Shortly after having accepted, from the members of the Council of the Cremation Society of London, the office of Secretary, a wish was expressed to me by the President of the Metropolitan Branch of the British Medical Association, that I should prepare a paper upon the Bearings of Cremation upon Public Health. A short paper, with this title, was therefore read, and was afterwards published in the Journal of the Association by the Editor, Mr. Ernest Hart. It was so favorably received by all, that I have been induced to extend my enquiries and so render the work, if possible, more acceptable as an exposition of the subject. I am sensible of its many defects, but I trust that it will be found to furnish some useful information which cannot well be obtained elsewhere, besides proving an assistance to those who are desirous of studying the question more fully.Cremation of the dead is neither new in theory nor in practice. In the England of modern times, however, the question has only recently assumed recognised importance. And the more one considers cremation, the more one finds himself wondering how it has come to pass that we practise burial, with its many faults, and do not burn our dead. Thousands amongst us are now beginning to feel thankful that the dead are soon to 'rule our spirits from their urns' in a realistic and not alone in a poetical sense. They think there is something majestic and even pleasurable in the idea that it will ere long be possible, on all civilised shores, to leave their mother earth, not with a partial, but with a fully consummated sacrifice upon her altar, bidding her adieu none the worse, but rather the better, for their sojourn with her. They groan and labour under the burden of enforced burial, and 'hail with satisfaction and joy the prospect that a chariot of fire may receive them instead of the cold and darksome grave.'
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