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JAMA 100 Years Ago
May 12, 2004

ANTE-MORTEM SECTION.

Author Affiliations
 

JAMA 100 Years Ago Section Editor: Jennifer Reiling, Assistant Editor.

JAMA. 2004;291(18):2264. doi:10.1001/jama.291.18.2264-c

We are apparently passing through one of the irregular periodical revivals of the premature burial scare, as has been evidenced by various legislative attempts and newspaper articles. It is a little curious to observe how fearful some people are of being buried alive. They prefer to have their lives extinguished in the most cruel way to taking any chances on such an event. This tendency appears to be well illustrated by the will of the late Miss Frances Power Cobbe, one of the chief apostles of the antivivisection movement in Great Britain. This woman, of considerable literary distinction, it is reported, put in her will, as a condition on which the other provisions were dependent, that she should have her throat cut, including both the carotid arteries and the trachea, before burial. It is well to note2 "that this operation could be of no advantage to anybody unless she were still alive." In fact, it was practically an instruction to contingent murder and as such should have been sufficient, we think, to invalidate the clause. It is reported that this ridiculously farcical performance was carried out.

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