Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Romanus Emerson, In His Own Words- Part 4

From The Boston Investigator, 20 October 1852, Issue 25, Col. A

“The following Address, prepared by Mr. EMERSON, he intended to have read at his funeral, but it was prohibited. His other request, to have the Address printed, we were able to comply with, and here present it, verbatim. It will be approved or condemned according to the religious opinions of those into whose hands it may fall. We see it in the plain, good sense, kind feelings, and excellent advice which we often heard him express both in public and private.

Boston, June 17, 1849

To my nearest relatives who may be my survivors
To all who are relatives or friends who may be survivors

Being in good health and sound mind, calm and composed, I do hereby, in pursuance of a long a settled intention, request, order, and direct that at the time of my decease, funeral, or burial, or at any time thereafter, there shall be no funeral sermon or religious discourse delivered at any place on the day of my decease, either by the consent or request of the forenamed relatives or friends. Also, no priest or minister of the Gospel or pious religion of any kind be allowed to speak, address, or exhort at any time during any part of the funeral ceremonies. And further- that honest, liberal, free-thinking men be allowed to take charge of the order of proceedings, -in pursuance of the advice and request of my nearest relatives, my survivors. All which I soberly and seriously enjoin.

Whereas it is a fact, that daily experience and observation corroborate, that all who are born must have thought it most fit and proper that I should write my own funeral address, inasmuch as I am decidedly opposed to the services of a clergyman of any denomination at my own funeral; and also, that I may leave to my survivors my own sentiments in regard to the order of Nature and what is commonly called Theology.

I consider that death and decomposition leave us just where we were before we were born; that there is no identity to any of mankind after death and decomposition; that mankind were formed from the elements, composed of the elements, and as certainly returned to the elements; that there is no part or parcel of thecreature man that survives his decomposition.

This, I consider to be the inflexible, unalterable universal order of Nature. To this, mankind must all arrive, without a single exception, whether their imaginations are wrought up to a high pitch, in anticipation of future bliss beyond the grave, or whether their reason and philosophy confine their speculations to this world and the system to which it belongs. “In this there is no discharge.”
I consider Theology, so called, a system of deceit and fraud, whereby one class of citizens obtain a rich living by exciting the hopes and fears of their fellow beings in regard to a place of happiness and a place of misery somewhere away from this globe or world we inhabit; and also, in regard to beings or existences not material, nondescripts, residing nowhere and yet everywhere present.

Also, said Theology maintains that one of their wonderful beings has written a book called the Bible that mankind are bound to believe what that Bible says, upon the penalty of eternal damnation.

Out of this Theology, whether Christian, Mohametan, or HIndoo, have arisen all those belligerent and contending sects, who have in turn destroyed each other and even desolated the fair face of Nature.

The morality of said book, the Bible, I believe will not compare, as a whole, with the writings of the ancient philosophers. Let every one impartially examine both, and render his own verdict.

My friends and relatives are hereby exhorted to reject every system of Theology which may be offered for their acceptance, as tending only to distract the mind and lead it away from humanity. To do as you would wish to be done unto, and to love your neighbor as yourself, is better than all the religious systems of the world put together. As one who speaks to you from the grave, I exhort you to live peaceably with all mankind; view the whole human family as a universal brotherhood; maintain inflexibly, on every occasion, the truth; and set it down as an invariable consequent, that deception and fraud work their own ruin and give no peace and comfort to the mind.

The individual interest of each is advanced in proportion as each advances the good of the whole. Seek, therefore, to establish and perpetuate a rational, practical and useful education for the masses, so that no child shall be without a competent education for the transaction of any business in the ordinary concerns of life. And as children are not responsible for their birth, or the time and place of their birth, or the circumstances which may surround them, the generations who conduct the affairs of the world for the time being are responsible and should give to every child, however poor it may be, a good, rational and practical education. Furthermore, as many children are left without relatives to protect the, the State should establish institutions which should feed, clothe, and educate them so that they may be equal to their fellows of the same generation.

Nothing will elevate the masses, and raise them to their proper position in the world, but an equal education for one and for all. Nothing, to my mind, is of so vast importance as this, for the well-being of society and the good of the world. Nothing but this will preserve the free institutions of these United States from decay and corruption. This being done, free institutions will grow and flourish and improve with their age, and root out the evils which through ignorance they may labor under.

N.B.- This, my funeral address, is to be read at my funeral by a liberal minded, well disposed free thinker, and either he or some other liberalist may address the audience as occasion may serve; and this, my funeral address, I wish to have published, after my decease, in as many of the newspapers of the day as choose to do it.

And furthermore, I order that my grave-clothes shall be of the most common and cheap kind, and my coffin of pine and of the most ordinary sort.
In testimony whereof, I subscribe my name in my own hand-writing,

Click here to see Part 1 of this story

Click here to see Part 2

Click here to see Part 3

Continued tomorrow with more about Romanus Emerson, my 4x great grandfather, written by the “Infidels” themselves.

Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo


  1. I have really been enjoying his story. What an interesting person, Romanus was! I love what he says here. He needed a UU minister to officiate his funeral. LOL

  2. Interesting series, and a fascinating man, your Romanus. Thank you for sharing. It would make my Best of if I were doing one! Not this week.