proportion of burials amongst them, are at the rate of 5_s._ 2_d._ per
head on the living population. Were the burials in Liverpool reduced to
the same proportion, 1 in 56 instead of 1 in 30,[19] at the rate of
expenses for funerals in London, nearly 50,000_l._ per annum would be
saved to the population of Liverpool, being more than sufficient to
enable them to pay 30 years’ annual instalments, the principal and
interest, at five per cent., of a sum of 845,065_l._ sterling for
structural arrangements.

§ 81. Strong barriers to the improvement of the sanitary condition of
the population are created by the common rule and practice of levying
the whole expense of permanent works, immediately or within short
periods, on persons who conceive they have no immediate interest in
them, or whose interest is really transient, and who under such
circumstances will see no _per contra_ of benefit to themselves to
compensate for the expenditure. It may be of use to exemplify the
_contra_ of advantage to the inhabitants at least, to make it a good
economy to them to pay the proportions of rates required for the
additional expenditure in efficient means of preventing sickness and

The following may be given as an instance of the superior economy of
prevention, by the appliance of vaccination, afforded by the experience
obtained under the partial operation of the Vaccination Act in the
metropolis as compared with the experience in Glasgow, to which the same
arrangements do not extend. In the metropolis, in the year 1837, the
deaths from small-pox were 1520. The deaths from small-pox in the
metropolis, and in Glasgow for the years after the Vaccination Act came
into operation are thus compared in a report by Dr. R. D. Thompson.

                         DEATHS FROM SMALL-POX.

                    Glasgow.                            London.

   Population       282,134       Population         1,875,493

                      ———                                —————

      1838            388                                3,090 Epidemic.

      1839            406                                  634 [20]

      1840            413                                1,233

      1841            347                                1,053

      1842            334                                  350

                      ————                               —————

      Mean            377,      or about one inhabitant daily dies of
                                  small-pox in Glasgow.

A confident opinion is expressed that the decrease of small-pox in the
metropolis is ascribable to the extension of vaccination. The rate of
reduced mortality from that disease has continued during the present
year; and the average of the present rate, as compared with the average
preceding the extension of vaccination, would give a reduction of 946
deaths and funerals from 1652 annually. But as not one attack in ten of
small-pox usually proves fatal, the reduction of the number of deaths
may be taken as representing a reduction of some 9,460 cases of
sickness. The amount paid from the poor-rates for vaccination in the
metropolis was 1701_l._, which at the average fee gives 22,680 of the
worst conditioned and most susceptible cases out of about 56,000, in
which vaccination was successfully performed. The attention directed to
the subject has also promoted the extension of vaccination, by others
than the appointed vaccinators. The various expenses of each case of
sickness to the sufferers, inclusive of medicines, may perhaps, on a low
estimate, be represented at 1_l._ each case; and taking half the average
expenses of funerals for the 946 funerals saved, the total expense of
funerals and of sickness saved by the expenditure of the sum stated of
1701_l._ in well-directed measures of prevention, would exceed
16,000_l._ in the metropolis alone. Throughout the whole country, the
deaths from small-pox in 1840 were 10,434, as compared with 16,268 in
1838, on which, if the reduction may be ascribed to the extension of
vaccination solely, pounds of immediate expenses must have been saved by
the expenditure of half crowns,—in other words, upwards of 90,000_l._ in
money has been saved by the expenditure of about 12,000_l._ in

The excess of deaths in the metropolis above the healthy standard of
Islington or Herefordshire, of 1 in 55, is 11,266 (vide returns,
Appendix); the expense of burial of this excessive number, at the
average cost, is 168,990_l._ per annum, which (without taking into
account the expenses of the corresponding excess of sickness) as an
instalment, would in 30 years liquidate the principal and interest, at 5
per cent., of a loan of 2,856,168_l._ towards house drainings and the
structural improvements and arrangements, by which the excess might be
prevented. To the charge of the excessive deaths must be added the
charge of the births which take place to make up the ravages of the
mortality in the most depressed districts. Taking the proportion of the
births to the population in the Hackney Union, 1 in 42, as the standard
of proportion of births in a healthy district, the excess of births for
the whole metropolis during that year was upwards of 8000: or 52,609
instead of 44,541.[21]

§ 82. The grounds will hereafter be submitted which appear to sustain
the position that all the solemnity of sepulture may be increased, and
solemnity given where none is now obtained, concurrently with a great
reduction of expense to all classes.—Vide post, § 113 to § 120.

In considering the expenses of funerals, the arrangements and consequent
expenses of the funerals of the wealthy are of importance, less perhaps
for themselves than as governing by example the arrangements and
expenses of the poorest classes, even to the adoption of such
arrangements, and consequently expensive outlay as to have hired bearers
and mutes with silk fittings even at the funerals of common labourers.
The expenditure by the wealthy, in compliance with supposed demands at
which their own taste revolts, for a transient effect which is not
gained,[22] would suffice to produce permanent effects of beneficence
and taste worthy of their position in society. A gentleman who recently,
in distaste of the ordinary undertaker’s arrangements, reduced them on
the occasion of the burial of his daughter, applied the money in
erecting to her memory, and partly endowing, a small school for 25
children of a village, in which, as the tablet on the school recorded,
the deceased had, when alive, taken a kindly interest. Where no such
objects are offered for the surplus expenditure, that which would be
unsuccessfully thrown away for the transient effect would suffice for a
statue or some work of art that would ensure permanent admiration. The
aggregate waste on funerals in the metropolis would, in the course of a
short time, suffice for the endowment of educational or other
institutions, that would go far to retrieve the condition of the poorer
classes. The waste of two years in the metropolis would suffice for the
erection of a magnificent cathedral, and of a third year for its
endowment for ever.

§ 83. In justification of the funeral exactions from the labouring
classes, it is sometimes alleged that if they did not expend the money
in the funereal decorations, they would expend it in drink. But this
would only occur in a minority of cases, and in those only for a time.
The reduction would be an immediate and most important relief in an
immense number of cases of widowhood, and especially in those cases
where there has been no insurance, where the widow incurs debts which
often reduce her to destitution and dependence on the poor’s rates, or
on charity. It forms a large part of the business of some of the
small-debt courts in the metropolis to enforce payments of the
undertakers’ bills, incurred under such circumstances. For all classes,
what is deemed by them respectful interment is to be considered a
necessity; and in general the expenditure beyond what is necessary to
ensure such interment competes not with extravagancy, but with high
moral obligations. By the arrangements which throw the savings of the
poor family into the grave, children are left destitute, and creditors
are often defrauded, and heavy taxes levied on the sympathies of
neighbours and friends.[23]

    _Failure of the objects of the common Expenditure on Funerals._

§ 84. Notwithstanding the immense sacrifices made by the labouring
classes for the purpose, neither they nor the middle classes obtain
solemn and respectful interment, nor does it appear practicable that
they should obtain it by any arrangement of the present parochial means
of interment in crowded districts.

§ 85. Few persons can have witnessed funeral processions passing in
mid-day through the thronged and busy streets of the metropolis, without
being struck with the extreme inappropriateness of the times and places
chosen for such processions. This want of regulation as to appropriate
times is the subject of complaints, which must attach, even to a greater
extent, to numerous processions, without regulation, from the centre of
the populous town districts to the suburbs.

Mr. Wild, the undertaker, was asked—

  What besides the expense, and the objection to the ground, do you
  find is the objection entertained to the existing mode of burial in
  the crowded districts of the metropolis?—One very common objection,
  is the inconvenient time; the average time is about 3 o’clock, but
  it varies from 2 to 4 o’clock. This is very inconvenient for persons
  in business, who wish to attend as mourners. From this cause,
  interments are frequently delayed; at this time, also, the streets
  are very much crowded; sometimes boys crowd round the gates, and
  shout as ill-educated boys usually do; sometimes there are mobs; I
  have known the service interrupted more than once during the
  ceremony; sometimes the adults of the mob will make rude remarks. I
  have heard them call out to the clergyman, “Read out, old fellow;”
  sometimes I have known them make rude remarks in the hearing of the
  mourners; on the clergyman frequently; but this has been on the week
  days, when, of course, the numbers attending are very great. At
  times, the adults and mob at the gates have an idle and rude
  curiosity to hear the service. I have known them rush in past the
  mourners, and go in indiscriminately. It is part of my business to
  see the mourners and corpse safe in, before I go in; and I have been
  sometimes severely hustled, and have had great difficulty in getting
  in myself.

  Are the crowds in the town, or districts, ever characterized by any
  reverence for the dead?—Not the slightest: quite the contrary, and
  it makes part of the annoyance of interments in town to have to
  encounter them.

  Are you not aware that on the Continent it is generally the custom
  for passengers of every condition in the streets, to stop and take
  off the hat, on the approach, and during the passage of the dead?—I
  have met with several instances of persons stopping in our streets
  in London, and taking off their hats. On looking at them, I had
  reason to believe they were foreigners.

  Have you ever known carriages or common coaches, or carts or
  waggons, stop in the streets on the approach of a funeral?—I have
  seen gentlemen pull their check-strings, or tap at their windows,
  and stop their coachmen in towns; but, if the carriage were empty,
  there was no stoppage. But none of the common conveyances ever stop.
  I have several times ran the risk of being knocked down by them. I
  have known cabmen and omnibus men drive through the procession of a
  walking funeral, and separate the mourners from the corpse. These
  characters display complete indifference to such scenes.

§ 86. In the rural districts the population appears to be so far better
instructed and more respectful; but, according to the testimony of
living persons, the same indifference has not always characterized
labouring classes in the town districts, even of the metropolis. It is
described as an unavoidable consequence of the increasing numbers of
funerals, and familiarity with them arising from the neglect of
appropriate general arrangements, a neglect from which not only the
relations and parties engaged in such services, but strangers have to
complain, that their feelings are not duly regarded. In a rural parish,
the deceased who is interred is generally known, and the single funeral
arrests attention and excites sympathy. In crowded districts
neighbourship diminishes; a vast portion of the population of the
metropolis pass their lives without knowing their next-door neighbours,
or even persons living in the same building; the great majority of
burials are, to the mass of the population, burials of strangers, for
whom no personal sympathies can be awakened; the inopportune and
unexpected passage of small funeral processions through busy and
unprepared crowds of the young and active, create a familiarity that
stifles all respectful or reverential feelings, whilst the numbers of
separate funerals make undue demands on the sympathies, and harass the
minds of the sickly and the solitary by their continued passage, and the
perpetual tollings of the passing bells. Examples in some of the German
cities might be cited of refined and successful arrangements by which
the feelings of all are consulted, by interments either in the quiet of
evening or of early morning, or by the selection of retired routes for
the processions. The funeral processions to the cemetery of Frankfort
are generally held at early morning for the labouring classes.

§ 87. The celebration of religious ceremonies in a satisfactory manner
at some of the populous parishes, appear to be often extremely
difficult, if not impracticable. Mr. Wild further answers:—

  What are the matters objected to that are of common experience in
  our burials, when the corpse and attendants have arrived within the
  church-yard?—In certain seasons of the year, when the mortality is
  greater than usual, a number of funerals, according to the present
  regulation of the churchyards, are named for one hour. During last
  Sunday, for example, there were fifteen funerals all fixed during
  one hour at one church. Some of these will be funerals in the
  church; those which have not an in-door service must wait outside.
  At the church to which I refer, there were six parties of mourners
  waiting outside. My man informed me, that all these parties of
  mourners were kept nearly three-quarters of an hour waiting outside,
  without any cover, and with no boards to stand upon. The weather
  last Sunday was dreadfully inclement. I have seen ten funerals kept
  waiting in the church-yard from twenty minutes to three-quarters of
  an hour. I have known colds caught on the ground by parties kept
  waiting, and more probably occurred than I could know of. It is the
  practice on such occasions to say the service over the bodies of
  children and over the bodies of the adults together, and sometimes
  the whole are kept waiting until the number is completed. Even under
  these circumstances, the ceremony is frequently very much hurried.

  How many are there in some parochial burial grounds to be buried at
  one time?—Sometimes fifteen.

  With such a number to bury is it physically possible that the
  separate service should be other than hurried, and in so far as it
  is hurried unsatisfactory to the mourners?—According to the present
  system I do not see that it is at all times practicable to be other
  than hurried and unsatisfactory.

  Would not an in-door service be acceptable to the labouring
  classes?—I conceive highly so. In some parishes, as at Camberwell,
  the custom is to give an in-door service to all, whether rich or
  poor. This is considered highly acceptable. Where the labouring
  classes are excluded they not only feel the inconvenience of having
  to wait, but they feel very much the exclusion on account of their
  poverty. They frequently complain to me, and question me as to
  whether it is right, and ask me the reason.

  What other inconveniences are experienced in the service in
  church-yards?—It is a frequent thing that a grave-digger, who smells
  strongly of liquor, will ask of the widow or mourners for something
  to drink, and, if not given, he will follow them to the gates and
  outside the gates, murmuring and uttering reproaches.

  Is that ordinarily the last thing met with before leaving the
  church-yards?—Yes, that is the last thing.

  That closes the scene?—Yes, that closes the scene.

Mr. Dix was asked—

  In the crowded districts is the funeral ceremony often
  impeded?—Besides the state of the parochial burial grounds, the mode
  of performing the ceremony is very objectionable, in consequence of
  the crowd and noise and bustle in the neighbourhood. I have had
  burials to perform in St. Clements Danes’ burial ground, when the
  noise of the passing and the repassing of the vehicles has been such
  that we have not heard a third of the service, except in broken

§ 88. On this very important subject it is observed, by the Reverend
William Stone, the rector of Spitalfields:—

  It must, I think, be admitted, that, in a crowded population, the
  parochial system, as it generally stands at present, is utterly
  inadequate to meet the demand for interment—the demand, I mean,
  which would exist, if that system were universally acquiesced in,
  and all our parishioners were brought for interment to our parochial
  burial grounds. To say nothing of the inability of many parishes to
  provide adequate grounds, there could not be an adequate supply of
  clergymen or of churches. Indeed, it has always seemed to me, that,
  in practice, this _has been_ admitted; for, in London, that
  considerable and important part of the burial service which is
  performed within the church, unless specially desired and paid for,
  has, from time almost immemorial, been left out; and I think that
  the highest ecclesiastical authorities could hardly have introduced
  or sanctioned such an anti-rubrical omission, had it not served some
  more popular or more necessary purpose than that of merely raising
  the fees of the church. From this consideration, added to the
  frequent inconvenience of my burial services, I have been led to
  regard the fees for the in-church service, like the payments for the
  erection of monuments and tablets in our churches, as a kind of
  necessary preventive duty. And certain it is, that unless our burial
  services were limited by some such restrictive system, they would be
  not only overwhelmingly laborious, but absolutely impracticable and
  incompatible with our other professional engagements. How, for
  instance, could the densely-built parish of Christchurch,
  Spitalfields, yielding a clerical income less than 380_l._ a-year,
  possessing one burial-ground, and one church attached to that
  burial-ground, accommodate, in any enlarged sense of the word, an
  _interrable_ population of 23,642, with the addition of the many
  proprietors of our vaults and graves, who must always be resident at
  a distance? Even now, with our present very scanty demand for
  interment, I sometimes find, as I have intimated, extreme
  inconvenience from this part of my duties. For obvious reasons the
  working classes make choice of Sunday for their burials; the very
  day, above all others, when the clergy and the church are almost
  wholly pre-engaged for other purposes. No wonder, then, that one
  purpose should often clash with another—that burials _in_ church
  should clash with burials _out_ of it—that clergymen should be
  hurried, discomposed, and exhausted—and mourners kept waiting in a
  cold, damp burial-ground, so as to verify the old objection urged by
  the Puritans against our service there, that “in burying the dead we
  kill the living.” On other days, too, the clergy have other
  engagements, so as to render it necessary to appoint burials for a
  particular hour—an appointment, however, often more necessary to the
  clergy than agreeable to the undertakers and their employers. And
  yet, with every precaution, the clergyman is most seriously
  incommoded; for, however he may try to accommodate, by allowing
  parties to fix their own hour of burial, his time and patience are
  fearfully encroached upon. Burials are very seldom punctual. They
  arrive from 20 minutes up to an hour and a half after the hour
  fixed. Mourners linger at home over their cups. The undertaker
  pleads that he “couldn’t get them to move.” Sometimes he has another
  “job” in hand elsewhere—nay, an undertaker has had two “jobs” in my
  own burial ground—he has fixed them for the same hour; yet, after
  having, with my assistance, completed one of them, he has coolly
  left me to wait till he could fetch the other; so that, what with
  wasted time, exhausted patience, and trials of temper owing to
  incivility and other annoyances from such persons as a clergyman is
  thus brought into contact with, he has, to say the least, as much
  inconvenience as the public have to complain of.

  Among the inconveniences which the necessities of our parochial
  system impose upon the working-classes, may be mentioned the
  practice just now alluded to, viz., the omission of the _in_-church
  service in all cases where it is not specially paid for. Looking at
  my parishioners in a religious light, and at a moment when all ranks
  and conditions are literally levelled in the dust, I feel this to be
  an invidious distinction between rich and poor; and I think it but
  natural that the poor should prefer burial in places where such a
  distinction is less strongly marked.

In another part of his highly important communication, he observes—

  In the course of my remarks I have adverted to our inadequate
  parochial provision for the burial of the dead in populous places,
  and to the consequent inconvenience which has placed the churchyard
  in unfavourable contrast with the dissenting ground. There is
  another inconvenience, however, which attaches to both, and which is
  inseparable from the burial of the dead in a crowded population: I
  mean the impossibility of maintaining a due solemnity on such an

  If the working-classes of a populous city are less awfully affected
  by the sight of death, from an unavoidable familiarity with it in
  their own homes, it is to be feared that they and others meet with
  much to prevent or impair a wholesome sensibility upon it in public;
  for there the touching associations of a burial, and the sublime
  spirituality of our burial office are broken in upon by the
  exhibition of the most vulgar and even ludicrous scenes of daily

  The eastern end of my parish ground, for instance, abuts upon
  Brick-lane, one of our most crowded and noisy thoroughfares, and at
  one corner stands a public-house, which, of course, is not without
  its attraction to all orders of street minstrels. In performing the
  burial service, I have left the church, while the organ has been
  playing a beautiful and impressive requiem movement, and proceeded
  to the grave, where it was purely accidental if I did not hear the
  very inappropriate tune mentioned by my medical friend.

  Indeed, as my church extends along one side of another crowded
  street, I have had most inappropriate musical accompaniments, even
  during that part of the burial service which is performed _within_
  the church. My burial ground is partially exposed to the street at
  the west end also; and there, as at the east, it is liable to be
  invaded by sounds and sights of the most incongruous description.
  Boys clamber up the outside of the wall, hang upon the railing, and,
  as if tempted by the effect of contrast, take a wanton delight in
  the noisy utterance of the most familiar, disrespectful, and
  offensive expressions;—of course, all attempts to put down this
  nuisance from within the burial ground serve only to aggravate it,
  and nothing _could_ put it down but a police force ordered to the
  outside every time that a burial takes place. To this
  wilful disturbance is added the usual uproar of a crowded
  thoroughfare,—whistling, calling, shouting, street-cries, and the
  creaking and rattling of every kind of vehicle—the whole forming
  such a scene of noisy confusion as sometimes to make me inaudible.
  On all these occasions, indeed, I labour under the indescribable
  uneasiness of feeling myself out of place. Amidst such a reckless
  din of secular traffic, I feel as if I were prostituting the
  spirituality of prayer, and profaning even the symbolical sanctity
  of my surplice. And yet, the exposure of my burial-ground is but
  partial, and is little or nothing compared with that of many others.
  The ground is hardly less desecrated by the scenes within it; on
  Sundays, especially, it is the resort of the idle, who pass by the
  church and its services to lounge and gaze in the churchyard. It is
  made a play-ground by children of both sexes, who skip and scamper
  about it, and, if checked by our officers, will often retort with
  impertinence, abuse, obscenity, or profaneness. I generally have to
  force my way to a grave through a crowd of gossips, and as often to
  pause in the service, to intimate that the murmurs of some or the
  loud talk of others will not allow me to proceed. I hardly ever
  witness in any of these crowds any indication of a religious
  sentiment. I may sometimes chance to observe a serious shake of the
  head among them; but, with these rare exceptions, I see them
  impressed with no better feeling than the desire to while away their
  time in gratifying a vulgar curiosity. On the burial of any
  notorious character,—of a suicide, of a man who has perished by
  manslaughter, of a woman who has died in child-birth, or even of a
  child who has been killed by being run over in the street, this
  vulgar excitement rises to an insufferable height. If, in such a
  case, the corpse is brought into my church, this sacred and
  beautiful structure is desecrated and disfigured by the hurried
  intrusion of a squalid and irreverent mob, and clergyman, corpse,
  and mourners are jostled and mixed up with the confused mass, by the
  uncontrollable pressure from without. I will not, indeed, venture to
  say that, on these occasions, the mourners always feel and dislike
  this uproar, for I believe that among the working classes they often
  congratulate themselves upon it. There is an éclat about it which
  ministers to the love of petty distinction before alluded to; but,
  whether through the operation of this feeling or the many other
  abominable mischiefs attending the burial of the dead in populous
  places, there is much to counteract or impair the solemn and
  impressive effect of religious obsequies.

§ 89. The feeling of a large proportion of the population appears to be
dissatisfaction with the intra-mural parochial interments, less on
sanitary grounds than from an aversion to the profanation arising from
interment amidst the scenes of the crowd and bustle of every-day life.
This feeling is manifested in the increasing numbers who abandon the
interments, even in parishes where the places of burial are neatly kept,
where, if there be nothing to satisfy, there is nothing to offend the
eye, where the service is solemnly and attentively performed, and where
the amount of the burial fees cannot be supposed to influence the
choice. The increasing feeling of aversion is indeed manifested by acts
less liable to error than any verbal testimony, by the increasing
abandonment of parochial family-vaults by the gentry and middle classes
of the population, by payments from the labouring classes, even of
increased burial dues for interments in places apart from the
profanation of every-day life. The feeling manifested may be stated to
be a national one, and to call for measures of a corresponding extent
and character.

 _Means of diminishing the evil of the retention of the Remains of the
                        Dead amidst the Living._

The most predominant of the physical, if not of the moral evils which
follow the train of death, to the labouring classes, being the long
retention of the corpse in their one room, the means of altering this
practice claims priority in the consideration of remedies.

§ 90. The delay of interment, it has been shown, is greatly increased by
the expense of the funerals; but in a considerable proportion of cases,
where the expense is provided for, the delay still occurs, chiefly from
feelings which require to be consulted,—the fear of interment before
life is extinct.

§ 91. It has been proposed by an arbitrary enactment, without
qualification or provision of securities, to forbid all delay of
interments beyond a certain number of hours. Such a provision would, in
the shape proposed, and without other securities, run counter to the
feelings of the population, and standing as a self-executing law it
would have but little operation.

The proposed compulsory clause stood thus in the bill of the session of
1842 without any qualification:—

  “And be it enacted, That from and after the First day of October,
  One thousand eight hundred and forty, if any dead body shall
  continue unburied between the First day of May and the Thirty-first
  day of October, both days inclusive, more than       hours, or
  between the First day of November and the Thirtieth day of April,
  both days inclusive, more than       hours, the executors or
  administrators to the estate and effects of such deceased person, or
  the friends or relatives of the same, or any one of such friends or
  relatives present at the burial, or the occupier of the house from
  which such dead body shall be removed to be buried, shall forfeit
  the sum of Twenty shillings for every Twenty-four hours after the
  expiration of such respective periods.”

From the closeness of the rooms in which the poorer classes die, and
from large fires being on such occasions lighted in them, decomposition
often proceeds with as much rapidity in winter as in summer. The mental
sufferings from the prolonged retention of the body amidst the living,
§§ 26, 3, 39, and the moral objections to it also, § 42, would be as
intense in the winter as in the summer, or more so.

§ 92. In several of the continental states, about half a century ago,
similar enactments were passed; but it was found necessary to accompany
them with various securities; and where these securities, such as the
medical inspection and certificate before interment, have been loose,
events have occurred which have convinced the public of the necessity of
strengthening them. In a recent report on the subject at Paris, by M.
Orfila, he adduces an instance.

  “In October, 1837, M. Deschamps, an inhabitant of la Guillotière, at
  Lyons, died at the end of a short indisposition. His obsequies were
  ordered for the next day. On the next day the priests and the
  vergers, the corpse-bearers and conductors of funerals, attended. At
  the moment when they were about to nail down the lid of the coffin,
  the corpse rose in its shroud, sat upright, and asked for something
  to eat. The persons present were about to run away in terror, as
  from a phantom, but they were re-assured by M. Deschamps himself,
  who happily recovered from a lethargic sleep, which had been
  mistaken for death. Due cares were bestowed upon him, and he lived.
  After his recovery he stated that in his state of lethargy he had
  heard all that had passed around him, without being able to make any
  movement, or to give any expression to his sensations. * * * It is
  fortunate for M. Deschamps that the funeral, which was to have taken
  place in the evening, was deferred until the morning, when the
  lethargic access terminated, otherwise he would have been interred
  alive.” * *

In the last number of the Annales d’Hygiene, the following recent
instances are cited, as proving the necessity of a regular verification
throughout the kingdom of the fact of death:—

  A midwife of the commune of Paulhan (Hérault) was believed to be
  dead and was put in a coffin. At the expiration of twenty-four hours
  she was carried to the church and from thence to the cemetery. But
  during its progress the bearers felt some movement in the coffin,
  and were surprised and frightened. They stopped and opened the
  coffin, when they found the unfortunate woman alive! she had merely
  fallen into a lethargy. She was carried back to her home, but in
  consequence of the shock she received she only survived a few days
  the horrible accident.

It is stated from Bergerac (Dordogne), of the date of the 27th of
December, 1842, that—

  An individual of the Commune d’Eymet, who suffered from the
  continued want of sleep, having consulted a medical practitioner,
  took on his prescription a potion which certainly caused sleep; but
  the patient slept always, and the prolongation of the repose created
  great anxiety, and occasioned his being bled. The blood flowed
  feebly, drop by drop. Then he was declared to be dead. At the
  expiration of a few days, however, the potion given to the patient
  was remembered, and an uneasy sensation that it might have been the
  cause of an apparent death, caused the exhumation of the body. When
  the coffin was opened the horrible fact was apparent to all present
  that the unfortunate man had really been buried alive; he had turned
  round in the coffin! His distorted limbs showed that he had long
  struggled against death.

In the “Journal des Débats,” bearing date February 21, 1843, a letter is
given from Caen of the 17th February, informing us “that Madame * * *
dwelling in the Rue Saint-Jean, appeared, after a long sickness, to
expire on Tuesday evening. The sad functions of preparing her for the
tomb were performed during the night. On the Thursday morning the coffin
was brought, and as the two men were about to lay her in it, she moved
in their hands, and woke up from the profound lethargy in which she was
plunged. Madame * * * is in a state of health which leaves little hope.
We shudder to contemplate the horrible end which awaited her if the
trance had continued some hours longer.”

§ 93. I am informed of one case, which occurred in a private family in
this country, of a disentombment, made under very similar circumstances
to those of the case related from Bergerac, which revealed a similarly
horrible event, the body being found turned in the coffin. The belief of
the occurrence of such cases in this country is sometimes founded on
statements of the bodies being found out of their proper position in the
coffins; but nothing is more probable than the discomposure of the body
from its recumbent position, by jolting at the time of its removal down
steep and narrow staircases. Sir Benjamin Brodie observes:—“Mistakes
such as these here alluded to must be very rare, and can be the result
only of the grossest neglect. The movements of respiration are always
perceptible to the eye, and cannot be overlooked by any one who does not
choose to overlook them, and there is no doubt that the heart never
continues to act more than four or five minutes after respiration has
entirely ceased. But it is not always easy to say what is the _exact
moment_ at which death hath taken place, as in some instances the
inspirations for some time previously are repeated at very long
intervals. Thus I have watched a dying person, and supposed that he was
dead, when, after a minute’s interval, there has been a fresh
inspiration; then one or two more presently afterwards; then another
long interval, and so on. I have no doubt that persons in this condition
are often sensible, and even hear and understand all that is said.

“It may be doubtful whether sensibility is always immediately
extinguished when the heart has ceased to act. In persons who have died
of the Asiatic cholera convulsive movements of the body have been
observed even several hours after apparent death. If the nervous system
has remained in such a state as this implies, who can say that it did
not retain its sensibility? There is no account of persons in whom such
convulsions (after apparent death) have taken place having recovered;
but this occurrence, even without chance of recovery, forms a strong
argument against the immediate burial of persons who have died of the

§ 94. The extreme ignorance and terror of the lowest class of the
population on the occurrence of a death which they may never have
witnessed before, must be expected to stand in the place of gross
neglect. Of the lower class of officers in public establishments, when
unsuperintended by well qualified and responsible persons, the
occurrence of gross neglect must be anticipated. Cases have recently
occurred, and have at other times, though rarely, occurred, where the
sick are laid out for dead, who have afterwards recovered. “To the
skilful medical practitioner,” says Dr. Paris, (Paris and Fonblanque’s
Medical Jurisprudence, vol. ii., p. 44,) “we apprehend such signs must
ever be unequivocal, but we are not prepared to say that common
observers may not be deceived by them.” And he adduces instances where
they have been. He cites the testimony of Howard, who, in his work on
prisons, says, “I have known instances where persons supposed to be dead
of the gaol fever, and brought out for burial, on being washed with cold
water have shown signs of life, and have soon afterwards recovered.”

                  *       *       *       *       *

Dr. Paris also states that—

  At the period when the small-pox raged with such epidemic fury, and
  physicians so greatly aggravated its violence by their stimulating
  plan of cure, there can be no doubt but that many persons were
  condemned as dead who afterwards recovered; amongst the numerous
  cases that might be cited in support of this opinion, the following
  may be considered as well authenticated:—the daughter of Henry
  Lawrens, the first president of the American Congress, when an
  infant was laid out as dead, in the small-pox; upon which the window
  of the apartment, that had been carefully closed during the progress
  of the disease, was thrown open to ventilate the chamber, when the
  fresh air revived the supposed corpse, and restored her to her
  family; this circumstance occasioned in the father so powerful a
  dread of living interment, that he directed by will that his body
  should be burnt, and enjoined on his children the performance of
  this wish as a sacred duty. We can also imagine, that women after
  the exhaustion consequent on severe and protracted labours may lie
  for some time in a state so like that of death, as to deceive the
  by-standers; a very extraordinary case of this kind is related in
  the Journal de Savans, Janvier 1749.

  Dr. Gordon Smith, in his work on Forensic Medicine, has observed,
  that in cases of precipitancy or confusion, as in times of public
  sickness, the living have not unfrequently been mingled with the
  dead, and that in warm climates, where speedy interment is more
  necessary than in temperate and cold countries, persons have been
  entombed alive. We feel no hesitation in believing that such an
  event _may be possible_; but the very case with which the author
  illustrates his position is sufficient to convince us that its
  occurrence would be highly culpable, and could only arise from the
  most unpardonable inattention: “I was,” says Dr. Smith, “an eye
  witness of an instance in a celebrated city on the continent, where
  a poor woman, yet alive, was solemnly ushered to the margin of the
  grave in broad day, and whose interment would have deliberately
  taken place, but for the interposition of the by-standers.” If the
  casual observer was thus able to detect the signs of animation, the
  case is hardly one that should have been adduced to show the
  difficulty of deciding between real and apparent death.

Although the chances may be as millions to one against such a horrible
occurrence, yet the existence of the painful feeling of the possibility
of such an event, even if the apprehended possibility were utterly
unreal, is as valid ground for the adoption of measures to prevent and
alleviate the painful feeling, as if the danger were real and frequent.
A large proportion of the population, especially in Scotland, are deeply
impressed with the horror of being buried alive. Amongst the
working-classes the feeling is sometimes manifested in a dying request
that they may not be “hurried at once to the grave.”

One consequence of abandoning the rite of burial, as a trade and source
of emolument to persons without instruction or qualification, who employ
for important ministrations agents of the lowest class, § 51, is, that
only the superficial, ceremonial, and profitable portions of the service
are usually attended to, and that important private and public
securities are lost. One of the proper ministrations after death, a
purification or ablution of the body, is generally omitted. On
inquiring, as to the effects produced amongst the lower class of Irish
by the retention of the body amidst the survivors under circumstances of
imminent danger, a comparative immunity has been ascribed to the
practice which they maintain of washing the corpse immediately after
death. Amongst the lower class of the English and Scotch population of
the towns, this important sanitary rite is extensively neglected, and
the corpse is generally kept (except the face) with the _sordes_ of
disease upon it. The occurrence of such cases as have already been
mentioned, § 31 and § 40, of the propagation by contact of diseases of a
malignant character, may probably be sometimes ascribed to this neglect.
The ablution, whether with tepid or cold water, as a general practice,
is a protection against cases of protracted syncope or suspended
animation. Besides these cases, there are others of a judicial nature
which cannot be termed extraordinary amidst a population where deaths
from accidents or one description of violence or other, a large
proportion of them involving criminality, amount in England and Wales
alone to between 11,000 and 12,000 per annum. Cases have occurred of
violent deaths discovered on exhumation, and on judicial examination
where marks of violence have been covered by the shroud, and where the
coffin has been closed on _primâ facie_ evidence of murder.

Between the every-day dangers arising from the undue retention of the
dead amidst the living, and all real dangers and painful apprehensions,
a course of proceeding has been taken at Franckfort, and several cities
in Germany, which has hitherto been perfectly successful as a sanitary
measure, and highly satisfactory to the population.

§ 95. A case is stated to have occurred at Franckfort, where, on taking
to the grave a child which had died immediately after its mother, who
had been just interred, on opening her coffin the eye of the supposed
corpse moved, and she was taken out and recovered. She stated that she
retained sensation, but had utterly lost all power of volition, even
when the coffin was closed, and she heard the earth fall upon it.

§ 96. This case, and some others which have undoubtedly occurred in
Germany, led to the establishment of houses at Franckfort and Munich for
the reception and care of the dead until their interment; and similar
establishments have now been attached to a large proportion of the
German cities, under regulations substantially the same. The State
regulations of interments at Munich (translations of which, and of those
at Franckfort, together with plans showing the construction of the
houses of reception, I have given in the Appendix) have this recital:—

“Whereas it is of importance to all men to be perfectly assured that the
beings who were dear to them in life are not torn from them so long as
any, the remotest, hope exists of preserving them,—so death itself
becomes less dreadful in its shape when one is convinced of its actual
occurrence, and that a danger no longer exists of premature interment.

“To afford this satisfaction to mankind, and to preclude the possibility
of any one being treated as dead who is not actually so; to prevent the
spread of infectious disorders as much as possible; to suppress the
quackeries so highly injurious to the health of the people; to discover
murders committed by secret violence; and to deliver the perpetrators
over to the hands of justice;—is the imperative duty of every wise
government; and in order to accomplish these objects, every one of which
is of the greatest importance, recourse must be had to the safety, that
is to say the medical police, as the most efficient means, by a strict
medical examination into the deaths occurring, and by a conformable
inspection of the body.”

The regulations provide that, on the occurrence of the death, immediate
notice shall be given to the authorities, who shall cause the body to be
removed to the house of reception provided (which at Munich is a chapel
where prayers are said) for its respectful care. At the edifice of the
institution at Franckfort, an appropriate apparatus is provided for the
requisite ablutions with warm or tepid water: the body is received, if
it be of a female, by properly appointed nurses, who perform, under
superior medical superintendence, the requisite duties. The spirit of
the regulations of these institutions (vide Appendix) may be commended
to attention; for if it be a high public duty, which is not questioned,
to treat the remains of the dead with respect and reverence, it follows
that public means should be taken in every stage of proceeding, to
protect individuals against the violation of that duty; where private
individuals are, as they almost always are and must be, especially in
populous districts, compelled to call in the aid of strangers for the
performance of such ministrations as those of purifying and enshrouding
the corpse, such securities as are exemplified in these regulations
should be taken that those duties are confided to hands invested with
responsibilities, and having a character of respectability, if not of
sanctity. At Munich, they are intrusted to a religious order of Nuns. At
Franckfort a private room is appropriated for the reception of each
corpse, where regular warmth and due ventilation and light, night and
day, are maintained. Here it may be visited by the relations or friends
properly entitled. On a finger of each corpse is placed a ring, attached
to which is the end of a string of a bell,[25] which on the slightest
motion will give an alarm to one of the watchmen in nightly and daily
attendance, by whom the resident physician will be called. Each body is
daily inspected by the responsible physician, by whom a certificate of
unequivocal symptoms of death must be given before any interment is
allowed to take place. The legislative provisions of the institution of
the house of reception at Franckfort are thus stated:—

  The following are the regulations regarding the use of the house for
  the reception and care of the dead, which are here made known for
  every one’s observance.

  (1.) The object of this institution is—

    _a._ To give perfect security against the danger of premature

    _b._ To offer a respectable place for the reception of the dead,
    in order to remove the corpse from the confined dwellings of the

  (2.) The use of the reception-house is quite voluntary, yet, in case
  the physician may consider it necessary for the safety of the
  survivors that the dead be removed, a notification to this effect
  must be forwarded to the Younger Burgermeister to obtain the
  necessary order.

  (3.) Even in case the house of reception is not used the dead cannot
  be interred, until after the lapse of three nights, without the
  proper certificate of the physician that the signs of decomposition
  have commenced. In order to prevent the indecency which has formerly
  occurred, of preparing too early the certificate of the death, the
  physician shall in future sign a preliminary announcement of the
  occurrence of death, for the sake of the previous arrangements
  necessary for an interment, but the certificate of death is only to
  be prepared when the corpse shows unequivocal signs of decomposition
  having commenced. For the dead which it is wished to place in the
  house of reception, the physician prepares a certificate of removal.
  This certificate of removal can only be given after the lapse of the
  different periods, of six hours; in sudden death, of twelve hours;
  and in other cases, twenty-four hours.

§ 97. A German merchant, now resident in London, who took great interest
in the institution, informs me that he visited it in company with his
friend, one of the inspecting physicians of this house of reception. His
attention was there attracted by the corpse of a beautiful child:—that
child turned out not to be dead, and he himself saw it alive and
recovered. No such event is known to have occurred at Munich.

This gentleman, and Mr. Koch, our consul at Franckfort, who obtained for
this Report the plans of the house of reception and the regulations for
interment in that city, both attest from extensive knowledge of its
population, that the effect of this institution, of which all classes
avail themselves, is, on the part of the poorest and most susceptible
classes, to allay all feelings of reluctance to part with the remains,
and to create, on the contrary, a general desire for their removal from
the private house early after death, that they may be placed under the
care of skilful and responsible officers. The aggravation and extension
of disease to the living is thus prevented; the protraction of the pain
of the weaker and more susceptible of the survivors, arising from the
undue retention of the remains, and the demoralizing effect of
familiarity with them on the parts of the younger, and those of the
least susceptible of the survivors, are equally avoided.

The following is an extract from an official report made for this
inquiry through the English Ambassador, on the operation of similar
regulations at Munich:—

“The arrangements made for the speedy removal of the body after death
are considered highly beneficial in a sanative point of view, as tending
to check the spread of contagious and unclean disorders, more
particularly in the crowded parts of the town.

“At the same time the great care and attention paid to the bodies in the
place where they are deposited, the precautions taken in cases of
re-animation, and the ascertaining beyond a doubt the actual occurrence
of death, are sufficiently satisfactory to the surviving relations.

“The examinations also which take place immediately after death have
been found equally useful in detecting the employment of violent or
improper means in causing death, as well as in discovering the existence
of any contagious disease against which it is of importance to guard.

“There is only one burial ground for the whole city of Munich, on a
scale sufficiently large for the population, and open to Protestants as
well as Catholics, without distinction.”

§ 98. The practical means for the accomplishment of such an alteration
of custom in the mode of keeping the remains of the deceased,
preparatory to interment, in the towns of England, may be further
considered in connexion with the remedial measures, for the reduction of
the great and unnecessary expense of funerals.

Mr. Hewitt states the practical need of some such accommodation of
survivors for the temporary reception of the dead in the crowded
districts, independently of the high considerations on which the
intermediate houses of reception at Franckfort and Munich and other
parts of Germany were established.

  The house in which my foreman lives is seldom unoccupied by a
  corpse. During the last week there were three at one time. The poor
  people speak of the inconvenience of having the corpse in their
  house, where they have only one room for their family. It is
  customary for me to say, “Very well, then, you may be accommodated;
  the body may be brought to our house, and kept until the time of the
  funeral, when you and your friends may come to the house and put on
  your fittings and follow the body to the ground.” This is done: men
  and women come to the house, put on hoods, scarves, coats, and
  hatbands, and follow the body to the ground. The body is sometimes
  removed under these circumstances from the room of the private house
  where the death has taken place, but it is most frequently done when
  the death of a poor person has occurred in an hospital, a workhouse,
  or a prison, and it is wished to bury them respectably, but where it
  would be inconvenient to remove them to the only room which the
  family have to live in. I believe that all the undertakers receive
  deceased persons in their houses and keep them for burial.

  Judging from the particular instances coming within your own
  experience, do you believe that if arrangements of a superior order
  were made for the reception of bodies and keeping them under medical
  care previous to interment, the accommodation would be deemed a
  boon?—Yes; it would be a boon to a great many classes, especially
  the poorest. It would be a great accommodation also to many persons
  of the middle classes—shopkeepers, who only keep the under part of
  their houses and let off the upper parts. On the occurrence of a
  death these classes are as much inconvenienced by the presence of a
  corpse as are persons of the labouring classes. And yet there are
  few who like to have a burial take place in less time than a week.
  To such persons as these it would certainly be a very great
  accommodation to have an intermediate house of reception for the due
  care of the body until the proper time of interment.

Mr. Thomas Tagg, jun., an undertaker of extensive business in the city
of London, states, that “besides the poorest classes who die at
hospitals and are buried by their friends, and are sometimes taken to
the undertaker’s premises, when more convenient to the relatives of the
deceased than to be removed to their own houses, that respectable
persons also from the country, who die at an hotel or inn, or in
apartments, are occasionally removed to the undertaker’s until the
coffins are made, and they can be conveyed to the residence of their
family, or their vaults in the country.”

§ 99. Mr. Wild gives other examples of the practice; and states that
instances sometimes occur of persons of respectable condition in life
who cannot bear the painful impressions produced by the long continued
presence of the corpse in the house, and who quit it, and return to
attend the funeral.

§ 100. Mr. P. H. Holland, surgeon and registrar of Chorlton-on-Medlock,
in Manchester, states an instance where a mother who had lost two of her
children from small-pox (as she conceived, from the retention in the
house of the corpse of a child belonging to another woman which had also
died of the small-pox) stated that it would be a great boon to the
poorer classes to provide proper places to receive bodies until the
convenient time of interment. The extent of benefit which such a
provision would confer, and which is attested by other witnesses of
extensive experience, will indeed be sufficiently manifest on
consideration of the circumstances under which they are placed.

§ 101. It is only submitted that suitable accommodation should be
provided for the removal and care of bodies, and given, as it would be,
as a boon. Confident statements are frequently made that the removal of
the deceased from private houses to any public place of reception would
be resisted; but it appears on an examination of the cases in which
resistance was made, that in most of them the arrangements were really
offensive, coarse-minded, and vulgar, and such as to prove that the
feelings of the relations and survivors were little cared for by those
who ought to have understood and consulted them. In some cases of the
lowest paupers the retention of the body has been proved to have arisen
from a desire to raise money, on the pretext of applying it to defray
the expenses of the funeral long after it had been provided for; but the
objection of the respectable portions of the labouring classes are
objections not to the removal itself, but to the mode and sort of place
in which it is commonly performed on the occurrence of a death from
contagious disease, in a bare parish shell, by pauper bearers, to the
“bone-house” or other customary receptacle for suicides, deserted or
relationless, or, as they are sometimes termed, “God-forsaken people.”
On the occurrence of the cholera little difficulty was interposed by any
class to the immediate removal of the dead. The success of such a
measure would depend entirely on the mode in which it is conducted.

§ 102. In reference to all such alterations, it may here be premised
that very serious practical errors are frequently created by taking
particular manifestations of feeling or prejudice, and assuming those
prejudices to be impregnable, and assuming, moreover, that any or every
prejudice pervades the entire population.

Not only does the extent of the prejudices which are supposed to stand
in the way of regulations of the practice of interments, but the
difficulties of overcoming them, appear, from an examination of the
evidence, to be commonly much exaggerated; but it appears that the
nature of the objections themselves is much mistaken: it appears, for
example, that the prejudice against dissection often arises less from a
desire to preserve the remains in their living form than to preserve
them from profanation and disrespect. In no part of the country has a
more intense feeling been manifested to preserve the remains of the dead
from dissection than in Scotland, where the expense of safes made of
iron bars, strongly riveted down, and of a watchman to watch it, forms a
prominent item of the funeral charges. Yet when the studies of the
schools of anatomy were allowed to depend chiefly on the supplies of
subjects stolen from the graves, it is stated by practitioners who,
whilst students, were themselves driven to that mode of procuring
subjects, that their labours were frequently frustrated by the
precautions the survivors had taken to render the use of the remains for
dissection impossible, by putting quick lime into the coffin to destroy
them. The same precaution has been known to have been sometimes taken
for the same purpose in London; and yet by proper care and attention to
the feelings of the survivors, the practice of post-mortem examinations
has been extended, and the consent to the use of the remains even for
dissection in the schools has been frequently obtained from the
survivors. A witness of peculiar and extensive opportunities of
experience in several thousand cases was asked on this point—

  Have you had any reason to believe, that by careful and kind
  treatment of the labouring classes, their prejudices may be
  extensively overcome?—Yes, certainly. There was no prejudice
  stronger or more general than that to post-mortem examinations, or
  to any dissection; yet by care, and by the inducement of the
  allowance of a better funeral, that prejudice has been extensively
  overcome. The teachers of the medical schools, after dissection of a
  body, and its use for the advancement of medical knowledge, have
  made a liberal allowance for the interment of the remains; such sums
  as three or four pounds have been allowed for that service. When the
  relations of the poorest classes have expressed the common aversion
  to a pauper funeral, and their pain at having to submit to it on
  account of their necessity, I have told them if they would allow the
  remains to be taken to a medical school, and be examined, the
  teachers would allow them such a respectable funeral as they wish; I
  have sometimes added, “It is for the advancement of science; persons
  of the highest rank and condition in society have directed their
  remains to be examined, and I do not see what sound objection there
  can be to any of the poorest classes doing so.” Whenever I have made
  the offer under such circumstances it has generally been accepted.

  Of course after the examination at the schools, the remains were
  properly and respectfully interred?—Yes they were, wherever the
  parties requested, whether in or out of the parish.—They frequently
  chose places of interment out of the parish, and in some instances
  places two or three miles distant, and almost always out of the

  Why was the burial mostly chosen out of the parish?—Generally from a
  dislike to the places and mode in which paupers were buried; to
  their being put into a hole, where, perhaps, fifty others were,
  instead of having a separate grave. They frequently made it a main
  condition, that the remains should be buried out of the parish.

The means to ensure voluntary compliance with all salutary regulations
for the better ordering of interments, are those which ensure real
respect to the remains of the interred, and thus to the feelings of the
survivors. The widows’ and the mothers’ feelings of reluctance to part
with the corpse would, from such measures, receive appropriate

  _Proposed Remedies by means of separate Parochial Establishments in
                          Suburban Districts._

§ 103. A set of remedies, as proposed in the Committee of the House of
Commons, and agreed to, has been before the public, and the chief part
of them embodied in a bill proposed to the House at the close of the
Session of Parliament of 1842. All the evidence of disinterested persons
which I have met with, all paid and experienced officers connected with
parishes, whose interests would perhaps be the least disturbed by
parochial establishments, concur in the conclusion that the measures
proposed for creating such establishments would not diminish, but would
rather diffuse, and might even aggravate the evils intended to be

By the first clause it was proposed to enact—

  That the rector, vicar, or incumbent, and the church-wardens of
  every parish, township, or place in every such city, town, borough,
  or place respectively, shall form a parochial committee of health
  for every such parish, township, or place.

§ 104. The first observation which occurs on this proposal is, that it
involves the formation of “a committee of health,” for the execution of
a sanitary measure, requiring the application of a very high degree of
the science applicable to the protection of the public health, and omits
all provision of services of the nature of those which would be required
from a well-qualified medical officer. A provision on a parochial scale
would indeed preclude the regular application of such service, except at
a disproportionate expense. As a remedy against undue charges on the
smaller parishes, a power of forming unions for the purpose is provided
by the clause.

  Or it shall be lawful for the rectors, vicars, or incumbents and
  church-wardens of any two or more parishes, townships, or places
  therein, to form such parishes, townships, or places into a Union
  for the purposes of this Act; and in such cases the rectors, vicars,
  or incumbents, and church-wardens of each parish, township, or place
  so united, shall form a parochial committee of health for such
  Union; and all the powers hereinafter given to any such committee
  may be executed by the majority of the members of any such committee
  at any meeting.

It is agreed by the most experienced public officers, that even a
compulsory power to form unions of two parishes, but leaving the union
beyond that number optional, would be equivalent to a provision, that
two and _no_ more shall unite; but that a merely permissive power to
unite would be nugatory, except perhaps in the case of the smallest
parishes: in other words, since there are in the district to which the
enactment would apply, in the metropolis, upwards of 170 parishes, it
would imply the establishment of upwards of 100 places of burial in such
places as the following clauses would enable the parishes to provide.

  And be it enacted, that every such committee may provide a
  convenient site of land for the burial of the dead of the district
  for which such committee shall be formed, which land shall not be in
  or within the distance of two miles from the precincts or boundaries
  of the city of London or Westminster, or the borough of Southwark,
  or in or within one mile of any other city, town, borough, or place;
  and no land which shall be purchased for such purpose shall be
  within 300 yards of any house of the annual value of 50_l._, or
  having a plantation or ornamental garden or pleasure-ground occupied
  therewith (except with the consent in writing of the owner, lessee,
  and occupier of such house).

An undertaker who has an extensive business, states that he has for some
time been desirous of purchasing a piece of ground for interments in the
suburbs of the metropolis, as a private speculation of his own, and that
he had been three years in looking out for a plot that was suitable and
purchasable, but has hitherto been unable to procure one. Other
witnesses, on similar grounds, doubt the practicability of parishes
procuring land, unless at enormous prices.

Supposing it were possible to procure separate plots for all the
parishes which will require them in the suburbs, there are preliminary
objections to the plan which relate to the suburbs themselves.

§ 105. The suburbs, it may be submitted, not only require careful
protection on their own account, but on account of the population of the
crowded districts of the metropolis, which are relieved by the growth of
the suburbs. The progress of the new increments to towns is, therefore,
as a sanitary measure, entitled to favourable protection. But the
appropriation of vacant places, without reference to any general plan,
must create very frequent impediments to the regular or systematic
growth of the suburbs, and can scarcely fail ultimately to deteriorate
them. And by the proposed measure the place of interments being removed,
not only without any securities for the adoption of new measures of
precaution, such as will be shown to be requisite in the formation, and
also in the management, of places of burial for a large population, and
the proposed machinery being such as to render it very nearly certain
that no improved arrangements can be executed in such burial-grounds,
the measure would simply effect the transference of common grave-yards
from the old to the midst of new suburbs; and this transference must be
accompanied by the creation of a new and apparently economical, but
really extravagantly expensive and permanently inferior, agency, for the
management of the new ground.

§ 106. These results admit of proof derived from the actual trial of a
system of parochial interments apparently differing in no essential
point, and especially in the nature of the agency and the scale of
establishments, from the plan proposed.

In the parishes of St. Giles-in-the-Fields, St. George, Hanover-square,
St. James, Westminster, and St. Martin’s-in-the-Fields, over-crowding of
the burial grounds within the parish, between forty and fifty years ago,
led the parish officers to obtain local acts for the establishment of
burial grounds in the suburbs. The spaces then obtained were apart from
any buildings. They are all now closely surrounded by them. The burial
grounds of the parish of St. Giles-in-the-Fields having been the subject
of an investigation before the Committee of the House of Commons, I have
not made any inquiries with relation to them. In the suburban burial
ground which belongs to the parish of St. George, Hanover-square, which
consists of two acres of land, the interments have been for many years
at the rate of about 1000 corpses per annum. It is now in the centre of
a dense town population. It has become the subject of complaints similar
to those made in respect to burial grounds in the ancient parts of the
metropolis; and it appears that there are equally good grounds for the
discontinuance of the practice of interment there, and for the selection
of a burial place at a greater distance, notwithstanding that the
payments from individuals produce to the collective funds of that parish
a surplus beyond the expenditure of the management of the ground.

§ 107. The arrangements for burial in the parishes of St.
Martin-in-the-Fields, which has a population of 25,000, and of St.
James, Westminster, which has a population of 37,000, where the suburban
burial grounds have not been crowded to the same extent, may be adduced
as a high class of examples of a change of practice to extra-mural or
suburban burials, and of management by a parochial machinery. In the
parish of St. James, Westminster—

  The gross expenditure of the chapel and ground between the years
  1789 and 1835 (46 years) amounted to £73,879 1_s._ 11_d._, and it is
  estimated that the cost of maintaining the chapel and ground during
  that period over and above the receipts was not less than £50,000,
  the whole of which was drawn from the churchwardens under authority
  of the Act of Parliament.

But the chapel attached to the burial ground of this parish has been
converted into a chapel of ease, for the accommodation of the
inhabitants of the parish where it is situate. The vestry clerk of the
parish states—

  The pew rents, which formerly averaged only £150, now amount to
  upwards of £500 per annum, while the burial fees have decreased, and
  are still decreasing in amount.

  The interments of the middle class and more wealthy among the
  inhabitants of the parish of St. James, which do not take place
  either in the vaults or grounds of or belonging to the parish, are
  presumed to be made in the neighbouring cemeteries, while the
  labouring class resort chiefly, as I am informed, to the burial
  ground in Spa Fields, where the fees are less by 2_s._ 9_d._ than at
  the Hampstead Road ground, the undertaker’s charges being the same
  for each.

  Is the church to be considered part of the burial ground?—Yes; it
  is. The Act apparently contemplated only a place for the performance
  of a service over the dead, not for services to regular
  congregations. The minister has a house on the ground, and derives a
  portion of his emoluments from pew rents, derived from persons who
  attend the chapel from the immediate neighbourhood—parishioners of
  St. Pancras parish; very few, if any, of the parishioners of St.
  James, have pews there. The minister, Dr. Stebbing, has a moiety of
  the pew rents, which now amount to nearly £500 per annum. His
  proportion of the burial fees may be about £70 per annum.

  Since the commencement, has the income defrayed the expenses of the
  burial ground?—Since Dr. Stebbing has been the minister it has only
  just paid the expenses; but I am apprehensive that it will not
  continue to do so. By the Act for the regulation of the chapel, any
  deficiency in the expenditure is directed to be made good out of the
  moneys in the churchwardens’ hands. Since the establishment of the
  chapel it has been a drag on the funds: a very severe one.

  When the chapel was established were there any houses round it?—Not

  What is its condition in that respect now?—It is now in the midst of
  houses which are increasing in numbers.

When asked, what was the condition of the burial ground, notwithstanding
the expenditure made upon it, he states that—

  The ground, consisting of four acres, is in a very watery condition,
  but is considered capable of being effectually drained, the expense
  being the only obstacle.

  Is it considered that the ground will hold more than it does?—Many
  more; and a much larger amount of burials for a number of years.

  What are the objections to the ground?—One objection among the
  higher classes, and a very serious one, is that it is very wet.
  After a grave has been dug, the water in it has risen, and the
  coffin is lowered into the water.

  Has there been any expenditure upon it for rendering it attractive
  by planting or ornamenting it?—In former years it was planted with
  trees or shrubs; but as compared with the cemeteries it cannot
  pretend to any attractions.

  Is there anything in the circumstances of the establishment of the
  burial ground and chapel for St. James which do not render it a fair
  example of any similar measure for an equivalent population in these
  times?—There appear to be no circumstances to prevent it being
  considered a fair example.

§ 108. The following is the account of the St. Martin’s suburban burial
ground, given by Mr. Le Breton, the clerk to the guardians of the

  What is the provision made for the burial of the poorer classes in
  the parish of St. Martin-in-the-Fields?—The burial ground in
  Drury-lane in 1804 was considered to be full, when four acres of
  ground, situate at Camden-town, were purchased and used as a
  cemetery. The plot was then in what was considered the country: the
  distance of the spot is rather more than two miles from the
  workhouse. Since its institution it has been completely surrounded
  by houses, and they are now building close against the wall of the
  burial ground. Originally it was designed as a better sort of burial
  ground, but since loss has been incurred by it and it has not been
  found to be attractive; two hundred pounds have recently been
  expended upon it in planting it. Formerly it was so wet that when
  persons went to funerals there they often found that the coffin was
  let down several feet in water or mire. This created an unpleasant
  sensation, and the ground was drained at a great expense into the
  Fleet-ditch. The objection as to the wetness of the ground does not
  now exist.

  What have been the expenses, and the numbers of interments and
  charges of the burial ground?—(The following statement was given in
  answer to this question.)

 The original cost of forming ground, &c., was about              £2,000
 The price is a perpetual rent-charge of, for the 4 acres, £100 = £3,000
   per annum
 Establishment Charges:—
             Chaplain’s salary per annum                             £60
             Sexton’s salary per annum                               £50
             Keeping up ground by gardener                           £20
             Paving rate per annum                                   £30
             Compensation to St. Pancras                              £5
 The chaplain and sexton have houses to dwell in, which
   are kept in repair, insured, and the taxes paid by the            £30
   parish at a considerable expense

  A private Act of Parliament was obtained, but at what cost does not

  The burial ground was formed in 1804, and the charges of it to this
  date have exceeded £10,000 beyond the fees received.

            _From 20th March, 1806, to 1st December, 1842._

 Total number of burials at Camden-town since the formation of   10,982
   the ground
      Of these were non-parishioners                              1,987
      Of these were paupers                                       4,624
      Of these were buried in the cheapest ground where           1,062
        monuments are not allowed
 All burials for St. Martin in the Fields, 1841                     522
 Registered deaths, 1841                                            589

  Beyond the expense of the establishment, have any inconveniences
  been the subject of complaint by the parishioners?—Yes; that the
  hours appointed by the chaplain are not those most suited for
  interments; that they are often driven off until late in the
  evening, and in consequence of the time being limited the service is
  performed in a hurried manner. In respect to position, the cemetery
  appears to be convenient, and no one within the district complains
  of any offence arising from it. My own view is that there ought to
  be a central or some other supervision over cemeteries: if there be
  not there will only be abuses and grounds of dissatisfaction.

  Do you conceive that the experience of the parish of St. Martin, of
  a separate parochial cemetery, is applicable as an index to the
  general charge upon the rate-payers in the other parishes of the
  metropolis, resulting from the simple prohibition of interments in
  the town, and the permission to any two or more parishes to provide
  cemeteries for; in other words, to the transference of burial
  grounds from the centre of the town to the midst of the
  suburbs?—Yes, I do consider it applicable: moreover, that at the
  present time, it would be still more difficult to obtain sites
  within a reasonable distance than it was in 1804: the expenses of
  separate parochial grounds must therefore be much more considerable.

§ 109. The Rev. Wm. Stone, the rector of Spitalfields, whose position,
as the minister of a large and populous parish, possessing one of the
best managed places of burial in the metropolis, gives him peculiar
opportunities of judging of the most advantageous administrative
arrangements, and entitles his observations to peculiar weight,
concludes his testimony in the following terms:—

  1. As the clergyman of a poor and populous parish, I should regret
  the necessity of imposing any additional rate upon my parishioners,
  especially any one which was likely to be regarded as a church rate;
  and I feel certain, that a rate assessed for the burial of the dead,
  and collected under the authority of the rector and churchwardens,
  would be so regarded. Under our present system, the burial of the
  dead is a source of profit; it yields an annual surplus towards
  defraying the other expenses of the church; and it thus conspires
  with other circumstances to make the church-rate fall light upon my
  parishioners. But in a population like mine any additional impost
  would be felt; and confounded, as in such a population it certainly
  would be, with church-rate, it might operate mischievously or even
  fatally against the church establishment of my parish. The same
  objection would apply in principle to all poor and populous
  parishes. As a clergyman, too, I might add more personal
  considerations; for, though the incumbent, as the only permanent
  member of the committee of health, might have some local prominence
  and weight, more, perhaps, than might everywhere be satisfactory to
  dissenters; yet, in imposing pecuniary charges on his parishioners,
  and levying penalties for the non-payment of those charges, he would
  have duties unpopular enough to outweigh the advantage of any
  distinction conferred on him.

  2. If it is said, that a rate of 1_d._ in the pound would be too
  light to be felt; it may be said also that it would be too much so
  to answer its purpose. It is commonly calculated, that, in my
  parish, a rate of 6_d._ in the pound realizes barely 500_l._, yet
  the population to be provided with interment is above 20,000. And as
  all the parishes about us are in much the same circumstances this
  objection would apply equally to a union of parishes.

  3. There is much that is objectionable in the proposed local
  committees of health.

  A local board would be less likely to possess the confidence of the
  people. Indeed, it would be exposed to the influence of personal
  interest and local partialities; and still more so, if the majority
  of its members were in office for a year or two only. A board of
  this kind may be said to exist already in my own parish, where a
  local Act of Parliament places the burial ground in the hands of the
  parish officers. And it is but a few years since my attention was
  forcibly called to the insecurity of this local arrangement by one
  of my parishioners. This parishioner, who was intimately and
  practically acquainted with the working of our parochial system,
  represented to me the necessity of adopting increased precautions
  for the protection of our burial ground, “for,” said he, “a partial
  or interested parish officer might do almost anything he pleased
  with it;” and he proceeded to name an individual, who had even
  intimated his intention to do so as soon as he should come into
  office. There can be no doubt, indeed, that any individual might do
  so. It is impossible to say, to what extent a tradesman so disposed
  might oblige his friends and customers, and benefit himself; for as
  senior officer of the year he would have the sole disposal of the
  burial ground, and receive all payments for burials, private graves,
  vaults, and the erection of monumental tablets, without any demand
  upon those receipts, but a limited sum payable to the rector, and
  without any inspective control over them but that of a board of
  auditors chosen from his brother vestrymen. From my own observation,
  I do not think that parish auditors are generally very accurate in
  their investigations. But on a subject like the one in question,
  they hardly could be so. Even supposing what is seldom, if ever, the
  case, that they had a practical knowledge of the subject, and
  conducted their investigations with the authorized table of fees
  before them, they might in many instances be eluded. During the
  first four years of my incumbency, the parish officers reported
  their receipts for burials at the average amount of 215_l._ a-year,
  which sum, after the deduction of 125_l._ secured to the rector,
  left an annual surplus of 90_l._ At that time it was generally held
  to be a point of official honour, that the amount of this surplus
  should be kept secret out of doors. It was kept secret even from the
  rector; and it may serve at once to show the impolicy of secrecy,
  and the extent to which local authorities are distrusted, that my
  predecessor always had his misgivings on the subject. Though
  remarkable for the mildness and amiability of his disposition, he
  could never surmise any more innocent misapplication of this
  surplus, than that it was alienated from the church for the relief
  of the poor rate.

  A constant change in the majority of a local board would be most
  unfavourable to uniformity of system, efficiency, and economy. Upon
  this ground I believe the church to be a great loser by the office
  of churchwarden. An individual charged with raising and expending
  the ecclesiastical finances of a parish for a year only is little
  likely to perform those duties as well as if he had a more permanent
  authority. To say nothing of his having more temptation to
  indolence, and to an ostentatious or interested profusion, he
  labours under the unavoidable disadvantage of inexperience. By the
  time that he becomes efficient in his office, he is called upon to
  retire from it.

  A local board would want many other advantages of a more publicly
  constituted authority. Supplied with members by the casualties of
  parochial office, it could not always command a high order of
  intelligence. It would necessarily be limited in its opportunities
  of observation; and, as it could not make its purchases and regulate
  its current expenditure to the same advantage as if it acted on a
  more extensive scale, it would, of course, prove less economical to
  the public.

  In fact, from all my local observation, I am led to hope that, in
  removing the interment of the dead from populous towns, the
  Legislature will adopt not a parochial but a comprehensive national
  plan for the purpose.

Mr. Drew, the vestry clerk and superintendent registrar of Bermondsey,
makes similar objections to the proposed machinery; that “the persons
nominated to carry out such a measure in parishes would not be
satisfactory to the inhabitants, even if they were disposed to act.”

Mr. Corder, the clerk to the Strand Union, was asked upon this subject—

  What do you believe to be the prevailing opinion in your Union on
  the subject of town interments?—I believe there is a strong and
  growing opinion against the practice of interring in London and its
  immediate environs. I believe that public feeling generally is
  opposed to that custom, as being prejudicial to health, and often
  more distressing to the feelings of the survivors than interments
  would be in a more distant and less familiar and frequented spot.

  Do you think the parishioners of London parishes would approve of
  separate and distinct parochial cemeteries?—No, I think they would
  prefer having one or more cemeteries on a very extensive scale to
  having parochial cemeteries which, in the neighbourhood of the
  metropolis, would, I think, be found almost impracticable.

  Do you think that parishes generally would object to the expense of
  providing cemeteries?—I think that if separate parochial cemeteries
  were established, the expense incurred would be so serious as to
  induce parishes almost to submit to the evils resulting from town
  interments rather than incur so heavy an expenditure. One of the
  advantages of having one or more cemeteries on a large scale would
  be that the expense would be thereby proportionably and very
  considerably diminished.

George Downing, a mechanic, and secretary to a burial society, it will
be found, represents sentiments extensively prevalent amongst persons of
his own class in the metropolis.

  Do you conceive that any arrangements for the improvement of
  interments would be carried on more acceptably to the labouring
  classes if they were conducted by officers connected with the
  parish, or by a larger and superior agency?—The working people would
  sell their beds from under them sooner than have any parish
  funerals: it is heart-rending to them, and they would prefer any
  other officers to the parish officers.

  Do you find that they are prepared to have interments in the towns
  prohibited?—Yes, it has been very much debated upon since the scenes
  in the churchyards are made known, and they wish the bill to be
  carried. I am confident that every man in our club would petition to
  have the bill carried, so that such scenes may be put a stop to. I
  find the opinion of the working men on the subject is quite
  universal about it. They expect that Government will provide the
  grounds and some means of conveyance.

Mr. Dix was asked—

  Is it the expectation of the labouring and poorer classes that large
  public cemeteries will be provided?—Yes, that I think is the general

  Do you conceive that large cemeteries, on a national scale, will be
  more acceptable to the labouring classes than parochial burial
  grounds, whether in the present grounds or in burial grounds in the
  suburbs of the metropolis?—I think the national cemeteries will be
  much more popular.

  If the burials of the working population could be performed in the
  more ornamented and attractive cemeteries, such as those at Highgate
  and Kensal Green, at the same expense as in any of the grounds
  within the town, would there be any who would not be buried there?—I
  think very few.

Unequivocal proof is given of the dispositions of the labouring classes
in this respect by the fact that the number of interments of persons of
those classes in cemeteries is increasing, even under increased charges.
For example, on examining the mortuary registries of the Westminster
cemetery, to see what were the class of persons interred, it appeared
that the majority of the persons interred in that, which is the cemetery
most heavily charged with burial fees, was of the labouring classes from
St. George’s, Hanover-square. The fees for interment, in the suburban
burial ground in the Bayswater-road, belonging to their own parish, were
15_s._; and interments in the trading burial grounds might have been
obtained at lower rates: but the fees paid for interment at the more
distant cemetery are 30_s._ for each burial. The registries contained
similar evidence in an increasing number of interments of the labouring
classes from immediately adjacent suburban parishes, such as Chelsea,
Brompton, and Kensington, of a disposition to make sacrifices, to obtain
interments in places that are more free from offensive associations to
them than those which attach to the parochial burial grounds.

Mr. Wild was asked—

  So far as your experience goes, does the practice of interment in
  cemeteries result from motives of economy or from choice of
  situation?—From choice of situation, or from dislike of the
  parochial burial-grounds; in nine cases out of ten from preference
  of the situation and mode of interment in cemeteries; the choice
  would indeed be general, if it were not for the increased charges
  made by undertakers. The undertakers have generally increased the
  funeral charges at the cemeteries above one-third. The number of men
  taken out, whose whole day is occupied, make up the increased

  You state, that but for the increased charge, the custom of
  interment in cemeteries would be general; has the strength of the
  attachments to the parochial churchyards diminished?—Yes, under the
  recent inquiries and exposures of the state of the churchyards they
  have almost vanished. But at no time was the attachment to the
  parochial churchyards in town so strong as in the country. In the
  country, even the poorer classes will pay the sexton a fee of from
  1_s._ 6_d._ to 2_s._ 6_d._, for “keeping up the grave.” This cannot
  be the case in the towns for want of space; parties who appoint
  their places of burial, generally select a place on account of its

  Do you believe that the wish to be buried where kindred are buried,
  is, or would continue to be stronger, than a desire to be buried in
  well-provided cemeteries?—No; this is shewn by the increasing
  frequency with which parties who have family vaults, desire to be
  buried in the cemeteries. Very recently I performed the funeral of a
  lady belonging to a family who had a vault in a church at
  Westminster—her husband had been buried in it. By her will she
  desired to be buried at Kensal Green, and she had requested that if
  the churchyard at Westminster was closed, her husband’s remains
  might be brought and placed next to hers in the cemetery. There were
  other members of the family besides her husband buried in the family
  vault. Such instances are now becoming very frequent.

  Inasmuch as interments in cemeteries have generally increased the
  charges of interment, is it not to be apprehended that unless some
  regulations on a larger scale than of small localities be adopted,
  the inconvenience arising in towns will increase the charges of
  these calamities to the poorest of the middle classes and to the
  working classes, not to speak of the charges on the poor’s rates,
  for the interments of paupers will also be increased by
  districts?—Yes; it has occurred to me that it will be so.

He expresses his conviction, however, that so strong is the feeling at
present against parochial interments, that if there should be no
legislative provision or interference for the public protection, the
parochial burial places being left open to the competition of private
and trading burial grounds, in a very short time not one-third of the
present number of burials would take place in the parochial grounds.

§ 110. The expense to the rate-payers of parishes for the transference
of the interments to the suburbs would be necessarily very high; the
expense of numerous separate parochial establishments, if only on the
scale of the establishments for the performance of the funeral ceremony,
and for such imperfect care of the ground as that given in those
described would be, at the least, between 25 and 30,000_l._ per annum.
The proposed regulation of the distance of cemeteries from human
habitations—that they shall in every case be two miles, not from houses,
but from the metes and bounds of London and Westminster, and “of any
other city, town, or borough,” as defined by the Municipal Act, and
“which shall contain more than 500 houses, the occupiers of which shall
be rated to the relief of the poor more than 10_l._ or upwards,” appear
to be made without any local examination, or reference to proper
observations or experience.—Vide post, §§ 162, 163, and 164. The metes
and bounds of several towns and places include common lands and sites,
sufficiently distant from any collections of houses, to be the most
eligible sites, and suitable soils for cemeteries, which according to
the best ascertained rule, should be at distances proportioned to the
numbers of inhabitants and probable burials, varying according to these
numbers, from 150 to 500 paces. All unnecessary increase of distance
must be attended with proportionately increased charges of interment to
the poorer classes: arrangements for preventing an increase of the
expense of conveyance of the remains to distant places of interment,
though practicable under general regulations for large national
cemeteries, would be impracticable on the plan of numerous places of
interment with small separate establishments. Mr. Jeffryes, an
undertaker, who chiefly inters the poorest classes in the Whitechapel
district, where the _parochial_ interments are generally diminishing,
was more particularly questioned on this topic.

  What has been your experience in respect to the interment of people
  of the working classes at cemeteries, and at a distance from their
  residence, as compared with burials near their residence? At what
  cemeteries have you interred persons?—At Mr. Barber Beaumont’s
  cemetery, which is about a mile and a half from Whitechapel; and
  also at the cemetery which is at the Cambridge Heath, Cambridge
  Road. I have attended, but not on my own account, funerals at all
  the other cemeteries—Highgate, Kensal Green, and others.

  Supposing that interments within towns be prohibited for all
  classes, and that funerals for the future must be performed beyond
  the gas lamps or the pavements; judging from the cases you have
  already had, what must be the effect on the funerals of the
  labouring classes;—supposing that no other arrangements are made
  than that of allowing parishes, or any two of them, to provide
  cemeteries at a distance from town?—It will certainly increase the
  expenses to the labouring classes, and increase the expenses to the
  parishes generally. I perform funerals for the working classes at
  one-third less than most others; yet I find that the extra expense
  of a funeral only a mile or a mile and a quarter distance, is about
  one pound per funeral extra; this consists chiefly of the extra
  expense of conveyance.

  Have you seen carriage conveyances or hearses for the conveyance of
  bodies to the cemeteries without the use of bearers?—Yes, I have:
  but to get a coffin out of the house, which sometimes has to be got
  down stairs, and is very heavy, four men at the least will be
  required, and then four men will be required to take it from the
  hearse at the cemetery, so that men’s labour cannot be much less,
  even if they provide bearers at the cemeteries, which is talked of:
  there will still be the extra expense of the carriage, whatever that

§ 111. From the practical evidence already cited, §§ 87, 88, it will be
perceived, that notwithstanding this increase of expense, the chaplain
or curate, if unaided, cannot be expected to perform the service in a
manner that will be more satisfactory to the survivors than in those
parochial grounds which are now the subject of complaint. The numerous
successive services that may be expected to arrive on the Sunday must
often unavoidably have the appearance of being hurried over, and without
assistance and appropriate superintendence will sometimes really be so,
whilst the funeral of the person of better condition which takes place
separately, and at an appointed time, has its separate attention under
circumstances, giving rise to the appearance and creating the feeling of
an undue “acceptation of persons,” which it is said ought not to be, and
which the examination of practical examples will show, need not be.
Inasmuch as, in the present mode, the clergyman’s attention must be
absorbed with his own clerical duties, the grave-yard and the material
offices connected with it must be left to be managed, as it is now, by a
sexton and common gravedigger. No multiplication of the numbers of such
poor men in numerous extra-mural and parochial establishments will give
them education, or elevate their minds to act without superintendence,
up to the solemnity and delicacy of the duties to be performed in any
proposed alteration of custom. In such hands the institution and service
for the reception and care of the dead, (which, with all its appliances,
is one of the most elevated that can adorn the civic economy of a large
and civilized community,) would be impracticable, or would become a
common “dead-house,” or a revolting charnel. It may be confidently
affirmed, that to accomplish what is needed to satisfy the feelings of
the population, on the points on which they are so painfully
susceptible, and to gain the public confidence requisite to carry out
all the sanitary appliances and improvements that are requisite in
connexion with the practice of interment, would task the zeal and
ability, and unremitting attention of any, the best staff of educated
medical men that could be procured for such a service. The improvements
which appear to be practicable, may be perceived on a consideration of
the information hereafter submitted, as to what is already gained under
arrangements of a comprehensive character.

§ 112. The chief conclusions in respect to the proposed suburban
parochial interments deducible from the present experience appear then
to be,

1. That the change of the practice of interments on the plan of suburban
parochial or establishments of separate unions of parishes, while it
gave immediate relief to the centre of the town, would create
impediments to the regular growth of the suburbs, and, ultimately, as
the interments increase, diminish the salubrity of the suburbs. §§ 107,

2. That it would not _ultimately_ diminish any injurious effects arising
from the practice of interments amidst the abodes of the living; and
that its chief effect would be to transfer such evils from the districts
where they now prevail to the midst of the population of other
districts. §§ 105, 110.

3. That these results would only be obtained at a considerable expense
to the rate-payers of the parishes from whence the practice of
interments is transferred. §§ 107, 108.

4. That if burial in parochial grounds were transferred to such a
distance as not to interfere with the growth of the suburbs, the
increased distance of interments would occasion a proportionate increase
of the expense of interments to the labouring classes of the community.
§ 110.

5. That inasmuch as the difficulty of obtaining the means of defraying
the expense of such classes of interments is frequently a powerful means
of increasing the evil of the long delay of the interments, the measures
proposed would tend to increase the most extensive and direct source of
injury to the health and morals of the survivors of the labouring
classes—the long retention of the corpse in their crowded and
ill-ventilated places of abode. §§ 43, 44.

6. That interment by a parochial agency would aggravate or leave
untouched the other objections to the present practice of interments in
the metropolis. §§ 98, 99, 111.

   _Practicability of ensuring for the Public superior Interments at
                           reduced Expenses._

The subject which may next be presented for consideration is how far the
pecuniary burthens may be reduced consistently with the sentiments
expressed by Jeremy Taylor, who deems it “a great act of piety, and
honourable, to inter our friends and relatives according to the
proportions of their condition, and so to give testimony of our hope of
their resurrection. So far is piety; beyond, it may be the ostentation
and bragging of grief to serve worse ends. In this, as in everything
else, as our piety must not pass into superstition or vain expense, so
neither must the excess be turned into parsimony, and chastised by
negligence and impiety to the memory of their dead.”

§ 113. It appears, from detailed inquiries, made of tradesmen of
experience and respectability, who have answered explicitly the
questions put to them, that the expense of the materials at present
supplied for funerals admit of a reduction under general arrangements
of, at the least, 50 per cent. The practical experience of these
witnesses would justify a dependence on their testimony as to the
possible reduction of expenses, especially in case the public feeling
should be gained to change from the practice of having processions
through the town to the practice of processions nearer to the
cemeteries, by which the expenses of conveyance included in Mr. Wild’s
estimate would be diminished. It is stated by the latter that the
disposition evinced by the higher classes, is to reduce expensive
trappings. He states:—

  Is it not an occurrence of increasing frequency amongst the
  respectable classes to express in their wills a wish to be buried
  plainly, and at moderate expense?—Yes, it is; and they sometimes fix
  sums. They fix such a sum as £150, where it has been usual to expend
  such sums as £400 or £500. Parties of respectability now begin to
  object to wearing cloaks and long hatbands. They are also beginning
  to object to the use of feathers, and to the general display. The
  system of performing funerals by written contract is also becoming
  very prevalent. It is so frequent with me that I must have some
  printed forms.

Mr. J. Browning of Manchester, member of the large society alluded to,
as comprehending 150,000 members, states that they have evinced similar

  I have belonged to the Odd Fellows’ Society and to the Foresters’
  Society, and have served office in both in this town, Manchester. I
  have belonged to them about 13 years.

  Do you find any alteration in the dispositions of the members of
  those societies in respect to the ceremonies observed and the array
  at funerals?—Yes, a very great alteration.

  In what respect?—In Manchester and Liverpool it used to be the
  practice, when a member of either society died, that the members and
  the officers attended decorated with their regalia, and followed the
  corpse in procession. They used to assemble in bodies, as many as
  two or three hundred, and there was a great deal of drinking. Now
  these sort of processions are put a stop to by members, and there is
  no regalia or processions used. Only a few members attend the
  deceased member, and they attend only with black scarfs, white
  gloves, and a black silk hatband, which is considered respectful.
  But in some of the country places they still follow the practice,
  and they will have the processions.

  But the general tendency is to render the ceremony more simple?—Yes,
  and there is much less drinking in the towns.

§ 114. These manifestations are ascribable to a consciousness of the
incompatibility of funereal displays through the crowded streets of
populous districts, and are consistent with the desire to obtain proper
respect for the deceased, shown in the objections to brief, meagre, and
hurried services, and in the selection of secluded and decorated places
of burial; it is shown, indeed, by the removal of the meretricious
trappings, which have lost their effect, and the preference of a more
quiet simplicity which, under such circumstances, forms a better means
of ensuring that respect.

§ 115. Assuming the practicability of the accomplishment in this country
of administrative arrangements such as have been accomplished, and are
in habitual execution, abroad, to the great satisfaction of every class
of society, a primary regulation, which would be practicable, would be
to obtain for the public the opportunity of obtaining, at various
scales, supplies of goods and services for funerals. To Mr. Wild the
following questions were put:—

  Do you believe it to be practicable, by proper regulations, greatly
  to reduce the existing charges of interments?—Yes, a very great
  reduction indeed may be made—at least 50 per cent.

  May it be confidently stated that under such reductions, whatever of
  respectability in exterior is now attached to the trapping, or to
  the mode of the ceremony, might be preserved?—Oh, yes; I should say
  it might, and that they could scarcely fail to be increased.

  Might not the expenses of the funerals of _the labouring classes_ be
  greatly reduced without any reduction of the solemnity, or display
  of proper and satisfactory respect?—Very considerable reductions may
  be made, and attention to propriety very greatly increased. One
  large item of expense is the expense of bearers: they cost, for a
  walking funeral of an adult, 12_s._ Nine shillings of this expense
  would be dispensed with if the burial were at a cemetery. This would
  go towards the expense of conveyance, and contribute to the
  compensation: besides, it would avoid for the mourners the
  inconvenience and annoyance of walking through the crowded streets,
  often in wet weather. One circumstance attending burial in
  cemeteries would be, a diminution of the number of mourners: this
  would occasion a diminution of the expense of funeral fittings.

  What is the lowest price for which a coffin is made?—The lowest
  priced coffin at this time, is the adult pauper’s coffin, with a
  shroud, but with no cloth or nails, or name-plate or handles, and
  costs 3_s._ 6_d._; the contract is usually for deal, inch thick, but
  they never are; if they were, they could not be supplied under
  4_s._; they often break when taken to the grave.

  What would be the price of a coffin deemed respectable by the
  labouring classes, with name-plate and appropriate fittings
  complete, if manufactured for an extensive supply?—The average price
  of such coffins is now about 35_s._; but the same quality of coffin
  might be supplied on a large scale for about 17_s._

  What would be the price of coffins for persons of the middle class,
  if supplied on a similar scale?—The prices vary with them from 3_l._
  to 10_l._; they have frequently double coffins; the same coffins
  might be supplied from 30_s._ to 5_l._, or 50 per cent. less.

§ 116. Mr. Hewitt, whose testimony has already been referred to, states,
that under general arrangements, it would be practicable to alleviate
the evil of the expense to an extent which would appear incredible. He

  I have so far carefully considered the subject, that I should be
  ready to take a contract for the performance of burials at the
  following rates:—For a labouring man, 1_l._ 10_s._ without burial
  fees; for a labourer’s child, 15_s._, for a tradesman, 2_l._ 2_s._;
  for a tradesman’s child, 1_l._ 1_s._; for a gentleman, 6_l._ 7_s._
  6_d._; for a gentleman’s child, 3_l._ 10_s._ These expenses are for
  “walking funerals;” the expenses of hearses and carriages would
  depend on the distance, and would make from one to two guineas each
  carriage extra.

  All these, with the same descriptions of coffins, and with the same
  respectability of attendance?—Yes, on the scale of about half the
  existing burials in the metropolis; if it were for the whole, it
  might be done much better, and in some instances perhaps at a
  greater rate of reduction.

§ 117. Mr. Wild gives, on similar grounds, the following estimate of the
practicable rates of expenses of interment with all decent appliances:—

          │         Tradespeople.         │          Mechanics.
          │    Adults.    │   Children.   │    Adults.    │   Children.
          │ From. │  To.  │ From. │  To.  │ From. │  To.  │ From. │  To.
          │£. _s._│£. _s._│£. _s._│£. _s._│£. _s._│£. _s._│£. _s._│£. _s._
 Coffin   │ 1    5│ 4    4│ 0   15│ 1   10│ 0   17│ 1    5│ 0   10│ 0   15
 Fittings,│ 0   15│ 2    0│ 0   10│ 1    0│ 0   10│ 0   15│ 0    5│ 0   10
   &c.    │       │       │       │       │       │       │       │
 Sundries │       │       │       │       │       │       │       │
 Convey-  │ 1    1│ 4    4│ 1    1│ 2    2│ 0   17│ 1    1│ 0   10│ 1    1
   ance   │       │       │       │       │       │       │       │
  Totals  │ 3    1│10    8│ 2    6│ 4   12│ 2    4│ 3    1│ 1    5│ 2    6

§ 118. Next to the arrangements practicable for the regulation of the
supplies of goods, the most important practicable arrangements for
reduction of expense are those which may regulate the services necessary
for interments. The item set forth in the above estimate of the charge
for conveyance is on the supposition of separate conveyance in the
present mode to the distant cemetery. With reference to the charge for
the poorer classes, Mr. Wild was asked—

  Might not several sets of mourners be carried in one
  conveyance?—Yes; that has often occurred to me, and it would tend to
  reduce the expense materially. When two or three children have died
  in one street, and they have had to be buried in the same cemetery,
  I have asked the parents whether, as they had to go to the same
  place, they objected to go in the same conveyance, and they have
  frequently stated that they had no objections. These were of the
  more respectable classes of mechanics.

  In the fittings up of the coffins, is it considered that these would
  be as good as those now used?—Quite as good.

§ 119. One large item in the expense of funerals in the metropolis and
populous districts is the expense of hearers, § 115, who are provided
for each separate funeral. This expense is about 12_s._ for a set of
bearers for the funeral of an adult of the working classes. Formerly
common bearers were provided by the several parishes in the metropolis.
Any arrangements of a national character would include the provision of
a better regulated class of bearers at a greatly reduced expense. In the
course of the examination of Mr. Dix, the following information was

  It has been suggested that, if the hearse were always used, the
  expense of bearers would be dispensed with in walking funerals. What
  do you conceive would be the case?—I conceive that that would not be
  the case, inasmuch as it would require bearers to remove the body
  from the house to the hearse, and from the hearse to the grave. But
  this difficulty might, I would suggest, be, to a great extent,
  obviated by the establishment of public bearers, who should have the
  exclusive right of removing all corpses, and whose rate of payment
  should be fixed.

  What is the present rate of payment of bearers to the grave for the
  labouring classes?—It is 2_s._ 6_d._ each.

  If public bearers were appointed, what might be the expense?—Much
  less than one-half.

  Do you think that this principle of management would be satisfactory
  to the working classes?—It is in fact an old method. Formerly there
  were bearers in all parishes, appointed by the churchwardens. In the
  parish of St. Margaret’s, Westminster, and in most of the city
  parishes, the practice continues to this day. In the form of bills
  of the various parish dues the charge for bearers remains to the
  present day.

  Were these parish bearers less expensive than others?—No; they were

  Why were they discontinued?—In consequence of these bearers often
  becoming undertakers themselves, which created a jealousy amongst
  the trade, who refused to employ them, and the parishes had no power
  to compel their employment. Also in consequence of the men being
  elected by the churchwardens; they were seldom elected until they
  became of an age that rendered them incapable of performing the
  duties properly. They were not properly dressed, and were under no
  control. In recommending public bearers, I presume they would be
  under a different control than a parochial one or than the
  churchwardens. I would add, however, that as one set of bearers
  cannot carry a corpse more than a mile, I would only propose them in
  aid of the hearses.

§ 120. Mr. Wild, who had previously volunteered the suggestion as to the
means of reducing the expenses of conveyance, by arrangements on an
extensive scale, observes, further, in reference to the bearers—

  “My first view as to the possible economy of funerals, was derived
  from seeing that parish bearers were often made use of. The present
  charge for bearers for mechanics is 12_s._ for the adults, or 3_s._
  per bearer. I was asking one of the parish bearers what he was
  allowed, as the charge was included in the burial dues, which were
  1_l._ 5_s._ 6_d._ He told me they were paid 6_d._ per bearer, or
  2_s._ the set. He told me that they had borne six to the grave that
  morning, and he had earned 3_s._ himself. This at the usual charge
  would have been 3_l._ 12_s._; but properly provided bearers at the
  cemetery might reduce the charges still further, perhaps to 3_d._
  each case.”

§ 121. Before submitting for consideration any detailed arrangements for
securing, in a manner satisfactory to the people, better funerals at
less oppressive charges, it is necessary to premise, that there appear
to be no grounds to expect the extensive spontaneous adoption of
improved regulations by the labouring classes without aid _ab extra_.
The labour of communicating information to them, to be attended to at
the time it is wanted, would be immense. Their sources of information on
the occurrence of such events are either poor neighbours, as ignorant as
themselves, or persons who are interested in misleading them and
profiting by their ignorance, to continue expensive and mischievous
practices. As against such an evil as the undue retention of the bodies
amidst the living the usual mode of effecting a change would be simply
by a prohibitory ordinance, § 91, of which information would be conveyed
practically by the enforcement of penalties for disobedience of the law,
which it is assumed they know. The appointment of a responsible agency,
which would be respected, to convey the information of what may be
deemed requisite for the protection of the living and exercise influence
to initiate a change of practice, appears to all the practical witnesses
examined, § 102, to be a preferable course, as being the most suitable
to the temper of the people, and as being the least expensive, as well
as the most efficient. The very desolate and unprotected condition of
the survivors of the poorest classes, on the occurrence of a death in
large towns, appears to render some intervention for their guidance and
protection at that moment peculiarly requisite, as a simple act of
beneficence. Mr. Wild was asked—

  Amongst the poorer classes, is not the widow often made ill during
  the protracted delay of the burial?—Yes, very often. They have come
  to me in tears, and begged for accommodation, which I have given
  them. On observing to them, you seem very ill; a common reply is,
  “Yes, I feel very ill. I am very much harassed, and I have no one to
  assist me.” I infer from such expressions that the mental anxiety
  occasioned by the expense, and want of means to obtain the money, is
  the frequent cause of their illness. My opinion is, that unless the
  undertaker gave two-thirds of them time or accommodation for
  payment, they would not be able to bury the dead at all.

  You state that they have no persons to assist them; do they
  frequently, or ever, on such occasions, see any persons of
  education, or of influence, from whom they might receive aid or
  advice?—I never hear of such persons unless they happen to be
  connected with some local association, when the survivors are
  visited and get advice, and sometimes relief.

  If any gentleman were to visit them as a public officer, as the
  officer of a board of health, would his recommendations have
  influence with them?—Very great: the doctor now has the greatest
  influence with them, but he does not attend them after the death.

John Downing, a mechanic, the secretary of a Burial Society, whose duty
it was to visit the remains of the deceased members, was asked—

  After the death of the party have you ever, in visiting the
  deceased, met any professional person or any gentleman attending to
  give advice or consolation to the widow?—No. Never to my knowledge.

  Then on what advice will the widow act on the occurrence of a
  death?—On the advice of the poor people in the neighbourhood, or of
  any friends or relatives that may chance to call upon them; but I
  never knew either medical man or minister attend professionally to
  give advice or consolation.

  Is any notice of the death sent to the minister?—The working-classes
  never think of that; the first thing and the only thing thought of
  by them is to scrape together the money for the funeral.

  Do you think that a medical officer, an officer of public health,
  attending gratuitously to inspect the body and register the cause of
  death, and to give advice as to the proper means of conducting the
  funeral, and the steps to be taken for the health of the living
  would be respectfully received and have influence?—I am very
  confident that he would have a very hearty welcome. I think a deal
  of benefit would be derived from it to the feelings as well as the
  health of the parties.

§ 122. The curate of a populous district mentioned to me, as
illustrative of the practice in the crowded neighbourhoods in the
metropolis, that he had for a time lived in a house let off in lodgings
to respectable persons in the middle ranks of life, and though his
profession was known in the house, yet three deaths had taken place in
it of which he had no notice whatever, and only knew of them at the time
of the funeral. All the witnesses who have had experience amongst the
labouring classes, concur in the expression of confidence that the
visits and intervention of a public officer would at such a time be well
received by the poorest classes.

Mr. Hewitt was asked—

  Do you conceive that respectable officers visiting the house of all
  classes of the deceased immediately after the death, as medical
  officers and officers of public health, to inquire as to the causes
  of death and register them, would long fail to acquire powerful
  influence in the suggestion of voluntary and beneficial sanitary
  arrangements?—I think that an officer appointed from the first class
  of physicians would be better received than a local medical man—as
  an officer of the public health, whose opinions would be more
  prized, and consequently would be sure to be received by all most
  respectfully. Such an officer is calculated to do more good than can
  easily be conceived, and would be able to execute such duties over
  an extensive district.

  Would they have that sort of faith in a physician that they would
  not have in any local medical officer?—They would receive well any
  gentleman, and would act upon his advice.

  On the occurrence of a death, is there any one person of education,
  or of superior condition in life, who comes near the working
  classes?—Not one that I am aware; no one attends for such a purpose;
  if any such person comes it must be accidental.

  It may perhaps be presumed that it is rare that any death occurs
  without some medical man or medical officer having attended the
  case?—Very few, and in those cases inquests are usually held.

  In the majority of cases, therefore, the labouring classes, on the
  occurrence of a death, are left either to the advice of any
  interested person who may come amongst them, or to the influence of
  their equally uninformed neighbours?—Yes, certainly, that is the

§ 123. The principle of the measure proposed, _i. e._ a certificate of
the fact, and the cause of death, given on view of the body, and the
non-interment without such certificate, has been in operation perhaps
during two centuries. In the year 1595, orders were issued by the Privy
Council to the justices, enjoining them, that wherever the plague
appeared, they would see that the ministers of the church, or three or
four substantial householders, appointed persons to view the bodies of
all who died, before they were suffered to be buried. They were to
certify to the minister or the churchwarden, of what disease it was
probable each individual had died. The minister or the churchwarden was
to make a weekly return of the numbers in his parish that were infected,
or had died, and the diseases of which it was probable they had died.
These returns were to be made to the neighbouring justices, and by them
to the clerk of the peace, who was to enter them in a book to be kept
for the purpose. The justices, who assembled every three weeks, were to
forward the results to the Lords of the Privy Council. It is supposed
that this scheme of registration gave rise to the bills of mortality,
which have been preserved without interruption from the year 1603 until
the present period. It is conjectured also, that the appointment of
“searchers” originated at the same time. The alarm of the plague having
subsided, the office of searcher was, until the recent appointments of
registrars under the new Registration Act, given by the parish officers
to two old women in each parish, frequently pew-openers, who, having
viewed the body, demanded a fee of two shillings, in addition to which
they expected to be supplied with some liquor, and gave a certificate of
the fact and cause of death as they were informed of it, and this
certificate was received by the minister as a warrant for the interment.

§ 124. The Rev. Mr. Stone observes on this topic—

  It would be well if the burial of the dead could be expedited by
  some agency created for the purpose; something, for instance, like
  the obsolete office of searcher. I never heard but one person make
  an objection even to those inferior functionaries, and that one was
  an educated person, who would probably have withdrawn the objection,
  had the agency been one of a more refined, intelligent, and
  conciliatory character. It might be a more delicate matter to secure
  the removal of the corpse to be deposited elsewhere for any
  considerable time before the burial; though, judging from one
  practice, which has fallen under my observation, I feel justified in
  supposing, that even this would not be met with universal
  repugnance. A similar thing is now often done spontaneously from a
  pecuniary motive, and for the purpose of evading burial dues. In my
  parish ground, and, I believe, in others, the fees for the burial of
  a non-parishioner, or person dying out of the parish, are double
  those payable for a parishioner. But, if the undertaker employed is
  a parishioner, this extra payment is easily evaded, by his
  accommodating the corpse on his own premises. It is brought there
  some time before the burial, and frequently from a considerable
  distance; it then becomes a resident parishioner, and forthwith
  claims the privilege of a parishioner. It claims to be admitted into
  our burial ground at single fees; and, of course, the claim so made
  cannot easily be disallowed. Indeed, by a little management, this
  smuggling of dead bodies may be effected so that my clerk and
  sexton, the only officers in my preventive service, may themselves
  know nothing about it. It is probable, however, that such sanitary
  arrangements as those adverted to would be best facilitated, and it
  is certain that much mischief would be entirely prevented, by a
  reduction in the amount of burial expenses. Indeed these expenses
  ought, if possible, to be reduced for the sake of all classes,
  whether they arise from too high a rate of burial fees, from the
  prejudices of the people, or from the advantage that may be taken of
  those prejudices or other circumstances by a class so directly and
  deeply interested as the undertakers.

§ 125. Several physicians of eminence in the metropolis, who are
conversant with the state and feelings of families of the middle and
higher classes on the occurrence of a death, have expressed their
confidence, that the most respectable families, who are stunned by the
blow, and are ignorant of the detail of the steps to be taken when a
death has occurred, would gladly pay for the attendance of any
respectable and responsible person, on whose information they might,
under such circumstances, rely. As already stated, the physician takes
no cognizance of the arrangements for interments, and knowing the
feelings that commonly arise when the undertaker’s bill is presented,
carefully avoids giving advice, or doing anything that may implicate him
with the arrangements for the interment.

§ 126. In opening the consideration of remedial measures, it appears
incumbent to represent that there are many who, viewing what has been
accomplished abroad, and the inconvenience experienced in the metropolis
in respect to the oldest private trading burial grounds, object on
principle to the abandonment of acknowledged public functions and
services, and to leaving the necessities of the public as sources of
profit to private, and (practically for every-day purposes)
irresponsible associations. They submit, that if the steps in this
direction cannot be retraced, the public have claims that at all events
they shall be stayed. Such opinions may, perhaps, be the best
represented in the following portion of the communication from the Rev.
Wm. Stone.

  It may be thought that, in alluding to these private burial grounds,
  I have expressed myself strongly, and indeed I am not anxious to
  disavow having done so. The subject seems to me to justify such a
  tone of expression. In all ages and nations, the burial of the dead
  has been invested with peculiar sanctity. As the office that closes
  the visible scene of human existence, it concentrates in itself the
  most touching exercise of our affections towards objects endeared to
  us in this life, and the most intense and stirring anxieties that we
  can feel respecting an invisible state. And, appealing thus to
  common sympathies of our nature, it has been universally marked by
  observances intended to give it importance or impressiveness. The
  faith and usage of Christians have given remarkable prominence to
  this duty. The ecclesiastical institutes of our own country indicate
  a jealous solicitude for the safe and religious custody of the
  receptacles of the dead; and there are few of us, perhaps, to whom
  those receptacles are not hallowed by thoughts and recollections of
  the deepest personal interest. It is reasonable, then, that the
  reverential impressions thus accumulated within us should shrink
  from the contact of more selfish and vulgar associations. And one
  may be excused for thinking and speaking strongly in reprobation of
  a system which degrades the burial of the dead into a trade.
  Throughout the whole scheme and working of this system, there is an
  exclusive spirit of money-getting, which is revoltingly heartless;
  and in some of its details there is an indecency which I have felt
  myself compelled to allude to in the tone of strong condemnation.

  It is surely desirable that a state of things so vulgar and
  demoralizing, should be put an end to, but at present there seems no
  prospect of it. Of course, during the continuance of a competition
  such as I have described, our parishioners will never return to our
  parish burial grounds, and I have already remarked, that if they
  did, they might not get interment there, inasmuch as it would,
  perhaps, be found impossible to make our parochial system meet the
  wants of any crowded population. There is little better chance of
  the present offensive system of burial being superseded by the joint
  stock cemeteries; for to the mass of our population these cemeteries
  hold out hardly any advantages which are not possessed by the
  private burial grounds, while they have to compete with those
  grounds under disadvantages greater, in some instances, than those
  which our churchyards have to contend with.

  Indeed, even if it were practicable, I should be sorry to see our
  people handed over for burial to a joint stock company. I am very
  far from saying this out of any sympathy with the popular, and often
  indiscriminate and unreasonable jealousy felt towards all joint
  stock companies. Nay, I see obvious reasons why the cemeteries of
  such companies should be a great improvement upon the present system
  of private speculation in burial grounds. And it may be thought
  that, as a clergyman and an interested party, I may naturally prefer
  these cemeteries, because their proprietors, unlike the private
  speculators, are required to indemnify the clergy for loss of fees
  by some amount of pecuniary compensation. But I do sympathize with
  the common repugnance to consign to joint stock companies the
  solemnities of Christian burial; and I believe that this repugnance
  is not more common than it is strong. “And so,” said a highly
  intelligent gentleman, pointing to a cemetery of this class, “the
  time is come when Christian burial is made an article of traffic.”
  And since the legislature has been reported to be contemplating the
  removal of burials from populous places, it has been commonly
  suspected of having been led to entertain the measure through the
  influence of joint stock cemetery proprietors. In fact the
  repugnance in question is no more than what I have already adverted
  to. It is the state of feeling which shrinks from associating the
  touching and impressive solemnities of burial with the profits of
  trade. So far as the trading principle is involved, the joint stock
  company is no better than the private speculator. However
  disinterested may have been the motives which have induced some to
  become shareholders in these companies, and I have been assured upon
  authority which I respect, that many have done so without any
  expectation or hope of profit upon their shares, yet the primary and
  effective character of these associations is undeniably that of
  trading associations, and they cannot be rescued from that character
  by even numerous individual exceptions. Their managers, like the
  proprietors of the private grounds, are assiduous in soliciting
  attention to their lists of prices; and affiches, painted in large
  letters, and placed at various outlets of the metropolis, with
  genuine mercantile officiousness, direct the public, as in a case
  close by my own parish, “To the E. L. Cemetery, only one mile and
  a-half.” Surely we may say, that this system also involves much that
  is inconsistent with reverential impressions of the sanctity of
  burial, much that must either offend or deteriorate the better
  feeling of our population. Then again, as regards burial services,
  and other details in the working of the system, with what security
  can we consign these to the tender mercies of a trading company? Why
  should not the money-getting principle eventually come to operate
  upon these points also, and, as in the private burial grounds, tempt
  shareholders to sanction indecent and mischievous condescensions to
  the interests, habits, tastes, and caprices of the people? What
  security, at least, is there equal to that which is afforded by a
  clergy and parochial establishments, responsible to the civil and
  ecclesiastical authorities of the country, or which would be
  afforded by what, for reasons before mentioned, I should think still
  preferable, a national plan of burial, placed under a departmental
  control of Government?

The remedial measures hereafter submitted for consideration have been
deduced directly from the actual necessities experienced within the
field of inquiry, and such only are submitted as clearly suggested
themselves without reference to any external experience. The following
preliminary view of the experience of other nations is presented for
consideration on account of the confirmatory evidence which it contains,
as well as the instances to be avoided.

_Examples of successful Legislation for the Improvement of the Practice
                             of Interment._

§ 127. It appears that the evil of the expensive interments consequent
on the monopoly which the nature of the event, and the feelings of
survivors, gives to the person nearest at hand for the performance of
the undertaker’s service, is checked by special arrangements in America.
In Boston, and most of the large towns in America, there is a Board of
Health which nominates a superintendent of burial grounds, who is
invariably a person of special qualifications, and generally a medical
man. All undertakers are licensed by the Board of Health, by whom the
licence may at any time be revoked. The sexton of the church which the
deceased attended is usually the undertaker. The bills of the undertaker
are made out on a blank form, furnished by the public superintendent of
interment, to whom all bills are submitted, and by whom they are audited
and allowed, before they are presented for payment to the relations or
friends of the deceased. Previous to interment, the undertaker must
obtain from the physician who last attended the deceased, a certificate
specifying the profession, age, time of illness, and cause of death of
the deceased. This certificate is presented to the superintendent of
funerals. An abstract of these certificates, signed by the
superintendent of funerals, is printed every week in the public journals
of the city. The cost of a funeral for a person in the position of life
of the highest class of tradesmen in Boston, is about fifty dollars, or
10_l._ English, exclusive of the cost of the tomb. The price of a good
mahogany coffin would be fifteen dollars, or 3_l._ 5_s._ The price of a
most elegant mahogany coffin would be perhaps double that price. The
price of a pine coffin, such as are used for the persons of the
labouring classes, would be about four dollars. There is a peculiarity
in the coffins made in the United States,—that a portion of the lid,
about a foot from the upper end, opens upon a hinge. This, when opened,
exposes to view the face of the deceased, which is covered with glass.
The survivors are thus enabled at the last moment to take a view of the
deceased, without the danger of infection. In Germany, the coffins are
nailed down, every blow of the hammer frequently drawing a scream from
the female survivors.

§ 128. In the chief German states it is adopted as a principle, that
provision shall be made, and it is made successfully, for meeting the
necessities of the population in respect to the undertakers’ supplies of
service and materials; and that on the occurrence of a death, those
necessities shall not be given up as the subject of common trading
profits to whatsoever irresponsible person may obtain the monopoly of
them. At Franckfort provision is made for these services and supplies of
material at the lowest cost to the public as part of a series of
arrangements comprehending the verification of the fact of death on view
of the body, the edifice for the reception and care of the dead previous
to interment, and the public cemeteries, all under the superintendence
of superior and responsible medical officers. The expenses of the
supplies of materials are reduced so low under these arrangements, that
they no longer enter into serious consideration as a burthen to be met
on such occasions.

§ 129. At Berlin, a contract is made by the Government with one person
to secure funeral materials and services for the public at certain fixed
scales of prices. The materials and services are stated to be of a
perfectly satisfactory character; and yet the undertaker’s charge for a
funeral such as would here cost for an artisan 4_l._ and upwards, is not
more than 15_s._ English money; the charge for a middle class funeral is
about 2_l._, and for a funeral of the opulent class of citizens is
about, 10_l._ And yet I am assured that the contractors’ profits on the
extensive supplies required are deemed too high, and that the Government
will, on the renewal of the contract, find it necessary to protect the
poorer classes by a contract at a lower rate.

§ 130. At Paris, interments are made the subject of a _fisc_; but a
contract is made with one head to secure services and supplies to the
private individual at reduced rates, and so far the system works
advantageously to the public.

§ 131. The whole of the interments are there performed, and the various
burial and religious dues collected and paid under one contract, by
joint contractors for the public service at regulated prices, called the
_Service des Pompes Funèbres_. This establishment annually buries
gratis, upwards of 7000 destitute persons, or nearly one-third of all
who die in the city. The funerals and religious services are divided
into nine classes, comprehending various settled particulars of service,
for which a price is fixed. The appointed service for any of these
classes may be had on the terms specified in a tariff. This is found to
be a great benefit to testators and survivors, as it enables them to
settle the ceremonial with certainty, and without the possibility of any
extortion. The first class of funerals are of great pomp: they include
bearers, crosses, plumes, eighteen mourning coaches and attendants,
grand mass at church, 120 lbs. of wax tapers, an anniversary service,
and material of mourning cloth; and also the attendance of Monsieur le
Curé, two vicars, twenty-one priests, six singers and ten chorister
boys, and two instrumental performers, at a cost of 145_l._, for a
funeral superior in magnificence perhaps to any private funeral in
England. The charge for the service and materials of the ninth class, in
which there is the attendance of a vicar and a priest, and of a bass
singer or chorister for the mass, is about 15_s._ of English money. In
the service ordinaire there is less religious service, and that is
performed gratuitously. The only charge made is the price of the coffin,
which is five or seven francs, according to the size: the coffin is
covered by a pall, and carried on a plain hearse, drawn by two black
horses. This funeral is conducted by a superintendent and four
assistants, exclusive of the driver. The following is the scale of
charges, and the numbers interred under each, during two years:—

                      │      │      │      │      │       │
                      │ 1st  │ 2nd  │ 3rd  │ 4th  │  5th  │ 6th
                      │Class.│Class.│Class.│Class.│Class. │Class.
                      │  £.  │  £.  │  £.  │  £.  │£. _s._│  £.
 Religious Funeral    │      │      │      │      │       │
   Service            │    24│    19│    11│     8│  5  10│     2
 Anniversary Religious│      │      │      │      │       │
   Service            │    26│    20│    12│     9│  6   0│     3
 Undertaker’s Material│      │      │      │      │       │
   and Service        │    95│    83│    49│    23│ 14  10│     5
    Total Expenses    │   145│   122│    72│    40│ 26   0│    10
      Number of { 1839│    23│    52│   138│   256│    828│ 1,457
        Burials { 1841│    30│    47│   188│   201│    816│ 1,655
                      │      │       │      │Total of│          │
                      │ 7th  │  8th  │ 9th  │the nine│ Service  │General
                      │Class.│Class. │Class.│Classes.│Ordinaire.│Total.
                      │  £.  │£. _s._│ _s._ │        │          │
 Religious Funeral    │      │       │      │        │          │
   Service            │     1│  0  16│    11│        │          │
 Anniversary Religious│      │       │      │        │          │
   Service            │      │       │      │        │          │
 Undertaker’s Material│      │       │      │        │          │
   and Service        │     3│  1  11│     4│        │          │
    Total Expenses    │     4│  2   7│    15│        │          │
      Number of { 1839│ 2,523│    141│   530│   5,958│    14,087│ 20,045
        Burials { 1841│ 2,377│     78│   715│   6,107│    14,185│ 20,292

§ 132. On the number of burials in Paris for 1841, the gross income
would be about 80,000_l._ per annum. Out of this sum the contractor pays
the fixed salaries of the staff of officers, which consists of a chief
inspector of funeral ceremonies, of 27 other directors besides, 78
bearers, one inspector of cemeteries and four keepers; officers chiefly
appointed by the municipality. The total amount of the salaries which he
pays is 5862_l._, English money. He keeps an establishment of 30 hearses
and 76 carriages, with suites of minor attendants properly clothed, and
inters the 7000 of the pauper class gratuitously. The last contractor
paid annually to the municipality 17,000_l._, which sum was chiefly
devoted to ecclesiastical objects. The large profits which he realized
led to considerable competition, and a new contract was recently sealed
for nine years, securing for public purposes an annual income of

Besides this amount, there is a revenue of about 20,000_l._ per annum
derived by the municipality from the sale of tombs, and from the tax on
interments, which is twenty francs for the interment of every adult, and
ten francs upon children under seven years of age. One-fifth of this
revenue, or about 4000_l._, is devoted to the hospitals.

§ 133. The remains of those who die in the public hospitals in Paris,
and are not claimed by their friends, are, after dissection, merely
enclosed in a coarse cloth and deposited in the ground, without any
funereal rites. This number amounts, as stated, to no less than 7000
annually. The total average deaths in Paris is from 28,000 to 30,000
annually. This, in a population of 900,000, gives about one burial to
every thirty of the population annually, which is nearly as large a
proportion of annual deaths and burials as that in Manchester. The
deaths and burials in the British metropolis (though varying in
different parts, from 1 in 28, as in Whitechapel, to 1 in 56, as in
Hackney, chiefly according to the condition of the locality) average for
the entire population of 1,800,000 inhabitants, one death or burial in
every forty-two of the inhabitants, or one-fourth less of burials than
at Paris in proportion to the population. In Paris the average number of
inhabitants to every house is 36. If the mortality were there in the
proportion of London there would be 7,000 fewer burials yearly. An
assertion may be ventured, that more than this excess of mortality is
ascribable to the still lower sanitary condition of the labouring
population in Paris, which has its concomitant in a still lower moral
condition than yet prevails amongst the population of our large

§ 134. In Paris the law requires that the dead shall be interred within
twenty-four hours after the decease, but this law may be evaded by
neglect to give notice of the death. The general practice, however,
appears to be, that interments take place within two days.

§ 135. In America, the later regulations manifest the tendency of the
general experience to connect the regulations of interment with the
general regulations for the protection of the public health, and to do
this by single, specially qualified, paid, and responsible officers,
rather than by Boards, or by any unskilled and honorary agency. The
revised statutes of Massachusetts introduce the alternative of the
appointment of a single officer. Every town is empowered to appoint a
Board of Health, “or a health officer:” and the Board so appointed may
appoint “a physician to the Board.” The Board acting by such officer may
destroy, remove, or prevent, as the case may require, all nuisances,
sources of filth, and causes of sickness. “Whenever any such nuisance or
source of filth, or cause of sickness shall be found on private
property, the Board of Health, or health officer, shall order the owner
or occupant thereof at his own expense to remove the same within
twenty-four hours, and if the owner or occupant shall neglect so to do,
he shall forfeit a sum not exceeding one hundred dollars,” c. 21, s. 10.
In cases of the refusal of entry into private property, on complaint to
a magistrate, the magistrate may thereupon issue his warrant, “directed
to the sheriff, or either of his deputies, or to any constable of such
town, commanding them to take sufficient aid, and being accompanied by
two or more members of the said Board of Health, between the hours of
sunset and sunrise, to repair to the place where such nuisance, source
of filth, or cause of sickness complained of may be, and to destroy,
remove, or prevent, the same, under the direction of such members of the
Board of Health.” The cleansing of the streets and houses is in most
cases included in the functions of the Board of Health, or of the health
officer, who regulates the removal of all refuse. Sec. 14, c. 21.

Every householder, when any of his family are taken ill, is required, on
a penalty of one hundred dollars,—and every physician in the like
penalty, on ascertaining that any person whom he visits is infected with
the small-pox, or other disease dangerous to the public health,—to give
immediate notice to the officers of public health, and they may, “unless
the condition of such person is such as not to admit of his removal
without danger of life,” remove him at once to the public hospital,
whatever may be his station in life. Sec. 43 and 44, c. 21.

I have been favoured by Dr. Griscom, the inspector of interments at New
York, with the copy of a report on the sanitary condition of the
population of that city; which points out the great extent of deaths
that are preventible by the adoption of means similar to those
recommended in the General Report for the improvement of the sanitary
condition of the population in Great Britain. This report, revealing
extensive causes of death in New York, of which a large proportion of
the population must have been unaware, may be adduced in proof of the
immense services derivable from such an office, when zealously executed,
in guarding against evils more destructive than wars.[27]

§ 136. In Munich, and in other towns in Germany, the visits and
verification of the fact of death as the warrant for interment, is felt
to be an important public security, and is highly popular; but one cause
of its popularity is the jurisprudential functions of the officer of
health, as means of preventing premature interments, and the escape of
crime; for comparatively little attention appears yet to have been given
to the practical means afforded by the office of tracing out and
removing the causes of disease. The difficulty appears to be in respect
to the jurisprudential functions of the officers of health to satisfy
the public anxiety for the exercise of solemn care in _every_ case of a
multitude, where only one case in that multitude will, on the doctrine
of chances, be a case calling for intervention; and where it is not
provided, as it may and ought to be, that the discovery of that one
shall be a matter of deep personal interest, instead of a mere source of
trouble to the officer himself, his examinations may be expected to
degenerate into a routine in which the intended security will fail in
the less obvious cases.

In later times very comprehensive regulations as to the sites and
management of cemeteries, and the service of officers of health, who
have charge of the cemeteries, have been adopted throughout the Austrian
dominions, and it is stated that they work very satisfactorily. On the
occasion of every death by accident or violence, or of suspicion, a
close inquiry as to the causes is made by the town physician. In Vienna
a strict inquiry is made into every such death by the following
officers, who all attend for that purpose;—namely, the town physician,
the surgeon in chief, the professor of pathological anatomy, a lawyer,
and in some cases, when analyses are required, a chemist. The results of
their examinations are set forth in a “protocol,” a carefully prepared
document, “_bien motivé_,” which sometimes takes two or three days in
drawing up. The effect of this inquiry is the prevention, to a great
extent, of crimes of violence, and the production of public confidence.
It is stated to be highly popular.

§ 137. In Paris some cases have of late occurred, which have created
much public uneasiness by the evidence they afforded of the defective
organization of the service of the officers of health, and occasioned it
recently to undergo an examination with the view to the adoption of
better securities. It appears that, from a very early period, to satisfy
the public solicitude, the law required the fact of the reality of a
death to be verified by the personal visit and inspection of the Maire
of the district of the city where the death had taken place.
Subsequently, the Maires were allowed to delegate this duty to officers
of their own nomination, persons qualified for the duties by a medical
education, and who were called _Officiers de Santé_. But the
appointments thus made by the Maires did not give public satisfaction;
and in the year 1806 it was required that the persons appointed as
“officiers de santé” by the Maires, should be chosen by them from
amongst the doctors in medicine and surgery who were attached to the
public hospitals. They appear, however, to have been mostly chosen
without reference to public qualifications, from their own medical
friends in private practice. This arrangement of appointing persons in
private practice appears to have prevailed in other countries, and to
have frustrated much of the benefits otherwise derivable from the
institution. Thirty-five of these private practitioners are now
appointed to perform the duty. Reports have gained ground that from
negligent discharge of the duty, persons had even been buried alive, and
that the verification had been given in cases of murder. On a recent
commission of inquiry, the celebrated surgeon, M. Orfila, thus speaks of
the necessity of the verification of the fact of the decease.

  “It is possible to be interred alive! Interments may take place
  after murder, committed with the knife or by means of poison,
  without a suspicion being created that the death has been occasioned
  by violence. Ignorance or malevolence may attribute to crime deaths
  that have occurred from natural causes!”

After referring to ancient cases in which evidence was recorded of
parties having been buried alive, he adduces the following recent
instances of parties having been interred without due verification of
the cause of death by the _Officier de Santé_:—

  “We all know the case of the death of the grocer in the Rue de la
  Paix, who died of poison by arsenic. The interment took place after
  the verification of the death. In about a month afterwards I was
  called upon to examine the body as to the poison. Although the
  putrefaction of the corpse of the person who was of a very full
  habit had been much advanced, I was enabled to discover the presence
  of the arsenic by which the crime had been perpetrated.

  “The widow Danzelle, of the Rue Beauregard, was found dead in her
  bed on the 1st of January, 1826. The certificate of the decease was
  given in due form to the relations to authorise the interment. In
  that certificate, given to M. le Commissaire de Police, the medical
  practitioner declared, ‘the death has taken place, and it appears
  that it has been occasioned by a commotion of the brain with
  hæmorrhage.’ ‘The deceased’ added he, ‘lived alone; she was found
  dead in her chamber, where she appeared to have fallen down.’ The
  municipal authorities caused the interment to be adjourned, and
  required a new examination of the body in the presence of the
  Commissioner of Police, assisted by two doctors in medicine. The
  result of the examination was, ‘that Madame the widow Danzelle had
  fallen under the blows of an assassin; the corpse bore five recent
  wounds in the neck, made with a cutting instrument, and the carotid
  artery had been divided.’

  “In the month of July, a child of Dame Revel, Rue de Seine Saint
  Germain, died very suddenly. The authorities being informed that the
  child had been the subject of much ill-treatment on the part of the
  parents, ordered an inquiry and _une expertise medico-legale_. The
  examination of the body showed that the rumours as to the barbarous
  conduct of Dame Revel, the mother, were but too well-founded. Dr.
  Olivier testified to the fact, that the body bore twenty-seven
  recent contusions on the body and members, and a fracture of nearly
  five inches in extent, which almost entirely broke through one of
  the bones of the cranium.

  “The death of this poor child, which was three years and three
  months old, awakened suspicions which had arisen on the death of its
  eldest brother, of eight years of age, which had been interred on
  the 28th of February preceding. The body was disinterred, and Dr.
  Olivier, to whom this second examination was confided,
  notwithstanding the length of time that had occurred since the
  death, found traces of numerous contusions on the body and members,
  and a wound above the right ear, with a fracture and disjunction of
  the bones of the cranium.”

And notwithstanding in this, as in the other case, the interment was
effected without observations.[28]

After giving instances where the innocent were justified or suspicions
were allayed by post mortem examinations, which proved that deaths
suspected to have been from murder had occurred from natural causes, M.
Orfila concludes by stating:—

  “I do not believe that it often happens that persons are interred
  alive in Paris, though I must admit that such events may take place;
  but I am convinced that the earth has covered and continues to cover
  crimes without any suspicion being raised in respect to them.”

§ 138. Another report imputes the neglects of the “officiers de santé,”
to the forgetfulness of duties, the force of habit or routine, the
results of age and infirmities; and the chief remedy recommended, and
now apparently in course of adoption in Paris, is the erection on the
unsubstantial foundation of service by a number of private
practitioners, of two additional stages as securities, namely, of three
paid medical officers, who are to devote their time to the
superintendence of the performance of the public duties by the private
practitioners, and, secondly, a certain number of high honorary
officers, who are to superintend both classes of paid officers. This is
an example of one of those superficial alterations, in which, from want
of firmness on the part of the legislature to compensate fairly and
amply the interests which it is obviously necessary to disturb, and from
not duly regarding and estimating the immense amount of pain and public
evil which requires measures of alleviation of corresponding extent and
efficiency; consequently from allowing that amount of pain and mortality
to weigh as dust against local patronage and latent sinister
interests,—that evil is only masked, and more widely and deeply spread
by the intended remedy. Of a certainty the attention of every private
practitioner, as he gains practice, whilst acting as a public officer,
must every hour of the day be _from_ his public duties, and _with_ the
means of adding to his emoluments. That the least possible time may be
taken from them, the public duties are slurred over, conclusions are
snapped from the readiest superficial incidents; extensive and
removable, but latent causes of evil, the development of which would
require sustained and laborious examination, are perpetuated, by being
stamped authoritatively as “accidental” or arbitrarily classed under
some general term assigning the evils as the results of some inscrutable
cause. The three superior paid inspectors will not long be able to
stimulate the thirty-five private practitioners to a close attention to
their public duties against their paramount and ever-pressing interests,
or will soon tire of doing so. The service will become one of mere
routine and of short and easy acquiescence in all except the most
extraordinary cases which present an appearance of danger to the officer
himself if he overlook them. Under such arrangements, the functions of
the office degenerates into a highly prejudicial form, protracting the
evil, by creating an impression from the fact of the existence of the
office, that all has been done in the way of prevention or remedy that
can be done by such an officer. The admixture of private practice with
important public duties in such cases, is attended with further evil in
depriving the public of much volunteer service from the whole class of
private practitioners, for many who would give information to advance
science, or to aid the public service, can scarcely be expected to give
cordial aid that may add to the credit and promote the interests of a
rival. To the people themselves such services, from a locally connected
private practitioner, are generally less acceptable than those of an
independent and responsible public officer. The official service must,
in time, fail to inspire confidence, for it must fail to elicit evidence
to justify public confidence. The additional expense of the three
additional officers will only have created an additional interest, in
slurring over cases that may have been overlooked by the other class of
officers, involving blame for remissness to the superior officers. When
exposures do take place, these two classes of officers will only add to
the means of perplexing public attention, and of dividing and weakening
responsibility. If less than half the number of officers, devoting their
whole time to the service, would be sufficient (as will be shown they
would), for the efficient discharge of these highly important duties in
London, less than one-third of the number would suffice in Paris.

§ 139. Except in the regulation of the expenses of the funerals, there
appears to be nothing in the practice of interments in Paris, that
deserves to be considered with a view to imitation. Indeed, the whole
arrangements there are now under revision, and exertions are being made
for their improvement. The little account that appears to have been at
any time made of the feelings of the labouring classes, and the burial
after dissection, of the poor dying in hospitals, without funereal
rites, the almost total omission of any marks of sympathy or respect
towards their remains,—cannot but have a most demoralizing effect on the
survivors. The mode in which the evil of the retention of the corpse
amidst the living is provided for by the law, which requires that
interments shall take place within twenty-four hours after notice, must
frequently oppress the feelings of the dying and of survivors, and
harass them with alarms which the medical inspection provided, as we
have seen, § 137, is not of a character to allay. The intermediate stage
of removal provided at Franckfort and other German towns; the retention
of the corpse in a separate room warmed and ventilated, and watched at
all hours, and lighted during the night; the regular medical attendance
and inspection, and other cares bestowed until there are unequivocal
signs of dissolution, and the minds of all classes are satisfied,
appears to be a superior arrangement, salutary in its effect and
principle.[29] Beyond these benevolent arrangements may be commended the
acts of real good will and charity by which the feelings of the
labouring classes are consulted and satisfied by community of sepulture,
and the benevolent care and spirit of good will in which it appears to
be maintained.

 _Experience in respect to the sites of Places of Burial, and sanitary
               precautions necessary in respect to them._

There appear to be very important questions connected with the
consideration of the site of the place of burial to populous districts.

§ 140. The question of the distance of places of burial (irrespective of
convenience of conveyance) appears to be dependent on the numbers
buried,—on the composition and preparation of the ground,—on the
elevation or depression of the place of burial,—and its exposure to the
atmosphere and the direction of the prevalent winds for the avoidance of

§ 141. The extent of burial ground requisite for any district will be
determined by the rate of decomposition.

§ 142. At Franckfort and Munich, and in the other new cemeteries on the
continent, where qualified persons have paid attention to the subject,
the general rule is not to allow more than one body in a grave. The
grounds for this rule are,—that, when only one body is deposited in a
grave, the decomposition proceeds regularly,—the emanations are more
diluted and less noxious than when the mass of remains is greater; and
also that the inconvenience of opening the graves, of allowing escapes
of miasma, and the indecency of disturbing the remains for new
interments, is thereby avoided; and in the case of exhumations, the
confusion and danger of mistaking the particular body is prevented.

§ 143. The progress of the decay of the body is various, according to
the nature of the soil and the surrounding agencies. Clayey soils are
antiseptic; they retain the gases, as explained by Mr. Leigh; they
exclude the external atmosphere, and are also liable to the
inconvenience of becoming deeply fissured in hot weather and then
allowing the escape of the emanations which have been retained in a
highly concentrated state. Loamy, ferruginous, and aluminous soils, moor
earth, and bog, are unfavourable to decomposition; sandy, marly, and
calcareous soils are favourable to it. Water, at a low temperature, has
the tendency, as already explained, to promote only a languid
decomposition, which sometimes produces adipocire in bodies: a high and
dry temperature tends to produce the consistency and permanency of
mummies. A temperature of from 65 degrees Fahrenheit and upwards, and a
moist atmosphere, is the most favourable to decomposition. The remains
of the young decompose more rapidly than those of the old, females than
males, the fat than the lean. The remains of children decompose very
rapidly. On opening the graves of children at a period of six or seven
years, the bodies have been found decomposed, not even the bones
remaining, whilst the bodies of the adults were but little affected. The
process of decomposition is also affected by the disease by which the
death was occasioned. The process is delayed by the make of some sorts
of coffins. The extreme variations of the process under such
circumstances as those above recited is from a few months to 30 years or
half a century. Bones often last for centuries.

§ 144. The regulation of the depth of the graves has been found to be a
subject requiring great attention, to avoid occasioning too rapid an
evolution of miasma from the remains, and at the same time to avoid its
retention and corruption, to avoid the pollution of distant springs, and
also to avoid rendering increased space for burial requisite by the
delay of decomposition usually produced by deep burial, for the ground
usually becomes hard in proportion to the depth, and delays the
decomposition. Attention to these circumstances by qualified persons in
Germany has led to different regulations of the depth of graves at
different ages. At Stuttgart the different depths are as follows: for
bodies of persons—

                                        ft. in.
                         Under 8 years    3   9
                         8 to 10 years    4   7
                         10 to 14 years   5   7
                         Adults           6   7

At the Glasshutte, in the Erzgebirge, the depths are as follows:

                                       ft. in.
                         Under 8 years   3   8
                         8 to 14 years   4   7
                         Adults          5   0

At Franckfort the average depth prescribed for graves is 5 ft. 7 in.; at
Munich 6 ft. 7 in.; in France 4 ft. 10 in. to 6 ft.; in Austria 6 ft. 2
in., if lime be used.

§ 145. Space between graves is also a matter requiring attention to
avoid the uncovering of the coffin in one grave in opening another, and
to avoid the accidents arising from the falling in of the sides of the
graves: this space must vary according to the consistency of the ground
and the depth of the graves. At Munich and Stuttgart the space
prescribed, is in round numbers, rather more than 32 square feet to each
adult. To avoid treading on the graves, and to allow the access of
friends, spaces must be allowed also for walks.

These circumstances considered, the space requisite for the interments
in a town may be determined by the multiplication of the average square
superficies of a grave, by the average yearly mortality, and the period
of years which the grave is to remain closed. “As an example,” says Dr.
Reicke, “of the mode of calculating the necessary space for the burial
ground of a populous district, I will take a town of 35,000 inhabitants.
Accordingly of this number it may be reckoned there will yearly die
1000. Of the number 500 will be adults, 50 children, from 7 to 14, and
450 children from 0 to 7 years. For the adults, allowing more than the
most economical space, I calculate graves of 48 square feet Wirtemburg
(_i. e._ 54·72 square feet English); for the children between 7 and 14
years, 24 square feet (27·36 English feet); and for those under 7, 20
square feet (22·80 English). For the adults I take a period of 10 years,
for the youth 8 years, for the infants 7 years, as the time during which
periods the grave must not be opened.” According to this calculation the
space required for the interment of the several classes would be—

                        English   Numbers            English
                        Square     Dead.    Years.   Square
                         Feet.                        Feet.
            1. Adults.    54·72 ×     500 ×     10 = 273,600
            2. Youth.     27·36 ×      50 ×      8 =  10,944
            3. Infants.   22·80 ×     450 ×      7 =  71,820
                                   Total             356,364

“According to the usual calculation the requisite space would be:—

                     39·90 × 1,000 × 10 = 399,000.

So that, by the above calculation and classification, there is a saving
of 42,636 square feet.

“I must, however, beg to be understood that this calculation is only
meant to serve as an example, and that the factors on which it is
grounded must undergo the necessary variations, according as the soil is
more or less favourable to decomposition, and therefore requiring a
longer or shorter period of rest; and according to the greater or less
consistency of the soil, and therefore requiring the space between the
graves to be greater or less; and, lastly, according as the average
mortality varies, and especially the rate of mortality of the three
classes of ages.”

These factors would give different results for different populations,
according to their different proportions of death. As an example of a
town population, in Whitechapel the proportion of deaths for every
35,000 of the population will be 1125 deaths yearly. As an example of a
rural population, for every 35,000 of the population in Hereford, there
will only be 562 deaths annually, and the space required for interments
for the two populations will be as follows, at the actual rate of deaths
per 35,000 amongst the population in the Whitechapel Union in 1839:

                  English                              Total    Average
                  Square     Number of    Age of      Area in   Square
                   Feet.      Deaths.     Grave.      Square     Feet.
 1. Adults.          54·72 ×       568 ×        10 =   310,810
 2. Youths.          27·36 ×        31 ×         8 =     6,785
 3. Children.        22·80 ×       524 ×         7 =    83,639
                                 —————                 ———————
                                 1,123                 401,234     39·07
                                 —————                 ———————     —————

Rate of deaths per 35,000 in the Herefordshire Unions in 1839:

                  English                              Total    Average
                  Square     Number of    Age of      Area in   Square
                   Feet.      Deaths.     Grave.      Square     Feet.
 1. Adults.          54·72 ×       382 ×        10 =   209,030
 2. Youths.          27·36 ×        16 ×         8 =     3,502
 3. Children.        22·80 ×       164 ×         7 =    26,174
                                   ———                 ———————
                                   562                 238,706     44·62
                                   ———                 ———————     —————

 This gives for a rural population                  976 graves per acre.
 For a town population                            1,117 graves per acre.

But in consequence of the smaller proportion of children dying in the
rural district, a larger space is requisite than would appear from a
comparative number of the interments if the graves were of the same
size. The average size of the different graves may be taken as an
epitome of the strength of the same numbers of the two populations: that
of the town grave being in round numbers 39 feet, while the rural grave
is 44 feet.

Nevertheless, the extent of land requisite for cemetery, on a decennial
period of renewal, for a population of 20,000 in a rural district would
be only 4–4/10 acres, whilst for 20,000 of such a town population as
that of Whitechapel, it would be 7–4/10 acres.

§ 146. In 1838 the deaths in the metropolis were nearly 52,000; and for
round numbers the average maybe taken as 50,000 annually. Such an amount
of mortality would require on the scale proposed by Dr. Riecke, for the
several classes of graves, about 48 acres, or a space of nearly the size
of St. James’s Park within the rails, annually. On the same scale,
supposing the interments generally renewable in decennial periods, the
space required for national cemeteries in the metropolis would be 444
acres, or a space coextensive with Hyde Park, which has 350 acres, and
the Green Park and St. James’s Park put together; or rather more than
one-fourth more than the Regent’s Park, which has 350 acres; or
one-fourth less space than the Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens taken
together. But besides the spaces for the cemeteries, spaces would be
requisite as belts of land surrounding them, and to be kept clear of

§ 147. The proper distance of places of interment from houses, is
calculable according to the number of interments. On this subject there
have been some, though not complete observations. There is a church-yard
at Stuttgart, in which 500 bodies are interred yearly, at depths varying
with the age, according to the scale of regulations stated, with no more
than one corpse in each grave, yet a north-west wind renders the
emanations from the ground perceptible in houses distant from 250 to 300
paces. The stench of the carrion pits at Montfaucon is almost
insupportable to a person not used to it, at a distance of 6500 feet,
and with certain winds at double that distance, and under some
circumstances even to the distance of five miles. Besides the surface
emanations, the pollution of the subsoil drainage and springs have to be
regarded. Captain Vetch states, that on some plains in Mexico, where
animals have been slaughtered and buried in pits in permeable ground,
the effects on vegetation were to be seen along the edges of a brook for
a distance of three-quarters of a mile. In some parts they actually
slaughtered and buried animals for the purpose of influencing the
surrounding vegetation. By the best regulations in Germany, as already
stated, wells are forbidden to be sunk near grave-yards, except at
certain distances, such as 300 feet. _Ante_, §§ 13, 14.

§ 148. On such data as have been obtained, the distance of a cemetery
ought to vary according to its size, or the number of the population for
whom burial is required. The cemetery for a small population of from 500
to 1000 inhabitants, should, Dr. Reicke considers, be not less than 150
paces; for 1000 to 5000 inhabitants, not less than 300 paces; for above
5000, not less than 500 paces. In Prussia, the distance from houses at
which cemeteries may be built, is fixed at not less than 500 paces; at
Stralsund, in Prussia, at 1000 paces.

§ 149. It is recommended that in general public cemeteries should be
placed at the east or the north, or the north-east of a town: the south
and south-west winds, being usually moist, hold the putrefactive gases
in solution more readily than the north, or north-east winds, which are
dry. The higher the elevation of a cemetery, the nearer may it be
permitted to a city, as putrefactive gases are lighter than the
atmosphere and ascend. For the same reason, cemeteries lower than the
houses should be at a greater distance. A site, with a slope to the
south, is deemed the best, as it will be drier and warmer, and
facilitate decomposition.

§ 150. Competent witnesses declare, that by a careful preparation of the
ground, and without any appliances that would be otherwise than
acceptable to the most fastidious minds, the escape of miasma may be so
regulated as to avoid all injury to the health, and springs may be
protected from pollution by drainage; and that by these means the
necessity of far distant sites, and the inconvenience and expense of
conveyance of the remains, and obstructions to the access of friends to
the place of burial, may be avoided.

§ 151. Amongst these means, one for preventing the escape of emanations
at the surface by absorbing and purifying them, is entirely in
accordance with the popular feeling. The great body of English poetry,
which it has been remarked is more rich on the subject of sepulture than
the poetry of any other nation, abounds with reference to the practice
of ornamenting graves with flowers, shrubs, and trees. A rich vegetation
exercises a powerful purifying influence, and where the emanations are
moderate, as from single graves, would go far to prevent the escape of
any deleterious miasma. It is conceived that the escapes of large
quantities of deleterious gasses by the fissuring of the ground would
often be in a very great degree prevented by turfing over the surface,
or by soiling, that is, by laying vegetable mould of five or six inches
in thickness and sowing it carefully with grasses whose roots spread and
mesh together. At the Abney Park Cemetery, where the most successful
attention is paid to the vegetation, this is done; but in some districts
of towns it marks the impurity of the common atmosphere that even grass
will not thrive; and that flowers and shrubs which live on the river
side, or in spaces open to the breeze, become weakly and die rapidly in
the enclosed spaces in the crowded districts. Several species of
evergreens, and the plants which have gummy or resinous leaves, that are
apt to retain soot or dust, die quickly. The influence, therefore, of a
full variety of flowers and a rich vegetation, so necessary for the
actual purification of the atmosphere, as well as to remove associations
of impurity, and refresh the eye and soothe the mind, can only be
obtained at a distance from most towns. It occasionally happens that
individuals incur expense to decorate graves in the town churchyards
with flowers, and more would do so, even in the churchyards near
thoroughfares, but that they perish.

§ 152. Mr. Loudon recommends for planting in cemeteries, trees chiefly
of the fastigiate growing kinds, which neither cover a large space with
their branches nor give too much shade when the sun shines, and which
admit light and air to neutralize any mephitic effluvia. Of these are,
the Oriental Arbor Vitæ, the Evergreen Cypress, the Swedish and Irish
Juniper, &c. For the same reason, trees of the narrow conical forms,
such as the Red Cedar, and various pines and firs are desirable. In
advantageously situated cemeteries, some of the larger trees, such as
the Cedar of Lebanon, the Oriental Plane, the Purple Beech, the dark
Yew, and the flowering Ash, sycamores, Mountain Ash, hollies, thorns,
and some species of oaks, such as the Evergreen Oak, the Italian Oak,
with flowering trees and shrubs, would find places in due proportion.

§ 153. There is one point of view in which the site of cemeteries does
not appear to have been considered on the continent, and perhaps in no
place could it be of so much importance as in London, namely, the
convenience of access for processions, including in the consideration
the protection of the inhabitants of particular quarters from an excess
of funereal processions, and the mourners from the conflicting
impressions consequent on a passage through thoroughfares crowded by a
population unavoidably inattentive. It might be found on a survey that
the banks of the river present several eligible sites for national
cemeteries, and one pre-eminent recommendation of such sites would be
the superior and economical means of conveyance they would afford by
appropriate funereal barges, for uninterrupted and noiseless passage
over what has been denominated “The Great Silent Highway.”

         _Extent of Burial Grounds existing in the Metropolis._

§ 154. The rule, as deduced (§ 142.) from the German practice, would
give an average of 110 burials per acre per annum in a town district.

§ 155. In 1834, some returns of the extent of burial grounds and the
number of burials during the three years preceding, in the places of
burial within the diocese of the Bishop of London and the bills of
mortality, were laid before the House of Commons. From those it appeared
that the ground occupied as burial ground within the diocese amounted to
103 acres, and that the average number of burials was 22,548, or 219 per
acre, being from 108 to 117 more per acre than the preceding rule would
give. In some grounds the number of interments were as high as 891 per
acre. But that return did not include the burials in the whole of the
metropolis. From the results of a systematic inquiry which has been
recently made throughout the whole district of the metropolis (as
defined in the report of the Registrar-General) into the extent of the
burial-grounds and the average weekly number of burials at each place,
it appears that the total area now occupied as burial ground, including
the new cemeteries, and the annual rate of burial in each class, is, as
nearly as can be ascertained, as follows:—

                 │          │  Annual  │ Average  │ Highest  │  Lowest
  Burial Grounds │          │Number of │  Annual  │Number of │Number of
      in the     │ Area in  │ Burials, │Number of │ Burials  │ Burials
   Metropolis.   │  Acres.  │exclusive │ Burials  │ per Acre │ per Acre
                 │          │ of Vault │per Acre. │  in any  │  in any
                 │          │ Burials. │          │ Ground.  │ Ground.
 Parochial       │  176–3/10│    33,747│       191│     3,073│        11
   Grounds       │          │          │          │          │
 Protestant      │          │          │          │          │
   Dissenters’   │    8–7/10│     1,715│       197│     1,210│         6
   Grounds       │          │          │          │          │
 Roman Catholics │    0–3/10│       270│     1,043│     1,613│       814
 Jews            │    9–2/10│       304│        33│        52│        13
 Swedish Chapel  │    0–1/10│        10│       108│          │
 Undescribed     │   10–9/10│     3,197│       294│     1,109│         5
 Private Grounds │   12–6/10│     5,112│       405│     2,323│        50
   Total of      │          │          │          │          │
   Intra-mural   │  218–1/10│    44,355│       203│     1,080│        46
   Grounds       │          │          │          │          │
   Total of New  │  260–5/10│     3,336│        13│       155│         4
   Cemeteries    │          │          │          │          │
   Vault Burials │          │       789│          │          │

The total numbers of burials, as ascertained by verbal inquiry at each
graveyard, approximate so nearly to the total numbers of deaths as to
afford a presumption in favour of the general accuracy of these

§ 156. The most crowded burial grounds, on the average, are, it appears,
the grounds which belong to private individuals, usually undertakers. In
these places an uneducated man generally acts as minister, puts on a
surplice, and reads the church service, or any other service that may be
called for. These grounds are morally offensive, and appear to be
physically dangerous in proportion to the numbers interred in them. In
one of them the numbers interred appears to be at the rate of more than
2,300 per acre per annum. Names are given to these places by the owners,
importing connexion with congregations, but without any apparent
authority for doing so. They are repudiated by the most respectable
Dissenters. On this point it appears to be just to submit an extract
from a communication (on his individual responsibility) from the Rev.
John Blackburn, Pentonville, one of the secretaries of the Union of
Congregational Dissenters:—

  I have no facts to communicate relating to the _physical_ effects
  produced by the present crowded state of the old grave-yards, but I
  am sure the moral sensibilities of many delicate minds must sicken
  to witness the heaped soil, saturated and blackened with human
  remains and fragments of the dead, exposed to the rude insults of
  ignorant and brutal spectators. Immediately connected with this,
  allow me to mention that some spots that have been chosen both by
  episcopalians and dissenters, are wet and clayey, so that the splash
  of water is heard from the graves, as the coffins descend, producing
  a shudder in every mourner. I may with confidence disclaim the
  imputation that the grave-yards of dissenters were primarily and
  chiefly established with a view to emolument. Many grave-yards that
  are private property, purchased by undertakers for their own
  emolument, are regarded as dissenting burial grounds, and we are
  implicated in the censures that are pronounced upon the unseemly and
  disgusting transactions that have been detected in them.—These are
  not dissenting but general cemeteries: dissenters use them for the
  reasons already stated [which are omitted, being the objections
  urged by dissenters against the indiscriminate use of the burial
  service.] The pastor of the bereaved family accompanies them to the
  grave, or meets them there, adapts his ministrations to their known
  circumstances, and without fee or reward—except in rare
  cases—discharges them as part of his pastoral work. By far the
  greatest portion of the persons buried in these grounds are not
  dissenters at all; and to meet the feelings of their connections the
  proprietors of these grounds obtain the services of men, who,
  without scruple, ape the clergyman, assume the surplice, and read
  the service of the church; a fact which is sufficient to show that
  they are not dissenters themselves, nor seeking to conciliate
  dissenting objections. The congregational or independent
  denomination, to which I belong, have about 120 chapels in and
  around London, and I believe there is not more than a sixth part of
  them that have grave yards attached, and all those are not in the
  hands of trustees appointed by the people. But, as far as I know and
  believe, there are but very few of these open to the sweeping
  censures that have been pronounced upon them. At a recent meeting of
  the congregational ministers of the metropolis they resolved, “That
  this board will always hail with satisfaction the adoption of any
  efficient means to correct abuses connected with burial grounds, as
  well general as parochial, where such abuses are proved to exist;”
  and I trust that the character of dissenters in general for good
  citizenship, is sufficient to assure you that they will never permit
  their private interests to oppose any great measures for our social
  improvement that are really national in their spirit and design.

As the sufficiency of the burial grounds existing within the metropolis
does not properly come into question under the general conclusion that
there ought to be none there, the only observation I at present submit
upon the space of ground now occupied is that it would serve hereafter
advantageously to be kept open as public ground.

§ 157. The well considered regulations then, give about 1452 common
graves per acre for a town population. § 145. In the arrangements made
for cemeteries belonging to a joint stock company, it is calculated that
every acre of ground filled with vaults and private graves, will receive
no less than 11,000 bodies. On the average size of coffins of 6 feet 3
by 1 foot 9, the common estimate is that the floor of an acre will
receive 3,887 coffins laid side by side.

§ 158. Another calculation for the produce of a company’s cemetery, is
that each grave will be 6 feet by 2 feet, or 12 square feet, or 3630
graves to the acre (which contains 43,560 square feet), and that every
grave shall contain 10 coffins in each grave. Twenty-five shillings is
charged for each coffin interred: hence each acre is calculated to
produce, when filled (without reference to the public health), a gross
sum of 45,375_l._ In one instance, where the burials in a company’s
cemetery were five deep, the sales of graves actually made were at a
rate of 17,000_l._ per acre, gross produce.

§ 159. The retention of bodies in leaden coffins in vaults is objected
to, as increasing the noxiousness of the gases, which sooner or later
escape, and when in vaults beneath churches, create a miasma which is
apt to escape through the floor, whenever the church is warmed.[31] In
Austria, and in other states, interment in lead is prohibited. In the
majority of cases in England, burial in lead, as well as in other
expensive coffins, appears to be generally promoted by the undertakers,
to whom they are the most profitable. The Emperor Joseph, of Austria, on
the knowledge of the more deleterious character of concentrated
emanations from the dead, forbade the use even of coffins, and directed
that all people should be buried in sacks; but this excited discontent
amongst his subjects, who agreed in the sanitary principle of the
measure, but complained that, putting them in sacks, was treating them
as the Turks would do, and the regulation was altered for burial in
coffins made of pine, which decays rapidly.

§ 160. It is to be observed as an improved direction of the public mind
in the British metropolis, that on the part of persons who have the
means of defraying the expenses of vaults, an increasing preference of
inhumation is manifested, and that it is found by cemetery companies
that catacombs prepared for sale are not so much in demand as was
anticipated from the proportion in which they were in demand in the
parochial burial grounds. The state of some of the places of common
burial has evidently been such as to lead to the practice of entombment
in preference to inhumation. The associations commonly expressed with
inhumation (_redditur enim terræ corpus, et ita locatum ac situm, quasi
operimento matris obducitur_, Cic. de legibus) were with a purer earth.
In the most carefully regulated cemeteries in Germany the sale of any
portions in perpetuity is entirely prohibited. The recent investigation
of the disorders which have arisen in the management of the Parisian
cemeteries, has led to a conclusion for the adoption of the same
regulation, it having been found that, in time, families become extinct,
or fall into decay; that a proportion of the tombs and vaults are
neglected and fall into ruins, and detract from the general good keeping
of the rest. Under such circumstances the private tombs too frequently
raise associations of a character the very opposite of those intended by
the purchasers. Their numbers at the same time increase and continually
encroach on the spaces for general burial, and would ultimately occupy
the whole of the cemeteries; and in the progress of population would
absorb and hold large tracts of most important land near towns, in what
would literally be one of the worst species of mortmain.[32] It has,
therefore, been found necessary to restrict the sale of perpetuities in
vaults or graves, and to give only what may be called leases for years,
renewable on conditions, for the public protection.

§ 161. In the common grave-yards in the metropolis, the bones are
scattered about, or wheeled away to a bone-house, where they are thrown
into a heap. The feeling of the labouring classes at the sight of the
removal of the bones from an overcrowded churchyard was expressed in a
recent complaint, that those in charge of the place “would not give the
poor bones time to decay.” In Paris it is the custom to arrange skulls
and bones, in various forms, in catacombs: but they are offensive
objects; and the feelings of the poor man must be but ill consulted in
presenting to him, in these decayed and debased remains, the prospect of
the use of his own skull and bones to form part of a great and revolting
monument. A more beneficial arrangement is that in the better regulated
German cemeteries, where it is the invariable rule to remove from the
sight and to re-inter carefully, all bones, the object being to preserve
the associations of a gradual, inoffensive, and salutary restoration of
the material elements.

§ 162. By the Code Napoleon any one was permitted to be interred in his
own garden, or wheresoever he pleased. By the better considered
jurisprudence in Germany this liberty is withheld: because if the
practice were to become general, such decomposing remains would be
spread about without order, to the injury of the public health: it would
facilitate the burial of persons murdered; many by precipitate and
ill-regulated burial would be buried alive; many would be buried in this
mode to evade proper inquiries. An examination of the circumstances of
private and speculative burial grounds in this country developes many
facts, in corroboration of the soundness of the German jurisprudence on
this subject.

§ 163. The information with relation to material arrangements of the
public cemeteries in Germany is submitted, as showing how much there is
in their details of important questions of scientific appliances for
consideration, which, in the new cemeteries as well as in the old burial
grounds in this country, have generally been overlooked: appliances
which, even if they were practicable on a parochial scale of management,
would surely be little understood by the ordinary class of parochial
officers. Though the practice in Germany appears to be on most points in
advance, the inquiry has elicited various suggestions of probable
important improvements upon it, which it is thought unnecessary to
discuss, as being more fitted for investigation when new cemeteries have
been determined upon than at present. It may for the present suffice to
state, that a confident expectation is entertained by the best informed
witnesses, that were the attention of the most competent persons who
have hitherto been scared away, secured to the subject, still further
useful improvements would be in a very short time effected.

§ 164. The following portion of evidence from Dr. Lyon Playfair, which
adverts to the management of the evil in the common grave-yards, may
however be adduced as an example of the character of some of the
improvements already suggested.

  You have examined into the state of certain church-yards with
  reference to their sanitary effects; have you not?—I have examined
  various church-yards and burying-grounds for the purpose of
  ascertaining whether the layer of earth above the bodies is
  sufficient to absorb the putrid gases evolved. The carbonic acid gas
  would not in any case be absorbed, but it is not to this that the
  evil effects are to be attributed. The slightest inspection,
  however, shows that the putrid gases are not thoroughly absorbed by
  soil lying over the bodies. I know several church-yards from which
  most fœtid smells are evolved, and gases with similar odour are
  emitted from the sides of sewers passing in the vicinity of
  church-yards, although they may be above 30 feet from them. If these
  gases are thus evolved laterally they must be equally emitted in an
  upward direction. The worst burying-grounds which have come under my
  notice are those belonging to private persons, generally
  undertakers, who make their livelihood by interring at a cheap rate.
  I visited one of these only a few days since. It was about 150 feet
  long and about 30 broad, and had been used for 80 years as a burying
  ground, and was still a favourite place of interment among the poor.
  Of course many bodies are placed in one grave, and when the ground
  becomes too much raised by bodies, it is levelled, and the boxes,
  &c., exhumed during the levelling, are thrown into a large cellar
  fitted to receive them. This whole ground was a mass of corruption,
  as may well be supposed, and it is situated in a densely populated
  neighbourhood. I mention this case as one among many other similar
  cases of private burying-grounds, in order to suggest that attention
  should be paid in any alteration respecting the laws regulating
  interments, to prevent burying-grounds being kept as objects of
  pecuniary speculation, at least within towns; for this practice
  gives much inducement to violate every feeling of decency and regard
  for public health in the desire for gain.

  Can you suggest any method for preventing the escape of miasmata
  from graves, or from places for the interment of the dead?—I cannot
  suggest any methods as the results of experiment; but, at the same
  time, I think it possible that the evil might be much abated by the
  use of certain materials. For example, in a theoretical point of
  view, chloride of lime would be quite effectual, but it might not be
  applicable in practice, both from its expense, and from its great
  tendency to be decomposed. A cheap method of absorbing putrid
  effluvia, is by a mixture of charcoal from burnt tar, burnt clay,
  and gypsum. When such a mixture is mixed with putrid matter, all
  smell is immediately removed, and the matter is rendered inoffensive
  to health. When this mixture is strewed over decomposing animal and
  vegetable matter, it ceases to emit disagreeable odours. In like
  manner, if a layer of such a cheap mixture as this were thrown
  around and over a coffin, it would absorb probably the greatest
  part, if not all, of the putrid miasmata arising from the
  decomposition of the body. It possesses also this advantage, that it
  would not impair by keeping, even though the coffin did not burst
  for some years. I beg, however, again to state, that I throw this
  out as a mere suggestion, as I have never tried it in the case of
  graves, although I think it would be well worthy of a trial.
  Vegetation also ought to be encouraged over the graves. The
  legitimate food of plants is derived from decaying animal matter;
  for indeed all the food existing in the air, from which they derive
  their nutriment, is furnished to the atmosphere by the decay of
  organic matter. Plants assist in absorbing the emanations which
  escape from graves.

§ 165. It has been mentioned as an objection entertained in Germany to
the use of clayey soils, on the ground that they retain the gases, and
prevent that regular access of air which is necessary (as explained in a
portion of evidence already adduced) to allow decay to proceed without
putrefaction, which is the most dangerous condition. Good sand and good
gravel are of value in the metropolis. It is stated by a gentleman
connected with one of the cemeteries, and it is here mentioned to show
the prevalent want of knowledge, that it is the common practice when
sand and gravel are dug out to form a grave, not to return it, but to
fill in with the cheap and coarse, but retentive, London clay. Now the
grave-diggers frequently suffer severely in re-opening the graves which
are thus filled in by the retentive clay, and require to be stimulated
to their work by ardent spirits; and their ghastly appearance, as Mr.
Loudon observes, attests the sufferings which they undergo. In another
new cemetery, where the grass was very poor, the turf-mounds covering
some of the graves was trodden down; on inquiring the reason, it was
stated that sheep had been let in to eat the grass, to save the expense
of cutting it. Some of the trees and shrubs first planted had not
thriven well, and the officers stated that they had not yet been able to
persuade the directors to go to the expense of renewing them. In most
other cemeteries the plantations were in very good order, and several
presented points of improvement, in the architectural arrangements. But,
as observed by Mr. Loudon, “nearly all the new London cemeteries, and
most of the provincial cemeteries, adopt the practice of interring a
number of bodies in the same grave, without leaving a sufficient depth
over each coffin, to absorb the greater part of the gases of
decomposition.” It may indeed be confidently affirmed that there is
scarcely one of the new cemeteries in which one or other of the well
established principles of management, in the choice of the site, or the
preparation of the soil, or in the drainage, or in the mode of burial,
or in the numbers interred in one grave, or in respect to the
precautions to prevent the undue corruption of the remains and escapes
of dangerous morbific matter, or in the service and officers, or in
jurisprudential securities, is not overlooked. (§ 20.)

§ 166. In the cemetery at Liverpool, where Mr. Huskisson is interred, it
is the practice to pile the coffins of the poorest class in deep graves
or pits, one coffin over the other, with only a thin covering of earth
over each coffin until the pit is filled, when it holds upwards of
thirty, as the sexton expressed it, about “thirty-four big and little.”
The observation of several of the joint stock cemeteries, and their
estimates of future amounts of interments, not of one body in one grave,
but of bodies piled one over the other by five and even ten deep,
without any new precautions in respect to the emanations, the general
experience of the difficulty of effecting any change through commercial
associations that does not promise an immediate return for the expense
incurred, prove that, although they may be kept in a better condition to
the eye, there is no security that they will not be as injurious as any
common burial grounds, and stand as much in need of some regulations for
the protection of the inhabitants of the dwellings which in time may be
driven closer around them.

§ 167. Besides the improvements in formation of the cemeteries and
management of the interments, the regulations of the Franckfort and
Munich cemeteries present instances which it may here be proper to
submit for consideration, of the advantages derivable in aid of the
religious service from a better organized staff of officers in
maintaining superior order in the grounds on all occasions of solemnity.

§ 168. It will have been perceived how little support the clergymen have
in any appointed staff of officers to maintain order in the
burial-grounds of the more populous parishes. §§ 87, 88, and 111. On
occasions of several interments taking place in burial-grounds in the
metropolis at the same time, the master undertakers will volunteer their
services to get the crowd of by-standers into some order, and show how
much might be done by other and better superintendence to add to the
impressiveness of the last scene. The inferior attendants, the
grave-diggers, at the interments which I have witnessed at the new
cemeteries, attended, as they usually do at the parochial grounds, in a
disorderly condition—unshaven, dirty in person, in dirty shirts and in
the old and the common filthy dress. During the burial service the
undertakers’ men only concerned themselves in removing the feathers from
the hearse and preparing for an immediate return; all the attendants
began talking on other matters, and went their different ways
immediately the coffin was lowered; the mourners were left with the
utmost unconcern, except by the grave-diggers, who followed them in the
attitude of the usual solicitations of money for drink.

§ 169. A conception of the alterations required and practicable in
public establishments for conducting such a ceremony with due regard to
the feelings of the survivors and the public, may be formed by
inspecting the regulations of the cemetery at Franckfort, from which it
will be perceived that the superintendence of the cemetery, and of the
sextons in their various employments, is given to a cemetery inspector,
whose duties are described in the second section of the regulations, and
who must be a person of medical education, an officer of public health,
examined by the Sanitary Board, and found by them to be qualified. It is
specified as an important duty that he shall be present at the
interment, “in order that by his presence nothing may be done by his
subordinates, or by any other person, which should be contrary to the
dignity of the interment or to the regulations.”

The regulations also provide as follows:—

  (3.) For the performance of all the necessary arrangements preceding
  the interment, commissaries of interments are appointed to take the
  place of the so called undertakers. These commissaries have to
  arrange every thing connected with the funeral, and are responsible
  for the proper fulfilment of all the regulations given in their

  (4.) In order to prevent the great expense which was formerly
  occasioned by the attendance with the dead to the grave, bearers
  shall be appointed who shall attend to the cemetery all funerals,
  without distinction of rank or condition.

  To these bearers shall be given assistants, who shall be equally
  under the control of the interment commissaries.

  The commissary must see that the bearers are always cleanly and
  respectably dressed in black when they appear at a funeral, and must
  be particularly careful that they conduct themselves seriously,
  quietly, and respectably.

  He must also see that the carriage of the dead is not driven quickly
  either in the town or beyond it, but that it is conducted
  respectably at a proper quiet pace.

  When the dead is covered, and not until then, the commissary and the
  bearers shall leave the cemetery in perfect silence.

  For any impropriety which may, through the conduct of the bearers,
  arise during the interment, the commissary is responsible.

  (35.) The sextons must always be respectably dressed in black during
  the interment, and those who go to the house of mourning must always
  appear in neat and clean attire, and must be studious at all times,
  whether engaged within or without the churchyard, to preserve a
  modest and proper behaviour. Drunkenness, neglect of duty, or abuse
  of their services, will be punished by the Church Yard Commission,
  and on repetition of the offence, the offender will be dismissed.

A Christian attention and civility to all is required from the highest
public officer, without any fees or expense, and mendicancy on the part
of the inferior attendants, and the rapacity of the uneducated and of
the ill-educated, which always rushes in most strongly on the helpless,
are equally prohibited. Of the inspector himself, it is by these
regulations provided:—

  (17.) It is the duty of the inspector to treat all who have to apply
  to him with politeness and respect, and to give the required
  information unweariedly and with ready good will.

  Under no pretext is he allowed either to demand or receive any
  payment, as he has a sufficient salary.

And in respect to the other officers:—

  (40.) Besides, or in addition to the authorised payment printed in
  the tax roll, and determined by the Cemetery Commission as the
  sufficient remuneration of the Inspector, Commissioners of
  Interments, the bearers and sextons, no one is on the occasion of a
  death, either to give money, or to furnish food and drink.

  The practice of furnishing crape, gloves, lemons, &c., by the
  friends of the dead, is also given up, and the persons engaged in
  conducting the interment, must take all the requisites with them,
  without asking or receiving any compensation, under pain of instant

§ 170. It is now a prevalent complaint, which, so far as the present
inquiry has proceeded, appears to be a just one, that in the management
of the common grave-yards in this country, human remains are literally
treated as earth, by the sextons and gravediggers, and ignorant men to
whom that management falls. The popular sentiments are offended by such
open practices as that of using an iron borer, to bore down and
ascertain whether the ground is occupied by a coffin, and whether it and
the contents are sufficiently decayed for removal. Were proper
registries kept of all interments and their sites, these, and a
knowledge of natural operations, would render such offensive processes
unnecessary. There appear to be few parochial grounds in which the
remains of any individual of the poorer classes could be found with
certainty, for exhumation, or for judicial or other purposes.

§ 171. In the German regulations cited as examples, the public feeling
is carefully consulted, and the general principle is acted upon, that
the remains, so long as they last, are sacred, and must even be dealt
with as sentient. Year after year the regulations for the care of the
dead in the house of reception preparatory to interment are scrupulously
maintained, on the presumption that a revival may take place, and the
action upon the presumption is not relaxed, although perhaps there is no
actual probability of such an event taking place. Persons are kept in
attendance at the cemetery on this presumption, and with respect to them
it is expressly provided:—

  (7.) If roughness be shown by a nurse to the dead, he must be
  punished with instant dismissal, and a notification of the same must
  be given by the Cemetery Commission, to the police, in order that
  proper inquiry and punishment be given.

 _Moral influence of seclusion from thronged places, and of decorative
Improvements in National Cemeteries, and arrangements requisite for the
              satisfactory performance of Funeral Rites._

§ 172. The images presented to the mind by the _visible_ arrangements
for sepulture, are inseparably associated with the ideas of death itself
to the greater proportion of the population. Neglected or mismanaged
burial grounds superadd to the indefinite terrors of dissolution, the
revolting image of festering heaps, disturbed and scattered bones, the
prospect of a charnel house and its associations of desecration and
insult. With burial grounds that are undrained, for example, the
associations expressed by the labouring classes on the occasion of
burial there, are similar to those which would arise on plunging a
sentient body into a “watery grave.” Where there is nothing visible to
raise such painful associations, a feeling of dislike is manifested to
the “common” burial grounds in crowded districts, or to their
“dreariness” in the districts which are the least frequented.

The Rev. H. H. Milman, the rector of St. Margaret’s, Westminster,
probably adverts to these associations when questioned before the
Committee of the House of Commons with reference to the expediency of
discontinuing burial in his own parish.

  2744. In reference to the churchyard of St. Margaret’s, is that full
  or not?—It is very full.

  2745. Can you with convenience inter there?—My own opinion is, that
  interment ought to be discontinued there for several reasons; not
  because I have ever heard of any noxious effect upon the health of
  the neighbourhood, _but on account of the public situation; it is a
  thoroughfare_, and, in point of fact, it has been a cemetery so
  long, and it is so crowded, that interment cannot take place without
  interfering with previous interments.

Mr. Wordsworth, in a paper first published by Mr. Coleridge, has thus
expressed the same sentiments, and the feelings, which it is submitted,
are entitled to regard, in legislating upon this subject:—

“In ancient times, as is well known, it was the custom to bury the dead
beyond the walls of towns and cities, and among the Greeks and Romans
they were frequently interred by the way sides.

“I could here pause with pleasure, and invite the reader to indulge with
me in contemplation of the advantages which must have attended such a
practice. We might ruminate on the beauty which the monuments thus
placed must have borrowed from the surrounding images of nature, from
the trees, the wild flowers, from a stream running within sight or
hearing, from the beaten road, stretching its weary length hard by. Many
tender similitudes must these objects have presented to the mind of the
traveller, leaning upon one of the tombs, or reposing in the coolness of
its shades, whether he had halted from weariness, or in compliance with
the invitation, ‘Pause traveller,’ so often found upon the monuments.
And to its epitaph must have been supplied strong appeals to visible
appearances or immediate impressions, lively and affecting analogies of
life as a journey—death as a sleep overcoming the tired wayfarer—of
misfortune as a storm that falls suddenly upon him—of beauty as a flower
that passeth away, or of innocent pleasure as one that may be
gathered—of virtue that standeth firm as a rock against the beating
waves, of hope undermined insensibly like the poplar by the side of the
river that has fed it, or blasted in a moment like a pine tree by the
stroke of lightning on the mountain top—of admonitions and
heart-stirring remembrances, like a refreshing breeze that comes without
warning, or the taste of the waters of an unexpected fountain. These and
similar suggestions must have given formerly, to the language of the
senseless stone, a voice enforced and endeared by the benignity of that
nature with which it was in unison.

“We in modern times have lost much of these advantages; and they are but
in a small degree counter-balanced to the inhabitants of large towns and
cities, by the custom of depositing the dead within or contiguous to
their places of worship, however splendid or imposing may be the
appearance of those edifices, or however interesting or salutary may be
the associations connected with them. Even were it not true, that tombs
lose their monitory virtue when thus obtruded upon the notice of men
occupied with the cares of the world, and too often sullied and defiled
by those cares; yet still, when death is in our thoughts, nothing can
make amends for the want of the soothing influences of nature, and for
the absence of those types of renovation and decay which the fields and
woods offer to the notice of the serious and contemplative mind. To feel
the force of this sentiment, let a man only compare, in imagination, the
unsightly manner in which our monuments are crowded together in the
busy, noisy, unclean, and almost grassless churchyard of a large town,
with the still seclusion of a Turkish cemetery in some remote place, and
yet further sanctified by the grove of cypress in which it is

§ 173. Careful visible arrangements, of an agreeable nature, raise
corresponding mental images and associations which diminish the terrors
incident to the aspect of death. Individuals who have purchased portions
of decorated cemeteries for their own interment in the metropolis, make
a practice of visiting them for the sake, doubtless, of those solemn but
tranquil thoughts which the place inspires as personally connected with
themselves. The establishment of a cemetery at Highgate was strongly
opposed by the inhabitants, but when its decorations with flowers and
shrubs and trees, and its quiet and seclusion were seen, applications
were made for the purchase of keys, which conferred the privilege of
walking in the cemetery at whatever time the purchaser pleased. If the
chief private cemeteries in the suburbs of the metropolis were thrown
open on a Sunday, they would on fine days be often thronged by a
respectful population. Such private cemeteries as have been formed,
though pronounced to be only improvements on the places of burial in
this country, and far below what it would yet be practicable to
accomplish, have indisputably been viewed with public satisfaction, and
have created desires of further advances by the erection of national
cemeteries. Abroad the national cemeteries have obtained the deepest
hold on the affections of the population. I have been informed by an
accomplished traveller, who has carefully observed their effects, that
cemeteries have been established near to all the large towns in the
United States. To some of these cemeteries an horticultural garden is
attached; the garden walks being connected with the places of interment,
which, though decorated, are kept apart. Those cemeteries are places of
public resort, and are there observed, as in other countries, to have a
powerful effect in soothing the feelings of those who have departed
friends, and in refining the feelings of all. At Constantinople, the
place of promenade for Europeans is the cemetery at Pera, which is
planted with cypress, and has a delightful position on the side of a
hill overlooking the Golden Horn. The greatest public cemetery attached
to that capital is at Scutari, which forms a beautiful grove, and
disputes in attraction, as a place for readers, with the fountains and
cloisters of the Mosques.

§ 174. In Russia, almost every town of importance has its burial place
at a distance from the town, laid out by the architect of the
government. It is always well planted with trees, and is frequently
ornamented with good pieces of sculpture. Nearly every German town has
its cemetery at a distance from the town, planted with trees and
ornamented with public and private monuments. Most of the cemeteries
have some choice works of art or public monument, which alone would
render them an object of attraction. For instance, at Saxe Weimar, the
cemetery contains the tombs of Goethe and Schiller placed in the
mausoleum of the ducal family. In Turkey, Russia, and Germany the poorer
classes have the advantages of interment in the national cemeteries. In
Russia it is the practice to hold festivals twice a-year over the graves
of their friends. In several parts of Germany similar customs prevail.
At Munich, the festival on All Saints’ Day (November the 1st) is
described as one of the most extraordinary spectacles that is to be seen
in Europe.[33] The tombs are decorated in a most remarkable manner with
flowers, natural and artificial, branches of trees, canopies, pictures,
sculptures, and every conceivable object that can be applied to ornament
or decorate. The labour bestowed on some tombs requires so much time,
that it is commenced two or three days beforehand, and protected while
going on by a temporary roof. During the whole of the night preceding
the 1st of November, the relations of the dead are occupied in
completing the decoration of the tombs, and during the whole of All
Saints’ Day and the day following, being All Souls’ Day, the cemetery is
visited by the entire population of Munich, including the king and
queen, who go there on foot, and many strangers from distant parts. Mr.
Loudon states that, when he was there, it was estimated that 50,000
persons had walked round the cemetery in one day, the whole, with very
few exceptions, dressed in black. On November the 3rd, about mid-day,
the more valuable decorations are removed, and the remainder left to
decay from the effects of time and weather.

§ 175. A review of the circumstances influencing the public feeling, and
of the tendencies marked by the recent changes of practice in this
country, and of the effects of the public institutions for interment
amongst other civilised nations, enforce the conclusion that those
arrangements to which the attention of the population is so earnestly
directed, should be made with the greatest care, and that places of
public burial demand the highest order of art in laying out the sites,
and decorating them with trees and architectural structures of a solemn
and elevating character. National arrangements with such objects, would
be followed up and supported by the munificence of private individuals,
and by various communities. It is observable in the metropolis, and in
the larger towns that the direction of private feeling in the choice of
sepulture is less affected by locality or neighbourhood, than by classes
of profession or occupation, or social communion when living, and that
such feeling would tend to association in the grave and monumental
decoration. A proposal has been in circulation for the purchase of a
portion of one of the new cemeteries, for the erection of a mausoleum
for persons of the naval and military professions—members of the United
Service clubs. At the public cemetery of Mayence are interred 150
veteran soldiers, officers and privates, natives of the town, who were
buried in one spot, denoted by a monument on which each man’s name and
course of service is inscribed in gold letters, and the monument is
surmounted by a statue of the general under whom they served. At Berlin
there is a cemetery connected with the _Invaleiden haus_ founded by
Frederick the Great, in which many of the generals are buried with the
private soldiers. The ground is well laid out, and ornamented with
monuments, the latest of which are executed by Tieck, and other
celebrated sculptors. This cemetery forms the favourite walk of the old
soldiers. The great moral force, and the consolation to the dying and
the incentive to public spirit whilst living, derivable from the natural
regulations of a public cemetery, is almost entirely lost in this
country, except in the few cases where public monuments are provided in
the cathedrals. In the metropolis it would be very difficult to find the
graves of persons of minor fame who have advanced or adorned any branch
of civil or military service, or have distinguished themselves in any
art or science. Yet there are few occupations which could not furnish
examples for pleasurable contemplation to the living who are engaged in
them, and claim honour from the public. The humblest class of artisans
would feel consolation and honour in interment in the same cemetery with
Brindley, with Crompton, or with Murdoch, the artisan who assisted and
carried out the conceptions of Watt; or with Emerson, or with Simpson,
the hand-loom weaver, who became professor of mathematics at Woolwich;
or with Ferguson, the shepherd’s son; or with Dollond, the improver of
telescopes, whose earliest years were spent at a loom in Spitalfields;
or with others who “have risen from the wheelbarrow” and done honour to
the country, and individually gained public attention from the ranks of
privates; such for example as John Sykes, Nelson’s cockswain, an old and
faithful follower, who twice saved the life of his admiral by parrying
the blows that were aimed at him, and at last actually interposed his
own person to meet the blow of an enemy’s sabre which he could not by
any other means avert, and who survived the dangerous wound he received
in this act of heroic attachment. The greater part of the means of
honour and moral influence on the living generation derivable from the
example of the meritorious dead of every class, is at present in the
larger towns cast away in obscure grave-yards and offensive charnels.
The artisans who are now associated in communities which have from their
beneficent objects a claim to public regard, might if they chose it have
their spaces set apart for the members of their own occupation, and
whilst they derive interest from association with each other, they would
also derive consolation from accommodation within the same precincts as
the more public and illustrious dead.

§ 176. It is due to the memory of Sir Christopher Wren, to state that
extra-mural or suburban cemeteries formed part of his plan for the
rebuilding of London after the great fire. “I would wish,” says he,
“that all burials in churches might be disallowed, which is not only
unwholesome, but the pavements can never be kept even, nor pews upright:
and if the church-yard be close about the church, this is also
inconvenient, because the ground being continually raised by the graves,
occasions in time a descent by steps into the church, which renders it
damp, and the walls green, as appears evidently in all old churches. It
will be inquired where, then, shall be the burials?—I answer, in
cemeteries seated in the outskirts of the town; and since it has become
the fashion of the age to solemnize funerals by a train of coaches (even
where the deceased are of moderate condition), though the cemeteries
should be half a mile or more distant from the church, the charge need
be little or no more than usual; the service may be first performed in
the church: but for the poor and such as must be interred at the parish
charge, a public hearse of two wheels and one horse may be kept at small
expense, the usual bearers to lead the horse, and take out the corpse at
the grave. A piece of ground of two acres, in the fields, will be
purchased for much less than two roods amongst the buildings. This being
enclosed with a strong brick wall, and having a walk round, and two
cross walks, decently planted with yew trees, the four quarters may
serve four parishes, where the dead need not be disturbed at the
pleasure of the sexton, or piled four or five upon one another, or bones
thrown out to gain room. In these places beautiful monuments may be
erected; but yet the dimensions should be regulated by an architect, and
not left to the fancy of every mason; for thus the rich with large
marble tombs would shoulder out the poor: when a pyramid, a good bust,
or statue on a proper pedestal will take up little room in the quarters,
and be properer than figures lying on marble beds: the walls will
contain escutcheons and memorials for the dead, and the real good air
and walks for the living. It may be considered, further, that if the
cemeteries be thus thrown into the fields, they will bound the excessive
growth of the city with a graceful border which is now encircled with
scavenger’s dung-stalls.”[34]

§ 177. I might submit the concurrent opinions of several distinguished
clergymen, communicated in reference to the general view of the
importance of a large change in the practice of town interments, and the
formation of suburban cemeteries, as being indeed conformable to the
practice of the Jews and early Christians, and recognised in the words
“There was a dead man carried _out_.” It was the ancient practice, as is
perhaps indicated in the term exsequies, to bury outside of the
town.[35] To this practice it is clear that the earliest Christians
conformed. It was their custom to assign to the martyrs the most
conspicuous places, over which altars or monuments were erected, where
the believers used to assemble for nightly worship, so that it may
rather be said of them that their burial places were their churches,
than that their churches were their burial places.[36] When the temples
of the heathen gods were converted into Christian churches, the _bones_
or relics of these illustrious persons, together with the altars, were
removed and placed within the churches. The early practice of burial in
the cemeteries near the earthly remains of those holy persons, being
deemed a great privilege when those remains were removed, naturally led
to the idea of its continuation, by the interment of _bodies_ in or
about the first accustomed objects of worship. Nevertheless, interment
in the interior of the church was held to be an unusual piece of good
fortune, and when the Emperor Constantine, who had constituted
Christianity the religion of the state, had granted to him a grave
within the porticos of the church, it was esteemed the most unheard-of
distinction. The ancient Greeks and Romans thought that a corpse
contaminated a sacred place, and this idea as to the corpse was retained
by the early Christians. When some persons in Constantinople began to
make an invasion upon the laws, under pretence that there was no express
prohibition of burying in churches, Theodosius, by a new law, equally
forbade them burying in cities and burying in churches; and this whether
it was only the ashes or relics of any bodies kept above ground in urns
or whole bodies laid in coffins; for the same reasons that the old laws
had assigned, viz., that they might be examples and memorials of
mortality and the condition of human nature to all passengers, and also
that they might not defile the habitations of the living but leave it
pure and clean to them. St. Chrysostom, in one of his homilies upon the
martyrs, says, “As before when the festival of the Maccabees was
celebrated all the country came thronging into the city; so now when the
festival of the martyrs who lie buried in the country is celebrated, it
was fit the whole country should remove thither.” In like manner,
speaking of the festival of Drossis the martyr, he says, “Though they
had spiritual entertainment in the city, yet their going out to the
saints in the country afforded them both great profit and pleasure.” The
Council of Tribur, in the time of Charlemagne, to prevent the abuse of
burying within churches, decreed that _no layman_ should thenceforth be
buried within a church; and that if in any church graves were so
numerous that they could not be concealed by a pavement the place was to
be converted into a cemetery, and the altar to be removed elsewhere and
erected in a place where sacrifice could be religiously offered to God.

Amongst the distinct clerical orders of the Primitive Church, Bingham
(book iii. chap. 7) reckons the _Psalmistæ_, the _Copiatæ_, and the
_Parabolani_. The Psalmistæ, or the canonical singers, were appointed to
retrieve and improve the psalmody of the church. The business of the
Copiatæ was to take care of funerals and provide for the decent
interment of the dead. St. Jerome styles them _Fossarii_, from digging
of graves; and in Justinian’s Novels they are called _Lecticarii_, from
carrying the corpse or bier at funerals. And St. Jerome, speaking of one
that was to be interred, “The _Clerici_,” says he, “whose office it was,
wound up the body, digged the earth,” and so, according to custom, “made
ready the grave.” Constantine incorporated a body of men to the number
of 1100 in Constantinople, under the name of _Copiatæ_, for the service
in question, and so they continued to the time of Honorius and
Theodosius, junior, who reduced them to 950; but Anastatius augmented
them again to the first number, which Justinian confirmed by two novels,
published for that purpose. Their office was to take the whole care of
funerals upon themselves, and to see that all persons had a decent and
honourable interment. Especially they were obliged to perform this last
office to the poorer people without exacting anything of their relations
upon that account. The _Parabolani_ were incorporated at Alexandria to
the number of 500 or 600, who were deputed to attend upon the sick, and
take care of their bodies in time of weakness.[37] [Cod. Theod., leg.
43:—“Parabolani, qui ad curanda debilium corpora deputantur, quingentos
esse ante præcipimus; sed quia hos minus sufficere in præsenti
cognovimus, pro quingentis sex centos constitui præcipimus,” &c.] They
were called _Parabolani_ from their undertaking (Παραβολον ἔργον) a most
dangerous office in attending the sick. The foundation of a great city
like Constantinople must have brought the magnitude of the service of
the burial of the whole population distinctly under view, and have
necessitated comprehensive and systematic arrangements of a
corresponding extent, by the superintendence of superior officers
through the gradations of duty of a disciplined force, which, even with
the Eastern redundance of service, could scarcely have failed to be
efficient and economical as compared with numerous separated and
isolated efforts. A great prototype was thus gained, and the
well-considered gradations of duty and service of the great city was
carried out as far as practicable in the small parish. In some churches,
where there was no such standing office as the Copiatæ or the
Parabolani, the Penitents were obliged to take upon themselves the
office and care of burying the dead; “and this by way of discipline and
exercise of humility and charity which were so becoming their station.”
_Bingham_, book xviii. cap. 2. The state of administrative information
in these our times may surely be deplored, when any views can be
entertained of making the small parish and the rude and barbarous
service (multiplied, at an enormous expense) of the really
unsuperintended common gravedigger and sexton, the prototypes for this
most important and difficult branch of public administration of the
greatest metropolis in the modern world.

On a full consideration I think it will be apparent that the exclusion
of the burial of corpses in churches or in churchyards, and the adoption
of burials in cemeteries, and the conspicuous interment there of all
individuals whose lives and services have graced communities, will, in
so far as it is carried out, be in principle a return to the primitive
practice, restoring to the many the privilege, of which they are
necessarily deprived by burials in churches, of association in sepulture
with the illustrious dead, and giving to these a wider sphere of
attention and honour, and beneficent influence.

On the immediate question of the arrangements for sepulture I beg leave
to submit for consideration the following extracts from a communication
from the Rev. H. Milman, which is more peculiarly due to him, as his
examination before the Committee of the House of Commons does not appear
to have elicited his full and matured opinions on the important

  I cannot but consider the sanitary part of the question, as the most
  dubious, and as resting on less satisfactory evidence than other
  considerations involved in the inquiry. The decency, the solemnity,
  the Christian impressiveness of burial, in my opinion, are of far
  greater and more undeniable importance.

  It must unquestionably be a government measure in its management as
  well as its organization. If you have understood my evidence as
  recommending parochial, rather than a general administration, such
  was not my intention. I thought that I had left that point quite
  open. When I stated (2729) the alternative of cemeteries provided by
  the national funds, and by parochial taxation, I represented the
  unpopularity of the latter mode of taxation: and (in 2782) I
  suggested certain advantages to be derived from the more general and
  public administration. The Committee, however, who seemed to incline
  strongly towards the parochial system, went off in that direction,
  and the questions turned rather on the practicability of that
  system, and the manner in which it might be organized.

  Further reflection leads me to the strong conviction that the
  parochial system, even if there were no difficulties in forming the
  union of the smaller parishes for this object, could only furnish so
  loose and uncertain a superintendence over an affair of such
  magnitude, and requiring such constant vigilance, as to be
  altogether inadequate to the purpose. It is not easy, with their
  present burthens and responsibilities, to fill the parochial offices
  with men competent to the duty, and with sufficient leisure to
  devote to it. They are usually filled by men in business of some
  kind, with considerable sacrifice of their time, and of that
  attention which is required by their personal concerns. These
  duties, however are confined, onerous as they sometimes are, to
  their own immediate neighbourhood. But if we add to their
  responsibilities, the care of a remote and large churchyard, with
  all its complicated management, we impose upon them duties so
  arduous and so incompatible with their own interests and avocations,
  that the conscientious would shrink from undertaking them, and they
  would fall into the hands of a lower class of busy persons, anxious
  for notoriety, or with some remote view of advantage to themselves.
  It will be absolutely necessary to relieve the parish officers from
  a burthen which they cannot undertake without a sacrifice, which is
  more than can be expected from men engaged in business or in some of
  the active professions. Besides all this, the administration would
  be constantly passing from one to another; the objection to the
  whole parochial system, that a man no sooner learns the duty of his
  office, than he is released from it, would apply in a tenfold degree
  to an affair of such magnitude. The only way to secure the proper
  organization and conduct of a remote cemetery, would be by officers,
  judiciously selected, and adequately paid, who should devote their
  whole time to the business. Many of these objections, as the want of
  sufficient time without neglecting more serious duties, would apply
  to the clergyman of a large town parish, and if the cemetery be made
  an object of parochial taxation, the less he is involved in it the

  On the wise and maturely considered organization, and on the
  provisions for the careful, constant, and vigilant superintendence
  of the whole system, will depend entirely its fulfilment of its
  great object, the re-investment of the funeral services, and of the
  sacred abode of the dead, in their due solemnity and religious
  influence. Nothing can be more beautiful, more soothing under the
  immediate influence of sorrow, or at all times more suggestive of
  tranquil, yet deep religious emotion, than the village churchyard,
  where the clergyman, the squire, or the peasant, pass weekly or more
  often by the quiet and hallowed graves of their kindred and friends,
  to the house of prayer, and where hereafter they expect themselves
  to be laid at rest under a stone perhaps, on which is expressed the
  simple hope of resurrection to eternal life, and where all is so
  peaceful, that the tomb may almost seem as if it might last
  undisturbed to that time. I am inclined to think that some of the
  unbounded popularity of Gray’s Elegy, independent of its exquisite
  poetic execution, may arise from these associations. Of these
  tranquillizing and elevating influences, so constantly refreshed and
  renewed, the inhabitants of large cities are of necessity deprived.
  The churchyard, often very small, always full, and crowded with
  remains of former interments, either carelessly scattered about, or
  but ill concealed, is in some cases a thoroughfare, where the
  religious service is disturbed by the noises, if not of passing and
  thoughtless strangers, with those of the din and traffic of the
  neighbouring street; and the new made grave, or the stone, which has
  just been fixed down, is trampled over by the passing crowd, or made
  the play-place of idle children. Where, as in some of the larger
  parishes in the west of London, the burial place is not contiguous
  to the church, it is more decent, but then it is secluded within
  high walls, or perhaps by houses, and is only open for the funeral
  ceremony, at other times inaccessible to the mourning relatives.

  But will it not be possible, as we cannot give to the population of
  the metropolis, and other crowded towns, the quiet, the sanctity,
  the proximity to the church of the village place of sepulture, to
  substitute something at least decent, and with more appearance of
  repose and permanence; if not solemn, serious, and religiously
  impressive? The poor are peculiarly sensible of these impressions,
  and to them impression and custom form a great part, the most
  profound and universal influence of religion; and to them they
  cannot be given but by some arrangement under the sanction, and with
  the assistance, of the Government. Private speculation may give
  something of this kind to the rich, but private speculation looks
  for a return of profit for its invested capital. To my mind there is
  something peculiarly repugnant in Joint-Stock Burial and Cemetery
  Companies. But, setting that aside, they are and can be of no use to
  the _people_ of the metropolis and the large towns. There always has
  been, and probably always will be, some distinction in the burial
  rites (I beg to say that to the credit of my curates, they refuse to
  make any difference between rich and poor in the services of the
  church) and in the humbler or more costly grave of rich and poor—

                     Here lie I beside the door,
                     Here lie I because I am poor;
                     Further in the more they pay,
                     Here lie I as well as they.

  But it may be a question whether the very numbers of funerals, which
  must take place for a large town, with the extent of the burial
  places, may not be made a source of solemnity and impressiveness,
  which may in some degree compensate for the individual and immediate
  interest excited by a funeral in a small parish. That which at
  present, when left to a single harassed and exhausted clergyman, and
  one sexton, and a few wretched assistants, can hardly avoid the
  appearance of hurry and confusion, might be so regulated as to
  impose, from the very gathering of such masses of mortality,
  bequeathed together to their common earth, not (let me be
  understood) in one vault or pit, but each apart in his decent grave.
  The vast extent of cemetery which would be required for London
  (suppose six or eight for the whole metropolis and its suburbs), if
  properly kept, and with such architectural decorations, and the
  grand and solemn shade of trees appropriate to the character of the
  ground, could scarcely fail to impress the reflective mind, and even
  to awe the more thoughtless. Our national character, and our more
  sober religion, will preserve us, probably, from the affectations
  and fantastic fineries of the Père la Chaise ground at Paris. From
  some of the German cemeteries we may learn much as to regulation,
  and the proper character to be maintained in a cemetery of the dead.

  National sepulture is a part, and a most important part of national
  religion; of all the beautiful services of our Church, none is more
  beautiful (I might wish, perhaps, two expressions altered) than our
  service for burial. I could have wished that the Church had taken
  the initiative in this great question. I trust that she will act, if
  the State can be prevailed upon to move, in perfect harmony with the
  general feeling on the subject. It is fortunate, that in the Bishop
  of London we have not merely a person of liberal mind, and practical
  views, but one who brings the experience of the parish priest of a
  large London living to his Episcopal authority and influence.

  One further practical suggestion occurs to me as likely most
  materially to diminish the expenditure of funerals of all classes,
  and therefore to render any great scheme more feasible. A funeral
  procession through the streets of a great and busy town can scarcely
  be made impressive. Not even the hearse, in its gorgeous gloom, with
  all the pomp of heraldry, and followed by the carriages of half the
  nobility of the land, will arrest for an instant the noise and
  confusion of our streets, or awaken any deeper impression with the
  mass than idle curiosity. While the poor man, borne on the shoulders
  of men as poor as himself, is jostled off the pavement; the
  mourners, at some crossing, are either in danger of being run over
  or separated from the body; in the throng of passers no sign of
  reverence, no stirring of conscious mortality in the heart. Besides
  this, if, as must be the case, the cemeteries are at some distance,
  often a considerable distance, from the homes of the deceased, to
  those who are real mourners nothing can be more painful or
  distressing than this long, wearisome, never-ending—perhaps often
  interrupted—march; while those who attend out of compliment to the
  deceased while away the time in idle gossip in the mourning coach,
  to which perhaps they endeavour to give—but, if their feelings are
  not really moved, endeavour in vain to give—a serious turn. Abandon,
  then, this painful and ineffective part of the ceremony; let the
  dead be conveyed with decency, but with more expedition, under
  trustworthy care, to the cemetery; there form the procession, there
  assemble the friends and relatives; concentrate the whole effect on
  the actual service, and do not allow the mind to be disturbed and
  distracted by the previous mechanical arrangements, and the extreme
  wearisome length of that which, if not irreverent and distressing,
  cannot, from the circumstances, be otherwise than painfully tedious.

  It may be worth observing that, in London, even the passing bell
  seems almost lost in the din and confusion. This is the case even in
  the old churches, which retain their deep, full, and sonorous bells.
  The quick shrill gingle, or the feeble tone of those which are
  placed in the chapels of the more recent burial-grounds, instead of
  deepening to my ear, are utterly discordant with the solemnity of
  the service. In the country nothing can be finer than the tolling
  from some old grey church tower—

                    Over some wide watered shore,
                    Swinging slow with solemn roar.

  What would be the effect of a bell as large as St. Paul’s, heard at
  stated times, or in the event of the funeral of some really
  distinguished persons, from the distant cemetery?

§ 178. The formation of national cemeteries would give the means of more
special and appropriate service for the interment of the dead than it is
now possible to provide by small parochial establishments. In the more
populous parishes, the service is unavoidably hurried. In all, the
feelings of survivors require the most full, respectful, and impressive
service. In many of the rural districts, the friends and fellow-workmen
of the deceased accompany the remains to the grave, and one object of
subscriptions to burial and general benefit clubs is to secure the
advantages of arrangements for the attendance of fellow-workmen, who are
members of the same club. When a waterman dies, to whom his brethren
would pay respect, the body is conveyed by them in an eight-oared
cutter, to the churchyard by the water-side. On their return, the seat
which the deceased would have occupied is left vacant, and his oar, tied
with a piece of crape, is placed across the boat. One of the most
popular and impressive of funeral ceremonies is that on the interment of
a private soldier. When a private of the metropolitan police dies, a
number of members of the force, and a superior officer, attend his
funeral in their uniforms. It is not unfrequent when a member has been
invalided and left the force, that he will make it a dying request that
his funeral may be attended by the officer and men with whom he served.
This request is generally complied with. Old soldiers who have been
invalided frequently make it a dying request to the commanders of the
regiments in which they have served that they may be buried as if they
had died in the service; and unless there be an exception to the
respectability of their conduct, the honour and consolation is bestowed.

§ 179. In Scotland, it is a subject of intense desire on the part of the
labouring classes to gain the attendance of some person of higher
condition at their funerals. When an aged and exemplary member of a
congregation dies, it is not unfrequent that the minister’s eldest son
will pay respect, by acting as one of the bearers of the corpse. In many
of the rural districts in England, the persons composing the procession
will sing hymns. In the churches, anthems are still sung, and funeral
discourses given in the manner described by the Rev. Dr. Russell, the
rector of Bishopsgate.

  When I was a boy (says the reverend gentleman), nothing was more
  common, in the parish of which my father was rector, than for the
  body to be brought into church before the commencement of the
  evening service on Sundays. The psalms and lessons appointed for the
  burial service were read instead of the psalms and the second lesson
  of the evening. At the time of singing, a portion of those psalms
  which have reference to the shortness of life was sung; and
  sometimes an ambitious choir would attempt a hymn—‘Vital spark of
  heavenly flame,’ or the like. Since I have been in orders, I have
  myself occasionally, in the country, buried persons with a similar
  service. Sometimes funeral sermons were preached.

§ 180. The natives of the provinces, when they attend the remains of
their friends to the grave in London, frequently express a wish to have
anthems or such solemnities as those to which they have been

§ 181. The formation of national cemeteries would enable the
ecclesiastical authorities to provide means for complying with the
desire thus expressed. Under general arrangements, with reduced
expenses, it will be seen that ample pecuniary provision for it may be
made to give to the funerals of the many the most impressive solemnity.
On this subject, the Rev. Mr. Stone, rector of Spitalfields, observes—

  Should the legislature determine upon removing the burial of the
  dead from populous places, it would get rid of these mischiefs; and
  should it adopt a national system of burial instead of the highly
  objectionable parochial system sketched out in Mr. Mackinnon’s Bill,
  it might do much more—it might greatly add to the solemnity of our
  burial obsequies, and so make them at once more impressive and more
  attractive. This might be done by concentration; instead of the
  parochial clergyman, hurried to the performance of this affecting
  service, when his time, attention, and sympathies are engaged by
  other duties, summoned desultorily to it, and often compelled to
  repeat it over and over again at the same grave, just as the
  interest or the convenience of undertakers, the caprice, the
  bigotry, or the carousals of mourners may choose to prescribe, let
  ministers appointed to officiate in national cemeteries perform the
  service over great numbers at once, and at two or three stated hours
  in every day. But the performance of the burial service over great
  numbers at the same time would add incalculably to its solemnity. In
  the present state of things, simultaneous interments are supposed,
  as they certainly are primarily intended, merely to save the time
  and labour of the clergy; and they may sometimes be hurried through
  in a manner so careless, slovenly, and unfeeling, as not even the
  necessities of the clergy can excuse. But it is quite a confusion of
  ideas to suppose that the practice itself is slovenly and unfeeling.
  On the contrary, I find it more impressive in its effect upon
  myself; and I think it must prove so to others. Two or three
  coffins, placed with their sable draperies in the body of the
  church, are in themselves an awful spectacle; and the attendant
  mourners, occupying the surrounding pews clothed in the same livery
  of death, form a congregation at once appropriate, and large enough
  to give effect to a religious service. By their numbers, too, they
  operate against the intrusion of idle gossips and inquisitive
  gazers, and, associated as they are with each other in a bereavement
  of the same kind, they are thus brought into a contact calculated to
  kindle emotions of social sympathy and religious sensibility.
  Assembled in the burial ground round the same grave, or disposed in
  groups by the side of graves within a reasonable distance of each
  other, they form a picture of the same affecting and impressive
  character. If the sympathy of a public assembly is perceptible or
  intense in proportion to the numbers that compose it, this
  aggregation of burials need only be limited by the effective power
  of the human voice.

  Judging from an experiment of my own, I think that these salutary
  effects would be heightened to a thrilling degree by music. And from
  the practice of the highest civil and ecclesiastical authorities, I
  presume that the introduction of music into the burial office is not
  inconsistent with the rubric. At a burial already alluded to, I
  acceded to a special request by allowing the introduction of some
  organ-music; and, having no rubrical directions on the point, I
  selected two parts of the service as those in which music seemed to
  me to be most admissible, and most likely to prove impressive. After
  the officiating minister has preceded the corpse from the entrance
  of the church and read the introductory sentences, there is an
  interval, during which he ascends the desk, the mourners take their
  places in the pews assigned to them, and the corpse is deposited in
  the body of the church; and there is a still longer interval, during
  which the melancholy procession leaves the church for the burial
  ground. I found that both these intervals, which are unavoidably
  disturbed by somewhat bustling and noisy arrangements, were most
  usefully and effectively filled up by the introduction of music. The
  subjoined scheme of the music performed at royal burials will prove
  that I was not mistaken in supposing music consistent with the
  rubric, nor much so in selecting those parts of the service, at
  which I prescribed its introduction. It will also serve to show to
  what an extent music might be made to give effect and attractiveness
  to a national burial of the dead.

           Parts of the Service.                             Musical
 “I am the resurrection,” &c.              Sung           Croft.
 “I know that my Redeemer liveth,” &c.     Ditto          Croft.
 “We brought nothing into this world,” &c. Ditto          Croft.
 The Psalms are chanted                      Chant in G minor Purcell.

After the lesson, and before the removal of the corpse from its station
in the choir, an anthem is introduced _ad libitum_.

 “Man that is born of a woman,” &c.        Sung           Croft.
 “In the midst of life,” &c.               Ditto          Croft.
 “Yet, O Lord God, most holy,” &c.         Ditto          Croft.
 “Thou knowest, Lord, the secrets,” &c.    Ditto          Purcell.
 “I heard a voice from heaven,” &c.        Ditto          Croft.

Immediately before the Collect, “O merciful God,” or sometimes, though
very seldom, before “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,” an anthem is
introduced _ad libitum_.

At the close of the service, while the mourners are moving off, the Dead
March in Saul is played on the organ.

The anthems usually selected are two of the following:—

             “When the ear heard,” &c.              Handel.
             “I have set God always before me,” &c. Blake.
             “The souls of the righteous,” &c.      Dupuis.
             “Hear my prayer,” &c.                  Kent.

On the burial of esteemed members of the cathedral choirs, the other
choristers have sung the highest and most solemn of the church music.

§ 182. Where the circumstances described, in respect to the Protestant
population, have prevented compliance with the popular desire for hymns
or anthems to be sung or sermons to be spoken at the burial at the
parochial churches in London, interment has been purchased for the
express purpose of obtaining them at the trading burial grounds. And yet
it may be submitted that the desire is consistent with the earliest
recognized practice for all classes,[39] and that a system of national
cemeteries would in proportion to the numbers interred in them, furnish
valuable cases as examples for its beneficial exercise, and must, to a
great extent, prevent the misapplication of the service to such cases as
have apparently caused it to fall in public esteem.

“The honour,” says Hooker, “generally due unto all men maketh a decent
interring of them to be convenient, even for very humanity’s sake. And
therefore so much as is mentioned in the burial of the widow’s son, the
carrying him forth upon a bier and accompanying him to the earth, hath
been used even amongst infidels, all men accounting it a very extreme
destitution not to have at least this honour due to them.” * * * * “Let
any man of reasonable judgment examine whether it be more convenient for
a company of men, as it were, in a dumb show to bring a corpse to a
place of burial, there to leave it, covered with earth, and so end, or
else to have the exsequies devoutly performed with solemn recitals of
such lectures, psalms, and prayers, as are purposely framed for the
stirring up of men’s minds into a careful consideration of their estate
both here and hereafter.

“In regard to the quality of men, it hath been judged fit to commend
them unto the world at their death amongst the heathen in funeral
orations; amongst the Jews in sacred poems; and why not in funeral
sermons amongst Christians? Us it sufficeth that the known benefit
hereof doth countervail millions of such inconveniences as are therein
surmised, although they were not surmised only, but found therein.”
* * * “The care no doubt of the living, both to live and die well, must
needs be somewhat increased when they know that their departure shall
not be folded up in silence, but the ears of many be made acquainted
with it. The sound of these things do not so pass the ears of them that
are most loose and dissolute in life, but it causeth them one time or
other to wish, ‘Oh that I might die the death of the righteous, and that
my end might be like his.’ Thus much peculiar good there doth grow at
those times by speech concerning the dead; besides the benefit of public
instruction common unto funeral with other sermons.”—_Hooker,
Ecclesiastical Polity_, b. v. ch. lxxv.

“When thou hast wept awhile,” says Jeremy Taylor, in his Holy Dying,
“compose the body to burial; which, that it be done gravely, decently,
and charitably, we have the example of all nations to engage us, and of
all ages of the world to warrant; so that it is against common honesty
and public fame and reputation not to do this office.”—“The church, in
her funerals of the dead, used to sing psalms and to give thanks for the
redemption and delivery of the soul from the evil and dangers of
mortality.”—“Solemn and appointed mournings are good expressions of our
dearness to the departed soul, and of his worth and our value of him,
and it hath its praise in nature, and in manners, and in public customs;
but the praise of it is not in the gospel, that is, it hath no direct
and proper uses in religion; for if the dead did die in the Lord, then
there is joy to him, and it is an ill expression of our affection and
our charity to weep uncomfortably at a change that hath carried my
friend to the state of a huge felicity.”—“Something is to be given to
custom, something to fame, to nature and to civilities, and to the
honour of deceased friends; for that man is esteemed to die miserable
for whom no friend or relation sheds a tear, or pays a solemn sigh. I
desire to die a dry death, but am not very desirous to have a dry
funeral; some flowers sprinkled on my grave would do well and comely;
and a soft shower, to turn those flowers into a springing memory or a
fair rehearsal, that I may not go forth of my doors, as my servants
carry the entrails of beasts.” * * * *

“Concerning doing honour to the dead the consideration is not long.
Anciently the friends of the dead used to make their funeral oration,
and what they spake of greater commendation was pardoned on the accounts
of friendship; but when Christianity seized on the possession of the
world, this charge was devolved on priests and bishops, and they first
kept the custom of the world and adorned it with the piety of truth and
of religion; but they also ordered it that it should not be cheap; for
they made funeral sermons only at the death of princes, or of such holy
persons ‘who shall judge the angels.’ The custom descended, and in the
channels mingled with the veins of earth, through which it passed; and
now-a-days, men that die are commended at a price, and the measure of
their legacy is the degree of their virtue. But these things ought not
so to be; the reward of the greatest virtue ought not to be prostitute
to the doles of common persons, but preserved like laurels and coronets
to remark and encourage the noblest things. Persons of an ordinary life
should neither be praised publicly, nor reproached in private; for it is
an offence and charge of humanity to speak no evil of the dead, which I
suppose, is meant concerning things not public and evident; but then
neither should our charity to them teach us to tell a lie, or to make a
great flame from a heap of rushes and mushrooms, and make orations
crammed with the narrative of little observances, and acts of civil,
necessary, and eternal religion. But that which is most considerable is,
that we should do something for the dead, something that is real and of
proper advantage. That we perform their will, the laws oblige us, and
will see to it; but that we do all those parts of personal duty which
our dead left unperformed, and to which the laws do not oblige us, is an
act of great charity and perfect kindness.”—“Besides this, let us right
their causes and assert their honour:” * * “and certainly it is the
noblest thing in the world to do an act of kindness to him whom we shall
never see, but yet hath deserved it of us, and to whom we would do it if
he were present; and unless we do so, our charity is mercenary, and our
friendships are direct merchandise, and our gifts are brocage: but what
we do to the dead, or to the living for their sakes, is gratitude, and
virtue for virtue’s sake, and the noblest portion of humanity.”

 _Necessity and nature of the superior agency requisite for private and
              public protection in respect to interments._

§ 183. Having given a view of the evils arising from the existing
practice in respect to interments in towns, and an outline of what
appears to be justly desired as necessary objects to supply the wants of
the population, I now beg leave to submit for consideration the
information collected as to the practical means of obtaining them.

§ 184. The most pressing of the evils being physical or sanitary evils,
the first means of amendment required is the appointment and arrangement
of the qualifications, powers, and duties and responsibilities of an
officer of health, to whom the requisite changes of practice may be most
safely confided.

The functions of such an officer, as marked out by the evidence of
existing necessities, may be divided into the ordinary and the
extraordinary. The immediate necessities are those which arise from the
want of a trustworthy person who maybe looked up to for counsel and
direction to survivors in the event of a death, §§ 121, 122, 123, 124,
and guide a change of the practice of interment. It is only by an
arrangement that will carry a man of education, a responsible officer,
to the house of even the poorest person in the community, just at the
time when a competent and trustworthy person is most needed to give
advice, that the effect of ignorant or interested suggestions may be
prevented, and the beneficent intentions of the legislature, or the
salutary nature of any public arrangement for the general advantage can
be made known with certainty.

§ 185. The ordinary service of such an officer would consist of the
verification of the fact and cause of death, and its due civic
registration. From the exercise of these duties would follow the
extraordinary duties of directing measures of immediate precaution and
prevention, which it is to be feared whatsoever general sanitary
measures might be adopted would, at the outset, and for too long a
period, constitute ordinary and every-day duties. Out of the ordinary
duties of the officer of health, would arise extraordinary
jurisprudential duties of protecting the interests of the community in
cases of deaths which have occurred under circumstances of suspicion or
of manifest criminality.

§ 186. Assuming the necessity of the establishment of adequate national
cemeteries at proper sites, it is proposed that a body of officers
properly qualified by service, as in the example § 185, should have
charge of the material arrangements, and take the place of the
churchwardens and overseers in respect to all places of burial, and be
responsible for the control of the servants of the establishment, and
shall, moreover, be enabled to regulate and contract for supplies, at
reduced prices, of materials and service of the nature of those now
supplied by the undertaker. §§ 150, 153, 154, 155.

§ 187. In order that the officer of public health may be brought to the
spot, it is proposed that the last medical attendant on the deceased
should, on a small payment, be required to give immediate notice of the
death, in a form to be specified, or in case there happened to be no
medical attendant, it should then be incumbent on the occupier of the
house, or the person having charge of the body, to give the required

Before particularising the course of practice of such an officer, it
appears requisite to state other grounds on which intervention appears
requisite for the verification of the fact of death, and the mode of
death, by the inspection of the body previously to interment.

§ 188. It is admitted that some additional arrangements are yet wanting
for the complete attainment of the proper civic and technical purposes
of registration:—as depositaries of pre-appointed evidence of the fact
of death, to determine questions of private rights:—as depositaries of
evidence for purposes of medical science and public health, to show the
extent and prevalence of common causes of disease incident to different
occupations and different localities—and of the data for tables of
insurance, as well as for the recovery of sums assured, where the proof
of age is not admitted in the policy. Any one who is unknown to the
local registrar may go and register as a fact his own death, of which a
certified copy of the registry will, according to the 38th clause of the
Act, be evidence in a court of law. Cases of the registration of false
statements have already been detected; some have been made with the view
to successions and to the obtainment of property. False registrations
have been made amongst the labouring classes as to the place of death,
to gain interments in distant parishes at cheaper rates. Fictitious
deaths have been registered to defraud burial societies, and the
registrar’s certificate of such deaths have got in use by vagrants as a
means of obtaining alms. In Manchester a woman having obtained and used
one certificate of a fictitious death, soon after obtained another
similar certificate, and in order to deter parties from visiting the
house, she got the cause of death registered as “malignant fever.”

§ 189. On the continent, wherever the mortuary registers are well kept,
and arrangements are made for the protection of the public health, the
fact and time of death, and the identity of the deceased, is verified on
the spot, by inspection of the body by a competent responsible officer
of public health. Vide instance and effects at Geneva, stated in the
General Sanitary Report, p. 174.

§ 190. It is proposed that the verification of the fact of death, and
ascertaining its cause, by inquiry on the spot, should be confided to
the officer proposed to be appointed as an officer of public health. The
present local registrars might act as auxiliaries; the proposed
appointment would be an additional security for the accuracy of the
mortuary registration, and would improve that branch of the local
machinery for registration.

Postponing the consideration of other collateral grounds for the
appointment of a district officer of health, and to illustrate more
clearly the course of alteration of the practice of interments, we will
suppose the physician or officer of health brought by the proper notice
to the habitation where the body lies in the presence of the survivors.

§ 191. In visiting the habitations of the labouring classes, he would be
more careful to denote his office, profession, and condition, by his
dress, and in his address, even than with other classes. On his arrival
at the place of abode of a person of the working class, he would, after
announcing his office and duty, inspect the body, and then require the
name, age, occupation, and circumstances of the death of the deceased,
enter them, and take the attestations of witnesses present. If the death
occurred from any ordinary cause, he would, nevertheless, speak of the
expediency of the early removal of the body to the chapel or house of
reception, where it would be placed under proper care until the
appointed time of the attendance of the relations and friends at the
interment. The exercise of a summary power of removal in the case of
rapid decomposition of the corpse, or in case of deaths from epidemic
disease, for the protection of the living, is frequently suggested and
claimed by neighbours. On inquiry in Manchester as to the periods during
which the bodies of persons dying in the poorest districts were retained
in the rooms where they died, the superintendent-registrar, Mr.
Gardiner, observed, “they are not retained so long in these districts,
because the houses to which the rooms belong are generally inhabited by
several families, and those other families feel the inconvenience of the
retention of the body amongst them, and they press for an early
interment.” With females or survivors who cannot endure to part with the
remains, the exercise of a friendly will would sometimes be necessary,
and if properly exercised would generally be effectual. The name of an
officer of public health would carry with it very general voluntary
obedience to whatever he recommended, and in a majority of cases the
prostrate survivors would be glad that he should order everything, and
would feel it a relief if he were to do so. He would be prepared with a
tariff of the prices of burial, and with instructions as to the
regulations adopted for the public convenience, and for the more
respectful performance of the ceremony of interment, and should be
empowered and required, on the assent or application of the parties, to
carry them out completely, as he might do with very little inconvenience
or expenditure of time. He might be empowered to take such a course as
this. Speaking to the widow or survivor of the lowest class, he might

“The inspectors of public health have been empowered to regulate the
practice and the charges for interment, and to contract for and on
behalf of the public to ensure the means of burial in a proper and
respectful manner for the highest, as well as for the most humble
classes. Formerly, the charge for the funeral of a person of the
condition in life of your husband was four or five pounds, but by the
new regulations, an equally respectable interment is secured to you for
little more than half the amount. You are, nevertheless, at liberty to
obtain the means of burial from any private undertaker. You may also, if
you prefer it, have burial in any private cemetery, or elsewhere.”

§ 192. It is anticipated that, except on private canvass, and that only
for a time, interment under the auspices of a public officer would be
preferred in the great majority of cases, if the business were conducted
with moderate care, in a manner really satisfactory, and if the minor
but really important conveniences of all classes were duly consulted.
For example, one frequent cause of the delay of interments amongst the
poorer classes in crowded districts, is the delay of notification of
deaths to distant relatives and friends, whose attendance may be
required. More than one-half of the poor cannot write, and many of all
classes who can write are unable to collect their thoughts even for a
simple announcement of the event. The poorer classes generally get some
one to write for them; and the regular payment for each letter is
fourpence and a glass of liquor, or sixpence, exclusive of paper and
postage. In the charges for funerals of the labouring classes in
Scotland, five shillings is set down as the item of expense of letters
of notification of the death of an artisan, and fifteen shillings for
the notifications of the deaths of persons of the middle ranks of life.
Under practicable regulations, such notifications might be prepared in a
manner suitable to persons of every condition, at the rate of threepence
per letter, or at one-half the ordinary rate of payment, paper, and
envelope, and postage stamp included. The service might be rendered at
an expense of a few minutes’ time to the officer in taking down a list
of the names and addresses of the persons to be sent to. This list he
would on his return to his office, hand to a clerk, by whom they would
be immediately prepared and despatched in proper and well considered
form. The Inspector might, therefore, add—

“If you will give me the names and addresses of those relatives and
friends who may be desired to attend the funeral, I will cause notice of
the time and places of attendance to be sent to them. Amongst the
highest classes it is now the practice to diminish the number of
followers to the grave, and to commit that duty only to a few; and it is
desirable, for the sake of preventing unnecessary expense, that too many
should not be invited. All the friends of the deceased who attend at the
national cemetery will have an opportunity of joining in with the
procession. Besides, the requests to attend, I can also, if you wish it,
and will give me the names and addresses, cause notifications of the
fact of the death to be sent to any persons in any part of the country.”

In the cases of illness amongst the survivors, or of a death from
epidemic disease, indicating an infected atmosphere, he might add—

“For the protection of your own health, and the health of your children
and of your neighbours, it is requisite that the body be immediately
removed to a place where it will be kept under the care of a physician,
and inspected until the appointed time of interment, when it will be
received by the friends and relations who attend.”

§ 193. It is considered that, in general, this course would be complied
with, but it is considered by physicians, that if it were found
necessary in the first instance, in the case of the poorest and most
ignorant and highly-excitable people, to concede the point, the officer
might give directions to have the body enclosed with cloth of a material
to resist the immediate escape of effluvia, and to be closed down, which
might be done at a few shillings extra expense. Mr. R. Baker, the
surgeon, who has paid great attention to the means for the improvement
of the sanitary condition of the population at Leeds, observes—

  I believe that where persons die of epidemic diseases, there is not
  much regard paid to the necessity of early interment. There is what
  is called the making up of the body, which is often done very early
  after death, and even in some cases of supposed contagion, before it
  is absolutely necessary. But an application is used in coffins of
  those whose friends can afford it which deserves naming, because it
  is at once safe and economical, and renders any sanitary precautions
  unnecessary, where there is a desire from any requisite family
  arrangements to keep the body; it is to place the body in a deal
  shell, and then to place this shell within the coffin, between which
  and the shell are affixed at the sides and bottom, a few pieces of
  circular wood about the thickness of two crown pieces, here and
  there, to keep the shell and coffin apart, forming a considerable
  interstice, which is filled in with boiling pitch. The lid of the
  shell is then laid on, having a glass over the face, and over this
  is poured more pitch till the shell is incased in a pitch coffin
  between the wooden ones. The cost of this process, which is next to
  that of embalming, is about 9_s._ 6_d._, and is easily paid out of
  the seven or ten pounds which the club supplies. I would only add
  that this experiment deserves well of every one’s consideration,
  being far superior to lead, and equally useful, in all ordinary
  interments, and admirable for the purpose of avoiding contagion,
  while it admits the opportunity of keeping the body for any
  arrangement that is required to be made. If this plan could be
  enforced upon all occasions where death had occurred from contagious
  disease, I look upon it, that a great benefit would be conferred
  upon the community.

§ 194. In the cases where decomposition, as sometimes occurs, commences
even before death and proceeds with extreme rapidity after it, even an
immediate removal is not effected without producing depressing effects
on the bearers; and when there is an in-door church service, in some
districts in the metropolis, it is not unfrequently necessary to have
the body left at the church door, on account of the extremely offensive
smell which escapes from the coffin. These coffins are generally
constructed without knowledge, or care, or adaptation to the
circumstances of the remains, or to any sanitary service. Mr. W. Dyce
Guthrie, surgeon, who has paid much attention to some of the structural
means for the protection of the public health, specifies various modes
in which the evils arising before interment, as well as after, may be
prevented, at a cost so inconsiderable as not to be sensibly felt, even
by the poorest classes, and yet be as efficient as the most expensive
arrangements now in use. For example: “Coffins may,” he says, “be
rendered perfectly impervious to the escape of all morbific matter, at
an expense not exceeding 1_s._ 6_d._ or 2_s._ each, by coating the
interior over with a cement composed of lime, sand, and oil, which soon
sets and becomes almost as hard and resisting as stone. Pitch, applied
hot, would answer the same purpose as the compound I have mentioned, but
it would be more expensive.” In the cases of such rapid decomposition as
bursts leaden coffins, or renders “tapping” necessary, he recommends the
application, at a few shillings expense, of safety-tubes to the foot of
the coffin, so as to secure and carry away into a chimney flue, or a
current created by a chauffer, the mephitic matter. These are adduced as
instances of the detailed appliances of which the officer of health
would judge in each case on the spot and suggest to the survivors, and
if necessary write directions, or a prescription, for their appliance.

§ 195. A cause of the delay of interments might, it is stated, be
diminished by arrangements, under which coffins of every size being kept
prepared, one might be brought to the house, with the name of the
deceased, and his obituary duly inscribed on a plate, in about one-third
the time that is now usually employed for the purpose. By this service,
the rapid progress of decomposition, and the escape of noxious effluvia
would be arrested.

§ 196. Before leaving the abode of the deceased, the officer of health
would, in the case of death from diseases likely to have been originated
or precipitated by local causes, inspect the premises, inquire closely
as to the antecedent circumstances of the decease; and note directions
to be given in respect to the premises to officers having charge of
drainage or sewerage, or public works, for cleansing and lime-washing
the premises, at the charge of the owner, before renewed occupation.

In respect to the poorest classes, those who stand the most in need of
protection: the measure of prohibiting burial, except on a verification
of the fact and cause of death, by a certificate granted on the sight
and identification of the body at the place where the death occurred,
has its chief importance as being the means of carrying a person of
education into places rarely, if ever entered, by them, except by
accident. The functions of the officer of health when there are marked
out by instances of acts done by force of humanity and charity, which as
yet have no authority in law, or in administrative provision. For
example, in the following instance, of a house owned by a landlord of
the lowest class.

  Shepherd’s-court consists of about six houses. It was notorious that
  fever had prevailed to a great extent in this court; in the house in
  question, several cases of fever had occurred in succession. The
  house is small, contains four rooms,—two on the ground-floor and two
  above; each of these rooms was let out to a separate family. On the
  present occasion, in one of the rooms on the ground-floor there were
  four persons ill of fever; in the other room, on the same floor,
  there were, at the same time, three persons ill of fever; and in one
  of the upper rooms there were also at the same time three persons
  ill of fever; in the fourth room no one was ill at that time. It
  appeared that different families had in succession occupied these
  rooms, and become affected with fever; on the occasion in question,
  all the sick were removed as soon as possible by the interference of
  the parish officers. An order was made by the board of guardians to
  take the case before the magistrates at Worship-street. The
  magistrates at first refused to interfere, but the medical officer
  stated that several cases of fever had occurred in succession in
  this particular house; that one set of people had gone in, become
  ill with fever, and were removed; that another set of people had
  gone in, and been in like manner attacked with fever; that this had
  occurred several times, and that it was positively known that this
  house had been affected with fever for upwards of six weeks before
  the present application was made. On hearing this, the magistrate
  sent for the owner of the house, and remonstrated with him for
  allowing different sets of people to occupy the rooms without
  previously cleansing and whitewashing them; telling him that he was
  committing a serious offence in allowing the nuisance to continue.
  The magistrate further gave the house in charge to the medical
  officer, authorizing him to see all the rooms properly fumigated,
  and otherwise thoroughly cleansed; and said that, if any persons
  entered the house before the medical officer said that the place was
  fit to be inhabited, they would send an officer to turn them out, or
  place an officer at the door to prevent their entrance. The landlord
  became frightened, and allowed the house to be whitewashed,
  fumigated, and thoroughly cleansed. Since this was done the rooms
  have been occupied by a fresh set of people; but no case of fever
  has occurred.[40]

This occurred seven years since, and on a very recent inquiry made at
this same house, it was stated that comparative cleanliness having been
maintained, no fever had since broken out, no more such deaths have been
occasioned, no more burthens had been cast upon the poor’s rates from
this house. The law already authorizes the house to be condemned, and
its use arrested, when it is in a condition to endanger life by falling;
if it be deemed that the principle should be applied to all manifest
causes of disease or death, or danger to life, then, instead of the
remote and practically useless remedy by the inspection of an unskilled
and unqualified ward inquest (Vide General Sanitary Report, p. 300), the
skilled and responsible medical officer, with such summary powers and
duties of immediate interference, as were successfully exercised in the
case above cited, should be appointed.

§ 197. It is proper to observe, that it occurs not unfrequently that
such scenes arise from negligences and dilapidations of a succession of
bad tenants, of which the chief landlord is himself unaware: but whether
aware of it or not, the prompt intervention of an officer of health in
such cases would not be without its compensation to the owner. A
bricklayer, who himself owned some small houses occupied by artisans,
which he had himself built, was asked in the course of another inquiry:—

  In what periods do you collect the rents?—Some monthly; about
  one-third monthly; the rest we collect quarterly.

  What may be your losses on the collections?—They will average,
  perhaps, about one-fifth; we lose rather the most on the quarterly

  What are the chief causes of your losses from this class of
  tenants?—Loss of work first; then sickness and death; then frauds.

  Are the frauds considerable?—Not so much as the inabilities to pay.
  I find the working classes, if they have means, as willing to pay
  and as honourable as any other class. Within the last 18 months
  there have been a great many people out of work; at other times
  there is as much loss to the landlord from sickness as from any
  other cause. Three out of five of the losses of rent that I now
  have, are losses from the sickness of the tenants, who are working

  When children are sick, there is of course no immediate interruption
  to the payment of rent?—Very seldom.

  What sort of sicknesses are they from which the interruption to work
  and to the payment of rent occurs?—Fevers, nervous disorders, and
  sickness that debilitates them.

  Then anything which promotes the health of the tenants will tend to
  prevent losses of rent to the owners of the lower class of
  houses?—Yes, I have decidedly found that rent is the best got from
  healthy houses.

In some of the cellar dwellings in Manchester the losses of rent,
chiefly from sickness, amounted to 20 per cent.

§ 198. In all cases of deaths from epidemic diseases, one of the first
duties of the officer of health would be to inquire whether there were
any other persons in the house attacked with disease, and examine them.
In all such cases as those cited, §§ 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, he should
have adequate power, which, that it may be efficient must be summary, to
take measures to protect the parties affected and others, by ordering
their immediate removal to fever wards. It is only in a deplorable state
of ignorance of the nature of the evils which depress such districts
that there could be any hesitation in granting such powers from the fear
of abuse; the most serious legislative difficulty would be to ensure
their constant and efficient application. Mr. S. Holmes, the builder of
the Stockport viaduct, and formerly an active member of the Liverpool
town council, gives the following illustration of the extreme miseries
witnessed in that town, and it is certainly not an exaggerated
description of the scenes to which the officer of health must at the
commencement of his duties be frequently carried on the occurrence of

  The melancholy facts elicited by the corporation clearly show that
  Liverpool contains a multitude of inhabited cellars, close and damp,
  with no drain nor any convenience, and these pest-houses are
  constantly filled with fever. Some time ago I visited a poor woman
  in distress, the wife of a labouring man. She had been confined only
  a few days, and herself and infant were lying on straw in a vault
  through the outer cellar, with a clay floor, impervious to water.
  There was no light nor ventilation in it, and the air was dreadful.
  I had to walk on bricks across the floor to reach her bed-side, as
  the floor itself was flooded with stagnant water. This is by no
  means an extraordinary case, for I have witnessed scenes equally
  wretched; and it is only necessary to go into Crosby-street,
  Freemasons’-row, and many cross streets out of Vauxhall-road, to
  find hordes of poor creatures living in cellars, which are almost as
  bad and offensive as charnel-houses. In Freemasons’-row, about two
  years ago, a court of houses, the floors of which were below the
  public street, and the area of the whole court, was a floating mass
  of putrified animal and vegetable matter, so dreadfully offensive
  that I was obliged to make a precipitate retreat. Yet the whole of
  the houses were inhabited!

§ 199. In cases of epidemics the saving of life by the prompt
intervention of an officer of health, on the occurrence of the first
death, and the immediate removal of the survivors affected, would be
very considerable. In cases of fever, on the removal of patients to the
fever hospital, they are often received in a state of violent delirium,
or in a state of coma succeeding to violent delirium. After they have
been washed in a bath, and placed in a clean bed, in the spacious and
well-ventilated ward of the hospital, in a few hours, often before the
visit of the physician, the violent delirium has subsided, or the state
of coma having passed away consciousness has returned. Although in a
great majority of cases the patients are only sent to the hospital in
the last stage of disease, this mere change in the locality and external
circumstances of the sufferers diminishes the proportion of deaths from
one in five to one in seven. Supposing the cases occurred in equal
numbers daily, the functions of registration in the metropolis would
carry the officers of health to upwards of 20 cases per diem of deaths
from epidemic disease, for the most part in the most wretched districts.

§ 200. The principle of this part of the proposed arrangement is in
necessitating visits of inspection, and thence necessitating the
initiation of measures of relief where there has hitherto been, and
whence it may safely be said there will be, no complaint or initiation
of measures of relief by the sufferers themselves. It is observed by Dr.
Southwood Smith, in confirmation of the observations made on the
demoralizing effects of the physical evils which depress the bodily
condition of large classes that, as they have not the bodily vigour, so
they have not the intelligence of a healthy class. One of the most
melancholy proofs of this, he observes, is, that they make no effort to
get into happier circumstances; their dulness and apathy indicate an
equal degree of mental as of physical paralysis. And this has struck
other observers who have had opportunities of becoming acquainted with
the real state of these people. “The following statement impressed my
mind the more, because it recalled to my recollection vividly similar
cases witnessed by myself. ‘In the year 1836,’ says one of the medical
officers of the West Derby Union, ‘I attended a family of thirteen,
twelve of whom had typhus fever,—without a bed in the cellar, without
straw or timber shavings—frequent substitutes. They lay on the floor,
and so crowded that I could scarcely pass between them. In another house
I attended fourteen patients: there were only two beds in the house. All
the patients lay on the boards, and during their illness never had their
clothes off. I met with many cases in similar conditions; yet amidst the
greatest destitution and want of domestic comfort, _I have never heard,
during the course of twelve years’ practice, a complaint of inconvenient
accommodation_.’ Now this want of complaint, under such circumstances,
appears to me to constitute a very melancholy part of this condition. It
shows that physical wretchedness has done its worst on the human
sufferer, for it has destroyed his mind. The wretchedness being greater
than humanity can bear, annihilates the mental faculties—the faculties
distinctive of the human being. There is a kind of satisfaction in the
thought, for it sets a limit to the capacity of suffering which would
otherwise be without bound.”

§ 201. In respect to any such services proposed, involving inquiry on
the spot, an objection is apt to be suggested, that the exercise of such
functions would be unpopular and objected to. By the sufferers it
certainly would not, § 122. With portions of the population, in such a
deplorable state of ignorance as that manifested, even in this country,
at the time of the invasion of the cholera, when they imbibed the notion
that the wells had been poisoned by the medical men, the creation of any
monstrous impressions by others must be admitted to be possible; but the
existence of that notion would have been no justification for closing
the hospitals, for staying the work of beneficence, and suspending the
performance of medical duties. Such an objection, however, implies a
very large misconception as to the _general_ state of intelligence of
the working classes. There is, on this point, as regards the metropolis,
the direct and decisive evidence of experience. In consequence of the
difficulty of dealing satisfactorily with common hearsay evidence, some
of the local registrars have, with praiseworthy care, proceeded to
verify the facts of the death by inquiries made at the house where it
took place, which inquiries are strictly supererogatory. The following
evidence, though in part substantially a repetition of scenes already
described, is here adduced less for the descriptions of places visited
than as showing the manner in which these officers were received.

Mr. James Murray, the registrar of births, deaths, and marriages for the
Hackney Road district of Bethnal Green, having stated that sometimes he
made inquiries on the spot for the registration of deaths, speaking of
the poorer population of that district, states that they have usually
only a single room, and that “they never speak of occupying the same
house, but the ‘same room.’”

  In what proportion of cases do the bodies of those persons remain in
  the room in which the persons live and sleep?—It would depend upon
  the part of the district, for part of the higher district is highly
  respectable. In that district nine-tenths of them have only a single
  room, and no opportunity of placing the body elsewhere.

  In nine-tenths of the cases the body remains in the same room?—It
  must be so, they have no other room.

  In a coffin?—Yes; I have seen it so repeatedly.

  Is the retention of the body injurious?—I think so.

  When you go to register the deaths is it deemed an intrusion, or are
  you received with civility?—I am always received with civility in
  all cases.

  It is not considered an intrusion?—Not at all. I myself have rather
  cultivated the good feeling and opinion of the working classes; they
  know me exceedingly well, and I have never met with any instance of
  incivility among them.

Mr. John Johnson, the registrar of one part of the Shoreditch district,
was asked—

  Of the labouring classes, what proportion of the families have more
  than two rooms?—I cannot say the number; but there is a vast number
  who occupy one room, and some occupy two rooms; some occupy a
  kitchen and one room, or a little parlour and kitchen, and some two
  rooms up-stairs, some one room; perhaps if they have two rooms
  up-stairs they have a family in each.

  Do you find, on visiting those places, upon the occurrence of a
  death, that the dead body is retained in the living and sleeping
  room?—Frequently we find it so.

  And the family are eating and pursuing the ordinary offices of life
  in the room where the body lies?—Yes.

  Have you found the body retained for a long time?—No, they do not
  usually keep it longer than five or six days; but I have known
  instances where the body has been kept two and three weeks.

  But in that time does it not acquire a putrid smell?—Yes, and in
  rooms where I have gone to register births I have found the effluvia
  so bad that I have been obliged to go out of the house without
  effecting the register.

  It had an effect upon your health for the time being?—Yes.

  When you go to register deaths at the houses of the labouring
  classes, are you on the whole well received?—Generally very well;
  they consider we pay them a compliment by calling upon them.

  They do not deem your registration or inquiry an intrusion?—Not at

Mr. W. H. Wheatley, the registrar for the Old Church district of
Lambeth, was asked—

  You think it necessary, in order to ascertain the causes of death
  with correctness, to go to the spot and ascertain the fact on the
  spot?—Yes: I get much more correct information in that way than from
  parties calling upon me.

  If you were to remain at your desk, without local inquiry, do you
  conceive your registration would be at all correct, or would it not
  be widely different from the fact?—I do not think it would be
  correct. I think in every case of death the registrar ought to go to
  the house, not only for the purpose of registering the death, but
  that there ought to be some means of ascertaining from what cause
  the party died; that the body ought to be seen by the registrar, or
  some authorized person, or that it should be compulsory to produce a
  medical certificate, certifying the precise cause of death. The
  searchers, who were two women, appointed in open vestry, under an
  old Act of Parliament, to call and investigate every case of death
  that occurred, and to examine the body and see that the party had
  come fairly by his or her death, have been done away with since the
  passing of the Registration Act, and there is now no means of
  ascertaining how the party has met with his death.

  Can you state to the Commissioners instances of error which you have
  obviated or prevented by going and inquiring upon the spot, that
  would have occurred by your not going?—I cannot mention individual
  cases; but it has come under my knowledge that parties have called
  upon me to register a death, and when I have asked the cause they
  have said, “I do not exactly know what it was, I believe it was a
  fever, or something of that kind.” I have said, “I must trouble you
  to get me a medical certificate, or I will call at the house.” I
  have gone to the house, and found it widely different in many cases
  from the statement they gave to me, from error on their parts.

  Are you satisfied from the experience of your office, though it has
  been short, that there can be no correct registration without
  examination on the spot, and a sight of the body?—I think so; it
  would entail upon the registrars a very arduous and a very
  unpleasant office, but that the registration would be more perfect,
  and it would be a check upon crime, I have very little doubt.

  Do you find any obstruction given on the part of the poorer classes
  to your going to the spot and making inquiries?—Not the slightest.
  My opinion is that the poorer classes pay more attention to the
  registration than the middling classes.

  Have you met with any manifestation of prejudice or bad feeling from
  the poorer classes?—No, not the slightest, but really a wish that
  the registration should be effective.

  They do not view the registrar as an intrusive officer?—Not in the

In the worst conditioned places the only persons who are seen as public
officers are policemen and the rate-collectors or the tax-gatherers.
When commissioners of inquiry have been seen taking notes in them, the
popular impression was that they were tax-gatherers, an impression which
it required some trouble to remove. In a little time the officer of
health would be most popular and would exercise extensive and beneficial
influence. The practical evidence of the registrars was of an uniform
tenor, establishing, as far as actual experience may establish, not only
the acceptability of the more elevated and extensive service proposed,
but that it must develope most important civil as well as medical facts,
the correct knowledge of which is necessary for the relief of the most
afflicted portions of the population.

   _Jurisprudential value of the appointment of Officers of Health._

§ 202. In the lamentable state of the population, which in England and
Wales produces annually upwards of 700 committals to prison for crimes
of passion, and of these 450 for murder, manslaughter, and attempts upon
life, it may scarcely be deemed necessary to adduce many particular
examples of the importance of the extraordinary jurisprudential services
and securities for life to the community obtainable by the exercise in
all cases of the ordinary functions of the verification, as far as may
be, of the fact as well as the cause of death. On examining the grounds
of the fears of life and suspicions of the poorer classes, inhabiting
the worst conditioned districts, it is evident that obstructions to
crime, or safeguards, which are carefully preserved in the well
regulated communities (marked by security of life and the rarity of
crimes of violence) are here absent, and that wide openings are left for
the escape of the darkest crimes. Had there been an officer of public
health, and a verification of the cause of death by him on inspection,
as at Geneva, Munich, or other towns on the continent, and inquiry for
registration of the causes of death, it is probable that, with the
certainty of such inspection, the murders of the children at Stockport
or at Little Bolton would not have been attempted; or, if perpetrated,
they might have been detected in the first case. The whole class of
murders verified on examination after disinterment may be cited as
coming within the same category. The crime of burking, which appears to
have originated in Scotland, and was extended to England, could scarcely
have been attempted systematically, except under the temptation of the
absence of such a security; and with such service as that proposed, it
is highly improbable that it could have been carried on to the extent
there is reason to believe it was.

On this point Mr. Corder, the superintendent registrar of the Strand
Union, gives important testimony.

  From your knowledge of the actual state of much of the population in
  the worst part of the metropolis, derived from your experience in
  the several local offices you have held, and especially your
  experience as a superintendent registrar, do you believe that the
  inspection of the body to verify the fact of death, and, as far as
  inspection and inquiry on the spot may do so, to determine the cause
  of death, would be important securities not merely for the truth of
  the registration, but valuable securities for life itself?—Most
  certainly I do. Had there been such an inspection and verification
  prior to the year 1831, the horrible system of destroying human
  beings for the purpose of selling their bodies could not have been
  carried on to the extent to which I know it existed at that period.
  Being then the vestry clerk of St. Paul, Covent Garden, the officers
  of which were bound over to prosecute Bishop, Williams, and May, for
  the murder of the Italian boy, the duty of conducting the
  prosecution entirely devolved upon me. In the course of my
  inquiries, I elicited beyond all doubt that the practice of burking,
  as it was then called, had prevailed to a considerable extent in the

  Would inspection, do you conceive, and proper inquiry as to the
  cause of death, have prevented such murders?—Most effectually so, I
  conceive. I may mention that they took out the teeth of the younger
  subjects, and sold them to the dentists. The Italian boy, it would
  have been seen, had no teeth; the teeth had been punched out in such
  a manner as to have been remarkable.

  Though the motives to such dreadful practices are removed under the
  securities for the public safety imposed in connexion with the
  Anatomy Act, yet in cases of other attempts against life, do you
  consider that the requiring a certificate of the fact of death,
  verified on inspection before burial, would interpose useful
  practical obstacles for the prevention of murder, and the protection
  of life?—Most assuredly.

Mr. Partridge, the surgeon of King’s College, at whose instance the
murderers were taken into custody, in the cases referred to, expresses a
similar opinion as to the importance of the proposed verification of the
fact and cause of death by a proper officer.

§ 203. It may here be stated that only a small proportion of the local
registrars are either medical officers or members of the medical
profession; but the short experience of those registrars who have those
qualifications has elicited abundant indications of the extent to which
proper securities are wanting for the protection of life in this
country. Nearly all who have for any length of time exercised their
functions have had occasion to arrest cases of _primâ facie_ suspicion
on the way to interment that had escaped the only existing security and
initiative to investigation, the suspicion of neighbours and popular
rumour. Mr. Abraham, surgeon and registrar of deaths in the City of
London Union, was asked on this subject—

  You are Registrar of Deaths in the City of London Union. Since you
  have been Registrar, have you had occasion to send notice to the
  coroner of cases where the causes of death stated appeared
  suspicious?—Yes, in about half-a-dozen cases. One was of an old
  gentleman occupying apartments in Bell Alley. His servant went out
  to market, and on her return, in less than an hour, found him dead
  on the bed, with his legs lying over the side of it. He had been
  ailing some time, and was seized occasionally with difficulty of
  breathing, but able to get up, and when she left him she did not
  perceive anything unusual in his appearance. I went to the house
  myself, and made inquiries into the cause of death; and although I
  did not discover anything to lead to the suspicion of his having
  died from poison or other unfair means, I considered it involved in
  obscurity, and referred the case to the coroner for investigation.
  Another case was of a traveller who was found dead in his bed at an
  inn. The body was removed to a distance of forty miles before a
  certificate to authorize the burial was applied for. His usual
  medical attendant certified to his having been for several years the
  subject of aortic aneurism, which was the probable cause of his
  sudden death, although the evidence was imperfect and
  unsatisfactory, and could not be otherwise without an examination of
  the body, and I therefore refused to register it without notice from
  the coroner.

  A third case occurred a few days ago. A medical certificate was
  presented to me of the death of a man from disease of the heart and
  aneurism of the aorta. He was driven in a cab to the door of a
  medical practitioner in this neighbourhood, and was found dead. He
  might have died from poison, and, without the questions put on the
  occasion of registering the cause of death, the case might have
  passed without notice. There was not in this case, as in others, any
  evidence to show that death was occasioned by unfair means, but the
  causes were obscure and unsatisfactory, and I felt it to be my duty
  to have them investigated by the coroner.

  But for anything known, you may have passed cases of
  murder?—Certainly; and there is at present no security against such
  cases. The personal inspection of the deceased would undoubtedly act
  as a great security.

Mr. P. H. Holland, surgeon, registrar for Chorlton-on-Medlock:—

  My district is of the better description, inhabited either by the
  higher classes or by respectable working men, in which cases of
  deaths from crime are not very likely to occur; yet suspicious cases
  have from time to time happened (say six or eight annually in my
  district), to which I have thought it necessary to call the
  attention of the coroner. In one case, for example, a father, a
  labouring man, came to me to report the death of his infant child,
  stating the cause to be sickness and purging; there was then no
  cholera prevalent, and the rapidity of the disease was unusually
  great. My suspicion was excited as to the cause of the death, of
  which the father could give no clear account, and I sent word to the
  coroner that I thought the case was one which required inquiry. An
  inquest was held, and it turned out that the child had taken
  arsenic. The jury were of opinion that the death was entirely
  accidental,—that there had been no criminal intention. Had not the
  cause of the accident been developed by the inquiry, others of the
  family might have suffered in the same way. The other cases, which
  had escaped inquiry, have been chiefly those of accident, in which
  the death occurred at long periods subsequently, such as five or six
  weeks. I have found that it is a common practice to represent
  children as “still-born,” who were born alive, it not being
  necessary to register still-born children. By passing them off as
  still-born, burial is obtained for a smaller fee. But by this means
  cases of infanticide might be concealed. The fact of a married woman
  having been pregnant, and no proof existing as to the issue may
  hereafter be of legal importance. I have heard of many suspected
  cases of the wilful neglect of children, on whose deaths sums were
  obtainable from different burial societies. I cannot doubt that by
  inquiring much infantile death, which occurs from ignorance and
  incorrect treatment, would be prevented.

  Inspection on the spot would, I consider, operate much more
  powerfully in prevention than in detection of crime. It would also
  occasion the stoppage of many existing but unsuspected causes of
  death. I have had reason to believe in the existence of a large
  amount of the preventible causes of death, with respect to which I
  have had no means of inquiry.

  I was, during four years, apothecary to the Chorlton-on-Medlock
  Dispensary, during which time cases of sickness occurring in houses
  unfit for healthful habitation were constantly coming under my
  observation; many particular localities, affording far more than
  their due proportion of disease, owing to imperfect drainage and
  ventilation. Any one who had gone to inspect the body on the
  occurrence of death in those places, with powers to enforce sanitary
  measures, such as the removal of the survivors, the drainage and
  cleansing and ventilation of the premises, would, undoubtedly, have
  had the means of preventing much mortality.

§ 204. Mr. Leigh, the surgeon, whose testimony has already been cited,
acts as one of the registrars of Manchester, and adverts to one source
of mortality amongst infants which appears to be widely extended in the
town districts. It is a practice with mothers who go to work to leave
their children in the care of the cheapest nurses, who commonly neglect
the infants, and have recourse to Dalby’s Carminative in large
quantities to quiet them. It is his opinion that a large number of them
fall a sacrifice to this and other improper modes of treatment. For
example, says Mr. Leigh,

  There is one evil of the extent of whose existence I had no
  conception, till I had for some time held the office of registrar.
  In decrying this, I would beg distinctly to disavow any private
  professional feeling. I allude to the great number of cases in which
  either no medical treatment at all, or what is nearly as bad,
  improper medical treatment, had been resorted to. I think, in nearly
  one-fourth of the deaths of infants reported to me, on inquiry I
  find that the little patients had been attended by incompetent and
  unqualified practitioners, chiefly retail druggists. Cases of croup
  and inflammation of the lungs which are eminently benefited by
  medical treatment, and in which prompt and decisive measures often
  preserve life, are treated by them, and I have reason to know by
  inquiry into the details of the cases that bleedings, calomel, and
  the remedies absolutely requisite in such cases are never, or very
  rarely, employed, whereas, under proper medical treatment, most of
  such cases would recover. Under these circumstances, these men
  themselves become fertile sources of mortality to the young.

In a subsequent communication, he states—

  I find that in the month of January just passed I registered the
  deaths of 33 children under 4 years of age, of these 9 were attended
  by druggists; I believe all by one who has received no medical
  education: this is at the rate of 108 per annum. Three of the
  children had no assistance at all, making 12 out of 33 that might
  possibly have been saved. This number 33, however, is below the
  average of the year, for in the three months preceding there died in
  the district, of children under 4 years, 133, or 44 per month; and
  during the quarter ending 30th September, 1842, 169, or 56 per
  month; and the general number of those having no attendance, or
  being attended by druggists, is fully one-third, so that 100 per
  annum is much below the truth. I some time ago requested Mr. Bennet,
  the registrar for the Ancoats district, to make similar notes on the
  cases reported to him, and on inquiry from him I have reason to
  believe that the evil exists to as great an extent in his district
  as in mine.

  I find that in most of the cases no efficient medical treatment was
  adopted. Cases of pneumonia are seldom or never bled, or proper
  remedies applied: the disease is probably not recognized, and if it
  were, the treatment and extent to which it should be pursued is not
  known to the parties prescribing.

A similar practice appears to be prevalent also in the mining districts
of Staffordshire and Shropshire. (Vide Reports of the Sub-Commissioners
for inquiring into employment in Mines, vol. I., pp. 22, 23; articles
182–6; and pp. 38, 39; pp. 305 to 315, and the recent report respecting
the employment of children at Nottingham.) In the course of some recent
inquiries by Dr. Lyon Playfair he found the increasing sale of opium in
the manufacturing towns was ascribable to the increasing use of it in
the form of carminative, or as it was named “quietness” for children,
and that the consumption of opium by adults had diminished. On inquiring
from the druggists who sold the opium what was the cause of the
diminished consumption by the adults, the uniform answer was, the
“distress of the times,” which compelled them to dispense with luxuries.
He however ascertained clearly that from this terrible practice great
numbers of children perish, sometimes suddenly from an overdose, but
more commonly slowly, painfully, and insidiously. He was struck,
however, with the fact of the increased proportions and rapidity of the
births in the places where this infantile mortality was prevalent. It
was remarked by the people themselves. So that there was no diminution
of the numbers of children, but a woeful diminution of their strength
and a proportionate increase of their burdensomeness. Those who escaped
with life, became pale and sickly children, and it was very long before
they overcame the effects arising from the pernicious practice; if
indeed they ever did do so.[41]

The most serious consequences, arise from the omission of proper
administrative securities for the safety of life in Scotland. On these
Dr. Scott Alison states:—

  In Scotland there is full opportunity for the perpetration of murder
  and burial without investigation by any responsible officer. There
  is no coroner and no inquest. I have known cases of the occurrence
  of deaths from culpable negligence, to say the least of it, which
  required public proceedings to be taken, but where interment took
  place without the slightest notice. I had myself a young man of
  about 20 years of age under treatment who, in my opinion, died from
  culpable maltreatment whilst in prison. He had in a drunken frolic
  committed an assault, and was imprisoned in a damp cold cell without
  a fire. He certainly died of disease which was very likely to be
  produced by the cold which he then endured, and to which he ascribed
  it. Before his imprisonment he was a remarkably strong, fine healthy
  man. No inquiry was made or thought of in the case. I have known
  several cases, and they were not uncommon. I remember two, within
  two or three days, of children having been overlaid and killed by
  their parents when in a state of drunkenness. They were buried
  without any notice being taken of the circumstance by any party,
  though if punishment were not inflicted upon them public notice
  would have been of importance for the sake of the morals of the

  I have known deaths of grown up people from burning when in a state
  of intoxication, and deaths from intoxication take place without
  inquiry; also deaths from accidents, such as falling into coal pits,
  deaths from machinery, as to which in many cases no public inquiry
  whatsoever was ever made. I have known cases of children burned to
  death who were left without any care. It was a common case in
  Tranent for persons to drink for a wager who would drink most. I
  know of the case of three tradesmen who drank for a wager; two of
  them died within a few days, and the widow of one of them committed
  suicide shortly afterwards; and I was informed that they were all
  buried without any notice being taken of the fact. There is
  certainly a facility for the perpetration of murder in Scotland from
  the absence of securities, and for protection of life against
  culpable negligence. The visits of an officer of public health would
  be of very great utility.

Mr. William Chambers observes:—

  It seems to me not a little surprising that in Scotland, which is
  signalized for its general intelligence, love of order, and I may
  add really beneficent laws, the country should be so far behind in
  everything connected with vital statistics. I have already noticed
  that it possesses no coroner’s inquest. This is a positive disgrace.
  Deaths are continually occurring from violence, but of which not the
  slightest notice is taken by procurators fiscal, magistrates, or
  police; indeed, these functionaries seldom interfere except when a
  positive complaint is lodged. Some time ago, the medical gentleman
  who attends my family, mentioned to me incidentally that that
  morning he had been called to look at, and if possible recover, a
  lady who had been found hanging in her bed-room. His efforts were
  ineffectual; the lady was stone dead; and it was announced by her
  relatives that she had died suddenly. In the usual course of things,
  she was buried. Now, in this case, not the slightest inquiry was
  made by any public officer, and whether it was a death from suicide
  or from murder nobody can tell. The procurator fiscal, whose duty it
  is to take cognizance of such deaths, is, of course, not to blame,
  for he has not the faculty of omniscience.

The preventive and detective functions of the officer of health would be
the more efficient from the exercise of any such functions being
incidental to ordinary functions of acknowledged every day importance,
which must lead his visits and inspection to be regarded as _primâ
facie_ services of beneficence and kindness to all who surround the
deceased. The comparative inefficiency of officers whose functions are
principally judiciary is well exemplified in some remarks made by Mr.
Hill Burton, Advocate, in a communication on the subject of interments
in Scotland.

  A prominent defect (as he observes) in the means of inquiry into the
  causes of death in Scotland consists in the circumstance that before
  any investigation can be entered on there must be ostensible reasons
  for presuming the existence of violence and crime. On the occasion
  of a death having occurred in circumstances out of the ordinary
  course, the only person authorized to make any inquiry as to its
  cause is the officer whose proper and ostensible duty it is to
  prosecute to conviction. It hence arises that the simple institution
  of an inquiry is almost equivalent to a charge of crime, and that
  the proper officer, knowing the serious position in which he places
  those concerned, by taking any steps, is very reluctant to move,
  until the public voice has pretty unequivocally shown him that the
  matter comes within his province as a public prosecutor. There is no
  family in Scotland that would not at present feel a demand by a
  Procurator Fiscal, or by any individual to inspect a body within
  their house, as very nearly equivalent to a charge of murder; and I
  should think it is of very rare occurrence, that any such inspection
  takes place, in a private house, unless when a prosecution has been
  decided on.

  The absence of any machinery, through which an inquiry can be calmly
  and impartially made into the cause of death, without in itself
  implying suspicion of crime, is frequently illustrated in the
  creation of excitement and alarm in the public mind, which the
  authorities cannot find a suitable means of allaying. I remember
  some years ago being present at a trial for murder, which, as it
  involved no point in law, has unfortunately not been reported. It
  was a trial undertaken by the Crown for the mere purpose of
  justifying an innocent man. Two butchers were returning tipsy from a
  fair; some words arose between them, and soon after, one of them was
  found stabbed to the heart by one of the set of knives which both
  carried. On investigation, it appeared that the deceased had fallen
  on his side, from the effects of drunkenness, and that one of the
  knives which hung at his side, dropping perpendicularly with its
  heavy handle to the ground, pierced through his ribs to his heart as
  he fell. It was impossible, however, to satisfy the public that such
  was the case. The feeling of the neighbourhood ran high, and the
  Crown was induced, out of humanity, or from a desire to preserve the
  public peace, to concede the formality of a trial. I know it to be
  of the most frequent occurrence, especially in the north of
  Scotland, that suspicions which must be destructive to the peace of
  mind of those who are the objects of them, take wing through
  society, and can never be set effectually at rest.

§ 205. Mr. W. Dyce Guthrie, after reciting several cases of strong
suspicion which came under his observation whilst acting as a medical
practitioner in Scotland concludes by observing—

  Whether on an inquest before a coroner the real truth would have
  been elicited I cannot determine, but I think there can be but one
  opinion as to the propriety of having all obstacles removed which
  may presently stand in the way of arriving at the truth of all
  circumstances connected with sudden and suspicious deaths. Were it
  necessary, I could cite many instances of sudden deaths attended by
  circumstances of such a nature as not only rendered an investigation
  highly proper in a legal point of view, but necessary in charity to
  those individuals whose characters were tarnished by the cruelly
  unjust insinuations of some black-hearted enemies. The business not
  having been thoroughly probed at the time of its occurrence leaves
  great latitude for the villanous conjectures of parties whose
  interest it may be to damage others in the estimation of the public.

§ 206. Besides supplying the defect of administrative arrangements in
respect to the cases of suspicion which at present escape inquiry, the
proposed appointment of officers of health presents as a further
incidental advantage the means of abating an evil which has been the
subject of much complaint, namely, the grievous pain inflicted on the
relations and survivors, and the expense to the public by the holding of
inquests, which the subsequent evidence and the terms of the verdicts
have shown to have been unnecessary. In the metropolis, and in many
extensive districts inquests are chiefly moved on the representations of
common parish beadles, or by common parish constables, to whom the
inquest is usually a source of emolument. This will be admitted to be
one of the least secure and satisfactory agencies in towns that could
well be employed for so important a purpose. I have been informed of
instances where they have been paid to avoid the annoyance of inquests
in cases where from sudden but natural deaths, as from apoplexy,
inquests might have been held, and that there is reason to believe that
such payments have not been unfrequent. Such agency cannot be said to be
a secure one either as to integrity or discretion.

§ 207. I am informed by Mr. Payne, the coroner for the city of London,
that he has in some cases felt it to be his duty to send a confidential
person to make inquiries for him, before he would act on the ordinary
sources of information in holding inquests. I have also been informed
that other coroners adopt the same laudable practice, and frequently
incur the trouble and expense of previous inquiries by more trustworthy
persons, in cases where the alleged cause of death is not manifest. The
appointment of medical officers of health might be made without the
exercise of any new or anomalous powers to relieve the coroners from
such necessity, and at the same time give the public cause to be better
satisfied that no really suspicious cases were shrouded and concealed,
and that none escaped from inadvertence.[42] I believe that on the uses
to be derived from the appointment of the officers in question most
coroners would concur in the opinions expressed in the following answer
received from Mr. Payne.

  In reply to your inquiry (respecting the Medical Registrars of
  Deaths giving notice to the Coroner of such deaths as may appear to
  them to inquire to be investigated by him), I beg to say that I have
  long felt there has been something wanting in the machinery by which
  inquiries into deaths are, or ought to be regulated.

  In cases of death from external violence, where the injury is
  apparent, the constable of the district is fully aware of the
  necessity of applying to the coroner; but in cases of sudden or
  other deaths where there is no cause apparent to a common observer,
  there is a necessity for some qualified person forming a judgment as
  to the expediency of a judicial inquiry into the cause of death, and
  I know of none so well qualified to form such a judgment as a member
  of the medical profession. The office of _searcher_, when properly
  carried out, was useful as far as it could be in the hands of old
  women, but that could only apply to cases in which external violence
  was apparent to the view on searching the body. I believe, however,
  that the office has now ceased to exist, and the present mode of
  registering deaths does not supply any means of detecting unnatural
  or violent deaths. I am therefore quite of opinion that a Medical
  Registrar (chosen for his ability and _discretion_) who would not
  unnecessarily annoy the feelings of private families, and yet make
  himself acquainted with the death by personal knowledge, would be a
  valuable addition to the present mode of ascertaining and
  registering deaths.

      _Advantages to Science from the Improvement of the Mortuary

§ 208. Extending the view from the private and public immediate and
extraordinary necessities which may be met by a staff of well qualified
public officers, exercising the duties and powers proposed, to the
ordinary but higher public wants, it will be found they may in that
position obtain in years, or even in months, indications of the certain
means of prevention of disease, for which the medical experience of ages
has supplied no means of cure, and only doubtful means of alleviation.

§ 209. There is not one medical man who has acted as a registrar of
deaths who has been consulted on this subject, who does not state as a
result of his short experience under the registration of the fact of
deaths, and even of the distant and imperfect statements of the causes
of death, that it has given them such a knowledge as no private practice
could give of the effect of habits of life and of locality in producing

§ 210. As a practical instance of the immediate advantages of placing
the business of registration under the guidance of medical knowledge,
may be cited the following from the statement of Mr. Jones, a medical
officer, who acts as registrar of the Strand Union. Speaking of the
working of the registration, he says—

  I find that neither my experience as a medical officer, for many
  years in the parish, nor my experience as a private practitioner,
  give me the same extended view of the causes of death as the
  mortuary registration. It brings to my knowledge cases which I could
  not know as a private practitioner: for example, as to the
  occurrence of small-pox or epidemics. In such instances, it is of
  use to me, as it sometimes enables me to go to places where I
  believe children have not been vaccinated, and suggest to the family
  the necessity of vaccination as a measure of prevention. When I have
  received information of one or two cases of small-pox, I have looked
  to the register of births, and sent to other people to warn them of
  the necessity of vaccination.

§ 211. On the advantages which inquiries for the registration of death
would give, the concurrent opinions of several eminent medical men may
be expressed in the terms used by Dr. Calvert Holland, of Sheffield, who
observes that, “From an inquiry on the spot concerning the train of
symptoms preceding death, the general examination of the body, or from
conversation with the medical attendant, the cause of death, with few
exceptions, would probably be assigned with as much accuracy as by any
plan that can possibly be devised. We should hail such an appointment as
one of great value. Even in those instances in which it is difficult,
from the obscurity or undefined character of the symptoms, to say
precisely what is the cause of death, the inquiry would tend to
dissipate the doubts or obscurity in which it might be involved. The
duties of the officer, if he possessed first-rate professional
abilities, would give to him a power of analyzing symptoms, of tracing
cause and effect, which few practitioners possess or can acquire in a
long life of professional exertions. Were the causes of death analyzed
and recorded by one having no other duties, and fitted by his
accomplishments to undertake the task, the medical and statistical
inquirer would possess a body of information on the influence of general
local circumstances as well as on particular agents in connexion with
manufactures, the just value of which it is not possible to appreciate.”

§ 212. For the promotion of the new science of prevention, and the
knowledge of causes necessary to it, a primary requisite is to bring
large classes of cases as may be duly observed, under the eye of one
observer. It would be a practicable arrangement, on the receipt of the
notices of deaths, to direct the visits of one officer chiefly to cases
of the same class, for the purpose of collecting information as to the
common causes or antecedents. The amount of remuneration included in the
estimate hereafter given might be made the means of obtaining additional
time and services for carrying the inspections of the officers of health
still further into the circumstances of the living; as in cases of
consumption or fever, where numbers came from the same place of work or
occupation, to visit and ascertain whether there was any overcrowding or
any latent cause of disease.

§ 213. In an important paper which Dr. Calvert Holland has written “On
the Diseases of the Lungs from mechanical causes,” he gives an account
of the physical and moral condition of the cutlers’ dry grinders of
Sheffield, whose case may be cited not only as further exemplifying the
large evils, § 200, which, in the absence of protective public
arrangements, will pass without complaint from the _immediate_
sufferers, but as showing the advantages derivable from any arrangements
which bring large classes of cases within one intelligent view, _i. e._
before an officer of health, in presenting clearly common causes of
evil, and in suggesting means of prevention, which in single cases or
smaller groups of cases might not have challenged attention or justified
any confident conclusions as to the remedies available.

It is known that the steel and stone dust arising in the processes of
grinding cutlery, is peculiarly injurious to the class of workpeople
engaged in it, and that those who continue at the work are generally cut
off before they are thirty-five or forty-five years of age. Formerly the
same workmen completed several processes in the making of knives, of
which processes grinding was only one. At that time the “grinders’
disease” was very little known, and the men lived to about the average
age, and were considered the most respectable class of the Sheffield
workmen. As the manufacture advanced the labour became subdivided, and
one class of workmen were wholly occupied with the destructive process
of grinding. Whether their numbers were kept down by the excessive
mortality, or a monopoly were maintained by the destructive effects of
the process, wages were so high as to allow them to play during a part
of the week. Then arose that avidity for immediate and reckless
enjoyment, common to all uneducated minds under the perception of a
transient existence. When trade was good they would only work a part of
the week; they spent the remainder in the riot and the dissipation
characteristic of soldiers after a siege. Many of them each kept a
hound, and had it trained by a master of the hunt, and their several
hounds formed a pack with which they hunted lawlessly, and poached over
any grounds within their reach. The grinders pack is still kept up
amongst them. They became reckless in their marriages. “The more
destructive the branch of work,” says Dr. Holland, “the more ignorant,
reckless, and dissipated are the workmen, and the effects may be traced
in the tendency to marry, and generally at exceedingly early ages.” He
further observes of one class of them, that amongst them “nature appears
not only precocious but extremely fruitful.” Their short and improvident
career is attended by a proportionately large amount of premature and
wretched widowhood and destitute orphanage.

This one class of cases was brought fortuitously under the observation
of Dr. Holland, and he has done what a competent officer of health could
scarcely have omitted to attempt to do,—to devise means of prevention
and reclaim their execution.

One benevolent inventor proposed the adoption of a magnetic guard, or
mouth-piece, the efficiency of which consisted in the attraction of the
metallic particles evolved in the process of grinding. But the dust to
which the grinder was exposed consisted of the gritty particles of the
stone as well as of the metallic particles of the instruments ground,
and if the invention had been adopted, it would still have left the men
exposed to the gritty particles. It was not, however, adopted, nor does
it appear that any efficient preventive would be voluntarily adopted by
these reckless men. Dr. Holland invented another mode, which acts
independently of the men, and which is very simple, and, it is
confidently stated, that after a trial of some years, it has proved
equal to the complete correction of the evil. It consists of an
arrangement by which a current of air, directed over the work, carries
from the workman clear out of the apartment all the gritty as well as
all the metallic particles. The expense of the apparatus would scarcely
exceed the proportion of a sovereign to each grinder. But it is not
adopted; and Dr. Holland is in the position of an officer of health, on
behalf of mothers and children, to reclaim authoritative intervention
and the interests of society to arrest the suicidal and demoralizing
waste of life. Having consulted his experience on the advantages of such
an office as that in question to the working classes, he speaks in
strong and confident terms of the benefits to be derived from it:—

  Perhaps in no manufacturing community is human life, in large
  classes of men, so shortened or accompanied with such an amount of
  suffering or wretchedness as in this town, in connection with
  certain staple manufactures. Were the legislature to interfere and
  enforce the correction of the evils, by a system of ventilation,
  which is neither difficult nor expensive to put in operation, the
  duties of this officer, if directed to the superintendence of this
  system, would save numerous lives and prevent an incalculable amount
  of misery. At present, in consequence of these evils, a majority of
  the artisans is killed off from twenty-five to thirty-five years of
  age, and numbers annually leaving widows and children in great
  destitution, and, in most cases, dependent on the parish. The evils
  are not inseparably connected with the occupation; they admit of
  redress. An officer of health, by maintaining the system of
  ventilation in efficient operation, would save numerous lives, would
  create a better tone of mind among the artisans—for wretchedness is
  closely allied with ignorance and immorality—would diminish the high
  rate of mortality amongst the young under five years of age—left by
  the premature death of the parent unprovided for, and lastly, would
  greatly relieve the parish funds. The officer, having the power to
  remove at once any case of fever from a densely populated locality,
  as well as to enforce measures of prevention, such as the removal of
  accumulated filth, stagnant pools of water, or the correction of any
  other local circumstances, would perform duties which would redound
  considerably to the advantage of the community.

§ 214. In confirmation of the views of the benefits derivable to medical
science from such arrangements as those proposed, § 211, various
instances might be adduced besides the last cited, § 213, and that
already given in the General Report, p. 355, of the discoveries made, on
an examination of 1000 cases, by M. Louis, on the nature of consumption,
now generally recognized as presenting facts at variance with all
ancient and previous modern opinions: but in respect of the views there
stated, as to the great public importance of well-ascertained medical
statistics, I submit the high confirmation derivable from the following
statement contained in the recently published outlines of pathology and
practice of medicine, by Dr. W. Pulteney Alison, fellow and late
president of the College of Physicians at Edinburgh, and professor of
the practice of medicine in the University of Edinburgh:—

“The living body,” he observes, “assumes, in many cases, different kinds
of diseased action, varying remarkably in different periods of life,
without any apparent or known cause; but in the greater number of cases
it is generally believed that certain circumstances in the situation or
condition of patients, before diseases appear, can be assigned with
confidence as their causes. The efficacy of these, however, is seldom
established in any other way than simply by the observation that persons
known to be exposed to their influence become afflicted with certain
diseases in a proportion very much greater than those who are not known
to be so exposed.

“This kind of evidence is in many _individual_ cases very liable to
fallacy, in consequence of the great variety of the circumstances
capable of affecting health, in which individuals are placed, and of the
difficulty of varying these so as to obtain such observations, in the
way of induction or exclusion, as shall be decisive as to the efficacy
of each. Hence the importance of the observations intended to illustrate
this matter being as extensively multiplied as possible; and hence also
the peculiar value, with a view to the investigation of the causes of
diseases, of observations made on large and organized bodies of men, as
in the experience of military and naval practitioners. All the
circumstances of the whole number of men whose diseases are there
observed, are in many respects exactly alike; they are accurately known
to the observer, and are indeed often to a certain degree at his
disposal; they are often suddenly changed, and when changed as to one
portion of the individuals under observation, they are often unchanged
as to another; and therefore the conditions necessary to obtaining an
_experimentum crucis_ as to the efficacy of an alleged cause of disease
are more frequently in the power of such an observer than of one who is
conversant only with civil life.

“But when the necessary precautions as to the multiplication of facts,
and the exclusion of circumstances foreign to the result in question,
are observed, the efficacy of the remote causes of disease may often be
determined _statistically_, and with absolute certainty; and the
knowledge thus acquired as leading directly to the _prevention_ of
disease, is often of the greatest importance, especially with a view to
regulations of medical police. And if the human race be destined, in
future ages, to possess greater wisdom and happiness in this state of
existence than at present, the value of this knowledge may be expected
to increase in the progress of time; because there are many diseases
which the experience of ages has brought only partially within the power
of medicine, but the causes of which are known, and under certain
circumstances may be avoided; and the conditions necessary for avoiding
them are in a great measure in the power of _communities_, though at
present beyond the power of many of the individuals composing these.

“There are, indeed, various cases, of frequent occurrence, in which the
study of the remote causes of disease is as practically important as
anything that can be learnt as to their history, or the effects of
remedies upon them. This is particularly true of epidemic diseases, and
of diseases to which a tendency is given by irremediable constitutional

Having had the honour to be associated with the late Dr. Cowan of
Glasgow, Dr. Alison, and some other gentlemen, in a committee to
consider of the means of obtaining a system of mortuary registration for
Scotland, and having conversed with many qualified persons who have also
paid much attention to the subject, I may state confidently that the
exposition above given of the advantages derivable to the public service
from the improvement of vital statistics would meet with extensive
concurrence, independently of the very high sanction conferred by any
expression of an opinion on such a subject from Dr. Alison. The towns
where the greatest mortality prevails present precisely the
opportunities so highly appreciated, of observations on large and
organized bodies of men, § 213, often as similar in the chief
circumstances which govern their condition, as the classes presented to
the observation of medical officers in the army or in the navy.

Lord Bacon observes, in his suggestions for an inquiry into the causes
of death—“And this inquiry, we hope, might redound to a general good, if
physicians would but exert themselves and raise their minds above the
sordid considerations of cure; not deriving their honour from the
necessities of mankind, but becoming ministers to the Divine power and
goodness both in prolonging and restoring the life of man; especially as
this may be effected by safe, commodious, and not illiberal means,
though hitherto unattempted. And certainly it would be an earnest of
Divine favour if, whilst we are journeying to the land of promise, our
garments, those frail bodies of ours, were not greatly to wear out in
the wilderness of this world.” It would accord with his great views that
adequate public provision and arrangement should be made to enable
physicians to render the services desired. From the earliest time to the
present, when the subject of sanitary evil and desecration of
grave-yards was brought before the public by the long-continued
exertions of Mr. Walker, members of the medical profession have made the
most strenuous exertions and sacrifices for the attainment of such

It is submitted that, in whatsoever place a proper system of the
verification and registration of the fact and cause of death has not
been introduced, as in Ireland and Scotland, and in all populous and
increasing districts, that the appointment of an officer of health,
having charge and regulations of all interments, would be the most
economical as well as the most efficient mode of introducing it: in
every place it must be a measure of paramount importance.

§ 215. As an instance of the incompatibility of such duties as those of
the proposed officer of public health, with service in connexion with
any existing local administrative body, it may be mentioned that every
local Board in such a town as Sheffield would comprehend some of the
chief householders, who would most probably be the chief manufacturers
and employers of the class of workmen, and that even the official
connexion would to such minds as the workmen expose him to suspicion,
and diminish his influence, for the effectuation of any voluntary
changes of practice. On other grounds, such as the absence of
qualification in such Boards to give superior directions; and such
grounds as those specified in p. 322 and p. 349 and 350 of the General
Report, it is submitted that the functions of the officer of health
would be the best exercised, independently of any other local
administrative body. He would, in an independent capacity, be the most
powerful auxiliary of any well-intended and zealous administration of
local works, and as his functions must bring him at once to the chief
spots where the consequences of neglects and omissions would be often
manifest in fatal events, he would, as an independent and yet
responsible officer, exercise an extensive influence and an efficient
check on behalf of the public at large.

§ 216. Every efficient measure of improvement of the sanitary condition
of the population, must be in its mere pecuniary results a measure of a
large economy (§ 80). Physicians and medical officers are of opinion
that all the ordinary and extraordinary duties specified, and even more,
may be done by an officer of health with the same average expenditure of
time (taking one case with another), that occurs to a physician in
visiting a patient, examining the case, writing out a prescription and
giving instructions to attendants. I shall be able to show that it may
be accomplished at a charge no greater than that now paid by the
labouring classes to one of their body as a steward or officer of their
burial clubs who is required to inspect and identify the body of a
deceased member.

   _Proximate Estimate of the comparative Expense of Interments under
                 arrangements for National Cemeteries._

Having shown the chief desiderata in respect to the improvement of the
practice of interment, and the means of protecting the public health, I
proceed to submit the substance of the information collected as to the
means of obtaining them.

§ 217. In submitting for consideration a proximate estimate of the
extent to which it is practicable to carry that reduction of the expense
of interments, which is so important to the middle and lower classes,
the expense of interments of gentry and persons of the middle class of
life is taken at double the amount at which persons of great experience
in providing for the interment of large numbers have estimated they may
be executed for without any reduction of the essentials to a decent

§ 218. The estimate takes the existing scale of burial fees of the
parish of St. James, Westminster, as fees to be continued, which would,
if received in a fee fund, not only provide compensation for vested
interests, but go far to provide the expense of new services.

§ 219. To the estimate of the expenses of interment is superadded a fee
to defray the expenses of medical officers of a board of public health.
The reduction of that great source of waste and expense, the payment of
two or three stages of profits, for materials, &c. of funerals (by
placing them under general arrangements), would admit of this charge,
which is really a means to a still greater economy, the economy of
health and life, and consequently of the number of funerals themselves.
Objection to these charges would scarcely have place where the pecuniary
economy is immediate. The medical service proposed may be procured to
the working classes (supposing it were necessary to charge the expense
on the funeral) at all distances, for the same sum as that which they
now pay to the unlearned inspectors, officers of their clubs, for
inspection within short distances, namely, 2_s._ 6_d._ It is declared by
competent witnesses, that a respectable officer of public health, a
physician, performing such services as those described, would be
welcomed in most families on such a charge as 10_s._ 6_d._ for the
middle classes, and 1_l._ 1_s._ for the higher classes, charged as a
part of the reduced funeral expenses.

  _Estimated Scale of Charges for Interments in the Metropolis,
    inclusive of Compensations; the payment for the purchase of new
    Cemeteries; and new Establishment Charges._

                         │            │  Proposed  │  Scale of
                         │            │ Charge for │Expense for
                         │  Existing  │ Officer of │Undertaker’s
                         │Burial Dues.│ Health and │ Materials
                         │            │Registration│    and
                         │            │ of Death.  │ Services.
                         │            │            │
                         │£. _s._ _d._│£. _s._ _d._│£. _s._ _d._
                         │            │            │
 Gentry         {Adults  │  10  10   0│   1   0   0│  21   0   0
                {Children│   5   5   0│   1   0   0│   3  10   0
                         │            │            │
 1st Class      {Adults  │   2  10   0│   0  10   0│  10  10   0
 Tradesmen      {Children│   1   5   0│   0  10   0│   2  10   0
                         │            │            │
 2nd Class      }Adults  │   1  12   9│   0   6   3│   6   0   0
 Tradesmen      }Children│   0  16   9│   0   6   3│   1  12   6
 (Undescribed)  }        │            │            │
                         │            │            │
 Artisans       {Adults  │   0  15   6│   0   2   6│   1  10   0
                {Children│   0   8   9│   0   2   6│   0  15   0
                         │            │            │
 Paupers        {Adults  │           }│            │
                {Children│           }│            │
                         │            │            │

                         │               │            │Annual│  Total
                         │               │   Total    │Number│estimated
                         │Charge for New │ estimated  │  of  │Expense of
                         │Cemeteries and │  Scale of  │Cases │Interments
                         │Establishments.│ Expense of │  of  │ to each
                         │               │  Burials.  │ each │Class per
                         │               │            │Class.│  annum.
                         │ £. _s._ _d._  │£. _s._ _d._│      │    £
                         │               │            │      │
 Gentry         {Adults  │      6   0   0│  38  10   0│ 1,724│    66,374
                {Children│      4   5   0│  14   0   0│   529│     7,406
                         │               │            │      │
 1st Class      {Adults  │      3   0   0│  16  10   0│ 3,979│    65,655
 Tradesmen      {Children│      2   0   0│   6   5   0│ 3,703│    23,144
                         │               │            │      │
 2nd Class      }Adults  │      1  10   0│   9   9   0│ 2,996│    28,312
 Tradesmen      }Children│      0  10   0│   3   5   6│ 2,761│     9,042
 (Undescribed)  }        │               │            │      │
                         │               │            │      │
 Artisans       {Adults  │      0   2   0│   2  10   0│12,045│    30,113
                {Children│      0   1   9│   1   8   0│13,885│    19,439
                         │               │            │      │
 Paupers        {Adults  │               │   0  13   0│ 3,655│     2,376
                {Children│               │            │      │    ——————
                         │               │            │      │
                Totals                                       │   251,861
                                                             │   ———————
 Or an annual saving on the estimated total expense of the   │
   interments and parochial charges for the whole metropolis │   374,743

§ 220. In this estimate the expense of the funerals of the classes
“undescribed” in the mortuary registries may be taken as representing
the second or third class of tradesmen. In the estimate of the expense
of funerals of persons of the first class, no account is taken for a
long cavalcade of mourning coaches; but those who are conversant with
the details agree that several may be supplied, with a full retinue of
hired mourners, and the expense be yet kept below one-half the present
amount of charges. A confident opinion is expressed that interments
might be performed, under general arrangements, with all the advantages
specified, and full compensation be given, at a rate of between 5_l._
and 6_l._ each funeral, instead of about 15_l._, the present average.

§ 221. On the eight chief cemeteries opened in the metropolis by private
companies, and comprising about 260 acres, or considerably more than the
space occupied by all the parochial and private burial grounds whatever,
a capital of about 400,000_l._ has been invested. The expenses of
litigation and of procuring Acts of Parliament, and purchasing grounds,
must have been excessively heavy; and it appears probable that, for an
amount not much greater or not exceeding it by more than one-fifth,
superior national cemeteries, with houses of reception and appropriate
chapels, may be formed on the present scale of expenditure of these
companies, and in a style commensurate with what is due to the
metropolis of the empire. If the charge of the purchase of the land and
the structural arrangements be spread over 30 years, and the payment of
the money charged, with interest, on the burials of persons of the
higher and middle classes, the amount might be included in the total
charges for funerals above estimated for the several classes, which
charges, though so much below the amount at present usually paid, are
yet higher than asserted to be necessary by respectable tradesmen, ready
to verify their assertions by sureties to supply the materials and
service of an equal or of a better description for the public than that
which they now obtain. If the charges of the new cemeteries and
establishments at such rates as those suggested were taken as
substitutes for the existing rates of charge for graves, the new rates
would be for the middle and higher classes greatly below the charges
usually found in undertakers’ bills and executors’ accounts. If those
new expenses were levied in the shape of a poll tax, or as burial dues,
a sum of about 5_d._ per head per annum (exclusive of the expense of
collection) would suffice in the metropolis to repay the principal and
interest of purchase-money in 30 years, and also to defray the annual
establishment charges.

§ 222. The establishment charges of the existing eight principal
cemeteries amount, it is stated, to about 7500_l._ per annum. I believe,
that by appropriate arrangements of a public establishment a far more
efficient service might be obtained for national cemeteries for the same
money. Assuming that the greatest solemnity and the highest cathedral
service is due to funerals, four full choirs of 20 choristers and four
organists to lead them might be obtained for less than 10,000_l._ per
annum for four national cemeteries to meet the wishes of those who
desire a service of the highest solemnity. The lowest aggregate charge
for the separate establishments of parochial and suburban burial
grounds, if only on the scale of that of St. Martin’s-in-the-Fields,
must be at the least 25,000_l._, and would probably extend to 30,000_l._
or 40,000_l._ per annum. Such an amount in connexion with national
cemeteries would suffice to maintain, in addition to the superior
religious establishments above described, a superior description of
intermediate houses of reception for the dead, with houses and offices
for the residence of the officers of public health in care of them: it
would beyond that suffice to provide the means for accommodation, on a
large scale, for the reception and treatment of all persons labouring
under infectious diseases. It might also suffice for the establishment
of public baths, in which the metropolis is also deficient.

§ 223. The number of the officers of health requisite for the due
execution of the service could only be determined by experience; but,
judging from analogous experience, a much smaller staff than on the
first view might be expected would suffice for the performance of all
the duties specified, if their whole time were devoted to them. Medical
officers of dispensaries, within their districts, visit, examine, and
treat twenty or thirty cases per diem; physicians in full practice, and
driving to distant parts of the town, on the average (which includes
cases of short visits of a few minutes and cases where a long attendance
would be required), visit about three cases in the hour. This appears to
be the best analogous experience. On this experience, and considering
that it would be good economy to provide each officer with a one-horse
vehicle, he may be expected to visit fifteen cases a-day, one day with
the other, out of the daily number of deaths. The two public medical
departments, the navy and the army, have rendered the highest, if not
the only, public service in the prevention of disease—the navy medical
department especially; which service it has been enabled to achieve from
having the subjects of its care under the most complete control. The
scale of remuneration to these officers, who, whatever diploma they may
possess, are required to undergo, and do undergo, a special
re-examination, is taken for estimating the expense. There are various
grounds that, at all events at the outset, and for their superior
responsibility, this class of officers should be selected. The proposed
staff would be as follows:—

                                                           Per Annum.
                                                          £.   _s._ _d._
 An inspector of public health, of the rank of an
   inspector-general of hospitals in the army, or of       657    0    0
   fleets in the navy, at full pay of 1_l._ 16_s._ per
   diem, at the rate given after ten years’ service

 A deputy inspector-general, at the rate of the army       438    0    0
   full pay of 1_l._ 4_s._ per diem

 Eight inspectors of public health, of the rank of staff
   surgeon, at the rate of the army full pay of 19_s._   2,774    0    0
   per diem

 Two supernumeraries, of the pay of regimental surgeons,   547   10    0
   at the rate of the army pay of 15_s._ per diem

 Ten single horse vehicles, and ten drivers, at 1_l._    1,638    0    0
   1_s._ per week, total 3_l._ 3_s._ per week each
                                                         —————   ——    —
                          Total                          6,054   10    0
                                                         —————   ——    —

Ten officers, visiting fifteen cases per diem, would suffice to take
order such as described, for the burial of 45,000 persons. They will
also be enabled in upwards of 8,000 cases to direct measures for the
protection of the survivors and their neighbours from the spread of
contagious disease. Supposing that each class of deaths occurred daily,
with the same regularity that they occur yearly, the distribution of the
duties of verification and examination may be seen from the following
table, made from the Registrar-General’s returns.

                  │                          ║ Liver- │  Man-  │ Leeds
                  │Metropolis Pop. 1,870,727 ║  pool  │chester │  Pop.
                  │                          ║  Pop.  │  Pop.  │168,627
                  │                          ║223,045 │192,408 │
                  │ Daily  │       │         ║ Weekly │        │
                  │ Number │ Daily │         ║ Number │ Weekly │ Weekly
                  │   of   │Number │  Total  ║   of   │ Number │ Number
                  │ Deaths │  of   │ Number  ║ Deaths │   of   │   of
                  │   of   │Deaths │ Daily.  ║   in   │ Deaths │ Deaths
                  │Children│  of   │         ║ Liver- │in Man- │   in
                  │ under  │Adults.│         ║ pool.  │chester.│ Leeds.
                  │  15.   │       │         ║        │        │
 Epidemic,        │        │       │         ║        │        │
   Endemic, and   │      18│ 4–2/10│  22–2/10║ 52–6/10│ 34–8/10│ 20–3/10
   Contagious     │        │       │         ║        │        │
   Diseases       │        │       │         ║        │        │
 Sporadic         │        │       │         ║        │        │
   Diseases:—     │        │       │         ║        │        │
  Nervous Disease │ 14–6/10│ 6–6/10│  21–2/10║ 28–7/10│      18│ 15–6/10
  Diseases of the │        │       │         ║        │        │
   Respiratory    │ 13–2/10│25–6/10│  38–6/10║ 46–8/10│ 34–6/10│      24
   Organs         │        │       │         ║        │        │
  Diseases of the │        │       │         ║        │        │
   Organs of      │        │ 2–4/10│   2–7/10║  1–8/10│  1–1/10│    8/10
   Circulation    │        │       │         ║        │        │
  Diseases of the │        │       │         ║        │        │
   Digestive      │  5–5/10│ 3–8/10│   9–3/10║ 10–5/10│  9–5/10│  6–1/10
   Organs         │        │       │         ║        │        │
  Other Sporadic  │  5–4/10│12–7/10│  18–1/10║ 13–5/10│      16│ 10–2/10
   Diseases       │        │       │         ║        │        │
 Old Age          │        │ 9–4/10│   9–4/10║  5–1/10│  5–7/10│  5–6/10
 Violent Deaths   │       1│ 2–4/10│   3–4/10║  3–8/10│  4–9/10│  2–7/10
 Causes not       │    2/10│   3/10│     5/10║        │        │       1
   specified      │        │       │         ║        │        │
       Total      │ 58–1/10│67–2/10│         ║162–8/10│124–8/10│ 86–3/10
   Total Deaths   │        │       │ 125–4/10║ 23–2/10│ 17–8/10│ 12–3/10
       Daily      │        │       │         ║        │        │

  NOTE.—The data upon which this Table is calculated are taken from
  the Registrar-General’s Fourth Annual Report—the Metropolis, p. 330;
  Liverpool, p. 281; Manchester, p. 281; Leeds, p. 283. The Metropolis
  is calculated on the average of the years 1840 and 1841, the other
  places on the year 1840.

§ 224. The total number of funerals and deaths requiring verification
daily would be—for Birmingham about 12, for Nottingham 5, for Leicester
3, for Derby 3. From the data above given it will be seen at how small
an expenditure of time a well directed force for the prevention as well
as the alleviation of misery—vast interests of the population, that are
now neglected—may be placed, under responsible superintendence, and on
the most sordid views of economy of money, immense savings, under proper
regulations, be made. In Liverpool alone, in the business of cure or
alleviation there are now engaged 50 physicians, and 250 surgeons,
apothecaries, and druggists, and not one responsible public officer to
investigate the causes of disease with a view to prevention. Nor has the
city of London, with a population of 125,000, one such officer, though
it has an expenditure of 72,000_l._ per annum in hospitals and endowed
medical charities alone, for the alleviation of disease.

§ 225. There is much experience to establish the conclusion that very
special qualifications are requisite for the performance of the duties
of an officer of the public health. The only safe proof of the
possession of such qualifications is the fact of a person having
investigated successfully some scientific question on the prevention of
disease to a practical end, by which the main qualification, the habit
of practical investigation, and zeal and ability for the service of
prevention may be placed beyond doubt. It would be no imputation on the
merits of a general medical practitioner that he was found unsuited to
the performance of the duties devolving on an officer of public health.
The working of the Parisian administrative arrangements shows the injury
done to the public service by the difficulty of retrieving any mistaken
appointment, and suggests the desirableness of an arrangement to
facilitate changes of the officers of health even where there is the
security of a previous special examination as to the qualifications for
the office. Cases would occur where officers would themselves choose to
withdraw from such a service, for which they felt unsuited, if they
might retire without imputation and without any severe sacrifice. If,
therefore, officers of health were chosen from amongst those who had
long served with honour in the army or navy medical department, the
advantage would be gained of a facility of retirement being given to the
officer of health (an office, indeed, which would often be trying to the
constitution), and without loss of rank or of the means of livelihood.

§ 226. The arrangements for the performance of the funereal rites in
public cemeteries would, of course, fall to the proper ecclesiastical
authority. The architectural arrangements, and the decoration of the
cemeteries, may claim the highest aid that art can give to the
production of solemn religious impressions. Public monuments and works
of art have of late been extensively thrown open to the population, and
there is evidence that this course of proceeding has been productive of
beneficial effects on those of the lower classes who have had
opportunities of viewing such monuments during their holidays. But the
place of burial is the object to which the views of almost every
individual of that class, as well as of others, is ever most intently
directed. All the structural and decorative arrangements of the national
cemetery should, therefore, be made by the highest talent that can be
procured, with the purpose of interesting the feelings, under the
conviction that in rendering attractive that place we are preparing
_the_ picture which is most frequently present to the minds of the
poorest, in the hours of mental and bodily infirmity, and the last
picture on earth presented to his contemplation before dissolution.

§ 227. It will have been seen that if the tendency of the public mind be
followed out by the economical regulation of funeral expenses, and if
the public be protected from the extortions of undertakers, considerable
reductions of expense may be effected, and munificent provision may yet
be made for permanent decorations.

These reductions would, also, under practicable regulations of the mode
and practice of interment, admit of full and liberal compensation to all
legal and proper interests affected by the proposed change of the
practice, and to whom Parliament might determine that compensation
should be awarded.

§ 228. In the case of the ministers of the Established Church in large
towns, the surplice fees, including the burial dues, are to be
considered as the main parts of their incomes. They have no tithes, and
no other means of livelihood. But the burial dues are so variously
regulated—in some places by custom, in other places by local Acts—that
it is scarcely practicable to lay down any one scale in respect to them
that would not operate unequally and unjustly. Complaints from cemetery
companies are made in respect to the existing scales of compensation,
which did not appear to be within my province to investigate. It
appeared to me that the only satisfactory mode of determining the amount
of compensation would be an adjudication and examination of the case of
each parish. This would be a service, which the Commissioners for the
Commutation of Tithes would be competent to render.

§ 229. The claims of families who have purchased the privilege of
interment in private vaults are not, that I find, maintained to any
extent by the possessors, but are rather suggested as obstacles by
others. That which at the time of purchase was deemed a privilege is now
proved to be an injury to the community at large, not to speak of the
very families by whom the right of interment in the church which they
attend is exercised. When the fact is known of the deleterious character
of the miasma which arises wherever bodies waste away, it were
inconsistent with all religious feeling to maintain, as a privilege, the
right of endangering the health of their families, friends, or
neighbours. The same observation is applicable to grave-yards attached
to chapels belonging to Dissenting congregations. Burial there is an
injury to the congregations themselves, and the removal of interments a
benefit to them; and although any one may choose to put up with the
injury, or refuse to admit the evidence of it, they can scarcely claim
to continue the injury at the expense of others, or against the
conviction of the majority of the community and the opinions and customs
of all civilized nations by whom the practice of interments in towns is
prohibited. The overwhelming evidence that what is deemed a privilege is
really an injury, precludes all claim to compensation as for a loss. No
claim is set forth by any congregation for compensation as for the loss
of a gainful trade of burial. Setting aside, then, the question of
right, it may be submitted in respect to the owners of private vaults in
parochial burial grounds, whether claimants, within a given time, may
not be allowed an equal space in the national cemeteries, and be allowed
to transfer the remains of their ancestors thither, and erect suitable
monuments to them. It may also be submitted that the sites occupied as
burial grounds may be re-purchased from the congregations on liberal
terms of compensation, to be kept as open spaces for the public use, and
that those congregations may have equivalent spaces allotted to them at
a distance from town in the new cemeteries. The authorities carrying out
the change, should be enabled, on the like terms, to re-purchase from
private companies such cemeteries as may be deemed eligible for the
public, and engage their officers in the public service, or otherwise
compensate them. The success of national cemeteries, would doubtlessly
occasion loss to those who have subscribed capital in what was at the
time a public improvement, and it is further submitted for
consideration, whether the power of re-purchase for the public, from the
proceeds of a reduced burial expenditure, might not be extended to the
re-purchase of such sites even where they would not be found eligible
for national cemeteries.

§ 230. If it be decided that the protection so much needed by all
classes, especially by the poorest, in respect to the expense of
interments shall be given, by empowering officers of health to carry out
regulations the same in principle as those which have given relief and
satisfaction in well regulated communities, it may then be submitted for
consideration, whether the cases of the tradesmen who have devoted
themselves entirely to the business of supplying funereal materials and
service, and who will be wholly superseded, could not be brought within
any legitimate principles and precedents of compensation, for the loss
of their existing multiform monopoly by the whole or any portion of the
supply having been transferred to officers responsible to the public. By
means of such transference, the public gain will, in proportion to its
completeness, be immense. Without it there is no apparent means of
change or compensation that will not increase the existing expenses, and
also increase the train of existing evils consequent on those expenses.
Whatever may be the sacrifice or inconvenience experienced by this class
of tradesmen from such a transference, it were a lamentable misdirection
of sympathy to sustain their pecuniary interests at the expense of the
perpetuation of the enormous pecuniary sacrifices of the poorest and
most helpless classes. But it may be submitted that the large work of
charity and justice to the public from the change proposed, need not be
accomplished by the sacrifice of the real principals in the business of
undertaking. If the alterations proposed were not made, it is
nevertheless probable that this business will be considerably changed.
The practicability and advantage of the consolidation of the business of
the supply of funereal materials and services under one general
management with the cemetery, and the acceptability of the institution
of a place for the reception and care of the dead previous to interment,
are attested by the fact of which I am informed, that in consequence of
the proposed measures having been necessarily developed by the course of
the present inquiry from a multitude of witnesses, joint stock companies
are now preparing to adopt, as a source of emolument, similar
arrangements. To those persons who are not really principals in the
business, as they professed, but agents, whose only service consisted in
conveying orders to real principals, and who extorted large profits from
those who employed them; to those carrying on the business of undertaker
only as an addition to their chief trade, and to whom the orders for a
funeral was “an occasional job”—to a large proportion of these classes,
the change would cause no ultimate loss, and to many it must be an
eventual gain. The business as at present conducted is in principle
similar to a lottery in the excessive emoluments of death, amounting to
upwards of half a million of money in the metropolis alone, and which is
chiefly wrested from the poorer and depressed classes. Such an amount is
annually distributed in prizes, which fall with the deaths, in sums
varying from a few pounds to several hundreds, amongst a crowd of
expectants, which even, under the existing management, is five times
more numerous than is necessary (and under the proposed arrangements ten
times the number requisite), leaving the greater number poorly paid for
all their waiting, notwithstanding the large sums exacted from the
suffering survivors. It may confidently be pronounced, that to the
majority of the class of inferior labourers, the change of system must
be an eventual and very early benefit.

§ 231. As various religious communities would participate in the
provision of public cemeteries, it appears preferable, for the avoidance
of jealousy and any pretext for dissatisfaction, and that such different
parties may be freely communicated with, that land should be purchased,
and the structural arrangements made, on due consultation by the
Commissioners of Woods and Forests.

§ 232. The sites for national cemeteries would be determinable on
consideration of circumstances affecting public health, and by
convenience of access, which the responsible officers of public health
should be required to investigate on a view or survey of the
circumstances of the metropolis in these respects as a whole. They would
also set forth the arrangements necessary for the preparation of the
ground for interment, for drainage, and the protection of the springs;
and the prevention of the escape of miasma; from which regulations no
class of interments and no places should be exempted.

§ 233. If the whole of the arrangements for sepulture were begun _de
novo_, the most eligible principle for defraying all the public charges,
and perhaps most of those charges which are now private charges, would
be, as respects persons of the lower and middle ranks, by annual
payments approximating to an insurance. With the wealthy classes payment
at the time of interment partakes of the nature of a legacy duty, and is
then made most conveniently. With the lower and a large part of the
middle classes of society, the death of an adult member of the family is
frequently the loss of the most productive member of the family, which
occurs at a time when the family has, in almost every case, incurred
severe expenses for medical treatment during illness. The charges for
interment and for the mourning which custom requires, then press most
grievously. A large proportion of the middle and lower classes endeavour
to alleviate this pressure by spreading it over long periods by means of
insurance, and amongst others by such expensive and uncertain modes as
those displayed in the regulations of burial clubs. The commutation of
the charge of insurance into an annual charge would be a public
insurance, possessing the advantages of superior security, and the means
of superior efficiency as well as of economy. The chief obstacle that
stands in the way of such an arrangement is the want of a machinery for
the annual collection of such a tax. It has been proposed to throw upon
the poor’s rates some of the additional charges supposed to be
necessary, and, in the event of the change being made by means of
numerous extra-mural parochial establishments, that certainly would be
necessary. But the imposition of such a charge in such a mode as to
follow the incidents of the poor’s-rates would be unequal and unjust.
Large districts of cottage tenements, which are now, chiefly to the
benefit of the landlords of those tenements and at the expense of the
other rate-payers, exempted from poor’s-rates, would escape
contribution, and it is precisely in such districts that the deaths are
most frequent and the burial charges would be the most burthensome.
Lodgers would extensively escape the charges; strangers and foreigners,
and the fluctuating population in large districts, would escape them. If
there were a machinery for collection, it is submitted that the most
equitable mode of levying such charges would be, like those of a burial
club, _i. e._ of the nature of a poll-tax, or burial dues payable, per
head, on the number of persons inhabiting each house. These might be
fixed for the whole community at a minimum rate, leaving it to the
friends of the deceased to pay for any higher class of funeral which
they think proper.

§ 234. It is, however, to be borne in mind that in burial clubs, and in
savings’ banks, large sums are now actually set apart by the labouring
classes for the payment of funeral charges. Provision is, no doubt, also
made by will, by other classes for defraying such charges. In the plan
proposed, even including the expense of the new agency of officers of
health the consideration of new sources of additional payments is
rendered unnecessary. On the whole, therefore (although if bodies are
immediately removed from the premises in cases where the removal is
requisite for the protection of the lives of the survivors, attempts
will be made to shift the expense to the public), it may be recommended
that all new charges and compensations should, for the present, at
least, still be defrayed from burial dues levied upon each interment.
And in so far as any new expenses are for objects obviously beneficial
(not to speak of those immediate charges being for the most efficient
means of reducing the aggregate expenses), it will meet with ready
acquiescence. I have consulted intelligent persons of the labouring
classes, and discussed with them step by step the proposed changes. They
have unanimously declared that these changes would all be a great gain
to them, especially the proposed reduction of the expenses of
interments. They have moreover urged that if they were enabled to have
the funerals performed in a satisfactory manner, at a reduced expense,
the applications for parochial aid would be proportionately diminished,
the poorest relations would then subscribe to avert the disgrace of a
parochial interment; a large proportion of the applications for such aid
being now made by others than regular paupers, and in consequence of the
hopelessness of their being enabled to defray the heavy expenses which
are at present necessary.

§ 235. The conclusions before stated are deduced principally from the
facts obtained by inquiries in the metropolis and the chief towns in the
manufacturing districts. The information obtained by correspondence from
Edinburgh, Glasgow, Bristol, Birmingham, Coventry, and several towns in
Ireland, tends to the conclusion that the leading principles set forth
in this report are applicable to all crowded town districts, with but
few modifications. In all the practice of interments in towns, the
crowded state of the places of burial, the apparent want of seclusion
and sanctity pollute the mental associations, and offend the sentiments
of the population, irrespective of any considerations of the public
health; in almost all, this state of feeling is manifested by the
increasing resort of persons of the higher and middle classes to such
cemeteries as have been formed out of the towns by private individuals
who have associated, and taken advantage of the feelings to procure
subscriptions for the formation of more acceptable places of sepulture.
In Manchester and Edinburgh, and a few other towns, the business of the
undertaker does not appear to be on the same footing as in the
metropolis; the expenses of the funerals to the labouring classes appear
nevertheless to be no less oppressive, and the whole arrangements to
stand in pressing need of regulation. In nearly all the towns where the
grave-yards are crowded by the burials of an increasing population,
evidence was tendered of outrages perpetrated upon the feelings of the
population by the gravediggers in the disposal of undecomposed remains
to make space for new interments. And it follows, from the circumstances
that these men will not allow their own means of livelihood to be
curtailed, and will, if they be permitted, or be unwatched, make way by
any means for new interments. The desecrations are suspected, and from
time to time are discovered. It requires a high order of education and
mental qualification to maintain habitually respect for the inanimate
remains of the dead and regard to the feelings of the living connected
with them. In the uneducated, any common feelings of respect soon give
way to every-day conveniences, and are at once obliterated by any strong
necessities. The common tendencies in this respect are attested by the
examples cited, of careful arrangements made to guard against them. (§
169.) In all the populous provincial towns the need of the superior
superintendence of the material arrangements for interment, and the
exercise of such functions as those described as falling to a superior
officer of public health, appear to be even more urgent than in the
metropolis. It is, however, an error to suppose that the evils of the
existing practice of interment are confined to the _larger_ towns. The
burial-ground at Southampton, for example, is represented to me to be
full; it is moreover not more than one-half of the extent requisite for
the population of that town, which is about 28,000, and rapidly
increasing. The authorities there are desirous of obtaining grounds and
establishing a public cemetery in or near the town, and would, if
practicable, do so without the expense of a private Act of Parliament.
The grave-yard of the cathedral of Ely, for the burials arising from a
population of about 7,000 is reported to be inconveniently full, and the
very reverend the dean is stated to be extremely desirous of closing it
and procuring a burial-ground at a distance. I have been informed by
several ecclesiastical authorities, that the clergy are often much
distressed by the inadequacy of the old grave-yards to meet the
necessities of burial for an increasing population. The data already
given as to the space required for interments will serve to show the
adequacy or inadequacy of the existing burial-grounds for any
population. It may be submitted that provision might be made for the
relief of any district on the inspection and under the authority of
properly appointed officers of health, for the provision of new and
separate places of burial, on applications showing the inadequacy or
unsuitableness of the existing grave-yards.

It were a reproach to the country, and its institutions and its
government, and to its administrative capacity, to suppose that what is
satisfactorily done in the German states may not, now that attention is
directed to the subject, be generally done at least as well and
satisfactorily in this country; or that the higher classes would not in
whatever depends on their voluntary aid, exhibit as good and practical
an example of community of feeling in taking a lead in the adoption of
all arrangements tending to the common benefit, as that displayed in the
states which have achieved the most satisfactory improvement of the
practice of interment, by well-appointed officers of public health.

§ 236. I have thought it unnecessary to occupy attention with many
details which would appear to follow the adoption of the general
principles deducible from the information collected. I have given that
information so fully in the text, that I have avoided extending the bulk
of the Report by repeating it with prefatory or connecting matter in the

I would now beg leave to recapitulate the chief conclusions which the
information obtained under this inquiry appears to establish. They are—

              I. _As to the Evils which require Remedies._

§ 237. That the emanations from human remains are of a nature to produce
fatal disease, and to depress the general health of whosoever is exposed
to them; and that interments in the vaults of churches, or in
grave-yards surrounded by inhabited houses, contribute to the mass of
atmospheric and other impurities by which the general health and average
duration of life of the inhabitants is diminished. (§ 1 to 23.)

§ 238. That the places of burial in towns or crowded districts are
usually destitute of proper seclusion or means for impressive religious
service, and are exposed to desecrations revolting to the popular
feelings; and that feelings of aversion are manifest in the increasing
removals or abandonment of family vaults and places of burial, and the
preference, often at increased expense, of interments in suburban
cemeteries, which are better fitted to raise mental associations of
greater quiet, respect, and security as places of repose. (§ 109.)

§ 239. That the greatest injury done by emanations from decomposing
remains of the dead to the health of the living of the labouring
classes, in many populous districts, arises from the long retention of
the body before interment in the single rooms in which families of those
classes live and have their meals, and sleep, and where the deaths, in
the greater number of instances, take place; and that closely successive
deaths of members of the same family, from the same disease, are very
frequent amongst the labouring classes; and that, where the disease has
not been occasioned by the emanations from the first dead body, as
sometimes appears to have been the case, or where the disease has either
arisen from a common cause, or may have been communicated before death
from the living person, the diseases are apparently rendered much more
fatal by this practice of the retention of the dead body in the one
living room previous to interment. (§ 24 to 39.)

§ 240. That this practice of the prolonged retention of the dead in such
crowded rooms, besides being physically injurious, is morally degrading
and brutalizing. (§ 40 to 42.)

§ 241. That this practice is frequently the most powerfully influenced
by the difficulty of raising the expenses of funerals, which in this
country press grievously on the labouring and middle classes of the
community, and are extravagant and wasteful to all classes, and occasion
severe suffering and moral evil. (§ 43 to 71.)

§ 242. That, on the best proximate estimates which have been made, the
total amount of the whole of the yearly expenses of funerals in the
metropolis cannot be less than between six and seven hundred thousand
pounds, and for the whole of Great Britain between four and five
millions sterling per annum. (§ 72 to 74.)

§ 243. That it appears, upon examination in the metropolis, that
notwithstanding the great expense of funerals, the existing arrangements
for conducting them are on an unsatisfactory footing, and that great
difficulties stand in the way of any efficient amendment, whilst the
practice of interment in the crowded districts is retained. (§ 84 to

§ 244. That on the occurrence of a death amongst the poorest classes or
amongst strangers, the survivors are commonly destitute of means of
precaution against oppressive charges and of trustworthy advice or
counsel, as to the modes of burial such as are afforded by the civic
arrangements of other civilized countries. (§§ 121, 122, and vide
Appendix, No. 1.)

§ 245. That on the occurrence of deaths from preventible causes of
disease, there are no appointed means for the detection and removal of
those causes, and that strangers and new-comers, having no warning, are
successively exposed, and frequently fall victims to them. (§ 196.)

§ 246. That common causes of diseases which ravage the community, of the
extent of operation of which causes it has a deep interest in knowing,
pass unexamined and undetected; moreover, that in many districts there
are wide opportunities for the escape of crimes, by which life is also
rendered insecure, chiefly by the omission of efficient arrangements for
the due verification of the fact and causes of death. (§§ 205 to 215.)

§ 247. That the numbers of funerals, and intensity of the misery
attendant upon them, vary amongst the different classes of society in
proportion to the internal and external circumstances of their
habitations: that the deaths and funerals vary in the metropolis from 1
in every 30 of the population annually (and even more in ill-conditioned
districts), to 1 in 56 in better-conditioned districts; from 1 death and
funeral in every 28 inhabitants in an ill-conditioned provincial town
district, to 1 in 64 in a better-conditioned rural district: such
differences of the condition of the population being accompanied by
still closer coincidences in the variation of the span of life, the
average age of all who die in some ill-conditioned districts of the
metropolis being 26 years only, whilst in better-conditioned districts
it is 36 years: the variations of the age of deaths being in some
provincial towns, such as Leicester, from 15 years in the
ill-conditioned to 24 years in the better-conditioned districts: and as
between town and rural districts 17 or 18 years for the whole population
of Liverpool, and 39 years for the whole population of Hereford; and
that the total excess of deaths and funerals in England and Wales alone,
above the commonly attained standards of health, being at the least
between thirty and forty thousand annually. (§ 75 to § 80, and district
returns: Appendix.)

 II. _As to the Remedies available for the Prevention or Mitigation of
                             these Evils._

§ 248. That the most effectual and principal means for the abatement of
the evils of interments are those sanitary measures which diminish the
proportionate numbers of deaths and funerals, and increase the duration
of life. § 75 to § 82, and General Report, p. 370. But—

§ 249. That on the several special grounds, moral, religious, and
physical, and in conformity to the best usages and authorities of
primitive Christianity, § 177, and the general practice of the most
civilized modern nations, the practice of interments in towns in burial
places amidst the habitations of the living, and the practice of
interment, in churches, ought for the future, and without any exception
of places, or acceptation of persons, to be entirely prohibited. (§ 1 to
§ 23.)

§ 250. That the necessities of no class of the population in respect to
burial ought to be abandoned as sources of private emolument to
commercial associations, but that national cemeteries of a suitable
description ought to be provided and maintained (as to the material
arrangements), under the direction of officers duly qualified for the
care of the public health. (§ 126.)

§ 251. That for the avoidance of the pain, and moral and physical evil
arising from the prolonged retention of the body in the rooms occupied
by the living, and at the same time to carry out such arrangements as
may remove the painful apprehensions of premature interments,
institutions of houses for the immediate reception, and respectful and
appropriate care of the dead, under superior and responsible officers,
should be provided in every town for the use of all classes of the
community. (§ 90 to § 101.)

§ 252. That for the abatement of oppressive charges for funereal
materials, decorations, and services, provision should be made (in
conformity to successful examples abroad) by the officers having charge
of the national cemeteries, for the supply of the requisite materials
and services, securing to all classes, but especially to the poor, the
means of respectable interment, at reduced and moderate prices, suitable
to the station of the deceased, and the condition of the survivors. (§
186, § 115 to § 120.)

§ 253. That for these purposes, and for carrying out the physical
arrangements necessary for the protection of the public health in
respect to the practice of interment, officers of health qualified by
medical education and special knowledge should be appointed. (§ 223.)

§ 254. That in order to abate the apprehensions of premature interment,
§ 92 to § 96, to bring responsible aid and counsel, and protection
within the reach of the most destitute survivors, §§ 121 and 122 and §
198, to protect the people against continued exposure to ascertained and
preventible causes of disease and death, the principle of the early
appointment of searchers be revived, and no interment be allowed to take
place without the verification of the fact and cause of death by the
officer of health. (§ 123, 124, 125, 126, to § 216.)

§ 255. That in all clear and well ascertained cases of deaths from
immediately removable causes of disease and death, the officers of
health be invested with summary powers, and be responsible for
exercising them, for the removal of those causes, and for the protection
of strangers from continued exposure and suffering from them.

§ 256. That the expenses of national cemeteries should be raised by
loans bearing interest.

§ 257. That the repayment of the principal and interest should be spread
over a period of [thirty years?]—and be charged as part of the reduced
expenses for future interments.

§ 258. That all burial fees and existing dues be collected on interment,
and form a fund from whence be paid the compensations which Parliament
may award to such existing interests as it may be necessary to disturb,
including the payment of the establishment charges, and the principal
and interest of the money expended for the erection of new cemeteries;
and that any surplus which may thereafter accrue may be applied to the
means of improving the health of the living.

§ 259. That, on consulting the experience of those cities abroad where
the greatest attention has been given to the arrangements for the
protection of health connected with interments, it appears that by the
appointment of medical officers, unencumbered by private practice, as
officers of health, and qualified by the possession of appropriate
science for the verification of the fact and causes of death, and by
committing to them the regulation of the service of interments in
national cemeteries, the several defects above specified may be
remedied, and that new and comparatively salubrious places of burial may
be procured, together with appropriate religious establishments, wherein
the funeral service may be better solemnized, and that the expense of
funerals may be reduced, in the metropolis, at the least, to one-half of
the existing amount, and full compensation be given to all who may have
legitimate claims for compensation for losses on the alterations of the
existing practice. (§ 219 to § 225.)

§ 260. That the agency of properly qualified officers of health
necessary for abating the evils of the practice of interments would also
serve powerfully to promote the application of those sanitary measures
which in some districts would, there is reason to believe, save more
than their own pecuniary expense, merely in the diminished numbers
combined with reduced expenses of funerals, consequent on the practical
operation of comprehensive measures of sanitary improvement. (§ 201.)

§ 261. The advantages which the measures proposed offer to the classes
who now stand most in need of a beneficent intervention, may be thus
recapitulated. To take the poorest class: the labouring man would (in
common with the middle and higher classes) gain, on the occasion of his
demise, protection for his widow and surviving children, that is to say;

  Protection from the physical evil occasioned by the necessity of the
    prolonged retention of his remains in the living and sleeping

  Protection against extortionate charges for interment, and against
    the impositions of unnecessary, expensive, and unseemly funereal
    customs, maintained against the wishes of private individuals and

  Protection and redress to his survivors or the living against any
    unfair or illegal practices, should any such have led to the

  Protection against any discoverable causes of ill health, should any
    have attached to his abode or to his place of work:

  Protection from the painful idea (by arrangements preventive of the
    possibility) of a premature interment:

  Protection of the remains from profanation, either before or after

  Protection such as may be afforded by the information and advice of
    a responsible officer, of knowledge, and station, in the various
    unforeseen contingencies that occur to perplex and mislead the
    prostrate and desolate survivors on such occasions. (§ 191 to §

Added to these will be the relief from the prospect of interment, in a
common grave-yard or charnel, by the substitution of a public national
cemetery, on which the mind may dwell with complacency, as a place in
which sepulture may be made an honour and a privilege.

§ 262. The advantages derivable to the public at large have already been
specified, in the removal of causes of pain to the feelings of the
living connected with the common burial places; they would also gain in
the several measures for protection against the causes of disease
specified as within the province of an officer of the public health to
remove; and they would also gain in the steps towards the creation of a
science of the prevention of disease, and in a better registration of
the fact and the causes of death.

To use the words of a great Christian writer,—that all this, which
constitutes the last office of the living, “to compose the body to
burial,” should be done, and that it should be done well and “gravely,
decently, and charitably, we have the example of all civilized nations
to engage us, and of all ages of the world to warrant:—so that it is
against common honesty, and public fame and reputation not to do this

I would, in conclusion, beg leave to repeat and represent urgently that
Her Majesty’s Government, should only set hands to this great work, when
invested with full powers to effect it completely: for at present there
appears to be no alternative between doing it well or ill; between
simply shifting the evil from the centre of the populous districts to
the suburbs, and deteriorating them; fixing the sites of interments at
inconvenient distances, forming numerous, separate, and weak, and yet
enormously expensive, establishments; aggravating the expense, and
physical and moral evils of the delay of interment; diminishing the
solemnities of sepulture; scattering away the elements of moral and
religious improvement, and increasing the duration and sum of the
existing evils:—there appears to be no distinct or practicable
alternative between these results and effecting such a change as, if
zealously carried out, will soothe and elevate the feelings of the great
bulk of the population, abate the apprehensions of the dying, influence
the voluntary adoption of beneficial changes in the practice of
obsequies, occasion an earlier removal of the dead from amidst the
living to await interment and ensure the impressiveness of the funeral
service, give additional securities against attempts on life, and
trustworthy evidence of the fact of death, with the means of advancing
the protection of the living against the attacks of disease; and at a
reduced expense provide in well arranged national cemeteries places for
public monuments, becoming the position of the empire amongst civilized

                                 I have the honour to be, Sir,

                                             Your obedient servant,

                                                         EDWIN CHADWICK.


Footnote 1:

  According to a memoir on this subject, read at the Royal Academy of
  Sciences, by M. Cadet de Vaux, in the year 1781, “Le méphetisme qui
  s’etoit dégagé d’une des fosses voisines du cimetière, avoit infecté
  toutes les caves: on comparait aux poisons les plus subtils, à ceux
  dont les sauvages imprégnant leur flèches meurtrières, la terrible
  activité de cette émanation. Les murs baignés de l’humidité dont elles
  les pénétroit, pouvoit communiquer, disoit on par le seul attouchement
  les accidens les plus redoutable.” See Mémoires de la Société Royale
  de Médecine, tom. viii. p. 242; also Annales de Chimie, tom. v. p.
  158. As an instance of the state of the cellars around the grave-yard,
  it is stated, that a workman being engaged in one of them put his hand
  on the wet wall. He was warned that the moisture on the walls was
  poisonous, and was requested to wash the hand in vinegar. He merely
  dried his hand on his apron: at the end of three days the whole arm
  became numb, then the hand and lower arm swelled with great pain,
  blisters came out on the skin, and the epidermis came off.

Footnote 2:

  Vide also, Traité des Maladies des Artisans par Patissier, d’après
  Ramazzini, 8vo. Paris, 1822, p. 151, sur les Fossoyeurs: “Le sort des
  fossoyeurs est très déplorable, leur face est livide, leur aspect
  triste: je n’en ai vu aucun devenir vieux.” Also pp. 108–9, 137, 144.

Footnote 3:

  Manuel du Tanneur et Corroyeur. Paris, 1833, p. 325.

Footnote 4:

  In the course of some inquiries which I made with Professor Owen, when
  examining a slaughterman as to the effects of the effluvia of animal
  remains on himself and family, some other facts were elicited
  illustrative of the effects of such effluvia on still more delicate
  life. The man had lived in Bear-yard, near Clare-market, which was
  exposed to the combined effluvia from a slaughter-house and a tripe
  factory. He was a bird-fancier, but he found that he could not rear
  his birds in this place. He had known a bird fresh caught in
  summer-time die there in a week. He particularly noted as having a
  fatal influence on the birds, the stench raised by boiling down the
  fat from the tripe offal. He said, “You may hang the cage out of the
  garret window in any house round Bear-yard, and if it be a fresh bird,
  it will be dead in a week.” He had previously lived for a time in the
  same neighbourhood in a room over a crowded burial-ground in
  Portugal-street; at times in the morning he had seen a mist rise from
  the ground, and the smell was offensive. That place was equally fatal
  to his birds. He had removed to another dwelling in Vere-street,
  Clare-market, which is beyond the smells from those particular places,
  and he was now enabled to keep his birds. In town, however, the
  ordinary singing-birds did not, usually, live more than about 18
  months; in cages in the country, such birds were known to live as long
  as nine years or more on the same food. When he particularly wished to
  preserve a pet bird, he sent it for a time into the country; and by
  repeating this removal he preserved them much longer. The fact of the
  pernicious effect of offensive smells on the small graminivorous
  birds, and the short duration of their life in close rooms and
  districts, was attested by a bird-dealer. In respect to cattle, the
  slaughterman gave decided reasons for the conclusion, that whilst in
  the slaughter-house they lost their appetites and refused food from
  the effect of the effluvium of the place, and not, as was popularly
  supposed, from any presentiment of their impending fate. _Vide_
  General Sanitary Report, p. 103, note, and p. 106.

Footnote 5:

  On the evidence of individual cases the innocuousness of many poisons
  and diseases might be proved. Individuals are sometimes found to
  resist inoculation. It is a singular, and as yet unexplained fact,
  that centenarians are often found in the greatest proportion in times
  and places where the average duration of life of the whole population
  is very low. It has been shown from an accurate registration of
  centuries in Geneva, that as the average duration of life amongst the
  whole community advanced, the proportion of extreme cases of
  centenarians diminished. According to the bills of mortality there
  were nearly three times as many centenarians in London a century ago
  than at present. Out of 141,720 deaths within the bills of mortality
  during the five years ended 1742, the deaths of 58 persons alone of
  100 years and upwards of age are recorded; whilst out of 139,876
  deaths which occurred in the metropolis as returned by the
  registrar-general, during the three years which ended 30th June, 1841,
  only 22 deaths of 100 years of age and upwards are recorded. The
  average age of death of all who died was then 24 years; it is now,
  judging from an enumeration made from the returns of 1839, about 27
  years; and there appears to have been a considerable improvement in
  all periods of life up to 90 years.

Footnote 6:

  _Vide_ Appendix of the district returns of the Mortuary Registration.

Footnote 7:

  In the medical profession examples are not rare of the attainment of
  extreme old age; yet as a class they bear the visible marks of health
  below the average. The registration of one year may be an imperfect
  index; but the mortuary registration for the year 1839 having been
  examined, to ascertain what was the average age of death of persons of
  the three professions, it appears that the average age of the
  clergymen who died in London during that year was 59, of the legal
  profession 50, and of the medical profession 45. Only one medical
  student was included in the registration: had the deaths of those who
  died in their noviciate been included, the average age of death of the
  medical profession would have been much lower.

Footnote 8:

  An instance in exception of a barber having caught fever is
  subsequently stated.

Footnote 9:

  Two days in the week the London Fever Hospital is open to the friends
  of the patients, who often spend a considerable time in the wards,
  sometimes sitting on the beds of the sick; yet these visitors never
  take fever themselves, nor are they ever known to convey it by their
  clothes to persons out of the hospital. In like manner the persons
  employed to convey the clothes of the fever-patients from the wards of
  the hospital do not take fever, nor is there any evidence whatever
  that typhus fever is, or can be, propagated merely by the clothes; yet
  it is remarkable that the laundresses who wash the clothes, which
  often contain excrementitious matters from the patients, or from the
  dead, of an amount perceptible to the senses, rarely if ever escape
  fever. It is inferred, that in this case the poison is by the heat put
  in a state of vapour, which is inhaled, and being sufficient in
  quantity, produces the disease.

Footnote 10:

  In the Appendix will be found further particulars and exemplifications
  of the facts, deducible from the mortuary registers, together with the
  returns from the several registration districts in the metropolis, of
  which the above is a summary.

Footnote 11:

  Vide Appendix.—Paper on the Mortuary Returns.

Footnote 12:

  Recently, April the 4th, at the Liverpool assizes, a woman named
  Eccles was convicted of the murder of one child, and was under the
  charge of poisoning two others, with arsenic. Immediately the murders
  were committed, it appeared she went to demand a stated allowance of
  burial money from the employers of the children.

Footnote 13:

  Clarke _v._ Johnson, 11 Moore, 319.

Footnote 14:

  Bligh’s 4th Parl. Reports, N. S. 194.

Footnote 15:

  _Vide_ Appendix No. 12 for examples of undertakers’ ordinary bills for
  funerals of different classes.

Footnote 16:

  _Vide_ Return in the Appendix.

Footnote 17:

  _Vide_ Appendix.

Footnote 18:

  _Vide_ General Report on the Sanitary Condition of the Population, p.
  443 and p. 395, for proximate estimates of the chief structural
  expenses, _i. e._ main drains, house drains, annual supply of water,
  water tank, and water-closet, and means of cleansing, and also an
  exemplification of the practical rule for the distribution of the
  expense, so as to render it coincident to the benefit.

Footnote 19:

  In all cases the mortuary registries of 1839 are referred to; but the
  data are varying, and are submitted, as they will be understood, only
  as proximate estimates. I have every reason to believe them to be on
  the whole below the truth.

Footnote 20:

  A severe epidemic, by sweeping off the most susceptible cases, usually
  diminishes the proportionate mortality from that cause during the
  following year.

Footnote 21:

  _Vide_ District Returns, Appendix.

Footnote 22:

  On a question of fact as to the effect of the common funeral
  arrangements on the imagination, the testimony of a poet, whose
  accuracy of description is universally admitted, may be cited. The
  Rev. Mr. Crabbe thus describes the effect of the funeral array:—

      Lo! now what dismal sons of darkness come
      To bear this daughter of indulgence home!
      Tragedians all, and well arranged in black!
      Who nature, feeling, force, expression lack;
      Who cause no tear, but gloomily pass by,
      And shake their sables in the wearied eye,
      That turns disgusted from the pompous scene,
      Proud without grandeur, with profusion mean!
      The tear for kindness past affection owes;
      For worth deceased the sigh from reason flows;
      E’en well-feigned passions for our sorrows call,
      And real tears for mimic miseries fall:
      But this poor farce has neither truth nor art,
      To please the fancy or to touch the heart.

             *      *      *      *      *

      Dark but not awful, dismal but yet mean,
      With anxious bustle moves the cumb’rous scene;—
      Presents no objects tender or profound,
      But spreads its cold unmeaning gloom around.

             *      *      *      *      *

      When woes are feigned, how ill such forms appear;
      And oh! how needless when the woe’s sincere.

                                              _The Parish Register._

Footnote 23:

  Amongst the higher classes the tendency is to reduce the number of
  cases in which mourning is worn, and to diminish the time of wearing
  it. It would be a great boon to persons in inferior condition and of
  limited means, who are governed by the examples of those above them,
  and who are put to ruinous expense for putting a whole family into
  mourning, at a time when the expense can be the least spared, if the
  custom could be further altered to the wearing of a piece of crape
  only on the hat or on the arm, as in the army and navy; or by limiting
  the wearing of full mourning to the head of the family, and using only
  crape bands for the rest. Some conception may be formed of the
  inconvenience incurred by the extent to which mourning is carried,
  even amongst the poorest classes, if we suppose that on such occasions
  it were necessary to clothe the whole of the men of the army and navy
  in black. The very excess of deaths above a healthy standard in Great
  Britain necessitates mourning to nearly forty thousand families per
  annum. The extent to which custom has carried mourning appears to have
  no Scriptural authority. Bingham, speaking of the primitive
  Christians, states, “that they did not condemn the notion of going
  into a mourning habit for the dead, nor yet much approve of it, but
  left it to all men’s liberty as an indifferent thing, rather
  commending those that either omitted it wholly, or in short time laid
  it aside again, as acting more according to the bravery and philosophy
  of a Christian. Thus St. Jerome commends one Julian (Hieron. Ep. 34 ad
  Julian), a rich man in his time, because having lost his wife and two
  daughters, that is his whole family, in a few days, one after another,
  he wore the mourning habit but forty days after their death, and then
  resumed his usual habit again, and because he accompanied his wife to
  the grave, not as one that was dead, but as going to her rest.
  Cyprian, indeed, seems to carry the matter a little farther; he says
  he was ordered by divine revelation to preach to the people publicly
  and constantly, that they should not lament their brethren that were
  delivered from the world by divine vocation, as being assured that
  they were not lost, but only sent before them: that their death was
  only a receding from the world, and a speedier call to heaven; that we
  ought to long after them and not lament them, nor wear any mourning
  habit, seeing they were gone to put on their white garments in heaven
  (2 Cypr. de Mortal., p. 164). No occasion should be given to the
  Gentiles justly to accuse us, and reprehend us for lamenting those as
  lost and extinct, whom we affirm still to live with God; and that we
  do not prove that faith which we profess in words, by the outward
  testimony of our hearts and souls. Cyprian thought no sorrow at all
  was to be expressed for the death of a Christian, nor consequently any
  signs of sorrow, such as the mourning habits, because the death of a
  Christian was only a translation of him to heaven. But others did not
  carry the thing so high, but thought a moderate sorrow might be
  allowed to nature, and therefore did not so peremptorily condemn the
  mourning habit, as being only a decent expression of such a moderate
  sorrow, though they liked it better if men could have the bravery to
  refuse it.” (Bing., book xxii. chap. 3, sec. 22).

Footnote 24:

  Dr. Bently states, that “allowing for much of fiction, with which such
  a subject must ever be mixed, there is still sufficient evidence to
  warrant a diligent examination of the means of discriminating between
  real and apparent death.” (_Ency. Prac. Medicine_, vol. iii. 316.) “As
  respiration is a function most essential to health, and at the same
  time the most apparent, the cessation of it may be considered as an
  indication of death. But as in certain diseases and states of
  exhaustion it becomes very slow and feeble, and so to the casual
  observer to appear quite extinct, various methods have been adopted
  for ascertaining its existence. Thus, placing down or other light
  substances near the mouth or nose; laying a vessel of water on the
  chest, as an index of motion in that cavity; holding a mirror before
  the mouth, in order to condense the watery vapour of the breath; have
  all been proposed and employed, but they are all liable to fallacy.
  Down, or whatever substance is employed, may be moved by some
  agitation of the surrounding air; and the surface of the mirror may be
  apparently covered by the condensed vapour of the breath, when it is
  only the fluid of some exhalation from the surface of the body. We
  therefore agree fully with the judicious observations of Dr. Paris on
  this subject:—‘We feel no hesitation in asserting, that it is
  physiologically impossible for a human being to remain more than a few
  minutes in such a state of asphyxia as not to betray some sign by
  which a medical observer can at once recognize the existence of
  vitality; for if the respiration be only suspended for a short
  interval we may conclude that life has fled for ever. Of all the acts
  of animal life, this is by far the most essential and indisputable.
  Breath and life are very properly considered in the scriptures as
  convertible terms, and the same synonym, as far as we know, prevails
  in every language. However slow and feeble respiration may become by
  disease, yet it must always be perceptible, provided the naked breast
  and belly be exposed; for when the intercostal muscles act, the ribs
  are elevated, and the sternum is pushed forwards; when the diaphragm
  acts the abdomen swells. Now this can never escape the attentive eye;
  and by looking at the chest and belly we shall form a safer conclusion
  than by the popular methods which have been usually adopted.’”

  The looking-glass and the feather have been the standing test for time
  immemorial. When Lear enters with Cordelia dead in his arms, he says:—

     “I know when one is dead, and when one lives;
     She’s dead as earth.—Lend me a looking-glass;
     If that her breath will mist or stain the stone,
     Why, then she lives.

     _Kent._—Is this the promis’d end?

     _Edgar._—Or image of that horror?

     _Lear._—This feather stirs; she lives! if it be so
     It is a chance which does redeem all sorrows
     That ever I have felt.”

                             _Shakespeare, King Lear, Act V. Sc. 3._

Footnote 25:

  Vide Appendix.—Regulations and Plans of the Building, forming part of
  the Institution.

Footnote 26:

  In a paper read on the 2nd January last before the Academy of Sciences
  at Paris, by M. le Baron Charles Dupin, on the increase of savings’
  banks and their influence on the Parisian population, some most
  startling facts are mentioned in the conclusion, showing the
  deplorable moral condition of a large portion of that population. “Le
  nombre proportionnel des indigents, au lieu d’augmenter, diminue,
  ainsi que celui des bâtards, mais avec lenteur déplorable; au
  commencement de l’époque dont nous résumons les progrès, le peuple de
  Paris abandonnait chaque année 205 enfants sur 1,000 nouveau nés; il
  n’en abandonne plus que 120: c’est beaucoup moins, et pourtant c’est
  _cent vingt_ fois trop. Encore aujourd’hui, le _tiers_ du peuple vit
  dans le concubinage ou dans le libertinage; un _tiers_ de ses enfants
  sont bâtards; un _tiers_ de ses morts expirent à l’hôpital ou sur le
  grabat du pauvre; et ni père, ni mère, ni fils, ni filles, n’ont le
  cœur, pour dernier tribut humain, de donner un cercueil, un linceul,
  au cadavre de leurs proches:—du côté des mœurs, voilà Paris, et Paris
  amélioré!”—It may on this point of comparison be a relief to state,
  the numbers who die in the workhouses in the British metropolis, do
  not exceed 4000 for nearly double the population, and that of these,
  on the average of the last ten years, not more than 293 have been so
  given up or abandoned as to be applicable to the public service in the
  schools of anatomy. The total number who are abandoned in all the
  hospitals of London, for that service, has not, on the average,
  exceeded 168 out of upwards of 2000 deaths per annum. The total number
  of subjects requisite for teaching in the schools of anatomy would be
  about 600. Notwithstanding that the prejudice against dissection has
  much abated, the full number deemed requisite has never been obtained
  of late years from all sources. In some instances, persons of
  education set an example by giving up their own bodies for dissection;
  in some other instances, the use of the remains is obtained by
  persuasions, and the promises of more respectful interment afterwards,
  than could otherwise be obtained. There are actually very few real
  “abandonments” by relations, the greater proportion of cases being of
  persons who have outlived near relations, of whom none, after due
  enquiry, which is always made, can be found. In respect to
  illegitimate births, it appears from the last parliamentary return of
  the number of illegitimate children born in the several counties of
  England (that of Mr. Rickman,) for 1833, that the proportion of
  illegitimate to legitimate births, was in Middlesex, 1 in 38; and in
  Surrey 1 in 40. This was most probably an understatement, but,
  whatever may be the real proportions they are below any comparison
  with the proportions in Paris. The highest proportion of illegitimate
  to legitimate births given in the returns, were those of the county of
  Pembroke, 1 in 8; and Radnor, where it is 1 in 7. It may be important
  to state for the sake of the example, and in illustration of the
  principle, as to the comparative economy of sanitary arrangements that
  this excess of 7,000 miserable deaths and burials per annum in Paris,
  at the least, might be saved by structural sanitary arrangements,
  which would prevent the accumulation of human beings in winding
  streets, (some of which are not more than eight or nine feet wide,)
  under circumstances which render decency, morality, health, or
  contentment impossible. The whole excess of deaths, as well as the
  demoralization that arises from overcrowding, might in all probability
  be saved even by the last vote of expenditure, five millions sterling,
  (which, at English prices, of 100_l._ for a tenement for a family,
  would have provided improved tenements, at improved rents, for fifty
  thousand labourers’ families) for maintaining the war on the Arabs, or
  by the interest of the money expended in building the immense wall and
  fortifications round the dangerous population (kept “desperate,” as
  Jeremy Taylor expresses it, “by a too quick sense of a constant
  infelicity,”) which those works encircle in Paris. In a copy of a
  report of the medical commissioners, appointed to examine the cholera,
  with which I have been favoured by one distinguished member, M.
  Villerme, and in which I have found powerful corroborative evidence on
  the influence of structural arrangements on the health and moral, not
  to speak of the political, condition of the population; they observe,
  “Le fléau qui a pesé si cruellement sur la capitale s’est fait sentir
  d’une manière particulièrement désastreuse dans les quartiers étroits,
  sales et embarrassés de l’ancien Paris; n’y aurait-il pas lieu de
  signaler ici quelques améliorations utiles à introduire dans ces
  localités? Les raisons d’état ont souvent dominé les intérêts
  matériels des villes; autrefois les voies étroites et tortueuses
  appliquées même aux rues pouvait faire partie des moyens de défense à
  l’usage de l’état: aujourd’hui des rues larges et droites deviennent
  dans l’intérieur des villes un premier élément de sécurité publique
  autant que d’hygiène; il y a donc double avantage à favoriser dans ces
  conditions, soit des percements nouveaux, soit l’élargissement des
  voies actuelles.” They give forcible descriptions of population
  analogous to that found—happily in less proportions,—in the worst part
  of our cities, and they also attest, from the examination of the
  inferior population of that capital: “C’est une vérité de tous les
  temps, de tous les lieux, une vérité, qu’il faut redire sans cesse
  parceque sans cesse on l’oublie; il existe entre l’homme et tout ce
  qui l’entoure, de secrets liens, de mystérieux rapports dont
  l’influence sur lui est continuelle et profonde. Favorable, cette
  influence ajoute à ses forces physiques et morales, elle les develope,
  les conserve; nuisible, alors elle les altère, les anéantit, les tue.
  Mais son action n’est jamais plus redoutable que lorsqu’elle trouve à
  s’exercer sur une population entassée, quelle qu’elle soit d’ailleurs,
  et voilà pourquoi l’on observe dans certains arrondissements une
  mortalité plus grande; voilà pourquoi le germe des maladies s’y
  développe plus constamment, pourquoi la vie s’y éteint plus
  rapidement, enfin pourquoi l’on y compte habituellement un décès sur
  trente-deux habitants, quand il n’y en a qu’un sur quarante dans les
  autres.” They also indicate as part of the effects of the noxious
  physical causes the moral depravity and the predominance of bad
  passions which impede amendment. “Ces obstacles sont réels, ils ne
  sauraient être méconnus, mais qui peut douter de les voir s’affaiblir,
  si d’une part la classe aisée de la population, comprenant mieux les
  intentions de l’autorité et ses intérêts véritables, se prête plus
  aisément à l’action des règlements sur la propreté et la salubrité
  publique, et si d’une autre part l’instruction, pénétrant dans cette
  portion de la population qui doit une partie de ses vices et de sa
  misère à l’ignorance, fait naître chez elle, avec des mœurs plus
  pures, des habitudes plus régulières et plus en harmonie avec
  l’hygiène publique?” But these representations of the Medical
  Commissioners of Paris have not been heard by the classes appealed to,
  and relief is sought by the mode of “giving vent” to the dangerous
  passions in preference to the superior treatment recommended, of the
  removal of the physical circumstances by which those passions must
  continue to be generated. Thus it may be mentioned in illustration of
  the important principle of the superior economy and efficiency of
  structural means of prevention, that the expenditure of money on
  Algiers appears to have been upwards of four millions sterling per
  annum, during the twelve years of its occupation. The capital sunk on
  the permanent structural arrangements for supplying London with water
  being about three millions and a half, it may be safely alleged that
  one year’s expenditure on Algiers would have sufficed for the
  structural arrangements for a supply of water for the cleansing of
  every room, and house, and street in Paris; or on the scale of the
  expense of the works completed for supplying Toulouse with water, one
  year’s expenditure on Algiers would have sufficed to supply one
  hundred and fifty towns of the same size as Toulouse with the like
  means of healthful, and thence of moral improvement; or such a sum
  would have sufficed to have effected for ever the “percements et
  enlargissements des voies actuelles,” and thence to have advanced the
  health and achieved the comparative security of four or five such
  cities as Lyons. One year’s cost of any one regiment maintained in the
  war on the Arabs would suffice to build and endow a school, or to have
  constructed between one and two miles of permanent railway. The total
  amount of capital so applied exceeds nearly by one-fourth the amount
  expended on the existing railroads in Great Britain. It may be
  confidently averred that the cost of the forts detaches, or
  _enceintes-continues_, said to be on a reduced scale upwards of ten
  millions sterling, would, if properly directed, with the accessaries
  of moral appliances in addition to such physical means as those
  indicated by the officers of public health, suffice within the period
  of the living generation, to renovate the physical and moral condition
  of the great mass of the population in the interior of that capital.

Footnote 27:

  Vide Appendix—Explanations of the District Mortuary Returns.

Footnote 28:

  _Vide_ other instances cited in the Annales d’Hygiene.—Number 59, p.
  153 to 159.

Footnote 29:

  Vide Regulations at Franckfort and Munich, Appendix.

Footnote 30:

  Vide Appendix for the list of burial places returned, and a view of
  the spaces requisite on the preceding scale, § 145, and the relative
  space occupied as burial ground by the chief religious denominations.

Footnote 31:

  It is due to the medical profession to state, that they have always
  discountenanced as injurious the practice of entombment in vaults
  under churches. A Parisian physician had the following epitaph to his

                    “Simon Pierre, vir pius et probus
                    Hic sub dio sepeliri voluit
                    Ne mortuus cuiquam noceret
                    Qui vivus omnibus profuerat.”

  At Louvain, there is the tomb of a celebrated anatomist, with the

                    “Philippus Verhagen,
                    Med. Dr. et prof.
                    Partem sui materialem
                    Hic in cœmeterio condi voluit,
                    Ne templum dehonestaret
                    Aut nocivis halitibus inficeret.”

Footnote 32:

  Perpetuities in burial grounds may be said to have been declared
  illegal by Lord Stowell’s decision in the case of Gilbert v. the
  Churchwardens of St. Andrew’s, Holborn, on the use of iron coffins.
  His lordship, in his judgment in that case, remarked, that “All
  contrivances that, whether intentionally or not, prolong the time of
  dissolution beyond the period at which the common local understanding
  and usage have fixed it, is an act of injustice, unless compensated in
  some other way.”—Haggard’s Rep. v. 2, p. 353. _Vide_ statement of the
  principle of this decision, in the extracts from the judgment given in
  the Appendix, No. 12.

Footnote 33:

  The neglect of the cemeteries at Paris, and especially of those
  portions dedicated to the interment of the poorer classes, has been
  the subject of public complaint, and means are now being taken to
  redress them. A friend, who aided me with some inquiries in respect to
  them, states,—

    The English tourist in visiting Père la Chaise is attracted by
    splendid monuments in the midst of cypress trees, and little
    gardens filled with flowers planted round a majority of the tombs;
    but the graves of the humbler classes lie beyond these, and to
    them the stranger is seldom conducted. The contrast is painful.
    When I last visited Père la Chaise, on a fine day in November, and
    after a week of unusually fine weather for the season, I found the
    paths quite impracticable in the poorer quarter of the cemetery,
    and as I watched a man, in the usual blouse dress worn by the
    working class, picking his way through the mud to lead his little
    boy to pray over the grave of his mother, I could but deplore the
    economy of an administration which had neglected to provide, at
    least, a dry gravel path for the humble and pious mourner.

Footnote 34:

  Vide Appendix for an exemplification of the excess of deaths and
  funerals, and other losses incurred by setting aside Sir Christopher
  Wren’s plan for the rebuilding of the city of London.

Footnote 35:

  One of the twelve tables was in these words, “_Hominem mortuum in urbe
  ne sepelito neve urito_.” Cicero, in one of his epistles, Epist. ad
  Div. iv. 12, in which he describes the assassination of his friend M.
  Marcellus, at Athens, mentions that he had been unable to obtain
  permission of the Athenians that the body should be buried in the
  city; they said that such permission was inadmissible on religious
  grounds, and that it never had been granted to any one.

Footnote 36:

  Bingham’s Christian Antiquities, b. xxiii. ch. 1, s. 2.

Footnote 37:

  _Vide_ Leviticus, chap. xiv., verse 33 to 48, for early sanitary
  measures of purification.

Footnote 38:

  It is perhaps an important fact, that the great majority of burials in
  some burial-grounds are stated by the undertakers who perform them to
  be burials of persons who are not subscribing members of the
  congregations who are reputed to be the owners of the grounds, and
  whilst only one out of three of the parishioners of many parishes
  choose burial in the ground belonging to their parish church, the
  solemnization of the marriage ceremony being generally satisfactory to
  the population, and all of them having the option to have the marriage
  solemnized with or without the religious ceremony, only one out of
  twenty-four in the metropolis prefer solemnization elsewhere than at
  the established church. From the Registrar General’s Report it appears
  that, in 1839, out of 18,648 marriages celebrated in the metropolis,
  only 772 were not solemnized in the established church; and out of
  124,329 marriages performed that year in the whole of England and
  Wales, only 7,311 were performed out of the established church.

Footnote 39:

  Bingham observes that St. Chrysostom speaks against those who use
  excessive mourning at funerals, showing them the incongruity of that
  with this psalmody of the church, and exposing them at the same time
  to the ridicule of the Gentiles. For what said they are these men that
  talk so finely and philosophically about the resurrection? Yes,
  indeed! But their actions do not agree with their doctrine. For whilst
  they profess in words the belief of a resurrection, in their deeds
  they act more like men that despair of it. If they were really
  persuaded that their dead were gone to a better life, they would not
  so lament. “Therefore,” says Chrysostom, “let us be ashamed to carry
  out our dead after this manner. For our psalmody, and prayers, and
  solemn meeting of fathers, and such a multitude of brethren, is not
  that thou shouldst weep and lament, and be angry at God, but give him
  thanks for taking a deceased brother to himself.” St. Jerome also
  frequently speaks of this psalmody as one of the chief parts of their
  funeral pomp. He says at the funeral of the Lady Paula at Bethlehem,
  which was attended with great concourse of bishops and clergy and
  people of Palestine, there was no howling or lamenting as used to be
  among the men of this world, but singing of psalms in Greek, Latin,
  and Syriac (because there were people of different languages present)
  at the procession of her body to the grave.” “And being so general and
  decent a practice, it was a grievance to any one to be denied the
  privilege of it. Victor Uticensis, upon this account, complains of the
  inhuman cruelty of one of the kings of the Vandals. Who can bear, says
  he, to think of it without tears, when he calls to mind how he
  commanded the bodies of our dead to be carried in silence without the
  solemnity of the usual hymns to the grave.” (Vol. vii. 335.)

Footnote 40:

  Dr. Southwood Smith’s Report, Poor Law Commissioners’ Fifth Annual
  Report, Appendix, p. 160.

Footnote 41:

  Whosoever may feel inclined not to attach much weight to infantile
  mortality on any such theory as that the “pressure of population” is
  thereby diminished, may be requested to consider the evidence of the
  fallacy, and proof that in the very districts where such mortality is
  the greatest, so is the amount of births. Vide General Sanitary
  Report, Note, p. 175; Tables, p. 182 and 183, et seq.; and the
  subsequent corroborative evidence adduced in connexion with the
  district returns of the proportions of deaths and funerals given in
  the Appendix to this Report—Appendix.

Footnote 42:

  Vide on the subject of defective registration of the causes of deaths:
  a letter to the Registrar-general from Mr. Baker, coroner to
  Middlesex, printed in the Minutes of Evidence on the practice of
  coroners, given before a Select Committee of the House of Commons, p.
  128 of paper 549, Sess. 1840.


                                 No. 1.

The transference of the cemetery to the outside of the town required the
herewith enacted abolition of the ancient mode and custom of interring
the dead, and the substitution of another and more suitable arrangement.
For this purpose the following regulations for Sachsenhausen [the
suburbs of Franckfort], as well as Franckfort, are published for general

                               SECTION I.

(1.) The mixed Church and School Commission has the chief
superintendence of all church, cemetery, and interment affairs.

The regulation of all matters relating to interments is conferred upon
the legally-appointed Church and Cemetery Commission.

All officers employed in connection with interments are placed under the
control of the said Commission, and it will be its duty to report yearly
to the mixed Church and School Commission on the expenses and receipts,
and the general progress of the institution.

(2.) The superintendence of the cemetery, of the sextons in their
various employments, and of the house of reception, is given to an
inspector, whose duties are hereafter described in the 2nd section.

(3.) For the performance of all the necessary arrangements preceding the
interment, commissaries of interments are appointed to take the place of
the so-called undertakers. These commissaries have to arrange everything
connected with the funeral, and are responsible for the proper
fulfilment of all the regulations given in their instructions.

(4.) In order to prevent the great expense which was formerly occasioned
by the attendance with the dead to the grave, bearers shall be appointed
who shall attend to the cemetery all funerals, without distinction of
rank or condition.

To these bearers shall be given assistants, who shall be equally under
the control of the interment commissaries.

(5.) A sufficient number of sextons and assistants shall be appointed to
form the graves and assist at the interment.

(6.) There are four classes of funerals and interments. Every house of
mourning may choose the class of funeral on paying the sum fixed for
that class to the Church and Cemetery Commission.

All Christian interments, without distinction, can be conducted only
according to these interment regulations. It remains open to the friends
of the dead to attend the burial either in carriage or on foot; but this
must be without expense to the house of mourning. The funerals of the
town guards and of the soldiers of the line remain the same, but are
only to cost a fixed sum.

If it be the wish of a family, the clergyman may attend the funeral, and
he may perform a service either at the side of the grave, or, in case of
bad weather, in the house of reception.

All interments whatsoever, except in extraordinary cases, where the
police determines the time, must take place early—in summer before nine,
in winter before eleven o’clock, in the morning.

The blowing of trumpets from the steeples, the attendance of women with
napkins, the bearings of crosses, the attendance of the old-fashioned
mourning coach, and also the use of the so-called “chariot of Heaven,”
and the following of young handicraftsmen, which generally were an
immense expense, are all given up. New carriages of a simpler and more
respectable form, and such as are better suited to the object and to the
greater distance of the cemetery from the town, shall be built.

The bodies of adults who are taken direct from the house of mourning to
the grave, must be borne in the funeral carriage to the gate of the
cemetery, where the bearers will convey the coffin to the grave.

The dead who have been placed in the house of reception must be borne in
the same manner to the grave.

In exceptional cases, the dead may be borne to the grave by other
persons; but this is only allowed when there is any particular cause of
sympathy with the dead, or with the surviving family, and it must be
free of all expense.

(7.) A complete and exact plan of the new cemetery shall be prepared,
and all the graves shall be marked upon it.

Every place of interment must be numbered, which number must be engraved
upon the plan as soon as it is taken.

The actuary of the Cemetery Commission shall keep a book, in which is
entered, along with the number of the grave, the rank, age, name, and
surname of the deceased.

(8.) Those who possess family vaults, family graves, or monuments,
receive from the Cemetery Commission a document attesting their right,
and they must also follow the regulations which are contained in it.

(9.) No grave can be opened till after the lapse of 20 years.

Hence, if a family grave-plot is full, and the oldest grave has not been
closed 20 years on the occurrence of another death in the family, if it
cannot be placed in the grave-plot of any other relative, it must be
interred in the general interment ground, in the regular order and

(10.) The printed table of the cost of interment determines what sum is
to be paid for funerals to the Church and Cemetery Commission.

          SECTION II.—_The duties of the Cemetery Inspector._

(11.) He is chosen by the Church and Cemetery Commission, and the
appointment is confirmed by the mixed Church and School Commission.

In case the latter commission should find reason to delay the
ratification, the grounds of the delay are to be reported to the senate,
which will then order what is requisite.

The oath of the Cemetery Inspector must be taken before the younger
_Herr Bürgermeister_, but his dismissal must be conducted in the same
manner as his appointment.

He must be examined by the Sanitary Board, and must be found by them to
be qualified. He must also be a burgher.

The Cemetery Inspector retains his situation during good behaviour,
exact obedience to the interment regulations, and all other matters
contained in his instructions.

(12.) The sextons and their assistants are under the control of the
Cemetery Inspector.

He has to enforce the regulation that all those employed in the
solemnities of funerals, or in the house of mourning, shall appear in
good black clothes, and that no disorder, negligence, or defect, is
permitted in the cemetery.

He has further to see that on the part of the sextons, or the gardeners,
the neatness of the paths of the cemetery is restored after interments,
as also that of the plantations and flower borders, as quickly as
possible, and also that the mounds on the graves in the common ground
are covered with green turf and kept in a pretty form.

(13.) The interments are to be notified by writing to the inspector of
the cemetery by the Interment Commissary. This notification must be
signed by the Church and Cemetery Commission, otherwise the inspector
may not venture to order the sextons to form a grave.

One of the principal duties of the inspector is to keep a register of
all the interments from these notifications, which register he must
weekly lay before the Church and Cemetery Commission.

(14.) The coffins must, without any distinction, be lowered into the
graves, and the inspector has to see that the necessary ropes are always
in proper condition.

No less important is it for the inspector to be present at an interment,
in order that by his presence nothing may be done by his subordinates,
or by any other person, which should be contrary to the dignity of the
interment or to the regulations.

(15.) The inspector must also inspect the family vaults, graves, and
monuments, and keep a book, in which he enters statements of any repairs
which may be necessary, and a notification of this is immediately to be
sent to the Church and Cemetery Commission, without whose permission no
alteration can be made in the graves.

(16.) The inspector has also the superintendence of the house of

(17.) It is the duty of the inspector to treat all who have to apply to
him with politeness and respect, and to give the required information
unweariedly and with ready good will.

Under no pretext is he allowed either to demand or receive any payment,
as he has a sufficient salary.

             SECTION III.—_On the Interment Commissaries._

(18.) On the motion of the Church and Cemetery Commission, the
Consistory names four Interment Commissaries for the Lutheran community.

For the reformed church in Franckfort two Interment Commissaries are
chosen by the reformed consistory from those proposed by the Church and
Cemetery Commission. Amongst those persons proposed by this commission,
there must be included not only the present clergymen of the two
reformed communities, but the clergyman at all times must be proposed.

The Catholic has also an Interment Commissary, chosen by the Church and
School Commission from those proposed by the Church and Cemetery

The list proposed for every such appointment must include, at least,
three burghers, fit to fill the situation.

The appointment is given during good behaviour, and the commissary must
take an oath that he will truly and exactly follow the regulations, and
that he feels it his duty to perform all these and any other particular
instructions which he may receive.

(19.) To each of the three Interment Commissaries of the Lutheran
community four districts are given, in which they must superintend all
that has to be done from the death to the interment in their community.

The two Reformed commissaries, as well as the Catholic, have to take
care of everything connected with interment in their communities.

(20.) In order that illness or any other unavoidable obstacle may not
easily interfere with the function of these commissaries, two Lutheran,
one Reformed, and one Catholic commissaries, shall be appointed as
substitutes, and shall have the same duties and obligations as their

(21.) These commissaries must notify to each other at what hour they
have an interment in charge, in order that many interments at the same
time may be avoided.

(22.) The commissary is to be informed immediately as soon as a death
has occurred. Thereon the commissary acquaints the family of the
deceased with all that is to be done or observed with regard to the

The commissary must then send to the proper officer a notification of
the death, and receive the interment certificate, signed by the Church
and Cemetery Commission. If the hour and day of the interment is fixed
by the family of the deceased, the interment commissary informs the
bearers of it the day before, so that if many funerals occurred on one
day, it may be so arranged that no delays or annoyances should take

Timely warning is to be given to the friends of those who are placed in
the house of reception, of the hour and day of interment, in order that
they may, if desirous of doing so, attend the funeral.

(23.) The bearers alone, without any exception, must place the coffin in
the ground.

The commissary must see that the bearers are always cleanly and
respectably dressed in black when they appear at a funeral, and must be
particularly careful that they conduct themselves seriously, quietly,
and respectably.

He must also see that the carriage of the dead is not driven quickly
either in the town or beyond it, but that it is conducted respectably at
a quiet pace.

When the dead is covered, and not until then, the commissary and the
bearers shall leave the cemetery in perfect silence.

For any impropriety which may, through the conduct of the bearers, arise
during the interment, the commissary is responsible.

(24.) The commissary must keep a register of the deaths which occur in
his district. He must close it every month with his signature, and
present it in the first three days of the following month to the Church
and Cemetery Commission.

(25.) If desired by the family of the deceased to communicate the event
to the friends, the commissary shall do so, and for this he is to be
paid according to the tax. But it is by no means necessary that he
should be employed, as any other person may be employed to announce the

(26.) The substitute must receive half of the sum fixed by the tax-roll
as belonging to the commissary, whose place he fills.

If the substitute is employed to announce the death, he receives the
whole of the remuneration for that service.

            _Of the Bearers or Attendants of the Funerals._

(27.) The coffin bearers are chosen by the Church and School Commission,
according to the sect for which they are to be employed.

The appointment of attendants on funerals and their assistants depends
on good conduct.

They are bound by oath, truly and exactly, to do all that is prescribed
by the interment regulations, as also all that may further be committed
to them by the Church and Cemetery Commission.

(28.) For the interment of the Reformed and Lutheran sects in
Franckfort, there shall be appointed thirty-six attendants of funerals
and twelve assistants.

The community in Sachsenhausen has also twelve attendants and six

These attendants and their assistants are chosen from both these
evangelical sects, without regard, however, to the particular number
which there may be belonging to the one or the other sect.

They are summoned by writing to the performance of their duties at the
four different classes of funeral by the Interment Commissioner
belonging to that community, and are subject to the strictest inspection
by that commissioner.

The Catholic community has also twelve attendants and six assistants.

The whole of the attendants and assistants must be citizens or burghers
of Franckfort, or from the neighbourhood, and of unquestionable

(29.) On the occasion of every death, whenever they are required, these
bearers must appear in a neat and clean dress, and conduct themselves
respectfully and quietly.

The dress consists of a frock coat, vest, trousers, a round hat,
stockings, and shoes or boots, all of black.

In winter is added a black cloak.

The whole of the dress must be of a particular form and make.

(30.) The bearers shall neither eat nor drink in the house of mourning:
they shall neither ask nor receive, under the strongest penalty, any sum
for that purpose, since they and their assistants have a fixed and
sufficient salary, according to the interment regulations; any breach of
this regulation will be punished by dismissal.

The assistant will pay half the rate to the bearer. That assistant who
has signalized himself by the exact fulfilment of his duties, shall be
the first to be promoted as bearer in case of a vacancy.

Neglect of duty on the first occasion shall be punished by the Church
and Cemetery Commission with suspension from the office for a certain
length of time, and on a repetition of the neglect, with dismissal.

It is before this commission that the bearers have to bring their
complaints, which may sometimes occur, against the Interment Commissary,
under whose immediate control they are placed, and the matter is there

(31.) The Church and Cemetery Commission has to name from amongst the
attendants of the Lutheran and Catholic funerals those who are to be
cross-bearers. These, as well as the bearers, must fulfil most exactly
and conscientiously the orders of the Commissioner of Interments, and
must only attend when required by him.

                  SECTION IV.—_Of the Grave-diggers._

(32.) The Church and Cemetery Commission appoints the sextons and their
assistants, who are bound by oath to fulfil the regulations and
necessary arrangements of the Commission.

(33.) The Church and Cemetery Commission appoints one of the sextons as
chief, who must always live in the town, and to whom the Interment
Commissioner must make known the event of a death, in order that it may
be notified to the Church and Cemetery Inspector, who thereupon orders
the preparation of a grave.

This chief sexton has a register, in which he enters all the
notifications of interments that have been sent to him, and which, when
asked for, he must lay before the Church and Cemetery Commission.

No grave can be prepared, unless the warrant for it has been signed by
the Church and Cemetery Commission.

Every grave must be six feet deep, three feet and a-half wide, and seven
feet long for an adult.

The measurement for children is regulated by the Church and Cemetery
Inspector on each separate occasion. Between the graves in the ordinary
course there must be an interval of one foot.

(34.) The whole of the sextons, in which is included their assistants,
are under the inspection of the Church and Cemetery Inspector, who must
keep them to their duty, and who is answerable for any misdemeanor, or
offence or neglect of the sextons.

(35.) The sextons must always be respectably dressed in black during the
interment, and those who go to the house of mourning must always appear
in neat and clean attire, and must be studious at all times, whether
engaged within or without the churchyard, to preserve a modest and
proper behaviour. Drunkenness, neglect of duty, or abuse of their
services, will be punished by the Church and Cemetery Commission, and on
repetition of the offence the offender will be dismissed. The sextons
are forbidden, on pain of dismissal, from making any alteration in any
family vault, or grave, or in the ordinary graves, without especial
orders. They shall, on the other hand, keep all the flowers, borders,
and shrubs in the neatest order, and one of the sextons must be an
excellent gardener, whose office it shall be to keep the plantations and
borders in good condition.

Any assistant who has been guilty of any fault which has led to the
dismissal of the sexton, shall not be able to be employed again as

(36.) The salary for the making of a grave is settled by the Church and
Cemetery Commissioners, on the roll, and no more than this sum can
either be demanded or received, under pain of dismissal.

An assistant who has to perform the work of a sexton on account of
sickness, must give the sexton half the remuneration. In case the sexton
allows the assistant to do his work, or, on occasion of increased work
requiring the employment of an assistant, the assistant must receive the
full pay.

That assistant who has signalized himself by the exact and excellent
performance of his duties, shall be the first to be promoted when a
vacancy occurs.

When the qualifications are equal, the assistant of the longest standing
shall be promoted, and when this is equal, the oldest shall be made

The complaints of the sextons and assistants against the Inspector or
amongst themselves are to be settled by the Church and Cemetery

                      _Of the Cost of Interment._

The Church and Cemetery Commission undertake to conduct the interments
at the price fixed by them in the tax roll.

The whole rates could only be made so moderate, by making all interments
to depend on the Church and Cemetery Commission, therefore the
solemnities of interment can be superintended by no one except the said
Commission, under the regulation of the printed orders.

The Interment Commissioner, on the occasion of a death, must call the
attention of the friends to these orders. It depends entirely on the
choice of the friends to which of the four classes of prices the funeral
shall belong.

(39.) The Commission of Interments has to receive the payment for the
interment from the friends, and must immediately pay it over to the
Church and Cemetery Commission.

(40.) Besides, or in addition to the authorized payment printed in the
tax roll, and determined by the Church and Cemetery Commission as the
sufficient remuneration of the Inspector, Commissioner of Interments,
the bearers and sextons, no one is, on the occasion of a death, either
to give money or to furnish food and drink.

The practice of furnishing crape, gloves, lemons, &c., by the friends of
the dead, is also given up, and the persons engaged in conducting the
interment, must take all the requisites with them, without asking or
receiving any compensation, under pain of instant dismissal.

         _The time which these orders are to remain in force._

(41.) Experience will best show what alteration is necessary in these
regulations, and they are therefore after some years to be laid by the
mixed Church and School Commission before the Senate for revision, and
further regulation.

_The rate of Interment for the Christian communities of the free town of

The following, by order of the Legislative Assembly, of the 31st May,
1836, is the table of the rate of interment, which is here made known
for every one’s observance and obedience.

The interments of adults are divided into four classes:—

                                             English Money.
                                              £.  _s._ _d._
            The 1st class costs 50 florins =    4    7    6
            The 2nd class costs 36 florins =    3    3    0
            The 3rd class costs 22 florins =    1   18    6
            The 4th class costs 15 florins =    1    6    3

The interment of children are also of four classes:—

                    _First Class._                   English Money.
                                                      £.  _s._ _d._
    Children from 10 to 15              22 florins =    1   18    6
    Children from  5 to 10              16 florins =    1    8    0
    Children from  0 to  5              12 florins =    1    1    0

                   _Second Class._

    Children from 10 to 15              16 florins =    1    8    0
    Children from  5 to 10              11 florins =    0   19    3
    Children from  0 to  5               8 florins =    0   14    0

                    _Third Class._

    Children from 10 to 15              10 florins =    0   17    6
    Children from  5 to 10               8 florins =    0   14    0
    Children from  0 to  5               4 florins =    0    7    0

                   _Fourth Class._

    Children from 10 to 15  6 florins              =    0   10    6
    Children from  5 to 10  5 florins              =    0    8    9
    Children from  0 to  5  2 florins 30 kruitzers =    0    4    4

For the funeral of all the city militia and officers of the line, twelve
florins must be paid for the cross, the pall, and the making of the
grave, inclusive of the carriage, by the friends of the dead.

The interment of a pauper will cost six florins, eight kruitzers.

The expenses of the interments of the institution for paupers are
settled by the Church and Cemetery Commission, with the officers of that

If the Interment Commissary be employed by the friends of the deceased,
to announce the occurrence of the death, he is to receive three guilders
per day.

 SECTION V.—_The Regulations with regard to the House for the reception
                             of the Dead._

The following are the regulations regarding the use of the house for the
reception and care of the dead, which are here made known for every
one’s observance.

(1.) The object of this institution is—

  _a._ To give perfect security against the danger of premature

  _b._ To offer a respectable place for the reception of the dead, in
  order to remove the corpse from the confined dwellings of the

(2.) The use of the reception-house is quite voluntary, yet, in case the
physician may consider it necessary for the safety of the survivors that
the dead be removed, a notification to this effect must be forwarded to
the younger burgermeister to obtain the necessary order.

(3.) Even, in case the house of reception is not used, the dead cannot
be interred until after the lapse of three nights, without the proper
certificate of the physician that the signs of decomposition have
commenced. In order to prevent the indecency which has formerly
occurred, of preparing too early the certificate of the death, the
physician shall in future sign a preliminary announcement of the
occurrence of death, for the sake of the previous arrangements necessary
for an interment, but the certificate of death is only to be prepared
when the corpse shows unequivocal signs of decomposition having
commenced. For the dead which it is wished to place in the house of
reception, the physician prepares a certificate of removal. This
certificate of removal can only be given after the lapse of the
different periods, of six hours; in sudden death, of twelve hours; and
in other cases, twenty-four hours.

In case of the thermometer being below 10 degrees of Reaumur, (30
Fahrenheit), removal can only take place when there are unequivocal
signs of death, and under the certificate of death from the physician.

(4.) The custody and treatment of the dead in the house of reception is
the same for all ranks and conditions.

(5.) The superintendence of the house of reception is conferred upon the
Inspector of the Church Yard. He must possess the requisite medical and
surgical knowledge, and must be examined by the Sanitary Board with
regard to his qualification for the office, and must be instructed
according to their direction.

(6.) The guardians of the dead are under the control of the inspector,
and must receive a special instruction with regard to their duties.

(7.) The dead which are placed in the house of reception must not be
interred until unequivocal signs of decomposition have appeared.

The inspector determines the time of interment.

(8.) The dead, on arrival at the house of reception, are immediately
placed in separate rooms, which are built for that purpose, and which
are numbered, and there receive all the proper means of security.

(9.) In the house of reception, there are besides these rooms two other
chambers; one is used as the animating chamber, the other, as a bath

The kitchen, which is also near at hand, is used to furnish hot water,
or whatever may be required.

(10.) In case a body gives signs of re-animation, it must be brought
immediately into the chamber used for that purpose, when all the means
will be applied by the inspector, according to the instructions he has

(11.) This chamber, in which there is a bed, must always be carefully
locked, in order that it may never be used for any other purpose. The
inspector alone has possession of the key of this chamber.

(12.) There must be in this chamber every necessary provision of
medicines, and of means of resuscitation and proper ventilation of the
air, according to the instruction of the Sanitary Board, and all these
arrangements must be kept in most perfect order by the inspector.

(13.) If any particular case occurs in the house of reception, the
Sanitary Board must immediately have information of it, and the Board
must from time to time examine into the state of the house.

(14.) Permission to friends and relatives to enter the rooms of the dead
is not granted unconditionally, on account of considerations of health,
but it depends upon the consent of the inspector. Entrance into the
waiting hall, from which the rooms in which the dead are deposited
range, is at all times allowed to the relatives of the dead.

(15.) A register is kept in the house of reception, in which is entered
the rank and name of the dead, the age, the last disease, the day and
hour of the death, the placing in the house of reception, and the time
of interment, and the name of the last physician. Every registration is
signed by the inspector.

(16.) No payment is made for reception and guarding of the dead in the
house of reception, nor for the services of the inspector or nurses, nor
for the heating of the chambers. These expenses are defrayed from the
Interment Fund.

(17.) The inspector and nurses are strictly forbidden to allow any
persons to visit them in the buildings of the burial ground.

(18.) When the inspector has been examined by the Sanitary Board, as to
his special qualifications, and has passed, the oath is administered to
him by the younger burgermeister.

  _Instructions to the Inspector in regard to the House of Reception._

(1.) The inspector must be examined as to his medical and surgical
knowledge, by the Sanitary Board, and as to his treatment of suspended
animation, in which he is specially instructed by the Sanitary Board,
and is then sworn in by the younger burgermeister.

(2.) The inspector has to instruct his assistants, and must see that his
instructions are strictly followed.

(3.) He must answer for all that is out of order in the house of

(4.) As long as there are corpses in the house, the inspector must not
leave his house.

(5.) He has to keep a register, in a form which is prescribed, and must
punctually and clearly fill up all the heads of the form.

(6.) As soon as a corpse is brought to the house, the inspector must
determine in which of the rooms it is to be placed, and order all the
necessary arrangements and means of security, and the attendance of
guardians, and must not leave the dead until everything has been
arranged for its proper protection and care.

(7.) The Cemetery Inspector must superintend the attendants night and

(8.) No corpse can be interred until unequivocal signs of decomposition
have appeared. On this matter the inspector has to act according to the
instructions of the Sanitary Board.

(9.) Should the case arise, that the dead sets in motion the alarum, or
that the nurses perceive a slight colour in the cheek, or a slight
breathing, or a movement in the eye-lid, the inspector must immediately
arrange that the body be brought into the fresh air of the re-animating
chamber, which is properly warmed, and he will there adopt all the other
means, on which he has received instructions from the Sanitary Board.

(10.) When these signs of life have appeared, the inspector must
immediately give information of the circumstance by a messenger to the
physician who last attended the person, in order that a notification of
the same may be made to the _Physikat_.

The tidings of the re-animation shall be conveyed to the house of
mourning by the physician alone, and then only when there is no longer
any doubt of the resuscitation.

(11.) One of the first essentials in the house is cleanliness. The
Cemetery Inspector has therefore strictly to watch that everything which
belongs to the house is kept most perfectly clean by the nurses.

In order to preserve the purity of the air, he must see that the
arrangements for ventilation are kept in perfect order.

(12.) He must also see that the rooms are properly warmed during the
cold weather.

(13.) The Cemetery Inspector is not specially paid for his services in
the house of reception, but has a house free, besides the salary
determined by the Cemetery Commission, and printed in the salary table.

          _Instructions in respect to the Watchers or Nurses._

(1.) The nurses, amongst which the sextons may be sometimes employed,
are named and appointed by the Church and Cemetery Commission, on good

(2.) They are under the superintendence of the Cemetery Inspector, and
must obey his orders with the greatest exactitude and alacrity.

(3.) As soon as a corpse is brought to the house the nurses must convey
it immediately into the room pointed out by the inspector, and
afterwards do all that is required of them by him.

(4.) They must be instructed in all their duties by the inspector.

(5.) He, whose week it is to watch in the warder’s chamber, must never
leave the chamber when there are corpses in the rooms, on pain of
instant dismissal; but if anything requires him to leave the chamber, he
must first summon with a bell, one of the other nurses to take his

(6.) The nurses must keep everything in the house in the greatest
cleanliness. Any one who has frequently to be reminded of his duties
through carelessness shall be dismissed from the situation.

(7.) If roughness be shown by a nurse to the dead, he must be punished
with instant dismissal, and a notification of the same must be given by
the Church and Cemetery Commission to the police, in order that proper
inquiry and punishment be given.

(8.) In case the alarum is set in motion, or any other sign of life is
perceived, the nurse must immediately inform the Inspector, and quietly
and gently fulfil all his directions.

(9.) The nurses are forbidden to use tobacco in the house.

(10.) They are forbidden to receive any visits in the house, and more
especially to allow any person to come during the night into the

(11.) There shall be in the warder’s chamber a clock, which, by a
certain mechanism, can tell when, and how long a nurse may have slept
during the night. Frequent negligence of this kind will be punished by





                                 No. 2.

             _Regulations for the Examination of the Dead._

Whereas it is of importance to all men to be perfectly assured that the
beings who were dear to them in life are not torn from them so long as
any, the remotest, hope exists of preserving them; so is death less
dreadful in its shape when one is convinced of its actual occurrence,
and no longer a danger exists of being buried alive.

In order to afford this satisfaction to mankind, and to preclude the
possibility of any one being considered as dead who is not actually so;
that the spread of infectious disorders be avoided as much as possible;
that the quackeries so highly injurious to health may be suppressed;
that murders committed by secret violence may be discovered, and the
perpetrators delivered over to the hands of justice, is the imperative
duty of every wise government; and in order to accomplish these objects,
every one of which is of infinite importance, recourse must be had to
the Safety Police as the most efficient means, by a strict medical
examination into the deaths occurring, and a conformable view of the

In consideration of which, the orders already existing on this subject
will undergo a strict examination, and, with the august consent of the
government of the Isar-Circle, the following general regulations have
been fixed upon:—

1. An examination of all dead bodies, at two different times, and this
without exception to rank, is henceforth to take place in the
metropolitan city of Munich, and the suburbs belonging thereto.

2. The first examination is to be held immediately after death has taken
place, and the second shortly before the interment.

3. At the public hospitals, both examinations are intrusted to the
acting physician, who has however strictly to observe those regulations
relating to the certificates for the examination of the dead.

4. The first examination is to take place at the very spot where death
has taken place, or where any dead body may be discovered, by the sworn
surgeon of the district: the second examination, however, by the surgeon
appointed by and belonging to the Police Establishment.

5. The city of Munich, with the suburbs, are to be divided into Eight
Districts; for each of these districts a separate surgeon is hereby
appointed, viz.:—

[Here follow the eight districts, with the names and residences of the
Surgeons appointed for each district.]

6. As soon as a death takes place, immediate notice must be given by the
Soul-nuns, Midwife, &c., &c., or by any such person charged with the
arrangements for the burial. This said notice must state the street, the
number of the house, and of the floor where the dead body is lying;
whereupon the said surgeon has immediately to go there, and conduct the
investigation according to his instructions.

7. Previous to this, and before the first examination has taken place,
it is neither permitted to undress nor to clean the dead body: nor is
the body allowed (in cases of natural death) to be carried out of that
room where death has taken place, or to be removed from the spot; and it
is not even permitted to remove the cushions from under the head of the
dead body. Every violation of this decree will be punished with a fine
of from 5 to 15 florins, or with imprisonment from one to three days.

8. Those regulations issued by the examining surgeon respecting the
treatment of the dead body, or which relate to the clothes and other
objects of the deceased, must be strictly obeyed.

9. After the examining surgeon has convinced himself that every hope of
re-animation has disappeared, he fills up the certificate of examination
according to his instructions; but be it observed at the same time, that
if a medical man has attended the deceased, such is bound to enter in
the said certificate the description of the disease, and to certify it
by his signature.

10. If the dead body remains in the dwelling-house until the burial
takes place, the second examination by the surgeon from the Police must
be held there; and for this reason the certificate must be forwarded
into his hands as soon as possible.

11. But if the dead body after the first examination has been removed to
the house for the reception of the dead, in order to remain there, this
said certificate should previously, or at the delivery, be taken to the
Inspector of his Institution, in order that no obstacle may arise to its

12. The utmost cleanliness and greatest order is to prevail in this said
house for the reception of the dead, where the dead bodies removed there
are to be placed under a perpetual and proper watch; and the Police
Surgeon is bound to call at the Institution twice every day, namely, in
the morning and in the evening, to institute a very minute examination
of the dead bodies there; and in case of any signs of re-animation, to
render speedy and the most serviceable assistance.

13. If the medical man who conducts the second examination perceives
those signs in a corpse which do not leave any doubt whatsoever that a
death has taken place, he then enters the verification in the
certificate, which thereupon is taken to the Directory of Police, who
then grant the permission for the interment.

14. Without such a legal certificate permitting it, no body is allowed
to be buried; and that Priest or Clergyman who will assist at any burial
without having seen this certificate forfeits a sum from 15 to 30

15. Proper arrangements have been made that the Printed Forms for the
decreed Certificates may always be obtained at the Directory of Police,
and will be delivered gratis to the officiating medical men of the
Public Hospitals, as well as to the Examining Surgeons; a receipt
however must be given for them.

16. All those persons nominated for the execution of these measures, as
the Soul-nuns, Midwives, attendants at the house for the reception of
the dead; the Inspector of such House, the Examining Surgeons, the
Surgeons of the Police, &c., &c., will be supplied with the printed
regulations, as well as the most minute instructions, for which purpose
they will be sworn, and be ever subject to a rigorous inspection.

 _Munich, Nov. 20, 1821._

   [The regulations which follow this are chiefly as to the different
         prices of different degrees of the religious service.]

 _Regulations for the Guards or Watchers at the House for the reception
  of the Dead near the Burial Ground at Munich, with reference to the
                      Inspection of Dead Bodies._

1. There must be at least two health-worthy and active men, as trusty as
possible, appointed as Body Watchers, and specially sworn in by the

2. When a body is intended to be placed in the house for the reception
of the dead, it must be previously notified to the Inspector of the
same, and the before-mentioned “Examination Ticket,” or a special
official order, be delivered over to him.

3. It is forbidden to the Body Watchers to place any body there without
the previous knowledge and concurrence of the Inspector.

4. Should no obstacle arise, the corpse is then received by the Body
Watchers, and deposited in the place appropriated to it.

5. The cover of the coffin must then be immediately withdrawn, the face
of the deceased uncovered, and the hands and feet disengaged from the
bandages attached to them.

6. The place where the bodies are watched must be kept warm day and
night, and lighted during the night without interruption.

7. Great cleanliness is to be observed, and a supply of pure air to be
kept up.

8. The Watchers must constantly remain in the watch-room, and frequently
by day and night enter the room for the reception of the dead, in order
carefully to observe the bodies lying there.

9. The Police Surgeons will particularly instruct the Body Watchers as
to what signs or appearances they are especially to observe, and how
they are to act with regard to them. On this point they are to take the
greatest care.

10. Should any sign or appearances which may betoken re-animation
proceed from any body, it must be immediately brought into the
watch-room with every care and precaution, and placed on the bed
provided with mattrasses and blankets for that purpose.

11. On such an event occurring, not only the Inspector must be informed
of it, but the Police Surgeon must be called in without a moment’s

12. As to the treatment of the body until the arrival of the Surgeon,
the Inspector and Body Watchers are informed by the Police Surgeon. In
all cases must warm water be prepared, and the safety apparatus

13. The body, thus awakened from its sleep, must be treated with extreme
care, and everything must be avoided likely to create any strong
impression on it.

14. No coffin wherein a body is placed must be closed, nor must any
preparation for the burial take place, until the distinct permission
from the Police Surgeon is issued.

15. The entrance into the room for the reception of the dead is allowed
to every one under proper restrictions, care being taken that the quiet
and good order there are not disturbed.

16. Any Body Watcher who shall be convicted of any neglect in the
performance of his duties, will be punished with a proportional fine and
imprisonment, and dismissed on a repetition of the offence.

 _Munich, Nov. 20, 1821. Royal Police Direction._

   _Regulations for the Proceedings at the Second Examination of the
        Corpses by the proper nominated Surgeon of the Police._

1. The second examination of the deceased must be performed by the
appointed Police Surgeon, who must, however, take particular pains to
satisfy himself that the first examination has been duly executed, that
the certificates were properly drawn up, that the Soul-nuns have
fulfilled their various duties, and that both the Inspector, as well as
the appointed Watchmen belonging to the house for the reception of the
dead, have duly discharged the duties with which they are intrusted, and
that, moreover, nothing has been undertaken or omitted that should not
be in accordance with the various intents and purposes of the decreed
examination of the bodies.

2. This said Surgeon must be supplied with a copy of all the regulations
relating to the examination of the bodies, as well as copies of all such
regulations for the guidance of all others charged with the performance
of any of these duties.

3. If the Surgeon who is appointed by the Police feels convinced that by
one person or other any act has been performed contrary to the
prescribed duties, or that any negligence in the execution of the
service exists, he must, on pain of personal responsibility, give
immediate notice to the Police.

4. The same (the Police Surgeon) is bound to issue proper instructions,
more particularly to the Soul-nuns, to the Inspector of the house for
the reception of the dead, and to the Watchers and attendants of the
said institution, as well as to all individuals assisting at any of the
examinations; which said instructions relate to the method of
proceeding, and treatment of the dead bodies, especially in such a case
where re-animation might again take place, and repeated caution must be
given on this subject.

5. The second examination with which he is charged must either be
undertaken in that house where death has taken place, or in the house
for the reception of the dead. In the first case, when, for instance,
the deceased is kept at the house where death has taken place until the
final interment, the Police Surgeon must receive the necessary
information through the medium of the examining ticket, which has been
issued and signed by the medical man of the district, and which ticket
must be forwarded to him, either through the Soul-nun, or through any
such person charged to attend the deceased.

6. The stated sickness, or the manner how death ensued, as also the time
in which deceased is to be buried; all of which, having been entered on
the ticket, must serve him for guidance whether the second examination
must be more or less accelerated. In all cases, however, such must be
undertaken as timely as possible, so that generally interment may take
place after 48 hours.

7. He has, accordingly, to go to that place stated in the certificate of
examination, examine the corpse with due minuteness, and, in case the
burial may be proceeded with, he has to state it in the certificate;
such is then to be forwarded to the Royal Police, where the permission
for interment is granted.

8. If it is intended to remove the body to the house for the reception
of the dead, such may take place without any hesitation after the
proceedings of the first examination; and in this case the Police
Surgeon must find both the body and certificate at that place.

9. The Police Surgeon is bound to attend twice every day at the house
for the reception of the dead of the burial-ground, viz., every morning
from 9 to 10 o’clock, and in the afternoon from 3 to 4 o’clock. On his
arrival, such dead bodies, with their certificates, which have been
examined, must be shown to him; he examines them, and signs those
certificates which do not admit of any delay; which certificates are
afterwards forwarded to the Royal Police authorities, in order to
procure the certificate of permission for the burial.

10. Of all such dead bodies having undergone the second examination by
the Police Surgeon, and which have been considered by him proper for
burial, minute lists must be kept by him containing the consecutive
numbers, as well as the statement of that day on which the interment has
been ordered, and all such observations which have been entered in the
certificate of examination.

11. Such corpses which from the manner of their death are subject to any
judicial examination or dissection, will, after their previous
dissection, be received by the proper judicial authorities, and the
interment is to take place according to the existing orders.

12. Should information be forwarded to the Police Surgeon that signs of
re-animation have been observed in any body, it is to be his first and
most sacred duty to attend instantly at the place and spot, in order to
conduct all attempts at restoration, and to issue orders about the mode
of treatment of the re-animated body.

13. Attending minutely to his duties, it is certain that he may perceive
divers symptoms which are not only important to him as Examining
Surgeon, but also as surgeon to the Police; he has therefore to attend
minutely to such observations, and, together with his own, communicate
such to his superior authorities.

14. In case the Police Surgeon should be prevented, either by
indisposition, absence, or any other cause, from conducting the
examinations with which he is intrusted, he is forthwith to give
immediate notice to the Royal Police, in order to provide for a proper
substitute, whom he may himself propose.

15. It is fully expected from the Surgeon of the Police, that, impressed
with the importance of the business he is charged with, he will do all
in his power to attain the manifold important objects belonging to it.
Any negligence of which he may be guilty will be rigorously punished,
and on a repetition of the offence he will be discharged.

 _Royal Police Direction, Munich._

   _Instructions to the Soul-Nuns as to their Duties in regard to the
                        Inspection of the Dead._

(1.) As soon as a person is dead, or appears to be so, the nurse or
sister of charity in attendance is immediately to give information of
the same to the medical man appointed to the district.

(2.) For this purpose she obtains the _form of notification_ for
conducting the inspection of the dead, which contains the divisions of
the districts of inspection, and the names of the physicians appointed
to each district.

(3.) In order that the physician may inspect _immediately, and without
the slightest delay_, the case of death in his district, the name of the
street, the number and floor of the house in which the death occurs is
to be given with exactness, so that he may not in any way be hindered in
going to the place and making the earliest possible inspection.

(4.) Before this inspection has taken place, it is expressly forbidden
to undress the corpse, or wash it, or, if the death is a natural one, to
remove it from the bed or room in which the death took place, or even to
take away or alter the position of the pillow.

(5.) Any disobedience to this law will be punished by a fine of from 5
to 15 florins, or by a three days’ imprisonment.

(6.) The physician will make a note of all the circumstances of the
first inspection, according to his instructions. If he should consider
that particular arrangements are necessary, they are to be adopted

(7.) His note of remarks shall be left at the house, in the charge of
the soul-nun, and through them the signature of the physicians attending
the person who had died, if such there has been, shall be procured.

(8.) If the dead is retained at the house till the time of interment,
the note of inspection must be directly handed over to the public
surgeon, in order that he may make the second inspection, and determine
further what is necessary with regard to the interment.

(9.) If after a certain length of time he sees no reason to postpone the
interment, he will make a note to that effect and give it to the police
direction, and from them is procured the sanction for the interment.

This sanction will be given in to the clergyman’s office belonging to
the district, and thence handed over to the officer who has the care of
the house for the reception of the dead previous to interment. Without
this sanction no corpse can be interred.

(10.) The corpse must be retained until interment in an apartment where
there is fresh and pure air. The coffin must not be closed, nor the face
covered till after the second inspection, and the hands and feet must
not be bound.

If any signs of life should be observed, the district physician is
immediately to be called.

(11.) If the corpse is conveyed into the house for the reception of the
dead, the second inspection must be made there. The district physician’s
note of inspection is to be given to the officer of the house for the
reception of the dead at the time, or before the corpse being brought
there, and that officer is to hand over the note to the public surgeon.
Without this note of inspection, no corpse can be received into the
house for the reception of the dead.

(12.) The soul-nuns, or midwives, or whoever is intrusted with this
office, must wait for the second inspection, and for the time when the
public surgeon shall pronounce that the interment is necessary. For this
purpose the surgeon will make the requisite certificate, which must then
be given to the proper officer, who immediately gives the sanction for
the interment.

(13.) As the second inspection in the house for the reception of the
dead must take place, according to the regulations, in the morning
between 9 and 10, and in the afternoon between 3 and 4, the sanction for
interment may be procured between 11 and 12 in the morning, and 4 and 5
in the afternoon.

                                 No. 3.

                    _Thomas Abraham_, Esq., Surgeon.

You are Registrar of Deaths in the City of London Union. Since you have
been Registrar, have you had occasion to send notice to the coroner of
cases where the causes of death stated appeared suspicious?—Yes, in
about half-a-dozen cases. One was of an old gentleman occupying
apartments in Bell Alley. His servant went out to market, and on her
return, in less than an hour, found him dead on the bed, with his legs
lying over the side of it. He had been ailing some time, and was seized
occasionally with difficulty of breathing, but able to get up, and when
she left him she did not perceive anything unusual in his appearance. I
went to the house myself, and made inquiries into the cause of death;
and although I did not discover anything to lead to the suspicion of his
having died from poison or other unfair means, I considered it involved
in obscurity, and referred the case to the coroner for investigation.
Another case was of a traveller who was found dead in his bed at an inn.
The body was removed to a distance of forty miles before a certificate
to authorize the burial was applied for. His usual medical attendant
certified to his having been for several years the subject of aortic
aneurism, which was the probable cause of his sudden death, although the
evidence was imperfect and unsatisfactory, and could not be otherwise
without an examination of the body, and I therefore refused to register
it without notice to the coroner.

A third case occurred a few days ago. A medical certificate was
presented to me of the death of a man from disease of the heart and
aneurism of the aorta. He was driven in a cab to the door of a medical
practitioner in this neighbourhood, and was found dead. He might have
died from poison, and, without the questions put on the occasion of
registering the cause of death, the case might have passed without
notice. There was not in this case, as in others, any evidence to show
that death was occasioned by unfair means, but the causes were obscure
and unsatisfactory, and I felt it to be my duty to have them
investigated by the coroner.

But for anything known, you may have passed cases of murder?—Certainly;
and there is at present no security against such cases. The personal
inspection of the deceased would undoubtedly act as a great security.

In the course of your practice, have you had occasion to believe that
evil is produced by the retention of the corpse?—Yes; I can give an
instance of a man, his wife, and six children, living in one room, in
Draper’s Buildings. The mother and all the children successively fell
ill of typhus fever: the mother died; the body remained in the room. I
wished it to be removed the next day, and I also wished the children to
be removed, being afraid that the fever would extend. The children were
apparently well at the time of the death of the mother. The
recommendation was not attended to: the body was kept five days in the
only room which this family of eight had to live and sleep in. The
eldest daughter was attacked about a week after the mother had been
removed, and, after three days’ illness, that daughter died. The corpse
of this child was only kept three days, as we determined that it should
positively be removed. In about nine days after the death of the girl,
the youngest child was attacked, and it died in about nine days. Then
the second one was taken: he lay twenty-three days, and died. Then
another boy died. The two other children recovered.

By the immediate removal of the corpse, and the use of proper preventive
means, how many deaths do you believe might have been prevented?—I think
it probable that the one took it from the other, and that if the corpse
of the first had been removed the rest would have escaped; although I,
of course, admit that the same cause which produced the disease of the
mother might also have produced it in the children. I believe that, in
cases of typhus, scarlatina, and other infectious diseases, it
frequently happens that the living are attacked by the same disease from
the retention of the body.

Have you had occasion to observe the effects of cesspools in your
district?—Yes, and that they are very injurious to the health. In the
states of the weather when offensive emanations arise from the cesspools
and drains, I have often heard people complain of headache, giddiness,
nausea, languor, and an indisposition for exertion of any kind; and I
have known a walk or a ride in the open air to remove those symptoms,
but in an hour or two after their return home they have found themselves
as bad as before. Their sleep brings them little or no refreshment; in
truth, they have inhaled, during the whole of the night, the noxious
atmosphere, which is very depressing, and will fully account for their
rising, as they often say, as tired as when they went to bed. As an
example, I may mention the case of a compositor, residing in Draper’s
Buildings—a narrow, confined, and filthy place, where there was always a
disgusting stench in every house. He was the subject of disordered
stomach and liver, which might have been induced by his night-work and
intemperance: the stinking hole in which he resided contributed its
share towards it, without doubt. This man remained at home for a week,
when he was getting better, but had scarcely any appetite. I advised him
to walk in Finsbury Circus two or three times a-day, as long as he could
without fatigue; and on several occasions, when he returned to his
dinner, he said, “Now, if I had had my dinner in Finsbury Circus I could
have eaten a hearty one, but now I do not seem to care anything about
it.” I believe that if I had entered that man’s house with a good
appetite for a dinner, and had remained there for an hour, that I should
have cared no more about eating than he did,—which I attribute to the
nauseating and depressing effects of the effluvia from the cesspools,
drains, and general filthiness of the place.

Are you aware whether this state of things arose from the cesspools or
the state of the sewers?—I conceive the worst have been cesspools; but
the drains, if they open, are just as bad. I was called upon to visit a
patient living in a court in Whitecross Street, ill of typhus fever; in
the centre of it was a gully-hole, which was untrapped and smelt
horribly. The fever went through the whole of that court. I gave it as
my opinion at the time, that the case I visited was occasioned by the
gully-hole, and that the fever would go through the court, which it did.

Have you perceived the present state of the drains in the city of
London?—At times they smell very strongly, which scarcely any one can
fail to notice; but I have heard country-people complain of them at
times when they have not attracted any particular notice from me.

Are you aware that decomposing matter is allowed to accumulate in
them?—Yes; very recently they took up the refuse in our street, Old
Broad Street; it smelt very badly, and it was black and horribly filthy.

How long before had the sewer been cleansed?—I do not know. I do not
remember its having been cleansed, before the last September, since I
have been there, which is about nine years.

Do you remember to have perceived the smell from the sewers before the
last September?—Yes; there is a gully-hole near my own house from which
there was constantly an offensive smell: it was much worse after a thaw
in winter, or a shower of rain in summer. A neighbour living two doors
from me being more annoyed by it than I, made great efforts, and at
length succeeded in getting it trapped; and I have not since perceived
any smell from it, though I observe it now in other places. The
gully-holes are trapped now in most of the respectable streets, but in
the bye and poor streets they are not trapped.

From the evidence which has come before you, have you any doubt that the
existing state of sewers in the City are the latent cause of much
disease and death?—I have not the least doubt of it in the world.—A
great deal of active disease, which creeps on gradually and insidiously,
may be traced to that cause.

In the poorer districts, in what state is the surface-cleansing of the
streets?—Even the best streets are very badly cleansed, but in the
poorer streets of the city the cleansing is very bad indeed—horribly
bad! Take Duke’s Place, for example; you will see cabbage-stalks and
rotten oranges that have been thrown away, and they often remain there
for several days. We do not get our streets swept oftener than once

If there were a perfect system of drainage and cleansing in the city, do
you think that the health and the duration of life of the inhabitants
would be extended?—I think there would be a considerable extension.

What is the physical condition of the children born in London of parents
who are natives of the rural districts, as compared with the physical
condition of children who are born in the country of parents of the same
class?—The children born and bred up in London are more frequently of
small stature and have slender limbs, are deficient in stamina and
powers of endurance, are of irritable frames and prone to inflammatory
attack, than children born and bred up in the country. An impure
atmosphere is immeasurably more injurious to children than adults.
Children also suffer more from want of opportunities of exercise in the
open air. The beneficial effects of pure air and exercise on children
who have been born and pent up in London are most marked: a weakly
child, and which, if kept in London, would perhaps always continue
weakly, would most likely become strong and healthy if sent into the
country. I cannot doubt that children born of healthy parents, and bred
up in the country, would be more robust and stronger than children born
of the same class of parents and bred up in London, and that this
difference may be justly ascribable to atmospheric influence.

When children are weakly, what is the effect on the temper and
character?—The temper and character of weakly children are generally
found to correspond with, and are most probably derived from, the
character of their constitution: their temper is quick and irritable,
their passions ardent, their perception keen, and their imagination
predominant over their judgment.

You are speaking, of course, of the general characteristics of
individuals as specimens of the population brought up under such
circumstances?—Yes, of persons coming under my own observation.

Have you, as Registrar of Deaths, noticed the larger proportion of
infant mortality in the city?—There is, I conceive, all over the
kingdom, a large proportion of infant deaths; but I have no doubt that a
considerable proportion of the excess of infant deaths in London is
ascribable to atmospheric influences.

It appears, from the Mortuary Registration, that of deaths in the city
of London, about one-half are deaths of children under ten years of age;
whilst in a rural district, take the county of Hereford for example,
only one-third of the deaths are deaths of children.

Do you conceive it probable that this different rate of infant mortality
is to be traced chiefly to the difference of the atmospheric influence,
the average age of all of the labouring classes being, in Herefordshire,
39 years, whilst in the City of London the average age of the deaths of
all the labouring classes is only 22 years?—I am decidedly of opinion
that a greater proportion of the excess of infant mortality in London,
and the reduced duration of life, are ascribable to atmospheric

If all cesspools were removed, and water-closets substituted; if water
were introduced into the houses of the poorest classes; if the sewers
were regularly flushed weekly, or oftener, so as to prevent
accumulations of deposit and the escape of miasma, such as you have
described; if the carriage and foot pavements were more frequently and
completely cleansed; if these several public duties were performed with
practicable efficiency, can you express a confident opinion that
decrease and premature deaths would be considerably diminished?—I am
quite confident that the adoption of such measures would not only
diminish disease of every kind, but greatly improve the moral as well as
the physical condition of the inhabitants.

                                 No. 4.

  _Henry Blenkarne_, Esq., South West District Surgeon of the City of
                             London Union.

Have you in your district perceived any effects resulting from
interments in the parochial burying places?—I have no cognizance of any
bad effects resulting from those interments. The first twenty years of
my life I lived close to a burial-ground, and never was aware or heard
of any prejudicial consequences arising. I may observe, however, that
when a relation of mine has attended the church she has been enabled to
perceive whenever a vault underneath the church has been opened. She has
said, “I feel they have opened a vault;” and on inquiry it has turned
out to have been so.

Have you observed any evil effects following the practice of the long
retention of the corpse in the house amidst the living?—Yes, I have
observed effects follow, but I cannot say produced by them, though they
were perhaps increased by them. In those cases which I have had where
there has been a succession of cases of fever in the same family, after
a death it has generally occurred that the parties affected have
complained two or three days before that they felt very unwell.
Generally this has been the case. I have, in such instances, ordered
them medicine immediately. Since the Union has been established we have
immediately removed all fever cases to the Fever Hospital.

The retention of the corpse amidst the living, under such circumstances,
must aggravate the mortality, must it not?—There cannot be a moment’s
doubt about it.

What, from the observations in your district, has been the actual state
of the sewerage, and cleansing dependent upon it, as the cleansing of
the cesspools?—There has been great improvement in the city of London by
the improvement of the sewerage, in so far as it has removed the
cesspools. When you went into a respectable house formerly, you could,
in the city, tell the state of the weather by the smell from the
cesspools. Where water-closets are substituted, the health of the
inhabitants has undoubtedly been improved. In the poorer neighbourhoods,
where they have still cesspools, they are still very bad. I constantly
tell them, if you get rid of that nasty cesspool you’ll get well and
keep well; it is of no use my giving you physic until that is done.
Where there have been deposits accumulating in the sewers, and the
drains have been choked up, the effect has been just the same as if
there had been cesspools.

You are aware that in respect to sewerage it is the practice to allow
deposits to accumulate in the sewers, and then, when the private drains
are stopped up, to open the sewer and get out the deposit by means of
buckets, and remove it in carts?—Yes, I am.

Have you seen any illness result from this practice?—I cannot state a
case, though I have no doubt of its highly injurious effects; but can
decidedly speak to illness arising from the accumulations. The illness
is just the same as from cesspools: a low depressing nervous fever, most
like that which is described to be the form of the jungle fever. In
November or December last, they were taking up the deposits from the
sewers near Broken Wharf, in Upper Thames-street: the stench from it was
quite sufficient to have produced any fever: it was not within my
district, and I do not know what were the effects. Fortunately there was
clear weather, and the wind blew towards the river.

Have you any doubt that the removal of such refuse, as well as the
accumulation, must be attended with danger to life?—Yes; if any person
in a state of mental or bodily depression were exposed to such an
influence, it would produce low fever; it would be dangerous in
proportion as it was stagnant.

In passing through the city, have you been assailed with smells from
gully-holes?—Only yesterday, in passing through the city, the smells
from many of the gully-holes were very offensive; and several medical
friends agree with me in attributing extremely prejudicial consequences
as arising from this cause.

The following case is related on the authority of Dr. Good, as having
occurred within the city of London, and is mentioned by Mr. Fuller, in a
letter from a surgeon who has paid great attention to the influence of
sewerage, and who adduces the facts of the case in evidence that typhus
may be produced by the miasma from sewers:—“Soon after the closing of
the Parliamentary Committee, I learned, from the late Dr. Hope, the
particulars of a case which, to my mind, has completely proved the
production of typhus fever from it, and was so much in the character of
an _experimentum crucis_, that I did not consider it necessary to
prosecute the inquiry any further. The case is as follows:—“A family in
the city of London, who had occupied the same house for many years,
enjoying a good state of health, had a nursery-maid seized with typhus
fever; the young woman was removed from the house and another
substituted in her place. In a short time the new nurse-maid was
attacked with typhus fever, and was also sent away. A few weeks after
one of the children was seized with the same fever: an inquiry was now
instituted by the medical man in attendance, in order to ascertain, if
possible, the cause of this frequent recurrence of typhus fever, when
the following facts were brought to light:—The nursery was situated on
the upper floor but one of the house, and about a fortnight or three
weeks before the first case of fever occurred, a sink was placed in the
corner of the nursery for the purpose of saving the labour of the
servants; this was found to communicate with the common sewer, and to be
quite open, or untrapped; they ordered it immediately to be effectually
trapped, and then no other case of fever occurred, although it continued
to be occupied as before; and, when I learned the case, more than a
twelvemonth had passed.””

Have you met with cases analogous to the one here stated?—I have met
with several such cases. I know of an instance where a room in an old
house had an offensive stench, and the health of the person living in it
was always bad. A stench was perceived in the room, which it was guessed
might arise from the decay of dead rats in the wainscot. The party went
to much expense to pull down the wainscot, when it was found that there
was an opening which communicated with the cesspool below. The hole was
properly cemented and stopped up, and the room has since that time
become quite habitable and healthy; and where I have directed the
cesspools to be emptied, as the predisposing cause, the general result
has been that the sick have immediately got well. From my knowledge of
the local causes I can predicate, with certainty, what will be the
general effect on the health in the case of removal of the parties.

Besides the houses of the labouring classes, are there many houses of
the middling classes in your district in the city of London that are
provided with cesspools?—Many houses that I go into are provided with
cesspools. I mentioned the other day to a lady that I should never be
enabled to keep her well so long as there was a cesspool in the house; I
told her that the expense of continued medical attendance would pay for
a communication with the common sewer and better cleansing.

Are you aware that a new practice has arisen of preventing the
accumulation of deposits in the sewers, by flushes of water, which
remove all deposits weekly, and so far prevent the year’s accumulation
and corruption of deposits in the sewers. If this system were enforced
in the city, have you any doubt as to the extensive prevention of
disease and mortality which would be thereby effected amongst all
classes?—Certainly it would be a great boon, in a sanitary point of
view, to the population of the city of London. I am so much convinced of
this, that in my own house I put a stick under the handle of the
water-closet, so as to have a continued flow or flush of water for some
length of time; this I do to remove any accidental accumulation. Of
course the flushing of the common sewers would have the same effects.

Besides the accumulations in the sewers, is there at this time no
decomposing refuse from the defective cleansing of the courts and
bye-streets, and poorer districts?—Yes; in the poorer districts there is
accumulation. In one court, for example, called Harrow-court,
Thames-street, where there is almost always low fever, there is always
dirt and filth, and I am constantly exhorting the people to remove the
filth; but the great difficulty with the poor people is commonly how to
get the water. There is a court in Cornhill which a man was cleansing
the other day by applying a hose to the water-cock (which is used in
case of fire), in order to cleanse the pavement. An officer belonging to
the water company coming by, said, “If I see you doing that again, I
shall indict you.”

Are you aware that the streets are swept oftener than weekly in the city
of London?—My impression is—not oftener.

It has been proposed that water should be laid on, and kept at high
pressure in the streets, so as to enable the courts and alleys, the foot
and the carriage pavements, to be washed daily by means of a hose
attached to the water-pipes. This, which has been proposed for
protection against fire, as well as for cleansing the streets more
completely, has, I am informed, been done in Philadelphia. If the system
were carried out in the city of London, what do you conceive would be
the effect on the health of the population in the poorer districts?—I
should certainly say that it would tend greatly to prolong life amongst
the population.

From the mortuary registries it appears that the average duration of
life among the professional persons and gentry in the city of London,
who live in better cleansed and ventilated houses, and better cleansed
streets, is, on the average of the whole class, about 43 years, and 6
per cent. of the deaths are deaths from epidemic disease; whilst among
the labouring classes the proportion of deaths from epidemic disease is
19 per cent., and the average age of all who die is only 22 years. With
such sanitary regulations as are under the public control of the public
authorities, to what extent do you think it probable the duration of
life amongst the labouring classes may be extended?—So far as I can
judge, without examination of the particular cases, I should say that
the average might be extended one-half at the least.

The majority of the cases of epidemic diseases may decidedly be ascribed
to the want of cleanliness and ventilation. On looking over the mortuary
registry of the deaths occurring in Upper Thames-street and the district
attached to it, I find the causes of death most frequently registered
are “low fever,” “low fever,” occurring one after the other. This
recurrence of low fever corresponds with my experience of sickness,
which so often assumes the character of low typhoid nervous depression.
The medicine I use in the greatest quantity is ammonia, as an active
diffusive stimulus. For all classes this medicine is in constant use. In
damp weather we have always much increase of this illness: the dampness
produces a depression which lays them open to the atmospheric poison.

Have you had instances where better cleansing has taken place and
illness diminished?—Yes; for example, in Ireland-yard, containing a
large number of families of coal-heavers and others, a place which I
never was out of from continued illnesses: the yard has been much better
cleansed, the houses put in better order, and now there is very little
illness there. I know for a fact, that in the neighbourhood of
London-wall, where recently great improvements have taken place in the
sewerage and ventilation, disease has greatly diminished, especially
_low fever_. Formerly they had a sewer which used to be stopped up and
overflowed; they have had of late a new sewer, which now works better;
they have no stink or stench in the kitchens, as formerly, and they have
nothing of the same kind of disease going on there that they used to
have before.

Are the houses in Ireland-yard occupied by the same inhabitants?—Just by
the same class. The habits of coal-heavers are reputed to be none of the
best in respect to general cleanliness or temperance.

Have you observed any alteration in their habits?—Not in the least.

Have you observed what is the personal condition of the natives of
London?—The real cockney is generally of stunted growth.

Have you observed whether the children born in London of parents who
have come from the rural districts are as tall or as strong as the
parents?—Generally shorter children, though some of them are as tall,
but all are of comparatively weakly constitutions; they are particularly
predisposed to strumous disease. I have been so impressed with the
effect of children living in a London atmosphere, that I have been
anxious to send them out of it when possible.

Does not defective cleansing, as causing atmospheric impurity, not only
tend to produce disease and shorten the duration of life, but depress
the physical condition of the population?—Decidedly.

                                 No. 5.

         _Dr. Wray_, Medical Officer of the West London Union.

You have read what is stated by Mr. Blencarne, and by Mr. Abrahams—do
you generally agree with them as to the effects of defective cleansing,
on the condition of the population?—I agree with the whole of what they
state; it perfectly accords with my own experience, which has been about
25 years in this district. I have during that time observed a great
falling off in the condition of the children; they are stunted, squalid,
poor-looking things, and there is a great deal of deformity amongst

Have you observed moral effects attendant on the physical
depression?—Yes; I have observed a great deal in our neighbourhood. I
think the females of the poorer classes who are not strong for work, are
more apt to take to courses of livelihood other than by work;—that very
many of them go upon the town.

                                 No. 6.

_Mr. Thomas Porter_, Surgeon to the St. Botolph’s Bishopsgate District.

Have you observed any emanations from the sewers in your district?—In
Liverpool-street there is now a cleansing of the sewers by opening the
top, taking the soil out, and carting it away.

What is the effect of this process?—It vitiates the atmosphere to a
considerable extent.

Have you observed any effects from it?—I have often found headache to
result from it to myself, and parties have complained to me of the same

What is the state of the drainage?—There are some districts, such as
Halfmoon-street, which are imperfectly drained, where the cesspools are
suffered to overflow and run along the kennels at the sides
of the street, causing fœtid and deleterious exhalations;
in this street and the alleys opening into it, especially
Thompson’s-court, Thompson’-rents, Baker’s-court, Providence-place, and
Campions-buildings, fever prevails nearly the whole year round. It also
prevails very much in Bligh’s-buildings, Lamb-alley, Dunning’s-alley,
Sweet Apple-court, Montague-court, Artillery-lane, Rose-alley, and
Catherine-wheel-alley. These places, all of which are badly drained and
not regularly cleansed, are seldom without fever for any length of time.

In these places are there any water-closets?—No; they have nothing but
common necessaries, which are usually allowed to run over before they
are emptied, and it is impossible to enter the tenements without being
assailed by the disagreeable and unhealthy effluvia thence arising.

Have they water laid on in the rooms of the several tenements?—Seldom in
the rooms; generally in some place in the court to which they all go.
Many have not that even, and they resort to the common street pumps. I
do not remember an instance where water is properly laid on in any house
of the labouring classes.

What rents are paid for houses in this condition?—Rent for one room is
from 1_s._ 6_d._ to 4_s._ 6_d._ per week. The rents are very high in
proportion to the size and accommodation of the rooms.

You say you have observed emanations from the sewers within your
district?—Yes; they are frequently very offensive in moist warm weather.
You may, indeed, almost tell the condition of the weather from the
smells from the public sewers. Recently in returning from Islington
along the City-road from the Canal bridge to Finsbury-square, and along
Sun-street, I noticed in passing near the gratings, as every person must
have noticed, a peculiarly offensive effluvium.

Within the city itself have you perceived the same effluvium on passing
the gratings of the sewers?—Frequently; it is so general that no
particular place is distinguished by being free from it.

Suppose a tradesman or a merchant returning from Change in a state of
depression from anxiety passing through a street, exposed to a
succession of smells and breathing the effluvium from such sewers; what
is likely to be the effect upon him?—A low nervous fever, with
considerable gastric derangement. The greater part of fever cases which
I have to treat are of this description.

Is that with every class of persons?—Yes, with every rank of life. They
are mostly of the low or typhoid type, and do not bear depletion. In my
ordinary course of treatment I generally begin by emptying the stomach
and bowels, and by lowering the diet. I then use a moderately
stimulating treatment with a perfect absence of solid food.

Is gross feeding or excess very common amongst the people of your
district?—Not very common. Excess from drinking is more frequent than
excess from eating.

In what proportion will there be of excess from eating or drinking in
such cases?—Amongst the labouring classes perhaps there may be one case
in ten from excess of drinking, and one case in thirty from excess of

If these excesses had taken place in a purer atmosphere, do you conceive
the results in disease would have followed?—In most instances the system
in a pure atmosphere would have thrown off the inconvenience without

Then excess or depression both predispose to the attacks of disease from
atmospheric impurity, and especially to the direct influence of the
effluvium in question?—Yes, certainly; excess of watching, want of rest,
mental anxiety, every depressing cause predisposes to an attack.

Besides the defects in respect to the cleansing of the cesspools and the
drains, are there not defects in respect to other portions of cleansing,
such as dust-bins neglected?—Yes, in those places there is no person to
regulate or to see that done which ought to be done; consequently the
dustmen and scavengers duty is much neglected, and places are filled
with decomposing remains, which remain there two or three weeks in
summer and much longer in winter. The carelessness of the people
themselves as to cleanliness is also deplorable, as it operates very
injuriously on their health and comfort; the floors of their rooms, the
passages, stairs, and landings are often suffered to remain unwashed for
weeks and months, and the walls and ceilings are seldom cleansed or
whitened, so that what with filthiness of one kind or other they present
an appearance of wretchedness beyond all description.

What is the condition of the children born or kept in courts or places
of the condition you describe, with badly cleansed drains, with privies,
and without water or conveniences for cleansing introduced into their
habitations?—The children are, for the most part, of delicate or weak
frame, and subject to struma. The health of children depends partly
whether they were born in such places or not, whether their parents on
each side are Londoners, as there appears to be a gradual decline in
physical power by a long continuance in a vitiated atmosphere, which
passes from parent to progeny, and partly also in a family where one
part of the children have been born and brought up in the country and
the other in town; those born in the country, and not coming into London
until they are five years of age, will have comparatively strong frames,
and will resist such influences, whilst those born in town will be
comparatively of delicate frame, weakly and strumous, liable to
glandular disease, and diseased affections of the joints and the spine.
Generally they are shorter in stature, sometimes they are taller, but
then they are slender and very delicate, in which case they are likely
to have bending of the limbs.

What is the condition of females born under such circumstances?—I have
observed that the females are less depressed than the males, and are
reared with less difficulty.

Why is this so?—I have not been able to determine. It may be that the
male requires more extensive and powerful exercise, and that in pure
air, than the female, and consequently that the female suffers less from
the want of it.

What are the moral characteristics of the population brought up under
these depressing physical circumstances?—They have decided unwillingness
to labour. They are not so strenuous as the more healthy people from the
country. They are more apt to resort to subterfuge to gain their ends
without labour. Light employments they do not object to, and do
comparatively well in. But it is difficult to keep a native of London,
either male or female to heavy work; they will avoid it if they can. The
cause is in most cases physical from the deficiency of ability to
labour. The greatest part of them are mentally irritable and impatient
under moral restraint.

Is any similar difference marked on the condition of the children of
tradespeople between those children of tradespeople brought up in London
and those born in the country?—Yes, there is a similar difference
perceptible, but less in degree. Amongst tradesmen, too, it is the
extensive practice of the parents to send their children out of town to
school or on visits, which may powerfully affect them beneficially. In
the tradesman’s family they have better sleeping rooms, and greater
cleanliness in person, and in bed and body linen, and also a better
regulated dietary.

What is the effect of such atmospheric impurities as those described in
the chances of recovery from attacks of disease?—It lessens the chances
of recovery and greatly impedes convalescence. Indeed, in many
instances, very little progress can be made until the patient is sent
out into the country. In a case of fever which occurred to a strong
healthy man, aged 24, a carman, in a close neighbourhood, the house
being without drains and ill ventilated; no progress could be effected
until he was removed into the country, although the fever had decidedly
subsided. I believe that in this case something else would have
supervened, had he not been removed. I frequently remove patients in a
respectable condition, finding no chance of recovery without it. Many of
the better conditioned houses being badly adapted for the treatment of
fevers, having low ceilings and insufficient ventilation.

What will be the difference in respect to the time of cure or
convalescence between a well and an ill-cleansed neighbourhood?—A
difference of perhaps one-half.

Suppose the rooms of each house supplied with water, the privies and
cesspools removed, drains from the houses to sewers, and the sewers so
constructed as to be cleansed, and to convey away daily such refuse as
that which is allowed to remain decomposing in the close courts during
weeks. Supposing the surfaces of the streets cleansed as frequently
after the manner in use in Philadelphia and other towns where they are
cleansed with water daily, to what extent do you conceive disease would
be reduced?—Of fevers two-thirds certainly, and other diseases would be
considerably lessened.

                                 No. 7.

   _Mr. John H. Paul_, Surgeon, Medical Officer of the City of London

In what condition in respect to cleanliness are the courts and other
places within your district, chiefly inhabited by the labouring
classes?—The cleansing of the courts and alleys in my district is
defective. I agree with what Mr. Blenkarne says in respect to cesspools.
For instance, in one room in a house in Sugar Loaf-court, Garlick-hill,
next to their common cesspool, I have frequently attended patients, and
before going, I surmise that whatever disease they are primarily
affected with, it will generally run into one of low character with
tendency to typhus. In the interval of little more than a twelvemonth, I
have attended several occupants of the house, one after the other, who
have all been, to a certain extent, similarly affected. I have generally
improved their health by giving diffusive stimuli, and have occasionally
prevailed on them to remove.

How many visits in the year may you have paid to this same
house?—Upwards of forty visits. But there are other houses where there
are similar evils, where I have had occasion to visit them still more
frequently. In one house in Star-court, Bread Street-hill, which is
similarly situated, where almost the whole of the inmates were laid up
with fever, and where I had to visit it three times a day for upwards of
three weeks. There were deaths on each floor of that house. Fever
assumed, at one time, so malignant an aspect, that there appeared to be
no possibility of saving them, except by removal. I do not remember one
case of a removal in time where death ensued. The ward inquest had the
inhabitants removed, and the house cleansed.

But was the cesspool removed?—Emptied but not removed.

Then in time you will have a recurrence of the same evils in the place
in question?—Yes, certainly.

What is the condition of children brought up in such places?—Generally
pale and emaciated, scrofulous, and apt to mesenteric disease.

You were medical attendant at the Norwood school, where the pauper
children from the city of London are taken. Do you think, that on a view
of the children, and without any positive knowledge of the sort of
residences of the parents of the children, you could on the view select
from the rest, the children who came from the courts and alleys, such as
you have described in the city of London?—I have but little doubt of it,
though generally speaking the children from the city were of rather a
better description than those from more crowded localities. Indeed, the
courts and alleys of my district are superior to those in other quarters
of the metropolis. They are situated near the banks of the Thames with a
considerable fall towards the river. Some parents also take their
children much out into the open air, and in these the influence of the
place would not be so visible, but with the majority there would be but
very little mistake. Whilst at Norwood, my chief trouble arose from this
sick and diseased class of children, who generally improved very much
after being there some little time.

What was the moral condition of these physically depressed children, as
compared with other pauper children, whose position had been less
unfavourable?—The moral condition of this depressed class of children
was generally worse also.

                                 No. 8.

_Effects observed of Dark, Ill-ventilated, and Ill-drained Localities on
     the Moral and Physical Condition of the Population of Paris._

Dr. la Chaise, in his Medical Topography of Paris, which is an early
attempt to investigate the influence of localities on the moral and
physical condition of a population, gives the following description of
the physical condition of the short-lived population bred up in the
narrow and dark streets, and ill-cleansed and badly ventilated houses of
Paris, which description may serve for comparison with those given of
the native population in the crowded and badly cleansed districts of

“The Parisian,” he says, “in stature is often below what is commonly
termed middle-size. His fair skin, soft to the touch, forms a striking
contrast to that of the inhabitant of small towns, and, above all, to
the countryman, who is more exposed to the various changes of the
weather, and to the action of the sun and light. The hair of the
Parisian is generally fair or light brown, and his eyes blue. His
muscular frame is little developed, so that the form has on the whole a
feminine appearance. In the labouring class the muscles of the lower
limbs are sometimes developed, but irregularly and incompletely, which
is explained by the exercise given exclusively to certain muscles by
their employment or handicraft; these irregularities of development are
much less frequent in the rural districts where the movements, and
consequently muscular actions, are much more equally divided. The
temperament, that is to say the physical constitution peculiar to the
Parisian, differs, as is perceived, from each of the distinct and
determined forms admitted by physiologists. He seems to partake of the
union of many,—to be intermediate between those which are recognized
under the names nervous, bilious, and lymphatic-sanguine; the first
seems, however, to predominate.

“It is not, however, rare to meet in Paris with physical constitutions
entirely in the extremes and contrasted with each other; that is to say,
there are here, as in other large towns, large numbers of weakly and
debilitated, vulgarly called sickly, and others with hollow chest and
tall slim figure.

“The women of Paris are rather pretty than handsome; without regular
features, they owe to the development of the cellular tissue, and to the
fairness and fineness of the skin, a certain softness of form which is
very graceful; and a quick and spiritual eye makes one forget the
paleness of their cheeks.

“Considered morally, the portrait of the Parisian presents colours which
are not impossible to seize, notwithstanding their great variety. He may
be said generally to be lively, spiritual, industrious, and deserving
the name of frivolous. Much less perhaps is given him. He is
inquisitive, and carries into his work a taste, an ardent imagination,
and inventive mind, which he is willing to believe should compensate for
sustained activity. There necessarily results from this a great nervous
susceptibility, an _encéphalique_ predominance, which it is important to
the physician never to overlook.

“If a sound and firm organization allows a few to resist the effects of
this premature exercise of the organ of thought, a rapid increase in its
functions always shows itself in the injury done to the other organs,
and generally to the muscular system, which bear the marks of feebleness
and often of deplorable languor. In this life, too active morally and
too indolent physically, the nervous system acquires not what is
vulgarly called a feebleness or delicacy, but a susceptibility, or
rather a predominance, which is affected by the least shock. Hence that
fickleness, and that vivacity of desires, that changeableness in the
tastes, in a word that coquetry, that unequal and whimsical moody
character, those caprices and vapours. The character is not alone
affected by this excess of susceptibility; all the organs, the whole of
the economy of the body feels it in turn; the nervous system acts
particularly on the uterus, developes it prematurely; thus the women
generally arrive at puberty much earlier at Paris than in the provinces,
and especially than in the country. It is not unfrequent to find young
girls of 12 or 13 fully formed and capable of becoming mothers, whilst
in the country, even in the south, they do not attain that period till
the age of 15 or 16.”

                                 No. 9.
                               OF LONDON.

Whosoever examines the various modern plans for the improvement of the
metropolis, and compares them with the plan of the architect of St.
Paul’s, will see in them only small approximations to his conceptions,
and that they only provide for a few large openings, without reference
to any general sanitary considerations, and without providing for the
mass of the population, whereas he was for “excluding all narrow dark
alleys without thoroughfares, and courts,” such as are commonly left
untouched in the new lines of streets; and he had provided that not only
“all church yards,” but “all trades that use great fires, or yield
noisome smells, be placed out of town.” If, as is confidently maintained
on such evidence as that before referred to, _ante_ p. 22 and 25, the
proportions of death might even now be reduced by one-third in the city
of London by better drainage and other sanitary measures (independently
of the removal of those courts and alleys, &c.), on the evidence of the
proportions of mortality actually prevalent in districts such as he
would have constructed, facilitating, and almost necessitating by
regular lines an early and more systematic drainage below the streets,
as well as a free and copious flow of fresh air from above, it may be as
confidently maintained that the mortality and numbers of burials would
have been reduced in like proportions from the period of the rebuilding
of the city. The whole of the deformed area stands as a monument of the
disasters incurred to the living generation, by a weak and careless
yielding, not of the present to the future, but of the present itself,
to blind and ignorant impulses, which have entailed immense
demoralization, waste of health, and life and money, and a large
proportion of the evil which now depresses the sanitary condition of the
population of that particular district which his improvements would have
covered. “The practicability of this whole scheme,” says the Parentalia,
“without loss to any man or infringement of any property, was at that
time fully demonstrated, and all material objections fully weighed and
answered; the only, and as it happened, insurmountable difficulty, was
the obstinate averseness of a great part of the citizens to alter their
old properties, and to recede from building their houses again on the
old ground and foundations, as also the distrust in many, and
unwillingness to give up their properties, though for a time only, into
the hands of public trustees or commissioners, till they might be
dispensed to them again, with more advantages to themselves than
otherwise was possible to be effected; for such a method was proposed,
that by an equal distribution of ground into buildings, leaving out
churchyards, gardens, &c. (which are to be removed out of the town),
there would have been sufficient room both for the augmentation of the
streets, disposition of the churches, halls, and all public buildings,
and to have given every proprietor full satisfaction; and although few
proprietors should happen to have been seated again directly upon the
very same ground they had possessed before the fire, yet no man would
have been thrust any considerable distance from it, but been placed, at
least, as conveniently, and sometimes more so, to their own trades than
before.” “By these means the opportunity, in a great degree, was lost of
making the new city the most magnificent, as well as commodious, for
health and trade of any upon earth, and the surveyor being thus confined
and cramped in his designs, it required no small labour and skill to
model the city in the manner it has since appeared.” The plan was
approved by the King and the Parliament, but opposed by the corporation,
who, it is stated in a history of the city institutions, by one of its
officers, conceived that they would have lost population and trade by
the plan; _i. e._, they would have been spread beyond its jurisdiction.
But on both points this policy was dreadfully mistaken. Only a
burthensome population is obtained by overcrowding, that is to say, a
larger than the natural proportions of the young and dependent, of
widowhood, and early and destitute orphanage, and of sickly and
dependent, and prematurely aged adults. As an example of the coincidence
of pecuniary economy with enlarged sanitary measures, it may be
mentioned, that it is shown in a report on a survey made for sanitary
purposes by Mr. Butler Williams of the College of Civil Engineers,
Putney, that a loss of not less than 80,000_l._ per annum is now
incurred in carriage traffic alone on two main lines of street, namely,
Holborn Hill to the Bank, and Ludgate Hill to the same point, being made
crooked and with steep acclivities instead of straight and level, as Sir
Christopher Wren designed them. It is to be regretted that the
discussions on the rebuilding of Hamburg have presented an instance of a
similar conflict of local interests, which, in a few instances, has been
so far successful as to preserve several dense masses of crowded and
unwholesome habitations for the poorer classes, in the face of the
recent experience of the sort of population which, to the surprise of
the better classes of inhabitants, issued out of them and made the city
at the time of its destruction a scene of plunder and anarchy more
terrible than the fire itself.

                                No. 10.

 DEAR SIR,                              _Stockport, 25th January, 1843._

I have no doubt that infanticide to a considerable extent has been
committed in the borough of Stockport; and I have been professionally
engaged in prosecuting two distinct charges of infanticide, of which I
give you the following summary:—

The first case was against Robert Standring, by trade a hatter. He had a
female child about sixteen years of age, who, from imbecility, was not
very likely to obtain her own living. One morning, about five o’clock,
he sent her to call up a labouring hatter, with whom he (the father) was
going to work during the day; but, previous to his so sending her, he
gave the child some coffee. After the child’s return she was seized with
vomiting, and all the usual symptoms of illness caused by mineral
poison, and died during the course of that day. The coroner (the late
Mr. Hollins) held an inquest on the body, but refused to allow any
surgical examination; and charging the jury that the death was a natural
one, such a verdict was returned. In about three months afterwards, the
case, and some suspicious circumstances, came to the knowledge of the
Stockport police; and I was consulted as town-clerk and clerk to the
justices. The magistrates issuing a warrant for the exhumation of the
body, I attended with a competent surgeon and chemist (Mr. John Rayner),
and a large—very large quantity of arsenic was found in the stomach, and
all parts of the body which could be affected by arsenic taken
internally were remarkably preserved from putrefaction. Standring, being
apprehended, was tried before Mr. Justice Coleridge at the Chester
Assizes. The judge apparently summed up for a conviction; but the jury,
after a long deliberation, returned a verdict of acquittal. The verdict
was an extraordinary one, and can only be accounted for by the general
feeling against capital punishments, which enables so many criminals
(capitally indicted) to escape any punishment.

The inducement for this murder, so far as it could be ascertained, was
of a twofold character; partly to obtain money from the burial friendly
societies, in which Standring had entered his child as a member, and
from which he received about 8_l._, and partly to free himself from the
future burthen of supporting the child. The judge, in summing up the
case for the consideration of the jury, remarked upon the apparent
inadequacy of the motives for the murder; but, with all due deference to
his lordship, when it is known to be an established fact that Mr.
Ashton, a manufacturer of Hyde, was murdered by two miscreants whose
only inducement was 10_l._ divided between them, there can be no scale
laid down to indicate the lowest price for murder.

The other case involved no less than three distinct cases of murder.
Robert Sandys, and Ann his wife, and George Sandys, and Honor his wife,
were brothers and sisters-in-law, living in Stockport, in two adjoining
cellars. They were bear or mat makers. Robert had two sons and two
daughters, all young children, and George had a female child also very
young. Two of the female children of Robert Sandys were one morning
taken very ill, and one of them died the same day, under very suspicious
circumstances, the neighbours publicly declaring that the children must
be poisoned. These two girls (along with their brother, a little boy
about five years of age) having been in the morning of the illness in
the company of Bridget Ryley (a girl of inoffensive but imbecile mind),
their mother, Ann Sandys, after the neighbours said the children must
have been poisoned, said, “Oh, Bridget Ryley must have given them
something.” Bridget Ryley had given them some cold cabbage, which Ann
Sandys well knew, and the boy who had been with them was not at all
unwell. Bridget Ryley was apprehended, and by accident I was present at
the coroner’s inquest. I came in just at its termination, Bridget Ryley
being in custody, and Ann Sandys being about to close her examination.
After she had concluded her examination, which was very strong against
Bridget Ryley, she began to apologize for Bridget, saying, She did not
think the poor girl (as she called her) intended any harm to the child;
and she evidently wished to make it appear that the poisoning was all a
matter of accident. Bridget Ryley was then asked to say what she knew
about the business, and she earnestly protested her innocence, saying
the child had died of the same complaint as another child of Ann Sandys
had died of three weeks before. It appeared strange that the mother of
the child should both criminate and exculpate Bridget Ryley, and I
thought I could perceive a watchful restlessness in her eye, which ill
accorded with the probable grief of a bereaved parent; I therefore
communicated to the coroner my opinion that the mother of the children
might be the murderess, and that if so, the child which had been buried
three weeks before would also prove poisoned. The coroner thought it a
very proper inquiry, and adjourned the inquest, directing this other
child to be exhumed; and it proved to have been poisoned by arsenic.
Whilst this exhumation was taking place, Honor Sandys met one of the
constables, and she expressed a wish that they would not disturb her
dear little infant. The constable told me this, and directions were
consequently given for its immediate exhumation. Arsenic had also caused
the death of this child. Ann Sandys then said that Bridget Ryley must
have poisoned them all, and that a child which Bridget Ryley had nursed
had died in a similar way. (This was after Ann Sandys was in custody and
charged with this murder.) This last child so nursed by Bridget Ryley
was exhumed, but it had died a natural death. Now all these three
children so poisoned were in friendly burial societies, and their
parents would receive for their funerals about 3_l._ for each child. The
expense of the funeral would be about 1_l._, and the profit on each
murder 2_l._, and the liberation from the future expense of keeping the

At the ensuing assizes for Chester Mr. Justice Coltman postponed the
trial to enable the boy, the son of Ann Sandys, to be educated for
examination. This boy would have proved some very material facts as to
the mode in which the poison was administered, but as this did not come
out in evidence, as the boy was not considered capable of being examined
at the subsequent assizes, it is hardly fair now to state them.

Mr. Justice Erskine tried the cases, and Robert Sandys was convicted,
but his wife Ann Sandys acquitted. I afterwards was told by one of the
jury that they acquitted her because they thought she acted under the
control of her husband, and they thought that justified her acquittal.
The judge and counsel had been silent on this point, satisfied with
their own knowledge, that in murder the wife, though acting with her
husband, is guilty and punishable, and thinking the jury as wise as

In consequence of an objection to the admissability of a statement made
by Ann Sandys before the coroner, and also to the form of the
indictment, judgment was respited to the following assizes. The judges
determined for the Crown on both points, and sentence of death was
passed on Robert Sandys. Afterwards, and without any communication to
the parties prosecuting, the sentence of death was commuted to
transportation for life. George and Honor Sandys were not tried, as the
evidence was not so conclusive against them, and Robert and Ann were
believed to be the principals in these murders.

I know it to be the opinion of some of the respectable medical
practitioners in Stockport that infanticides have been commonly
influenced by various motives—to obtain the burial moneys from the
societies in question, and to be relieved from the burthen of the
child’s support. The parties generally resort to a mineral poison,
which, causing sickness, and sometimes purging, assumes the appearance
of the diseases to which children are subject; and as they then take the
child to a surgeon who prescribes after a very cursory examination, they
thus escape any suspicion on the part of their neighbours. Each child in
Sandys’ case was so treated, but they took care not to administer the
physic obtained.

How to prevent these infanticides is a question of great difficulty. I
think these societies are of great use if under proper regulation and
inspection. These cases may be good argument for requiring the due
inspection, after death, of each child in a burial society by a surgical
examiner, who might judge, in most cases, whether a _post-mortem_
examination were advisable or not; but as these societies are very
useful on the whole, the partial misuse of them cannot avail against
their general use. Probably an application to these societies of the law
applicable to life assurance companies might tend to prevent the crime
of infanticide. The object of these burial societies is the decent
interment of the deceased member. In life insurance companies no person
is by law allowed to recover from an insurance company more money than
the value of his interest in the life of the person whose life is
insured: for instance, should his interest in a life lease be worth
500_l._ he may insure and recover 500_l._, but not 600_l._ He therefore
receives by the policy that which he loses by the death, and no more. If
he has no interest the policy is void. Now, applying this principle to
these burial societies would make it necessary that some officer of the
society should prepare for and superintend the interment of the child,
and that no further sum than requisite for the decent interment should
be expended, and no money in any case should be paid to the friends of
the deceased; also, no party should be insured in more than one society.

None of our registrars of births and deaths are medical men, and no case
of infanticide has been discovered through the instrumentality of the
Registration Act.

I shall be glad to furnish you with the briefs in these cases of murder,
should you desire them, or with any further information in my power.

In all four deaths each child was in a burial society, and arsenic was
indisputably the cause of death.

I may also mention that each death was of a female child. The male
children, more likely to be useful to their parents, were in each case

                    I have the honour to be,
                              Your most obedient servant,
                                             HENRY COPPOCK,
                                    _Town Clerk of Stockport, and
                                          Clerk to the Stockport Union_.

                  *       *       *       *       *

[In answer to a subsequent inquiry, Mr. Coppock stated that at the time
the offences detailed in the above letter were committed, both the
parties were in employment. Standring was a hatter, in full work, and
making with industry 20_s._ a-week; the Sandys, Robert and George, were
mat-makers, not making more than from 7_s._ to 10_s._ per week each; the
women contributing, it is presumed, to the earnings of the family.]

                                No. 11.

    each such District: setting forth the excess in Numbers of Deaths
    and Funerals in each such District above the proportionate Numbers
    of Deaths and Funerals in healthy and well-conditioned Town
    Districts: setting forth also the amount of Reduction of the
    ordinary Duration of Life of each Class in the District, as
    compared with the standards of Longevity afforded by the Insurance
    Tables deduced from the experience of the Population of Carlisle,
    and of the County of Hereford.

The explanations given in respect to the totals inserted at § 37 are
applicable to the annexed district returns, which are only submitted as
the best approximations that can be obtained in the present state of the
registration. The practical bearing of the consideration of the ages of
deaths as well as the proportionate numbers of deaths on the subject of
provision for funerals is shown in §§ 72, 75, 76, 78, 79, 80, 81, also
§§ 160, 161, 163, 169, 173, and note to § 150, also § 205. For the sake
of those who are engaged as members of committees in the investigation
of the health of the populous towns and the causes of mortality, it may
be of public use to give full explanations of the principles on which
returns should be made to measure the relative pressure of those causes
in different localities, or amongst different classes of the community:
it may also be of use to show the necessity of careful provisions for
the registration of facts which are of great importance to every

Dr. Price, in his work on Annuities and Reversionary Payments, states
that in his time the proportion of deaths in London within the bills of
mortality was rather more than 1 to 22 of the population annually, which
he states as an equivalent proposition to saying that the average
duration of life to all who died was 22 years. Again he observes that—

“One with another, then, they will have an expectation of life of 22½
years; that is, one of 22½ will die every year.” p. 255.

In p. 274, that—

“In the dukedom of Wurtemberg, the inhabitants, Mr. Susmilch says, are
numbered every year; and from the average of 5 years, ending in 1754, it
appeared that taking the towns and country together, 1 in 32 died
annually. In another province which he mentions, consisting of 635,998
inhabitants, 1 in 33 died annually. From these facts he concludes, that,
taking a whole country in _gross_, including all cities and villages,
mankind enjoy among them about 32 or 33 years each of existence. This
very probably is below the truth; from whence it will follow, that a
child born in a country parish or village has at least an expectation of
36 or 37 years; supposing the proportion of _country_ to _town_
inhabitants, to be as 3½ to 1, which, I think, this ingenious writer’s
observations prove to be nearly the case in Pomerania, Brandenburg, and
some other kingdoms.”

By Mr. Milne, in his work on Annuities, and in his article on Mortality
in the last edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, by Dr. Bissett
Hawkins, and by nearly all statistical writers, the proportions of
deaths to the population, and the average ages of death, are treated as
equivalent. Dr. Southwood Smith has been misled to adopt the same view.
He states in his work on the Philosophy of Health, p. 135, that “There
is reason to believe that the mortality at present throughout Europe,
taking all countries together, including towns and villages, and
combining all classes into one aggregate, is 1 in 36. Susmilch, a
celebrated German writer, who flourished about the middle of the last
century, estimated it at this average at that period. The result of all
Mr. Finlaison’s investigations is, that the average for the whole of
Europe does not materially differ at the present time.” “It has been
shown that the average mortality at present at Ostend is 1 in 36, which
is the same thing as to assert that a new-born child at Ostend has an
expectation of 35½ years of life.”

Having of late had occasion to make rather extensive observations on
this subject, it appears to be a public duty to state, that in no class
of persons, in no district or country, and in no tract of time, has the
fact hitherto appeared to be in coincidence with this hypothesis; and
also that returns of the proportions of deaths to the population, when
taken singly as the exponents of the average duration of life, are often
mischievously misleading, exaggerating those chances of life sometimes
to the extent of double the real amount. If Dr. Price, instead of
resting satisfied with Susmilch’s hypothesis, had taken the actual ages
of the dying within the bills of mortality, he would have found only a
casual approximation to the hypothesis for the whole metropolis; and if
he had taken the worst conditioned districts, that, as applied to them,
it was in error full one-half. On Mr. Milne’s own data it appears that
the proportions of deaths to the population at Carlisle, instead of
coinciding with the ascertained average ages of death, 38·72, were in
the year 1780, 1 in 35; in 1787, they were 1 in 43; and in 1801, they
were 1 in 44. Having caused an average to be deduced from the actual
ages of 5,200,141 deaths which occurred in the Prussian States from 1820
to 1834, instead of 36 years, the actual average age of deaths was only
28 years and 10 months. The average ages of death in France, as deduced
from Duvillard’s table, founded on the experience of one million of
deaths, instead of being 36 years, was 28 years and 5 months.

The public errors created and maintained by taking the proportions of
deaths as exponents of the average ages of death, or of the chances of
life to the population, may be illustrated by reference to the actual
experience amongst nearly two millions of the population, or upwards of
forty-five thousand deaths in thirty-two districts, equivalent to as
many populous towns, which the Registrar-General has obligingly enabled
me to examine for the year 1839.

The Carlisle table is taken as the standard for the duration of life, to
measure the loss of life in the several districts, as it gives the
probability of life from infancy, well ascertained for one town, and
nearly coincides with the experience of the annuity offices on the
select class of lives insured by them, and with the results which I have
obtained from the mortuary registries showing the average age of death
in the county of Hereford. Each of the recognized insurance tables may,
however, be used. If the Carlisle table be taken, the chances of life at
infancy would be 38·72; by the Chester table it would be 36·70; by the
Northampton, 25·18; by the Montpellier table, 25·36; by the last Swedish
table, 39·39; by the experience of Geneva, 40·18. After the attainment
of twenty years of age these several tables give the chances of life as
follows:—by the Carlisle table it would be 41·46; by the Chester table,
36·48; by the Northampton table, 33·43; by the Montpellier table, 37·99;
by the Swedish table, 39·98; by the Geneva experience, 37·67; and by the
experience of the Equitable Society, 41·67. For civic purposes in this
country, the most important period for considering the chances of life
is after coming of age, or after the attainment of twenty-one years; the
average ages of all who die above that age in each district of the
metropolis are therefore given to illustrate the extent of loss of life
to each class of adults, which is the more important to be observed, as
it has been hastily supposed that the pressure of the more common and
removable causes of disease is almost exclusively upon the infant

In illustration of the errors occasioned by taking the proportions of
deaths as the exponent of the duration of life; if we take the
proportions of deaths in the district of Islington, with its population
of 55,720, we find the deaths for the year only 1 to every 55 of the
population, which would appear to be a highly healthy standard; whereas,
when we examine the average age of death of all of that population who
have died during that year, we find it to be only 29 years: in other
words, we find that the average duration of the period of existence has
even in that district been shortened by at least nine years to all, and
to an extent of at least six years on the average to the class of
adults. If we examine the pressure of the causes of death upon each
class of the community, in the same district, we find that the class of
artisans, instead of attaining 39 _years_, have, on the average, been
cut off at 19 years; and hence that children and adults, and on the
average all those of the labouring classes who have died, have been
deprived of 20 years of the natural expectation of life; and that even
the class of adults who have died have been deprived of 15 years of
working ability, involving extensive orphanage and premature widowhood.
If we take such a district as Bethnal Green, inhabited by weavers and a
badly conditioned population, the returns of the proportionate number of
deaths to the population (1 in 41) would lead to the supposition of an
average vitality of nearly double the real amount, which appears from
this year’s return to be only 22 years for the whole population. For the
working classes in that district it is no more than 18 years. If we
carry investigations closer, and into the local causes of the mortality,
we have them developed in such evidence as that given by Mr. T. Taylor,
one of the registrars of that district;—or in other districts by such
information as that given by Mr. Worrell, the registrar of St. Pancras,
or by registrars of St. George’s, Hanover Square, or by the registrar of
a district of Marylebone, where we find the state of overcrowding (noted
in § 26), combined with the insufficient supplies of water, the
defective drainage and neglect of cleansing which is described in the
answers—attended by a reduction of 12 years’ duration of life to the
adult artisans. In the opulent parish of St. George’s, Hanover Square,
it is attended by a loss of 16 years; in Marylebone and in St. Pancras,
by a loss of 17 years. The external and internal circumstances of the
labouring population, where such results have been obtained, vary
widely, and the results are commonly the mean of extreme differences.
For example, in the parish of St. Margaret’s, Leicester, which has a
population of 22,000, almost all of whom are artisans engaged in the
manufacture of stockings, where the average age of death in the whole
parish was, during the year 1840, 18 years, I succeeded in obtaining the
ages of death in the different _streets_, when it appeared that this
average was made up as follows:—Average age of deaths in the streets
that were drained (and that by no means perfectly) 23½ years; in the
streets that were partially drained, 17½ years; in the streets that were
entirely undrained, 13½ years. Though the defective drainage and
cleansing was the main cause, it was doubtless not the only cause of
this variation. That, however, was a year of a heavy mortality, and the
average age of death in that and another district during the years 1840,
1841, and 1842, was in the streets drained 25½ years; in those partly
drained 21, and those not drained, 17 years. The general average was 21
years. The proportions of death to the population in Leicester were
during the same period, 1 in 36½. The inquiries promoted in the
districts of other towns have developed instances of large masses of
population amongst whom even lower average duration of life than any
noted in the first report is attendant on the circumstances described as

So far as estimates of the number of the people before a census was
taken may be depended upon, it appears that the proportionate numbers of
deaths in the metropolis were, at the commencement of the last century,
1 to 20. At the time the first census was taken (1801) the proportion of
deaths to the population within the bills of mortality appeared to be 1
to 39. At the present time it appears to be 1 to 40. Having had the
average ages of death within the bills of mortality in the metropolis
calculated from the earliest to the later returns published, they appear
to be, as far as they can be made out from the returns, which are only
given in quinquennial and decennial periods, as follows:—

Of all returned as having died during the

                                        The average Age was
                                         Years,    Months.
           22 years, from 1728 to 1749         25          1
           25 years, from 1750 to 1774         25          6
           25 years, from 1775 to 1799         26          0
           25 years, from 1800 to 1825         29          0
            6 years, from 1826 to 1830         29         10

Thus, whilst it would appear from the proportionate numbers of deaths to
the population that the average duration of life in the metropolis has
doubled during the last century, it appears from the returns of the
average ages themselves that it has only increased four years and nine
months, or about one-fifth. The district of the old bills of mortality
comprehends little more than one-half of the metropolis. The average age
of death for the year 1839 for the whole metropolis, it will have been
seen, is only 27 years. So far as an average for that year for the old
district can be made out from the several recent district returns, it
would appear to be no more than 26 years. But the earlier mortuary
registration was known to be extremely defective, especially in the
registration of deaths in the poorer districts, and the recent lower
averages are ascribable to the closer registration of the infantile
mortality in those districts. The earlier returns are only to be
regarded in so far as the errors from period to period are likely to
have compensated each other; they are only adduced as indicating the
degree of proportionate progression, correspondent with the general
physical improvements of the population. But the slow general
improvement, made up by the great improvements of particular classes, is
consistent with the positive deterioration of others. The average age of
death of the whole of the working classes we have seen is still no more
than 22 years in the whole of the metropolis. In large sub-districts, if
we could distinguish accurately the classes of deaths, the average would
be found to be not more than half that period: a rate of mortality
ascribable to increased over-crowding and stationary accommodation,
greatly below anything that probably existed at the commencement of the
century. The chief errors in the existing returns are errors which cause
the extent of the evils which depress the sanitary condition of the
population, and the mortality consequent on those evils to be under

The erroneous conclusions as to the ages of the populations from the
proportions of deaths, have perhaps arisen from assumptions of the
existence of states of things rarely, if ever, found, namely, perfectly
stationary populations and perfectly stationary causes of death. I have
been asked “If 1 out of 40 die yearly, must not the average age of all
who die be 40 years?” The answer, by actual experience, as we have seen,
is, that it is often not 30 years; and perhaps the reason why it is not
so will be most conveniently illustrated by hypothetical cases. For
example, let it be assumed that in any given year 40 persons die out of
1600, which is in the proportion of 1 to 40, and in consequence of an
unusual prevalence of measles, or some disease to which children are
subject, the greater number of deaths occur amongst the infant portion
of the population, and hence, out of the 40 deaths, 20 occur at 5 years
of age, 10 at 25, and 10 at 60. Then the total existence had, would have
been (20 × 5) + (10 × 25) + (10 × 60) = 100 + 250 + 600 = 950 years, and
this divided by 40, the number who died would give 950/40 = 24 years
nearly as the average duration of life to each of the 40 who died.

On the other hand, suppose a severe winter, in which the peculiar causes
of mortality may have pressed unusually heavy upon the older lives, and
let the numbers who died have been 20, at 60 years of age; 10 at 40; and
10 at 5; in such case, the total existence enjoyed would have been (20 ×
60) + (10 × 40) + (10 × 5) = 1200 + 400 + 50 = 1650 years, which,
divided by 40, would give 1650/40 = 41¼ years as the average duration of
life to each.

And again, where, in fact, the proportion of death in one year may be
represented as 1 death out of 20 of the population; the average
existence enjoyed may be greater than when 1 in 40 died for the reason
given in the former case. As for example, in the year when 1 in 20 died,
it may have happened that the deaths were among the older lives, and
that, taking one with another, the average age of all who died might be
50; while in the other case the mortality might have been amongst the
infant population, when the average age might have been 20. If the
proportion of 1 in 40, or 1 in 20, were to obtain each year
continuously, taking one life with another, the average duration to a
population just born, of whom 1 in 40 died, and whose place should be
supplied each year by a new birth, would be about 20 years to each life,
or one-half; and of a similar population, of whom 1 out of 20 died
annually, the average duration of life to each would be about 10 years,
or one-half the period at the expiration of which all the lives would
have expired.

When these examples are considered, it will be understood that the
average age of death may remain stationary, or may go on increasing,
whilst the proportions of death remain the same, or vary. The actual
mortality of most districts is found to be coincident chiefly with its
physical condition, and is most accurately measured by the years of
vitality which have been enjoyed, _i. e._, by the average age of death.
The numbers of deaths increase or diminish considerably, and frequently
create erroneous impressions, whilst the average ages of death are found
to maintain a comparatively steady course, always nearest to the actual
condition of the population, and give the most sure indications.

The chief test of the pressure of the causes of mortality is then the
duration of life in years: and whatever age may be taken as the standard
of the natural age or the average age of the individual in any community
may be taken to correct the returns of the proportions of death in that
same community. For example, in the returns of the St. George’s, Hanover
Square district, it appears that in 1839, the proportions of deaths was
1 to 50 of the population; but the average number of years which 1325
individuals who died during that year had lived, was only 31 years, or 8
years below the average period of life in Carlisle. There was then in
that district during that year a total loss of 10,600 years of life,
which at 39 years may be considered as equal to an excess of deaths of
272 persons, and in a healthy state the proportions of deaths should
have been 1 in 63 instead of 1 in 50 of the population. The excess in
numbers of deaths in the metropolis has been measured by this standard,
the total number of years of life, would in a healthy community have
been divided in portions of not less than 39 years to every individual
who died.

The effect of migration or of emigration, in disturbing the results of
returns of the average ages of death in particular localities appears to
be commonly much exaggerated.

As formerly, when navy surgeons, overlooking the filth of their ships,
which has since been removed, and not perceiving the effects of the
atmospheric impurities arising from the overcrowding, which have since
been diminished by better ventilation, directed their whole attention to
supposed distant causes and mysterious agencies, and were wont to
ascribe the whole of the fever which ravaged a fleet to infection from
some casual hand, who was found to have been received on board from some
equally filthy and ill kept prison where the “gaol fever” had been
prevalent; so now, in some of our towns, we find much ingenuity
exercised to avoid the immediate force of the facts presented by such
returns, by a search for collateral and incidental defects in them. Thus
in Liverpool the whole of its vast excess of mortality has been charged
upon the poorer passengers who pass through the port. In other towns
also, all the excess of deaths from epidemic or infectious disease is
charged upon the vagrant population. In New York and some of the
American cities, where inquiries have been stimulated by the example of
the sanitary inquiry in this country, a common observation made on the
proved excess of mortality is, that a large proportion of “foreigners”
frequent the city. An inquiry into the cases themselves would generally
show that if, instead of the proportion of the immigrant population
being: a small per-centage, it formed a very large proportion of the
population included: still the proportion per cent. of sickness and
mortality, from consumption and other diseases, amongst the resident
population, is the greatest; and that even in lodging-houses the disease
roost frequently appears first in the occupants who are stationary, and
last in the new comers. In some badly conditioned districts, where there
is a very severe mortality observable on children, a less proportionate
amount of mortality prevails amongst the adults who are migrant, than on
other adults resident in somewhat less depressed districts, but who are
more stationary. Of all classes (unless it be the higher classes who
resort to watering-places) it is not the sickly and the weakly who
travel for subsistence as handicraftsmen, or for subsistence in
commerce, but the healthy and robust. In so far as the general results
of mortuary registration of any district are disturbed by a population
who are migrant (who are not only above the average strength, but who
generally come with the additional advantage of health by travel in the
open air and in a purer atmosphere), they are usually disturbed by
unduly raising and giving the locality an appearance of an average of
health, and the fatally deceptive chances of longevity that do not
belong to it Whilst therefore the localities gain by the average health
and strength of the migrant population, other districts have the credit
of a share of the excess of disease and mortality which really belong to
unhealthy localities. In other words, the population migrating through
such districts carry away more disease and mortality from the crowded
districts than they take into them. If there had been a mortuary
registration at Walcheren, or any pestilential stations productive of an
excessive mortality in the army, the registries probably would not have
given the localities credit for more than half the mortality which
belonged to them. The real sickness and mortality of the more depressed
town districts are often made to appear lower than they are by the
number of cases treated in distant workhouses, hospitals, and
dispensaries, for which no credit is given to the locality where the
cause of death occurred.

It would doubtless proportionately enhance the value of such returns as
those in question, if the rule were fully carried out that “the
population enumerated must always be precisely that which produces the
deaths registered;” the grand desideratum being, as expressed by Mr.
Milne, for insurance purposes, “to determine the number of annual deaths
at each age which takes place among the living at the same age;”[43] but
the facts cited of the greater proportion of adults, and of health in
those adults who are immigrant, will answer the objections to the
superior applicability to local or class insurance tables, deduced from
actual local observation of the local rate of mortality prevalent
amongst that population, whether migrant or stationary, and without
reference to the actual ages of the living (though that were desirable),
compared with deductions from any general insurance table, _i. e._ the
experience of a distant and wholly unconnected population. Deductions
from tables, however correctly made from the experience of other towns,
must he, and are proved, by such experience as that hereafter cited, to
be merely “guess-work.” Vide ‘General Sanitary Report,’ pp. 218, 219.
For myself, I make it a general rule of precaution neither to receive
nor adduce statistical returns as evidence without previous inquiry,
wherever it is possible, into the particulars on which they are founded,
or with which they are connected. I adduce them less as principal
evidence, proving anything by themselves, than as proximate measures, or
as indications of the extent of the operation of causes substantiated by
distinct investigations. The general conclusions which the facts that
have come to my knowledge tend to establish on the subject of the
experience of mortality are, that there is no general law of mortality
yet established that is applicable to all countries or to all classes,
or to all times, as commonly assumed; that every place, and class, and
period has rather its own circumstances and its own law, varying with
those circumstances; that the actual experience of any class or place,
or period, even with the disturbance of any ordinary amount of
migration, or immigration, or any ordinary influx of young lives from
births, is a safer guide than any experience deduced from the experience
of another people living at another time and place, or any assumed
general law.

For many public purposes, I have submitted it as a desideratum that
population returns should give not merely the _numbers_ of each class,
or of those engaged in each distinct occupation, which only enables us
to resort to the fallacious standard of the proportionate numbers of
deaths, to judge of the mortality incidental to the class, but the total
ages of each class, which would serve as an index of alterations in the
sanitary condition of that same class. Such returns of the total ages
should, for the public use, be reduced to their simplest proportions. In
the form in which they are usually given, only in intervals of
quinquennial or decennial periods, they are extremely meagre, and
involve so much inaccuracy in any attempts that might be made to use
them, for the purpose of comparing district with district, as to be
generally useless. Whereas, if the ages of any class, or of the general
population living in any district, and the ages of those of them who
die, were reduced to the simplest proportions—that is, if the total
years of age, whether of the living or dying, were divided by the total
number of individuals from which the returns were made, the public would
be enabled to make comparisons between district and district, and to
judge of the relative degrees of pressure, in each, of the causes of
mortality. As the simple proportions of average ages of the living have
not yet, that I am aware of, been used, or even calculated in any
instance, I beg leave to exemplify them.

Mr. Griffith Davies is theoretically of opinion, on a formula of De
Moivre, that in general the average age of death in any community is
necessarily higher than the average age of those living in the same
community: and that in a stationary population the average age of death
will, under ordinary circumstances, be in the ratio of 3 to 2 higher
than the average age of the living. I have had the average age of the
living population, on which the experience embodied in the Carlisle
Insurance table was founded, calculated: and if that may be considered
to have been a stationary population, the proportion of the ages of the
living to those of the dying was practically as about 3 to 4: for whilst
the average age of the dying was 38–3/10, the average age of the living
population was 32–9/10. The average age of the dying in Hereford, in
which the increase of population had been very slight, was 39. But the
average age of the living population, so far as it can be made out from
quinquennial returns, was 28 years and 5 months. On this and all returns
of the ages of the living, in the mode in which the returns have been
collected, allowance must be made for understatements of ages by some of
the adult members of the community. On the whole, the proportion of the
ages of the living to the dying appears to be in an ordinarily healthy
and stationary community, as about 3 to 4.

As yet the observations have not been on a sufficiently wide basis; but
it appears that wherever there is any divergence between the average
ages of the living and the average ages of the dying, the divergence
beyond their natural proportions may be taken as indicating the
proportionate operation of some disturbing cause upon either line, as by
some extraordinary increase of births, or by immigration or emigration,
on the average ages of the living, and on the line of the average ages
of the dead.

So far as I have been enabled to observe or collect from the extremely
imperfect data at present available to the public service, the line of
the average ages of the living is comparatively steady; the disturbances
by migration and immigration which often compensate each other, for the
same place and period, being much the same at different periods, and
seldom affect the results materially, whilst the variations in the
pressure of the causes of death from year to year, are usually
considerable, and warrant the assumption that in general the
disturbances occasioning the divergence described, are from the
operations of causes of death upon that line. Wherever the pressure of
the causes of death has yet been observed to be very great, there the
line of mortality, or the average age of death, is below, what may be
called, the line of vitality constituted by the average age of the
living; and wherever there is on the whole any diminution of those
causes of death, as by better ventilation, or by widening streets,
opening new thoroughfares, better supplies of water, sewering and
cleansing, and improvements in the general habits of the population,
there the line of mortality, the infantile mortality especially,
diminishes, the average age of each adult class, up to sexagenarians or
octogenarians, increases, and the average age of death ascends above the
average age of the living. The means of observation are as yet too few
to elicit more than indications for the guidance of sustained
investigation, to determine whether the divergence of the two lines may
be reduced to any rule.

In Liverpool,—where the investigations into the condition of the
resident cellar population certainly show an increase of the causes of
death,—overcrowding, defective ventilation, bad supplies of water, and
increased filth,—the average age of death is, for the whole town, 17 or
18 years only, whilst the average age of the living population, so far
as it can be made out from the mode in which the census is prepared, is
24 years. As far as can be ascertained by reference to previous
registries of one large parish, where the ages of the dead were formerly
entered, the average duration of life in that town has gradually fallen.
The average ages of all who were buried in St. Nicholas parish between
the years 1784 and 1809 was 25.

In Manchester, the average age of the living is 25 years, but the
average age of the dying is only 18. In Leeds, the average age of the
living is also 25 years, but the average age of the dying is only 21.

                                                         Years.  Months.

 The average age of all who _live_ in the town parishes
   of Middlesex, so far as they can be made out from the      26       2
   only available materials,—the returns in quinquennial
   periods,—is only

 But the average age of all who _die_, judging from one       27       0
   year’s return, appears to be about

If, however, we allow for the understatement of ages, the two lines for
the whole metropolis would be nearly coincident. On the experience of
Carlisle and Hereford, the average age of death should be twelve years

Arranging the several districts of the metropolis, in the order of the
average age of deaths, we find the average age of the living decrease
with the average age of the dying; and the proportion of births to the
population increase with the decrease of the average age of death. The
excess in the proportionate number of births beyond the proportions in
such a county as Hereford (1 to 44), where the average age of death is
much higher, and proportionate number of deaths to the population,
afford important indicia.

                   │Average │ Average │Propor-│Propor-│
 Districts in which│ Age of │ Age of  │ tions │ tions │  Excess above
   average Age of  │Death in│ all who │  of   │  of   │    County of
 Death of the whole│the Dis-│ live in │Births │Deaths │ Hereford in the
   Population is   │ trict, │the Dis- │to the │to the │   Number of:
                   │ of all │ trict.  │ Popu- │ Popu- │
                   │Classes.│         │lation.│lation.│
                   │        │         │       │       │ Deaths  │
                   │        │         │       │       │   and   │Births.
                   │        │         │       │       │Funerals.│
                   │ Years. │yrs. mon.│       │       │         │
 Highest           │        │         │       │       │         │
   (Comprising 2   │        │         │       │       │         │
   Districts.)     │      35│  27   11│1 to 41│1 to 42│      966│    145
   Population      │        │         │       │       │         │
   120,678.        │        │         │       │       │         │
 1. Intermediate (6│        │         │       │       │         │
   Districts.)     │      30│  27    5│1 to 39│1 to 46│    1,836│    639
   Population      │        │         │       │       │         │
   311,022.        │        │         │       │       │         │
 2. Intermediate   │        │         │       │       │         │
   (12 Districts.) │      27│  26   11│1 to 33│1 to 40│    7,457│  5,718
   Population      │        │         │       │       │         │
   774,937.        │        │         │       │       │         │
 Lowest (12        │        │         │       │       │         │
   Districts.)     │      23│  26    5│1 to 30│1 to 41│    5,705│  6,822
   Population      │        │         │       │       │         │
   663,290.        │        │         │       │       │         │

It will be observed that in the least healthy districts where the
pressure of the causes of mortality is the most extensive, the average
age of death falls nearly three years and a half _below_ the average age
of the living, whilst in the higher districts the line of mortality
rises towards the natural position, or nearly four years above it. But
it must still be borne in mind, in the inspection of the returns from
the highest district, that the average is made up of districts which are
probably retrograding, connected with others which are advancing,—of
districts such as are developed by Mr. Worrell, registrar, in his note
on one of the returns from St. Pancras, comprising streets, the
connected courts and alleys from which are widely as separate and
distinct in condition,—and, if I may use such an illustration, as little
appropriate for any average that could be represented by numerals—as
were the conditions of Lazarus and Dives.

Even the lowest proportion of deaths to the population presented in the
district returns, that of Hackney, where it is only 1 to 56. appears to
be a proportion in excess by nearly one-eighth, _i. e._ the deaths from
epidemics, as well as the excess of more than one-third in the deaths of
children under 10 years of age. The return, from the healthiest district
in the returns, of the average age of deaths gives an average of 7
years’ loss of life for the whole population; whilst for the _adults_ of
the middle classes it gives 10 years, and for the _adults_ of the
working classes 7 years’ premature loss of life. Even in the county of
Hereford where there is a proportion of deaths of 1 to 64 of the
population, and the standard of the Carlisle table of insurance where an
average age of 39 years of death is attained, it will be observed that
even this average includes a large proportion (542), or nearly 1-third
in the number of deaths under 10 years of age, and 123 or 1–14th deaths
from epidemics, besides others involving deaths from preventible causes.
Only 329, or 1 in 5 of the deaths in this very healthy county, were
deaths registered as from old age. By the removal of this excess of
deaths, the excess of births which replace them would even in these
districts be of course still further diminished.

It may be conjectured that if there were the means of distinguishing
accurately the various classes of the living amongst whom these deaths
fall, the irregularity of the proportionate number of deaths which
probably arise amongst the labouring classes would be accounted for. The
present returns of the number of births do not distinguish the classes
amongst whom the births occur. Taking the districts in the order of the
average age in which deaths occur to the labouring classes, and
comparing the proportions of the deaths and funerals with the
proportions which occur in Hereford, the excess of deaths and funerals
was in 1839 as follows:—

 │                              │Average Age│Excess in Number of Deaths│
 │Districts in which average Age│of Death of│ of Artisans, &c., in the │
 │of Death of Artisans, &c., is │ Artisans, │District above the Deaths │
 │                              │&c. in the │of Agricultural Labourers │
 │                              │Districts. │    in Herefordshire.     │
 │1. Highest number of the class│         38│                       483│
 │  (comprising 2 Districts.)   │           │                          │
 │2. Intermediate (1) number of │         27│                       548│
 │  the class (5 Districts.)    │           │                          │
 │3. Intermediate (2) number of │         23│                     1,773│
 │  the class (10 Districts.)   │           │                          │
 │4. Lowest number of the class │         20│                     4,121│
 │  (15 Districts.)             │           │                          │

The totals of the subjoined district returns for the metropolis are as

 │              │                          │ Number │Average │ Average │
 │              │                          │   of   │ age at │ age at  │
 │              │ Number of deaths of each │ deaths │death of│death of │
 │              │          class.          │  from  │all who │the whole│
 │              │                          │Epidemic│  die   │ class,  │
 │              │                          │disease.│ above  │including│
 │              │                          │        │  21.   │children.│
 │              │        │Children│        │        │        │         │
 │              │Adults. │under 10│ Total. │        │        │         │
 │              │        │ years. │        │        │        │         │
 │Gentlemen     │    1724│     529│    2253│     210│      60│       44│
 │Tradesmen     │    3970│    3703│    7682│    1428│      51│       25│
 │Labourers     │   12045│   13885│   25930│    5469│      49│       22│
 │Paupers       │    3062│     593│    3655│     557│      60│       49│
 │Undescribed   │    2996│    2761│    5757│    1051│      56│       28│
 │    Totals    │   23806│   21471│   45277│    8715│      53│       27│

The following totals of the mortuary registration of the several
registrars’ districts in Hereford for the same year are given for

 │              │                          │ Number │Average │ Average │
 │              │                          │   of   │ age at │ age at  │
 │              │ Number of deaths of each │ deaths │death of│death of │
 │              │          class.          │  from  │all who │the whole│
 │              │                          │Epidemic│  die   │ class,  │
 │              │                          │disease.│ above  │including│
 │              │                          │        │  21.   │children.│
 │              │        │Children│        │        │        │         │
 │              │Adults. │under 10│ Total. │        │        │         │
 │              │        │ years. │        │        │        │         │
 │Gentlemen     │      49│      19│      68│       2│      65│       45│
 │Farmers, &c.  │     205│      45│     250│      14│      60│       47│
 │Labourers     │     833│     324│    1157│      87│      58│       39│
 │Paupers       │      26│      11│      37│       1│      71│       51│
 │Undescribed   │     124│     143│     267│      19│      68│       30│
 │    Totals    │    1237│     512│    1779│     123│      60│       39│

The total number of births registered in the several districts in the
metropolis, where it is yet far from complete, in the year 1839, was
51,232, or 1 to 37 of the population. The total number of births
registered in Hereford during the same year was 2579, or 1 to 44.

The positions advanced in the Sanitary Report of the greater proportion
of births in the districts where the deaths are the most frequent, is
confirmed in respect to the metropolis by a more recent return with
which I have been obligingly favoured by the Registrar-General, in which
he shows,—

 │                              │                         │  Ratio of  │
 │                              │  Proportion per cent.   │ deaths to  │
 │                              │                         │  births.   │
 │                              │  Deaths.   │  Births.   │            │
 │“Unhealthiest sub-districts   │        3·14│        3·66│   1 to 1·17│
 │Less unhealthy sub-districts  │        2·68│        3·18│   1 to 1·19│
 │Average sub-districts         │        2·43│        3·35│   1 to 1·38│
 │Healthier sub-districts       │        2·17│        2·64│   1 to 1·22│
 │Healthiest sub-districts”     │        1·87│        2·47│   1 to 1·32│
 │“The mortality is 68 per cent. higher in the unhealthy than in the   │
 │healthy sub-districts: the proportion of births is 48 per cent.      │
 │greater in the unhealthy than in the healthy sub-districts.”         │

If the deaths in the metropolis during 1839 had been in the same
proportion to the population as they were in Hereford, there would have
been 8866 funerals less during that year.

If the proportion of births in the metropolis during that year had been
the same as in Hereford, there would have been 16,053 births the less.

Or to vary the illustration:—

If the deaths in Hereford had been in the same proportion as the deaths
in the metropolis, the community in that county would during that year
have had 977 funerals the more.

If the births in Hereford had been in the same proportion as in the
metropolis, there would during that year have been 540 births the more.

If the deaths in the whole of England and Wales had been in the
proportions attained in some districts, and attainable in all, namely, 1
in 50, there would during the year have been 31,866 funerals less, and
more than ten times that amount of cases of sickness the less.

If the proportions of births in the whole kingdom had been the same as
those occurring in average healthy districts—such as that of the town
district of Hackney, for example, of 1 to 42—there would have been
139,958 births the less to make up for the excess of deaths.

                  *       *       *       *       *

The importance of the subject will justify the reference to other

The commissioners for taking the census of Ireland have bestowed
considerable labour to effect various improvements, with a view to
determine more accurately the actual condition and progress of the
population. They have attempted, amongst other improvements, to
ascertain not merely the total number of houses, but the number of each
description of houses in each district. From the want of any system of
mortuary or birth registration in Ireland their attempts to ascertain
correctly the proportions of deaths and births to the population appear
to have been to some degree frustrated; and the return of the average
age of death must be received as an approximation, giving higher than
the real chances of life in that country. From the mode which the
commissioners adopted of collecting the ages of the living, by taking
the actual age of each individual with precautions, it appears probable
that their returns on this head are more trustworthy than those obtained
in England.

The proportions of births to the population obtained by the Census
Commissioners in Ireland are, I conceive, below the real amount; the
proportions of deaths are confessedly so. The proportions of deaths and
several other results may however serve for comparison between one
province and another and between one county and another. I have taken
the following results from several of their tables, or have had them
calculated from their data. I submit them as indications of the
momentous public truths that still lie open for investigation, of which
truths the most important are the extent of the operation of the causes
of mortality, which can only be correctly ascertained on the spot by
inquiries for a mortuary registration, by responsible officers of
superior qualifications and intelligence as officers of health. The
fractional numbers are omitted in the returns from the provinces.

 │                             │               LEINSTER.               │
 │                             │      RURAL.       │       TOWN.       │
 │                             │ Houses. │Families.│ Houses. │Families.│
 │First Class houses           │        2│        2│       24│       33│
 │“Good farm-houses, or in     │         │         │         │         │
 │  towns houses in a small    │       21│       21│       37│       39│
 │  street, having from 5 to 9 │         │         │         │         │
 │  rooms and windows”         │         │         │         │         │
 │                             │         │         │         │         │
 │“A better description of     │         │         │         │         │
 │  cottage, still built of    │       47│       46│       23│       16│
 │  mud, but varying from 2 to │         │         │         │         │
 │  4 rooms and windows”       │         │         │         │         │
 │                             │         │         │         │         │
 │“All mud cabins having only  │       28│       28│       14│       10│
 │  one room”                  │         │         │         │         │
 │                             │ Males.  │Females. │ Males.  │Females. │
 │Average age at death         │      32·│     31·5│      25·│     25·4│
 │                             │        /         │        /         │
 │                             │        32         │        25         │
 │                             │                  /                   │
 │                             │                  30                   │
 │Average term of premature    │                   │                   │
 │  loss of life as compared   │                   │                   │
 │  with the experience of     │         7         │        14         │
 │  Carlisle or the county of  │                   │                   │
 │  Hereford                   │                   │                   │
 │                             │                  /                   │
 │                             │                   9                   │
 │                             │                                       │
 │Annual proportion of deaths  │               1 in 32·3               │
 │  to the mean population     │                                       │
 │                             │                                       │
 │Average age of all who lived │                  25                   │
 │  in 1841                    │                                       │
 │                             │                                       │
 │Proportion of widows to every│                   │                   │
 │  100 of the population above│        13         │        17         │
 │  17 years old               │                   │                   │
 │                             │        ——         │        ——         │
 │                             │                                       │
 │Rate of increase on          │                 3·35                  │
 │  population since 1831      │                                       │
 │                             │                                       │
 │Excess of number of births to│                                       │
 │  every 10,000 of the        │                                       │
 │  population above the       │                  73                   │
 │  proportion of births in    │                                       │
 │  Hereford                   │                                       │
 │                             │                                       │
 │Positive numbers of births in│                                       │
 │  excess above the proportion│                14,515                 │
 │  of births in Hereford      │                                       │
 │                             │               MUNSTER.                │
 │                             │      RURAL.       │       TOWN.       │
 │                             │ Houses. │Families.│ Houses. │Families.│
 │First Class houses           │        1│        1│       12│       14│
 │“Good farm-houses, or in     │         │         │         │         │
 │  towns houses in a small    │       13│       13│       44│       49│
 │  street, having from 5 to 9 │         │         │         │         │
 │  rooms and windows”         │         │         │         │         │
 │                             │         │         │         │         │
 │“A better description of     │         │         │         │         │
 │  cottage, still built of    │       34│       34│       30│       25│
 │  mud, but varying from 2 to │         │         │         │         │
 │  4 rooms and windows”       │         │         │         │         │
 │                             │         │         │         │         │
 │“All mud cabins having only  │       50│       49│       13│       10│
 │  one room”                  │         │         │         │         │
 │                             │ Males.  │Females. │ Males.  │Females. │
 │Average age at death         │     28·2│      27·│     23·6│     23·7│
 │                             │        /         │        /         │
 │                             │        28         │        24         │
 │                             │                  /                   │
 │                             │                  27                   │
 │Average term of premature    │                   │                   │
 │  loss of life as compared   │                   │                   │
 │  with the experience of     │        11         │        15         │
 │  Carlisle or the county of  │                   │                   │
 │  Hereford                   │                   │                   │
 │                             │                  /                   │
 │                             │                  12                   │
 │                             │                                       │
 │Annual proportion of deaths  │               1 in 29·5               │
 │  to the mean population     │                                       │
 │                             │                                       │
 │Average age of all who lived │                  24                   │
 │  in 1841                    │                                       │
 │                             │                                       │
 │Proportion of widows to every│                   │                   │
 │  100 of the population above│        12         │        16         │
 │  17 years old               │                   │                   │
 │                             │        ——         │        ——         │
 │                             │                                       │
 │Rate of increase on          │                 7·59                  │
 │  population since 1831      │                                       │
 │                             │                                       │
 │Excess of number of births to│                                       │
 │  every 10,000 of the        │                                       │
 │  population above the       │                  95                   │
 │  proportion of births in    │                                       │
 │  Hereford                   │                                       │
 │                             │                                       │
 │Positive numbers of births in│                                       │
 │  excess above the proportion│                22,875                 │
 │  of births in Hereford      │                                       │
 │                             │                ULSTER.                │
 │                             │      RURAL.       │       TOWN.       │
 │                             │ Houses. │Families.│ Houses. │Families.│
 │First Class houses           │        1│        1│       10│        9│
 │“Good farm-houses, or in     │         │         │         │         │
 │  towns houses in a small    │       21│       21│       56│       60│
 │  street, having from 5 to 9 │         │         │         │         │
 │  rooms and windows”         │         │         │         │         │
 │                             │         │         │         │         │
 │“A better description of     │         │         │         │         │
 │  cottage, still built of    │       45│       45│       23│       21│
 │  mud, but varying from 2 to │         │         │         │         │
 │  4 rooms and windows”       │         │         │         │         │
 │                             │         │         │         │         │
 │“All mud cabins having only  │       32│       32│        9│        8│
 │  one room”                  │         │         │         │         │
 │                             │ Males.  │Females. │ Males.  │Females. │
 │Average age at death         │     31·8│      32·│     23·8│     23·6│
 │                             │        /         │        /         │
 │                             │        32         │        24         │
 │                             │                  /                   │
 │                             │                  31                   │
 │Average term of premature    │                   │                   │
 │  loss of life as compared   │                   │                   │
 │  with the experience of     │         7         │        15         │
 │  Carlisle or the county of  │                   │                   │
 │  Hereford                   │                   │                   │
 │                             │                  /                   │
 │                             │                   8                   │
 │                             │                                       │
 │Annual proportion of deaths  │               1 in 31·1               │
 │  to the mean population     │                                       │
 │                             │                                       │
 │Average age of all who lived │                  24                   │
 │  in 1841                    │                                       │
 │                             │                                       │
 │Proportion of widows to every│                   │                   │
 │  100 of the population above│        12         │        15         │
 │  17 years old               │                   │                   │
 │                             │        ——         │        ——         │
 │                             │                                       │
 │Rate of increase on          │                 4·36                  │
 │  population since 1831      │                                       │
 │                             │                                       │
 │Excess of number of births to│                                       │
 │  every 10,000 of the        │                                       │
 │  population above the       │                  84                   │
 │  proportion of births in    │                                       │
 │  Hereford                   │                                       │
 │                             │                                       │
 │Positive numbers of births in│                                       │
 │  excess above the proportion│                20,003                 │
 │  of births in Hereford      │                                       │
 │                             │              CONNAUGHT.               │
 │                             │      RURAL.       │       TOWN.       │
 │                             │ Houses. │Families.│ Houses. │Families.│
 │First Class houses           │       ·5│       ·6│        7│       10│
 │“Good farm-houses, or in     │         │         │         │         │
 │  towns houses in a small    │        8│        8│       30│       33│
 │  street, having from 5 to 9 │         │         │         │         │
 │  rooms and windows”         │         │         │         │         │
 │                             │         │         │         │         │
 │“A better description of     │         │         │         │         │
 │  cottage, still built of    │       39│       39│       36│       33│
 │  mud, but varying from 2 to │         │         │         │         │
 │  4 rooms and windows”       │         │         │         │         │
 │                             │         │         │         │         │
 │“All mud cabins having only  │       51│       50│       25│       22│
 │  one room”                  │         │         │         │         │
 │                             │ Males.  │Females. │ Males.  │Females. │
 │Average age at death         │     26·1│     24·3│     22·6│     22·4│
 │                             │        /         │        /         │
 │                             │        25         │        23         │
 │                             │                  /                   │
 │                             │                  24                   │
 │Average term of premature    │                   │                   │
 │  loss of life as compared   │                   │                   │
 │  with the experience of     │        14         │        16         │
 │  Carlisle or the county of  │                   │                   │
 │  Hereford                   │                   │                   │
 │                             │                  /                   │
 │                             │                  15                   │
 │                             │                                       │
 │Annual proportion of deaths  │                1 in 28                │
 │  to the mean population     │                                       │
 │                             │                                       │
 │Average age of all who lived │                  23                   │
 │  in 1841                    │                                       │
 │                             │                                       │
 │Proportion of widows to every│                   │                   │
 │  100 of the population above│        12         │        17         │
 │  17 years old               │                   │                   │
 │                             │        ——         │        ——         │
 │                             │                                       │
 │Rate of increase on          │                 5·58                  │
 │  population since 1831      │                                       │
 │                             │                                       │
 │Excess of number of births to│                                       │
 │  every 10,000 of the        │                                       │
 │  population above the       │                  117                  │
 │  proportion of births in    │                                       │
 │  Hereford                   │                                       │
 │                             │                                       │
 │Positive numbers of births in│                                       │
 │  excess above the proportion│                16,624                 │
 │  of births in Hereford      │                                       │
 │                             │               IRELAND.                │
 │                             │      RURAL.       │       TOWN.       │
 │                             │ Houses. │Families.│ Houses. │Families.│
 │First Class houses           │      1·3│      1·4│     15·9│      21·│
 │“Good farm-houses, or in     │         │         │         │         │
 │  towns houses in a small    │     16·8│     17·2│     43·6│     46·6│
 │  street, having from 5 to 9 │         │         │         │         │
 │  rooms and windows”         │         │         │         │         │
 │                             │         │         │         │         │
 │“A better description of     │         │         │         │         │
 │  cottage, still built of    │     41·9│     41·7│     26·8│     21·7│
 │  mud, but varying from 2 to │         │         │         │         │
 │  4 rooms and windows”       │         │         │         │         │
 │                             │         │         │         │         │
 │“All mud cabins having only  │      40·│     39·7│     13·7│     10·7│
 │  one room”                  │         │         │         │         │
 │                             │ Males.  │Females. │ Males.  │Females. │
 │Average age at death         │     29·6│     28·9│     24·1│     24·3│
 │                             │        /         │        /         │
 │                             │        29         │        24         │
 │                             │                  /                   │
 │                             │                  28                   │
 │Average term of premature    │                   │                   │
 │  loss of life as compared   │                   │                   │
 │  with the experience of     │        10         │        15         │
 │  Carlisle or the county of  │                   │                   │
 │  Hereford                   │                   │                   │
 │                             │                  /                   │
 │                             │                  11                   │
 │                             │                                       │
 │Annual proportion of deaths  │               1 in 30·3               │
 │  to the mean population     │                                       │
 │                             │                                       │
 │Average age of all who lived │                  24                   │
 │  in 1841                    │                                       │
 │                             │                                       │
 │Proportion of widows to every│                   │                   │
 │  100 of the population above│        12         │        16         │
 │  17 years old               │                   │                   │
 │                             │        ——         │        ——         │
 │                             │                                       │
 │Rate of increase on          │                 5·25                  │
 │  population since 1831      │                                       │
 │                             │                                       │
 │Excess of number of births to│                                       │
 │  every 10,000 of the        │                                       │
 │  population above the       │                  90                   │
 │  proportion of births in    │                                       │
 │  Hereford                   │                                       │
 │                             │                                       │
 │Positive numbers of births in│                                       │
 │  excess above the proportion│                74,016                 │
 │  of births in Hereford      │                                       │

The proportion of widowhood (which would generally be attended by its
proportion of orphanage) to the short duration of life in the worst
conditioned districts is submitted as confirmatory of the principles
expounded in the General Sanitary report on the condition of the
labouring population in Great Britain. Vide p. 188, _et seq._

Conformity of the rate of increase of population with the ages of the
living and dying was not to be expected in the returns where the
emigration from the different provinces is (probably) variable; but in
the two provinces where the household condition appears to be the worst,
and the proportion of mud cabins the greatest, there we find the
mortality is the highest.

Where the pressure of the causes of mortality is the greatest; where the
average age of death is the lowest, and the duration of life is the
shortest, there the increase of population is the greatest. The
proportion of children is great because life is short and the generation
transient; the middle aged and the aged are swept away in large
proportions; and marriages are disproportionately early. But, says a
political economist in an essay in support of Mr. Malthus’s original
view, “The effect of wars, plagues, and epidemic disorders, those
terrible correctives, as they have been justly termed by Dr. Short, of
the redundance of mankind on the principle of population, sets its
operation in the most striking point of view. These scourges tend to
place an old country in the situation of a colony. They lessen the
number of inhabitants, without, in most cases, lessening the capital
that is to feed and maintain them.” What I apprehend the actual facts
when examined, place in a striking point of view, is the danger of
adopting conclusions deeply affecting the interests of communities, on
hypothetical reasonings, and without a careful investigation whether the
facts sustain them: the facts themselves, when examined, show that (be
it as it may with war) epidemic disorders do _not_ lessen the number of
inhabitants; and that they _do_ in all cases that have been examined
lessen the capital that is to feed and maintain them. They lessen the
proportion of productive hands and increase the proportion of the
helpless and dependent hands. They place every community, new or old, in
respect to its productive economy in the position which the farmer will
understand by the like effects of epidemics upon his cattle, when in
order to raise one horse two colts must be reared, and the natural
period of work of the one reared is, by disease and premature death,
reduced by one-third or one-half. The exposition already given, _vide_
General Report p. 176, _et seq._ p. 200, of the dreadful misery and
disease-sustaining fallacy which erects pestilence into a good, is
further illustrated by the effects of the proportions of the dependent
populations of Ireland. Thus in England, the population above 15 and
under 50 years of age in every ten thousand is 5025, and this five
thousand have 3600 children below 15 years of age dependent upon them.
In Ireland, the population above 15 years of age is 4900—in other words,
there are 125 less of adults in every ten thousand; and this smaller
proportion of living adults, with eight or ten years’ span less of life
or working ability, have 4050, or four hundred and fifty more children
dependent upon them. In England there are 1,365 persons in every ten
thousand, or 13½ per cent. above 50 years old to exercise the influence
of their age and experience upon the community. In Ireland there are
only 10 per cent., or 1050 in every ten thousand of the population above
50 years of age.

It appears from a report which the Census Commissioners give on the
sanitary condition of Dublin, that the mortality in the different
localities of that city varies with their physical condition in the
lower districts, and coincides with the description already cited in the
general report, from the report of Dr. Speer, the physician to the
Dublin Fever Hospital (_vide_ General Sanitary Report, p. 96). The like
consequences follow to the lower Irish population settled in the English
towns with the like habits, which permit them to accumulate refuse round
their dwellings, and live in an atmosphere compounded of the miasma of a
pigsty and a privy, and the smoke of a chimney in a crowded room. The
Census Commissioners of Ireland have endeavoured to obtain returns of
the chief causes of the mortality; and it appears from the report upon
them, that hitherto, notwithstanding all that has been said and written,
that fever has returned nearly decennially in periods, irrespective of
any general distress in that country, and has extended its ravages to
classes who were exposed to the miasma, but who suffered no distress.
“Cases of starvation,” it is stated, “have been registered from returns
at almost every age, 79 of them took place in the rural district, or 1
death in 11,539 of the general mortality of the open country, and minor
towns and villages: 18 in the civic, or 1 in 13,009 of the deaths in
towns of or above 2000 people; and 20 occurred in hospitals; the
patients having been admitted when suffering from want of food, or in
such a destitute condition as subsequently produced death from
exhaustion. Including the deaths in hospitals with those in the civic
districts, to which they properly belong, it appears that the deaths
from want and destitution in the larger towns have been 1 in 7240 to the
total mortality of these places. During the first 5-year period, these
deaths were on an average but 6 per annum, and in the last 5-year period
(that ending June, 1841) they had increased to the yearly average of

The dependency of the duration of life upon the physical condition of
the population, and the connexion of several classes of moral and
economical facts, with the proportionate mortality, may be further
exemplified. Taking the four counties in Ireland in which the
proportions of mud hovels are the greatest; and the four counties in
which the proportions of such tenements are the least;[44] I have added
the average ages of death as additional proofs and exemplifications of
the conclusions stated in pp. 128 and 129, and other parts of the
General Report.

                               │  The four Counties where the average
                               │     proportion of mud hovels, as
                               │      habitations, is the lowest.
                               │  Down.   Wexford.  Kilkenny. Monaghan.
 Proportion per cent. of       │
   families occupying          │
   habitations which are mud   │     24·7      29·4      30·9      31·5
   cabins having only one      │
   room[45]                    │
                               │   \--------------\/--------------/
                               │                  29
 Proportion of deaths from     │
   epidemic disease to every   │       36      28·5      36·8      40·4
   10,000 of the population    │
                               │   \--------------\/--------------/
                               │                 35·5
 Average age of all who have   │
   died during the 10 years    │     33·6     34·10      33·2      31·4
   ended 6th June, 1841        │
                               │   \--------------\/--------------/
                               │                 33·4
 Average age of all the living │    24·10     25·10      24·8      24·2
   in 1841                     │
                               │   \--------------\/--------------/
                               │                 24·11
 Proportions of births to the  │1 in 33·4 1 in 34·3 1 in 33·6 1 in 32·5
   population                  │
                               │   \--------------\/--------------/
                               │               1 in 33·4
 Increase per cent. of the     │      2·7      10·6       7·9       2·5
   population since 1831       │
                               │   \--------------\/--------------/
                               │                  5·0
 Per cent. of the population,  │     39·7      35·6      37·8      40·9
   15 years and under          │
                               │   \--------------\/--------------/
                               │                 38·8
 Above 50 years                │     12·0      12·5      10·9      10·9
                               │   \--------------\/--------------/
                               │                 11·6
 Proportion per cent. of male  │
   and female population, 17   │
   years and upwards.          │
           Unmarried           │       42       44½       45½        41
                               │   \--------------\/--------------/
                               │                  43¼
           Married             │       49        47       45½       49½
                               │   \--------------\/--------------/
                               │                  47¾
 Per cent. of the population 5 │
   years old and upwards, who  │     27·5      41·3      51·2      51·3
   can neither read nor write  │
                               │   \--------------\/--------------/
                               │                 42·8
 Proportions of crimes[46] of  │
   violence or passion to each │
   10,000 of the population on │
   an average of 8 years to    │
   1812:—                      │
 Murders and        Proportions│      ·11       ·20       ·44       ·55
   Manslaughters               │
                    Positive   │       31        35        83        88
                      Numbers. │
 Proportions                   │   \--------------\/--------------/
                               │                  ·32
 Rapes and                     │
   Assaults, with   Proportions│      ·06       ·15       ·22       ·35
   intent to commit            │
                    Positive   │       15        22        31        58
                      Numbers. │
 Proportions                   │   \--------------\/--------------/
                               │                  ·17

                               │  The four Counties where the average
                               │     proportion of mud hovels, as
                               │     habitations, is the highest.
                               │ Kerry.     Mayo.    Clare.     Cork.
 Proportion per cent. of       │
   families occupying          │
   habitations which are mud   │     66·7      62·8      56·8      56·7
   cabins having only one      │
   room[45]                    │
                               │   \--------------\/--------------/
                               │                  61
 Proportion of deaths from     │
   epidemic disease to every   │     50·2      51·0      53·1      43·3
   10,000 of the population    │
                               │   \--------------\/--------------/
                               │                 47·8
 Average age of all who have   │
   died during the 10 years    │    24·10      23·2      24·5      28·8
   ended 6th June, 1841        │
                               │   \--------------\/--------------/
                               │                 26·8
 Average age of all the living │     23·1      23·0      22·9      24·0
   in 1841                     │
                               │   \--------------\/--------------/
                               │                 23·5
 Proportions of births to the  │1 in 28·8  1 in 28· 1 in 28·7 1 in 31·8
   population                  │
                               │   \--------------\/--------------/
                               │               1 in 29·9
 Increase per cent. of the     │     11·7       6·2      10·9       9·9
   population since 1831       │
                               │   \--------------\/--------------/
                               │                  8·7
 Per cent. of the population,  │     42·4      43·1      42·4      39·7
   15 years and under          │
                               │   \--------------\/--------------/
                               │                 41·9
 Above 50 years                │      9·4       9·4       8·7      10·4
                               │   \--------------\/--------------/
                               │                  9·5
 Proportion per cent. of male  │
   and female population, 17   │
   years and upwards.          │
           Unmarried           │       37        36       40½        42
                               │   \--------------\/--------------/
                               │                  39
           Married             │       55        56       51½        50
                               │   \--------------\/--------------/
                               │                  53
 Per cent. of the population 5 │
   years old and upwards, who  │     70·4      79·0      63·1      65·6
   can neither read nor write  │
                               │   \--------------\/--------------/
                               │                 69·7
 Proportions of crimes[46] of  │
   violence or passion to each │
   10,000 of the population on │
   an average of 8 years to    │
   1812:—                      │
 Murders and        Proportions│      ·71       ·87      1·08       ·52
   Manslaughters               │
                    Positive   │      166       271       249       316
                      Numbers. │
 Proportions                   │   \--------------\/--------------/
                               │                  ·72
 Rapes and                     │
   Assaults, with   Proportions│      ·71       ·51       ·46       ·28
   intent to commit            │
                    Positive   │      166       159       108       178
                      Numbers. │
 Proportions                   │   \--------------\/--------------/
                               │                  ·44

The general sanitary condition of the population of Scotland and the
pressure of the preventible causes of death appears to be lower than in
England, and higher than in Ireland, and so it appears from the recent
census is the average age of the living.

It may be conceived that the low average age of the living in these
cases is ascribable mainly to an increasing proportion of children
incidental to an increasing population. Not so, however: the average age
of the living is more powerfully influenced by disturbing causes
affecting the population of adults, each with accumulated years, than by
causes affecting the infantile population. One adult of 50 years added
to the living is equal to the addition of 50 infants, and so with the
average ages of deaths. The average ages of the living appear to have
increased and not diminished with the increasing population. Be the
sanitary condition of the poorest classes and the amount of disease and
death what it may, as compared with former periods (and there is direct
evidence that it is in populous districts increasing), there has been
some improvement in the residences of the middle and higher classes;
household drainage and cleanliness has in some districts been improved;
the quantity of town and land drainage and cultivation has of late
increased in various proportions in each country; and the decrease in
the causes of mortality appears to have been followed by an increase of
the average age of the living, of particular classes at the least,
sufficient to present an increase, though a dreadfully slow one, in the
average age of the adults living. The increase of the proportion of
adults may be represented as follows:—

                        │   England.    │   Ireland.    │   Scotland.
                        │ 1821    1841  │ 1821    1841  │ 1821    1841
 Percentage of          │               │               │
   Population of 15     │ 39·09   36·07 │ 41·06   40·44 │ 41·0    36·4
   Years and under      │               │               │
 Over 15 Years          │ 60·91   63·93 │ 58·94   59·56 │ 59·0    63·6
                        │Yrs. M. Yrs. M.│Yrs. M. Yrs. M.│Yrs. M. Yrs. M.
 Average age of each    │=25·3=  =26·7= │=2·37=  =24·0= │=25·1=  =25·9=
   living individual    │               │               │

In abundance of employment, in high wages, and the chief circumstances
commonly reputed as elements of prosperity of the labouring classes, the
city of New York is deemed pre-eminent. I have been favoured with a copy
of “_The Annual Report of the Interments in the City and County of New
York for the Year 1842_,” presented to the Common Council by Dr. John
Griscom, the city inspector, in which it may be seen how little those
circumstances have hitherto preserved large masses of people from
physical depression. He has stepped out of the routine to examine on the
spot the circumstances attendant on the mortality which the figures
represent. He finds that upwards of 33,000 of the population of that
city live in cellars, courts, and alleys, of which 6618 are dwellers in
cellars. “Many,” he states, “of these back places are so constructed as
to cut off all circulation of air, the line of houses being across the
entrance, forming a _cul de sac_, while those in which the line is
parallel with, and at one side of the entrance, are rather more
favourably situated, but still excluded from any general visitation of
air in currents. As to the influence of these localities upon the health
and lives of the inmates, there is, and can be, no dispute; but few are
aware of the dreadful extent of the disease and suffering to be found in
them. In the damp, dark, and chilly cellars, fevers, rheumatism,
contagious and inflammatory disorders, affections of the lungs, skin,
and eyes, and numerous others, are rife, and too often successfully
combat the skill of the physician and the benevolence of strangers.

“I speak now of the influence of the locality merely. The degraded
habits of life, the filth, the degenerate morals, the confined and
crowded apartments, and insufficient food, of those who live in more
elevated rooms, comparatively beyond the reach of the exhalations of the
soil, engender a different train of diseases, sufficiently distressing
to contemplate, but the addition to all these causes of the foul
influences of the incessant moisture and more confined air of
under-ground rooms, is productive of evils which humanity cannot regard
without shuddering.”

He gives instances where the cellar population had been ravaged by fever
whilst the population occupying the upper apartments of the same houses
were untouched. In respect to the condition of these places, he cites
the testimony of a physician, who states that, “frequently in searching
for a patient living in the same cellar, my attention has been attracted
to the place by a peculiar and nauseous effluvium issuing from the door
indicative of the nature and condition of the inmates.” A main cause of
this is the filthy external state of the dwellings and defective street
cleansing, and defective supplies of water, which, except that no
provision is made for laying it on the houses of the poorer classes, is
now about to be remedied by a superior public provision.

                                                         Years.  Months.
 The average age of the white population living in New     23       3
   York, according to the census, is
 But the average age of all who die there is only          20       0

Or an excess of deaths over the ages of the living of more than three
years and three months; denoting, if the like excess prevailed from year
to year, an increasing pressure of the causes of mortality. If the
mortality be the same from year to year the chances of life would appear
to be lower in New York than in Dublin, where, according to the data
given by the Census Commissioners, it would appear to be 25 years 6

In America little attention and labour appear to have been bestowed in
any of the rural districts on general land drainage. Yet nature inflicts
terrible punishment for the neglect of the appointed and visible
warnings and actual premonitory scourges, amongst which are the
mosquitoes and the tribes of insects that only breed in stagnant water
and live in its noxious exhalations. The cleansing and the general
sanitary condition of the American towns appear to be lower than in
England or Scotland, whilst the heat there at times is greater and
decomposition more active; pestilence in the shape of yellow fever,
ague, and influenza is there more rife, the deaths in proportion to the
population more numerous, and the average age of death (so far as there
is information) amongst the resident population much lower.

                                                         Years.  Months.
 The average age of the whole of the living population
   in America, so far as it can be deduced from the        22       2
   returns at the periods given in the census, is only

Notwithstanding the earlier marriages, and the extent of emigration, and
the general increase of the population, the whole circumstances appear
to me to prove this to be the case of a population depressed to this low
age chiefly by the greater proportionate pressure of the causes of
disease and premature mortality. The proportionate numbers at each
interval of age in every 10,000 of the two populations are as follows:—

                                 United States of    England and Wales.
         Under 5 years                         1744                 1324
        5 and under 10                         1417                 1197
        10 and under 15                        1210                 1089
        15 and under 20                        1091                  997
        20 and under 30                        1816                 1780
        30 and under 40                        1160                 1289
        40 and under 50                         732                  959
        50 and under 60                         436                  645
        60 and under 70                         245                  440
        70 and under 80                         113                  216
        80 and under 90                          32                   59
        90 and upwards                            4                    5
                                             ——————               ——————
                                             10,000               10,000

 Average age of all the living    22 years 2 months   26 years 7 months.

Here it may be observed, that whilst in England there are 5025 persons
between 15 and 50 who have 3610 children or persons under 15; in America
there are 4789 persons living between 15 and 50 years of age who have
4371 children dependent upon them. In England there are in every ten
thousand persons 1365 who have obtained above 50 years’ experience; in
America there are only 830.

The moral consequences of the predominance of the young and passionate
in the American community are attested by observers to be such as have
already been described in the General Sanitary Report as characteristic
of those crowded, filthy, and badly administered districts in England
where the average duration of life is short, the proportion of the very
young great, and the adult generation transient.

The difference does not arise solely from the greater proportion of
children arising from a greater increase of population, though that is
to some extent consistent with what has been proved to be the effect of
a severe general mortality; the effects of the common cause of
depression is observable at each interval of age: the adult population
in America is younger than in England, and if the causes of early death
were to remain the same, it may be confidently predicted that the
American population would remain young for centuries.

                                                         Years.  Months.
 The average age of all alive above 15 in America is       33       6
 The average age of all alive above 15 years in England    37       5
   and Wales is
 The average age of all above 20 years in America is       37       7
 In the whole of England the average of all above 20       41       1
   years is

The difference at the different stages of age appear also to prevail in
proportion to the different pressure of the causes of disease and
mortality in different districts in England: _e. g._ In the town
parishes of Middlesex the average age of the living above 15 years is 35
years and 10 months; but in Hereford it is 39 years and 2 months. In
Middlesex the average age of the adult population, that is of all above
20 years, is 38 years and 8 months; whilst in Hereford it is 42 years
and 1 month.

The comparative amount of disease and death elsewhere it need scarcely
be said, in no way affects the positive amount of evil in this country,
or dispenses with the duty of adopting such practical measures as may be
preventive of a single one of the cases of preventable deaths which
abound in masses in the large districts having the least unfavourable

The instances have been adduced to exemplify the suggestions of
amendment in the mode of measuring the amount and influence of
mortality, and more especially to show the importance of giving the
average age as well as the numbers of deaths and the average age of the
living in each class of the community.

The subsequent district returns and the notes extracted from the reports
made by the local registrars to the Registrar-General, in corroboration
of the General Sanitary Report, will show the immense importance to the
community of the facts that require investigation. It cannot be too
urgently repeated that it is only by examinations, case by case, and on
the spot, that the facts from which sound principles may be correctly
distinguished. They can only be well classed for general conclusions and
public use by persons who have large numbers brought before their actual
view and consideration, and who have thus brought before them
impressively the common circumstances for discrimination, which no
hearsay, no ordinary written information will present to their
attention. The attainment of this immensely important public service
might properly have been submitted as a principal instead of a
collateral object, to the improvement of the practice of interment, for
the appointment of such a small well qualified agency as that proposed,
§ 225, of some five or six trustworthy officers of public health for
each million of a town population with the requisite powers and
responsibilities for ascertaining the actual amount of the preventible
causes of death, and informing the local officers and the public of what
is to be done for their removal.

The districts are placed in the order of the average age of death of the
whole population during the year 1839, commencing with the highest

                   │           │
                   │           │
                   │           │  Number of Deaths of
     District.     │  Class.   │      each Class.
                   │           │
                   │           │
                   │           │
                   │           │       │Children│
                   │           │Adults.│ under  │Total.
                   │           │       │  10.   │
                   │           │       │        │
                   │           │  No.  │  No.   │ No.
 Greenwich.        │           │       │        │
   Population      │Gentry     │     62│      18│    80
   80,811.         │           │       │        │
                   │Tradesmen  │    150│      97│   247
                   │Artisans,  │    947│     414│ 1,361
                   │  &c.      │       │        │
                   │Undescribed│    141│     110│   251
                   │Paupers    │    109│      21│   130
                   │Totals and │  1,409│     660│ 2,069
                   │Averages.  │       │        │
                   │           │   No. of Births│ 1,780
 Camberwell.       │           │       │        │
   Population,     │Gentry     │     58│      23│    81
   39,867.         │           │       │        │
                   │Tradesmen  │    111│      86│   197
                   │Artisans,  │    137│     134│   271
                   │  &c.      │       │        │
                   │Undescribed│     98│      37│   135
                   │Paupers    │     92│       6│    98
                   │Totals and │    496│     286│   782
                   │Averages.  │       │        │
                   │           │   No. of Births│   709
 Hackney.          │           │       │        │
   Population      │Gentry     │     50│      11│    61
   42,274.         │           │       │        │
                   │Tradesmen  │    134│      94│   228
                   │Artisans,  │    117│     120│   237
                   │  &c.      │       │        │
                   │Undescribed│     80│     102│   182
                   │Paupers    │     46│       4│    50
                   │Totals and │    427│     331│   758
                   │Averages.  │       │        │
                   │           │   No. of Births│   995
 St. George.       │           │       │        │
   Hanover Square. │Gentry     │    110│      28│   138
   Population      │           │       │        │
   66,433.         │           │       │        │
                   │Tradesmen  │    112│      79│   191
                   │Artisans,  │    528│     344│   872
                   │  &c.      │       │        │
                   │Undescribed│     18│      17│    35
                   │Paupers    │     77│      12│    89
                   │Totals and │    845│     480│ 1,325
                   │Averages.  │       │        │
                   │           │   No. of Births│ 1,260
 Rotherhithe.      │           │       │        │
   Population      │Gentry     │      6│        │     6
   13,916.         │           │       │        │
                   │Tradesmen  │     12│       2│    14
                   │Artisans,  │     70│      14│    84
                   │  &c.      │       │        │
                   │Undescribed│     78│     121│   199
                   │Paupers    │     33│       5│    38
                   │Totals and │    199│     142│   341
                   │Averages   │       │        │
                   │           │   No. of Births│   385
 St. Olave.        │           │       │        │
   Population      │Gentry     │      4│        │     4
   18,427.         │           │       │        │
                   │Tradesmen  │     55│      46│   101
                   │Artisans,  │    603│     215│   818
                   │  &c.      │       │        │
                   │Undescribed│      5│      14│    19
                   │Paupers    │     47│       4│    51
                   │Totals and │    714│     279│   993
                   │Averages   │       │        │
                   │           │   No. of Births│   519
 Kensington,       │           │       │        │
   (including      │           │       │        │
   Chelsea).       │Gentry     │    193│      50│   243
   Population      │           │       │        │
   114,952.        │           │       │        │
                   │Tradesmen  │    204│     120│   324
                   │Artisans,  │    559│     619│ 1,178
                   │  &c.      │       │        │
                   │Undescribed│    202│     181│   383
                   │Paupers    │    106│      36│   142
                   │Totals and │  1,264│   1,006│ 2,270
                   │Averages   │       │        │
                   │           │   No. of Births│ 2,782
 Islington.        │           │       │        │
   Population      │Gentry     │     83│      35│   118
   55,720.         │           │       │        │
                   │Tradesmen  │    151│     121│   272
                   │Artisans,  │    177│     260│   437
                   │  &c.      │       │        │
                   │Undescribed│    106│      27│   133
                   │Paupers    │     49│      10│    59
                   │Totals and │    566│     453│ 1,019
                   │Averages   │       │        │
                   │           │   No. of Births│ 1,177
 St. Martin in the │           │       │        │
   Fields.         │Gentry     │     23│       4│    27
   Population      │           │       │        │
   25,195.         │           │       │        │
                   │Tradesmen  │     60│      47│   107
                   │Artisans,  │    165│     137│   302
                   │  &c.      │       │        │
                   │Undescribed│     89│     112│   201
                   │Paupers    │     68│       4│    72
                   │Totals and │    405│     304│   709
                   │Averages   │       │        │
                   │           │   No. of Births│   601
 Poplar. Population│Gentry     │     16│       7│    23
   31,091.         │           │       │        │
                   │Tradesmen  │     44│      40│    84
                   │Artisans,  │    235│     240│   475
                   │  &c.      │       │        │
                   │Undescribed│     19│      10│    29
                   │Paupers    │     45│       3│    48
                   │Totals and │    359│     300│   659
                   │Averages   │       │        │
                   │           │   No. of Births│ 1,106
 Marylebone.       │           │       │        │
   Population      │Gentry     │    156│      40│   196
   137,955.        │           │       │        │
                   │Tradesmen  │    198│     172│   370
                   │Artisans,  │    682│     759│ 1,441
                   │  &c.      │       │        │
                   │Undescribed│    347│     324│   671
                   │Paupers    │    288│      73│   361
                   │Totals and │  1,671│     668│ 3,039
                   │Averages   │       │        │
                   │           │   No. of Births│ 3,511
 Stepney.          │           │       │        │
   Population      │Gentry     │     64│       9│    73
   90,657.         │           │       │        │
                   │Tradesmen  │    169│     104│   273
                   │Artisans,  │    568│     591│ 1,159
                   │  &c.      │       │        │
                   │Undescribed│    203│     274│   477
                   │Paupers    │    189│      28│   217
                   │Totals and │  1,193│   1,006│ 2,199
                   │Averages   │       │        │
                   │           │   No. of Births│ 2,502
 St. Mary,         │           │       │        │
   Newington.      │Gentry     │     79│      13│    92
   Population      │           │       │        │
   54,607.         │           │       │        │
                   │Tradesmen  │     75│      64│   139
                   │Artisans,  │    325│     420│   745
                   │  &c.      │       │        │
                   │Undescribed│     75│      76│   151
                   │Paupers    │     64│       6│    70
                   │Totals and │    618│     579│ 1,197
                   │Averages   │       │        │
                   │           │   No. of Births│ 1,620
 St. Pancras.      │           │       │        │
   Population      │Gentry     │    151│      49│   200
   129,711.        │           │       │        │
                   │Tradesmen  │    349│     286│   635
                   │Artisans,  │    622│     674│ 1,296
                   │  &c.      │       │        │
                   │Undescribed│    269│     354│   623
                   │Paupers    │    232│      49│   281
                   │Totals and │  1,623│   1,412│ 3,035
                   │Averages   │       │        │
                   │           │   No. of Births│ 3,264
 West London.      │           │       │        │
   Population      │Gentry     │     12│       4│    16
   33,629.         │           │       │        │
                   │Tradesmen  │     83│     103│   186
                   │Artisans,  │    393│     381│   774
                   │  &c.      │       │        │
                   │Undescribed│    149│      17│   166
                   │Paupers    │     99│      16│   115
                   │Totals and │    736│     521│ 1,257
                   │Averages   │       │        │
                   │           │   No. of Births│   698
 Whitechapel.      │           │       │        │
   Population      │Gentry     │     17│       4│    21
   71,758.         │           │       │        │
                   │Tradesmen  │    142│     130│   272
                   │Artisans,  │    741│     637│ 1,378
                   │  &c.      │       │        │
                   │Undescribed│    116│     313│   429
                   │Paupers    │    166│      37│   203
                   │Totals and │  1,182│   1,121│ 2,303
                   │Averages   │       │        │
                   │           │   No. of Births│ 2,103
 St. James         │           │       │        │
   Westminster.    │Gentry     │     27│       9│    36
   Population      │           │       │        │
   37,407.         │           │       │        │
                   │Tradesmen  │     68│      66│   134
                   │Artisans,  │    161│     190│   351
                   │  &c.      │       │        │
                   │Undescribed│     52│      83│   135
                   │Paupers    │     81│      15│    96
                   │Totals and │    389│     363│   752
                   │Averages   │       │        │
                   │           │   No. of Births│   844
 East London.      │           │       │        │
   Population      │Gentry     │     14│       3│    17
   39,655.         │           │       │        │
                   │Tradesmen  │    134│     164│   298
                   │Artisans,  │    265│     391│   656
                   │  &c.      │       │        │
                   │Undescribed│     36│      10│    46
                   │Paupers    │     87│      11│    98
                   │Totals and │    536│     579│ 1,115
                   │Averages   │       │        │
                   │           │   No. of Births│ 1,235
 Holborn.          │           │       │        │
   Population      │Gentry     │     36│       9│    45
   39,720.         │           │       │        │
                   │Tradesmen  │    144│     164│   308
                   │Artisans,  │    231│     353│   584
                   │  &c.      │       │        │
                   │Undescribed│     21│       6│    27
                   │Paupers    │    105│      32│   137
                   │Totals and │    537│     564│ 1,101
                   │Averages   │       │        │
                   │           │   No. of Births│   969
 Shoreditch.       │           │       │        │
   Population      │Gentry     │     63│      23│    86
   83,552.         │           │       │        │
                   │Tradesmen  │    153│     150│   303
                   │Artisans,  │    498│     802│ 1,300
                   │  &c.      │       │        │
                   │Undescribed│    150│      75│   225
                   │Paupers    │    234│      49│   283
                   │Totals and │  1,098│   1,099│ 2,197
                   │Averages   │       │        │
                   │           │   No. of Births│ 3,058
 City London.      │           │       │        │
   Population      │Gentry     │     32│      12│    44
   55,967.         │           │       │        │
                   │Tradesmen  │    247│     244│   491
                   │Artisans,  │    213│     270│   483
                   │  &c.      │       │        │
                   │Undescribed│     77│      29│   106
                   │Paupers    │       │        │
                   │Totals and │    569│     555│ 1,124
                   │Averages   │       │        │
                   │           │   No. of Births│ 1,210
 St. John & St.    │           │       │        │
   Margaret,       │           │       │        │
   Westminster.    │Gentry     │     37│      14│    51
   Population      │           │       │        │
   56,718.         │           │       │        │
                   │Tradesmen  │     82│     102│   184
                   │Artisans,  │    458│     581│  1039
                   │  &c.      │       │        │
                   │Undescribed│     38│      24│    62
                   │Paupers    │     97│      19│   116
                   │Totals and │    712│     740│ 1,452
                   │Averages   │       │        │
                   │           │   No. of Births│ 1,730
 St. James,        │           │       │        │
   Clerkenwell.    │Gentry     │     52│      15│    67
   Population      │           │       │        │
   56,709.         │           │       │        │
                   │Tradesmen  │     99│     109│   208
                   │Artisans,  │    324│     533│   857
                   │  &c.      │       │        │
                   │Undescribed│     82│      17│    99
                   │Paupers    │     76│      14│    90
                   │Totals and │    633│     688│ 1,321
                   │Averages   │       │        │
                   │           │   No. of Births│ 1,771
 St. George in the │           │       │        │
   East. Population│Gentry     │     18│       3│    21
   41,351.         │           │       │        │
                   │Tradesmen  │     66│      72│   138
                   │Artisans,  │    313│     481│   794
                   │  &c.      │       │        │
                   │Undescribed│     62│      14│    76
                   │Paupers    │     93│      14│   107
                   │Totals and │    552│     584│ 1,136
                   │Averages   │       │        │
                   │           │   No. of Births│ 1,404
 St. Giles and St. │           │       │        │
   George.         │Gentry     │     66│      32│    98
   Population      │           │       │        │
   54,250.         │           │       │        │
                   │Tradesmen  │    119│     114│   233
                   │Artisans,  │    280│     584│   864
                   │  &c.      │       │        │
                   │Undescribed│     42│      20│    62
                   │Paupers    │    208│      34│   242
                   │Totals and │    715│     784│ 1,499
                   │Averages   │       │        │
                   │           │   No. of Births│ 1,622
 Strand. Population│Gentry     │     47│      21│    68
   43,894.         │           │       │        │
                   │Tradesmen  │    129│     132│   261
                   │Artisans,  │    299│     382│   681
                   │  &c.      │       │        │
                   │Undescribed│     26│      19│    45
                   │Paupers    │     15│       5│    20
                   │Totals and │    516│     559│  1075
                   │Averages   │       │        │
                   │           │   No. of Births│   957
 Lambeth.          │           │       │        │
   Population      │Gentry     │    141│      64│   205
   115,883.        │           │       │        │
                   │Tradesmen  │    340│     452│   792
                   │Artisans,  │    452│     704│ 1,156
                   │  &c.      │       │        │
                   │Undescribed│    113│      68│   181
                   │Paupers    │    173│      38│   211
                   │Totals and │  1,219│   1,326│ 2,545
                   │Averages   │       │        │
                   │           │   No. of Births│ 3,782
 St. George,       │           │       │        │
   Southwark.      │Gentry     │     32│       9│    41
   Population      │           │       │        │
   46,622.         │           │       │        │
                   │Tradesmen  │     66│      53│   119
                   │Artisans,  │    371│     591│   962
                   │  &c.      │       │        │
                   │Undescribed│     35│      15│    50
                   │Paupers    │     22│       6│    28
                   │Totals and │    526│     674│ 1,200
                   │Averages   │       │        │
                   │           │   No. of Births│ 1,574
 St. Luke.         │           │       │        │
   Population      │Gentry     │     21│       6│    27
   49,982.         │           │       │        │
                   │Tradesmen  │     62│      52│   114
                   │Artisans,  │    391│     569│   960
                   │  &c.      │       │        │
                   │Undescribed│     85│      49│   134
                   │Paupers    │       │        │
                   │Totals and │    559│     676│ 1,235
                   │Averages   │       │        │
                   │           │   No. of Births│ 2,271
 Bermondsey.       │           │       │        │
   Population      │Gentry     │      3│       5│     8
   34,847.         │           │       │        │
                   │Tradesmen  │     66│      59│   125
                   │Artisans,  │    202│     373│   575
                   │  &c.      │       │        │
                   │Undescribed│     24│      26│    50
                   │Paupers    │     62│      14│    76
                   │Totals and │    357│     477│   834
                   │Averages   │       │        │
                   │           │   No. of Births│ 1,151
 Bethnal Green.    │           │       │        │
   Population      │Gentry     │     39│      11│    50
   74,087.         │           │       │        │
                   │Tradesmen  │    110│     136│   246
                   │Artisans,  │    468│     874│ 1,342
                   │  &c.      │       │        │
                   │Undescribed│     69│      19│    88
                   │Paupers    │     76│      19│    93
                   │Totals and │    762│   1,059│ 1,821
                   │Averages   │       │        │
                   │           │   No. of Births│ 2,674
 St. Savior´s.     │           │       │        │
   Population      │Gentry     │      9│       1│    10
   32,980          │           │       │        │
                   │Tradesmen  │     45│      43│    88
                   │Artisans,  │    250│     248│   498
                   │  &c.      │       │        │
                   │Undescribed│     89│     198│   287
                   │Paupers    │     23│       9│    32
                   │Totals and │    416│     499│   915
                   │Averages   │       │        │
                   │           │   No. of Births│ 1,143

                   │         │Average│
                   │         │Age at │ Average
                   │ Deaths  │ Death │ Age at
     District.     │  from   │of all │ Death,
                   │Epidemic.│who die│including
                   │         │ above │Children.
                   │         │  21.  │
                   │         │       │
                   │         │       │
                   │         │       │
                   │         │       │
                   │   No.   │Years. │ Years.
 Greenwich.        │         │       │
   Population      │        9│     62│       48
   80,811.         │         │       │
                   │       42│     54│       31
                   │      227│     56│       36
                   │         │       │
                   │       35│     58│       30
                   │       17│     62│       52
                   │      330│       │
                   │         │     57│       36
                   │    Age of Living│       28
 Camberwell.       │         │       │
   Population,     │       11│     58│       38
   39,867.         │         │       │
                   │       35│     54│       28
                   │       54│     51│       26
                   │         │       │
                   │       13│     61│       42
                   │        7│     62│       56
                   │      117│       │
                   │         │     57│       34
                   │    Age of Living│     27·5
 Hackney.          │         │       │
   Population      │        6│     61│       47
   42,274.         │         │       │
                   │       21│     52│       29
                   │       35│     55│       27
                   │         │       │
                   │       36│     60│       25
                   │        1│     67│       61
                   │       99│       │
                   │         │     57│       31
                   │    Age of Living│    26·10
 St. George.       │         │       │
   Hanover Square. │       12│     59│       45
   Population      │         │       │
   66,433.         │         │       │
                   │       23│     50│       29
                   │      130│     47│       27
                   │         │       │
                   │        3│     61│       32
                   │        8│     59│       51
                   │      176│       │
                   │         │     50│       31
                   │    Age of Living│     28·3
 Rotherhithe.      │         │       │
   Population      │        1│     57│       49
   13,916.         │         │       │
                   │        2│     50│       40
                   │        2│     51│       40
                   │         │       │
                   │       50│     52│       19
                   │        3│     68│       56
                   │       58│       │
                   │         │     54│       30
                   │    Age of Living│     26·7
 St. Olave.        │         │       │
   Population      │         │     64│
   18,427.         │         │       │
                   │       24│     48│       25
                   │      107│     43│       30
                   │         │       │
                   │        7│     50│       16
                   │        8│     59│       54
                   │      146│       │
                   │         │     45│       30
                   │    Age of Living│     27·0
 Kensington,       │         │       │
   (including      │         │       │
   Chelsea).       │       17│     60│       45
   Population      │         │       │
   114,952.        │         │       │
                   │       33│     50│       30
                   │      223│     53│       24
                   │         │       │
                   │       47│     58│       30
                   │       24│     61│       44
                   │      344│       │
                   │         │     55│       29
                   │    Age of Living│     27·5
 Islington.        │         │       │
   Population      │       11│     61│       42
   55,720.         │         │       │
                   │       43│     50│       26
                   │      108│     47│       19
                   │         │       │
                   │        9│     61│       46
                   │        3│     60│       49
                   │      174│       │
                   │         │     54│       29
                   │    Age of Living│    26·11
 St. Martin in the │         │       │
   Fields.         │        2│     57│       46
   Population      │         │       │
   25,195.         │         │       │
                   │       22│     45│       24
                   │       82│     48│       26
                   │         │       │
                   │       42│     51│       21
                   │        4│     65│       60
                   │      152│       │
                   │         │     52│       28
                   │    Age of Living│     28·4
 Poplar. Population│        2│     61│       43
   31,091.         │         │       │
                   │       18│     51│       26
                   │       80│     53│       25
                   │         │       │
                   │        2│     63│       36
                   │        2│     64│       53
                   │      104│       │
                   │         │     55│       28
                   │    Age of Living│    25·10
 Marylebone.       │         │       │
   Population      │       20│     59│       46
   137,955.        │         │       │
                   │       57│     51│       27
                   │      251│     48│       23
                   │         │       │
                   │      104│     54│       27
                   │       61│     54│       42
                   │      493│       │
                   │         │     52│       28
                   │    Age of Living│     27·9
 Stepney.          │         │       │
   Population      │        3│     65│       56
   90,657.         │         │       │
                   │       47│     53│       31
                   │      247│     48│       23
                   │         │       │
                   │      101│     56│       22
                   │       28│     63│       54
                   │      426│       │
                   │         │     53│       28
                   │    Age of Living│     26·6
 St. Mary,         │         │       │
   Newington.      │        6│     62│       50
   Population      │         │       │
   54,607.         │         │       │
                   │       23│     50│       26
                   │      162│     52│       22
                   │         │       │
                   │       31│     59│       30
                   │        1│     60│       55
                   │      223│       │
                   │         │     55│       28
                   │    Age of Living│     26·8
 St. Pancras.      │         │       │
   Population      │       15│     61│       45
   129,711.        │         │       │
                   │      108│     50│       27
                   │      287│     47│       22
                   │         │       │
                   │      199│     55│       23
                   │       47│     61│       50
                   │      656│       │
                   │         │     53│       27
                   │    Age of Living│    26·10
 West London.      │         │       │
   Population      │        2│     58│       38
   33,629.         │         │       │
                   │       41│     49│       22
                   │      186│     46│       22
                   │         │       │
                   │       23│     47│       38
                   │       26│     64│       55
                   │      278│       │
                   │         │     49│       27
                   │    Age of Living│     27·7
 Whitechapel.      │         │       │
   Population      │       58│     47│        4
   71,758.         │         │       │
                   │       42│     50│       26
                   │      261│     48│       25
                   │         │       │
                   │      107│     58│       16
                   │       38│     63│       51
                   │      448│       │
                   │         │     51│       26
                   │    Age of Living│     26·2
 St. James         │         │       │
   Westminster.    │        1│     57│       42
   Population      │         │       │
   37,407.         │         │       │
                   │       23│     51│       26
                   │       59│     46│       21
                   │         │       │
                   │       28│     52│       20
                   │        7│     58│       49
                   │      118│       │
                   │         │     51│       26
                   │    Age of Living│     28·2
 East London.      │         │       │
   Population      │         │     63│       50
   39,655.         │         │       │
                   │       76│     53│       23
                   │      145│     51│       21
                   │         │       │
                   │        1│     50│       38
                   │       18│     65│       57
                   │      240│       │
                   │         │     54│       26
                   │    Age of Living│     27·0
 Holborn.          │         │       │
   Population      │        3│     58│       47
   39,720.         │         │       │
                   │       75│     52│       24
                   │      149│     50│       19
                   │         │       │
                   │        2│     54│       41
                   │       35│     60│       46
                   │      254│       │
                   │         │     53│       26
                   │    Age of Living│     27·2
 Shoreditch.       │         │       │
   Population      │       14│     65│       47
   83,552.         │         │       │
                   │       63│     47│       23
                   │      271│     51│       19
                   │         │       │
                   │       34│     57│       37
                   │       56│     57│       46
                   │      438│       │
                   │         │     54│       26
                   │    Age of Living│       26
 City London.      │         │       │
   Population      │        3│     63│       43
   55,967.         │         │       │
                   │       84│     48│       23
                   │       94│     50│       22
                   │         │       │
                   │       15│     58│       39
                   │         │       │
                   │      196│       │
                   │         │     51│       25
                   │    Age of Living│     27·7
 St. John & St.    │         │       │
   Margaret,       │         │       │
   Westminster.    │        9│     55│       42
   Population      │         │       │
   56,718.         │         │       │
                   │       47│     46│       20
                   │      264│     48│       21
                   │         │       │
                   │        9│     56│       49
                   │       17│     57│       46
                   │      346│       │
                   │         │     50│       25
                   │    Age of Living│    26·11
 St. James,        │         │       │
   Clerkenwell.    │        8│     60│       46
   Population      │         │       │
   56,709.         │         │       │
                   │       50│     49│       23
                   │      183│     50│       19
                   │         │       │
                   │        6│     59│       44
                   │        2│     60│       50
                   │      249│       │
                   │         │     53│       25
                   │    Age of Living│    25·11
 St. George in the │         │       │
   East. Population│         │     63│       54
   41,351.         │         │       │
                   │       29│     49│       23
                   │      158│     46│       18
                   │         │       │
                   │        3│     60│       46
                   │       14│     61│       52
                   │      204│       │
                   │         │     51│       25
                   │    Age of Living│     26·6
 St. Giles and St. │         │       │
   George.         │       15│     60│       40
   Population      │         │       │
   54,250.         │         │       │
                   │       44│     52│       26
                   │      221│     51│       17
                   │         │       │
                   │        9│     53│       35
                   │       53│     54│       46
                   │      342│       │
                   │         │     53│       25
                   │    Age of Living│     27·9
 Strand. Population│        8│     59│       40
   43,894.         │         │       │
                   │       58│     51│       25
                   │      178│     48│       21
                   │         │       │
                   │        4│     55│       28
                   │         │     65│       49
                   │      248│       │
                   │         │     51│       24
                   │   Age of  Living│     27·3
 Lambeth.          │         │       │
   Population      │       19│     58│       37
   115,883.        │         │       │
                   │      174│     50│       21
                   │      245│     49│       19
                   │         │       │
                   │       27│     59│       35
                   │       37│     56│       44
                   │      502│       │
                   │         │     52│       24
                   │    Age of Living│     26.2
 St. George,       │         │       │
   Southwark.      │        5│     61│       45
   Population      │         │       │
   46,622.         │         │       │
                   │       18│     54│       30
                   │      248│     53│       20
                   │         │       │
                   │       10│     50│       30
                   │        2│     58│       45
                   │      283│       │
                   │         │     53│       23
                   │    Age of Living│     26·5
 St. Luke.         │         │       │
   Population      │        3│     56│       38
   49,982.         │         │       │
                   │       17│     49│       25
                   │      306│     49│       20
                   │         │       │
                   │       17│     58│       35
                   │         │       │
                   │      343│       │
                   │         │     50│       22
                   │    Age of Living│    25·11
 Bermondsey.       │         │       │
   Population      │         │     51│       20
   34,847.         │         │       │
                   │       16│     48│       25
                   │      144│     51│       18
                   │         │       │
                   │        6│     45│       21
                   │       15│     57│       47
                   │      181│       │
                   │         │     51│       22
                   │    Age of Living│     24·7
 Bethnal Green.    │         │       │
   Population      │        4│     61│       46
   74,087.         │         │       │
                   │       56│     53│       24
                   │      369│     51│       18
                   │         │       │
                   │        6│     57│       44
                   │       19│     65│       49
                   │      454│       │
                   │         │     54│       22
                   │    Age of Living│     25·2
 St. Savior´s.     │         │       │
   Population      │        1│     52│       47
   32,980          │         │       │
                   │       17│     52│       26
                   │       93│     45│       22
                   │         │       │
                   │       65│     51│       15
                   │        4│     59│       40
                   │      180│       │
                   │         │     48│       21
                   │    Age of Living│     27·3

                   │               │             │Excess in
                   │               │Proportionate│Number of
                   │Years’ Average │  Number of  │ Deaths
     District.     │premature loss │  Deaths to  │ above a
                   │  of Life by   │ Population. │ Healthy
                   │               │             │standard.
                   │               │             │
                   │Deaths│ Deaths │             │
                   │above │ of all │             │
                   │Age of│Classes.│             │
                   │ 21.  │        │             │
                   │Years.│ Years. │     No.     │   No.
 Greenwich.        │      │        │             │
   Population      │      │       }│             │
   80,811.         │      │        │             │
                   │     8│     8 }│             │
                   │     6│     3 }│   1 in 39   │      159
                   │      │        │             │
                   │     4│     9 }│             │
                   │      │       }│             │
                   │      │        │             │
                   │     5│       3│             │
                   │         Births│   1 in 45   │
 Camberwell.       │      │        │             │
   Population,     │     4│     1 }│             │
   39,867.         │      │        │             │
                   │     8│    11 }│             │
                   │    11│    13 }│   1 in 51   │      100
                   │      │        │             │
                   │     1│       }│             │
                   │      │       }│             │
                   │      │        │             │
                   │     5│       5│             │
                   │         Births│   1 in 44   │
 Hackney.          │      │        │             │
   Population      │     1│       }│             │
   42,274.         │      │        │             │
                   │    10│    10 }│             │
                   │     7│    12 }│   1 in 56   │  155[47]
                   │      │        │             │
                   │     2│    14 }│             │
                   │      │       }│             │
                   │      │        │             │
                   │     5│       8│             │
                   │         Births│   1 in 42   │
 St. George.       │      │        │             │
   Hanover Square. │     2│       }│             │
   Population      │      │        │             │
   66,433.         │      │        │             │
                   │    12│    10 }│             │
                   │    15│    12 }│  1 in 501   │  272[48]
                   │      │        │