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their burials, while they bruised the flesh and bones of the dead, crowded them into urns, and laid heaps of wood upon them. (15) And the Chinese (16) without cremation or urnal interment of their bodies, make use of trees and much burning, while they plant a pine-tree by their grave, and burn great numbers of painted draughts of slaves and horses over it, civilly content with their company in effigy, which barbarous nations exact unto reality. (")
Christians abhorred this way of obsequies, and though they sticked not to give their bodies to be burned in their lives, detested that mode after death; affecting rather a depositure than absumption, and properly submitting unto the sentence of God, to return not unto ashes but unto dust again, conformably unto the practice of the patriarchs, the interment of our Saviour, of Peter, Paul, and the ancient martyrs. (18) And so far at last declining promiscuous interment with pagans, that some have suffered ecclesiastical censures for making no scruple thereof. (19)
(5) Diodorus Siculus.
(17) The practice of the Chinese arose from the Scythian custom of sacrificing slaves, &c. to their deceased kings. DOUGLAS. The observation is just. For the extent to which human sacrifices have prevailed among mankind, see Jacob. Geusii Victim. Human. 12mo. Amstd. 1691.-ED.
(18) This sentence explains the change from urn-burial, &c. to inhumation.-DOUGLAS.
(19) Martialis, the bishop. Cyprian.
The Musulman believers will never admit this fiery resolution, for they hold a present trial from their black and white angels in the grave, which they must have made so hollow that they may rise upon their knees. (20)
The Jewish nation, though they entertained the old way of inhumation, yet sometimes admitted this practice; for the men of Jabesh burnt the body of Saul; and by no prohibited practice, to avoid contagion or pollution, in time of pestilence, burnt the bodies of their friends. (") And when they burnt not their dead bodies, yet sometimes used great burnings near and about them, deducible from the expressions concerning Jehoram, Zedechias, and the sumptuous pyre of Asa; and were so little averse from pagan burning, that the Jews, lamenting the death of Cæsar, their friend and revenger on Pompey, frequented the place where his body was burnt, for many nights together. (22) And as they raised noble monuments and mausoleums for their own nation, (23) so they were not scrupulous in erecting some for others, accord
(20) I observed, too, in the cemeteries about Cairo, that in every Musulman tomb is a diminutive arched door-way, by which dogs, jackals, and other animals enter in and shelter themselves at night. On inquiry, I was told it is left to afford the ghost a free passage in and out. Egypt and Mohammed Ali," vol. II.-ED.
(') Amos, vi. 10.
(22) Sueton. in vita, Jul. Cæs.
(2) As that magnificent sepulchral monument erected by Simon. Mach. i. 13.
ing to the practice of Daniel, who left that lasting sepulchral pile in Ecbatana, for the Medean and Persian kings. (24)
But even in times of subjection and hottest use, they conformed not unto the Roman practice of burning; whereby the prophecy was secured concerning the body of Christ, that it should not see corruption, or a bone should not be broken; which we believe was also providentially prevented, from the soldier's spear and nails, that passed by the little bones both in his hands and feet; not of ordinary contrivance, that it should not corrupt on the cross, according to the laws of Roman crucifixion, or a hair of his head perish, though observable in Jewish customs to cut the hair of malefactors.
Nor in their long cohabitation with Egyptians, crept into a custom of their exact embalming, wherein deeply slashing the muscles, (25) and taking out the brains and entrails, they had broken the subject of so entire a resurrection, nor fully answered the types of Enoch, Elijah, or Jonah, which yet to prevent or restore was of equal facility unto that rising power, able to break the fascinations and bands of death, to get clear out of the cere-cloth, and a hundred pounds of ointment, and out of the sepulchre before the stone was rolled from it.
(24) Κατασκέυασμα θαυμασίως πεποιημένον, whereof a Jewish priest had always the custody unto Josephus's days. Jos. Antiq. lib. x.
(25) See Herod. 1. ii.—ED.
But though they embraced not this practice of burning, yet entertained they many ceremonies agreeable unto Greek and Roman obsequies. And he that observeth their funeral feasts, their lamentations at the grave, their music, and weeping mourners; how they closed the eyes of their friends, how they washed, anointed, and kissed the dead, may easily conclude these were not mere pagan civilities. But whether that mournful burden, and treble calling out after Absalom had any reference unto the last conclamation and triple valediction, used by other nations, we hold but a wavering conjecture.
Civilians make sepulture but of the law of nations; others do naturally found it and discover it also in animals. They that are so thick-skinned as still to credit the story of the phoenix, may say something for animal burning. More serious conjectures find some examples of sepulture in elephants, cranes, the sepulchral cells of pismires, and practice of bees; which civil society carrieth out their dead, and hath exequies, if not interments. (26)
(26) Sir Thomes Browne is here, contrary to his practice, somewhat too brief. The reader might, perhaps, like to learn, if not already conversant with funereal literature, to what authors we are indebted for those "serious conjectures." They are all ancient; and first Ælian informs us, (Hist. Animal. V. 49.) that even in animals nature has implanted a dread of mortality, for that they, like men, when the race of any of their companions is run, hasten to remove their dead out of their sight. This practice has been observed, particularly among the bees, forth their dead with a kind of funeral procession. Nat. XI. 18.
who carry Plin. Hist.
THE solemnities, ceremonies, rites of their cremation or interment, so solemnly delivered by authors, we shall not disparage our reader to repeat. Only the last and lasting part in their urns, collected bones and ashes, we cannot wholly omit or decline that subject, which occasion lately presented in some discovered among us.
In a field of old Walsingham, not many months past, were digged up between forty and fifty urns, deposited in a dry and sandy soil, not a yard deep, nor far from one another. Not all strictly of one figure, but most answering these described; some containing two pounds of bones, distinguishable in
"Tum corpora luce carentum
Virg. Georg. IV. 255. 6.
The swallows, too, if any among them die, perform the same ceremonies. Elian. Hist. Anim. V. 49. The ants make a nearer approach to the customs of mankind; for, not satisfied with casting forth their dead, like the bees and swallows, they actually, according to Elian and Pliny, bury them in the earth. Ælian. Hist. Anim. VI. 42. Plin. Hist. Nat. XI. 30. Pliny observes, in relating the circumstance, that they are the only creatures that imitate man in his reverence for the dead. But in this, if we may believe Ælian, he is altogether mistaken, for the cranes also inter their dead. Hist. Anim. II. 1. As do also the elephant and the dolphin. ibid. and XII. 6. Nay, animals have sometimes performed the obsequies of men, particularly the hawk and the dolphin, whose affection for the human race was much celebrated by the ancient fabulists. Ælian. Var. Hist. II. 42. Plin. IX. 8. Plut. de Sol. Anim.-ED.