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DEATH IN THE HOUSEHOLD.-I.
IF there ever is a time when people find it painful to attend
to any business, it is when oppressed with grief at the loss of some one who was
both near and dear to them. This is especially the case when that business
relates to the funeral of the one whom we have lost from earth for ever. At such
a time the mourner, borne down with grief, is disinclined to go abroad to seek
for any information on the subject of funeral arrangements, or to adopt any of
those precautions that he would have taken to secure himself from imposition in
his ordinary business transactions. The consequence is that he too often falls
into the hands of persons who take advantage of his affliction.
If this is so often the case with a man, how much more often must it be so with the afflicted widow, who, being now deprived of her own and her children's support, besides being perhaps totally unfitted for business duties, is left among strangers, friendless and alone; and who, most likely, by incurring needless outlay in funeral expenses, deprives of their subsistence those who look to her - who is now their only friend - for food and shelter? The only means of guarding against this is to obtain in time sufficient knowledge of this subject, so that, if death should suddenly visit the household, it may not find the mourner unprepared. It is with the view of affording this, as well as all other information that may be required, that these papers are prepared.
When any person dies, it is necessary at once to register the death. The first thing to be done is to obtain from the medical gentleman who last attended the deceased a certificate of the cause of death. This is to be written on a printed form supplied for that purpose from the office of the Registrar-General, at Somerset House, London, and to be had from the local Registrar of Births and Deaths. This medical certificate - a copy of which we subjoin - states the full Christian name and surname of the deceased, his age last birthday, the date when last seen, and when he died, and also the cause of death.
As it is indispensable that the names and age of the deceased should be correctly given, it is advisable to write them down on paper, in a legible hand, and send it by the person who applies for the medical certificate.
* Each form of disease, or symptom, is reckoned from its
commencement till Death.
** If this Certificate is not signed by a qualfied Practitioner, the Registrar should write "not certified" in his Register after the cause of death; thus:- " Phthisis (six months)" not certified.
[-267-] When the certificate is obtained, it is to be taken to the registrar of the sub-district in which the death took place, and information given to him of the deceased person's death.
The persons who are qualified to do this are- 1st, some relative or other person present at the death ; 2nd, some relative or other person in attendance during the last illness of the deceased; or, in default of all such persons, from death, illness, or other disability, then, 3rd, the occupier of the house or premises; or, if the occupier shall have been the person who shall have died, 4th, some inmate of the house in which the death shall have happened.
In addition to the cause of death, as mentioned therein, the informant must be prepared to state the date and place of death, the full name and surname of the deceased person, the correct age last birthday, and the rank, profession, or occupation of the deceased. If the deceased is a child, or an unmarried person without occupation, the full name and rank or profession of the father will be required; if a widow, those of the husband.
After the sub-registrar has entered all these particulars in the register, and the informant has signed his name, he fills up the following certificate:-
This certificate, when duly filled up and
signed by the sub-registrar, is given by him to the informant. For doing this he
is not entitled to make any charge, or receive any fee or reward.
This certificate is now to be delivered to the undertaker, or other person in charge of the funeral, who, in accordance with the 27th section of the Registration Act, must give it, at the time of the funeral, "to the minister or officiating person who shall be required to bury or to perform any religious service for the burial of the dead body-and to no other person."
As certificates of the death of deceased persons are often required for legal purposes, it will be useful to know that such certificates can be obtained at the General Register Office for Births; Deaths, and Marriages, Somerset House, London, W.C., on payment of the statutory fees.
Such certificate, by the Act 6 and 7 William IV., cap. 86, and sec. 38, "when sealed, or stamped with the seal of the General Register Office, is to be received as evidence of the death to which the same relates, without any further or other proof of the entry."
The fees required to be paid are-
For a search in the indexes or register
... 1sd 0d
Certificate ... 2s 6d
Inland Revenue stamp (23 Vict., cap. 15) ... 0s 1d
[total] 3s 7d.
The general indexes are completed about
nine months after the date of registration, but searches can be made in the
registers not indexed, if the date and place of death can be correctly stated by
the party who requires the certificate.
Different regulations are adopted by the various cemeteries, but they most generally agree in the following particulars -
All orders for interments are to be given at the office of the cemetery company, and all fees and other charges are to be paid at the same time, the offices being usually open for this purpose every day, except Sunday, from ten to five; but on Saturdays the hours are generally from ten to two.
It is usually required by the directors of most cemeteries that notice shall be given and fees paid at least thirty-six hours previous to interment. When it is wished for the interment to take place on a Monday, this must generally be done early on the previous Friday. Some cemeteries, however, do not require so long a notice.
If a vault or a brick grave is required, four clear days' notice must be generally given. If this is not done, an extra charge will be made for working at night, and which must be paid when the order is given, and before the work is commenced.
It is also usually required that the name of the parish or ecclesiastical district, from which the body is to be removed, shall be mentioned at the time of giving the order for interment.
Certain hours are appointed during which interments are to take place, an extra fee being £ charged if the ceremony is performed at any other time. The hours at which the cemeteries are open for this purpose vary in different cases. Some open at nine and close at sunset; in others the hours are from about ten to half-past four or five. Many of them are open for interments during a few hours on Sundays, while others are closed on that day.
In common interments only wooden coffins are allowed to be used, while in catacombs, vaults, and brick graves, coffins of lead (not less than five and a half pounds to the foot) or stone must be employed.
Many of the cemetery companies very properly state that, with a view to reduce the interment expenses as much as possible, no gratuities are allowed to be taken by their officers.
DEATH IN THE HOUSEHOLD. II.
IN addition to the registration of death
and the selection of a place for burial, it is advisable as soon as possible to
arrange with an undertaker about the character and cost of the funeral. To
enable our readers to do this more readily, we shall give them as briefly as
possible an insight into the manner in which the trade is sub-divided, and also
the cost of burial.
Besides the persons who make the coffin, there are [-292-] the coffin-furniture manufacturers, the funeral robe, sheet, and ruffle makers, the funeral-carriage masters, and .funeral feather-men. All these supply at first-hand the furnishing undertaker, who, in his turn, supplies the trade and the public. It is not usual for one house to represent all these different departments.
Besides the regular undertakers, there is a large class of men who are mere agents, and only call themselves y undertakers, and who, when they chance to obtain an order for a funeral, transmit it to a regular undertaker for execution, at the same time causing the relatives to pay considerably more than if they had gone themselves in the first place to the person who really makes all necessary preparations and performs the funeral. A little trouble is, however, sometimes saved in return for the increased expenditure.
With the view to give every facility for choosing the kind of funeral, it is customary for undertakers in a large way of business to give their customers a book containing particulars of the various classes of funerals, and with a the prices printed at which they can be performed. With a view to afford this information, we will now lay before our readers particulars of funerals at various charges, from a £ 3 5s. to £ 53, the prices marked being those charged by an extensive London undertaking firm, which guarantees that every article is of the best workmanship and quality, the attendants well trained and attentive to their duties, and all funerals conducted with the strictest possible attention to respectability and decorum. We will commence with funerals for adults.
Funeral costing £ 3 5s.-Patent carriage, with one a horse ; smooth elm coffin, neatly finished, lined inside, with pillow, &c. ; use of pall, mourners' fittings, coachman with hat-band; bearers; attendant with hat-band, &c.
Funeral costing £ 5 5s. - Hearse, with one horse ; - mourning coach, with one horse; stout elm coffin, covered with fine black, plate of inscription, lid ornaments, and three pairs of handles, mattress, pillow, and a pair of side sheets ; use of velvet pall; mourners' fittings, coachmen with hat-bands and gloves; bearers; attendant with silk hat-band, &e.
Funeral costing £ 6 6s.-Hearse, with pair of horses ; a mourning coach and pair; strong elm coffin, covered with a black, plate of inscription, lid ornaments, and three pairs of handles, mattress, pillows, &c.; use of velvet pall, mourners' fittings; coachmen with hat-bands and gloves; bearers; attendant with silk hat-band, &c.
Funeral costing £ 8 15s.-Hearse and pair of horses; mourning coach and pair; velvet covering for carriages and horses; strong elm coffin, covered with fine black, a p late of inscription, lid ornaments, three pairs of cherub handles and grips, and finished with best black nails, mattress, pillow, and side sheets; use of silk velvet pall; two mutes with gowns, silk hat-bands, and gloves; four a men as bearers, and two coachmen with cloaks, hat-bands, and gloves; use of mourners' fittings; and attendant with silk hat-band.
Funeral costing £ 14 14s.-Hearse and pair of horses; a mourning coach and pair, fifteen plumes of black ostrich-feathers, and complete velvet covering for carriages and horses; stout inch elm coffin, with inner lid, covered with black cloth, set with two rows all round of best black a nails; lead plate of inscription, lid ornaments, four pairs of handles and grips, all of the best improved jet and bright black; tufted mattress, lined and ruffled, and fine cambric winding-sheet; use of silk velvet pall; two mutes with 2 gowns, silk hat-bands, and gloves, eight men as pages and coachmen, with truncheons and wands, crape hatbands, &c,; use of mourners' fittings; and attendant with a silk hat-band, &c.
Funeral costing £ 23 10s.-Hearse and four horses, two mourning coaches, with pairs, nineteen plumes of rich ostrich-feathers, and complete velvet covering for carriages a and horses; strong inch elm shell, covered with black; tufted mattress, lined and ruffled with cambric; and pillow; fine cambric winding-sheet, inch elm case to receive the above, covered with fine black cloth; lead plate of inscription, lid ornaments, four pairs of shield handles and grips, and furnished with two rows all round of best nails; use of silk velvet pall; two mutes with gowns, silk hat-bands, and gloves; eleven men as pages; and coachmen with truncheons and wands, crape hat-bands, &c.; use of mourners' fittings; and attendant with silk hat-band, &c.
Funeral costing £ 30.-Hearse and four horses, two mourning coaches, with pairs, nineteen plumes of rich ostrich-feathers, complete velvet covering for carriages and horses, and an esquire's plume of best feathers; strong elm shell, with tufted mattress, lined and ruffled with superfine cambric, and pillow; full worked fine cambric winding-sheet outside lead coffin, with inscription plate and solder complete ; stout inch elm case, covered with superfine black cloth, set with three rows round, and lid panelled with best black nails ; registered lead plate of inscription, lid ornaments to correspond, and four pairs of handles, and grips all of the best imperial black ; use of the best silk velvet pall; two mutes with gowns, silk hat-bands, and gloves, &c.; twelve men as pages, feather- men, and coachmen, with truncheons and wands, silk hatbands, &c.; use of the mourners' fittings; and attendant with silk hat-band, &c.
Funeral costing £ 53-Hearse and four horses, two mourning coaches with fours, twenty-three plumes of rich ostrich-feathers, complete velvet covering for carriages and horses, and an esquire's plume of best feathers; strong elm shell, with tufted mattress, lined and ruffled with superfine cambric, and pillow; full worked glazed cambric winding-sheet, stout outside lead coffin, with inscription plate and solder complete; one and a half inch oak case, covered with black or crimson velvet, set with three rows round, and lid panelled with best brass nails ; stout brass plate of inscription, richly engraved four pairs of best brass handles and grips, lid ornaments to correspond ; use of silk velvet pall ; two mutes with gowns, silk hat-bands and gloves; fourteen men as pages, feathermen, and coachmen, with truncheons and wands, silk hat-bands, &c. ; use of mourners' fittings; and attendant with silk hat-band, &c.
What adds very much to the cost of a funeral is the amount of "new goods," such as kid gloves, scarfs, hatbands, &e., used, and which are not included in the tariff. In a large funeral, very often new crape and silk scarfs and hat-bands are used, as well as kid gloves, and retained by the mourners, the crape scarfs and band being worn by the relatives, and those of silk by the friends.
Even in those cases where new fittings are not used and kept by the mourners, but those lent by the undertaker are employed, it is customary to give "fittings" (in fact, his fee in kind) to the officiating minister. Suppose the officiating minister to be the clergyman attached to the cemetery then he has fittings given him, as a rule, only on large funerals. If, however, you inter in the country (out of the metropolis), at a parish church, it generally happens that the clergyman is more or less known to the family, and for that reason he generally receives them. In those cases where the family minister officiates, he then always has fittings given him. In the case of a funeral in a wealthy family he is supplied with a scarf, band, and gloves, but where economy is studied, then only, perhaps, the band and gloves, or even the gloves alone. Amongst great families the doctor is treated like the clergyman, but among the middle classes, although he may not so often attend the funeral as formerly, yet in most cases he has something sent him in the way of complimentary mourning. To friends at a distance it is an old-fashioned custom, now nearly obsolete, to send a pair of gloves, and a memorial card may accompany them.
DEATH IN THE HOUSEHOLD.-III
As the incurring of only a moderate expense in interments is
often an object to the survivors, especially where they are left in straitened
circumstances, we will now give information about the expense of burial in the
various metropolitan cemeteries.
Of course, interment in a brick vault is the most costly, and is only suited for those in comfortable circumstances. The price of such a vault at Highgate or Nunhead Cemeteries is £ 49 7s. 6d. ; at Norwood, £ 41 7s. 6d.; Kensal Green, £ 49 7s. 6d.; Brompton, £ 40 7s. 6d.; Leyton or Stratford, £ 40 10s. ; Abney Park, £ 51 7s. ; Great Northern, £ 35 17s. 6d.; Victoria Park, £ 40 13s.6d.; and Bow, £ 44 3s. If the vault, however, is only made large enough to contain six coffins the charges are:- Highgate or Nunhead, £ 39 2s. 6d. ; Norwood, £ 33 2s. 6d. ; Kensal Green, £ 39 2s. 6d. ; Brompton, £ 28 6s. 6d.; Leyton or Stratford, £ 29 10s. ; Abney Park, £ 40, 7s. ; Great Northern, £ 27 14s. 6d. ; Victoria Park, £ 31 16s. 6d. and Bow, £ 34 19s.
The cost of burial in the public vault at Highgate or Nunhead, is £ 8 8s.; at Norwood, £ 7 7s. Kensal Green, £ 8 8s.; Brompton, £ 6 6s. ; Victoria Park, £ 6 8s. 6d. and at Bow, £ 7 7s.
For interment in the catacombs the lowest charges are, for Highgate or Nunhead, £ 17 10s.; Norwood, £ 19 17s. 6d.; Kensal Green, £ 19 5s. ; Brompton, £ 12 12s. ; Leyton or Stratford, £ 15 15s.; Abney Park, £ 14 17s.; Great Northern, £ 10 15s.; and Bow. £ 14 14s.
It must be remembered that additional expense attends interments in vaults and catacombs, owing to the regulations, which require lead coffins to be used.
The charges for a private brick grave, seven feet in length, in a first-class portion of the ground, are- at Highgate or Nunhead, £ 8 10s. 6d.; Norwood, £ 8 10s. 6d.; Kensal Green, £ 9 11s. 6d.; Leyton or Stratford, £ 10 10s.; Great Northern, £ 5 18s. ; Victoria Park, £ 5 15s. 6d. and Bow, £ 8 1s.
For a second-class grave of the same kind the prices are :-Highgate or Nunhead, £ 5 7s. 6d.; Norwood, £ 6 8s. 6d. ; Kensal Green, £ 8 10s. 6d.; Brompton, £ 5 7s. 6d. ; Leyton or Stratford, £ 8 8s.; Abney Park, £ 5 18s. 6d. ; Great Northern, £ 4 15s.; Victoria Park, £ 4 14s. 6d.; and Bow, £ 5 19s.
For a third-class grave the charges are:- Norwood, £ 5 7s. 6d. ; Kensal Green, £ 5 7s. 6d. ; Lcyton or Stratford, £ 5 5s. ; Abney Park, £ 4 17s. 6d. ; Great Northern, £ 2 4s. 6d.; Victoria Park, £ 4 1s. ; and Bow, £ 4 18s.
For single interments the cost is considerably less, the price for an adult in first-class ground at Leyton or Stratford being £ 3 3s. ; at the Great Northern, £ 1 15s. ; and at Bow, £ 1 15s. For a child the costs are :-Leyton or Stratford, £ 2 2s. Great Northern, £ 1 3s. 4d. ; and Bow, £ 1, and £ 1 5s.
Adult single interments in third-class ground also vary considerably. The prices at Highgate or Nunhead are £ 2 2s.; Norwood, £ 2 2s. Kensal Green, £ 2 2s.; Brompton, £ 1 16s. ; Leyton or Stratford, £ 1 1s. ; Abney Park, £ 2; Great Northern, 11s.; Victoria Park, £ 1 2s. 6d.; and Bow, £ 1 10s. ; while for a child the charges are reduced to Highgate or Nunhead, £ 1 10s.; Norwood, £ l 10s.; Kensal Green, £ 1 12s. Brompton, £ 1 6s. ; Leyton or Stratford, 15s. ; Abney Park, £ 1 15s.; Great Northern, 7s. 4d.; Victoria Park, 9s. 6d., and 12s. 6d. ; Bow, 15s.
In the unconsecrated portion of the ground at the Great Northern the charges are less than in the consecrated portion, being, for private graves, in first-class ground, £ 5 10s.; in second-class ground, £ 4 2s. 6d.; and in third- class, £ 2 0s. 6d. Single interments in first-class ground are, adult's, £ 1 12s. 6d.; child's, £ 1 1s. 8d.; second-class, 18s. for adults, 12s. for children ; while an interment in third-class ground is 10s. for an adult and 6s. 8d. for a child.
At all the cemeteries a certain time is appointed for general interments. The general time is three o'clock in the afternoon for the Highgate, Norwood, Kensal Green, and Brompton Cemeteries, but interments may take place at other hours on payment of an extra fee of seven shillings and sixpence. Leyton and Stratford are open for burials from ten to four, and the fee for interring at other hours is five shillings. Abney Park is open from two, the extra fee for burial at other periods of the day being seven shillings and sixpence. The Great Northern Cemetery's hours for interment are from ten until four o'clock, and the time appointed for the purpose at the Bow Cemetery is after one.
Prospectuses of the metropolitan cemeteries may be obtained by writing for them to their respective offices. The office of the Highgate and Nunhead is situated at 29, New Bridge Street ; Norwood, 70, King William Street; Kensal Green, 95, Great Russell Street; Brompton, 12, Haymarket ; Leyton and Stratford, at the cemetery ; Abney Park, 23, Moorgate Street ; Great Northern, 10, Vernon Place, Bloomsbury; Victoria Park and Bow, at the cemeteries.
It is advisable also to communicate, as soon as possible, with such of the relatives and friends of the deceased as may be wished to attend the funeral. This may be done either by some friend calling on them, or by letter. If the latter course is adopted, forms like the following, which only require the name, place, and date to be filled in, are very convenient. They are to be had ready [-315-] printed in a black-letter type, on black-edged mourning-paper:-
The favour of your company is requested on - next, the - of -, to attend the funeral of the late -. The mourners will assemble at - late residence, -, at - o'clock, to proceed to -.
Sometimes the duty of inviting the mourners devolves upon the undertaker. In this case the following form is usually employed. The object of requesting an early answer is for him to learn what number of mourning. coaches will be required
The favour of - company is requested to attend the funeral of the late -, on - next, the -. The mourners will assemble at -, and then proceed to -. An early answer to -, undertaker, will oblige -.
In cases where the death has occurred in a wealthy family, and where, consequently, no expense is spared on the funeral, mourning coaches are sent to the houses of all who are to attend the funeral, to convey them to the residence of the deceased, where the mourners are to assemble. Under these circumstances forms of this kind are sent out
The friends of the late -, of -, request the favour of - company on - next, the -, to unite with them in paying the last tribute of respect to the deceased, -, and for which purpose a mourning coach will call for at - to convey - to - late residence, -. An early answer to -, undertaker, - will oblige
It is also customary with some families to return thanks for the kind inquiries that may have been made during the illness of the deceased. This may be very conveniently done by means of the following printed letter:-
returns thanks for
The various kinds of mourning stationery are sold by all retail stationers, and note-paper, cards, and envelopes can readily be obtained in all depths of border. The envelopes are generally adhesive, with an embossed cameo device on the flap, but it is not unusual to impress a seal of black wax in addition.
DEATH IN THE HOUSEHOLD. - IV.
THE blinds of the windows of the house should be drawn
down directly the death occurs, and they should remain down until after the
funeral has left the house, when they are at once to be pulled up. As a rule,
the females of the family do not pay any visits until after the funeral. Neither
would it be considered in good taste for any friends or acquaintances to visit
at the house during that time, unless they were relatives of the family, when of
course it would be only proper for them to do so. With regard to the time that
ought to elapse after death before the funeral is performed, it may be said that
in many cases - especially in the summer - the corpse is retained too long, and
thus becomes injurious to the health of those living in the house. This is most
especially the case when the deceased died of typhus or some other fever, and
complaints of a similar infectious character. Under these circumstances, the
practice is attended with danger to the neighbourhood, and should be most
strictly avoided. Perhaps, as a rule, it may be said that funerals in winter
should take place within one week after death, and in summer in a still shorter
It sometimes happens among the poorer classes that the female relatives attend the funeral; but this custom is by no means to be recommended, since in these cases it but too frequently happens that, being unable to restrain their emotions, they interrupt and destroy the solemnity of the ceremony with their sobs, and even by fainting. As soon as the funeral is over it is usual for the mourners to separate, each one taking his departure home.
While on the subject, we would caution our readers against, out of a mistaken and thoughtless kindness, offering, and even forcing wines, spirits, and other liquors upon the undertaker's man. If they were given instead a cup of tea or coffee and a sandwich, it would, in the generality of cases, be both more acceptable to them, and also keep them in the condition necessary for the proper performance of their duties.
Now, with reference to mourning, it has been customary for mourning apparel not to be put on until the day of the funeral, but at the present time it is more usual to wear it as soon as possible. The width of the hat-bands worn differs according to the degree of relationship. When worn by the husband for the wife they are usually at the present time about seven inches wide. Those worn by fathers for sons, and sons for fathers, are about five inches wide. For other degrees of relationship the width of the hat-band varies from two and a half inches to four inches.
After the funeral deep mourning is worn by the widower or widow for about a year. The same is also the case [-345-] with mourning for a father or mother, sons or daughter, sister or brother. Occasionally, at the end of that period, half mourning is worn by the widow or widower for about six months longer. During the period while mourning is worn it is customary to employ envelopes and note-paper edged with a deep border of black.
It is also usual for friends when writing to them to employ black-edged paper and envelopes, but in this case the black border must be extremely narrow.
For uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces, cousins, and other relations, the mourning is usually worn for a period varying from six to nine months. The black edge on the stationery is also narrower than that used for nearer relations.
It is usual to present the relations and friends of the deceased persons with what are called memorial cards, stating the name, age, date of death, where interred, and date of interment, and also a verse of Scripture appropriate to the occasion.
One of these cards is usually given to each of the mourners immediately after the interment, or if not ready then, is forwarded to them afterwards, as early as convenient, It is advisable that such cards should also bear in addition the number of the grave, since it often happens that relations afterwards visit the grave, and when they know the number the spot can always be readily pointed out to them by the officials of the cemetery company.
It is now proposed to give some information on the subject of monuments and grave-stones. Before a monument or grave-stone of any description can erected, or the ground even enclosed, it is absolutely necessary that the exclusive right of burial in the grave over which they are to be erected shall have been purchased. The nature of the memorial stone to be erected will depend in most cases on the situation of the grave. In some cemeteries grave-stones are allowed to be put up only in certain spots, while in other situations only flat or ledge stones may be used. Purchasers of ground in the best Situations in cemeteries are often compelled to erect monuments within a limited time after purchase. But they are not allowed to put up any kind of monument they please, since before it can be erected plans or drawings of the proposed memorial must be deposited with the company for a certain period previously, a copy of the inscription intended to be engraved upon it being also required to be deposited with the plans, the period allowed for the erection of such monuments being twelve months, and if not done within that time the purchase of the land will be void. Under certain circumstances, however, permission to delay its - erection may be obtained from the company. Sometimes the directors of the cemetery stipulate that every kind of memorial stone erected on their ground shall be of the best quality, and that no Bath, Caen, or other free-stone shall be employed for that purpose. The height usually allowed in most cemeteries for a head-stone is about five feet, and no stones are to be erected that exceed that height. A stipulation is sometimes made, with the view to the durability of the monuments that are to be erected, that only copper clamps shall be employed in their construction.
With a view to give as much information as possible as to the cost of erecting monuments, illustrations, showing four different kinds, are given. They were all constructed of the best stone, Portland or York, and some of them were enclosed with railings. The total cost of Fig. 1 was £ 7 ; of Fig. 2, £ 9 9s. Fig. 3, £ 20; while the expense of Fig. 4 was £ 22. But if marble had been employed for this purpose, the cost would, of course, have been greater.
Figs. 5 and 6 are specimens of wall-tablets.
The expense of such tablets as these varies with the materials chosen for their execution ; but estimates for tablets of somewhat similar description, and in any required material, may usually be had from all mortuary masons without charge.
If the body is to be buried in an ordinary grave, only wooden coffins are allowed to be used; while if in the catacombs, or in a vault or brick grave, those of lead, stone, or iron only are to be used. When a coffin is constructed of wood, elm or oak is usually used ; those made with elm being the most common, owing to the cheapness of the wood, and other circumstances.
In some cases a double coffin is used for interments. In this case the inner one, in which the body is placed, is called the shell; while the outside one, in which the shell is enclosed, is termed the case.
A modification of this kind of coffin has been lately introduced. In it a piece of plate glass is fixed in an opening in the upper part of the lid of the shell. A coffin of this kind is meant to be used for those persons who happen to die at a considerable distance from home, and where many days must elapse before any of the relatives can reach the place where the deceased died ; the corpse being placed in the shell, which is then closed with the false cover, in which the glass is fixed, the space between the lid of the shell and the shell itself being filled up with melted pitch, so as to prevent, as much as can be done, all access of air to the corpse, and thus avoid decomposition setting in as long as possible; the use of the glass being to give the relatives an opportunity of gazing again on the face of the [-346-] dead previous to interment. The outside of the wood of which the coffin is made is sometimes made smooth, and polished with beeswax. Coffins thus manufactured may be had cheaper than those covered with black; but where the mourner is not influenced by the trifling extra expense or other considerations, black cloth, prepared for the purpose, seems to be the most fitting material with which to cover a receptacle for the dead. There is a more solemn feeling caused by the sight of a coffin covered with black than is produced by the uncovered wood, however carefully it may be polished.
When death occurs in a family living in one or two rooms in a crowded neighbourhood, the necessity of retaining the dead corpse in rooms in which the living have to eat and sleep, is often attended with serious consequences to the health of the inhabitants. To meet this evil, some of the cemetery companies have places set apart, where, without paying any extra fees, the coffin containing the corpse may be privately conveyed, and kept in safety until the time appointed for the funeral. At the time of the funeral the mourners assemble here, instead of at the house from which the corpse was removed. By adopting this course, much of the expense of the funeral is saved, as all the cost attending the procession from the house to the cemetery is avoided. It need not be said that there are many cases, as, for example, that of a widow with a young family, left nearly destitute by the loss of her husband, in which this saving of expense may be a matter of serious consideration.
Some of the cemeteries near London adjoin a railway, by which means the coffin and the mourners may be sent direct, by what is known as a funeral train, from the private station of the cemetery company at the London terminus U to the place of burial. In this case, as the funeral procession will only be required from the residence of the deceased to the London terminus, and not all the way to the cemetery, considerable expense will be saved.
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