SENSE IN A WILL.
(A news article, presumed circa early 1900s, found inside of an old book)
Before he died at Phoenix, Ariz.; the other day, John C. Powers, a mining-engineer, put some good hard sense in his will. He wrote regarding his funeral: “It will be unnecessary for the minister to call me ‘a Christian gentleman’ and state a lot of other facts the truth of which those present will know better than he.”
It is safe to say that more Simon pure lying is perpetrated in funeral orations than at any other ceremonies in which people participate. Political orators lie brazenly enough but there is usually some chance for argument over their statements. The funeral orator, however, gets up and lies when he knows he’s lying and that all his hearers know he’s lying.
A lawyer dies. He’s notorious as a sharper and cheat, but an honorable bar association will sit for hours listening to laudations of his career and pass resolutions over this crook fit to make his trip across the river Styx a mere pleasure excursion toward a heavy reward for virtue.
The same is true as to “our worthy brother” in most any civic society. He may have beaten his wife, robbed his neighbor and been altogether as vicious as they make ’em. But, when they come to bury him, he gets a recommendation for angelhood that would probably have made him fighting mad had they tried to put it on him while he was living.
“Speak only good of the dead” is well enough but it ought to be amended by adding, “But, rather than lie about the dead, keep your mouth shut.”
It is a fact that the truth about the dead cannot affect the dead, while lies about them can hurt the living. What must our youth think, who knowing that the deceased has been a brute or a rascal all his life, hear him praised and flattered by clerical or other orators at a funeral, to say nothing of the gush poured out on him by the newspapers? They must think that brutishness or rascality pays in the long run, musn’t they?
There is sin rather than sense in saying that about the dead, or the living, which is known to be false. To do it in pretense of sympathy for those who are grieving over the corpse is false pretense and known as such to those who grieve.