Dissolution and extinction
We often read in obituaries that so-and-so went to his “eternal rest”.
“Rest! No, not for an instant!” wrote Sir Henry Thompson, an eminent surgeon and one of the first to pioneer the idea of cremation as an alternative to burial.
“Never was there greater activity than at this moment exists in that still corpse. Already a thousand changes have commenced. Forces innumerable have attacked the dead... Nature’s ceaseless agents are now at full work” (A.N. Wilson, The Victorians).
Thompson went into graphic detail about the putrescent decay of the body, and proposed the substitution of a furnace, cheap and hygienic.
The dissolution of the body is followed by “the sure extinction that we travel to and shall be lost in always. Not to be here, not to be anywhere – and soon. Nothing more terrible, nothing more true” (Philip Larkin, Aubade).
John Guillaumier St Julian’s