Friday, December 31, 2010

Not Santa

Nope, it's not St. Nick. It's Dr. Price. St. Nick didn't wear a fox on his head! I have Sue to thank for pointing out that Dr. William Price (1800-1895) was not only Britain's 1st proponent of cremation, but quite a character. Here he is (1st image) in his Druid garb with said fox headdress (2nd image), now preserved in the Welsh National History Museum. Check out a biography of Dr. Price for further information on his accomplishments and peculiarities, which I list:
  • When his father lowered the family's social standing by marrying a servant girl, he began acting erratically, walking about naked, standing in ponds with the water up to his neck, and carrying snakes in his pockets as charms
  • As a member of the revolutionary Chartist movement, he supported equal democratic rights for all men and at one point fled to France in women's dress to avoid persecution
  • He tried to revive the religion of the ancient Druids and to promote the use of the Welsh language, which he felt was dying out
  • He opened a medical practice, but refused to treat smokers
  • He advocated vegetarianism and vigorous walking
  • He opposed marriage as enslavement and the wearing of socks as unhygienic
When his infant son died in 1884, octogenarian Dr. Price attempted to cremate his body rather than pollute the earth with it, but was set upon by a mob and arrested. The baby's body was removed from the pyre and autopsied, which confirmed his natural death, but Dr. Price was put on trial for the illegal disposal of the corpse. "It is not right that a carcass should be allowed to rot and decompose in this way. It results in a wastage of good land, pollution of the earth, water and air, and is a constant danger to all living creatures," he testified. Successfully arguing that there were no laws against it, he paved the way for cremation in England and Wales, and was allowed to complete the cremation of his son. Ten years later, a moribund Dr. Price demanded, "Bring me a glass of champagne." He drank it and died, after which he was - as directed in his will - cremated. The event was observed by 20,000 people, and members of his family wore the articles of his Druidic dress.

1 comment:

  1. I'm assuming he didn't have that beard when he fled to France in women's dress - otherwise what's the point of him dressing as a woman to flee? lol

    Very interesting and entertaining as usual, and thanks for creating such a fascinating blog for people like me to follow!


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