1882 Scrapbook of Newspaper Clippings Vo 1 018




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Full Text of the Recent Papal Decree
Sent to All the Bishops.

The following is a translation of the recent
decree of the holy office at Rome prohibiting
the practice of cremation.

Several bishops amd prudent members of
Christ's flock, knowing that certain men po-
sessed of doubtful faith, or belonging to the
Masonic sect, strongly contend at the present
day for the establishment of the pagan prac-
tice of cremation, and found special societies
to spread this custom, fear lest the minds of
the faithful may be worked upon by
their wiles and sophistries so as to
lose by degrees esteen and rever-
ence toward the constant Christian
usage of burying the bodies of the faithful-a
usage hallowed by the solemn rites of the
church. In order, therefore, that some fixed
rule may be laid down for the faithful to
preserve them from the insidious doctrines
above mentioned, the supreme congregation
of the holy Roman and universal inquisition
is asked:

1. Is it lawful to become a member of those
societies whose object it is to spread the prac-
tice of cremation?

2. Is it lawful to leave orders for the burn-
ing of one's own body or that of another?

Their eminences the cardinals-general in-
quisitors, after grave and mature considera-
tion, answered to the first question, No; and
it it [sic] is a question of societies in any way con-
nected with Freemasonry, the penalties pro-
nounced against this society are incurred.
To the second, No.

When these decisions were referred to our
holy father Pope Leo XIII., his holiness ap-
proved and confirmed them, and directed
them to be communicated to the bishops, in
order that they might instruct the faithful
upon the undetestable abuse of cremation, and
might do all in their power to keep the flock
intrusted to their charge from such a prac-

Commenting editorially upon the decree,
the London Tablet, the leading Roman Catho-
lic newspaper of England, says:

"Earth to earth" is the easiest and simplest
way of solving this problem of the dead, but,
if it should be proved to be otherwise, or
altered conditions shouls hereafter make cre-
mation seem preferable in the interest of
public health, we may be quite sure that the
present dicipliniary decree of the holy office
will not stand in the way. There is wisdom
at Rome to repeal, as well as to enact."


Improvements Suggested on Burial
and Cremation.

PITTSBURG, Pa., April 13, 1888. Dr.
George Hay, a chemist, advances a plan for
the disposition of the dead bodies of human
beings. He advocates an economic distribu-
tion of the remains so that they may return to
the elements as soon as possible, if for no other
purpose than to furnish a fertilizer. Dr. Hay
would pulverize the body with the aid of ma-
chinery. He says: "The machines might be
so contrived as to break the bones first in
pieces the size of a hen egg, next into frag-
ments of the size of a marble, and
the mangled and lacerated mass
could next be reduced by means of
chopping machines and steam power to
mincemeat. At this stage we have a homo-
geneous mixture of the entire body structures
in the form of a pulpous mass of raw meat and
raw bones. This mass should now be dried
thoroughly by means of steam heat at a
temperature of 250o Fahr., or a pres-
sure of 30 pounds to the inch, be-
cause, firstly, we wish to reduce the material
to a condition convenient for handling,
and, secondly, we wish to disinfect it, as
no infections or contagious disease can retian
its vitality at this temperature. Once in this
condition it would command a good price for
the purpose of manure. "Another method is
by boiling in close vessels. The oil which
would rise to the top may be drawn off to be
converted into soap or lubricant. The res-
idue may by various simple processes
be converted into fertilizing material."
His final and most brilliant suggestion is the
"distillation method." The bodies are to be
placed in gas retorts, and in about six hours
will be converted into illuminating gas, water,
ammonia, tar and animal chrcoal. By sub-
sequent distillations, such substances as sul-
phate of ammonia, aniline colors and carbolic
acids may be obtained. It is this process
which finds most favor with the writer.

Cremation is making rapid progress in Eu-
rope. The Gotha crematory in Germany was
opened seven years ago, and it has received 200
bodies. There are 362 crematories in Italy. In
Milan there are 6000 members of a single society.
In France the topic has been discussed, but the
practice is still illegal. A committee of the Bel-
gian chamber has reported favorably upon a
petition for a law making cremation optional,
and in Austria opinion is about evely divided
for and against this method of disposing of the
bodies of the dead.


How Various Asiatic Peoples Dispose
of Corpses.

India, although a swarming hive of people,
did not impress me as a "country of ceme-
teries," as did Turkey and Persia, writes
Thomas Stevens in the New York Evening
Post. This is, of course, owing to the Hindu
custom of cremation, and the fact that the
burying races form but a small proportion of
the population. But as soon as China was
reached, the silent cities of the dead come
again to the fore, with greater prominence
than ever. One stnds on the walls of Canton,
near the five-storied pagoda, and sees the hills
to the north covered with graves. It is the
same near any Chinese city. The living oc-
cupy the city and the level ground, the
dead the hills No corpse is allowed to
be buried within the walls of a
Chinese city, and without, the vast cemeteries
cover the hills, with no fence or other limita-
tion about them. The Chinese family which
can afford it, builds a "horse-shoe grave," or
bricked vault on the hillside, with the end
built up in the horse-shoe form. Poorer peo-
ple stick their dead in shallow graves, on
which a small tablet of wood or stone is put.
In some districts of Quang-tung, near the
headwaters of the Pe-Kiang river, the ceme-
teries consist of big jars set in niches of the
rocky cliffs of the Mae-ling mountains. As
you pass along the foot trails you see the
steep rocks above thickly studded with those
big earthen jars, in each of which is a human
body in a sitting position.

In the rich alluvian plains, where no unculti-
vable hills are available for burying the dead,
a graveyard resembles very much a white ant
village in Africa. The graves are sugar loaf
mounds, thickly clustered together. While
John Chinaman pays great respects to the dead,
he takes care that they do not appropriate
much ground that is of value to the liv-
ing. The cemetery of a Chinese village among
the rich rice fields, covers very little ground
in proportion to the number of graves. It
seemed to me that bodies must have been
placed one on top of another, or stood upright,
so thick were the tapering mounds. The
Chinese graveyard is on the whole, a less dis-
reputable looking place than the Turkish or
Persian; yet the horseshoe vaults are some-
times seen in a very dilapidated condition.
When passing through them I have fre-
quently peeped in and seen the crumbling
coffin and skeleton.

In some parts of China one seems to be
travelling through cemeteries most of the
time. Particularly is this the case in thickly
populated districts, where the topography
is undulating plain. The ridges, where the
soil is thin, are then the cemeteries, and a
rigid spirit of economy has relagated the
alignment of the public roads there too
rather than through the fields. In such a
district the traveller is in the company of the
dead all day long. Among some of the abor-
igines of China their cemetery is a bamboo
grove. The dead, swathed in matting, are
lashed in an upright position to the stems.
Here they remain until the ravages of time,
birds, insects, and the elements have reduce
them to skeletons, when the bones are washed
in hot water and buried. These people tie
up the male bodies in one grave and the
female in another.

The Japanese, in the matter of cemeteries,
as in so many other things are more in con-
sonance with our ideas than any other
Asiatics. The cemetery is usually inclosed
with a neat wall or fence, and, like the houses
and gardens and everything else in that coun-
try, is often a work of art. The graves are
miniature flower beds, and one sees there
marvellous stunted trees, trimmed into fanci-
ful shapes, quaint bots of rock, shells and
other adornments. From the sea of Marmora
to the gulf of Pichili, all across broad Asia,
the western eye is offended by the bald
obtrusiveness of the millions that have gone
before, but the Japanese have learned, like
us, to cover them up with flowers and fence
them in.


His Body Cremated at Germantown,
Pa., Yesterday.

PHILADELPHIA, Pa., April 17, 1893. The
remains of Charles Longfellow, eldest son
of the deceased poet, who died at Cam-
bridge, Mass., last Thursday, were cremated
at Germantown, Pa., this afternoon. The
body was placed in the retort at noon, and
the ashes will be taken out at 6
o'clock this evening and probably
sent to Cambridge for interment to-
morrow or Wednesday, final dispo-
sition not having yet been determined.
There were no services at the crematory,
and R.H. Dana of Boston alone witnessed
the incineration.

Graveyards in Cities.

I wonder that our people manifest such
indifference to the existence of burial
grounds in our cities' centres. I hear today
that a suit has been brought in the Supreme
Court, Brooklyn, against the trustees of
Greenwood cemetery, in that city, that bids
fair to cause considerable excitement
among those who reside in the immediate
vicinity of the big graveyard. It seems
that one Martin Kennedy, a gardener, in
the employ of James Weir, Jr., a florist,
who keeps a large establishment opposite
the main entrance of the cemetery on Fifth
avenue, has brought suit for $20,000 dam-
ages against the trustees of Greenwood
cemetery. Kennedy has been employed by
Mr. Weir for some 15 years, and is engaged
cheifly between the months of June and
November in caring for and beautifying
the graves of those who have not been for-
gotten by their relatives. He was steadily
employed at this work all last summer, but to-
ward the latter part was obliged to stop work
occasionally for a day or two at a time
owing to illness that at first puzzled his
physician. Finally, in the early part of No-
vember, he was completely prostrated, and
then Dr. James McManus informed him
that it was a severe attack of lead poison-
ing. There was a heavy incrustation on his
lips and mouth, extreme sallowness of the
face and distressing weakness, expecially in
the wrists. Kennedy could not leave his
bed for three months, and since then he
has not been able to work steadily. Dr.
McManus says it is very doubtful if Ken-
nedy, who is over 50 years of age, will re-
cover entirely.

In the complaint served upon the Green-
wood Cemetery Corporation it is claimed
that the blood poisoning resulted from
Kennedy drinking water from a hydrant in
the cemetery without knowing the poison-
ous nature of it, or being warned that such
was the case. James Taylor, attorney for
the plaintiff, when questioned by a reporter
in regard to this case, said he was satisfied
that it was one in which a good round sum
of money would be awarded as damages
by a jury. He said that early last spring the
cemetery authorities had sunk a well in
the grounds so as to save the payment of
water taxes to the city. Early in the sum-
mer, several of the men employed in the
cemetery were made seriously ill by drink-
ing this water. Arrangements were then
made by which the employees were supplied
with water from the city reservoir, but none
was given to gardeners employed by the
florists in the cemetery, who were com-
pelled to continue using the well water.

"How was the water poisoned?" replied
Lawyer Taylor, in response to a question to
that effect. "Why, that is a very easy
quest on to answer. The singular part of it
is that the cemetery authorities permitted
such a condition of affairs. During the
past 50 years, close on to 250,000 bodies
have been buried in Greenwood ceme-
tery, all of them in coffins in the
composition of which lead and other
metal largely entered. This, with the natu-
ral decay of the bodies in these coffins, has
so poisoned the comparatively small area
of land comprised in the cemetery that to
expect water taken from a well sunk in the
midst of disease-laden earth to be healthful
and harmless seems to me to be the height
of folly."

A resident in the vicinity of the ceme-
tery said: "It is no wonder the corporation
as anxious to keep the fact of this suit a
secret. During the past 10 years there
has been a large increase in the number of
residents in its immediate neighbor-
hood, and a growing feeling that
the cemetery should be removed
beyond the city line in the same way
that other cemeteries have had to give
way to the rapid growth of the city. It is
only 30 years since there was a burial
ground in Nassau street, near Jay; on Canton
street, near Myrtle avenue, and other points
in the city. In addition to these almost
every church had its burial place at-
tached. This has all been changed, how-
ever, and now Greenwood is about the
only large cemetery within the city limits
where interments are still permitted."

There is no doubt that there will be a
fierce contest on this subject within a year
or two, and this suit may be the entering
wedge. It will be a lively fight, as the
cemetery will have on their side many
influential families of New York city and
other places who are not at all interested
in the health and improvement of Brooklyn.
The Greenwood authorities claim that if
Kenedy's illness was caused by drinking
water in the cemetery it was his own fault.
They also say that the wells were driven to
save the expense of paying the city for the
hundreds of thousands of gallons of water re-
quired to keep the small lakes replenished
and to water the acres of grass plats and
miles of roads and walks within the enclos-
ure. It is further estimated that these wells
are 50 feet deep, and that the only unpleas-
ant quality of the water is that there is too
much lime in it. For this reason it was un-
palatable to the employes of the cemetery,
and they were supplied with water from the
city pipes. The fact is, New York and
Brooklyn's live citizens ought not to be
bothered by the dead ones. No cemetery
should be allowed in city limits.

[Boston] Globe, Oct 1, [188]?

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