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Such legends as this are still circulated in catholic countries, with the sanction of the Inquisition, and of the ecclesiastical censors! There are other stories which represent the very earth as ejecting an excommunicated body.
I have heard that there are places, by the abode Of holy men so holily possess'd, That should a corpse be laid irreverently Within their influence, the insulted ground, Impatient of pollution, heaves, and casts The abomination out. liut even if earth tolerated a reprobate tenant, the miserable inhabitant was believed to be by no means in secure possession of his grave. Charles Martel is said to have been carried off in a inost miserable manner by some resurrection devils; and Matthew of Westminster refers to the authority of Pope St. Gregory for a similar story as proof that the tale of the Old Woman of Berkeley is not incredible. Yet if Fray Luys de Escobar be right, the tormenters might have spared themselves this unnecessary trouble. In reply to a question, wherefore the custom was instituted, of sprinkling the graves with holy water, he says there are two reasons: First, because the'grave sometimes serves as a special purgatory, •where soul and body suffer together, and in that case both derive relief from the pious ceremony; and secondly, which he thinks is more frequently the case, while the soul is in the common purgatory, and looking on to its deliverance, the devil knowing how dearly it loves the body wherein it is to rise again, gets at the grave to insult it for the purpose of afflicting the soul: now if he happens to be there when the grave is sprinkled, he cannot bear the holy water, and he therefore flies away directly. This, the friar observes, is only his opinion, but he knows no opinion in opposition to it, and it may hold good till some better reason be assigned'..
Such superstitions, as might be expected, are often contradictory. It was for the sake of the protection which would be afforded them by consecrated ground, baptized bells, and relics, that bodies were interred round about the church at first: then in open places attached to the outward wall, which were called Galilees, and lastly within the church itself. St. Swithki, however, our English Aquarius, though entitled to a place of honour in, his own cathedral, chose to be buried in the churchyard, that carrying his humility beyond the grave, he might be trampled upon by the people. Saints were not always so humble. His countrywoman
corporibus quatenus humo contineri et communi sirrte dissolvi valeant, nisi forte alicui damnations debits sententiam suspenderit Deus ex prievisis sanctorum orationibus meritisque ut resuscitate daret spatium pcenitentise; cujus eitiaordinarue dementie aliqua, sed rma, habtntur exempla.' And thus, after brushing away the gnat,, he swallows the camel.
A A 3 S. WalS. Walburg did not chuse to be trodden on, even in the church itself, by the dirty feet of German boors. She appeared to the Bishop in a dream, and reproved him for suffering this indecency. And such was the impatience of this proud saint, that she enforced her remonstrance by throwing down part of the church. St. Dunstan used to say of the cathedral at Canterbury, that you could not set foot either in the church or the cemetery without treading upon the remains of some saints: they, however, were not offended, and burial-places acquired a fashion for containing such good company. In those ages it was a common and a gainful fraud to represent particular cemeteries as peculiarly holy, and endowed with special privileges. Thus St. David was shewn one by an angel, and assured that scarcely one person of all who should be buried there, having died in the faith, would fail of going to heaven. And in Ireland the ignorant Catholic, at this day, thinks himself surer of getting to Heaven if he secures a place in a privileged churchyard than be could be of getting to Dublin, if he took a place in the mail coach; almost every Irish saint having received a promise to this effect
A human and respectable feeling has generally attached some degree of sacredness to the place wherein a fellow-creature is laid to rest. The burial-places in the Tonga islands are accounted so sacred, that if the deadliest enemies should meet there, they must refrain from all acts of hostility. By the Partidas, any place is made religious ground wherein a man is buried, whether slave or freeman, for the sacredness of death did away all accidental differences: but it was not so if it were the body of a criminal or of a traitor, or of one who had been banished from that country. And whoever gave permission that a corpse should be interred in his ground, lost the property of that ground, which, in being thus made sacred, immediately devolved to the church. Possibly some such forgotteu custom of our common law may have occasioned the popular belief in England, that that road is made public over which a funeral has passed. Three motives have led to the violation of such places— revenge, avarice, and curiosity—motives which operate on different classes of society to this effect, and yet, as will presently appear, the vengeance which characterizes a savage people may be fearfully displayed in ages and countries which call themselves civilized. Much as the Tonga islanders respect their cemeteries, Mr. Mariner tells us that a dead body is sometimes taken up and exposed, as the worst indignity that can be offered to the relations. Some of the Tupi tribes delighted in opening the graves of their enemies, and breaking their bones when dead, as they had not been able to eat their flesh. Such is the ferocious temper of savage man! The folly of depositing things of value with the dead was seen to tempt those ruffians who are to be found in every class of civilized life, and at a later time to bring about a more general violation of the sepulchres, in the changes to which all empires and dynasties are subject. Thus under Caesar when the Romans began to rebuild Corinth, the soldiers, accidentally lighting upon a grave in which they found brazen and earthen vessels, broke open every grave in Corinth; for these things were highly prized, and in a short time Rome was filled with them as articles of sale.—NsxpoxogivSicov etr^paxrav T>jv 'Pwfoji/, Bto yxq exaXav ra ex rcov raipaiv AijpSsira. Thus, too, in many parts of America, the Spanish conquerors found their richest booty in the habitations of the dead. And many are the secret robberies which have been committed wherever it has been the custom to inter the wealthy in costly apparel, or with any valuables about them. The grave of King John at Worcester was opened some years ago, and it was found that the body had been rifled.
It has been remarked above, that a savage spirit may sometimes impel men in a civilized age to vent their disgraceful anger upon the dead. The National Convention, in the year 1793, passed a decree, upon the motion of Barrere, that the graves and monuments of the kings in St. Denis, and in all other places throughout France, should be destroyed. Nor were they contented with this: but the graves of all the celebrated persons who had been interred at St. Denis were opened also, that the leaden coffins might be applied to the use of the republic!
The details of this barbarous exhumation are curious, and serve to heighten, if that be possible, our abhorrence for an act so abominable in every respect. The first vault which they opened was that of Turenne. The body was found dry like a mummy, and of a light bistre colour, the features perfectly resembling the portrait of this distinguished general. As Turenne did not happen to be an object of popular obloquy, some enthusiasm was felt or affected at the sight of his remains, relics were sought after with great eagerness, and Camille Desmoulins cut off one of his little fingers; the body was turned over to the person who held the sexton's place and he kept it in a chest for some months to make a show of it, till at the intercession of M. Desfontaines, it was permitted to be removed to the Jardin des Plantes. In 1799 it was twice transferred, by order of the Directory, first to the Museum of Monuments, (that most characteristic exhibition of French feeling and French taste,) and secondly to the Church of Invalids, which, according to the anti-Christian fashion of the day, was then called the Temple of Mars!
Henry the Fourth's grave was the next which was violated. His features also were perfect. The head had been opened and the cavity filled with tow dipped in an aromatic extract, so strong,
A A 4 that that the odour was scarcely supportable. A soldier cut off a lock of the beard with his sabre, and putting it upon his upper lip, exclaimed en termes energiques et vraiment militaires, says the French writer, Et moi aussi, je suis soldot Francois', dhormais je n'aurai pas a"autre moustache! Maintenant je suis sur de vaincre les amends de la France, etje marche a la victoire! In spite, however, of this fanfaronade, the body was placed upright upon a stone, for the rabble to divert themselves with it; and a woman, reproaching the dead Henri with the crime of having been a king, knocked down the corpse by giving it a blow in the face; after which it was left for some days to be the sport of these Yahoos, till it was thrown at last into the common pit prepared for the remains upon which their senseless vengeance was exercised. Madame de Vaunoz writes upon this subject with great truth and feeling.
J'ai vu les scelerats, tremblans d son aspect, Fremir et s'arreter, remplis d'un saint respect: Mais bientot rappelant leur audace premiire, Par I'outrage et I'insulte aggravant leur fureur, Ses ossemens traines, souillespar la poussiHre. 0 des trones morlels Maitre et Dispensateur Des monarqves parfaits si ta main est avare, Si les jours fortunes que leur rigne produit Semblent de courts iclairs dans la profonde nuit, Devais-tu de tels rois a ce peuple barbare? C'est done Id ce Henri, fameux par sa bonti, Qui nourrit de sa main son peuple rholte, Et qui, force de vaincre, en pleurant sa victoire, Tut, par tant de bienfaits, expier tant de gloire? C'est lui! deuxfois puni pour un regne si beau, Vivant on Vassassine, on I'outrage au tombeau. Louis XIV. was found in a state of perfect preservation, but entirely black. The body of Louis XV. was fresh, but red, lying bathed in a liquor formed by the dissolution of the salt with which it had been covered. In the coffin of Jeanne de Bourbon, wife of Charles V., a gilt distaff was found with the remains of a crown, bracelets, and embroidered shoes. The body of Louis VIII. was the only one which had been sewed up in leather: the leather was strong and thick, and retained all its elasticity; the body was almost consumed, as was the winding-sheet, but fragments of its gold embroidery were still existing. Dagobert and his Queen Nanthildes were in one coffin with a partition between them. The workmen were long before they could discover the vault of Francis I. and his family. It contained six leaden coffins deposited upon bars of iron: in all these the remains were in a state of liquid putrefaction, which made its way through the lead as they were removed, and the odour was almost insupportable. The bodies of
many of the latter Bourbons were also in a state of decomposition, and when the coffins were opened, they are said to have emitted a thick black vapour, which, though vinegar and gunpowder were burnt to prevent ill consequences, affected the wretches employed in this inhuman work with fevers and diarrhoeas. Two large pits, had been dug in front of the north entrance of the church, and quick lime laid in them; into these pits the bodies were cast promiscuously, and the entrails, which had been deposited separately in leaden vessels; this lead and the leaden coffins were then carried to a furnace which had been erected in the cemetery, and cast into balls ' destined to punish the enemies of the Republic,' and it was. more than once proposed in the National Convention that the church itself should be totally destroyed!
A detestation of the spirit in which this measure originated and of the state of mind in which it was possible for men calling themselves philosophers and friends of humanity to pass an edict for an action so loathsome, and so disgraceful, is not the only feeling which a perusal of these details will excite. They lead to a natural reflection upon the folly of that preposterous pride which contends against corruption and will not allow the grave its victory. 'He,' says Osborn, ' that lies under the herse of heaven is convertible into sweet herbs and flowers that may rest in such bosoms as would shriek at the ugly bugs which may possibly be found crawling in the magnificent tomb of Henry VII.' When the coffin of good duke Humphrey was opened, so many persons, who had heard of dining with the said duke, were curious to taste the liquor in which he had been preserved, that in a little time he was drunk dry, and the body being left bare soon mouldered. His bones, perhaps, like those of Bishop Gardner, may yet be made one of those exhibitions by which our churches in some placesare still disgraced. In the Lutheran church of St. Thomas, at Strasburg, the bodies of a Count of Nassau and his daughter are shown in full dress, each lying in a glass case, such as stuffed birds are kept in in museums. The girl's face is almost consumed by that kind of worm which attacks books and leather; the man's features were perfectly distinct two years ago, but the worms had then begun upon it, and the dust was lying about, as if it were from worm-eaten wood. These are loathsome instances. More curious examples of the same wretched vanity may be seen in some of the small catholic cantons in Switzerland, where the skull is sometimes placed upon a bracket with the armorial bearings of the family beneath, and sometimes has the name of its owner inscribed upon the forehead in gold letters!
The old Mahommedan traveller, whose account of India and China has been published by Renaudot, describe! a remarkable