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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/703

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SKETCH OF THOMAS SAY

ground. We raise and pass the curtain, and before us stands the coffin.

It is a plain box, but of great size, being twelve feet in length and four in thickness, each side consisting of a single slab of hard and costly wood brought from the province of Sze Chuen, far in the interior. Its cost was over fifteen hundred dollars. The man who for years ruled with a rod of iron—before whose mandate one hundred thousand heads fell in the execution-ground of Canton, whose diplomatic skill baffled for years the ministers of European powers, who, when his city was little better than a ruin and a desert, could not fight, and would not yield lest he should betray the prestige of the inviolability of Canton, after all his power, skill, and obstinacy—lies unhonored and almost unattended without the walls of the city which he could rule but could not save.

But we must hasten to a close. The grave having been fixed upon and the day for interment appointed, an altar is prepared in the room in which the body lies, and upon it are piled fruits and cakes, while in front of it we see a roast pig and a goat, the two latter being often made in lacquer-ware, and hired for the occasion. At the door are placed musicians, and from time to time large masses of silvered paper are burned at the entrance of the room. The body is then escorted to the tomb, all the mourners dressed in white, and the offerings, pig, goat, and all, form part of the pageant. But the principal object is the ancestral tablet, borne in a red shrine, and often accompanied by the figures of the household gods. On reaching the grave some religious ceremonies are performed, large quantities of silvered and gilt paper, and imitations of clothes, ships, etc., are burned, this being the readiest way of supplying the wants of the deceased, and forwarding his luggage to the spirit-land. The provisions furnish forth a feast, the coffin is interred, and the ancestral tablet borne back to the ancestral hall, where we will leave it, until the return of the period for the worship of the dead leads us back to the now closing grave.—Temple Bar.

 

SKETCH OF THOMAS SAY.
By J. S. KINGSLEY.

THOMAS SAY, the father of American zoölogy, was born in Philadelphia, July 27, 1787. Of his youth we know comparatively nothing. At an early age his parents, who were Quakers, placed him in a boarding-school under the control of the Friends, but Say did not take kindly to the instruction there provided, and acquired nothing but a most intense dislike for his teachers and for all ordinary branches of study. We are justified in ascribing this antipathy on his part to