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SEVERAL years have now elapsed since it
began to be clear to the comprehension of
most rational men, that the English people
had fallen into a condition much to be regretted,
in respect of their Funeral customs.
A system of barbarous show and expense was
found to have gradually erected itself above
the grave, which, while it could possibly
do no honor to the memory of the dead,
did great dishonor to the living, as
inducing them to associate the most solemn
of human occasions with unmeaning
mummeries, dishonest debt, profuse waste, and
bad example in an utter oblivion of
responsibility. The more the subject was
examined, and the lower the investigation
was carried, the more monstrous (as was
natural) these usages appeared to be, both
in themselves and in their consequences. No
class of society escaped. The competition
among the middle classes for superior gentility
in Funeralsthe gentility being estimated
by the amount of ghastly folly in which the
undertaker was permitted to run riot
descended even to the very poor: to whom the
cost of funeral customs was so ruinous and so
disproportionate to their means, that they
formed Clubs among themselves to defray such
charges. Many of these Clubs, conducted by
designing villains who preyed upon the
general infirmity, cheated and wronged the
poor, most cruelly; others, by presenting a
new class of temptations to the wickedest
natures among them, led to a new class of
mercenary murders, so abominable in their
iniquity, that language cannot stigmatize them
with sufficient severity. That nothing might
be wanting to complete the general depravity,
hollowness, and falsehood, of this state of
things, the absurd fact came to light, that
innumerable harpies assumed the titles of
furnishers of Funerals, who possessed no
Funeral furniture whatever, but who formed
a long file of middlemen between the chief
mourner and the real tradesman, and who
hired out the trappings from one to another
passing them on like water-buckets at a fire
every one of them charging his enormous
percentage on his share of the "black job."
Add to all this, the demonstration, by the
simplest and plainest practical science, of the
terrible consequences to the living, inevitably
resulting from the practice of burying the
dead in the midst of crowded towns; and the
exposition of a system of indecent horror,
revolting to our nature and disgraceful to
our age and nation, arising out of the confined
limits of such burial-grounds, and the avarice
of their proprietors; and the culminating
point of this gigantic mockery is at last
arrived at.

Out of such almost incredible degradation,
saving that the proof of it is too easy, we are
still very slowly and feebly emerging. There
are now, we confidently hope, among the
middle classes, many, who having made
themselves acquainted with these evils through
the parliamentary papers in which they are
described, would be moved by no human
consideration to perpetuate the old bad example;
but who will leave it as their solemn injunction
on their nearest and dearest survivors,
that they shall not, in their death, be made
the instruments of infecting, either the
minds or the bodies of their fellow-creatures.
Among persons of note, such examples
have not been wanting. The late Duke of
Sussex did a national service when he
desired to be laid, in the equality of death,
in the cemetery of Kensal Green, and not
with the pageantry of a State Funeral in
the Royal vault at Windsor. Sir Robert
Peel requested to be buried at Drayton.
The late Queen Dowager left a pattern to
every rank in these touching and admirable
words. "I die in all humility, knowing
well that we are all alike before the Throne
of God; and I request, therefore, that my
mortal remains be conveyed to the grave
without any pomp or state. They are to be
removed to St. George's Chapel, Windsor,
where I request to have as private and quiet
a funeral as possible. I particularly desire not
to be laid out in state. I die in peace and wish
to be carried to the tomb in peace, and free
from the vanities and pomp of this world.
I request not to be dissected or embalmed,
and desire to give as little trouble as

With such precedents and such facts fresh in
the general knowledge, and at this transition-
time in so serious a chapter in our social
history, the obsolete custom of a State Funeral
has been revived, in miscalled "honor" of