THE HOWFF. - A disgusting doctrine has been laid down by the Hospital Committee this week, as to the management of our crowded burying-grounds. It is declared that the grave-diggers are justified in digging up any poor man of woman's grave at the end of twelve years. that is the time in which a grave is pronounced "fully ripe." The Advertiser has entered a vigourous protest against this doctrine, and it is clear that people like Mr Foggie and Bailie Cuthbert, in defending the breaking up of the coffins at the end of twelve years, never think how they would like it in the case of their own families. They don't contemplate their coffins being smashed up at twelve year's end. They can afford to secure their family burial places from such desecration. Anything, however, is though good enough for the poor. The Advertiser says:-" The liberties we complain of are not taken with the graves of the rich. The granite headstone, the ponderous vault, the aspiring obelisk warn off the invading spade, and it is the resting places of the poor that are treated much in the spirit observed by Hood when he wrote-
"Rattle his bones over the stones,
He's only a pauper whom nobody owns."
The old grave-digger avers that the grave now in question was "as ripe a grave as ever opened." and as he is a connoisseur in such matters, and talks of corpses as if, like oranges, they were things packed in boxes in a green state, only to be taken out when ripe and juicy, we leave the question of their age and mellowness in his hands. No cheesemonger trying, with an eye to business, his stock of Stiltons, could judge more authoritatively when his goods have acquired the much desiderated quality of mouldiness, than does the experienced sexton, who with his hands in his pockets and his eyes on the ground, prowls about the Howff in search of graves that have grown marketably ripe. To him how vain would be Shakespeares appeal.
Kind friend, for Jesus' sake forbear
To dig the dust inclosed here.
With him the corpse is not put down to await the sounding of the last trump, but only to wait until Mr Kettle the grave-digger
shall report it ripe enough to have its house sliced with a spade. But here a difficulty presents itself. "A Dismissed Grave-
Digger." writing to our paper in March 1858, in extenuation of the wheel barrow removal of a young woman, says that, although the part of the ground from which the corpse was wheeled away had not been used for fifteen years, the bodies were in many cases entire, the bones covered with flesh, and the coffins in such surprising preservation, that in almost every instance they had to be broken up with a mattock."
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