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taken in this work, his ceaseless attention to the arranging of practical details at Woking, and the multifarious correspondence, &c., he has conducted during fourteen years, demand an expression here of grateful acknowledgment from his colleagues.
Meantime the progress of cremation abroad may be again referred to. The first cremation of a human body effected in a closed receptacle, with the object of carrying off or destroying offensive products, with the exception of the Dresden example referred to, took place at Milan, in January 1876, and was followed by another in April, the agent adopted being gas. The next occurring there, in March 1877, was accomplished in like manner, but by employing ordinary fuel. It was in Milan also, in September following, that the first cremation was performed by the improved furnace of Gorini, already mentioned. In the preceding year, 1876, the Cremation Society of Milan had been established, under the presidency of Dr. Pini, and it soon became popular and influential. During that year a handsome building was erected with the view of using gas as the agent; but it was subsequently enlarged, namely in 1880, to make room for two Gorini furnaces. These were soon in operation, and since that date many bodies have been burned every year, the number up to the 31st of December, 1886, being 463.
Similar buildings on a smaller scale have been constructed, and largely employed elsewhere, for example, at Lodi, Cremona, Brescia, Padua, Varese, and more lately at Rome, in the Campo Varano cemetery. This was first used in April 1883, since which date 123 cremations have been performed there up to the 31st of December, 1886. The number of all cremations occurring in other towns, excluding Milan and Rome, up to the same date is 202, making 787 for Italy alone.
In Germany the only place at which the practice has been regularly followed is Gotha. A building was constructed there, under permission of the Government, the first cremation taking place in January 1879. It has been largely employed since, the number of cremations amounting to 473 up to the 31st of October, 1887. Cremation societies, some of them with numerous members and displaying much activity, have been recently established in other countries; in Denmark (where the first cremation in a Gorini apparatus took place in September 1886), in Belgium, Switzerland, Holland, Sweden and Norway, and in various parts of the United States, where also cremation has been employed a few times.
In Australia, the Hon. J. M. Creed, a well-known physician in Sydney, has warmly advocated the practice, which has numerous supporters there. He moved the second reading of a bill to establish and regulate cremation in the House of Assembly, June 1886, in an able speech pointing out the dangerous proximity of neighbouring cemeteries to their rapidly developing city, referring to a well thus
poisoned which had caused an outbreak of typhoid, and citing similar facts arising under like conditions in the suburbs of New York and other American cities. The act was approved by the Legislative Council, but failed to pass the House of Assembly.
In Paris, projects for performing cremation have for some time been discussed, and a crematory of considerable size has at length been constructed under the direction of the municipal council. It is situated at Père la Chaise, and although unfinished, was successfully employed on the 22nd of October last for the bodies of two men who died by small-pox. The entrance of the building leads into a spacious hall, sufficing for the purposes of a chapel. In the side wall opposite the entrance are three openings, each conducting to an apparatus constructed on the Gorini principle.
We may now return to the history of our own society, at a time when active operations could be once more resumed. Owing to the serious difficulty which had been placed in their way already referred to, the council was not free until 1884 to employ the apparatus at Woking, and place it at the service of the public for practical use. But in February of that year Mr. Justice Stephen delivered his well-known judgment, declaring that cremation is a legal procedure provided it be effected without nuisance to others. The council of the English society at once decided on offering facilities for performing it, after carefully considering the best means of taking precautions to prevent the destruction of a body which might have met death by unfair means. They issued a paper stating that they are aware the chief practical objectiun which can be urged against the employment of cremation consists in the opportunity which it offers, apart from such precautions, for removing the traces of poison or other injury which are retained by an undestroyed body. Hence they required certain conditions to be complied with before granting the use of the crematorium at Woking. They are as follows:
1. An application in writing must be made by the friends or executors of the deceased-unless it has been made by the deceased person himself during life-stating that it was the wish of the deceased to be cremated after death.
2. A certificate must be sent by a qualified medical man who, having attended the deceased until the time of death, can state without hesitation that the cause of death was natural, and what that cause was. Another qualified medical man, if possible a resident in the immediate neighbourhood of the deceased, is also required to certify, after examining the facts within his reach, that to the best of his belief the death was due to natural causes.
To each of these gentlemen is forwarded, before certifying, a letter of instructions' marked 'private,' signed by the president of
the society, calling special attention to the important nature of the service required.
3. If no medical man attended during the illness, an autopsy must be made by a medical officer appointed by the society, or the cremation cannot take place ; unless a coroner's inquest has been held and has determined the cause of death to be natural. These conditions being fulfilled, the council of the society still reserve the right in all cases of refusing permission for the performance of cremation if they think it desirable to do so.
Only two months later, on the 30th of April, 1884, Dr. Cameron, the member for Glasgow, and one of the council of our society, brought a bill into the House of Commons 'to provide for the regulation of cremation and other modes of disposal of the dead.' He proposed to make burial illegal without medical certificate, excepting for the present certain thinly populated and remote districts. No crematory to be used until approved and licensed by the Secretary of State; no body to be burned except at a licensed place, in accordance with regulations to be made by the Secretary of State. Two medical certificates to be necessary in the case of cremation, and if the cause of death cannot be certified, an inquest by the coroner shall be held. Dr. Cameron supported the proposals by an amount of evidence of various kinds which amply warranted the course he had taken. Dr. Farquharson, M.P. for Aberdeen, another member of the council, seconded the motion, which was opposed by the Home Secretary, to whom Sir Lyon Playfair made an able reply, demonstrating, by a comparison of the chemical effects of combustion with those of slow decomposition in earth, the superiority of the former. The bill was opposed by the Government, and the leader of the Opposition took the same course; nevertheless, no less than 79 members voted in favour of the bill on the second reading, to 149 againsta result far more favourable than we had ventured to hope for.
Public attention was thus called to the subject; and the Woking crematory was used for the first time on the 20th of March, 1885, two other cremations following in the course of the year. During 1886 ten bodies were burned, five male and five female, one of them that of a Brahmin. During 1887, up to the 30th of November, ten more bodies have been burned, one only being that of a female.
The complete incineration is accomplished without escape of smoke or other offensive product, and with extreme ease and rapidity. The ashes, which weigh about three pounds, are placed at the disposal of the friends, and are removed. Or, if desired, they may be restored at once to the soil, being now perfectly innocuous, if that mode of dealing with them is preferred. One friend of the deceased is always invited to be present, and in almost every instance has expressed satisfaction with the way in which the proceeding has been
About a year ago the council made public the following resolution, in the form of a 'minute of council,' which after due consideration had been passed
In the event of any person desiring, during life, to be cremated at death, the society is prepared to accept a donation from him or her of ten guineas, undertaking, in consideration thereof, to perform the cremation, provided all the conditions set forth in the forms issued by the society are complied with.
A considerable number of persons have adopted this course in order to express emphatically their wishes in relation to this matter, and to insure as far as possible the accomplishment of them. The society undertake to do their utmost to facilitate the subscriber's object; and probably no better mode of effecting the purpose can be selected than that of placing a written declaration of the testator's wish, together with the society's signed undertaking, in the hands of the friends who are to act as executors.
The council desire now to render the crematory as complete as possible. Although perfectly satisfied with the process and all that appertains thereto, they are anxious to provide a chapel, suitable for the performance of a religious service on the spot, when this is requested, besides another room or two adjacent. This extension will require additional funds. There is also a small debt still remaining on the freehold. Hitherto the funeral service has generally been performed, for example in twenty of the twenty-five cases, and this has taken place before the body was sent to Woking, except in three, in which it was read after the arrival there. The ashes were usually removed by the friends. I have recently received an offer of a hundred pounds if twenty-four other persons will give the same for the purpose named. At all events an expenditure of about three thousand pounds would render the establishment complete ; no appeal of any kind has been made, and the bare mention of the fact ought to insure a sufficient subscription.
Arriving now at the second part of my subject, I venture to think that few persons can doubt that cremation, as a mode of safely decomposing the body after death, is at all events the most rapid and efficient agent known.
Instead of the old process of putrefaction, occupying a term of several years, and inevitably disseminating innumerable germs of fatal disease, which propagate it wherever they find an appropriate nidusa process moreover evolving physical changes of a nature too repulsive for the mind to dwell upon—the effect of combustion is to resolve the mass rapidly into harmless dust. It destroys all corrupting matters, rendering inert all that is infectious, and restores valuable elements in the form of gases to the atmosphere, where they at once enter
into new combinations with healthy living organisms in obedience to the order of nature.
To this process of combustion I know now but one objection. One only, indeed, is ever seriously urged against it; and the gravity of that I do not dispute. So complete is the destruction of all noxious matter accomplished by cremation of the body, that if any extraneous poison happens to be present in its tissues before death, administered by accident or design, all traces of it are necessarily destroyed also. Hence in those exceedingly rare cases where the evidence of a poisoner's guilt depends on the production by chemical skill of the very agent employed, from the organs of the body exhumed for the purpose some time after death, justice would be defeated and the criminal would escape if in that particular instance cremation had been employed. I do not desire to underrate the force of the argument which lies against the procedure on that ground; I intend to deal with it seriously.
I might first, however, rejoin with great force that many bodies committed to the grave every week in the metropolitan area alone are charged with poisons not less dangerous to the living population than those which may have been used to cause death by design. I state as a fact of the highest importance that by burial in earth we effectively provide—wbatever sanitary precautions are taken by ventilation and drainage, whatever disinfection is applied after contagious disease has occurred—that the pestilential germs which have destroyed the body in question are thus so treasured and protected as to propagate and multiply, ready to reappear and work like ruin hereafter for others.
Since last I wrote, the argument for cremation on this ground has been immeasurably strengthened. It was then notorious that the watercourses and wells in the proximity of graveyards and cemeteries had often been the demonstrated sources of disease to a neighbouring population. But the later discoveries of science point more strongly to other dangers, arising still more directly from the buried dead. Every year records new facts identifying the
? It can scarcely be necessary to reproduce evidence in proof of the statement here made. Yet I am told there are signs that its force and abundance have been forgotten by many. It should suffice to refer to the printed transactions of our society for a list of published records which long ago settled the question beyond all dispute. (See Transactions, Nos. 1 and 2, edited by Mr. Eassie, and for bibliography of the subject given there. London: Smith & Elder.) But for those who desire specific statements on this head, together with much interesting matter regarding cremation in its scientific aspects and in connection with religious observance, see a paper in Good Words, July 1885, by the Right Hon. Sir Lyon Playfair, K.C.B., M.P., entitled Disposal of the Dead.' In relation to the subject above referred to, I shall make two brief extracts: 'In most of our churchyards the dead are harming the living by destroying the soil, fouling the air, contaminating water-springs, and spreading the seeds of disease.' *I have officially inspected many churchyards and made reports on their state, which, even to re-read make me shudder.'