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The Hair After Death

The Hair After Death image
Parent Issue
Day
1
Month
June
Year
1883
Copyright
Public Domain
OCR Text

N. Y. Herald. The extraordinary faot noted in the subjointed narrativo is now for the first timo published: In the year 18C3 the bodies in the vaults óf the church which then stood on the north sido of Carmine streets, were removed. In some of the vaults the coffins had been ranged in rovvs, as many as ten being placed on the top of the other. Up to the time that the removal of the bodies was begnn there had not been a burial- if the placing of a body in the vaults can be so termed- underneath the church for seventeen years. It was notsurprising, therefore, that whcn the men went to work most of the cofflns were found decayed, and thatwherc there had originally been several coffins notbing was found but a mass of rotten wood, remnants of bones and now and then fragments of bodies that liad held together, but had only the bare resemblanoe to skeletons of tke human body. There were, however, a few coffins which were found to be in a fair state of preservation, but, even the majoritv of these feil to pieces at the slightest touch. The work had lasted nearlv a week when one day a vanlt was reaclied in which every coffin but ono had crumbled Their contents lay in rei eu ueaps on the top of the oaskel whioh had beea the flret to be placed in the vault. Slrange to say, although the workmen made rough use oí their shovels, their cofliu rumainud intact, and when the last shovelful of "rubbish"- as the men calledit- had been acraped off the lid therc was no indication that fch ' casket was not as strong as the day whi u it was tenderdly laid, as the ■'■ nds of the dead ones fondly hy ,, ni ver to be distn-bed from its restin plaee. " One of the laborers with a broom swept off the mould and dust of years that covered portions of the lid, and a fuint glinting noar the center of it c ught their watchf ui eyes. a a;itern' over the coffln one of the men foand this to proceed from the píate- a heavy silver one. Bonding down and scraping it with a trowel the workman described the ñamo and age of the person who had been buried in the casket. It showed that the body was that of a boy of twolve years which had lain there upwards of sixteen years. In attempting to lift the cofnn"the lid came off, theworn and rusted screns fallinoto the ground. The sight tbat met the eyes of the lookers-on they will probably never for-' get. One of them knelt down on the stone Hoor and devoutiy made the sign of the cross. The interior of the coflin - the satin lining and the delicata fringe that bordered it - was yellow and mouldy, but the body of the boy- a handsome boy he must have been- in its white sbroud, with a broad white silk riWón about the waist; looked as thougL'it had but recently been laid in the coffin. The face was marble white, the lips were half parted, as if in a smile, and beneath the partly closed eye-lids could be seen by the lantern's rays the eyes themselves. The little hands wcre folded across the breast, and. raost wonderful of all, perhaps, was the hair. It was neatly parted at the sides, and appoared as if it had just been coinbed, for the dampness of the vaults was upon it, and this dampness seemed like the trace of a wetted brush. The hair feil in long tresses on either side, and had carlea and streteheddown and along and over the body to the waist, covering it here and thcro like a thin vil. All this was seen at a glance. The wonderful appearance of the body remained unchanged for a much less time aan it takes to teil it; for, as the men tood as if transfixed to the spot, gazng upon the child, an almost impereptible motion was discerned about ie face. The eyes commenced slowly o sink, the shroud to crumble. and in n instant almost the air had done its rork, and the frail shell that had once oubtless been the pet of a household aded into nothingness. When those jresent (and the writer of this sketch was one of them) had regained their omposure they stood before an almost mpty coffin; for, besides a skeleton ïat feil to fragments when touched, here lay at the bottom of the casket othing but the glossy curls that had nee aderned the lad'shead in lifetime, jut had continued to grow probably for ears after the day when the grave flrst laimed its owa. Most pcople understand that hair does ometimes grow after death, but there re perhaps few who know that there is very considerable growth in at least ne-third of the cases where bodies are nterred in the nsual manner. A story vas told bv Oscar Wilde at a dinner jarty in New York which illustrates his fact. When Gabriel Dante Rossetti was very young - scarcely more than a )oy- said Mr. Wilde, he was deeply in ove with a yoting girl, aud, having a oet's gift, he sang a uoet's love in inmerous sonnefcs and verses to her. he died young, and by her wish the nianuscripts of the poems were placed i a casket and laid under her head, so :iat even in tho last sleep they should e, as they always had been, kopt hoeath her pillow. Years passed by and iossetti's iaine grew until every line of lis composition became precious. and orue of those who prized Jiis writings nost asked him for copies of the songs lat had been buried. " He had kopt no opies, or they had been lost. At all vents he could furnish none, and when ley asked him to rewrite the versos he eclared that he was utterly unable to o so. At last his friends importuned him urpermission to have the original man.-cripts exhumed. He conse.nted after ome hesitation, and all the necessary veliminaries having been complied vith the grave, which had been sealed or many years, was opened. Then a strange thing was found The asket containing the poems had proved o be of perishabïe materia' and its cover uid crumbled away. The long trosses f the girl had grown after death and ïacl twined and intertwined among the leaves of the poet's paper, coiling ar-Mind the written words of love in a loving embrace long after death had sealed the lips and dimrned the eye that had made response to that love. There is nothing improbable in the story so far as it relatos to tho physical phonomenon. That the hair grows after death is too well established a fact to bo challenged, and is readily onongh to be understood by any oue who wili give even a little study to its formation, it being an appendage to the human form, and not strictly speakicg, a part of it. It might indeeel be almost cali a friendly parasite. A woman who fould always loye would never grow old ; and tho love of mother and Trife would often give or preserve many charms if it were not too frequently combined with pareutal and conjugal anger. This is worth remem bering; for there remains in the faces of women who are naturally serene and peaceful, and of those rendered so by religión, an aftor-spring, and later an after-summer, the reflex of their most beautiful bloom.

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Subjects
Old News
Ann Arbor Democrat