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tion of the pretended dead perfon to life. It appears that thefe examples, and several others of the like nature, induced the Romans to delay funerals longer, and to enact laws to prevent precipitate interments.
At Rome, after allowing a fufficient time for mourning, the nearest relation generally clofed the eyes of the deceased; and the body was bathed with warm water, either to render it fitter for being anointed with oyl, or to reanimate the principle of life, which might remain fufpended, without manifefting itself. Proofs were afterwards made, to discover whether the perfon was really dead, which were often repeated during the time that the body remained expofed; for there were perfons appointed to vifit the dead, and to prove their fitu ation. This custom is preferved only for the Popes. On the fecond day, after the body had been washed a fecond time, it was anointed with oyl and balm. Luxury encreased to fuch a pitch in the choice of foreign perfumes for this purpose, that under the confulfhip of Licinius Craffus and Julius Cæfar, the fenate forbade any perfumes to be used, except fuch as were the production of Italy. On the third day the body was clothed according to its dignity and condition. The robe called the prætexta
was put upon magiftrates, and a pur ple robe upon confuls; for conquerors, who had merited triumphal ho nours, this robe was of gold tiffue. For other Romans it was white, and black for the lower claffes of the people. Thefe dreffes were often prepared at a distance, by the mothers and wives of perfons ftill in life *. On the fourth day the body was placed on a couch, and expofed in the veftibule of the houfe, with the vifage turned towards the entrance, and the feet near the door; in this fituation it remained till the end of the week. Near the couch were lighted wax tapers, a small box, in which perfumes were burnt, and a veffel full of water, for purification, with which thofe who approached the body befprinkled themselves. An old man, belonging to those who furnished every thing neceffary for funerals, fat near the deceased, with fome domeftics clothed in black. On the eighth day the funeral rites were performed; but to prevent the body from corrupting before that time, falt, wax, the refinous gum of the cedar, myrrh, honey, balm, gypfum, lime, afphaltes, or bitumen of Judea, and feveral other fubftances, were employed. The body was carried to the pile with the face uncovered, unless wounds, or the nature
* We read in Homer, that Andromache caused a drefs to be made for the obfe quies of Hector, who was then alive. The mother of Euryalus complains in the ninth book of the neid, that he was not able to attend the body of her fon to the grave; that the had not closed his eyes or washed his wounds, and that the had not dreffed him for his funeral with thole dreffes, at which she had been labouring day and night, a work which ferved to comfort her in her old age.
-Nec te tua funera mater
Produxi, preffive oculos, aut vulnera lavi
In comparing these cuftoms with ours, we are tempted to confider them as barba rous, but when, at the fame time, we reflect upon the inftances of humanity which the Greeks and Romans exhibited, and upon the frequent facrifice which they made of their own lives, to preferve thofe of their parents or friends, we may believe that thefe people confidered death only as the boundary of life, and that they had learn ed both how to live and to die.
of the difeafe had rendered it loath- were washed, and then anointed; the fome and difgufting. In fuch a cafe body was wrapped up in linen, or a mask was used made of a kind of clothed in a drefs of more or lefs plaifter, which has given rife to the value, according to circumstances, expreffion of funera larvata, used in and it was not interred until after befome of the ancient authors. This ing expofed, and kept two or three was the laft method of concealment days in the houfe. The cuftom of which Nero made ufe of, after having clothing the dead is preserved in caused Germanicus to be poisoned; France only for princes and ecclefor the effect of the poifon had be- fiaftics. come very fenfible by livid spots and the blackness of the body, but a hower of rain happening to fall, it washed the plaister entirely away,and thus the horrid crime of fratricide was difcovered.
The Turks have, at all times, been accustomed to wash the bodies of their dead before interment; and as their ablutions are complete, and as no part of the body efcapes the attention of those who affift at fuch melancholy ceremonies, they can eafily perceive whether one be really dead or alive, by examining, among other methods of proof, whether the fphincter has loit its power of contraction. If this muscle remains itill contracted, they warm the body, and endeavour to recal it to life; otherwife, after having washed it with water and foap, they wipe it with linen cloths, wash it again with rofe-water and aromatic fubftances, cover it with a rich drefs, put upon its head a cap ornamented with flowers, and extend it upon a carpet, placed in the vestibule, or hall, at the entrance of the house.
The Jews, after having washed the body, and anointed it with aromatic fubitances of a more or lefs agree able odour, according to the rank and riches of the deceased, bind it round afterwards with bandages of linen, and cover the head with a handkerchief.
In other countries, more or lefs care is taken to prevent fudden interments. At Geneva, there are people appointed to infpect all dead bodies. Their duty confifts in examining whether the perfon be really dead, and whether one died naturally, or by violence. In the north, as well as at Genoa, it is ufual not to bury the dead till three days have expired. In Holland people carry their precautions much farther, and delay the funerals longer. In Spain, the dead are generally clothed in the dreffes of the religious. In Germany, they are dreffed in clothes more or lefs fplendid, with their faces uncovered, and are generally laid in that apartment which is nearest the door. I have feen them exposed several times in this manner.
In England the pooreft people keep their dead four, five, and fometimes fix days, and the nearest relations are invited to fee them expofed. If they happen to be buried fooner, this precipitation excites fufpicions among the neighbours, who never fail to addrefs themselves to the magiftrates, and to take the body from the grave, that they may examine whether it bears any traces of violence*.
It is not only in Europe that precautions are taken against precipitate burials. In Afia, when an inhabitant of the kingdom of Boutan dies, the In the primitive church the dead body is kept in the houfe three days, VOL. X. No. 57.
We have taken the liberty to omit fome of the author's observations respecting the manner of treating the dead in England, as he feems not to have been exactly informed upon the subject.
all of which are spent in finging and prayers.
If we, infiead of following the example of those people, have forgotten that refpect which the ancients entertained for the dead, it is owing to the prejudices of our education imbibed in infancy. In that early age nurses and ignorant fervants intil into children, thofe abfurdities which they themselves have adopted, and fuch prejudices are the most difficult to be overcome. Scarcely has one ceafed to live, when he becomes an object of horror. The body is abandoned to a fet of mercenary people, who begin by dragging it from a warm bed to place it on fome cold ftraw. Soon after, devotion, or the defire of gain, draws together the undertakers, who first cover the head and face with a kind of cap, in hape of a bag. Some times they put cotton into the mouth, the ears, and even into the fundament, if the laft precaution has not Been taken before their arrival. This cotton is placed there to prevent the body from staining the linen in which it is wrapped up. They then bind the breait and arms round with a bandage, and make another pafs Found the lower part of the belly; the latter comprehends the arms from the elbows, and ferves alfo to enclofe the feet: after this, the undertakers wrap up the whole body in a fheet, which they fix at both the extremities, and either few or faften it with pins, obferving always to confine the body as clofely as they can. It is thus that a man is prepared for his coffin; but it would be difficult to purfue a more pernicious method, even if one had an intention of accelerating death, or of rendering it impoffible for a person to return to life.
The cold to which a dying man is expofed, that he may not dirty himfelf, is attended with the greatest danger, for while the fphincter re
mains in contraction, there exis within us fome remains of irritability, and confequently of life. The discharge of the intestinal matter, is the ultimum vita. Thus whil a child has not yet voided the meconium, the man-midwite, notwithftanding the moft difmal fymptoms, ftill hopes to recal it to life. On the contrary, the appearance of this excrement is confidered by him as a certain fign of death. The stopping of the anus is attended with no less inconvenience, as it prevents the action of the parts in which life ftill fubfifts; for the Abbé Spalanzani has proved, that digeftion continues for fome time after a person's death. If thefe parts could afterwards recover force and irritability enough to reanimate the other organs, the clofing the anus would neceffarily become an obflacle to their falutary action. The different fituations given to a body, is fufficient when it has arrived at the laft degree of weakness, to caufe or to accelerate death. Of this, however, people are not fufficiently aware, when they take away the pillow from a dying perfon, which is often done, and place the body upon a straw matrafs, Betides, during life, there exhales continually from the cavities of the head, from the breaft, and from the belly, a vapor, which is always abforbed by the veffels; but if this vapor be condenfed by the cold, it thickens into drops, as may be seen by breathing upon glais, and then an expanfion takes place, which interrupts the action of the veffels, and oppofes the return of life. Humanity protefts against fuch a deteftable mode of procedure; it tells us that we ought to allow fick people to expire in a good warm bed, and to remove all those causes which may fhorten the period of their lives.
People are buried fometimes five or fix hours after their apparent death, yet how many examples have
we Feen of the principle of life exifting a long time after the motion of the heart and arteries has ceafed. We know that the heart generally weakens by degrees, that its power ends by not being any longer in a condition to force the blood into the arteries, that this blood flows towards the large veffels, and that the circulation ceafes; but if the tonic motion ftill fubfifts, the circulation may be re-established, and it is above all in the exterior part of the body, that it may be put in play to act upon the blood. Being therefore excited by frictions upon the fkin, and by infufflation into the inteftines, according to the practice of the Acadians, it has often brought to life people taken from the water, who to all appearance were dead. But when the body is buried, the exterior parts are cold and in a ftate of compreffion; besides it is not fufficient that this tonic motion fhould be excited: one mult alfo remove all thofe abRacles which prevent it from spread ing and giving play to the organs of the pulfe, and of refpiration; but the preffure made upon the breaft and upon the belly, while the mouth is thut, and fometimes fluffed with cotton, becomes an object almoft infurmountable. The preffure upon the belly is attended with this great difadvantage, that it oppofes the finking of the diaphragm, thus preventing refpiration, and befides compreffing the intestines, which are generally the laft part in which the vital principle fubfifts. It refults then from this precipitate custom, either that the remains of life are fometimes extinguished, or that they are oppreffed for a time, fo that one never revives but amidst the horrors of the grave.
of death, is fo fmall, and the uncertainty of the signs of the latter is fo well e ablished, both by ancient and modern authors, who have turned their attention to that.important object, that we can fcarcely fuppofe undertakers capable of diftinguishing an apparent from a real death. Animals which fleep during winter fhew no figns of life; in this cafe, circulation is only fufpended; but were it annihilated, the vital fpirit, as I have faid, does not fo easily lofe its action as the other fluids of the body, and the principle of life, which long furvives the appearance of death, may re-animate a body in which the action of all the organs feems to be at an end. But how difficult it is t determine, whether this principle may not be revived. It has been found impoffible to recal to life fome animals fuffocated by mephitic va pors, though they appeared lefs affected than others who have revived *. Coldness, heaviness of the body, a leaden livid colour, with a yellownefs in the vifage, are all very uncertain figns: Mr Zimmerman ob. ferved them all upon the bolly of a criminal, who fainted thro' the dread of that punishment which he had merited. He was fhaken, dragged about, and turned in the fame manner as dead bodies are, without the deaft figns of refiftance, and yet at the end of twenty-four hours he was recalled to life by means of volatile alkali.
A Director of the Coach Office at Dijon, named Colinet, was fuppofed to be dead, and the news of this event was fpread throughout the whole city. One of his friends, who was defirous of feeing him at the moment when he was about to be buried, having looked at him for a confiderable time, thought he perceived fome remains of fenfibility in the muscles of Cc 2
The difference between the end of a weak life, and the commencement
• Dr Portal's Report made to the French Academy of Sciences, respecting the death of two perfons fuffocated by the vapor of coals.
the face. He therefore made an attempt to bring him to life by fpirituous liquors, in which he fucceeded, and this Director enjoyed afterwards for a long time that life which he owed to his friend. This remarkable circumftance, which I was told by my father, was much like thofe of Empedocles and Afclepiades. Thefe inftances would perhaps be more frequent, were men of skill and abilities called in cafes of fudden death, in which people of ordinary know. ledge are often deceived by falfe appearances *.
A man may fall into a fyncope, and may remain in that condition three, and even eight days. People in this fituation have been known to come to life when depofited among the dead. When I was in Germany, à boy belonging to the Hofpital at Caffel, appeared to have breathed his laft: he was carried into the hall, where the dead were expofed, and was wrapped up in a piece of canvas. Some time after, recovering from his lethargy, he recollected the place in which he had been depofited, and
crawling towards the door, knocked against it with his foot. This noife was luckily heard by the centinel, who foon perceiving the motion of the canvas called for affiftance. The youth was immediately conveyed to a warm bed; and I faw him afterwards, performing his duty in the hofpital. Had his body been confined by clofe bandages, or ligatures, he would not have been able, in all probability, to make himself be heard: his unavailing efforts would have made him again fall into a syncope, and he would have been thus buried alive.
We must not be afton ifhed, that the fervants of an hofpital thould take a fyncope for a real death, fince even the molt enlightened people have fallen into errors of the fame kind. Dr John Schmid relates, that a young girl, leven years of age, after being afflicted for fome weeks with a violent cough, was all of a fudden freed from this troublefome malady, and appeared to be in perfect health. But fome days after, while playing with her companions, this child fell
Lemnius, in the thirty-firft chapter of the fecond book of his work, De occultis Naturæ Miraculis, advifes interment to be delayed in cafes of apoplexy, epilepfy, lethargy and hyfteric fuffocation, because it has often been difcovered on opening ton.bs, that fome unfortunate people, who had been attacked by thofe dif: afes, had come to life in their graves. Lancif lib. xxii. cap. 46. De Subitaneis Mortibus, mentions upon this occasion, a law which forbade the dead to be buried imme diately, and above all, thofe who had been carried off by a fudden death. The hiftories related by Fabricius Hudan, century fecond, by Camerarius; by Horftius; by Macrobius in his Somnium Scipionis; by Plato, in his Republic; by Valerius Maximus, and by a great many modern authors, leave us no doubt refpecting the dangers of fuch precipitation. Not only the ordinary figns are very uncertain, but we may fay the fame of the fiiffness of the limbs, which may be convulfive, of the dilatation of the pupil of the eye, which may proceed from the fame cauie, of putrefaction, which may equally attack fome parts of a living body, and of feveral o hers. Haller, convinced of the uncertainty of all the fe fign, propofes a new one, which he confiders as infallible. If the perfon,' fays he, he still in life, the mouth will immediately fhut of itfelf, because the contraction of the muscles of the jaw will awaken their irritability.' The jaw, however, may be deprived of its irrita bility, though a man may not be dead. Life is preferved a long time in the paffage of the inteflines. The fign pointed out by Dr Fothergill, appears to deferve more attention. If the air blown into the mouth,' fays this phyfician, paffes freely through all the alimentary channel, it affords a ftrong prefumption that the irrltability of the internal sphincters is deftroyed, and confeqnently that life is at an end.' Thefe figns, which deferve to be confirmed by new experiments, are doubtlefs not known to undertakers.