Page images
PDF
EPUB

of any improvement taking place in the health of my children, or that any particular benefit was derived from the removal.

His Lordship, after subsequently stating that the system ought to be improved, proceeds: “I still must think that the actual evils which have resulted from it have been considerably exaggerated: that in those churchyards in London, where due care is taken by the parochial officers to insure regularity of interment, on a certain system, which prevents the opening of graves within a given time after interment, there is no real detriment to the health of the inhabitants. Does this witness prove the nuisance ?

Why did not Mr. Mackinnon, in his Report, quote this part of the Evidence of this cautious and eminent witness? Is not the experience and opinion of such a witness alone sufficient to overthrow the monstrous fabric of unsworn assertions of ten thousand such nameless, homeless, vagrant, and idle men as supplied the main portions of the disgusting, horrible, and harrowing details which apparently so delighted the Committee?

6. The Rev. EvAN JAMES, Curate of St. Dunstan's, Stepney, “resides near a churchyard where more dead bodies have been interred probably than in any other churchyard.” To the question (2711), whether he knew of “any circumstances either as affecting public decency or public health, arising from that number of burials," he replies: “I can safely state that I have never found any thing of the kind.”-Does this witness prove the nuisance ?

7. The Rev. HENRY Hart MILMAN, now Rector of St. Margaret's, Westminster, and formerly Rector of St. Mary's, Reading, a witness only second to the Bishop of London,-for he, too, lived in a churchyard seventeen years,—was thus interrogated : “ Generally speaking, do you conceive that there is any evil arising from it, [burial in churchyards,] so far as it comes within your knowledge ?-I should say, none whatever.

“2765, Did the Rectory-house at Reading closely adjoin the churchyard ?-It was in the churchyard,

“2764. Did you yourself or your family experience any inconvenience from your residing so near the churchyard during the seventeen years you were there ?—None whatever."- Does this witness prove the nuisance?

8. The Rev. John TREVOR ROBINSON, of St. Andrew's, Holborn, was thus questioned: “You are aware of the object for which this Committee is assembled ; will you have the goodness to state, generally, to the Committee what your sentiments are upon

the subject ?—I am not aware, from my own experience, of any nuisance having arisen, or any noxious effects having been produced upon the health of the population in the vicinity of the burial-grounds.”Does this witness prove the nuisance?

9. The Rev. WILLIAM WELDON CHAMPNEYS, Rector of Whitechapel, thus testifies : “Will you have the goodness to state, generally, to the Committee your sentiments on the subject of their inquiry ?-On the first point I would say, with regard to the desirableness or the necessity of such a change, that I have had no personal experience of any injurious effects arising from interments in my own neighbourhood. The Rectory-house is situated at the side of the churchyard, graves running close to the party-wall on one side, and within the distance of a few yards on the other; and I have been there resident five years, and I have never found the slightest inconvenience; nor, in fact, have I been able, though in the habit of visiting dying persons in the parish, to discern that peculiar smell ; nor

my predecessor's family, who lived there before me for thirty years, find any inconvenience, though the churchyard is very closely filled.”Does this witness prove the nuisance ?

Here are no fewer than nine London clergymen, inclusive of their Bishop, who all concur in a declaration of experience and opinion entirely subversive of Mr. Mackinnon's leading position. Is nothing due to such a body of witnesses ? Is Mr. Mackinnon prepared to treat their testimony as unworthy of credit ? They are all resident clergymen, whose benefices are on either bank of the river, in the middle, at both ends, and on both sides of the city. Their evidence is, therefore, conclusive. It can only fail through the ignorance or the apathy of the public, or through the predetermination of individuals or a body to carry their point in spite of truth and fact, history and experience, reason and justice !

Will it be credited that, in the face of all this, Mr. Mackinnon asserts, in his Report, that his points are fully proved by

did

various classes of witnesses; and, amongst them, by “clergymen and high dignitaries of the Church ?" You have seen the conjoint and cumulative testimony of the nine clergymen whose Evidence has been laid before you. Yet this gentleman talks of “high dignitaries of the Church” as his supporters! Who are these dignitaries? The Bishop of London, and Prebendaries Milman and Russell—the three strongest witnesses of the nine against him! With a man who is capable of drawing such conclusions from such facts, is it possible ever to settle a question by argument? To you we make our appeal, and more especially to the sound common sense of all right-minded Englishmen. Great Arbiter !

“Oppress’d with argumental tyranny,

Still routed reason finds a safe retreat in thee !" September 15, 1842.

LETTER VI.

GENERAL EVIDENCE EXAMINED.

In our last Address to you, we fully established against Mr. Mackinnon the charge of grossly misrepresenting the Evidence of the Metropolitan Clergy. How much soever these gentlemen may sympathise with his spirit, and sigh for the success of his ultimate object, they have too high a sense of honour, and too great a regard for principle, to aid him by untruth and concealment. Although that spirit is persecuting, exclusive, and domineering, and that object is, to crush Dissent, to exalt the church, and to swell the revenues of the clergy, Mr. Mackinnon professes to be a patriot and a philanthropist; he affects to be constrained by zeal for the public health and the honour of his country. He is professedly desirous, by a double benefaction, to establish claims to the gratitude both of the church and the nation. It is time, however, that the illusion should be dissipated. It is folly, it is fraud, it is an outrage equally on truth and on justice, on moral propriety and on legislative decorum. The Clerical Evidence already cited, even if it stood alone, would suffice at once both to expose and to demolish the deceitful and preposterous project. So entirely destitute is the scheme of foundation in truth, that even the clergy, deep as is their stake in his success, have, with one voice, emphatically and honourably declared that the pestilent grievance on which he has based it, has really no existence. Both the Bishop and they have, doubtless, read his Report with astonishment, if not with indignation. We have reason to believe this to be the fact. The Report is actually an impeachment of their veracity. Without circumlocution, it gives them all the lie! It is but just, therefore, to these gentlemen, that we should set forth the evidence of another class of witnesses, wholly disinterested, and possessing a measure of experience which entitles them to full credence.

1. Mr. Henry Helston, who resided about thirty yards from the burial-ground of St. Martin's-in-the-Fields, says, “I have never to my knowledge experienced any ill effects.”

2. Mr. Moses Solomons, who resided in Vinegar-yard, Drury-lane, said, his “back staircase windows look into the church-yard." This son of Abraham, who seemed to be a somewhat malicious witness with respect to the gentlemen of the spade and pickaxe, gave evidence, on the main point, of the most decisive and remarkable character. He has resided during fifty-seven years on the margin of one of the most crowded and worst managed grounds in the metropolis, and the result of this extraordinary experiment is as follows:

Q. 218. Does any exhalation or putrid smell arise from it?-Sometimes, in summer time.

“ 219. Is that very great.-Yes, very great.
220. Have you ever found it affect your health ?-No.
“ 221. Nor the health of your family?-No."

This testimony of Moses quite confounded the Chairman, who, at Question 247, returned to the point by a general interrogatory, and obtained from the aged Jew an answer which only made matters worse :

Is that a healthy neighbourhood ?- Where I live (on the margin of one of the worst graveyards) is very healthy."

3. Mr. Thomas Munns fully corroborates the evidence of Mr. Moses Solomons as to health, while he contradicts him as to smell; for his house, too, overlooked the same burial ground.

[ocr errors]

“ Q. 586. Do you experience any effluvia or unpleasant smell from the churchyard?-Not that I could take an oath to swear came from the burial ground.

“ 587. Do you enjoy your health pretty well ?-I cannot say that I have not good health.

“ 588. Is your family in good health ?–Middling.

4. Mr. ROBERT Carr, an undertaker, and a very intelligent witness, was thus interrogated respecting Spafields burying ground:

“Q. 658. Do you consider that the vicinity of these houses to this graveyard is injurious to the health of the people who occupy them ?-I should not think so myself; because it is a wide space, a very large field.”

5. Mr. GEORGE STARKINS WALLACE, a respectable livery stable keeper in Whitechapel, and a staunch Churchman, we apprehend, thus testifies :

“ Q. 1549. Do you live near the church ?-Yes, close by.

“ 1550. Have you been aware of any unpleasant effluvia from dead bodies buried in the churchyard ?-I am not aware of any; our churchyard is rather open.

1551. Have you heard of any such complaints being made by your neighbours ?-I have not."

6. Mr. WILLIAM Ford, beadle of the parish of St. Martin's, Ludgate, of which there had been some evil reports, was questioned as follows:

“ Q. 1932. The congregation have never complained of any effluvia from the vaults?-I am not aware that they have.”

7. Mr. Joseph HARVEY, parish clerk of St. Andrew's, Undersbaft, lives close upon the churchyard, and states, that, sometimes, when a grave is opened, a smell is felt in his house, with respect to which he was asked,

“ Q. 1780. Have you suffered from it at all ?—No; it has only been from the opening of a grave, and when the body is interred, it is filled up again.

“ 1802. When the windows of the school-house have been open in hot weather, do you experience any offensive smell ?No; I do not think it is possible.

“ 1803. Are the poor healthy in your immediate neighbourhood ?-Yes, I never heard to the contrary. I have been in

« PreviousContinue »