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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 16.djvu/409

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PREMATURE BURIALS.

bled without depriving the canal of a ton of the merchandise which is passing through it to-day. Under these conditions the Suez Canal is a prosperous enterprise. Its stock, which was issued at 500 francs, is now quoted at 750 francs, and its bonds, payable at only 500 francs, are sold for 570 francs.

Suppose, then, for the Interoceanic Canal an original outlay of double this sum, more than double, if you please, and put opposite this figure a traffic reduced in the first years to four million tons, instead of seven, and a charge of fifteen francs, which will be a very slight tax on commerce.

Can it therefore not be admitted that this great enterprise is of a kind to attract large capital seeking an advantageous investment? But these large sums will not be the only ones on which we can count. Let us not pay our century the poor compliment of supposing that everything is done on a mere money-making basis. The Interoceanic Canal will bring in subscribers from those who, captivated by the grandeur of the work, will wish to help it with their mite, without thinking whether or not they will get anything back. These subscribers—who will come from America, from Asia, and from Europe—these subscribers will have for their name legion. Once already, and under less favorable circumstances, they have answered the appeal of him who built the Suez Canal; they will not be wanting for the Interoceanic Canal Company, which will have as its chief and responsible head Ferdinand de Lesseps.

 

PREMATURE BURIALS.
By G. ERIC MACKAY.

THE difference between death and a state of trance—or, as the Germans put it, Todt and Scheintodt—has never been quite clearly understood by the generality of mankind. Society, which sometimes does its best for the living, does not always do its best for the dead (or those who appear to be dead), and he would be a bold man who, without statistics, should assert that men, women, and children are never, by any chance, buried alive. Are the bodies of the poor always examined with care before burial? Are deaths properly verified in days of epidemic, that is to say in days of social panic?

I propose in this article to call attention to a few instances of premature burials on the Continent of Europe: instances which involve stories of trance, or Scheintodt—a trance, the semblance of death, holding its sway over the human body for hours and days, and not merely for minutes, as in the case of ordinary fainting-fits. In days when land is dear, and burial rights are less sacred than the rights of