The Project Gutenberg eBook, A History of Mourning, by Richard Davey

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Title: A History of Mourning

Author: Richard Davey

Release Date: December 7, 2013 [eBook #44379]

Language: English

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History of Mourning

Mary Queen of Scots


As Widow of Francis II. of France, a facsimile of the original drawing by Clouet, preserved in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris.—Reproduced expressly for this Publication.





History of Mourning by Richard Davey, Jay's Regent Street

Wreath composed of the flowers mentioned in Shakespeare's dirges






A History of Mourning by Richard Davey

A LTHOUGH tradition has not informed us whether our first parents made any marked change in their scanty garments on the death of their near relatives, it is certain that the fashion of wearing mourning and the institution of funereal ceremonies and rites are of the most remote antiquity. Herodotus tells us that the Egyptians over 3,000 years ago selected yellow as the colour which denoted that a kinsman was lately deceased. They, moreover, shaved their eyebrows when a relative died; but the death of a dog or a cat, regarded as divinities by this curious people, was a matter of much greater importance to them, for then they not only shaved their eyebrows, but every hair on their bodies was plucked out; and doubtless this explains the reason why so many elaborate wigs are to be seen in the various museums devoted to Egyptian antiquities. It would require a volume to give an idea of the singular funereal ceremonials of this people, with whom death was regarded, so to speak, as a "speciality;" for their religion was mainly devoted to the cultus of the departed, and consequently innumerable monumental tombs still exist all over Egypt, the majority of which are full of mummies, whose painted cases are most artistic.


Fig. 1.An Egyptian Lady preparing to go into Mourning for the death of her pet Cat.—From a picture by J. R. Weguelin.

The cat was worshipped as a divinity by the Egyptians. Magnificent tombs were erected in its honour, sacrifices and devotions were offered to it; and, as has already 4 been said, it was customary for the people of the house to shave their heads and eyebrows whenever Pussy departed the family circle. Possibly it was their exalted position in Egypt which eventually led to cats being considered the "familiars" of witches in the Middle Ages, and even in our own time, for belief in witchcraft is not extinct. The kindly Egyptians made mummies of their cats and dogs, and it is presumable that, since Egypt is a corn growing, and hence a rat and mouse producing country, both dogs and cats, as killers of these vermin, were regarded with extreme veneration on account of their exterminating 5 qualities. Their mummies are often both curious and comical, for the poor beast's quaint figure and face are frequently preserved with an indescribably grim realism, after the lapse of many ages.


Fig. 2.Egyptian Maiden presenting Incense to the new-made Mummy of a Cat.

The funeral processions of the Egyptians were magnificent; for with the principal members of the family of the deceased, if he chanced to be of royal or patrician rank, walked in stately file numerous priests, priestesses, and officials wearing mourning robes, and, together with professional mourners, filling the air with horrible howls and cries. Their descendants still produce these strident and dismal lamentations on similar occasions.

6 T HE Egyptian Pyramids, which were included among the seven wonders of the world, are seventy in number, and are masses of stone or brick, with square bases and triangular sides. Although various opinions have prevailed as to their use, as that they were erected for astronomical purposes, for resisting the encroachment of the sand of the desert, for granaries, reservoirs, or sepulchres, the last-mentioned hypothesis has been proved to be correct, in recent times, by the excavations of Vyse, who expended nearly £10,000 in investigating their object. They were the tombs of monarchs of Egypt who flourished from the Fourth to the Twelfth Dynasty, none having been constructed later than that time; the subsequent kings being buried at Abydos, Thebes, and other places, in tombs of a very different character.


Fig. 3.The Pyramids and Great Sphinx.—From a pen-and-ink sketch by Horace Vernet.

The first, or Great Pyramid, was the sepulchre of the Cheops of Herodotus, the Chembes, or Chemmis, of Diodorus, and the Suphis of Manetho and Eratosthenes. Its height was 480 feet 9 inches, and its base 764 feet square. In other words, it was higher than St. Paul's Cathedral, and built on an area the size of Lincoln's Inn Fields. It has been, however, much spoiled, and stripped of its exterior blocks for the building of Cairo. The original sepulchral chamber, called the Subterranean Apartment, 46 feet by 27 feet, and 11 feet 6 inches high, 7 has been hewn in the solid rock, and was reached by the original passage of 320 feet long, which descended to it by an entrance at the foot of the pyramid. A second chamber, with a triangular roof, 17 feet by 18 feet 9 inches, and 20 feet 3 inches high, was entered by a passage rising to an inclination of 26° 18', terminating in a horizontal passage. It is called the Queen's Chamber, and occupies a position nearly in the centre of the pyramid. The monument—probably owing to the long life attained by the monarch—still progressing, a third chamber, called the King's, was finally constructed, by prolonging the ascending passage of the Queen's Chamber for 150 feet farther into the very centre of the pyramid, and, after a short horizontal passage, making a room 17 feet 1 inch by 34 feet 3 inches, and 19 feet 1 inch high. The changes which took place in this pyramid gave rise to various traditions, even in the days of Herodotus, Cheops being reported to lie buried in a chamber surrounded by the waters of the Nile. It took a long time for its construction—100,000 men being employed on it probably for above half a century, the duration of the reign of Cheops. The operations 8 in this pyramid by General Vyse gave rise to the discovery of marks scrawled in red ochre in a kind of cursive hieroglyph, on the blocks brought from the quarries of Tourah. These contained the name and titles of Khufu (the hieroglyphic form of Cheops); numerals and directions for the position of materials, etc.


Fig. 4.Mummies of Cats and Dogs.—British Museum and Museum of the Louvre.

The second Pyramid was built by Suphis II., or Kephren, who reigned 66 years, according to Manethro, and who appears to have attained a great age. It has two sepulchral chambers, and must have been broken into by the Calif Alaziz Othman Ben-Yousouf, A.D. 1196. Subsequently it was opened by Belzoni. The masonry is inferior to that of the first Pyramid, but it was anciently cased below with red granite.

The third Pyramid, built by Menkara, who reigned 63 years, is much smaller than the other two, and has also two sepulchral chambers, both in the solid rock. The lower chamber, which held a sarcophagus of rectangular shape of whinstone, had a pointed roof, cut like an arch inside; but the cedar coffin, in shape of a mummy, had been removed to the upper or large apartment, and its contents there rifled. Amongst the debris of the coffin and in the chambers were found the legs and part of the trunk of a body with linen wrapper, supposed by some to belong to the monarch, but by others to an Arab, on account of the anchylosed right knee. This body and fragments of the coffin were brought to the British Museum; but the stone sarcophagus was unfortunately lost off Carthagena, by the sinking of the vessel in which it was being transported to England.

There are six other Pyramids of inferior size and interest at Gizeh; one at Abou Rouash, which is ruined, but of large dimensions; another at Zowyet El Arrian, still more ruined; another at Reegah, a spot in the vicinity of Abooseer, also much dilapidated, and built for the monarch User-en-Ra, by some supposed to be Busiris. There are five of these monuments at Abooseer, one with a name supposed to be that of a monarch of the Third Dynasty; and another with that of the king Sahura. A group of eleven Pyramids remains at Sakkara, and five other Pyramids are at Dashour, the northernmost of which, built of brick, is supposed to be that of the king Asychis of Herodotus, and has a name of a king apparently about the Twelfth Dynasty. Others are at Meydoon and Illahoon, Biahmo and Medinat El Fyoum, apparently the sepulchres of the last kings of the Twelfth Dynasty.

In Nubia, the ancient Æthiopia, are several Pyramids, the tombs of the monarchs of Meroë and of some of the Ethiopian conquerors of Egypt. They are taller in proportion to their base than the Egyptian Pyramids, and generally have a sepulchral hall, or propylon, with sculptures, which faces the east. The principal groups of these Pyramids are at Bege Rauie, or Begromi, 17º N. lat., in one of which, gold rings and other objects of late art, resembling that of the Ptolemaic period, were found.

The numerous Pyramids of Mexico are of vast size and importance, but their purpose is not yet fully ascertained. Completely covered as they are with dense vegetation, filled with 9 venomous reptiles, they are difficult to investigate, but they were evidently much the same in shape and structure as the Egyptian, and their entrances were richly sculptured.

The art of preserving the body after death by embalming was invented by the Egyptians, whose prepared bodies are known by the name of mummies. This art seems to have derived its origin from the idea that the preservation of the body was necessary for the return of the soul to the human form after it had completed its cycle of existence of three or ten thousand years. Physical and sanitary reasons may also have induced the ancient Egyptians; and the legend of Osiris, whose body, destroyed by Typhon, was found by Isis, and embalmed by his son Anubis, gave a religious sanction to the rite, all deceased persons being supposed to be embalmed after the model of Osiris in the abuton of Philæ. One of the earliest embalmments on record is that of the patriarch Jacob; and the body of Joseph was thus prepared, and transported out of Egypt. The following seems to have been the usual rule observed after death. The relations of the deceased went through the city chanting a wail for the dead. The corpse of a male was at once committed into the charge of undertakers; if a female, it was detained at home until decomposition had begun. The paraschistes, or flank-inciser of the district, a person of low class, conveyed the corpse home. A scribe marked with a reed-pen a line on the left side beneath the ribs, down which line the paraschistes made a deep incision with a rude knife of stone, or probably flint. He was then pelted by those around with stones, and pursued with curses. Then the taricheutes, or preparer, proceeded to arrange the corpse for the reception of the salts and spices necessary for its preservation, and the future operations depended on the sum to be expended upon the task. When Herodotus visited Egypt, three methods prevailed: the first, accessible only to the wealthy, consisted in passing peculiar drugs through the nostrils, into the cavities of the skull, rinsing the body in palm wine, and filling it with resins, cassia, and other substances, and stitching up the incision in the left flank. The mummy was then steeped in natron for 70 days, and wrapped up in linen cemented by gums, and set upright in a wooden coffin against the walls of the house or tomb. This process cost what would now amount in our money to about £725. The second process consisted in injecting into the body cedar oil, soaking it in a solution of natron for 70 days, which eventually destroyed everything but the skin and bones. The expense was a mina, relatively, about £243. In the third process, used for the poorer classes, the corpse was simply washed in myrrh, and salted for 70 days. When thus prepared the bodies were ready for sepulture, but they were often kept some time before burial—often at home—and were even produced at festive entertainments, to recall to the guests the transient lot of humanity. All classes were embalmed, even malefactors; and those who were drowned in the Nile or killed by crocodiles received an embalmment from the city nearest to which the accident occurred.

The Ethiopians used similar means of embalming to preserve the dead, and other less successful means were used by nations of antiquity. The Persians employed wax, the 10 Assyrians, honey; the Jews embalmed their monarchs with spices, with which the body of Our Lord was also anointed; Alexander the Great was preserved in wax and honey, and some Roman bodies have been found thus embalmed. The Guanches, or ancient inhabitants of the Canary Isles, used an elaborate process like the Egyptian; and dessicated bodies, preserved by atmospheric or other circumstances for centuries, have been found in France, Sicily, England, and America, especially in Central America, and Peru. The art of embalming was probably never lost in Europe, and De Bils, Ruysch, Swammerdam, and Clauderus boast of great success in it. During the present century it has been almost entirely discarded, except under very exceptional circumstances.


11 illustration

Fig. 5.Tomb of Runjeet Singh at Lahore.

L EAVING the Oriental and remotely ancient nations aside, we will now consider the history of mourning as it was used by those peoples from whom we immediately derive our funereal customs. In ancient times, even amongst the Greeks and Romans, it was the custom to immolate victims—either slaves or captives—on the tomb of the departed, in order to appease the spirit, or that the soul might be accompanied by spirits of inferior persons to the realms of eternal bliss; and in India we have some difficulty even now in preventing the burning of a widow on the funeral pyre of her husband, instances of this barbarous custom occurring almost every year, notwithstanding the vigilance of our Government.

It would be extremely interesting to trace to their sources all the various rites and ceremonies connected with our principal subject, of every nation, savage or civilised, 12 ancient or modern; but the task would be quite beyond my limits. A thorough investigation of the matter, assisted very materially by a systematic investigation of that mine of curious information, Picard's famous "Cérémonies et coutumes religieuses de tous les peuples", which contains so many original letters from missionaries of the 16th and 17th Centuries, obliges me to come to the conclusion that there is, after all, not so much variety in the funereal ceremonies of the world as we imagine. Those of the Chinese and Japanese resemble in many ways, very strikingly too, the ceremonies which the Roman Catholics employ to this day: there are the same long processions of priests and officials; and Picard shows us a sketch of a very grand burial at Pekin, in 1675, in which we behold the body of the Emperor of the Celestials stretched upon a bier covered with deep violet satin, and surrounded by many lighted candles; prayers were said for the repose of the soul; and, as all the world knows, the costumes of the priests of Buddha are supposed to have undergone, together with their creed and ritual, a great change in the early part of the 17th Century, owing to the extraordinary influence of the Jesuit missionaries who followed St. Francis Xavier into India and Japan. The Japanese cremated their dead and preserved the ashes; the Chinese buried theirs; but the Cingalese, after burning the body, scattered the ashes to the winds; whilst a sect of Persians exposed their dead upon the top of high towers, and permitted the birds of prey to perform the duty which we assign to the gravedigger.

Cemeteries existed in the East at a remote epoch, and were rendered so beautiful with handsome mausoleums, groves of stately cypresses and avenues of lovely rose bushes, that they are now used as public promenades. On certain days of the year multitudes resort to them for purposes of prayer, and the Armenian Christians illuminate theirs with lamps and tapers on the annual feast of the commemoration of the departed. Perhaps India possesses the most elegant tombs in the world, mainly built by the sovereigns of the Mongol dynasty. None among them is so sumptuous as the mausoleum of Taj Mahal, situated about a mile outside the port of Agra. It was built by Shah Jehan for himself and his wife Arjimand Banoo, surnamed Mumtaz Mahal; 20,000 men were employed for 20 years erecting it. It is constructed of the purest white marble, relieved with precious stones. In the interior is the sepulchral apartment, which is chiefly decorated with lapis lazuli. The tombs of the Emperor and Empress, which stand under the dome, are covered with costly Indian shawls of green cashmere, heavily embroidered with gold.

Another most beautiful specimen of Mahometan sepulchral architecture is the tomb of Runjeet Singh, near Lahore, which, though less known, is externally as magnificent as the mausoleum above described.


13 M OSES prohibited the immolation of human victims on the tombs of the dead, and decreed that relatives should signify their sorrow by the manner in which they tore their garments. They rent them according to the degrees of affinity and parentage. Sometimes the tears were horizontal, and this indicated that a father, mother, wife, brother, or sister had died; but if the tear was longitudinal, it signified that some person had departed who was not a blood relation. An idea can be formed of the appalling destruction of clothing which must have occurred on certain occasions amongst the ancient Jews, when we remember that on the death of a king everybody was expected to tear their garments longitudinally, and to go about with them in tatters for nine days. This curious custom possibly explains Solomon's proverb, "There is a time to rend and a time to mend."

The High Priest among the Jews was exempted from wearing mourning. The French, when they embraced Christianity, added many Jewish customs to their own: up to the time of the Revolution of 1789, their Grand Chancellor, or Chief Magistrate, was not bound to wear mourning even for his own father.

The Greeks, doubtless, derived their funereal ceremonies from the Egyptians, and it is from this ancient people that we obtain the custom of wearing black as mourning. When a person in Greece was dangerously ill and not expected to recover, branches of laurestinus and achanthus were hung up over the door, and the relatives hurried round the bed and prayed to Mercury, as the conductor of souls, to have mercy upon the invalid, and either to cure him completely or else help his soul to cross the river Styx. If the death really occurred, then the house was filled with cries and lamentations. The body was washed and perfumed, and covered with rich robes; a garland of flowers was placed on its head, and in its hand a cake made of wheat and honey, to appease Cerberus, the porter of Hell; and in the mouth a purse of money, in order to defray the expenses of Charon, the ferryman of Styx. In this state the deceased was exposed for two days in the vestibule of the house. At the door was a vase full of water, destined to purify the hands of those who touched the corpse.

Visitors to Paris will remember how often they have seen a coffin exhibited in the doorway of a house, elaborately covered with flowers, having at its head a crucifix, and many lights surrounding it, everybody as they passed saluting it—the men by taking off their14 hats, and the women by making the sign of the cross, often using for this purpose holy water offered to them on a brush by an acolyte. Now, the Greeks used blessed water when they exposed their dead in front of their dwellings; possibly the French custom is derived from the Grecian. The funeral in Greece took place three days after the exhibition of the remains, and usually occurred before sunrise, so as to avoid ostentation. Many women surrounded the bier, weeping and howling, and not a few, being professionals, were paid for their trouble. The corpse was placed on a chariot, in a coffin made of cypress wood. The15 male relatives walked behind, those who were of close kinship having their heads shaved. They usually cast down their eyes, and were invariably dressed in black. A choir of musicians came next, singing doleful tunes. The procession, as a rule, had not far to go, for the body of a wealthy person was usually buried in his garden—if his city house did not possess one, in that of his villa residence.


Fig. 6.A Greek Tomb: the Monument of Themistocles, Athens.

The Greeks, it will thus be seen, buried their dead, and did not cremate them as did the Romans; but in the latter years of the Republic both forms of disposing of the body were common. After the burial, libations of wine were poured over the grave, and all objects of clothing which had belonged to the deceased were solemnly burnt. The ninth and fourteenth days after the funeral, the parents, dressed in white, visited the grave, and a ceremony was gone through for the repose of the soul. The anniversary of the death was also observed, and the Greeks, moreover, had a general commemoration of the dead in the month of March. And here let us make a digression to see how very closely the Greeks must have influenced the early Christians, and consequently their more immediate descendants, the Roman Catholics, in the matter of religious ceremonies; for it is usual among Catholics to hear a Mass for the Dead a week after the death, and also another on the anniversary. The universal feast of the dead is observed by them, however, not in the month of March, but in that of November. People who have lived in Paris will know how very largely these funereal ceremonies enter into the manners and customs of that gay city, so that it is not unfrequent for foreign residents to observe that their time is passed in perpetually going to funerals; for, if you have a large acquaintance, you are sure to receive at least twenty or thirty invitations to funerals and funereal commemorations in the course of the year. Of course, everybody will remember how on the Continent the first day of November is devoted to visiting the cemeteries and decorating the tombs of relatives and friends.


Fig. 7.Gallo-Roman bas-relief—found in Paris about fifty years ago—representing a family surrounding the body of a woman who has recently died.—Museum of the Louvre.

16 To return to the Greeks, it should be observed that their respect for the dead was remarkable, even amongst the ancients. If a man accidentally found a body on the high-road, he was obliged to turn aside and bury it. When the people saw a funeral procession pass, they uncovered their heads and murmured a prayer. The laws against the violation of the sepulchres of the dead were most severe, and any one who was caught damaging a tomb was usually flogged for his trouble, but if he overthrew it and disturbed the body, he was burnt alive.

If a person died at sea, all the people on board the ship assembled at sunset, and cried out three times the name of the departed, who was usually thrown overboard. In the morning they repeated these calls, and so forth until the ship entered port. This was done in order to recall the names of the deceased, or at any rate to keep them propitious.

When an illustrious person died in Greece, the ceremonies were on a most elaborate scale, and even accompanied by games, which lasted for many days. Readers of Homer's "Iliad" will remember his magnificent description of the death and funeral of Patroclus.

Among the Romans the men were not obliged to wear mourning, but it was the fashion for women to do so. Very wisely, children under three years of age were not forced to put on black, even for their parents, and after that age, only for as many months as they had lived years.

The Roman ladies only wore mourning for their parents for one year. Men were expected to wear it for the same period in the case of the death of a father, mother, wife, sister, or brother. Numa fixed the period of wearing deep mourning for the nearest of kin as ten months. People, however, were not obliged to wear mourning for any of their relatives who had been in prison, were bankrupt, or in any way outlawed. Numa published a minute series of laws regulating the mourning of his people. A very odd item in these included an order that women should not scratch their faces, or make an exceptional fuss at a public funeral. This was possibly decreed to put some stop to abuses which the hired mourners had occasioned: scratching their faces, for instance, so as to injure themselves, and making an over-dismal wail which was offensive to the genuine mourners.

For freedmen and slaves among the Romans, the greatest mark of respect was the erection of a monument or inscription in the tomb reserved for the family they had served. Thousands of these inscriptions to slaves and faithful servants still exist, and lead us to hope that the hardships of slavery in ancient Rome were often softened by mutual kindness and respect. One of the most touching of these is in a tomb on the Appian Road, which is supposed to have belonged to the attendants of Livia, the illustrious consort of Augustus. It runs:—

"To my beloved Julia, my slave-woman, whose last illness I have watched and attended as if it had been that of my own mother."

17 Tombs of slaves who were martyrs to the Christian religion are very frequent, and their inscriptions are usually of a most pathetic description.

The ashes of the dead, after the solemn burning of the body, were carefully gathered together and placed in an often very beautifully painted urn, and taken to the family tomb on the Appian Way, where an appropriate inscription was affixed to the wall under the niche containing the vase or urn. Little glass bottles, said to be filled with the tears of the nearest relations, were likewise enclosed in the urn, or else hung up beside it. Thousands of these, brilliant, after ages, with iridescent colours, are still found in the Roman tombs.

It was not imperative for a man in old Rome to wear mourning at all; but it was considered very bad taste for a male not to show some external sign of respect for his dead. With women, on the other hand, it was obligatory.

On great occasions, such as the death of an Emperor or a defeat of the army in foreign parts, the Senate, the Knights, and the whole Roman people assumed mourning; and the same ceremony was observed when any general of the Roman army was slain in battle. When Manlius was precipitated from the Tarpeian rock, half the people put on mourning. The defeat at Cannæ, the conspiracy of Catilina, and the death of Julius Cæsar were also events celebrated in Rome with public mourning; but during the whole period of the Republic it was not compulsory for people to notice death, either publicly or privately.

The first public mourning recorded as being observed throughout the entire Roman Empire was that for Augustus. It lasted for fifty days for the men, and the whole year for women. The next public event which called forth a decree commanding that the entire people of Rome and the Empire should wear mourning, was the death of Livia, mother of Tiberius. The same thing occurred at the death of Drusus; and Caligula followed the example, and ordered general mourning on the death of Drusilla.

Private mourning, which was among the Romans, as we have already intimated, not at all compulsory, could be broken by events such as the birth of a son or daughter, the marriage of a child, and the return of a prisoner of war. Men wore lighter mourning than women, but were expected to absent themselves from places of public amusement.

The usual colour adopted by women for mourning, under the Roman Empire, was a peculiar blue-black serge, and an absolutely black veil. As with us, occasionally, the wearing of mourning brought forth some sharp remarks from the satirical poets. Thus, Macrobius tells us, in his Saturnalia, that Crœsus on one occasion went to the Senate wearing the deepest mourning for the largest lamprey in his tank, which had died.

Women were not allowed to remarry within the year of their husband's death. Imperial permission, however, might smooth this difficulty.

18 A MONG the early Christians the sincerest respect for the memory of their dead was paid; for most of them, in the first centuries of the Church, were either martyrs or near connections of such as had suffered for the faith. The Catacombs are covered with inscriptions recording the deaths of martyrs; and many of these memorials are exceedingly pathetic, testifying to the fortitude with which the first Christians endured any manner of torture rather than deny the new faith which had been imparted to them by Divine revelation. The remains of the martyrs, however mangled they might be, were gathered together with the greatest reverence, and their blood placed in little phials of glass, which were considered relics of a most precious nature. The Catacombs, which served the first Christians as churches as well as places of burial, are called after the most distinguished martyrs who were buried therein. In that of St. Calixtus, for instance—where that early and martyred Pope was interred—about two centuries ago was found the body of Saint Cecilia, "the sweet patroness of music." With such precaution had her remains been transported to their place of interment, that Bernini, the most eminent sculptor of the 17th Century, was able to take a cast of them, which he subsequently worked into a lovely statue, representing the saint in the graceful and modest attitude in which it is said her body was found after the lapse of a thousand years. This exquisite work of art is to be seen in the church which bears Saint Cecilia's name, in the Trastevere; and a fine replica of it is in the chapel of St. Cecilia, in the Oratory, Brompton.


Fig. 8.Divine Service in the Catacombs of St. Calixtus, A.D. 50.

The Catacombs are subterraneous chambers and passages usually formed in the rock, which is soft and easily excavated, and are to be found in almost every country in which such rocks exist. In most cases, probably, they originated in mere quarries, which afterwards came to be used either as places of sepulchre for the dead, or as hiding-places for the persecuted living. The most celebrated Catacombs in existence are those on the Via Appia, at a short distance from Rome. To these dreary crypts the early Christians were in the habit of retiring, in order to celebrate Divine worship in times of persecution, and in them were buried many of the saints, the early Popes, and martyrs. They consist of long narrow galleries, usually about eight feet high and five wide, which twist and turn in all directions. The graves were constructed by hollowing out a portion of the rock, at the side of the gallery, large enough to contain the body. The entrance was then built up with stones, on which usually the19 letters D. M. (Deo Maximo), or ΧΡ, the first two letters of the Greek name of Christ, were inscribed. Though latterly devoted to purposes of Christian interment exclusively, it is believed that the Catacombs were at one time used as burying-places for Pagans also, and there are one or two which were evidently entirely devoted to the Jews. At irregular intervals, these galleries expand into wide and lofty vaulted chambers, in which the service of the Church was no doubt celebrated, and which still have the appearance of chapels. The original extent of the Catacombs is uncertain, the guides maintaining that they have a length of twenty miles, whereas about six only can now be ascertained to exist, and of these, many portions have either fallen in or become dangerous. When Rome was besieged by the20 Lombards in the 8th Century, several of the Catacombs were destroyed, and the Popes afterwards caused the remains of many of the saints and martyrs to be removed and buried in the churches. The Catacombs at Naples, cut into the Capo di Monte, resemble those at Rome, and evidently were used for the same purposes, being partially covered with remarkable Christian symbols. At Palermo and Syracuse, there are similar Catacombs, and they are also to be found in Greece, Asia Minor, Syria, Persia, and Egypt. At Milo, one of the Cyclades, there is a hill which is honeycombed with a labyrinth of tombs running in every direction. In these, bassorilievi and figures in terra-cotta have been found, which prove them to be long anterior to the Christian era. In Peru and other parts of South America, ancient Catacombs still exist. The Catacombs of Paris are a species of charnel-house, into which the contents of such burying-places as were found to be pestilential, and the bodies of some of the victims of the Revolution, were cast by a decree of the Government. The skulls are arranged in curious forms, and a visit to these weird galleries is one of the sights of Paris, which few strangers, however, are privileged to study. The Capuchin monks have frequently attached to their monasteries, a cloister filled with earth brought from the Holy Land. In this the monks are buried for a time, until their bones are quite fleshless, when they are arranged in surprising groups in the long corridors of a series of galleries, and produce sometimes the reverse of a solemn effect.



Fig. 9.Crypt of a Chapel in the Catacomb of St. Agnes, without the walls of Rome (restored), showing the manner in which the bodies of the early Christians were arranged one above the other. The front of each tomb was of course walled up.—From the work on the Catacombs of Rome, by M. Perret.


Fig. 10.An Anglo-Saxon Widow Lady. The upper garment is of black cloth, edged with fur, and a veil of black gauze hangs from the head.—9th Century MS., National Library, Paris.

A S the Church emerged from the Catacombs, and was enabled to take her position in the world, her funereal ceremonies became more elaborate and costly. Masses for the dead were offered up in the churches, to the accompaniment of music and singing; and the funereal ceremonies which attended the burial of the Empress Theodolinda, A.D. 595, the friend and correspondent of Pope St. Gregory the Great, lasted for over a week. The Cathedral of Monza, where she was buried, was hung with costly black stuff, and the body of the Empress was exhibited under a magnificent catafalque, surrounded with lights, and was visited by pilgrims from all parts of Lombardy. Many hundreds of masses were said for her in all the churches, and all day the great bells of the cathedral and of the various monastic establishments tolled dolefully. At the end of the week the body of the illustrious Empress was placed in the vault under the high altar, where it remains to this day; and above it was a shrine filled with extraordinary relics, many of which still subsist, as, for instance, her celebrated "Hen and Chickens"—a plateau or tray of silver gilt with some gold chickens with ruby eyes upon it—and 22 the famous iron crown, which is, indeed, of gold, having one of the nails said to have been used at the Crucifixion beaten in a single band round the inside. Napoleon I. crowned himself, at Milan, King of Italy, with this singular relic.


Fig. 11.An Anglo-Saxon Priest wearing a black Dalmatic, edged with fur, ready to say a Requiem Mass.—From an early MS., 10th Century.

Our Catholic ancestors spent large sums of money upon their funerals. The pious practice of praying for the dead, which they doubtless derived from the Hebrews, induced them to secure the future exertions of their friends, by building chanteries and special chapels in the churches, with a view of reminding the survivors of their demise. Guilds, which by the way, still exist, were created for the purpose of binding people together in a holy league of prayer for the souls of the faithful departed. We find in the laws established for the Guild of Abbotsbury, the following regulations:—"If any one belonging to the association chance to die, each member shall pay a penny for the good of the soul, before the body be laid in the grave. If he die in the neighbourhood, the steward (secretary) shall enquire23 when he is to be interred, and shall summon as many members as he can, to assemble and carry the corpse in as honourable a manner as possible to the grave or minster, and there pray devoutly for his soul's rest." With the same view, our ancestors were ever anxious to obtain a place of sepulchre in the most frequented churches. The monuments raised over their remains, whilst keeping them safe from profanation, recalled them to memory, and solicited on their behalf the charity of the faithful. The usual inscription on the earlier Christian tombs in this country was the pathetic "Of your charity, pray for me." In the Guild of All Souls, in London, when any member died, it was the custom of the survivors to give the poor a loaf for the good of the soul; and the writer can perfectly remember, that some thirty years since, in remote parts of Norfolk, when anybody died, it was the fashion to distribute loaves of bread in the church porch as a dole. The funeral of an Anglo-Saxon was thus conducted:—The body of the deceased was placed on a bier or in a hearse. On it lay the book of the gospels, the code of his or her belief, and the cross, the signal of hope. A pall of silk or linen was thrown over it till it reached the place of interment. The friends were summoned, and strangers deemed it a duty to join the funeral procession. The clergy walked before or on each side, bearing lighted tapers in their hands, and chanting a portion of the psalter. If it were in the evening, the night was passed in exercises of devotion. In the morning,24 mass was sung and the body deposited with solemnity in the grave, the sawlshot paid, and a liberal donation distributed to the poor. Before the Reformation, it was the excellent custom for all persons who met a funeral to uncover and stand reverentially still until it had passed. The pious turned back, and accompanied the mourners a part of the way to the grave. It is pleasant to notice that this essentially humane habit of taking off the hat and behaving gravely as a funeral goes by, which is universal upon the Continent, is at last becoming more and more general here. The homage of the living to the mortal remains of even the humblest is excellent, and one which should be earnestly encouraged, being far more beneficial in its results than the heaping of costly flowers upon a hearse, which no one notices as it passes, laden with its ephemeral offerings, to the cemetery.


Fig. 12.Funeral of St. Edward the Confessor, January 5th, 1066. The body, covered with a silken pall adorned with crosses, is carried by eight men, and followed by many priests, to Westminster Abbey, which he had founded. Under the bier are seen two small figures ringing bells.—From the Bayeux Tapestry, worked by Matilda of Flanders, Queen of William the Conqueror, and preserved in the Cathedral at Bayeux—11th Century.

The funeral of Edward the Confessor was exceedingly magnificent, and the shrine built over his relics, behind the high altar of the glorious abbey which he founded, is still an object of reverence with our Roman Catholic fellow-citizens, who, on St. Edward's Day, are permitted by a tolerant age to offer their devotions before the resting-place of the last of our Saxon Kings. But our first Norman King was buried with scant ceremony. He died 1087, at Hermentrude, a village near Rouen, having been taken suddenly ill on his way to England. No sooner was the illustrious king deceased, than his servants plundered the house and even the corpse, flinging it naked upon the floor. Herleadin, a peasant, undertook at last to convey the body to Caen, where it was to be buried in the Abbey of St. Stephen, Prince Henry and the monks being present. Scarcely, however, was the mass of requiem begun, when the church took fire, and everybody fled, leaving William the Conqueror's hearse neglected in the centre of the transept. At last the flames were extinguished, the interrupted service finished, and the funeral sermon preached. Just, however, as the coffin was about to be lowered into the vault, Anselm Fitz-Arthur, a Norman gentleman, stood forth and forbade the interment. "This spot," cried he, "is the site of my father's house, which this dead man burnt to ashes. On the ground it occupied I built this church, and William's body shall not desecrate it." After much ado, however, Fitz-Arthur was prevailed upon by Prince Henry to allow the body to be buried, on the payment of sixty shillings as the price of the grave. In the 17th Century the Calvinists ravaged the tomb and broke the monument. It was restored in 1642, but finally swept away, together with that of Queen Matilda, in the Revolution of 1793.




Fig. 13.The Shrine of the Confessor, in Westminster Abbey.



Fig. 14.Funeral of an Abbess—10th Century.—From a MS.

P ERHAPS the most curious funeral on record occurred just at the dawn of the Renaissance—that of the ill-fated Inez de Castro—"the Queen crowned after death"—who was murdered in the 14th Century by three assassins in her own apartment at Coimbra. "Being conveyed," says the Chronicle of Fray Jao das Reglas, "to the chapel of the neighbouring convent, her body was arrayed in spotless white and decked with roses. The nuns surrounded the bier, and the Queen-mother of Portugal, Brittes, sat in state—her crown upon her head and her royal robes flowing around her—as chief mourner, having given an order that the body should not be buried until after the return of her son Don Pedro. When he did come back, he was transported with grief and anger at the foul murder of his consort; and, throwing himself upon the corpse, clasped it to his heart, covered its pale lips, its hands, its feet with kisses, and, refusing all consolation, remained for thirty hours with the body clasped in his embrace! At last, being overcome with fatigue, the unhappy Prince was carried away senseless from the piteous remains of his most dear Inez, and they were consigned to the grave. It was his father who had instigated the murderers to commit their foul deed, and this determined Pedro to take up arms against him; and Portugal was desolated by civil war. Eventually the reasoning of the Queen (Brittes) prevailed, and peace was restored. Pedro,28 however, never spoke to his father again until the hour of his death, when he forgave the great wrong he had done him. He now ascended the throne, and his first act was to hunt down the three murderers, two of whom were put to death, with tortures too awful to describe, and the other escaped into France, where he died a beggar. After this retributive act, Don Pedro assembled the Cortes at Cantandes, and, in the presence of the Pope's Nuncio, solemnly swore that he had secretly married Inez de Castro at Braganza, in the presence of the bishop and of other witnesses." "Then occurred an event unique in history," continues this naive contemporary chronicle. "The body of Inez was lifted from the grave, placed on a magnificent throne, and crowned Queen of Portugal. The clergy, the nobility, and the people did homage to her corpse, and kissed the bones of her hands. There sat the dead Queen, with her yellow hair hanging like a veil round her ghastly form. One fleshless hand held the sceptre, and the other the orb of royalty. At night, after the coronation ceremony, a procession was formed of all the clergy and nobility, the religious orders and confraternities—which extended over many miles—each person holding a flaring torch in his hand, and thus walked from Coimbra to Alcobaça, escorting the crowned corpse to that royal abbey for interment. The dead Queen lay in her rich robes upon a chariot drawn by black mules and lighted up by hundreds of lights."


Fig. 15.Bird's-eye view of the Monument (restored) of the Queen Inez of Castro, Abbey of Alcobaça, Portugal.

The scene must indeed have been a weird one. The sable costumes of the bishops and priests, the incense issuing from innumerable censers, the friars in their quaint garments, and the fantastically-attired members of the various hermandades, or brotherhoods—some of whom were dressed from head to foot entirely in scarlet, or blue, or black, or in white—with their countenances masked and their eyes glittering through small openings in their cowls; but above all, the spectre-like corpse of the Queen, on its car, and the grief-stricken King, who led the train—when seen by the flickering light of countless torches, with its solemn dirge music, passing through many a mile of open country in the midnight hours—was a vision so unreal that the chronicler describes it as "rather a phantasmagoria than a reality." In the magnificent abbey of Alcobaça the requiem mass was sung, and the corpse finally laid to rest.

The monument still exists, with the statue, with its royal diadem and mantle, lying thereon. The tomb of Don Pedro is placed foot to foot with that of Inez, so—the legend runs—that at the Judgment Day they may rise together and stand face to face.

29 In 1810 the bodies of Don Pedro I. and Dona Inez de Castro were disturbed by the French, at the sack of Alcobaça. The skeleton of Inez was discovered to be in a singular state of preservation—the hair exceedingly long and glossy, and the head bound with a golden crown set with jewels of price. Singularly enough, this crown, although very valuable, was kicked about by the men as a toy and thrown behind the high altar, whence, as soon as the troops evacuated the monastery, it was carefully taken and laid aside by the Abbot. Shortly afterwards it again encircled the unhappy Queen's head, when, by order of the Duke of Wellington, the remains were once more replaced in the tomb, with military honours.


Fig. 16.Funeral Service, in which are shown the Candelabra and Incense Vessels which were deposited in the coffin.—Drawing of the 14th Century—Collection of the Rev. Father Cochet.


Fig. 17.Angels praying over a Skull.—Bas-relief of 16th Century.

30 F UNERAL services of great magnificence entered largely into the customs of this pageantic epoch; and to this day, in Catholic countries, no religious ceremonies are conducted with more pomp than those intended to commemorate the departed. Besides the religious orders, there were numerous confraternities, guilds, and brotherhoods devoted to the burying and praying for the deceased. As no newspapers existed in those days, when a person of distinction died, the "Death Crier,"—in some parts of England called the "Death Watch,"—dressed in black, with a death's-head and cross-bones painted on the back and front of his gown, and armed with a bell, went the round of the town or village, as the case might be, shouting "Of your charity, good people, pray for the soul of our dear brother, [or sister] who departed this life at such and such an hour." Upon this the windows and doors of the houses were opened, and the "good people" said an ave or a pater for the "rest" of the dead, and at the same time the passing bell was tolled. In London, when the King or Queen died, the crier, or "Death Watch," who paraded our principal thoroughfares was,31 of course, a very important personage. Attended by the whole brotherhood, or guild, of the Holy Souls, with cross-bearer, each carrying a lighted candle, he proceeded processionally through the streets, notably up and down Cheapside and the Strand, solemnly ringing his bell, and crying out in a lugubrious voice his sad news. These criers, both in England and France, were paid, as officials, by the civic corporation so much per day, and were obliged, in addition to their usual mournful occupation, to inspect and report on the condition32 of low taverns and places of ill-fame. In the course of time they added to their "cry" news of a more miscellaneous character, and after the Reformation, became, we may well imagine, those rather musty folks the "Watch," who only disappeared from our midst as late as the early half of this century.


Figs. 18 & 19.Death CriersFrench costumes of 17th Century. The English dress was almost identical.—From a rare print in the collection of Mr. Richard Davey. Engraved expressly for this publication.


Fig. 20.Pall from the Church of Folleville, France, now in the Museum at Amiens. It is of black velvet, with stripes of white silk let in, embroidered with black and gold thread. It was placed over the coffin. Similar palls existed in England, and one or two are still preserved in our national collections.


Fig. 21.Scene from Richard III.The body of Henry VI. being by chance met by Richard on its way to Chertsey, he orders the bearers to set it down, and then pleads his cause to the Lady Anne.

Shakespeare, whose knowledge of Catholicism of course came to him from immediate tradition, possibly remembered a very ancient custom when, in Richard III., he makes the Duke of Glo'ster command the attendants who follow the body of Henry VI. to set it down,—an order which they obey reluctantly enough,—thereby giving him an opportunity to make love to Lady Anne in the presence of her murdered father-in-law's remains. In Catholic times the streets were adorned not only by many fine crosses, such as those at Charing and Cheapside, but also by numerous chapels and wayside shrines. Funerals, when they passed these, were in the habit of stopping, and the assistants, kneeling, prayed for the dead person whom they were carrying to the grave. They likewise stopped, also, and very frequently too, at certain well-known public-houses or taverns, the members of the family of the deceased being obliged by custom to "wet the lips" of the "thirsty souls" who carried33 the corpse. Sometimes very disorderly scenes ensued. The hired mourners and more unruly members of the guilds got drunk; and it is on record that on more than one occasion the body was pulled out of its coffin by these rascals and outraged, to the horror and indignation of honest people. It has frequently occurred to the writer, that if the attendants in the curious scene in the tragedy just mentioned, were to convey the body of the dead King to the side or back of the stage, in front of some shrine or cross, and occupy themselves with prayer, they would render the astonishing dialogue between Glo'ster and Lady Anne much more intelligible than when we hear it spoken, as is usually the case, before a number of persons for whose ears it was certainly never intended.


Fig. 22.Funeral of King Richard II., showing his waxen effigy.—From an early MS. of Froissart.

34 I MPORTANT personages in olden times in this country were usually embalmed. The poor, on the contrary, were rarely furnished even with a decent coffin, but were carried to the grave in a hired one, which, in villages, often did duty for many successive years. Once the brief service was said, the pauper's body, in its winding-sheet, was placed reverently enough in the earth, and covered up—a fact which doubtless accounts for the numerous village legends of ghosts wandering about in winding-sheets. Charitable people paid for masses to be said by the friars for their poorer brethren, and the guilds paid all expenses of the funeral, which were naturally not very considerable. On the other hand, the funeral of great personages, from king to squire, was a function which sometimes lasted a week. The bell tolled—as it still does—the moment the death became known to the bell-ringer. Then the body was washed, embalmed with spices and sweet herbs, wrapped in a winding-sheet of fine linen,—which, by the way, was often included among the wedding presents—and taken down into the hall of the palace or manor, which was hung with black, and lighted by many tapers, and even by waxen torches—sometimes as many as 300 and 400 of them—an immense expense, considering the cost of wax in those days. After three days' exposition—if the body remained incorrupt so long—the corpse was sealed up in a leaden coffin, and taken to the church, where solemn masses were sung. The clothes—we may presume the old and well-worn ones only—were then formally distributed to the poor of the parish. Finally came the funeral banquet of "baked meats," to which all those, including the clergy, who had taken part in the funeral service and procession were invited.

When the Sovereign or any person of royal rank deceased, a waxen presentment was immediately made of him as he was seen in life under the influence of sleep. This figure, dressed in the regal robes, was exposed upon the catafalque in the church, instead of the real body—a custom doubtless inspired originally by hygienic motives, for frequently the funeral rites of a king or prince of the blood were prolonged for many days. In Westminster Abbey there are still several of these grim ancient waxen effigies to be seen, by special permission of the Dean, very faded and ghastly, but interesting as likenesses, and for the fragments which time has spared of their once gorgeous attire. This custom lasted with us until the time of William and Mary. In France it disappeared in the middle of the 17th Century, the last mention of it being on the occasion of the death of Anne of Austria; for we read in a curious letter from Guy Patin to his friend Falconet, "The Queen-Mother died to-day [Jan. 21, 1666]. She was immediately embalmed, and by noon her waxen effigy was on view at the Louvre. Thousands are pressing in to see it."


Fig. 23.Funeral Procession of King Henry V., A.D. 1422.

37 In France, so long as the wax effigy was exposed in the church or palace, sometimes for three weeks, the service of the royal person's table took place as usual. His or her chair of state was drawn up to the table, the napkin, knife and fork, spoon and glass, were in their usual places, and at the appointed time the dinner was served to the household, and "the meats, drinks, and all other goodly things" were offered before the dead prince's chair, as if he were still seated therein. When, however, the coffin took the place in the church of the wax figure, and the body was put into the grave, then the banqueting-hall was hung with black, and for eight days no meals were served in it of any kind.


Fig. 24.Queen Katherine de Valois in her Widow's Dress, A.D. 1422. The costume is of black brocade elaborately trimmed with black glass beads, and trimmed with white fur.—MS. of the period.

We still possess some curious details concerning the funeral of Henry V., who died at Vincennes in 1422. Juvenal des Usines tells us that the body was boiled, so as to be converted into a perfect skeleton, for better transportation into England. The bones were38 first taken to Notre Dame, where a superb funeral service was said over them. Just above the body they placed a figure made of boiled leather, representing the king's person "as well as might be desired," clad in purple, with the imperial diadem on its brow and the sceptre in its hand. Thus adorned, the coffin and the effigy were placed on a gorgeous chariot, covered with a "coverture" of red velvet beaten with gold. In this manner, followed by the King of Scots, as chief mourner, and by all the princes, lords, and knights of his house, was the body of the illustrious hero of Agincourt conveyed from town to town, until it reached Calais and was embarked for England, where it was finally laid at rest in Westminster Abbey, under a new monument erected by Queen Katherine de Valois, who eventually caused a silver-plated effigy of her husband, with a solid silver gilt head, to be placed on the tomb, which was unfortunately destroyed at the time of the Reformation.

The funeral of Eleanor of Castile, the adored consort of Edward I., was exceptionally sumptuous. This amiable Queen died at Hardbey, near Grantham, of "autumnal" fever, on November 29, 1290. The pressing affairs of Scotland were obliterated for the time from the mind of the great Edward, and he refused to attend to any state duty until his "loved ladye" was laid at rest at Westminster. The procession, followed by the King in the bitterest woe, took thirteen days to reach London from Grantham. At the end of every stage the royal bier surrounded by its attendants, rested in some central place of a great town, till the neighbouring ecclesiastics came to meet it in solemn procession, and to place it upon the high altar of the principal church. A cross was erected in memory of King Edward's chère reine at every one of these resting-places. Thirteen of these monuments once existed; now only two of the originals remain, the crosses of Northampton and Waltham. The fac-simile at Charing Cross, opposite the Railway Station, though excellent, is of course modern, and does not occupy the right spot, which was, it is said on good authority, exactly where now stands the statue of Charles II. The Chronicler of Dunstable thus describes the ceremony of marking the sites for these crosses: "Her body passed through Dunstable and rested one night, and two precious cloths were given us, and eighty pounds of wax. And when the body of Queen Eleanor was departing from Dunstable, her bier rested in the centre of the market-place till the King's Chancellor and the great men there present had marked a fitting place where they might afterwards erect, at the royal expense, a cross of wonderful size,—our prior being present, who sprinkled the spot with holy water."

Perhaps the most magnificent funeral which took place before the Reformation was that of Elizabeth of York, consort of Henry VII. It was one of the last great Roman Catholic state funerals in England, for the obsequies of Henry VII. himself were conducted on a much diminished scale; and those of the wives of Henry VIII., and of that monster himself, were not accompanied by so much pomp, owing to the religious troubles of the time. Queen Elizabeth of York was the last English Queen who died at the Tower. Her obsequies39 took place in the chapel of St. Mary, which was, until quite lately, the Rolls Office, and which was magnificently hung on this occasion with black brocade. The windows were veiled with crape. The Queen's body rested on a bed of state, in a chapelle ardente, surrounded by over 5,000 wax candles. High Mass was said during the earlier hours of the morning, and in the afternoon solemn Vespers were sung. When the Queen's body was nailed up in its coffin, the usual waxen effigy took its place. The procession left St. Mary's, in the Tower, at noon, for Westminster Abbey, and was of exceeding length. At every hundred yards it was met by the religious corporations, fraternities, and guilds, and by the children attached to sundry monastic and charitable foundations, some of them dressed as angels, with golden wings, and all of them singing psalms. There were over 8,000 wax tapers burning between Mark Lane and the Temple; and the fronts of all the churches were hung with black, and brilliantly illuminated. The people in the streets held candles, and repeated prayers. At Temple Bar the body was received by the municipal officers of the City of Westminster, who accompanied it to the Abbey, where the Queen's effigy was exhibited with great state for two days, and on the morning of the third she was buried in what is since known as "Henry VII.'s Chapel."



Fig. 25.Gentleman in Mourning, time of Henry VII. The costume is entirely black, edged with black fur.—From a contemporary MS.

The funeral of the unfortunate Katherine of Arragon took place, as all the world knows, in Peterborough Cathedral.


Fig. 26.Richard I. and his Queen attending the Requiem Mass for the fallen Crusaders, in the Cathedral of Rhodes.

In a recently discovered contemporary Spanish chronicle, translated by Mr. Martin Sharpe Hume, it seems that the servants of the "Blessed lady" (Queen Katherine) were all dressed in mourning, and the funeral was a fairly handsome one. More than three hundred masses were said during the day at Peterborough, for all the clergy for fifteen miles round came to the various services. Chapuy, the Spanish Ambassador to the Court of King Henry, in a letter to his master Charles V., however, informs him that the funeral of Queen Katherine was mean and shabby in the extreme, quite unworthy even of an ordinary baroness. Jane Seymour fared better after death than any other of the wives of Henry VIII., and was buried with considerable solemnity at Windsor. The first royal Protestant state funeral mentioned as taking place in this country was that of Queen Catherine Parr, at Sudeley Castle. The ceremony was of the simplest description: psalms were sung over the remains, and a brief discourse pronounced. The Lady Jane Grey was chief mourner.



Fig. 27.Lying in State of Queen Elizabeth of York, Consort of Henry VII.

42 The author of the Spanish chronicle just mentioned, who evidently witnessed the interment of Henry VIII., assures us that the waxen effigy of the King was carried in a chair to Windsor, and was an astonishing likeness. It was followed by 1,000 gentlemen on horseback, the horses all being draped with black velvet. Many masses were said in St. George's Chapel for the rest of the King's soul, but the obsequies do not appear to have been exceptionally splendid.

The funeral of Anne of Cleves, who had become a Catholic, took place at Westminster, under the special supervision of Queen Mary. It was a plain but handsome function, conducted with good taste, but without ostentation. The unpopular Mary Tudor's funeral was the last Catholic state ceremony of the kind which ever took place in Westminster Abbey. Queen Elizabeth attended her sister's funeral, which was a simple one, and listened attentively to the funeral oration preached by Dr. White Bailey, of Winchester, who, when he spoke of poor Mary's sufferings, wept bitterly, and exclaimed, looking significantly at her successor, Melior est canis vivis leone mortuo. Elizabeth understood her Latin too well not to be fired with indignation at this elegant simile, which declared a "living dog better than a dead lion," and ordered the bishop to be arrested as he descended from the pulpit, and a violent scene occurred between him and the Queen, which, Her Majesty prudently permitted him to have the best of, by withdrawing with her train from the Abbey.


Fig. 28.Tomb of Henry V.



Fig. 29.Departure of the body of Queen Elizabeth from Greenwich Palace, for Interment at Westminster.

Q UEEN ELIZABETH died in the seventieth year of her age and the forty-fourth of her reign, March 24, on the eve of the festival of the Annunciation, called Lady Day. Among the complimentary epitaphs which were composed for her, and hung up in many churches, was one ending with the following couplet:—

"She is, she was—what can there be more said?
On earth the first, in heaven the second maid."

It is stated by Lady Southwell that directions were left by Elizabeth that she should not be embalmed; but Cecil gave orders to her surgeon to open her. "Now, the Queen's body being cered up," continues Lady Southwell, "was brought by water to Whitehall, where, being watched every night by six several ladies, myself that night watching as one of them, and being all in our places about the corpse, which was fast nailed up in a board coffin, with leaves of lead covered with velvet, her body burst with such a crack that it splitted the wood, lead, and cere-cloth; whereupon, the next day she was fain to be new trimmed up."

44 Elizabeth was most royally interred in Westminster Abbey on the 28th of April, 1603. We subjoin a rare contemporary engraving of the funeral procession, by which it will be seen with what pomp and ceremony the remains of the great Queen were escorted to their last resting-place. "The city of Westminster," says Stow, "was surcharged with multitudes of all sorts of people, in the streets, houses, windows, leads, and gutters, who came to see the obsequy. And when they beheld her statue, or effigy, lying on the coffin, set forth in royal robes, having a crown upon the head thereof, and a ball and a sceptre in either hand, there was such a general sighing, groaning, and weeping as the like hath not been seen or known in the memory of man; neither doth any history mention any people, time, or state to make such lamentation for the death of a sovereign." The funereal effigy which, by its close resemblance to their deceased sovereign, moved the sensibility of the loyal and excitable portion of the spectators at her obsequies in this powerful manner, was no other than the faded waxwork effigy of Queen Elizabeth preserved in Westminster Abbey.


Fig. 30.A memento mori, or death's-head timepiece, in solid silver, lately exhibited at the Stuart Exhibition, 1888-9. On the forehead is a figure of Death standing between a palace and a cottage: around is this legend from Horace, "Pallida mors equo pulsat pede pauperum tabernas Regum que turres." On the hind part of the skull is a figure of Time, with another legend from Ovid: "Tempus Edax Rerum tuque Mirdiosa Vetustas." The upper part of the skull bears representations of Adam and Eve and the Crucifixion; between these scenes is open work to let out the sound when the watch strikes the hour upon a silver bell which fills the hollow of the skull and receives the works within it when the watch is shut. On the edge is inscribed: "Sicut meis sic et omnibus idem." It bears the maker's name, Moysart à Blois. Belonged formerly to Mary Queen of Scots, and by her was given to the Seton family, and inherited thence by its actual owner, Sir T. W. Dick Lauder.

Elizabeth was interred in the same grave with her sister and predecessor in regal office, Mary Tudor. Her successor, James I., has left a lasting evidence of his good feeling and good 46taste in the noble monument he erected to her memory in the Abbey, and she was the last sovereign of this country to whom a monument has been given.


Fig. 31.Funeral of Queen Elizabeth, 18th of April, 1603.—From a very rare contemporary engraving, reproduced expressly, and for the first time, for this work, by M. Badoureau, of Paris. No. 1 represents the wax effigy of the Queen lying on her coffin; gentlemen pensioners carrying the banners. The chariot is drawn by four horses. 2. Kings at Arms. 3. Noblemen. 4. The Archbishop of Canterbury. 5. The French Ambassador and his train-bearer. 6. The great Standard of England, carried by the Earl of Pembroke. 7. The Master of the Horse. 8. The Lady Marchioness of Northampton, grand mourner, and the ladies in attendance on the Queen. 9. Captain of the Guard. 10. Lord Clanricarde carrying the Standard of Ireland. 11. Standard of Wales, borne by Viscount Bindon, followed by the Lord Mayor. 12. Gentlemen of the Chapels Royal; children of the Chapels. 13. Trumpeters. 14. Standard of the Lion. 15. Standard of the Greyhound. 16. The Queens Horse. 17. Poor Women to the number of 266. 18. The Banner of Cornwall. The Aldermen, Recorders, Town Clerks, etc.

We have very minute details of how royal personages were buried in France, in a curious book published in the 17th Century, from a MS. of the time of Louis XI. In it we learn that King Louis XI. wore scarlet for mourning on the death of his father, Charles VII. Up to the time of Louis XIV. the Queens of France, if they became widowed, wore white; and this is the reason that Mary Tudor was called "La Reine Blanche," when she clandestinely married the Duke of Suffolk in the chapel of that most interesting place, the Maison Cluny, now a museum, which still retains its name of La Reine Blanche. The Queen had been but a very short time the widow of Charles VIII., and still wore her weeds when she gave her hand to the lusty English duke. Mary Stuart wore white for her husband, Francis II. of France; and when she arrived in Scotland she still retained, for some months, her white robes, and was called the "White Queen" in consequence. But this illustrious and ill-fated princess throughout47 the greater part of her life wore black, and we have many minute details of her dresses, especially of the stately one she wore on the day of her execution, which was of brocaded satin, having a train of great length; a ruffle of white lawn, edged with lace; and a veil (which still exists) made of drawn threads, in a check-board pattern, and edged with Flemish lace. From her girdle was suspended a rosary, and in her hand she carried a crucifix. Her under garments, we know, were scarlet; for, when she removed her dress upon the scaffold, the bodice at least, all contemporaries agree, was flame-coloured. Queen Elizabeth ordered her Court to go into mourning for the Queen of Scots, whose sad and "accidental" death she hypocritically decreed should be regarded as a very great misfortune.


Fig. 32.French Lady of the 16th Century in Widow's Weeds. This costume is identical with that worn by Mary Stuart as widow of the Dauphin, only her dress was perfectly white.—From Pietro Vercellio's famous work on Costume, engraved expressly for this publication.

King James ordered the deepest mourning to be worn for his royal mother—a requisition with which all his nobles complied, except the Earl of Sinclair, who appeared before him clad in steel. The King frowned, and inquired if he had not seen the order for a general mourning. "Yes," was the noble's reply; "this is the proper mourning for the Queen of Scotland." James, however, whatever his inclinations might have been, was unprovided with the means of levying war against England, and his Ministers were entirely under the control of the English faction, and, after maintaining a resentful attitude for a time, he was at length obliged to accept Elizabeth's "explanation" of the murder of his mother.

Early in March, 1587, the obsequies of Mary Stuart were solemnised by the King, nobles, and people of France, with great pomp, in the Cathedral of Notre Dame at Paris, and a passionately eloquent funeral oration was pronounced by Renauld de Beaulue, Archbishop of Bourges and Patriarch of Acquitaine, which brought tears to the eyes of every person in the congregation.

After Mary's body had remained for nearly six months apparently forgotten by her murderers, Elizabeth considered it necessary, in consequence of the urgent and pathetic memorials of the afflicted servants of the unfortunate princess and the remonstrances of her royal son, to accord it not only Christian burial, but a pompous state funeral. This she appointed to take place in Peterborough Cathedral, and, three or four days before, sent some officials to make the necessary arrangements for the solemnity. The place selected for the interment was at the entrance of the choir from the south aisle. The grave was dug by the centogenarian sexton, Scarlett. Heralds and officers of the wardrobe were also sent to Fotheringay Castle to make arrangements for the removal of the royal body, and to prepare mourning for all the servants of the murdered Queen. Moreover, as their head-dresses were not of the approved fashion for mourning in England, Elizabeth sent a milliner on purpose to make others, in the orthodox mode, proper to be worn at the funeral, and to be theirs afterwards. However, these true mourners coldly, but firmly declined availing themselves of these gifts and attentions, declaring "that they would wear their own dresses, such as they had got made for mourning immediately after the loss of their beloved Queen and mistress."

48 On the evening of Sunday, July 30, Garter King of Arms arrived at Fotheringay Castle, with five other heralds and forty horsemen, to receive and escort the remains of Mary Stuart to Peterborough Cathedral, having brought with them a royal funereal car for that purpose, covered with black velvet, elaborately set forth with escutcheons of the arms of Scotland, and little pennons round about it, drawn by four richly-caparisoned horses. The body, being enclosed in lead within an outer coffin, was reverently put into the car, and the heralds, having assumed their coats and tabards, brought the same forth from the castle, bare-headed, by torchlight, about ten o'clock at night, followed by all her sorrowful servants.

The procession arrived at Peterborough between one and two o'clock on the morning of July 30, and was received ceremoniously at the minster door by the bishop and clergy, where, in the presence of her faithful Scotch attendants, she was laid in the vault prepared for her, without singing or saying—the grand ceremonial being appointed for August 1. The reason for depositing the royal body previously in the vault was, because it was too heavy to be carried in the procession, weighing, with the lead and outer coffin, nearly nine hundredweight. On Monday, the 31st, arrived the ceremonial mourners from London, escorting the Countess of Bedford, who was to represent Elizabeth in the mockery of acting as chief mourner to the poor victim. At eight in the morning of Tuesday the solemnities commenced. First, the Countess of Bedford was escorted in state to the great hall of the bishop's palace, where a representation of Mary's corpse lay on a royal bier. Thence she was followed into the church by a great number of English peers, peeresses, knights, ladies, and gentlemen, in mourning. All Mary's servants, both male and female, walked in the procession, according to their degree—among them her almoner, De Préau, bearing a large silver cross. The representation of the corpse being received without the Cathedral gate by the bishops and clergy, it was borne in solemn procession and set down within the royal hearse, which had been prepared for it, over the grave where the remains of the Queen had been silently deposited by torchlight on the Monday morning. The hearse was 20 feet square, and 27 feet high. On the coffin—which was covered with a pall of black velvet—lay a crown of gold, set with stones, resting on a purple velvet cushion, fringed and tasselled with gold.

All the Scotch Queen's train—both men and women, with the exception of Sir Andrew Melville and the two Mowbrays, who were members of the Reformed Church—departed, and would not tarry for sermon or prayers. This greatly offended the English portion of the congregation, who called after them and wanted to force them to remain. After the prayer and a funeral service, every officer broke his staff over his head and threw the pieces into the vault upon the coffin. The procession returned in the same order to the bishop's palace, where Mary's servants were invited to partake of the banquet which was provided for all the mourners; but they declined doing so, saying that "their hearts were too sad to feast."



Fig. 33.Shakespeare's Tomb before the present restoration.

But let us turn aside from the pageants of kings and queens, and direct our attention for a few moments towards Stratford-upon-Avon, where, on April 23, 1616, the greatest of all Englishmen breathed his last. A vague tradition tells us that, being in the company of Drayton and Ben Johnson, Shakespeare partook too freely of the cup, and expired soon after. This may be a calumny; and, if it were not, it would not diminish our gratitude and reverence for the highest intellect our race has produced. It, however, leads us to think and hope, that at the modest funeral of the "great Bard of Avon" the illustrious Ben Johnson as well as Drayton were present with his sorrowing relatives and fellow-citizens. His remains rest under the famous slab which bears the inscription due, it is said, to his own immortal pen:

"Good friend, for Jesus' sake forbeare
To digg T—E dust encloased here:
Blessed be T—E Man T y spares T—ES Stones,
And curst be He T y moves my bones."

50 If his contemporaries have forgotten to give us details of that memorable funeral, and if for nearly two centuries his modest grave was almost neglected, ample reparation has been made to his memory in this enlightened age, and Shakespeare's tomb has become a shrine visited by countless pilgrims from all parts of the earth; and a glorious monument, more beautiful than has been generally admitted, stands not far from the church, erected to Shakespeare only last year by a nobleman, Lord Ronald Gower, whose taste and culture would have done honour to the epoch which produced not Shakespeare alone, but Sydney and Raleigh.


Fig. 34.Stratford-on-Avon Church.

If we could discover all the particulars respecting Shakespeare's burial, we should possibly find that, being a "gentleman," he was wrapped in his coffin in "wool," for which privilege his survivors paid a tax of 10s. This curious habit, which we derived from our Norman ancestors, endured until the first few years of this century. By "wool" we should read flannel. Almost all the old parish registers in the country make a point of informing us that "the body" was buried in wool, and the "usual tax paid." The Normans, and their descendants in Normandy to this day, had some curious superstitions connected with "flannel," which even the industrious bibliophile Jacob has failed to discover. This custom they introduced into England, and it lasted for hundreds of years. I believe the coffin was also frequently filled up with fine51 sheep's wool. Another curious custom, which is now obsolete, was to put cloves, spikenard, fine herbs, and twigs of various aromatic shrubs into the coffin, in memory of the embalming of our Lord. Young girls and unmarried women were buried in white, and had their coffins covered with white flowers. All the people who accompanied the funeral wore white scarves, and before the Reformation, white dresses, and the way was strewn with box leaves, grass, and flowers. The porch of the deceased's house was decked with flowers and garlands, and especially with dog-roses and daisies.


Fig. 35.Seal of an imaginary Bull of Pope Lucifer.—From the Roi Modus, a MS. of the 15th Century, Royal Library, Brussels. The inscription is evidently cabalistic and unintelligible.



Fig. 36.The Funeral of Juliet ("Romeo and Juliet").—This charming engraving from Knight's splendid edition of Shakespeare gives a very fair idea of a grand funeral procession in the 16th Century.

T HE funeral ceremonies of the French kings and princes of the blood during the Middle Ages and the period of the Renaissance, were, as may well be imagined, exceedingly magnificent. As already related, the death criers announced the decease of the sovereign in the usual manner, shouting out, "Oyez! bonnes gens de Paris—listen, good people of Paris: the most high and mighty, excellent and powerful King, our sovereign Master, by the grace of God King of France, the most Christian of Princes, most clement and pious, died last night. Pray for the repose of his soul."

The first part of the ceremony took place at Notre Dame, where what is known as the lying-in-state was conducted with appropriate splendour. The procession, after a solemn mass, formed on the Pavis, or square, round the Cathedral, and began to move slowly over the bridge and through the Marais to St. Denis, some miles distant from Paris. There was a halt, however, at the convent of St. Lazaire (now covered by the railway station), and the gentlemen in attendance mounted their horses. Before the Revolution of '93, fifteen beautiful wayside crosses, or montjoies, as they were called, stood on the roadside between the Porte St. Denis and the Abbey. At each of these prayers were said and the coffin rested. Sometimes, as in the case of Charles VIII., the coffin and its waxen effigy were carried on the shoulders53 of a number of noblemen; but usually, since their feet were hidden by heavy black velvet draperies, very common men were charged with the "honourable burden." After the first half of the 16th Century, the royal body was conducted to the grave in a chariot drawn sometimes by as many as four-and-twenty black horses. If I err not, the last King of France whose coffin was carried by men was Francis I., whose gentlemen of the bedchamber performed this office, having each a halter round his neck, and a cord or rope.

At St. Denis the ceremonies were very imposing. High Mass of Requiem being over, the body was removed from the catafalque and lowered into the vaults under the altar. The Grand Almoner of France recited the De profundis, all kneeling. Suddenly a voice, that of the Herald-at-Arms, was heard, crying out from the vault below, "Kings-at-Arms, come do your duty." The grand officers were now summoned by name, thus: "Monsieur le duc de Bourbon, bring your staff of command over the hundred Archers of the Guard, and break it and throw it into the grave." "Monsieur le comte de Lorges, bring your staff of office as commander of the Scotch Guard, and break it and throw it into the grave," and so forth, until some fifty of the grand dignitaries of the Court had in turn performed this lengthy ceremony. The last time it occurred was in 1824, on the occasion of the funeral of Louis XVIII., when each detail of the ancient ceremonial was punctually followed. Every staff of office was broken and thrown into the King's grave, except the banner of France, which was merely inclined three times to the very edge of the crypt.

At the conclusion of this rather tedious ceremony, everybody knelt down, and the herald shouted, "The King is dead; pray for his soul." A moment of silence ensued, which was eventually broken by a blast of trumpets. Then the organ played a lively strain, and the Herald proclaimed, "Le roi est mort, vive le roi—long live the King!" The banners waved, the cannon boomed, the bells pealed forth joyously, and the procession reformed, whilst the officiating clergy sang the Te Deum. As almost all the Kings and Queens of France, with not more than half a dozen exceptions, from the time of Clovis to that of Louis XVIII., were buried at St. Denis, the funeral rites were rarely if ever altered. But with us, although so many of our most illustrious princes are interred at Westminster, still not a few were buried at St. Paul's; many at Blackfriars and at Greyfriars, two glorious churches destroyed in the 17th Century, at Windsor, and in various Cathedrals; so that our royal funereal ceremonies were not always conducted with such punctual etiquette as were those of our neighbours.


54 T HE minute details of the funeral of Mary Stuart, at Westminster Abbey, prove that it was conducted on the same scale and with the same ceremonies as the one which preceded it by many years at Peterborough. King James, her son, was present, and shortly afterwards the sumptuous monument which we still admire marked the place where her mutilated remains, translated from Peterborough, found a permanent place of rest.

The great changes in religion which occurred at the time of the Reformation, although they took much longer to permeate the habits and customs of the people than is usually imagined, nevertheless were so radical, that of the ancient ritual little soon remained, and the beautiful funeral service of the Church of England, which is so full of faith and hope, and mainly selected from passages of Holy Scripture adapted to the requirements of a religion which abolished belief in an intermediary state, and therefore in the necessity of prayers for the dead, was introduced, and little by little the pompous ceremonies of the Roman Church were forgotten. The lying-in-state of the corpse, for instance, which up to the close of the reign of Mary was general, even with poor people, was now only in use among those of the very highest rank. The increase in the use of carriages, too, and of course the abolition of the monastic orders and brotherhoods, diminished the splendour of the street processions which used to follow the bier. Still, much that was quaint remained in fashion, and it is only, as already said, a few years since that ladies ceased wearing a scarf and hood of black silk, and gentlemen "weepers" on their hats and arms, which were black or white according to the sex of the deceased. In Norfolk, until the end of the first quarter of the present century, it was the custom to give the mourners at a funeral black gloves, scarves, and bunches of herbs. Indeed, it is but a short time since a very old lady told me that so rich, broad, and beautiful was the silk of the scarves presented to each lady at a funeral, when she was a girl, that ladies were wont to keep the pieces by them until they were sufficient in number to form a dress. A bill of the funeral expenses of a very rich gentleman who died at Brandon Hall, in Norfolk, early in this century,—Mr. Denn, of Norwich,—and who left over half a million of money, enables us to form some idea of the expense to which our grandfathers of the upper class were put in order to be buried with what they considered proper respect. It would seem that in those days the hearse and funeral carriages had to be hired from London, and they took three days to perform the journey from the metropolis—a distance of about three hours by rail. No fewer than 40 persons figure as accompanying these vehicles, and as they had to be put up at inns along the road, going both to and from London to Brandon Hall, their expenses were £180. The hire of horses and carriages was55 £106, and what with the distribution of loaves to the poor at the grave, and the expense of bringing relatives from far parts of the country, and of providing them with silk scarves, gloves, etc., and the housing and entertaining of them all, the worthy Mr. Denn's funeral cost his survivors not less than £775.


Fig. 37.Interment in a Church in the first quarter of the 18th Century.—From Picard's great work on the Religions of all Nations.

In Picard, there is a very beautiful engraving by Schley, representing a funeral procession in 1735, entering the church of St. Paul's, Covent Garden. It occurs by night, and a number of pages in black velvet walk in it, carrying lighted three-branched silver candlesticks. It seems that until 1775 women in England only attended the funerals of their own sex, and that men in the same manner only followed men to the grave. Possibly as a disinfectant against the plague, at all English funerals a branch of rosemary was handed to all who attended, which they threw into the open grave. This fashion endured, to the writer's knowledge, in Norfolk up to 1856.

The French Revolution cannot be described as an unmitigated blessing—far from it; but it certainly did away with many superstitious practices, and shed a flood of light upon civilisation. Before that event it was the universal custom throughout Europe to bury in churches, a practice which was most detrimental to health. By one of the earliest decrees passed by the Convention of Paris, 1794, intramural interments were abolished, although, to be sure,56 cemeteries already existed of considerable extent, possibly suggested by those which for ages the Mahometans have used in all the principal cities of Asia and Asiatic Europe. That of Père la Chaise, so called after the confessor of Madame de Maintenon, who founded it, is one of the earliest. With the counter-Reformation, as the movement is called in history, the ceremonial of the Roman Church became, on the Continent, even more elaborate than heretofore, and nothing can be imagined more theatrically splendid than the church decorations on occasions of funerals of eminent personages.


Fig. 38.The Cemetery of Père la Chaise, Paris.



Fig. 39.Funeral of the Grand Duke Albert VII., surnamed "the Pious," Archduke of Austria, at Brussels, 11th March, 1622. The coffin, covered with a pall of cloth of gold, is carried under a canopy by the Ambassador of his Catholic Majesty, by the Duke d'Aumale, the Marquis of Baden, and other great nobles, followed by the Archbishop of Patras and two Cardinals. The horse of the deceased is seen led immediately behind, by grooms and officers of the household.—From the exceedingly rare work by Francquart, printed at Antwerp in 1623. (From the collection of Mr. Richard Davey, and engraved expressly for this publication.)

59 From the last half of the 16th Century down to the Revolution of 1789, possibly the most extraordinary funeral recorded in history was that of the Emperor Charles V. It was celebrated with almost identical pomp simultaneously, at Madrid and at Brussels. The procession at Brussels took six hours to pass any one point, and it is estimated that 80,000 persons walked in it, the participants being supplied from every city of Belgium and Holland. In this extraordinary function figured cars on floats, representing certain striking events in the life of the Emperor, and one of these we reproduce, since it will best afford an idea of the supreme magnificence of the spectacle. It represents a ship, and is intended to illustrate the maritime progress made in the reign of this enterprising monarch. The float on which this clever model of a vessel of the period was arranged was dragged through the streets by 24 black horses, covered with black velvet, and followed by representatives of the navies both of Belgium and Spain, and by some 300 lads dressed as sailors of all nations.


Fig. 40.Float carried in the Funeral Procession of Charles V. at Brussels, December 29, 1558, and intended to illustrate his maritime greatness. The vessel was the size of a real ship, and the persons who appear upon its deck were living.—From the "Magnificent and Sumptuous Funeral of the Very Great Emperor Charles V." (Antwerp, published by Plantin, 1559.) Collection of M. Ruggieri, Paris.

We also reproduce a little sketch from the funeral procession of Philip II., son of Charles V., which gives us an excellent idea of the costumes worn on such an important occasion. The large full-page engraving represents a portion of the funeral procession which took place at Brussels, of the Archduke Albert VII. of Austria, surnamed "the Pious." It60 was almost as sumptuous as that of Charles V., and, fortunately a complete record of it has been preserved by Francovoart, who published a book in the following year, containing no less than 49 plates illustrating this pageantic procession, which was of enormous length, and must have cost a great sum of money. The great engraver Cochin has left us one of his most beautiful plates, representing the interior of the Church of Notre Dame as arranged for the funeral of the Infanta Theresa of Spain, Dauphiness of France, in 1746. It gives us rather the idea of a scene in a court ball-room than of a grave ceremony. Literally, thousands of lights blazed in all directions, and there was nothing of a sombre character present, excepting the catafalque, which was of black velvet, and in a certain sense produced an admirable effect by showing off to still greater advantage the illuminations. The funeral of Louis XIV., was fabulously gorgeous, and so complete an apotheosis of that vain monarch, it brought about a sort of reaction, and made most persons observe that it was of little use praying for the soul of one who evidently must already be in glory. In order to put some bounds to these extravagant services, many people of a devout character have in all ages prayed in their wills that they should be carried to the grave in the simplest manner, sometimes in the habit of a Franciscan, or mendicant friar, and that only a few pounds should be expended upon their burial.


Fig. 41.Costumes worn by King Philip II. of Spain and his attendants in the funeral procession of his father, Charles V. The group consists of the King; the Herald of Spain, of the Order of the Golden Fleece, who walks in front; of the Duke of Brunswick, the Duke of Arcos, Don Ruy Gomez, Count of Milito, and finally the Duke Emmanuel Philibert of Savoy. Mark that the hood was only worn by the heirs of the deceased.—From the "Sumptuous Funeral of Charles V. at Brussels." (Antwerp, 1559.) Collection of M. Ruggieri, Paris.

61 Illustration

Fig. 42.Funeral of the Infanta Theresa of Spain, Dauphiness of France, at Notre Dame, 1746.—From the original engraving of Cochin.

The Italians, and especially the Venetians, spent enormous sums upon their funeral services, which were exceedingly picturesque; but as the members of the brotherhoods who 62walked in the procession wore pointed hoods and masks, so that, by the glare of the torches, only their eyes could be seen glittering, and as it was the custom, also, for the funeral to take place at night, the body being exposed upon an open bier, in full dress, the scene was sufficiently weird to attract the attention of travellers, perhaps more so than anything else which they saw in the land par excellence of pageant. Horace Mann, in one of his letters, thus amusingly describes the funeral of the daughter of Cosmo III., Grand Duke of Tuscany:—

"There was nothing extraordinary in the funeral last night. All the magnificence consisted in a prodigious number of torches carried by the different orders of priests, the expense of which in lights, they say, amounted to 12,000 crowns. The body was in a sort of a coach quite open, with a canopy over her head; two other coaches followed with her ladies. As soon as the procession was passed by Madame Suares's, I went a back way to St. Laurence, where I had been invited by the master of the ceremonies; here was nothing very particular but my being placed next to Lady Walpole, who is so angry with me that she would not even give me the opportunity of making her a bow, which for the future, since I see it will be disagreeable to her, I will never offer to do again."


63 N OTHING could be imagined more picturesque than a Venetian funeral in bygone days. The state gondola of the family, containing the body, and also the attendant priests and friars, was covered with black velvet, and blazed with candelabra full of lighted candles; and from the stern of the boat hung an immense train of black velvet, which was permitted to touch the water, but prevented from sinking underneath it by golden tassels, which were held by members of the family in the gondolas which followed close behind. All those persons who took part in the funeral of course carried lights in their hands. If the individual happened to belong to one of the numerous confraternities, or scuole, which existed in Venice up to the end of the last century, a grand musical mass was celebrated in the chapel belonging to the order; and on these occasions some of the finest music ever composed was heard for the first time, such, for instance, as Paesiello's Requiem, an infinitely beautiful one by Marcello, and the majestic mass for four voices, by Lotti.


Fig. 43.Tomb of Hamlet.



Fig. 44.Death devouring Man and Beast. A singular, illuminated document on parchment, of the 12th Century, measuring over fifty feet by one yard wide. The figure above is intended to represent the letter T.—From the Mortuary Roll of the Abbey of Savingy, Avranches, France. The original is preserved among the French National Archives.

THE funeral of a Pope is attended by many curious ceremonies, not the least remarkable of which is, that so soon as His Holiness' death is thoroughly assured, the eldest Cardinal goes up to the body, and strikes it three times gently on the breast, saying in Latin, as he does so, "The Holy Father has passed away." The body is then lowered into the Church of St. Peter's, where it is exhibited—as was the case when Pope Pius IX. died in '78—for three days to the veneration of the faithful, after which it is conveyed in great state to the church which the Pope has selected for his burial-place. As it passed along the streets of Rome in the good old times, the members of the nobility assembled at the entrance of their houses, each65 carrying a lighted taper in his hand, and answering back the prayers of the friars and clergy in the procession. It will be remembered that it was this sort of spontaneous illumination which so offended a rabble of freethinkers, on the occasion of the funeral of the late Pope, that they stoned the coffin, and created a riot of a most disgraceful character. After the Pope is buried, it is usual for his successor or his family to build a stately monument over his remains, and this custom accounts for the amazing number of fine Papal monuments in the Roman basilicas and churches.


Fig. 45.Lying-in-State of Pope Pius IX.

At a time when everybody is talking about the Stuart dynasty, owing to the great success66 of the recent exhibition of their relics (1888-9), the following curious account of the interment of the Old Pretender will prove of interest:—

"On the 6th of January, 1756, the body of his 'Britannic Majesty' was conveyed in great state to the said Church of the Twelve Apostles," says a correspondent from Rome of that date, "preceded by four servants carrying torches, two detachments of soldiers; and by the side of the bier walked twenty-four grooms of the stable with wax candles; the body of the deceased was dressed royally, and borne by nobles of his household, with an ivory sceptre at its side, and the Orders of SS. George and Andrew on the breast.

"On the 7th, the first funeral service took place, in the Church of the Twelve Apostles. The façade of the church was hung with black cloth, lace, and golden fringe, in the centre of which was a medallion, supported by skeletons with cypress branches in their hands, and bearing the following inscription:

"On entering the church, another great inscription to the same purport was to be seen; the building inside was draped in the deepest black, and on the bier, covered with cloth of gold, lay the corpse, before which was written in large letters:

"On either side stood four silver skeletons on pedestals, draped in black cloth, and holding large branch candlesticks, each with three lights. At either corner stood a golden perfume box, decorated with death's-heads, leaves and festoons of cypress. The steps to the bier were painted in imitation marble, and had pictures upon them representing the virtues of the deceased. Over the whole was a canopy ornamented with crowns, banners, death's-heads, gilded lilies, etc.; and behind, a great cloth of peacock colour with golden embroidery, and ermine upon it, hung down to the ground. Over each of the heavily draped arches down the nave of the church were medallions with death's-head supporters, and crowns above them, representing the various British orders and the three kingdoms of England, Ireland, and Scotland; and on the pilasters were other medallions, supported by cherubs, expressing virtues attributed to the deceased, each with an inscription, of which the following is an instance:

'Rex Jacobus III. vere dignus imperio, quia natus ad imperandum: dignus quia ipso regnante virtutes imperassent: dignissimus quia sibi imperavit.'

"On the top of the bier, in the nave, lay the body, dressed in royal garb of gold brocade, with a mantle of crimson velvet, lined and edged with ermine, a crown on his head, a sceptre 69in his right hand, an orb in his left. The two Orders of SS. George and Andrew were fastened to his breast.


Fig. 46.Funeral of his late Holiness Pope Pius IX., Feb. 13, 1878. The lowering of the body into St. Peter's.

"Pope Clement regretted his inability to attend the funeral, owing to the coldness of the morning, but he sent twenty-two cardinals to sing mass, besides numerous church dignitaries.

"After the celebration of the mass, Monsignor Orazio Matteo recited a funeral oration of great length, recapitulating the virtues of the deceased, and the incidents of the life of exile and privation that he had led. After which, the customary requiem for the soul of the departed was sung, and they then proceeded to convey his deceased Majesty's body to the Basilica of St. Peter.

"The procession which accompanied it was one of those gorgeous spectacles in which the popes and their cardinals loved to indulge. Every citizen came to see it, and crowds poured in to the Eternal City from the neighbouring towns and villages, as they were wont to do for the festivals at Easter, of Corpus Domini.

"All the orders and confraternities to be found in Rome went in front, carrying amongst them 500 torches. They marched in rows, four deep; and after them came the pupils of the English, Scotch, and Irish College in Rome, in their surplices, and with more torches.

"Then followed the bier, around which were the gaudy Swiss Papal Guards. The four corners of the pall were held up by four of the most distinguished members of the Stuart household.

"Then came singers, porters carrying two large umbrellas, such as the Pope would have at his coronation, and all the servants of the royal household, in deep mourning, and on foot. After them followed the papal household; and twelve mourning coaches closed the procession.

"The body was placed in the chapel of the choir of St. Peter's, and after the absolution, which Monsignor Lascaris pronounced, it was put into a cypress-wood case, in presence of the major-domo of the Vatican, who made a formal consignment of it to the Chapter of St. Peter's, in the presence of the notary of the 'Sacred Apostolic Palace,' who witnessed the consignment, whilst the notary of the Chapter of St. Peter's gave him a formal receipt.

"The second funeral was fixed for the following day, when everything was done to make the choir of St. Peter's look gorgeous. A large catafalque was raised in the midst, on the top of which, on a cushion of black velvet embroidered with gold, lay the royal crown and sceptre, under a canopy adorned with ermine; 250 candles burnt around, and the inscription over the catafalque ran as follows:

'Memoriæ æternæ Jacobi III., Magnæ Britanniæ Franciæ et Hyber, regis Parentis optimii Henricus Card. Dux Eboracensis mœrens justa persolvit.'

"Then the cardinals held service, thirteen of whom were then assembled; after which, the Chapter of St. Peter's and the Vatican clergy, with all the Court of the defunct king who had assisted at the mass, accompanied the body to the subterranean vaults beneath St. Peter's, where the bier was laid aside until such times and seasons as a fitting memorial could be placed over it."

70 A MONG the Jews, according to Buxtorf (who published, in the 17th Century, perhaps the most valuable work upon the Jewish ceremonies which still existed in various parts of Europe in his time, many of which have been modified or have entirely disappeared since), it was the fashion when a person died, after having closed the eyes and mouth, to twist the thumb of the right hand inward, and to tie it with a string of the taled, or veil, which covered the face, and was invariably buried with the corpse. The reason for this doubling of the thumb was that, when it was thus turned inward, it represented the figure Schaddai, which is one of the names of God. Otherwise, the fingers were stretched out so as to show that the deceased had given up all the goods of this world. The body was most carefully washed, to indicate that the dead was purified by repentance. Buxtorf tells us that in Holland, with the old-fashioned Jews, it was the custom to break an egg into a glass of wine, and to wash the face therewith. The more devout persons were dressed in the same garments that they wore on the last feast of the Passover. When the body is placed in the coffin, it is the habit even now, among the Polish and Oriental Jews, for ten members of the family, or very old friends, to walk processionally round it, saying prayers for the repose of the soul. In olden times, for three days after the death, the family sat at home in a darkened room and received their friends, who were indeed Job's comforters; for they sought to afflict them in every way by recalling the virtues of the dead person, and exaggerating the misery into which they were thrown by his or her departure. Seven days afterwards, they were employed in a less rigorous form of mourning, at the end of which the family again went to the synagogue and offered up prayers, after which they followed the customs of the country in which they lived, retaining their mourning only so long as accorded with the prevailing fashion of the day.




Fig. 47.The Knight of Death on a White Horse—After Albert Durer. From a fac-simile of the original engraving, dated 1513, by one of the Wiericx (1564). This famous engraving, which so perfectly characterises the weird genius of the Middle Ages, passing into the Renaissance, represents a knight armed, going to the wars, accompanied by terrible thoughts of Death and Sin, whose incarnations follow him on his dismal journey.

73 O NE of the saddest, and certainly the simplest of royal funerals, was that of King Charles I. After his lamentable execution, his body lay at Whitehall from January 28, 1649, to the following February 7, when it was conveyed to Windsor, placed in the vault of St. George's Chapel, near the coffins of Henry VIII. and Jane Seymour. The day had been very snowy, and the snow rested thick on the coffin and on the cloaks and hats of the mourners. The remains were deposited without any service whatever, and left inscriptionless, save for the words "Charles Rex, 1649," the letters of which were cut out of a band of lead by the gentlemen present, with their penknives, and the lead fastened round the coffin. In this state it remained until the year 1813, when George IV. caused it to be more fittingly interred. In striking contrast were the obsequies of the unfortunate King's great rival and enemy, Cromwell, "who lay in glorious state" at Somerset House, all the ceremonial being copied from that of the interment of Philip II. of Spain. The rooms were hung with black cloth, and in the principal saloon was an effigy of the Protector, with a royal crown upon his head and a sceptre in his hand, stretched upon a bed of state erected over his coffin. Crowds of people of all ranks went daily during eight weeks to see it, the place being illuminated by hundreds of candles. The wax cast of the face of Cromwell after death is still preserved in the British Museum. His body, however, was carried away secretly, and at night, and buried privately at Westminster, for fear of trouble. Later, in 1660, the remains of the great Protector, and those of his friends Ireton and Bradshaw, were sacrilegiously taken from their graves, dragged with ignominy through the streets, and hanged at Tyburn, to the apparent satisfaction of Mrs. Pepys and her friend Lady Batten, and all and sundry in London, as is recorded in the "immortal diary." By the way, Mr. Pepys himself, who died in 1703, was buried with much state and circumstance in Crutched Friars Church, but at night, the service being said by Dr. Hickes, the author of the Thesaurus.


74 P ERHAPS the strangest funeral recorded in modern history was that of the translation of the remains of Voltaire, popularly known as his "apotheosis." The National Assembly in May, 1791, decreed that the bones of the poet should be brought from the Abbey of Scellières, and carried in state to the Pantheon. In Voltaire's lifetime it was boasted that he had buried the priests and the Christian religion, but now the priests were going to bury him, having very little of Christian religion left amongst them. The day of the procession was fixed for July 10; but the 10th was a deluging, rainy day, and the ceremony was postponed to the next day, or till the weather should be fine. The next day was as wet, and the Assembly was about to renew the postponement, when about two o'clock it cleared up. The coffin was placed on a car of the classic form, and was borne first to the spot on which the Bastille had stood, where it was placed on a platform, being covered with myrtles, roses, and wild flowers, and bearing the following inscriptions:—"If a man is born free, he ought to govern himself." "If a man has tyrants placed over him, he ought to dethrone them." Besides these, there were numerous other inscriptions in different parts of the area, including one on a huge block of stone: "Receive, O Voltaire! on this spot, where despotism once held thee in chains, the honours thy country renders thee!"

From the Bastille to the Pantheon all Paris seemed to be following the procession, which consisted of soldiers, lawyers, doctors, municipal bodies, a crowd of poets, literary men, and artists carrying a gilded chest containing the seventy volumes of Voltaire's works; men who had taken part in the demolition of the Bastille, bearing chains, fetters, and cuirasses found in the prison; a bust of Voltaire, surrounded by those of Rousseau, Mirabeau, and Montaigne, borne by the actors from the different theatres, in ancient costume; and lastly came the funeral car, now surmounted by a statue of the philosopher, which France was crowning with a wreath of immortelles. The immense procession halted at various places for the effigy to receive particular honours. At the opera houses the actors and actresses were waiting to present a laurel crown and to sing to Voltaire's glory; at the house of M. Villette—where was yet deposited the heart of the great man, previous to being sent to Fernay—four tall poplars were planted, and adorned with wreaths and festoons of flowers, and on the front of the house was written in large letters: "His genius is everywhere, and his heart is here." Near this was raised a sort of amphitheatre, on which were seated a crowd of young girls in white dresses with blue sashes, crowned with roses, and holding wreaths in honour of the poet in their hands. The names of all Voltaire's works were written on the front of the Theatre Français. The next halt was made on the site of the Comédie Française, and a statue of the poet was there 75 crowned by actors costumed as Tragedy and Comedy. Thence the procession wended its way to the Pantheon, where the mouldering remains of Voltaire were placed beside those of Descartes and Mirabeau. All Paris that evening was one festal scene; illuminations blazing on the busts and figures of the patriot of equality.


Fig. 48.Funeral Car of Nelson.—From a contemporary engraving, reproduced expressly for this publication.

The obsequies in England of Lord Nelson, which took place on January 9, 1806, were extremely imposing. I transcribe from a contemporary and inedited private letter the following account of it:—"I have just returned from such a sight as will never be seen in London again. I managed at an inconveniently early hour to get me down into the Strand, and so down Norfolk Street to a house overlooking the river. Every post of vantage wherever the procession could be seen was swarming with living beings, all wearing mourning, the very beggars having a bit of crape on their arms. The third barge, which contained the body, was covered with black velvet and adorned with black feathers. In the centre was a viscount's coronet, and three bannerols were affixed to the outside of the barge. In the steerage were six lieutenants of the navy and six trumpets. Clarencieux, King-at-Arms, sat at the head of the coffin, bearing a viscount's coronet on a black velvet cushion. The Royal Standard was at the head of the barge, which was rowed by forty-six seamen from the 'Victory.' The other barges in the cortege were rowed by Greenwich pensioners. The fourth barge contained Admiral Sir Peter Parker, the chief mourner, and other admirals, vice-admirals, and rear-admirals; whilst the Lords of the Admiralty, the Lord Mayor of London, members of the various worshipful Companies, and other distinguished mourners occupied 76 the remaining barges, which were seventeen in number, and were flanked by row-boats, with river fencibles, harbour marines, etc., etc. All, of course, had their colours half-mast high. On the following morning, the 9th, the land procession, which I also contrived to see, started from the Admiralty to pass through the streets of London to St. Paul's, between dense crowds all along the route. This procession was of great length, and included Greenwich pensioners, sailors of the 'Victory,' watermen, judges and other dignitaries of the law, many members of the nobility, public officers, and officers of the army and navy; whilst in it were carried conspicuously the great banner, gauntlets, helmet, sword, etc., of the deceased. The pall was supported by four admirals. Nearly 10,000 military were assembled on this occasion, and these consisted chiefly of the regiments that had fought in Egypt, and participated with the deceased in delivering that country from the power of France. The car in which the body was conveyed was peculiarly magnificent. It was decorated with a carved resemblance of the head and stern 77 of the 'Victory,' surrounded with escutcheons of the arms of the deceased, and adorned with appropriate mottoes and emblematical devices, under an elevated canopy, in the form of the upper part of a sarcophagus, with six sable plumes, and a viscount's coronet in the centre, supported by four columns, representing palm trees, entwined with wreaths of natural laurel and cypress. As it passed, all uncovered, and many wept. I heard a great deal said among the people about 'poor Emma' (Emma, Lady Hamilton), and some wonder whether she will get a pension or not. On the whole, the processions were most imposing, and I am very glad I saw it all, although I am much fatigued at it, from standing about so much and pushing in the crowd, and faint from the difficulty of getting food, every eating-place being so full of people; and surely, though a nation must mourn, equally certain is it that it must also eat."


Fig. 49.Funeral Car of Lord Nelson.—From a contemporary engraving, reproduced expressly for this publication.


Fig. 50.An Old Market Cross, Rouen.



Fig. 51.Funeral Procession of the Emperor Napoleon I., December 15, 1840. The Cortége descending the Champs Élysées.—From a contemporary engraving.

L OUIS PHILLIPPE, who, by the way, had neglected no opportunity to render justice to the genius of Napoleon, obtained, in 1840, the permission of the British Government to remove his body from St. Helena; and on December 15 it was solemnly interred in the gorgeous chapel designed by Visconti, at the Invalides. The Prince de Joinville had the honour of escorting the remains of the Emperor from the lonely island in the Indian Ocean to Paris. Words cannot paint the emotion of the inhabitants of the French capital, as the superb procession descended the long avenue of the Champs Élysées, or that of the privileged company which witnessed the striking scene in the chapel itself, as the Prince de Joinville formally consigned the body to the King, his father, saying, as he did so, "Sire, I deliver over into your charge the corpse of Napoleon." To which the King replied, "I receive it in the name of France," and then taking the sword of the victor of Austerlitz, he handed it to General Bertrand, who, in his turn, laid it on the coffin. Many years later, when another Napoleon reigned in France, a Lady who had not yet reached the mezzo camin di nostra vita, stood silently, with bowed head, before the grave of the mighty enemy of the glorious empire over which she rules, and it was observed that there were tears in the eyes of Queen Victoria when she quietly left the chapel.



Fig. 52.The Tomb of Napoleon I. at the Invalides, Paris.

81 The earliest year of the last half of this century witnessed another funeral of much magnificence, that of the great Duke of Wellington. It was determined that a public funeral should mark the sense of the people's reverence for the memory of the illustrious deceased, and of their grief for his loss. The body was enclosed in a shell, and remained for a time at Walmer Castle, where the Iron Duke died. A guard of honour, composed of men of his own rifle regiment, did duty over it, and the castle flag was hoisted daily half-mast high. On the evening of the 10th of November, 1852, the body was placed upon a hearse and conveyed, by torchlight, to the railway station, the batteries at Walmer and Deal Castles firing minute-guns, whilst Sandown Castle took up the melancholy salute as the train with its burden swept by. Arrived at London, the procession re-formed, and by torchlight marched through the silent streets, reaching Chelsea about three o'clock in the morning, when the coffin containing the body was carried into the hall of the Royal Military Hospital. Life Guardsmen, with arms reversed, lined the apartment, which was hung with black and lighted by waxen tapers. The coffin rested upon an elevated platform at the end of the hall, over which was suspended a cloud-like canopy or veil. The coffin itself was covered with red velvet; and at the foot stood a table on which all the decorations of the deceased were laid out. Thither, day by day, in a constant stream, crowds of men, women, and children repaired, all dressed in deep mourning. The first of these visitors was the Queen, accompanied by her children; but so deeply was she affected that she never got beyond the centre of the hall, where her feelings quite overcame her, and she was led, weeping bitterly, back to her carriage.

The public funeral took place on the 18th of November, and was attended by the Prince Consort and all the chief officers of State. The body was removed by torchlight, on the evening previous, to the Horse Guards, under an escort of cavalry. At dawn on the 18th the solemn ceremony began. From St. Paul's Cathedral, down Fleet Street, along the Strand, by Charing Cross and Pall Mall, to St. James's Park, troops lined both sides of the streets; while in the park itself, columns of infantry, cavalry, and artillery were formed ready to fall into their proper places in the procession, of which we publish two interesting engravings. How it was conducted—with what respectful interest watched by high and low—how solemn the notes of the bands, as one after another they took up and entoned the "Dead March in Saul"—how grand, yet how touching the scene in the interior of St. Paul's—none but those who can remember it can realise.

82 Illustration

Fig. 53.Funeral of the Duke of Wellington, November 18, 1852. The Procession passing Apsley House.—From an original sketch, reproduced expressly for this publication.

83 Illustration

Fig. 54.Funeral of the Duke of Wellington, November 18, 1852. Scene inside St. Paul's.—Reproduced from an original sketch, expressly for this publication.

A man of genius in France is rightly placed on a kind of throne, and considered a "king of thought;" so the obsequies of so truly illustrious a poet as Victor Hugo, which took place in Paris, June 1, 1885, assumed proportions rarely accorded even to the mightiest sovereigns. Unfortunately, it was marred by the desecration of a noted church, the Pantheon; for it pleased a political party in power to make out that Hugo had denied even the existence of God, and this notwithstanding the fact that every page of his works is a testimony to his 84 ardent creed in the Almighty and his hope in the life to come. The lying-in-state took place under the Arch of Triumph, which was decorated with much taste by a huge black veil draped across it. Flaring torches lighted up the architectural features of the monument, and also the tremendous throng of spectators. The arch looked solemn enough, but the behaviour of the people who surrounded it was the reverse, especially at night. On Thursday, June 1, early in the day, which was intensely hot, the procession began to move from the Arc de Triomphe to the Pantheon, and presented a scene never to be forgotten. The coffin was a very simple one, in accordance with the poet's wishes to be buried like a pauper; but what proved the chief charm of this really poetical spectacle was the amazing number of huge wreaths carried by the countless deputations from all parts of France, and sent from every city of Europe and America. There were some 15,000 wreaths of foliage and flowers carried in this strange procession, many of which were of colossal dimensions, so that when one beheld the cortége from the bottom of the Champs Élysées, for instance, it looked like a huge floral snake meandering along. The bearers of the wreaths were hidden beneath them, and these exquisite trophies of early summer flowers, combined with the glittering helmets of the Guards, the bright costumes of the students, and, above all, with the veritable walls of human beings towering up on all sides, filling balconies and windows, covering roofs and every spot wherever even a glimpse of the pageant could be obtained, created a spectacle as unique as it was picturesque.


85 Illustration

Fig. 55.Funeral of Victor Hugo, Paris, June 1, 1885.



Fig. 56.Her Imperial Majesty the Empress Frederick of Germany, Princess Royal of Great Britain.

T HE solemn but exceedingly simple obsequies of that much regretted and most able man His Royal Highness the Prince Consort, took place at Windsor on the 23rd December, 1861. At his frequently expressed desire it was of a private character; but all the chief men of the state attended the obsequies in the Royal Chapel. The weather was cold and damp, the sky dull and heavy. There was a procession of state carriages to St. George's Chapel, at the door of which the Prince of Wales and the other royal mourners were assembled to receive the corpse. The grief of the poor children was very affecting, little Prince Arthur especially, sobbing as if his heart were breaking. When all was over, and the last of the long, lingering 88train of mourners had departed, the attendants descended into the vault with lights, and moved the bier and coffin along the narrow passage to the royal vault. The day was observed throughout the realm as one of mourning. The bells of all the churches were tolled, and in many of them special services were held. In the towns the shops were closed, and the window blinds of private residences were drawn down. No respectable people appeared abroad except in mourning, and in seaport towns the flags were hoisted half-mast high. The words of the Poet Laureate were scarcely too strong:

"The shadow of his loss moved like eclipse,
Darkening the world. We have lost him; he is gone;
We know him now; all narrow jealousies
Are silent; and we see him as he moved,
How modest, kindly, all-accomplished, wise;
With what sublime repression of himself,
And in what limits, and how tenderly;
Not swaying to this faction or to that;
Not making his high place the lawless perch
Of wing'd ambitions, nor a vantage ground
For pleasure; but thro' all this tract of years
Wearing the white flower of a blameless life,
Before a thousand peering littlenesses,
In that fierce light which beats upon a throne,
And blackens every blot; for where is he
Who dares foreshadow for an only son
A lovelier life, a more unstained than his?"

Fig. 57.Funeral of His Royal Highness the Prince Consort, at Windsor, December 23, 1861.

When Her Majesty became a widow, she slightly modified the conventional English widow's cap, by indenting it over the forehead à la Marie Stuart, thereby imparting to it a certain picturesqueness which was quite lacking in the former head-dress. This coiffure has been not only adopted by her subjects, but also by royal widows abroad. The etiquette of the Imperial House of Germany obliges the Empress Frederick to introduce into her costume two special features during the earlier twelve months of her widowhood. The first concerns the cap, which is black, having a Marie Stuart point over the centre of the forehead, and a long veil of black crape falling like a mantle behind to the ground. The second peculiarity of this stately costume is that the orthodox white batiste collar has two narrow white bands falling straight from head to foot. This costume has been very slightly modified from what it was three centuries ago, when a Princess of the House of Hohenzollern lost her husband.




From a Photograph by Messrs. W. & D. Downey.

91 T HE first general mourning ever proclaimed in America was on the occasion of the death of Benjamin Franklin, in 1791, and the next on that of Washington, in 1799. The deep and wide-spread grief occasioned by the melancholy death of the first President, assembled a great concourse of people for the purpose of paying him the last tribute of respect, and on Wednesday, December 18, 1799, attended by military honours and the simplest but grandest ceremonies of religion, his body was deposited in the family vault at Mount Vernon. Never in the history of America did a blow fall with more terrible earnestness than the news of the assassination of President Lincoln on April 14, 1865. All party feeling was forgotten, and sorrow was universal. The obsequies were on an exceedingly elaborate scale, and a generous people paid a grateful and sincere tribute to a humane and patriotic chieftain. After an impressive service, the embalmed body was laid in state in the Capitol at Washington, guarded by officers with drawn swords, and afterwards the coffin was closed for removal to Springfield, the home of the late President, a distance of about 1,700 miles. It took twelve days to accomplish the journey. The car which conveyed the remains was completely draped in black, the mourning outside being festooned in two rows above and below the windows, while each window had a strip of mourning connecting the upper with the lower row. Six other cars, all draped in black, were attached to the train, and contained the escort, whilst the engine was covered with crape and its flags draped. At several cities en route a halt was made, in order to permit people to pay tributes of respect to the deceased, and several times the body was removed from the train, so that funeral services might be held. At last, on the 3rd of May, the train reached Springfield, and after a brief delay the procession moved with befitting ceremony to Oak Ridge Cemetery, President Lincoln's final resting-place. During the period intervening between President Lincoln's death and his interment, every city and town in the United States testified the greatest grief, and public expressions of mourning were universal. To take New York, as an instance, that city presented a singularly striking appearance. Scarce a house in it but was not draped in the deepest mourning, long festoons of black and white muslin drooped sadly everywhere, and even the gay show-cases outside the shop doors were dressed with funereal rosettes. The gloom which prevailed was intense. In many places, however, the decorations, though sombre, were exceedingly picturesque, the dark tones being relieved by the bright red and blue of the national colours, entwined with crape.

Scarcely less magnificent were the obsequies accorded by the people of America to General Grant. Funeral services were observed in towns and cities of every state and territory of the Union, amidst a display of mourning emblems unparallelled. In New York, for two92 weeks previous to the funeral ceremony, preparations of the most elaborate description were going on, and the best part of the city was densely draped. The route of the procession to the tomb was 9 miles long, and it is estimated that three million persons saw the cortege, in which over 50,000 people joined, including 30,000 soldiers. Some further idea of the magnitude of this solemn procession can be formed when it is stated that its head reached the grave three hours and a half before the funeral car arrived. This car was exceptionally imposing, inasmuch as it was drawn by 24 black horses, each one led by a coloured servant, and each covered with sable trappings which swept the street.

Another imposing funeral, which many who are still young can remember, was that of his Majesty Victor Emmanuel, the first King of United Italy, who died in Rome early in 1878. His obsequies were conducted with all the pomp of the Roman Catholic religion, and the catafalque, erected in the centre of the Pantheon, was supremely imposing. We give an engraving of it, which will afford an excellent idea of its great magnificence.



Fig. 59.The Catafalque erected for the Funeral Service of His Majesty King Victor Emmanuel, in the Pantheon, Rome.

95 T HE ingenious idea of the Magasin de Deuil, or establishment exclusively devoted to the sale of mourning costumes and of the paraphernalia necessary for a funeral, has long been held to be exclusively French; but our quick-witted neighbours have, to speak the truth, originated very few things; for was not the father of French cookery a German physician in attendance on Francis I., assisted by an Italian cardinal, Campeggio, who, by the way, came to England on the occasion of the negotiations in connection with the divorce of Queen Catherine of Arragon. The Magasin de Deuil is but a brilliant and elaborate adaptation of the old Mercerie de lutto which has existed for centuries, and still exists, in every Italian city, where people in the haste of grief can obtain in a few hours all that the etiquette of civilisation requires for mourning in a country whose climate renders speedy interment absolutely necessary. Continental ideas are slow to reach this country, but when they do find acceptance with us, they rarely fail to attain that vast extension so characteristic of English commerce. Such development could scarcely be exhibited in a more marked manner than in Jay's London General Mourning Warehouse, Regent Street, an establishment which dates from the year 1841, and which during that period has never ceased to increase its resources and to complete its organisation, until it has become, of its kind, a mart unique both for the quality and the nature of its attributes. Of late years the business and enterprise of this firm has enormously increased, and it includes not only all that is necessary for mourning, but also departments devoted to dresses of a more general description, although the colours are confined to such as could be worn for either full or half mourning. Black silks, however, are pre-eminently a speciality of this house, and the Continental journals frequently announce that "la maison Jay de Londres a fait de forts achats." Their system is one from which they never swerve. It is to buy the commodity direct from the manufacturers, and to supply it to their patrons at the very smallest modicum of profit compatible with the legitimate course of trade. The materials for mourning costumes must always virtually, remain unchangeable, and few additions can be made to the list of silks, crapes, paramattas, cashmeres, grenadines, and tulles as fabrics. They and their modifications must be ever in fashion so long as it continues fashionable to wear mourning at all; but fashion in design, construction, and embellishment may be said to change, not only every month, but well-nigh every week.

The fame of a great house of business like this rests more upon its integrity and the expedition with which commands are executed than anything else. To secure the very best goods, and to have them made up in the best taste and in the latest fashion, is one of the principal aims of the firm, which is not unmindful of legitimate economy. For this purpose, every96 season competent buyers visit the principal silk marts of Europe, such as Lyons, Genoa, and Milan, for the purpose of purchasing all that is best in quality and pattern. Immediate communication with the leading designers of fashions in Paris has not been neglected; and it may be safely said of this great house of business, that if it is modelled on a mediæval Italian principle, it has missed no opportunity to assimilate to itself every modern improvement.


Fig. 60.Funeral of Earl Palmerston, in Westminster Abbey, Oct. 27, 1865.

Private mourning in modern times, like everything else, has been greatly altered and modified, to suit an age of rapid transit and travel. Men no longer make a point of wearing full black for a fixed number of months after the decease of a near relation, and even content themselves with a black hat-band and dark-coloured garments. Funeral ceremonies, too, are less elaborate, although during the past few years a growing tendency to send flowers to the grave has increased in every class of the community. The ceremonial which attends our State funerals is so well known that it were needless to describe them. We, however, give, as "records," illustrations of the funerals of Lord Palmerston, Lord Beaconsfield, Mr. Darwin, and of the much-regretted Emperor Frederick of Germany, a function which was extremely imposing, as the etiquette of the German Court still retains many curious relics of bygone times.


Fig. 61.Funeral of the Right Honourable the Earl of Beaconsfield, in Hughenden Church, April 26, 1881.

99 G ENERAL Court mourning in this country is regulated by the Duke of Norfolk, as Earl Marshal, but exclusively Court mourning for the Royal Family by the Lord Chamberlain.

The order for Court mourning to be observed for the death of a foreign sovereign is issued by the Foreign Office, and transmitted thence to the Lord Chamberlain.

Here is the form of the order for general mourning to be worn on the occasion of the death of the Prince Consort:

College of Arms, Dec. 16, 1866.

Deputy Earl Marshal's Order for a General Mourning for His late Royal Highness the Prince Consort.

In pursuance of Her Majesty's commands, this is to give public notice that, upon the melancholy occasion of the death of His Royal Highness the Prince Consort, it is expected that all persons do forthwith put themselves into decent mourning.

Edward C. F. Howard, D.E.M.

The order to the army is published from the War Office:

Horse Guards, Dec. 18, 1861.

Orders for the Mourning of the Army for His late Royal Highness the Prince Consort.

The General commanding-in-chief has received Her Majesty's commands to direct, on the present melancholy occasion of the death of H.R.H. the Prince Consort, that the officers of the army be required to wear, when in uniform, black crape over the ornamental part of the cap or hat, over the sword-knot, and on the left arm;—with black gloves, and a black crape scarf over the sash. The drums are to be covered with black, and black crape is to hang from the head of the colour-staff of the infantry, and from the standard-staff of cavalry. When officers appear at Court in uniform, they are to wear black crape over the ornamental part of the cap or hat, over the sword-knot, and on the left arm;—with black gloves and a black crape scarf.

A like order was issued by the Admiralty, addressed to the officers and men of the Royal Navy.


Lord Chamberlain's Office, December 16, 1861.

Orders for the Court to go into Mourning for His late Royal Highness the Prince Consort.

The Ladies attending Court to wear black woollen Stuffs, trimmed with Crape, plain Linen, black Shoes and Gloves, and Crape Fans.

The Gentlemen attending Court to wear black Cloth, plain Linen, Crape Hatbands, and black Swords and Buckles.

The Mourning to commence from the date of this Order.


Lord Chamberlain's Office, December 31, 1861.

Orders for the Court's change of Mourning, on Monday, the 27th January next, for His late Royal Highness the Prince Consort, viz.:

The Ladies to wear black Silk Dresses, trimmed with Crape, and black Shoes and Gloves, black Fans, Feathers, and Ornaments.

The Gentlemen to wear black Court Dress, with black Swords and Buckles, and plain Linen.

The Court further to change the Mourning on Monday the 17th of February next, viz.:

The Ladies to wear black Dresses, with white Gloves, black or white Shoes, Fans, and Feathers, and Pearls, Diamonds, or plain Gold or Silver Ornaments.

The Gentlemen to wear black Court Dress, with black Swords and Buckles.

And on Monday the 10th of March next, the Court to go out of Mourning.


Lord Chamberlain's Office, November 7, 1817.

Orders for the Court's going into Mourning on Sunday next, the 9th instant, for Her late Royal Highness the Princess Charlotte Augusta, Daughter of His Royal Highness the Prince Regent, and Consort of His Serene Highness the Prince Leopold Saxe-Cobourg, viz.:

The Ladies to wear black Bombazines, plain Muslin, or long Lawn Crape Hoods, Shamoy Shoes and Gloves, and Crape Fans.

Undress:—Dark Norwich Crape.

The Gentlemen to wear black cloth without buttons on the Sleeves or Pockets, plain Muslin, or long Lawn Cravats and Weepers, Shamoy Shoes and Gloves, Crape Hatbands and black Swords and Buckles.

Undress:—Dark Grey Frocks.

For Ladies, black Silk, fringed or plain Linen, white Gloves, black Shoes, Fans, and Tippets, white Necklaces and Earrings.

Undress:—White or grey Lustrings, Tabbies, or Damasks.

For Gentlemen, to continue in black, full trimmed, fringed or plain Linen, black Swords and Buckles.

Undress:—Grey Coats.

For Ladies, black silk or velvet coloured Ribbons, Fans, and Tippets, or plain white, or white and gold, or white and silver Stuffs, with black Ribbons.

For Gentlemen, black Coats and black or plain white, or white and gold, or white and silver stuffed Waistcoats, coloured Waistcoats and Buckles.


Fig. 62.Funeral of Charles Darwin, Esq., in Westminster Abbey.

103 T HE Register of "Notices" preserved at the Lord Chamberlain's Offices date back from 1773 to 1840. They are written in chronological order from the first folio (9th March, 1773) to folio 16 (28th Nov., 1785). After this date a number of papers are missing, and, curious to relate, the next entry is Oct. 24, 1793, and orders the Court to go into mourning for ten days for Her late Majesty Marie Antoinette, Queen of France.

On the margin of the one for mourning for Louis XVIII., is written a note to the effect that the "King this day, Sep. 18, 1824, orders three weeks' mourning for the late King of France." At about this time, too, the word "the ladies to wear bombazine gowns" disappears, and is replaced by "woolen stuffs."

Our military etiquette connected with mourning was really modelled on that in use in the army of Louis XIV., as is proved by a rather singular fact. In 1737 George II. died, and an order was issued commanding the officers and troopers in the British army to wear black crape bands and black buttons and epaulettes. Very shortly afterwards the French Government issued a decree to the effect that, as the English army had "slavishly imitated the French in the matter of wearing mourning, henceforth the officers of the French army should make no change in their uniform, and only wear a black band round the arm." Oddly enough, at the present moment both the French and the English armies wear precisely the same "badge of grief," a black band of crape on the left arm above the elbow.

The Sovereign can prolong, out of marked respect for the person to be mourned, the duration of the period for general and Court mourning.

The following are regulations for Court mourning, according to the register at the Lord Chamberlain's office:—

For the King or Queen—full mourning, eight weeks; mourning, two weeks; and half-mourning, two weeks: in all, three full months.

For the son or daughter of the Sovereign—Full mourning, four weeks; mourning, one week; and half-mourning, one week: total, six weeks.

For the brother or sister of the Sovereign—full mourning, two weeks; mourning, four days; and half-mourning, two days: total, three weeks.

Nephew or niece—full mourning, one week; half-mourning, one week: total, two weeks.

Uncle or aunt—same as above.

Cousin, ten days; second cousin, seven days.

104 T HE following are the accepted reasons for the selection of various colours for mourning in different parts of the world:—

Black expresses the privation of light and joy, the midnight gloom of sorrow for the loss sustained. It is the prevailing colour of mourning in Europe, and it was also the colour selected in ancient Greece and in the Roman Empire.

Black and white striped expresses sorrow and hope, and is the mourning of the South Sea Islanders.

Greyish brown—the colour of the earth, to which the dead return. It is the colour of mourning in Ethiopia and Abyssinia.

Pale brown—the colour of withered leaves—is the mourning of Persia.

Sky-blue expresses the assured hope that the deceased is gone to heaven, and is the colour of mourning in Syria, Cappadocia, and Armenia.

Deep-blue in Bokhara is the colour of mourning; whilst the Romans in the days of the Republic also wore very dark blue for mourning.

Purple and violet—to express royalty, "Kings and priests of God." It is the colour of mourning of Cardinals and of the Kings of France. The colour of mourning in Turkey is violet.

White—emblem of "white-handed hope." The colour of mourning in China. The ladies of ancient Rome and Sparta sometimes wore white mourning, which was also the colour for mourning in Spain until 1498. In England it is still customary, in several of the provinces, to wear white silk hat-bands for the unmarried.

Yellow—the sear and yellow leaf. The colour of mourning in Egypt and Burmah. In Brittany widows' caps among the peasants are yellow. Anne Boleyn wore yellow mourning for Catherine of Arragon, but as a sign of joy.

Scarlet is also a mourning colour, and was occasionally worn by the French Kings, notably so by Louis XI.



Fig. 63.Funeral of His Imperial Majesty Frederick the Noble, Emperor of Germany. The Funeral Service in the Imperial Chapel.

107 illustration

Fig. 64.Funeral of His Majesty the Emperor of Germany. The Procession leaving the Palace.




(a) In the 18th Century, the undertaker issued his handbills—gruesome things, with grinning skulls and shroud-clad corpses, thigh bones, mattocks and pickaxes, hearses, etc.:

"These are to notice that Mr. John Elphick, Woollen Draper, over against St Michael's Church, in Lewes, hath a good Hearse, a Velvet Pall, Mourning Cloaks, and Black Hangings for Rooms, to be lett at Reasonable Rates.

"He also sells all sorts of Mourning and Half Mourning, all sorts of Black Cyprus for Scarfs and Hatbands, and White Silks for Scarfs and Hoods at Funerals; Gloves of all sorts, and Burying Cloaths for the Dead."


"Eleazar Malory, Joiner at the Coffin in White Chapel, near Red Lion Street end, maketh Coffins, Shrouds, letteth Palls, Cloaks, and Furnisheth with all the other things necessary for Funerals at Reasonable Rates."

(b) The dead were formerly buried in woollen, which was rendered compulsory by the Acts 30 Car. ii. c. 3 and 36 Ejusdem c. i., the first of which was for "lessening the importation of Linen from beyond the seas, and the encouragement of the Woollen and Paper Manufactures of the Kingdome." It prescribed that the curate of every parish shall keep a register, to be provided at the charge of the parish, wherein to enter all burials and affidavits of persons being buried in woollen. No affidavit was necessary for a person dying of the plague, but for every infringement a fine of £5 was imposed, one half to go to the informer, and the other half to the poor of the parish. This Act was only repealed in 1815. The material used was flannel, and such interments are frequently mentioned in the literature of the time.

(c) Misson throws some light on the custom of using flannel for enveloping the dead, but I fancy that it is of much greater antiquity than he imagined. However, he asserts:—

"There is an Act of Parliament which ordains, That the Dead shall be bury'd in a Woollen Stuff, which is a kind of a thin Bays, which they call Flannel; nor is it lawful to use the least Needleful of Thread or Silk. This Shift is always White; but there are different Sorts of it as to Fineness, and consequently of different Prices. To make these dresses is a particular Trade, and there are many that sell nothing else; so that these Habits for the Dead are always to be had ready made, of what Size or Price you please, for People of Every Age and Sex. After they had washed the Body thoroughly clean, and shav'd it, if it be a Man, and his Beard be grown during his Sickness, they put it on a Flannel Shirt, which has commonly a sleeve purfled about the Wrists, and the Slit of the Shirt down the Breast done in the same Manner. When these Ornaments are not of Woollen Lace, they are at least edg'd, and sometimes embroider'd with black Thread. The Shirt shou'd be at least half a Foot longer than the Body, that the feet of the Deceas'd may be wrapped in it as in a Bag. When they have thus folded the end of the Shirt close to the Feet, they tye the Part that is folded down with a piece of Woollen Thread, as we do our stockings; so that the end of the Shirt is done into a kind of Tuft. Upon the Head they put a Cap, which they fasten with a very broad Chin Cloth, with Gloves on the Hands, and a Cravat round the Neck, all of Woollen. That the Body may ly the softer, some put a Lay of Bran, about four inches thick, at the Bottom of the Coffin. Instead of a Cap, the Women have a kind of Head Dress, with a Forehead Cloth."

110 Funeral invitations of a ghastly kind were sent out, and Elegies, laudatory of the deceased, were sometimes printed and sent to friends. These were got up in the same charnel-house style, and embellished with skulls, human bones, and skeletons. Hat-bands were costly items.

"For the encouragement of our English silk, called a la modes, His Royal Highness the Prince of Denmark, the Nobility, and other persons of quality, appear in Mourning Hatbands made of that silk, to bring the same in fashion, in the place of Crapes, which are made in the Pope's Country where we send our money for them."

(d) The poor in Anne's time had already started Burial Clubs and Societies, and very cheap they seem to have been.

"This is to give notice that the office of Society for Burials, by mutual contribution of a Halfpenny or Farthing towards a Burial, erected upon Wapping Wall, is now removed into Katherine Wheel Alley, in White Chappel, near Justice Smiths, where subscriptions are taken to compleat the number, as also at the Ram in Crucifix Lane in Barnaby Street, Southwark, to which places notice is to be given of the death of any Member, and where any person may have the printed Articles after Monday next. And this Thursday evening about 7 o'clock will be Buried by the Undertakers, the Corpse of J. S., a Glover, over against the Sun Brewhouse, in Golden Lane; as also a child from the corner of Acorn Alley, in Bishopsgate Street, and another child from the Great Maze Pond, Southwark."

(e) Undertakers liked to arrange for a Funeral to take place on an evening in winter, as the costs were thereby increased, for then the Mourners were furnished with wax candles. These were heavy, and sometimes were made of four tapers twisted at the stem and then branching out. That these wax candles were expensive enough to excite the thievish cupidity of a band of roughs, the following advertisement will show:—

"Riots and Robberies—Committed in and about Stepney Church Yard, at a Funeral Solemnity, on Wednesday, the 23rd day of September; and whereas many persons, who being appointed to attend the same Funeral with white wax lights of a considerable value, were assaulted in a most violent manner, and the said white wax lights taken from them. Whoever shall discover any of the Persons, guilty of the said crimes, so as they may be convicted of the same, shall receive of Mr. William Prince, Wax Chandler in the Poultry, London, Ten Shillings for each Person so discovered."

(f) We get a curious glimpse of the paraphernalia of a funeral in the Life of a notorious cheat, "The German Princess," who lived, and was hanged, in the latter part of the 17th Century, and the same funeral customs therein described obtained in Queen Anne's time. She took a lodging at a house, in a good position, and told the landlady that a friend of hers, a stranger to London, had just died, and was lying at "a pitiful Alehouse," and might she, for convenience sake, bring his corpse there, ready for burial on the morrow.

"The landlady consented, and that evening the Corps in a very handsome Coffin was brought in a Coach, and placed in the Chamber, which was the Room one pair of Stairs next the Street, and had a Balcony. The Coffin being covered only with an ordinary black Cloth, our Counterfeit seems much to dislike it; the Landlady tells her that for 20s. she might have the use of a Velvet Pall, with which being well pleas'd, she desir'd the Landlady to send for the Pall, and withal accommodate the Room with her best Furniture, for the next day but one he should be bury'd; thus the Landlady performed, setting the Velvet Pall, and placing on a Side Board Table 2 Silver Candlesticks, a Silver Flaggon, 2 Standing Gilt Bowls, and several other pieces of Plate; but the Night before the intended Burial, our Counterfeit Lady and her Maid within the House, handed to their comrades without, all the Plate, Velvet Pall, and other Furniture of the Chamber that was Portable and of Value, leaving the Coffin and the supposed Corps, she and her Woman descended from the Balcony by help of a Ladder, which her comrades had brought her."

111 It is needless to say that the coffin contained only brickbats and hay, and a sad sequel to this story is that the undertaker sued the landlady for the loss of his pall, which had lately cost him £40.

According to a request in the will of one Mr. Benjamin Dodd, a Roman Catholic, "Citizen and Linnen Draper, who fell from his horse and died soon after," four and twenty persons were at his burial, to each of whom he gave a pair of white gloves, a ring of 10s. value, a bottle of wine, and half-a-crown to be spent on their return that night, "to drink his Soul's Health, then on her Journey for Purification in order to Eternal Rest." He also appointed his "Corps" to be carried in a hearse drawn by six white horses, with white feathers, and followed by six coaches, with six horses to each coach, and commanded that "no Presbyterian, Moderate Low Churchmen, or Occasional Conformists, be at or have anything to do with his Funeral."

(g) Parisian funerals at the present day present many features common to those celebrated in England in the last century. The church, for instance, is elaborately decorated in black for a married man or woman, but in white for a spinster, youth, or child. The costumes of the hired attendants, and these are numerous—I counted one day, quite recently, no less than twenty-four, two to each coach, all handsomely dressed in black velvet—are of the time of Louis XV. I am assured that the expenses of a first-class funeral in Paris, in this year of Grace 1889, sometimes exceeds several hundred pounds.

The lettre de faire part, as it is called, is also a curious feature in the funeral rites of our neighbours. It is an elaborate document in the form of a printed letter, deeply edged with black, and informs that all the members, near and distant, of the deceased's family—they are each mentioned by name and title—request you, not only to attend the funeral, but to pray for his or her soul.

The fashion of sending costly wreaths to cover the coffin is recent, and was quite as unknown in Paris twenty years ago as it was in this country until about the same period. Wreaths of immortelles, sometimes dyed black, were, however, sent to funerals in France in the Middle Ages. In Brittany, the "wake" is almost as common as it is in Ireland, and quite as frequently degenerates into an unedifying spectacle. Like the Irish custom, it originated in the early Christian practice of keeping a light burning by the corpse, and in praying for the repose of the soul, coram the corpse prior to its final removal to the church and grave, certain pagan customs, the distribution of wine and bread, having been introduced, at first possibly from a sense of hospitality, and finally as means of carousal.



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