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man body is about three hundred weight. Even this is a considerable bulk, and an expense beyond the means of the poor; for whom indeed it seems unlikely that burning can any where have been in general use. The last instance of it in any Christian country, is that of Henry Laurens, the first President of the American Congress. He desired in his will that his body might be burnt, and required the performance of the wish from his children as a duty. One of his daughters when an infant had been laid out as dead in the small-pox, and was revived by the fresh air from the window, which during her illness had been carefully kept closed. This circumstance made him dread the possibility of being buried alive; and he had some whimsical notions of the purifying nature of fire, which he supported by texts of Scripture no ways relevant in his application of them. Such a purgatory would be as much easier than the Romanists' as it is less plausible. He that hath the ashes of his friend, says Sir Thomas Brown, hath an everlasting treasure, Savages, who seem never to have thought of incineration, have religiously preserved the bones of their friends. Some of the Orinoco tribes fasten their dead by a rope to the trunk of a tree on the shore, and sink the body in the river, and in the course of four and twenty hours the skeleton is picked perfectly clean by the fish. The Tapuyas reduced the bones to powder, and mingled them as an act of piety with their food. Some of the Moxo tribes had a similar custom : they made their powder into cakes with a mixture of maize, and considered it the surest pledge of friendship to offer and partake of this family bread.
Whatever relation there may have been between the Egyptians and the ancient Hindoos, they differed widely in their treatment of the dead. The Hindoos regarded the body as a clog upon the immortal part of our nature, –a shell which the spirit was to burst before it could take wing, • A mansion,' says Menu, with bones for its rafters and beams, with nerves and tendons for cords; with muscles and blood for mortar, with skin for its outward covering; -a mansion infested by age and sorrow, the seat of malady, harassed with pains, haunted with the quality of darkness, and incapable of standing long, --such a mansion of the vital soul let its occupier always cheerfully quit.' The Egyptians, on the contrary, thought that when the great cycle was complete, the soul would return to reanimate its fleshly mansion, and therefore they were at such extraordinary pains for keeping the old tenement in good repair;- though how the poor tenant was to be accommodated without the usual furniture of brains and intestines is a difficulty which might have puzzled them. Little did they foresee that the bodies which were so carefully embalmed for this purpose, and deposited in works of
such extraordinary labour as their catacombs, would one day become a regular article of trade with Europe, to be broken up and sold by the grain and scruple, and taken as medicine! When the old traveller, John Sanderson, returned to England, six hundred weight were brought home for the Turkey Company, in pieces. A preference was given to virgin mummy when this precious drug was in request. The virtue was certainly supposed to be more in the Egyptian than the spice. Fuller tells us, that in his days there were persons who maintained that the smelling to perfect nould made of men's consumed bodies is a preservative of life.'
The rudest mode of preserving the dead is that which Captain Tuckey found upon the Congo. Simmons requested a piece of cloth to envelope his aunt, who had been dead seven years, and was to be buried in two months, being now arrived at a size to make a genteel funeral. The manner of preserving corpses for so long a time is by enveloping them in cloth of the country, or in European cottons, the smell of putrefaction being only kept in by the quantity of wrappers which are successively multiplied as they can be procured by the relations of the deceased, or according to the rank of the person; in the case of a rich and very great man, the bulk acquired being only limited by the power of conveyance to the grave: so that the first but in which the body is deposited becoming too small, a second, a third, even to a sixth, increasing in dimensions, is placed over it. A custom somewhat resembling this was found in the province of Popayan, when first the Spaniards entered it: there the body was scorched over a fire before it was thus enveloped. A more loathsome custom prevails among the Caribs of Guiana. When one of their chiefs dies, his body is watched for thirty days by his wives, whose duty it is to keep close to it during that whole time, and not suffer a fly to alight upon it, while the insupportable stench attracts them by millions. At the end of that time it is buried, and one of the women with it, for a companion. The frequent custom among the American Indians of depositing food in their graves draws forth a curious remark from Pedro de Cieza : the devil makes them believe that they are to live again in a kingdom which he has prepared for them, and that they must take with them provisions for the journey, as if," says the good Spaniard, 'hell were a long way off.'
The horrible manner in which the Parsees pollate the air with their dead, originates in a superstitious fear, which their sacred books inculcate, of polluting either Earth, Water, or Fire. Mr. Moore, therefore, in making his Guebre cast himself into the Fire which he adores, has committed as great a fault in costume, as if he were to represent Judas Maccabæus offering a sacrifice of swine
in the temple of Jerusalem. Kamdeen Shapoor was sent into Persia from India, about one hundred and fifty years ago, to procure information concerning the rites and forms of the Parsees. He said, Teach me how to make a place of sepulture. The learned replied, The place on which it is to be made must be waste, and be far from dwellings; near it must be no cultivation; nor the business necessarily attending the existence of dwellings; no habitation nor population must be near it.' This was part of the evidence on a trial at Bombay in 1808. A custom precisely like that of the Parsees prevails in Thibet, and from thence the old Persians may possibly have derived it: for a custom so strange, and so revolting to the common feelings of human nature is more likely to have been derived from one people by another, than to have sprung up from some caprice of imagination in both. In the Peruvian Andes the dead were placed in towers, and not covered with earth; but from Herrera's account it appears, that these were family sepulchres, and not places of public exposure. It is said of the ancient Phrygians, that when a priest died they placed his dead body upon a high pillar, as if he were to continue to instruct the people from thence after his death.
The Jews have some remarkable fancies concerning their dead. They seem, indeed, to be as much distinguished from their ancestors by the childish and monstrous superstitions with which their literature is filled, as by their firm adherence to that law against which they rebelled so often before it was abrogated. So well, however, are they now persuaded of the resurrection, that the name which they give to a burial place is the House of the Living, an expression finely implying that it is the dead alone who can be said to live truly. The body according to their notion has a certain indestructible part called Luz, which is the seed from whence it is to be reproduced. It is described as a bone in shape like an almond, and having its place at the end of the vertebræ; and truly this is not more absurd than the hypothesis which assigned the pineal gland for the seat of the soul. This bone, according to the Rabbis, can neither be broken by any force of man, nor consumed by fire, nor dissolved by water; and they tell us that the fact was proved before the Emperor Adrian, upon whom they imprecate their usual malediction, . May his bones be broken! In his presence Rabbi Joshua Ben Chauma produced a Luz: it was ground between two mill-stones, but came out as whole as it had been put in; they burnt it with fire, and it was found incombustible: they cast it in water, and it could not be softened; lastly, they hammered it upon an anvil, and both the anvil and hammer were broken without affecting the Luz. , The Rabbinical writers, with their wonted perversion of Scripture, support this
silly notion by a verse from the Psalms;. He keepeth all his bones so that not one of them is broken. A dew is to descend upon the earth preparatory to the resurrection, and quicken into life and growth these seeds of the dead. During the pontificate of Urban VIII. a large burial-ground of the Jews at Rome was broken
up to' make room for some new fortifications; and the Jews were particularly anxious to collect all the bones, paying the labourers a dear price for them. But not a single specimen of the Luz could they produce to their enemy Bartolocci when he called for it upon so favourable an opportunity.
Another curious opinion is, that wherever their bodies may be buried, it is only in their own Promised Land that the resurrection can take place, and therefore they who are interred in any other part of the world must make their way to Palestine under ground, and this will be an operation of dreadful toil and pain, although clefts and caverns will be opened for them by the Almighty. It has been gravely objected to this notion, that although the bodies of the just, after the resurrection, will, according to the opinion of St. Thomas Aquinas, be endued with agility and penetrability, which would enable them to pass through any distance in the twinkling of an eye, and through any substance without experiencing resistance, yet this cannot be predicated of the Jews, whose bodies, they being to rise only for condemnation, will be gross and feculent. Whether it arose from this superstition, or from that love for the land of their fathers which in the Jews is connected with the strongest feelings of faith and hope, certain it is that many
have directed their remains to be sent there. were fraughted with wool,' says an old traveller, from Constantinople to Sidon, in which sacks, as most certainly was told to me,
Jews' bones put into little chests, but unknown to any of the ship. The Jews, our merchants, told me of them at my return from Jerusalem to Saphet, but earnestly intreated me not to tell
it, for fear of preventing them another time.' Sometimes a wealthy Jew has been known to import earth from Jerusalem wherewith to line his grave. This is a point of feeling, not of superstition : but superstition has made the Italians, in old times, import earth from the same country for whole churchyards.
The Persians are persuaded that if a true Moslem dies among the infidels, the angel of the grave will not suffer his body to remain in such bad company, but will transport it through the earth to a country of believers. The intolerance of Catholic superstition is not so harmless as this belief. The story of Young's Narcissa is well known.
Oh, the curs’d ungodliness of zeal! -
O'er dust! a charity their dogs enjoy.
In midnight darkness whispered my last sigh. It is not, however, generally known that the French have published a print of this midnight interment --because, Talma and Madame Petit, a few years ago, searched for the remains of Narcissa, found them, and made a funeral for them; and the story has thus become a proof of the sensibility of the French character ! And yet what Young so properly calls the cursed ungodliness of zeal, is as ready to display itself at this time as ever; and in more than one part of Europe the Catholic clergy have shewn that they consider a dead heretic as no better than a dead dog. It is said that Lady Hamilton was not only refused Christian burial in France, but that she was even refused a coffin, and buried in a sack; till an English gentleman, hearing of this brutal bigotry, interfered, and had the body taken up, placed in a coffin, and interred respectfully, though not in consecrated ground. A similar act of inhumanity has done some good in Switzerland, or rather prevented some evil. In that whole beautiful country there is no single spot more beautiful than the valley of Lungern with its little lake. The mountains at its head form a complete amphitheatre, and rise in three ranges one behind the other; first, the Brunig with its rocks and magnificent pine forest; next the bare line of the Scheideck, and behind all the snowy summits of the Wetterhorn, the Schreckliorn, the Eigir, and the Jungfrau, where Lord Byron's Manfred met the Devil and bullied him. Lungern lake is about the size of our Derwentwater; and the valley, which is of the happiest proportionate size, is as lovely as bright green fields, natural woods, and cottages, which have every appearance of comfort, and are, at the same time, picturesque in the highest possible degree, can make it. If there be in all Switzerland one spot which for its peculiar beauty fixes itself upon the memory more than any other, it is this. But the inhabitants have resolved to do all they can to spoil it by draining the lake. For this purpose they employed a German engineer, who brought his family with him, and began to work. His wife died; happily she was a Protestant, they refused her Christian burial, and the husband, with a natural and just resentment, left them in disgust. The lake, therefore, is still in existence, and perhaps when they find that strangers begin to frequent it, for its incomparable beauty, they may suffer it to remain. Two remarkable instances of this bigotry are found in British