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portion of the evidence here adduced is intended to prove that infectious disorders are communicable by the bodies of those who have died of them. Without the slightest pretension to medical knowledge, and feeling the full temerity of venturing a personal opinion upon such a subject, we would merely observe upon the facts adduced, that they do not seem to us to exclude a different inference. We may farther venture to state our own strong impression, that infectious fevers are not communicable by the bodies of those who have died of them, after the last warmth has left them. That in numbers of cases, the survivors have sickened and died of the same distemper, we cannot for a moment call in question; it is an every-day occurrence ;-but it
may still be asked, and still be doubted, if the seeds of the disorder were taken from the body. Our own impression is, that they were sown at an earlier period, when the exhalations of the living body carried with them the principle of the disease. It appears to us that even popular language will give us strong help in this matter. We should say, that such and such a person had died of fever: but we should not, we think, be justified in saying that such and such a person's body had the fever. But if it had it not, how could it communicate it? We have no doubt that the deaths occurring in rooms where the dead are kept long among the living, are very numerous; but may not this be accounted for, from the living themselves being thus crowded together, more naturally than from the occasional retention of the bodies of those who die among them? A person dies of fever in one of these crowded lodging-houses. What produced the fever? There might have been no death for a long time before. Is not the vitiation of the air from the respiration of a number of people in a close small space, together with the whole system of life in those forlorn abodes, sufficient to account for the generation of disease, without any aid from the casual presence of the dead? And, when once produced, is not its transmission as easily to be accounted for, without supposing that the corpse has any power of transferring it? We confess, that this is the view, which we have long taken of the subject, though it is with the utmost deference that we thus venture to state it. Diseases may destroy life; but in destroying life, they appear to us to destroy themselves. Death is often produced by infectious disorders; but we cannot think, that infectious disorders can be propagated by the dead.
The subject adverted to, is one which deserves the utmost attention that it can receive : our only wish is to see it placed upon its proper ground. Is not this the vitiation of the air by
Vol. VI. No. 24.-New Series.
the crowding together of numbers in close and unventilated apartments ? And, remedying this, if it be susceptible of remedy, shall we not do more to stop the progress of any contagion, than we could by the most prompt separation of the dead from the living ?
The Reporter's object also calls upon him to notice the opposite mispractice, that of interring the dead too quickly for decency or humanity. This also needs the deepest attention. The possibility, against which we have here to guard, is one of the most awful and appalling that the imagination can frame, and which we cannot bring before our thoughts without a shudder of insuppressible horror. Surely too much is left to the discretion of ignorance in this matter. We have recently come to the knowledge of a case, in which a poor man died at half-past twelve on the Saturday morning, and was buried on the Sunday. To make the circumstance more striking, he had died of no infectious disease, but of a chronic one-an asthma, which had been upon him for years. He had taken medicine to procure sleep, and had slept away. Such a case seemed particularly to call for the retention of the body; but, to avoid the loss of work on the part of the friends and relations, the funeral was performed decently, but too hastily, on the next day. We are perfectly satisfied that, in this instance, there was nothing to need precipitation, yet surely there should have been something in the law of the land to prevent it.
The Report, of course, adverts to the funeral expenses of the labouring classes. Valuable as the evidence here collected is, we think it is capable of being made even more so. The funerals of these classes have long been “a great evil under the sun.” Not unfrequently a death will occasion embarrassments, that will extend over years. And this is not necessity, but vanity. We love and honour all true reverence for the dead; but this is not to be shown by contracting debts of ostentation. It is not to be measured by the pomp of the obsequies, but by the attraction of the grave.
The showiness of the funeral is often a poor make-up for the hollowness of the grief. The ruinous involvements, which these events commonly occasion have led to the formation of Burial Societies in many large towns; but, for ourselves, we confess we do not look upon their influences as salutary. We do not like a see a poor man's wife doling out her weekly pence for the specific interment of every member of her family. "In most of these cases, there are many nearer and nobler wants than coffins. We fear, too, that not unfrequently, the prospect creates the wish-a wish which we will not define, but to plant which in the heart the laws of our nature must be inverted. We have more than once had to close our eyes, by a firm effort, upon living and speaking evidences, that the events, thus prudentially anticipated, were collecting about them associations less and less to be desired. And as to the management of these Societies, nothing, in the whole mass of our social errors of omission, requires a more instant, or a more thorough investigation, than the various Associations in which the money of the poor is invested, ostensibly for their own benefit, but, alas too commonly, only for the benefit of those, to whose sordid and rapacious cunning simplicity is a strong temptation, and industry a lucrative prey.
The wish has long been warm at our hearts, that something could be done worthy of a great people, to ease the pressure of death upon the families of the poor. Cemeteries, in which decency and solemnity should be kept always in view, and from which beauty and elegance should not be excluded, might, we cannot help thinking, be open to the labouring classes, if not gratuitously (which is not, perhaps, to be desired) yet, upon terms which would give all a common interest in them. We have witnessed repeatedly the distress and difficulty of a poor family, in raising the money for a grave, when the workhouse had given a coffin. Could these charges be greatly lightened, it would work as a blessing among the people. They have a dislike to parish-burials, which we cannot wish to extinguish. But necessity often compels them to that, to which nothing can reconcile them. Lightened charges for interment in less obnoxious ground would have, we believe, a very salutary effect upon these classes. Amid all its heavy debts to the Poor Man's Home, Society owes a trifle to the Poor Man's Grave.
We meant to have made a few farther remarks upon other parts of this interesting Report; but for the present we must have done. The Work needs no recommendation. No notice of it can come, where it has not long ago penetrated. Long ere this, it has been, we trust, on every man's table who has a heart to grieve over evil, or a hand to help in good.
ART. VI.—WHAT'S TO BE DONE? or, PAST, PRESENT,
AND FUTURE. London: Ridgway.
This pamphlet contains an able party exposure of what the Whigs did, and of what the Tories ought to have done; of the liberal plans which the one party have proposed and in some instances carried, and which the other party have uniformly and strenuously opposed. It is a party pamphlet, and an able one. Many statements which it contains are honourable to the Whigs and discreditable to their opponents; but it must also be stated that some grievous errors of the Whigs are not mentioned, and that some of their acts are carefully concealed. In the main, however, we have here another illustration of the marked difference between Whig and Tory as it appears in the policy of each of those parties; and the brochure may be read with interest and instruction, particularly when toryism, with a majority of one hundred in the House of Commons is about, if we mistake not, to try conclusions once more with the strong common sense, and somewhat latent patriotism of the English people. Let us then examine the nature of the parties whose merits are discussed by our Author. It will appear that Tories and Whigs, though modified by institutions and time, represent the antagonist principles of aristocracy and democracy. An attempt is made to define the objects of the two great parties in the State, the Whig and the Tory—and though it is undoubtedly true that any one seeking from the statements of the partizans, on either side, for the truth, would be met by both with an assurance of the truth of its principles, the justice of its views, and the salutary nature of its general policy, yet we believe the writer, in the main, correctly states the difference between the Whigs and the Tories, modified by the monarchy under which we live, to be that between progress and rest-between the desire to advance mankind, and the determination to keep them at least stationary.-We confess that if to hope for, and to strive to enlighten and improve men, and to contemplate as neither destructive, nor even formidable, any measures calculated, however remotely, to effect an arrival at the limits of human perfection, be to entertain dangerous or revolutionary views, we plead guilty to both. We hold that the existence of an Aristocracy involves original aggression, and its continuance, on a selfish plan, continues its original hostility to the people. Throughout its whole existence, the influence of the aristocracy, as a body, has been exerted in all countries to check the advance
of each new truth, to suppress as dangerous the discoveries of science, to brand as atheistical the unerring calculations of philosophy; equally odious whether, supported by the strong arm of secular power and the divinity of the laws, it sported with the common rights of men,—or leagued with the terrors of superstition to inculcate the doctrines of passive obedience, it used laws and religion, corruption and wealth, to promote its aggrandizement and to consolidate its power,-concentrating against unorganized and unprotected masses unity of purpose, superior education, and a watchfulness for its interests which neither sleeps nor tires. To preserve the reign of " right divine of Kings to govern wrong” it has glozed over the remorseless cruelty, tyranny, and bigotry of many of our Kings. It has sanctified, by an admission into the Church, a service for him who, thinking to tread on a worm, placed his heel up serpent. It has, through the whole course of its career, opposed the education of the people; all its movements are retrograde; it is indebted for its power primarily to the force of arms, and, however controlled by the spirit of the times, it has not changed its nature, and now governs by means of corruption, and its consequence, unequal and selfish laws. The history of the Whig principle is the history of the modifications forced upon aristocratic ascendency. To a certain extent the democratic is the Whig principle. It will be seen that we have cause to complain that the Whigs have not carried this principle out, with sufficient force. Arrayed against the aristocratic influence, the democratic spirit has nothing to recommend it but its just and holy purposes, and the principles of that high, Christian philosophy which, however they may have been disguised or perverted, breathe the mild and glorious spirit of the purest democracy. This principle proposes to itself the utmost attainable equalization and happiness of mankind; it has therefore nothing to fear, but everything to hope, from education; it regards as the end of our existence the perfection of order, and the establishment of the only real distinctions amongst men, those of moral character, intellect, and learning. Democracy in England is indebted for most of its victories not so much to the people, in the common acceptation of that term, as to that middle class, enlightened by education, and enriched by trade, which produces thinking men. Among such have often been found those who have supported and advanced the democratic principle through a love of justice and mankind; regarding men not merely as a mass to be governed but as brothers to be enlightened and humanized,-and who know that if the people are sometimes criminal and ungrateful, it is because they have been debased by poverty and