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secrated bear the burdens of the consecrated portion of the ground. In the Necropolis of Liverpool, both Dissenters and enlightened Churchmen have the means of obtaining justice for themselves. In so far as Abney Park is concerned, it is the same in London. If the metropolitan public took a just view of the matter, they would patronize that Cemetery alone, where they would neither be subject to ecclesiastical plunder, nor exposed to contact with the Popish imposture of consecration. But we are not without hope, that even the Bishop-taxed Cemeteries may yet be induced, in part, at least, to retrieve their character, and to do full justice to the Dissenters and others who use the unconsecrated ground. Several circumstances have occurred, within the last few weeks, which support this hope.
The Abney Park Company begin to understand somewhat better their peculiar position. They have profited, it seems, by reflection and inquiry. Truly, it was time; they blundered sadly at the outset. Forgetting that they had paid nothing for consecration, and that they were not Bishop-taxed, they somewhat unaccountably proceeded as if they had, and, like young merchants courting custom, they charged fees just a little lower than the Act-of-Parliament Cemeteries ; for an adult interment, in a common grave, 11. 1s., and 5s. for the use of the chapel; for a child, 15s., and 5s. for the use of the chapel; that is, 11. 6s. and 11. respectively. Now, however, " for a common interment, the whole charge is, for an adult, 10s.; a child, 8s." This is as it should be; but even this moderate charge will yield as fair a return as the Bishop's Ten Shilling Model Cemetery. This Company must not confine the reduction to the open ground, but carry the principle throughout all the other departments of their beautiful Cemetery. Some of the Bishop-taxed Cemetery Companies have also begun to reflect a little. A few weeks ago, (that is, on the 17th of October,) a circular was issued by the London Cemetery Company, announcing a “ reduction" of fees in their Cemeteries at Nunhead and at Highgate ; that is, for a common interment, with desk service, adult, 12s. 6d. ; ditto, child, 78. 6d. As compared with their own original fees, the reduction here is even greater than at Abney Park.
From these facts, Sir, you perceive that at least one of the Bishop-taxed Cemetery Companies is not insensible to the
claims of justice, when urged by the voice of public opinion, which you correctly define as “ that sentiment, on any given subject, which is entertained by the best-informed, most intelligent, and most moral persons in the community."* The Cemetery Companies could undoubtedly be managed and moulded by the voice of the Metropolis, and made to move as fast and as far as men loaded with clerical chains can move, in the path of justice and honour; but what power on earth could move the committees which you propose to form, consisting everywhere of incumbents and churchwardens ? To expect from them either mercy or justice, were to go in the face of all experience! Granting, then, that the premises of your Bill were as correct as we hold them to be erroneous, we would say, and all enlightened men would join us, pass a law simply interdicting City sepulture, and there leave the matter. Let the public provide for itself. The principle of legitimate commerce has already constructed noble Cemeteries on all sides of the Metropolis, sufficient to accommodate the mortality even of its hourly augmenting inhabitants, for centuries. We have already treble the number, indeed, suggested by your most intelligent witnesses, who spoke to that point, and represented by them as sufficient for the use of the capital. Whatever Cemetery projects may be necessary for the purposes of priestly pride and domination, of priestly emolument and aggrandisement, none, assuredly, are required for the true interests of the Metropolis. If every City burial-ground were closed to-morrow, you
know that, without the addition of even one more Cemetery, we have already an abundance for many generations. We say, you know this to be the fact !
Sir, how came you to exclude from the Appendix to your Report the answer to the communication you addressed to the Kensal Green Company? That answer was of more value tenfold than all that you have there published. It is now before us, and in it the Secretary says: “I have cause to know that the Directors of the several Cemeteries are most anxious to state their willingness to offer such accommodation as will satisfy the public demand for hundreds of years to come, provided an arrangement can be made with the different parishes to provide for the due removal of the pauper funerals.” Then the document goes on to say, that the Companies would bury the parish poor at an “ almost nominal charge." It next sets forth the annual pauper mortality of some dozen parishes, comprising a population “equal to nearly one half of London,” and “ offers seven acres of their ground at Kensall Green,” which will contain about 133,500 graves, and thus suffice for the interment of 1,335,000 deceased paupers,—and, at the rate of 1,000 burials a year, receive the pauper mortality of that half of the City for thirteen hundred and thirty-five years!
* Public Opinion, p. 15.
Sir, this is a momentous document! Again, we ask, how came you to withhold it? Was the reason, because the simple enunciation of its facts would have been utterly fatal to your project in the eyes of all thinking men?
Sir, if we must have new Cemeteries, there they are on every side, spacious, beautiful, and, where clerical extortion does not interfere, supplying the public demand at reasonable charges. Will your Cemeteries provide for the public either better or cheaper accommodation ?
November 28, 1842.
TUE ARGUMENT DERIVED FROM THE DIVERSIFIED AMOUNT OF FEES—THE
ANNUAL INTERMENT IN THE CITY AND OUT-PARISHES.
Sir,--Have you investigated the economy of the Metropolitan Churchyards? How, then, could you empower the clergy and churchwardens, in your proposed Cemeteries, to fix the “ Tables of Fees?" That economy resembles nothing else known among men. There is no settled principle whatever in the matter. We have already proved it to be utterly unlawful for the clergy to demand one farthing for burials in any shape, whether for ground within the church or around it, for reading the service, for permission to erect grave-stones, or for the death-bell; yet, in spite of law, and in spite of justice, the most grievous exactions, in all these respects, have been made from the people of England for many ages. The true character of these demands is strikingly illustrated by the singular diversity of their amounts. Whence that diversity ? Hence : stealth has no established measure; robbery, at the outset, is regulated by no fixed rule; the amount of the depredation will depend on the courage of the depredators, and on the combination of circumstances. By this principle alone, are we able to explain the reason of the varied charges in the following tables:
FEES FOR A SINGLE INTERMENT IN THE BEST GROUND WITHIN, VIZ., IN THE
FEES FOR A SINGLE INTERMENT IN CHURCHYARDS --BEST GROUND.*
0 10 0
0 16 8 St. Dunstan's, Stepney
1 10 Allhallows, Mark-lane
2 0 10 St. Luke's, Old-street
3 10 0 St. George's, Hanover-square
4 9 6 St. Mary-le-Strand
5 0 0 St. Luke's, Chelsea
6 6 0
FEES FOR PERMISSION TO ERECT, OR PLACE, TOMBSTONES.
Head and Foot Stone.
2 3 0
6 6 0
* Lord Stowell lays it down, that the only ground on which a fee can be exacted for a grave, is, first, "to keep churchyards in an orderly and seemly condition; and, secondly, to purchase new ones when the old ones become surcharged.” “ To answer such charges,' says he, “both certain and contingent, it surely is not unreasonable that the actual use should contribute, when called for." So say we. According to this celebrated Judge, when new parochial grounds are wanted, the clergy are bound to provide them from the enormous profits derived from the old grounds. How comes Mr. Mackinnon, then, to empower them to tax the public for the purchase of such grounds, and then to go on from age to age, as in past times, pocketing the proceeds ? See Burn, vol. i. p. 268.
+ There is no legal right whatever for the exaction of such fees. It is an imposition on‘public credulity and simplicity. See Burn, vol. i. p. 271.
Sir, we have fixed on the churches mentioned, simply as presenting a specimen. The fees exacted at most of the other churches, range up and down between the two extremes here presented, and in some cases ascend much higher. What think you of the system? Is any thing beyond this mere statement, necessary to expose its absurdity and its iniquity? Would not this extraordinary diversity, even in the absence of the laws we have produced in this and former Letters, demonstrate, that, originally, justice had nothing to do with the regulation of these demands, but that they were mere gratuities, varying with the rank and wealth of the donors? In the field of fair commerce, every article finds its level, and all honest producers, placed in the same circumstances, are found to demand for their several wares, much the same prices. What would the public think of the masters of six shops selling broadcloth of the same quality, per yard, at six different prices, and each differing from the other from fifty to one hundred and fifty per cent. ? Would the inference be favourable to the moral character of the majority of them? If we look at all our suburban Cemeteries, we shall find that there