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THE LINGERING SWALLOW

A THRENODY ON THE APPROACHING…

J LETTER BOX.

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MEETING AT CHEPSTOW.

---==--EXTRAORDINARY CASE.I

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> EXHUMATIONS OF THE DKAD.

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> EXHUMATIONS OF THE DKAD. No home is so much our own as the grave." DREXELIUS ON DEATU. SIR,—Two recent cases of disinterment of the dead seem to involve so much of private and public interest, that you will, I trust, permit me to draw the attention of your readers to them. I allude to the case at Bath, where the remains of General Dick were disturbed after seventeen months' burial, and to the exhumation of a poor woman, who died near Brecon, from natural causes. I propose to confine my remarks chiefly to the latter. In the former case there was at least, suspicion of murder, though (as it seems to me) quite an unwarrantable sus- picion in the latter there was not even the justification of an imaginary belief for this melancholy, revolting, and painful violation of the grave. The only ground for it was an imputed (and most falsely imputed, I shall not hesitate, as an old pi'dctitionei, to assert) error in the medical treatment of the deceased; an erroi of judgment, even if proved, of course, ir- retrievable, and, as involuntary, not defeating the ends of public justice, even if permitted to share the oblivion that, no doubt, covers some piofessional eirors, even amona; the highest of those who exercise so occult .ind so widely discretionary an art astiiat of What I be to recommend to the attention of the press and the public, is, the decency and necessity of watch- ing this proceeding; of tequiing strong, well ascertained occa- sion for this shocking process, this nullifying of the solemn ser- vice for the dead, this undoing of the last offices, this tearing open of coffins, and exposing of the dreadful secrets of coriup- tion to the light of day—to the horror of casual spectators, the anguish of relatives, and violation of decency. In the two instances alluded to, was there proof of real occasion for these legalized acts of resurrection men V .A.gentleman, long resi- dent. far away, it seems, couid not or would not believe it possible, that his father's affections could go astray from him to other near relatives about his person, and draw his fortune after them. His lather had corresponded with him, therefore he must have intended to leave all his worldly goods to him, and his will must be a forgery, and he must have been murdered by those luckier relatives, although two medical men had testified to his natural death I pretend not to any knowledge how far a coroner has discietion to resist the adoption of exhumation, but suggest that power should be entrusted to him (if not already sumctent)to protect the dead from violation, on every or any wild lancy that self-love ana disappointed hope of lucte may inspire. In the second instance, also, I have no doubt (hat the icanton act ot disinterment (as I hesitate not to call it) was as reluct- antly allowed by that very respectable gentleman acting as coroner—conceded to vulgar clamour, or popular humanity— jilayed upon, very posslhl y, by other parties fiom 'motives too strong for humanity or decency. 1 will not expatiate on the violence done to humane natures by the ghastly spectacles-the wild sensation they must produce in a rustic, ignorant population-the certainty ot tbc kindly and feeling thus wrought up in an exciieable class like the Welsh rural peasantry, takingsome wrong direction, and so beincc converted into evil, injustice, inhumanity, by being spent upon innocent objects. Why. the very act of proceeding to a s;rave converted into evil, injustice, inhumanity, by being spent upon innocent objects. Why. the very act of proceeding to a grave to unburp'ihe buried, pttjiulicates the case in every uneducated mind. J here has been a murder, or something cruel or lawless to give rise to such an awful ihvesiigation such is, most cer- tainly, the impression of every follower in the rural mob at the heels of loe legalised resurrection men" entering a churchyard for such purpose. Is it not then imperiously required, on eveiy principle ot humanity, and of justice to professional liMn-of re- gard to even the gentler prejudices of civilized life, that this step should be never resorted to, but where murder is suspected, and on very stioog grounds, or where ome urgent public necessity seems to demand it ? Let any one consider what would be the consequence of this example being followed all over England, every body dug up whenever a rumour should get abroad that the deceased mig lit have been saved! Why, sir, my knowledge of the incessant illiberal vigilance of watch over a rival practi- tioner's cases, too olten stealthily kept by the beginners in our liberal (!) profession, warrants my saying that few case of natural death would occur in towns or villages (where the rivals are brought into closer antagonism) wherein such grounds for raising the dead" might not be adduced. And is it to be endured, that such levolting proceedings—loathsome to thelivuig, cruel to the dead (who would wish their horrid transfigurations, under imperfect dissolution, to meotthe eyes of wives, husbands, children fj—crueller still (as in this instance, to the living repu- tation ot an aged and respected practitioner) to medical men in general;—I sav, ought it to De endured that exhumatious should, on such grounds, become every day r ecurrences ? 1 maintain that they must and will become so, if all required shall be, that somehow, from the very ImpartIal (no doubt!) dictum of somebody, a tale is trumped up that some deceased person would have been saved by Mr. this or Dr. that, and, therefore had been sadly Ill. used by Mr. Tether. It is necessary that 1 heie assure you. Sir, that I am quite a stranger to Mr. Batt, the surgeon strongly condemned by a jurv on the inquest holden on the body of the woman whose death I refer to. We all know, who read newspapers, that, too often the verdict of Juries'' is the beading of as monstrous and lu- dicrous jokes as those subscribed Punch. Juries are not in- fallible, and in a case involviug the merits of medical treatment* their verdict must he falhblllty itself. In this case it was de posed Oil oath that the woman. a wife, a mother, quite without motive for falsehood, assured Mr. Hatt that she was „„t prenal/t Unquestionably this evidence alone triumphantly acquitted him in the mind of common sense. As hlest I trust with some share ot that humb gifl, I declare 1 would have endured to the last the very rational coeicion applied to conscientious juiymen be- fore I would have committed myself by acquiescing in that really absurd verdict. It charged him with either neglect, or want of skill. The first hypothetical charge ought not to have been made in the very teeth of the evidence to his prompt at- tendance, and humane measures for her relief, with necessaries, wine, &c., even without waiting far orders. The second was equally in the teeth of professional evidence. Every one must perceive, that it would be quite imultingto his patients, for any practitioner to proceed in treating a woman as far advanced in a condition which she denies to exist at all. Besides this, the farther medical testimony of another gentleman shewed that even had Mr. B. by clairvoyance,jar other miracle, known. her state in spite of her assertion, it was one of those sad devia- tions from Natuve's course which would (after the great exhaus- tion already pioduced) have proved fatal under any treatment. Waiving minute details, unpleasant in a public print, suffice it to say, that it was a case not admitting manual aid, till the ar- rIval of a certain natural tage, that such stage had not arrived up to the moment of death-that the point at which even the at- tempt to save could be made. had not commenced! Death, therefore, would have assuredly outstripped human assistance; f >r the process, even when allowed to begin, is tardy, intermit- ent, and after all, but a feeble secondiug of the action of Nature herself. To conclude, I beg to gravely put this question to all readers —"Was there any good to be expected from the disinterment of a poor labourer's wife, dying under circumstances involving no doubt of anything but the perfection of the practice adopted toward her? no suspicion of murder, no imputation of any flag- rant maltreatment, even professional?" (At the same time I disclaim all stricture on the Coroner's permission or direction for the procedure which perhaps popular rumour might extort, against hisown judgment.) Her medical attendant was a gentle- man holding the appointment of Coroner, who consequently must have possessed the confidence and good will of very many respectable persons in the county, whose votes exalted him to that respectable office. He is a man in years, in highly respect- able practice in the county town, where he has long resided. Now,, what fair, (lpen, legitimate ground of suspicion could the natural death (unhappily too common) of this poor woman sup- ply, to warrant so awful an enquiry ? It nevercouldbe imagined that any most violent deviatiou from the usual course of treat- ment had been made, by such person, nor has the evidence proved any such thing: for after all it is the evidrnce.und not the verdict, which surely all lovers of truth and justice will regard,in deciding on this question. Every sensible man reading the evi- dence will constitute himself as juryman, and do believe that eleven out of twelve such reader3 will disseut in toto from the Jury constituted by law upon the Crowner's quest." Lastly, then, I ask. is this example to be followed, and our "brothers and sisters" departed, to very commonlv rise again, making day hideous," that it may be ascertained whether or no. he or she had been skilfully treated? Whether perhaps hte might not have been saved under some "new doctor" (whose own oral familiar testimony would probably be pretty strong in the affirmative) in these days of strong competition? 1, of course, speak in generallerms. here, but 1 venture to assert that, if it is to be followed, grave-diggers must be increased, and the grave will close in vain on thousands, as nothing can be easier than to get up a rumour of persons being killed by a regular doctor (unless it be of their being saved by a quack or a quack medicine). Hoping that the public interest of this subject will excuse the length of this communication, I am, Sir, yours, &c., Buitb. J. DOWNES, M. D.

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USK FARMERS' CLUB.

OPENING OF THE NEW HALL, LINCOLN'S…

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ANNUAL MEETING AT MONMOUTH,…