Page:Elizabethan People.djvu/405

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315
BIRTH—BAPTISM—ETC.

Flowers were used profusely, also fine clothes, usually the finest procurable, in which to dress the corpse. Burning tapers were also placed upon the coffin. A garland of flowers and sweet smelling herbs was carried before the coffin of a maid, and afterward hung up in the church as a symbol of virginity.

The burial, which often took place as soon as the day following death, was preceded by a procession, as ostentatious and as spectacular as the relatives, or, more usually, the deceased's provision, could manage. From the house to the church, thence to the grave, was the path of this procession. Relatives, retainers, and domestic servants formed a part of it. If the deceased were a member of one of the city guilds, the official pall would probably be pressed into service as a covering to the coffin. Either the entire fraternity or an official delegation followed, walking reverently, and bareheaded. Inmates of almshouses and hospitals supported by the guild also swelled the following. Oftentimes one provided in his will for the expenses of the funeral. Among these expenses one is likely to find black gowns and gold rings for each of the principal mourners. It was also customary to pin upon the coffin copies of memorial verses, written by admiring friends, or by professional verse writers. Flowers