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tion of the pretended dead person to life. It appears that thefe examples, and feveral 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 itfelf. 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 fituation. This cultom 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 purpofe, 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. These 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 neceflary 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, unlefs wounds, or the nature of
* We read in Homer, that Andromache caused a dress to be made for the obse quies of Hector, who was then alive. The mother of Euryalus complains in the ninth book of the Eneid, that the was not able to attend the body of her fon to the grave; that the had not clofed his eyes or washed his wounds, and that she had not dreffed him for his funeral with thole dreffes, at which she had been labouring day and night, a work which served to comfort her in her old age.
-Nec te tua funera mater
In comparing these customs with ours, we are tempted to confider them as barbarous, 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 those of their parents or friends, we may believe that these 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 a mask was ufed made of a kind of plaitter, which has given rife to the expreffion of funera larvata, used in fome of the ancient authors. This was the last method of concealment which Nero made ufe of, after having caufed Germanicus to be poifoned; for the effect of the poifon had become very fenfible by livid spots and the blackness of the body, but a thower of rain happening to fall, it washed the plaitter entirely away, and thus the horrid crime of fratricide was discovered.
body was wrapped up in linen, or clothed in a drefs of more or less. value, according to circumstances, and it was not interred until after being expofed, and kept two or three days in the houfe. The cuftom of clothing the dead is preferved in France only for princes and ecclefiaftics.
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 expofed feveral 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 body is kept in the houfe three days, all
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, walh 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 walled the body, and anointed it with aromatic fubitances of a more or lefs agreeable 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 the primitive church the dead
We have taken the liberty to omit fome of the author's obfervations refpecting the manner of treating the dead in England, as he feeins 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 thofe 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 such 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. Sometimes 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 breast 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 impoflible for a perfon to return to life.
The cold to which a dying man is exposed, that he may not dirty himfelf, is attended with the greatest danger, for while the sphincter re
mains in contraction, there exifte within us fome remains of irritability, and confequently of life. The difcharge of the intestinal matter, is the ultimum vita. Thus whillt a child has not yet voided the meconium, the man-midwife, 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 perfon'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 obstacle 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 ftraw matrafs, Besides, 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 va por be condenfed by the cold, it thickens into drops, as may be seen by breathing upon glais, and then an expansion takes place, which interrupts the action of the veffels, and oppoíes 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 thofe caufes 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 to wards 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 almost 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 last 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.
The difference between the end of a weak life, and the commencement
of death, is fo fmall, and the uncertainty of the figns 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 vapors, though they appeared lefs affected than others who have revived *. Coldness, heaviness of the body, leaden livid colour, with a yellownefs in the vifage, are all very uncertain figns: Mr Zimmerman obferved 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 leaft 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
• Dr Portal's Report made to the French Academy of Sciences, refpecting 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. These inftances would perhaps be more frequent, were men of skill and abilities called in cafes of fudden death, in which people of ordinary knowledge 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, a boy belonging to the Hospital 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 close 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 fyncope, and he would have been thus buried alive.
We must not be afton ifhed, that the fervants of an hofpital should 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 Natuæ Miraculis, advifes interment to be delayed in cafes of apoplexy, epilepfy, lethargy and hyfteric fuffocation, because it has often been difcovered on open-. ing tombs, that fome unfortunate people, who had been attacked by thofe dit afes, had come to life in their graves. Lancif.ib. xxii. tap. 46. De Súbitaneis Mortibus, mentions upon this occafion, a law which forbade the dead to be buried iminediately, and above all, thole who had been carried off by a fudden death. The hiftorics related by Fabricius Hidan, '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 lame 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 several ohers. Haller, convinced of the uncertainty of all the fe fign, propofes a new one, which he confiders as infallible. If the perfon,' fays he, be full in life, the mouth
will immediately fhut of itself, because the contraction of the muscles of the jaw will awaken their irritability.' The jaw, however, may be deprived of its irritability, though a man may not be dead. Life is preferved a long time in the paffage of the inteftines. 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 strong 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 doubtless not known to undertakers.