On Kremashun. A Posthumous Paper.
by Artimus Ward
The Shotover Papers, or, Echoes from Oxford, vol. 1, issue 9 (1874)
NOTE: This entry is in draft form; it is currently undergoing the VSFP editorial process.
Introductory Note: Charles Ferrar Browne, a.k.a. Artemus Ward was a genial showman who, like Mark Twain, wrote in his regional dialect—with phonetic spelling thrown in, making some of his words hard for the modern reader to decipher. In “On Kremashun,” Artemus Ward returns from a successful tour with his wax figures and beasts of prey to find his small town excited over the lecture on “kremashun” (cremation). Ward decides to attend a lecture on cremation with his family and the story recounts the experience.
I hev jist Reternd 2 the Buzum of mi famerly after a suxessfool Toor with mi onparalleld Wax figgers & sagashus Bestes of Pray oing 2 a dispensin Provijince & trooly apprechativ aujinces.1“Bestes of Pray” refers to Ward’s current show which consisted of wax figures and wild animals. Blessed by Providence (God) and appreciative audiences.
Mi Spekoolashuns howiver hev bin somewat Mard by thos Axidents too which Flesh is air on2 them.2Flesh is heir to accidents was a common phrase in Victorian medical journals. (This Fraze is not erriginal with the undersined, But was borrod from A parsin who denounct mi Sho as unmorril becos I declind 2 let him lecter in my Tint & his wife tek the cenz.3Took offense. In the Cors of his remarx he sed, “Awl Flesh is grars & varis other non-sins, Yis I replid fixin mi Egle I on2 him, & it air a considerable lot of shoddy sumtimes, it air erkashunally a Lode of Donkymeet.4“All flesh is grass” is a reference to 1 Peter 1:24. He qualed Bneeth mi bitin Sarkusms & Dparted with a grone, likewise with a cote Blongin too mi Wax figger of Presidunt Linkin. N.B. He furgot to pa fur admittuns.5N.B. means “note well.”
The axident refurd 2, previs on2 these digresshun, were the Fact, thet mi sagashus Tiger Broke loos, & with karakteristik Pierty, commencd ontoo Wurriyin mi Wax figger of Judis Iskariat, & was only Secoord arter makin Free with thet hily Interestin Individorul His hed.
The red hare of the A4sed not ergreeing with the Sagashus Broot, I wos savd in Vittls fore (4) das, wich he etes 1 dollar a da.
Howiver I did a Strok of Bizniss bi substitooting in the place of the Mootilatid Feechers of J.I. a wax similitood of the Hed of Theodoor Tiltin, who were then Ingaged in sturrin up Filthy Warter & walloin in the same Luxoorously & makin an egrejis ass of Himself in variis intrestin Was.6Theodore Tilton was an editor and poet. Wen I retoornd 2 Baldinsville, I diskiverd the Hole plase in Tremenjis Xcitement.7Baldinsville, New York is the “hometown” of the fictional Artemus Ward. I ses werun 2 these Xtasees? They replid ‘Kremashun.’ I ses xactly so, thinkin that thos Infooreated feemals hed Bust in 2 a noo faze of the Wisky War.8The ‘women’s’ movement against whiskey and excessive drinking. They sez Wil yu B kremated? I sez Not Bing a kandidate fur the Presijency of a Loonatik Asilim I ken safly sa Nary kremate. I remarkd Hev yu awl bin krematid becos It apeers 2 ergre ontoo yu.9Ward mistakes ‘cremated’ for ‘committed’ (to a lunatic asylum) and observes that being committed must agree with his audience.
Thay Larfd and a suspichun krorst me thet sum 1 sed Ignerrunt Old Fule. But I restrand my feelins & tuk no Notis as the Speker was an Individooal of Imposin Statoor. I fund Betsey Jane & mi famerly in the same Xcitment.10Betsey Jane is Ward’s wife. They informd Me thet they wer goin 2 a Lektoor on Kremashun. I replied, “As dos the undersind if ther is no kollecshun at the Dors.”11The undersigned will attend the lecture only if it’s free.
On mi errival I found the Baldinsville Temperinc room ful onto xess.
The lektoorer enlitend me as 2 the Objekts of Kremashun & purseeded 2 sa thet he hed met with the most Trooly Serprizin suxess in thes Parts. He hed, he remark, reseeved offurs of meny Thousind (1000) karkisses of Muthersinlor & Ajid Parients, & other Inkumbrinces, & he sed the Jenrus Bins who Offurd then Told him to kum & git them to onct & not wate fur there Diseas. I was abowt to sa “Heer Heer” 2 the Muthersinlor, but refraned on Purseevin Betsy Jane who Sot Beside onto me, wettin her Nales, with a voo to mi hed. I thort praps she wood make me Vext. So I subscided.
The lectoorer then went on 2 Sa, thet Kremashun wad kost nuthin to signeify. Evry 1 cood B burnt 4 the triflin sum of too (2) dollars. (Yis, I sez to myself, I kalkerlate thur is Sum 1 waitin fur yu belo who will Do it fur yu gratis & serply yu with koles 4 nuthin.)
He torked a grate Deel more nonsince About Anshunt Grease, of which I thort he cood Projuce a considerabl amount on Bing cremated, & conclooded by saing that it was Xpected in kors of Time to serply lite from the gas givn off in the prosiss of kremashun, wen it bekame moor jinral.12There were many arguments supporters of cremation used to sway the public toward their view. This one suggests using the gas (instead of things like steam and coal) to produce electricity.
I thin Rose & sed, thur air Fules & Fules & yu air 1 of them, Beside the Fact thet sum of yu air a deel More likely to serply Perpetooal Ilesprings then Gas, (Fixin a surkustic I upon the korpulint Figger of the Lectoorer,) I rekin thet there Air surtin Individooals who wood giv orf Gas of a hily dangrus karakter in Kombinashun. Think, I sez, of the trooly orful consekences of a meetin of Muther-in-lor & sun-in-lor in a Gassy stait. Their wood B an Xploshun suffishunt 2 anniherlait a Stait.
(Heer their purseedid sum Alarmin Simtims frum Betsey Jane, who wos fornitly preventid from Hoomiliatin Hur Spouz B4 the augince.) I purseedid, “2 or 3 sich exploshuns wood Bring our Gloriis Egle in Sorrer 2 kremashun, & the oder of Bernt fethurs is Onplesint.
& who nose I konklooded, Thet when reternin “from the Festiv Bord” we reklin fur Support Agin the Lamp post, thet the Berning I of owr Ansisters wood not B gazin doun Onto us.
Take thet on 2 yurselves & Medditat on it. Adoo mi ga & festive Krematurs. A. Ward hes sed his sa.
I konkloodid Amid uprooris Aplors. But mi durmestik peace is Brokn bi the erlushun to Muthers-in-lor, I shall not knead a Barbur fur Munths.
N.B. The follerin Airy epitarf is writ bi the undersind agin His kremashun.
Heer in these Urn
Lies awl thet won’t Burn
Of the Corps of the Late
Mr. Artemus Ward,
2 oz. his wate
& Awates his reward.
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16 March 2021
28 October 2021
|↑1||“Bestes of Pray” refers to Ward’s current show which consisted of wax figures and wild animals. Blessed by Providence (God) and appreciative audiences.|
|↑2||Flesh is heir to accidents was a common phrase in Victorian medical journals.|
|↑4||“All flesh is grass” is a reference to 1 Peter 1:24.|
|↑5||N.B. means “note well.”|
|↑6||Theodore Tilton was an editor and poet.|
|↑7||Baldinsville, New York is the “hometown” of the fictional Artemus Ward.|
|↑8||The ‘women’s’ movement against whiskey and excessive drinking.|
|↑9||Ward mistakes ‘cremated’ for ‘committed’ (to a lunatic asylum) and observes that being committed must agree with his audience.|
|↑10||Betsey Jane is Ward’s wife.|
|↑11||The undersigned will attend the lecture only if it’s free.|
|↑12||There were many arguments supporters of cremation used to sway the public toward their view. This one suggests using the gas (instead of things like steam and coal) to produce electricity.|
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