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him that I am able to write this spun like a top. Such torture could when, I say, he told me that I might not last long, and so I awoke. And keep on the said mustard-plaster, if I here ends my experience of laudanum. pleased, till I saw him next day, I, I very soon recovered from my illness, who had enjoyed such good health of which, my dear Eusebius, I send that I never had had such a thing in you these particulars, as you have exmy life, and knew not what a mustard- pressed much anxiety on my account, plaster was, said, in the innocence of I shall not soon forget my friend my heart, that, to oblige him, I would “ Forty per cent"-and I am so tho. keep it on for a week if he wished it. roughly impressed with a sense of fuBut, oh! tortures, all that ever were neral follies and funeral rogueries, that or will be, are centered in that thing one object of this letter is to entreat called a mustard-plaster! One hour you, my dear Eusebius, to see, when was torture beyond description. When my day shall come, that I be quietly ther it was that it was upon the tender and unostentatiously laid in the and afflicted part, or that my constitu- ground. I would return to it as a tion has a particular antipathy to such child, wearied with his trilling sports, “ ticklers,” as my worthy friend called to his mother's breast. I care not them, I know not; but never did I with how little cost; it is not my deever feel such torment as that gave sire to enrich an undertaker by my me-ay, for a day and a half at least death. And I beg you will signify to after it was off. Now, after this plea- my nearest relatives that for my part sant little episode of the mustard con- of the show I willingly dispense with flagration, the scenes, the remem- all their outward marks of sorrow brance of which makes the horrors of and that if they choose to put themMilton and Dante tame, let us pass on selves and families into black, that to my second dream. I thought I was they will do so to gratify themselves, lying on a sofa. A servant entered, and not to honour me. I have made and announced that a woman wished calculations of what, according to the to see me. I desired her to be shown usual routine of these matters, my deup, supposing it to be some parochial cease would cost my family, and find affair. With this idea, the furniture that the law and the undertaker might of my room was gone, all but the sofa, be considered as in part my heirs, and I was in an up-stair room of the which I by no means intend, and miserable old parish poor-house. I would provide against. arose to receive the woman, whose People may complain of the expense steps I heard upon the stairs. She of living, when in reality they have entered, and we met in the middle of more cause to complain, if they had the room. She was dressed in an old any forethought, of the expense of black bonnet and red cloak, a gaunt dying. In fact death is treated as a haggard creature whom I had never crime, and subjects us both to “ pains seen before. She instantly caught and penalties." Her Majesty loses a hold of me, and wrestled with me, and, subject--so there must be a fine, withas I was very weak, threw me on the out a recovery. Come into this world floor. Then I beheld such a changecome how we may, we are greatly taxed for over her. She threw off her cloak and the luxury of leaving it. We let the her bonnet, and was instantly no longer Government tax us high enough, but the woman—but my friend O- my that we let the undertakers tax us beamiable friend 0_, and how altered! sides, is certainly a wonderful folly. His features assumed the most terrific There are situations of distress, when aspect of rage, and his bair stood on a man can neither afford to live nor end with fury, and his gesture was to die ; and is haunted in his ailments violent in the extreme. Now my wor- by visions of the harpies that will come thy friend has a wooden leg. He gave to defile or to consume his substance. a violent turn with his whole body, What pretence can there be but our and jumped upon me, prostrate as I own easy sufferance for the abominawas on the floor, and with the end of ble death-law, armed with probate duty his wooden leg pegged upon the very and legacy tax, ever on the watch for spot where I had had the mustard- spoliation ? A man lies weak, helpplaster; he gave a wonderful pirouette less, incapable of exercising his indusupon me, laughing and grinning; and try and providing further means for continued the action, with repeated his family-and because he is in this jumps, which put me in agony; he weak condition, you take away from him a portion of his former industry tion before the bereaved so disarms -when he wants it all, and more. suspicion ; they acquire a look of You, in fact, accost him pretty much such universal and particular symas the thief did the unfortunate man pathy that their official duties have who was quite out of breath, and could an air of benevolence in the doing. not move a step further, having pur- Their accounts are sure to be sent in sued another man who had run away in a decent time ; that is, when it with his hatm" What,” said the new would be a pain to look into them, come thief, “can't you stir a step fur- when the feelings are too tender to ther?" “ Not a step," said the rob- discuss or dispute any of the items, bed. “ Not one?" said the other,- for in grief we think of nothing but “ then, hang it, I'll have your wig.” grief, and are generous, or carelessThe law in this respect, is in fact a and who would bear the shame and real Fury, with a power of ubiquity reproach of being supposed niggard, and self-multiplication, and is up to and repentant of the cost bestowed on every mans bedside at his appointed affection, and hopes buried in the hour, if he'have any thing worth hav. grave? ing; and because he can run his course And, do you know, Eusebius, that no longer, boldly breaks open his in cities and populous towns there is strong.box, takes Fury's portion, and too often an under traffic between meeting the undertaker on the stairs, them and the parochial clergy, so that bids him walk up and help himself. the items charged are never sent; a Law has a strong arm-if the strong regular cash account being kept beand vigorous can scarcely resist it, tween them, to the profit, and, as you how shall the weak ?--s0 we put up will think, to the shame of both, the with the evil, and that we may be undertaker keeping to his own share used to it, and, like the eels, the better a third, or even a halfl! Though this bear the skinning, we cannot have an is all very well understood, it is conalmanac to tell us the weather, but it nivance notwithstanding ; oh, Euseshall contain tables to refresh our me- bius, were you one of the parochial mories, and tell us that we are morí ministers of a large city, what a nest tal, and what is the cost of mortality. of hornets would you have about your But, my dear Eusebius, why may we ears! You would pull the nose of the not make a strong fight against the first that offered you the copartnerundertakers ? Let any and all men ship in the black business, and publish get their bread by an honest calling by advertisement the iniquity, and acLive, and let live, should be every quaint all widows, widowers, orphans, inan's motto ; but it is not theirs. &c., that you had a stock of mourning They are, therefore, out of the pale items for general use, and would not of humanity. They won't let live, trouble them. I confess I never see but live upon our dying. They do not a town clergyman step out of his comfort the “widows and afflicted," mourning chariot, in his many, many a but vastly swell the amount of their time worn wo-trappings, for the wear
They come into the house of which the price of new is charged like commissioners of Death's Parlia- to the afflicted relative of the deceased, ment, and with their retinue eat up without feeling that he is lowered in and drink up all in it, before they that my estimation, and that he is lending should have a share of it have been his name and profession to a petty dead a week. And then the damaged fraud. But your conscientious unand rotten goods they distribute to the dertakers are not satisfied with dressmourners at the higliest prices, know- ing up the relatives and friends—they ing very well the matter will never be must have attendants and mourners of noticed, and in many instances their their own, all to be tricked out at a taking even these back again at less similar cost. An acquaintance of than a quarter the cost, so that a hat- mine, of very moderate means, told band or gloves may be sold at full cost me, not long ago, that he had in the twenty times, and taken back for a last year two funerals in his familytrifle as many !! Really, when we and that, though he wished to be as come to consider the matter fairly, if moderate as might be, and yet avoid my friend “ Forty per cent" spoke the talk and notoriety of flying in the truth, he had a conscience, for very face of a custom, miscalled decency, many get five hundred per cent. Then and though the distance to the place their humility and look of considera- of burial did not exceed a mile, yet that the funeral expenses each time all the tombs, that ring with the chawere between seventy and eighty riot wheels of universal neglect, ratpounds. Now, Eusebius, one hund. tling on to the feast or show-and the red and fifty or sixty pounds from dampness and the fog that settles on, his pockets and his children's, into the or broods over them in the twilight of pocket of an undertaker, is a very ab- a November day, and the chill and surd, and at the same time, a very la- rains of wintry nights, so sadly conmentable thing. That sum, bestowed trasted with the low debasing riot of on the education of his children, might life, and wickedness of lanes around have made a very considerable differs them, all those seem to rob death of ence in their views and situations of its repose, and even of its respect, and after life. How few, that know well the grave-tenants of their respectabi. in other respects to regulate their lity. No, Eusebius, I am weak households and their business, have enough to abhor such sepulture. If I strength boldly to resist the custom, must contemplate the outward scene of greatly aggravated by the whole trade my last home—and how few are there of undertakers, and rather go on en
that do not?_let it be where the grass during the infliction of being knowingly grows not rank and black, amid the imposed upon, and suffering in many broken pots and pans, and refuse cast cases a serious diminution of means, from decaying windows--but where already too small, and often rendered the grass grows on which the sun smaller by altered circumstances caus
shines, and a flower may spring up ed by the very death that brings the from the fresh earth, returning modest harpies upon his house. When I read thanks as an offering, even from the in the newspapers, that in the last in- dead, for the blessing of showers and fluenza in London, there were suppos
dews of heaven-where, if there be ed to be not less than 1000 funerals in pride, it shows not its offensive arroone Sunday, I could not help calculat- gant airs, but the aristocratic and huming the enormous sum distributed ble monuments bears a family relation among the undertakers, and consider- to each other, claiming clanship in ing the expenditure a very serious ag- death; where the daily frequented gravation of the family distresses path yet keeps friendly fellowship brought about by that universal cala. with the living, and where graves are mity. One thousand homeless, com- not un visited; where graves look fortless homes for one day's work of sensible of a Sabbath, and Sabbath death in one city!! What must have care and villagers' talk--where the been the aggregate amount of devas. Sunday congregation, not hastening tation of the malady!! Then to think out with all speed, as from an odious that on the working day, the day fol- place, love to linger; and there is lowing, came the business of life, with homely courtesy, and better than all its tumult of action, and that all everyday thoughts put on with Sunthat was then going on of death, and day clothes. Where a friend, such as all that had gone on, was hidden from my Eusebius, may freely come and sight-it brought a sort of conviction cheat his fancy, and give breathing to that the vast population was walking his affection, without having to seek over disguised pitfalls; that, let who sexton or beadle for key, and a perwould fall in, the rest were careless. mission to be paid for. Not too gay A London churchyard is at any time, for sorrow, nor too sad for love; but crowded as it is, a most forlorn place, where there may be an indwelling so utterly abandoned by the living, sanctity that may hallow both; whence and as much as may be shut out from sorrow might receive comfort and sight, as if we were ashamed of them, love trust; where there is a sweet green and compensated by a long neglect shade for the tales of the young, and for the undertaker's one expensive pa
a lingering sunshine upon many a sod rade. And who does not, while in to rest the aged as they sit, not unlife, encourage the idea of resting in thankful that beneath their feet is the the grave? but in these receptacles same home that will receive them, as there can be, fancy assures us, no rest, it has received their kindred before night nor day. The incessant noise them.
Such is a scene of peace. of carriages that pass them in their Here the living may hope to “ sleep speed of pleasure or business; the with their fathers." I love even the full tide and roar of life, that never country churchyard epitaphs, their stops to remember one inhabitant of repetitions, their quaint rhymes, and mis-spellings. One can fancy that on and such two days ! never shall I for. moonlight nights, when the shadows get them. When we had left the town, connect grave with grave, and stone it seemed as if all had thrown off even with stone by their distinct lines, that the semblance of sorrow. I was in gentle spirits come out of them, and, the coach with the nearest relatives, linked together in groups, seek amuse- who, very sensibly, endeavoured to ment, their permitted hour in reading make the journey as little dismal as each other's histories, and humble might be, and succeeded; so that it was praise. You know, Eusebius, I do even pleasant. There was nothing to not mock—there is no thought that is blame here; but the officials of the not in some sense a reality; and such an procession, the cavalcade, the underone, if it passes through the mind but a taker, and his so
merry-men all," made moment, awakens buta natural instinct, holiday all the way. It was observable assuring us that even death is not all enough, that, as fiddlers, on entering death. Somewhere the dead are, and a village, strike up a note or two to I do not think we are the worse for show their calling, so on such occabringing them nearest to ourselves. sions did our friend the “ forty per The country churchyard has, besides, cent" marshal his men, and for a few another charm. It rarely witnesses moments affect professional solemnity; the undertaker's pomp. They are but it did not always succeed, the mostly town ferrets-here, poor men officials did not go quite the straight are chiefly brought to their graves on way they were marshalled; and at the poor men's shoulders; there is, in inns at night, I very much suspect the general, more decency than show, corpse was left to take care of itself; though the village carpenter will some- for 'twas merry in the hall." And times affect the undertaker; but it is in upon one occasion I remember the an humble way, and the consequences procession was stopped before we are not disastrous. There is a cus- entered a town-the mutes were misstom with country clubs that is not a ing, and when found, they had been bad one-every member, in case of strangely and ludicrously metamordeath of wife or husband of any mem- phosed. The mutes had been with ber, gives a shilling to the survivor. the liquids, and there was confusion in This does more than pay the funeral their tongues. We arrived at length, expenses, and as there is not, as yet, by the help of pretty fast driving; when, any very great ambition for display, it not too near town and village, without may be hoped that substantial com- being weary of our journey, we depofort is offered by the custom-yes! sited the deceased in a country church substantial comfort, for it is a com- vault. And I recollect thinking as I fort that there may be a loaf, and stood near the ceremony, and marked somewhat more in the house, even the stupid unconcern of the crowds after friends have broken bread, and that came to see the show, that it was temperately taken a parting draught, a needless waste of money to bring not taken without solemnity, and thither with so much pomp one whom moral, and perhaps religious feeling. not one of the village population had Bereavement is made worse by imme- known, or would ever acknowledge diate deprivation of life's comforts. by any sympathy, to be flesh of their A little time is required for reconcile- flesh, or bone of their bone, no, nor ment to worse things, and this club even dust of their dust. And all this aid is in general very timely, and it coldness and indecency, if I may so does not go to the undertaker. The call it, was purchased at the cost of sleeping family of a country church- some hundreds of pounds, for the yard, as I remarked, are generally un- benefit of_the Undertaker. disturbed by grandeur, seeking to It is very evident that costly funemingle its bones with the humble-it rals have not, for their first object, does happen sometimes. I remember respect for the dead. The pride of well a procession which came from a the living is more conspicuous in them. considerable distance, which, though If, however, they were a solemn lesthe parties concerned in it were not son to all men, if they were a public themselves grand, being too much left proclamation of death—a warning that to the taste, and ambition too, of the all should take heed to their ways, it undertaker, was somewhat conspi- would be well. The burial-service is cuous. I bore a part in it as mourner so; but it is precisely where the unWe were two days upon the road, dertaker's work of parade commences
It did so,
that there is an interruption of the funerals abroad, where the Church solemnity, which is not taken up again steps in at once, and takes possession until the last deposit in the earth, of the deceased as under its protecwhen the friend and the relative steal tion, under the sanctity of its religious forward, and drop their tears into the authority; and if it makes an exhibigrave, and the men of business keep tion, it is with authority,—and this in the back-ground often even then proclamation has holiness in it. All indecorously to pack up their trap- that is not ecclesiastical is kept out of pings for another show. And there sight. There is nothing intermediate is always sure to be something ridicu- between the deceased and the Church. lous mixed up with their proceedings. The undertaker interferes not, intrudes In the last case it was strikingly so to not here to spoil all. Death, it is even the would-be mourners; for they true, reigns for the hour, but religion were not thought of, and the appears triumphs. The Church certifies the ance of wo was discarded a mile out triumph, and the resurrection. I of town, the pace quickened, and well remember, my dear Eusebius, the resumption of the farce occasion. how much I was once affected by an ally, made the whole a mockery. The exhibition of this kind, on the very dresses assumed; the mutes ; hired first night of my entering Rome. It mourners; the known circumstance was dark; a singularly impressive that they have never perhaps seen the cry attracted my attention. I was led deceased, nor care one farthing for by the sound some distance, I knew him or her, and often they know not not where, for I was totally unacwhich ; their sleek appearance, bodily; quainted with the city. I found mytheir enormous eating and drinking; self in a large and long street, at the their impatience to shuffle up their further end of which I could see many paraphernalia ; all these things, which torches, and heard a constant repetiare, besides, most adverse to any sym- tion of the cry. I waited, leaning pathy with the real mourners, have against a large pillar, until the proin themselves much of the ridiculous. cession should reach me. The mummery before our eyes leaves and passed in great order ; first came us no time to think of the defunct; and the several religious orders, all bear. if we do, it is to picture him, not as ing torches, as I should suppose, in death, but as the mummers have trick- number many hundreds.
Then a ed him up.
The mind's eye can with single figure, a miserable friar, of difficulty penetrate the plumed enclo- some low order apparently, bare.footsure. The very idea of the Trade of ed, with his cord round his waist, Wo, that all is hired for the occasion, bearing on his back a common cottinis revolting to better feeling. Now shell, totally unornamented; in fact, a it is the absence of this hired sorrow, few poor boards tacked together ; imand the room that is left to the imagi- mediately after him, a sumptuous and nation of the spectator, by the dress highly raised car or bier, on the front and sword of the soldier upon his cof- and lower part of which was a splenfin, to personify the dead-to see him, did display of armorial bearings, and at a glance, the living and the dead, above the body. It was a lady—of a that makes a soldier's funeral exceed- fine person, and noble and handsome ingly affecting. And here all that aspect. She lay extended; her hands attend have been his companions, nor joined as in prayer; her face, her is there any pantomime trickery of hands, and her feet' naked and undress and gesture. These are the very covered; the rest of her person aparms he wore, he handled—the boots, peared in a stole of black, and such as their hability, their fitness to the in- showed the beauty of her form. She dividual, all that which made them appeared to be about thirty years of his, and him theirs, is not yet depart- age. Her countenance I shall never ed. We see the man more awfully forget ; it was extremely placid, pale, than if we actually saw him lying in had no sunken and worn character, his coffin. The value of the indivi. as if disease had touched it. You dual man is stamped by the official could scarcely believe there was not military attendance, and serves as an consciousness remaining; or whether epitaph of merit. The costliest fune remaining, as of the world left, or imral of the highest son of earth has parted as of the new world, were the nothing so affecting.
doubt. It passed; and then followed There is much more solemnity in a long train similar to that which pre