P R O S P E C T U S.
to dispose of the dead, and vigilantly to secure their remains from violation are the first
duties of society;-the most barbarous of mankind would burn with indignation at beholding the remains of a
beloved relative exposed, mangled, or mutilated ; and yet among us, in a moral and Christian country, the
abode of the dead is openly violated, its deposits are sacrilegiously disturbed and ejected, the tender
solicitudes of survivors cruelly sported with, and the identity of relationships destroyed ;-so eager indeed is
the haste to dispossess previous occupants, that time is not even allowed for the general dissipation of
decaying human putrescence.
The melancholy disclosures of the past few years, as to the condition of the Burial Grounds of the
Metropolis, induced the Government to institute an Inquiry on the subject, the result of which is thus stated by
Mr. Chadwick :-”that inasmuch as there are no cases in which emanations from human remains, in an
advanced state of decomposition, are not of a deleterious nature, so there is no case in which the liability to
danger should be incurred, either by interment, (or intombment in vaults, which is most dangerous,) amidst
the dwellings of the living ;-it being established as a general conclusion, (from which there are no adequate
grounds of exception,) in respect to the physical circumstances of interment, that all burials in towns, where
bodies decompose, contribute to the mass of atmospheric impurity, which is injurious to the public health.”
These facts have led to the establishment of Public Cemeteries in the neighbourhood of London, as
well as of several other large Provincial Towns, where they may be well considered to constitute “by far their
most useful ornaments, when viewed as a means of protecting the health of the living from the infection of the
dead, by the removal of the latter to properly adapted place of sepulture, and yet not separating the dead from
the living.”
It has been well observed, that “our Churchyards, (established in the heart of busy and populous
towns,) are repulsive to the sensitive mind : they cannot attract the man of taste, and thus by repelling many,
they deprive the soul of that deep and holy converse with the dead, that might serve it for the duties of this
world, and the destinies of the next ; for who can doubt that a walk among the tombs, invitingly arranged and
simply adorned, throws an instructive light on the pursuits and frivolities of time, and seems to unfold the
portals of immortality. It is on such principles that Public Cemeteries are recommended, to give to the
departed a quiet habitation, sacred and inviolate to the march of improvement; to furnish friends a spot where,
free from interruption and the intrusion of vulgar curiosity, they may indulge, without restraint, their tenderist
sensibilities, and muse of the reminiscences of the past, over the dust of the dead ; to furnish to all a haunt of
deep soul-felt communion ; and, in a word, stripping the grave of its revolting associations, to constitute it an
eloquent and impressive preacher to the living.”
By a return of the number of deaths in the Town of Birmingham, it appears that there have been
registered during the past year, 1844 :-
In Birmingham, (five parishes,)
In the Borough districts of Aston ...
In Edgbaston
Thus it will be found, that the number of deaths is upwards of 5000 per annum, making an average of
nearly 100 burials per week, to be provided for.
This fact, coupled with a review of the present crowded state of all the Churchyards of the Town, and
the malaria arising from them,-particularly in the summer months,-to the annoyance of the surrounding
neighbourhoods, where even the wells are rendered unsafe for domestic purposes, from their proximity to the
grave yard and their consequent impurity,-has led to a conviction that great benefit must accrue to the
inhabitants of Birmingham, by the establishment of a Public Cemetery, where the ground, hallowed by
consecration, protected by Act of Parliament, and thus becomes for ever inalienable, may be set apart for the
burial of the dead : and it is therefore proposed to form a Company for the attainment of that salutary change,
which the overburthened state of the grave yards of the Town but too urgently requires.
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