previous
[191]

Miscellanies.

[192]
[193]

Church-Yard Sketches.

By the editor.

Few things have interested me more, in my rambles about the world, and especially over the old countries, than the visits I have made to grave-yards. In this country, the traveller, however much his mind may be so disposed, can depend but little on such sources of enjoyment and edification. It is a sad fault of us Americans, that, for the most part, we neglect the dead. We are inclined, generally, I know, to disparage external appearances. We have a contempt for ceremonies. We are a hard, practical people, intensely absorbed in business, surrounded by circumstances which accustom us to the livelier kinds of excitement, educated and impelled in every way to undervalue and lose sight of what may be called the graces of civilization. These peculiarities, the evidence and influence of which are plainly perceptible through every department of action and sphere of life among us, are to be [194] accounted for easily enough ;--no explanation need be given of them here. Nor will the reader require to be reminded of the better qualities with which, in the usual order of things, and as a matter almost of moral necessity, they are commonly connected. Still, however, the feeling in question — the want of feeling, I am tempted to call it-must be set down against us as a “fault.” Undeniable at least it is, that one of the most attractive and prepossessing of all the minor virtues of a community,--the gentler graces I have spoken of as neglected by ourselves — is a thoughtful and tender care for the departed. I will not enlarge on this subject, so far as we are concerned. Much, in illustration of my meaning, and in confirmation of the justice of these general strictures, might be said concerning the condition in which the grave-yards of this country are too frequently kept;--of their repulsiveness in too many cases, of their unattractiveness in almost all. But the details would be sadly disagreeable; and if, in the course of these sketches of mine, I can hope to suggest to any mind any impression which may help ever so little to improve the state of things I refer to, I trust that what has already been said directly to the purpose, with the allusions which may occur in the sequel, will be sufficient for the end. I bear in mind, too, that an improvement is already going on. We are not, in our mortuary observances, quite so heathenish as we have been;--so Turkish, I was going to say, but that would be a libel which a comparatively amiable people do not deserve;--so altogether “practical,” that is the American version of this characteristic. The feeling in which the beautiful establishment at [195] Mount Auburn originated, and the spirit which has sustained it so well, are consolatory symptoms of a better era of public sentiment about to dawn; and that example itself has done very much to bring on the more “perfect day.” Let us hope that it will do still more; that its sweet influence will go forth through the whole length and breadth of the land; that every new establishment which is raised around us, in generous emulation of this, may be a fresh helper, a resistless pleader like itself, in this good cause of the heart; and that so the time may be duly hastened, when even the pilgrim who comes from other climes to visit us, may read, wherever he wanders, on the face of the soil, the character and praise of the living generation in the works which shall indicate their remembrance of those that have passed away.

Let us hope for these things, I say. And meanwhile we may borrow a leaf, as I hinted before, from the Old World's journal. Who that has roamed over those countries in anything like a leisurely way, or at all as a traveller should, whom aught animates beyond this restless, rankling, eternal thirst for helter-skelter business and filthy lucre, but has a memory richly stored, for the rest of his life-time, even out of the grave-yards alone? A memory! aye, and a heart, too ;--stored with loveliest images of thought,--with feelings that are a ceaseless fountain to refresh the soul,--with pictures of sweet, sequestered scenes reposing in the mind's meditations, all beautiful as in nature itself,sunny and still as the little lakes of the hills,--haunting and soothing one's spirit evermore. England, most of all, is full of these resources. Everywhere the kind of [196] church-yards I refer to are to be found;--old, venerable, moss-mantled, in every way picturesque,--yet greenly and freshly rural,--the very homes of meditation. There is a hearty homeliness in the English character, with all its faults, which delights in these outward observances of affectionate respect for the dead. If the “old countrymen” are not remarkable for a quick sensibility, there is nevertheless a permanent and steady ardor in their temperament, which “wears well.” They may not form hasty attachments. They are slow to cultivate a common acquaintance. Even the “sociable” spirit which seems to be due to the indifferent circle one daily meets with, seems often a drudgery to them. But they have hearts, nevertheless, and these are “in the right place ;” --none the less so for the lack of that superficially social and almost physical effervescence of emotion and expression which has obtained for some nations the credit of being more amiable, while in fact they are only more sprightly, and perhaps at the same time more vain. Among no people, at all events, are instances of persevering fidelity in friendship between the living more numerous; and it is the same feeling, the same substantial, homely, hearty character, which, in equal proportion, manifests itself, in a thousand most touching though simple forms of association between the departed generation and those who survive them, through all the humblest hamlets of the land.

I dwell daily, with a pleasure which I cannot express, on the remembrances of these sacred scenes. Not of the “dim and mighty ministers of old time” alone I think, whose [197]

Very light
Streams with a coloring of heroic days
In every ray;

nor of

Rich fretted roofs
And the wrought coronals of summer leaves,
Ivy and vine, and many a sculptured rose
Binding the slender columns, whose light shafts
Cluster like stems in corn-sheaves ;

nor of

The crimson gloom from banners thrown;

nor

Forms, in pale proud slumber carved,
Of warriors on their tombs, where jewelled crowns
On the flushed brows of conquerors have been set,
And the high anthems of old victories
Have made the dust give echoes!

These are rich indeed with an interest of their own, but they do not deeply touch the heart. Grave lessons are to be learned from them, but, as the poet adds, too frequently they are but memories and monuments of power and pride,--of power and pride

That long ago,
Like dim processions of a dream, have sunk
In twilight depths away.

These we behold with wondering awe ;--it may be with a solemn admiration; yet these very feelings but stand in the way of deeper ones. We see too much,too much of man and his observances. Crowds of associations too historical engross the mind. The imagination and the memory are excited to the prejudice of [198] the heart. No! give me the grave-yards of the common people, and the poor; the expressions of a nature which deems itself unobserved; the simplicity of a genuine feeling, obscured with whatever rudeness or ignorance. Give me the “lone places” where there is nothing “to be seen” but stones and sods, and trees, and chequered turf;--

The temple twilight of the gloom profound,
The dew-cup of the frail anemone,
The reed by every wandering whisper thrilled.

Where but in such a spot, and in a country full of such, could genius itself have ever penned the “Elegy?” Who but an English poet could have been its author?-one who had revelled from childhood in scenes like those he describes in that immortal poem, and who had lain the dust of his own mother “where heaves the turf in many a mouldering heap.” From what other source than a “mountain church-yard” could spring the spirit of “Easter day,” --so sublimely cheerful, so divinely true? It was the graves that appealed to the poetess; to them she uttered her appeal:--

And you, ye graves! upon whose turf I stand,
Girt with the slumber of the hamlet's dead,
Time, with a soft and reconciling hand,
The covering mantle of bright moss hath spread
O'er every narrow bed:
But not by time, and not by nature sown
Was the celestial seed, whence round you peace hath grown. [199]

Christ hath arisen! Oh, not one cherished head
Hath, 'midst the flowery sods, been pillowed here
Without a hope, (howe'er the heart hath bled
In its vain yearnings o'er the unconscious bier,)
A hope, upspringing clear
From those majestic tidings of the morn,
Which lit the living way to all of woman born.

Thou hast wept mournfully, O human Love!
E'en on this greensward; night hath heard thy cry,
Heart-stricken one! thy precious dust above,--
Night, and the hills, which sent forth no reply
Unto thine agony!
But He who wept like thee, thy Lord, thy guide,
Christ hath arisen, O Love! thy tears shall all be dried.

Dark must have been the gushing of those tears,
Heavy the unsleeping phantom of the tomb,
On thine impassioned soul, in elder years,
When, burdened with the mystery of its doom,
Mortality's thick gloom
Hung o'er the sunny world, and with the breath
Of the triumphant rose came blending thoughts of death.

By thee, sad Love, and by thy sister, Fear,
Then was the ideal robe of beauty wrought
To vail that haunting shadow, still too near,
Still ruling secretly the conqueror's thought;
And, where the board was fraught
With wine and myrtles in the summer bower,
Felt, e'en when disavowed, a presence and a power.

But that dark night is closed; and o'er the dead
Here, where the gleamy primrose-tufts have blown,
And where the mountain-heath a couch has spread, [200]
And, settling oft on some gray-lettered stone,
The red-breast warbles lone;
And the wild bee's deep, drowsy murmurs pass
Like a low thrill of harp-strings through the grass;--

Here, 'midst the chambers of the Christian's sleep,
We o'er death's gulf may look with trusting eye,
For hope sits dove-like on the gloomy deep,
And the green hills wherein these valleys lie
Seem all one sanctuary
Of holiest thought;--nor needs their fresh, bright sod,
Urn, wreath, or shrine, for tombs all dedicate to God.

I remember a spot among the Cumberland hills that might have inspired even poetry like this. It was the little church, (and church-yard) of Borrowdale;--the smallest building of its class in England, it is stated. Mr. Wordsworth, who lives in the neighborhood, said it was “no bigger than a cottage,” and thus indeed it seemed, when, at the end of a long ramble, I found it so nestled away in the niche of a hill-side, so buried and wrapped in shade and solitude, that it was difficult to realize how even the narrow space within its walls should ever be filled by human worshippers. Another such picture the pedestrian may have to think of, who, sauntering along the hedge-lined bye-ways of the lovely Isle of Wight, suddenly stays his steps, unconsciously, to gaze over into the sweet, small garden of graves clustering all round the humble but exquisite Church of St. Lawrence; some of them, on the upper side of the mountain-slope, nearly as high as the moss-grown roof of the building, over which one sees, from the road-side, a glimpse of the lonely sea, spread out [201] at the base of the mountain. Nothing can exceed the beauty of the proportions of this ancient edifice, miniatural as it is. The slope of the hill it is set on is so steep that the road just mentioned is cut into it like a groove. On the upper side, a cliff towers up over one's head, almost perpendicularly, some hundred feet, yet everywhere, from the moisture of the climate, and the richness of the soil that still clings to the rocks, mantled with a soft, silky robe of the sweetest verdure the eye ever saw, brightly spotted with clusters of flowers, and small shrubs flourishing out from the crevices, and sometimes laden with vines. Below the church, the scene grows wilder. The hill-side shows, far up from the water-mark, traces of the fierce power of the element which sleeps now so quietly at its feet. Huge sea-stained points of crags peer out grimly on every side; the vegetation is withered, and disappears, as we wind farther down by the dizzy foot-path the egg-hunters have trodden; and now breaks out upon us, in its full volume, that terrible thunder of the surge of even these slumbering waves. But it is a thunder that comes only in mellowed music to him who saunters, as I did, in the noiseless avenues of the little sanctuary in the niche of the hill-side above. Many a time I stayed my steps to listen to this murmur, as borne on the gusts of the “sweet sea air, sweet and strange,” it swelled and fell at intervals, like spirit-voices whispering to those who lay beneath. No! not to them. Theirs is the “dull, cold ear” that will not hear. To me, to all who visit this blessed temple, this sacred ground, to us, to us they speak. They tell us of the history below us, and of the destiny before. [202] They mind us well of the life we are living; ah! better still of that we have not lived, where there is no more “moaning of the sea.”

It was in this grave-yard I noticed a humble heap piled over the remains of one whose annals, as the modest marble at its head recorded them, touched my heart. It was a young, beautiful girl. She came to this neighborhood, I think, from Wales, probably for the restoration of health. But alas! nor herb, nor sea-air, nor care of relative or friend, could save her; no, not the yearning tenderness or breaking heart of him who loved her best, and who weeps now over the untimely tale I read. To him she had been long betrothed, and trusting still that dear deceiving hope which never leaves us, and which the poor perishing consumptive and her kindred cling to so fondly, till life's light goes quite out,--in this hope the marriage-day was appointed. Preparations, even, were made for it. On that day she died, and here she is buried, as in her last murmurs she asked that she might be — in her bridal dress! Peace be to her ashes-she “sleeps well” in the grave-yard of St. Lawrence!

Not very far, but very different from this, is the yard of the gray old church of Chale, which stands in the immediate neighborhood of a tremendous precipice, on the brink of the sea, called Blackgang Chine. Deep under this awful barrier a small, snug cove runs in, making what the islanders entitle Chale Bay; in itself a wild and yet pleasing and generally tranquil spot, bordered by a curved beach of shining sand, and enlivened by tiny streamlets of water, trickling from the verge of the huge rocks above. A man who hated [203] his own race, but yet loved nature, would choose a nook at the base of the Chine for his dwelling. No stranger, at least, would disturb him; for if he did not pass by the edge of the cliff, in the way-side, as he probably would, without knowing it, he would shudder and start back from the sight:--there is something threatening, appalling, in the lonely sublimity, and even in the intense, strange solitude of the place. But ah! if he knew, as I do, its history! Four times, if not more, since my brief acquaintance with this charming Island began, have gallant ships gone down, in storm and surge, in this fatal cove.

I learned the history of one of these hapless companies from the marbles of the church-yard of Chale. There they were buried, with the sad solemnities suited to such an occasion, and with all the tenderness needed to soothe their hearts who were watching now so eagerly for the return of a long-expected ship. What a picture of human life, what a passage of human history it is! “Sermons,” indeed, “in stones!” Six of the passengers were of one affectionate family; a gallant naval officer, coming home from a long service, with his wife, a babe, and three elder and beautiful daughters. The brother of this lady had been expecting them daily. He was one of the first on the Island to be informed of their coming --and of how they had come ;--and to behold a spectacle which I will not describe. Let us hasten from the church-yard of Chale. The name is a knell in my memory.

A glance at the burial-place of the United Brethren near Ballvmena in Ireland, may be a relief to the reader. [204] It is another of the spots one would choose for his bones to lie in;--for, say what we will, there is a choice, and the thought of it is no indifferent matter to us while alive, however little the fact itself may concern us or others in future time. The Moravians believe so, at least. They appreciate justly, too, the moral influence, the religious science, of a grave-yard. They do not deem it either decent to leave it neglected, or necessary to make it frightful. The little village, which I visited one Sabbath morning, is embosomed in trees, and surrounded with the famed emerald verdure of the country on every side ;--divided into a small, harmonious arrangement of shaded streets, that, but for the neat rows of cottages, and regular beds of flowers on either hand, look more like natural lanes;--“remote from cities,” in a word;--serene, peaceful, beautiful as a “thought of Paradise.” I attended service in the little church, and afterwards walked through the grave-yard which lies on the table-land of a gentle green swell behind it, skirted with flourishing and flowery hedges, and spotted over, in hollow and heap, with checks of a mellow September sunshine, sifted through branches of leaning trees. I need not describe the scene in detail. The customs of this sect in the care of their dead are known to all. How truly are they delineated in Montgomery's lines on the graves of the Patriarchs:--

A scene sequestered from the haunts of men,
The loveliest nook of all that lovely glen,
Where weary pilgrims found their last repose.
The little heaps were ranged in comely rows, [205]
With walks between, by friends and kindred trod,
Who drest with duteous hands each hallowed sod.
No sculptured monument was taught to breathe
His praises whom the worm devoured beneath.
The high, the low, the mighty, and the fair,
Equal in death, were undistinguished there.
Yet not a hillock mouldered near that spot,
By one dishonored, or by all forgot.
To some warm heart the poorest dust was near,
From some kind eye the meanest claimed a tear.
And oft the living, by affection led,
Were wont to walk in spirit with their dead,
Where no dark cypress cast a doleful gloom,
No blighting yew shed poison o'er the tomb,
But white and red, with intermingling flowers,
The graves looked beautiful in sun and showers.
Green myrtles fenced them, and beyond that bound
Ran the clear rill, with ever-murmuring sound.
'T was not a scene for grief to nourish care,--
It breathed of hope, it moved the heart to prayer.

Yes, and it fills us with hope, it moves us to prayer, even to think of such a spot. What quietness, what beauty of visible nature, what harmony of rural sounds, what soothing emblems, in a word, of precious and glorious spiritual speculations, and what stirring yet soothing monitors to christian philosophy and to holy emotion were mingled with all the more customary and palpable minutiae of the scene!-Would that my dust, too, might lie at last in some such “grave-yard of the Patriarchs!” Oh! leave me not to the noisomeness of a burial in the city;--I like not the thought. Let the birds sing over me, if they will, and the green [206] grass spring in the sunshine, and the violet and primrose flourish and glow in its midst. I would have the place no terror, at least, to those in whose kind memory I still might live. I would have it to console and cheer; to rouse, gently, to solemn but not gloomy meditation. The poorest village in the land, with all its rude obscurity, might easily be rich enough for this, --richer than countless wealth can make the more than deadly dwelling-place of him whose bones are shelved away in London or in Boston vaults. The poorest village may be far abler than the most opulent metropolis to emulate Mount Auburn in its way, for nature, and the love of it, are all it needs.

All? I think I hear some reader say. Where, then, are your great names? The church-yards of England and other lands are full of such. See how the dust of Pere la Chaise teems with them! What monuments-what historical and classical accumulations-what scholars, conquerors, and bards-what hints and helps to patriotism, and perseverance and high ambition!

Aye, and to other feelings, I fear, less in unison with that which is, or should be, the reigning spirit of the place;--perhaps to some but too well adapted to counteract it;--to sensations, to mere excitement, more than to feelings, in the better sense of the word, at all. On this point I have intimated my impressions already, in speaking of the style of the Cathedrals and other places of the kind. I would not be deemed insensible to the just worth of the associations now in question. More dignity there certainly is in these, than in mere external decorations; and yet,--I acknowledge it freely,--I would not have the dust of Auburn to groan [207] with such a load of the one, scarcely more than of the other.

He who has visited the Parisian Cemetery whose éclat imposes on the imagination much more, let me say, than it can on the eyes-knows full well the expense at which the increase of its honors and the influence of its antiquity have been obtained. He who has not been there, can easily conceive what I mean. I will not dwell on such a theme. The more it is considered, however, the less disposed, I am sure, we shall be,--with all our awe and admiration at what is so fine and so famous in the “splendid” Cemeteries of the Old World — the less disposed we shall be, on the whole, to envy them anything of either the moral or he material grandeur they possess. So long, at least, as we can multiply Mount Auburns around us, it surely must be so. I know it is not sound philosophy to anticipate what we may not like when it comes. It is most unwise to burthen ourselves with the expected troubles of future generations, who doubtless will not only take the liberty to judge of their own condition for themselves, but will find something-many things --to make amends for whatever evil it may include. And yet, for such as incline to be discontented with the historical poverty of Mount Auburn,--for such, still more, as commit the error of confounding this want (a comparative want) of mere classical with one of moral character, in its wider sense,--for those, most especially, if any indeed there are, who covet the paraphernalia which intellect, and industry, and wealth and pride have certainly accumulated so richly round the burial-places of even the truly great and good, as well [208] as the illustriously insignificant or obnoxious dead of other lands,--for these, it may be well to consider how much better and fitter an establishment is Mount Auburn, for the purposes its founders and friends had in view when they reared it, than Pere la Chaise, or anything of the sort, could possibly be in its place. How much better to muse in for the living, or to sleep in for the dead, than some few ages hence it may become, when opulence, and luxury, and fashion, and all the whims of humanity, and all the workings of time, shall have made it more like the great show-place of the gay and vain French Capital. Then indeed there will be over it a halo of glory; but will its charm for the heart remain the same? Future generations may be prouder of it than we are, but can they be as fond? Will not the musing moralist of those days, sometimes, weary of sensations and splendor, turn or seek to turn back in imagination to this uncrowded quietude and primitive simplicity-this glistering turf, --these cool, sweet-winding avenues and paths-this green, fresh beauty of the woods? Will he not think how once, with the first flush of the spring's verdure, and how again in the summer's sultry hours, the denizens of the city's populous streets here at least could wrap themselves so soon in solitude and bloom? How here, even those to whom trial and toil had made the world a weariness for the time, might learn, from the depths of nature, in intervals of solemn but refreshing meditation, to look forth with complacency, and renew themselves as they looked, through the tree-tops of the mountain-summit, on many a glorious vision of what had seemed to them before [209] no better than a “foul and pestilential congregation of vapors?” How here, the mourner, left alone with his Maker and His works,--save only these modest monuments of sacred sorrow, and faith, and love, so precious to the soul,--might find himself at length consoled by the soothing ministrations of nature, and made, by all the mighty though gentle influences of reason, of religion, awakened to new life within him, a wiser and even a happier being than before? Yes, such surely will be some of the reflections and the regrets of future generations. Let it be ours to appreciate what we possess.


[210]

The old man's funeral.

William C. Bryant.
I saw an aged man upon his bier:
His hair was thin and white, and on his brow
A record of the cares of many a year;--
Cares that were ended and forgotten now.
And there was sadness round, and faces bowed,
And women's tears fell fast, and children wailed aloud.

Then rose another hoary man, and said,
In faltering accents, to that weeping train,
“Why mourn ye that our aged friend is dead?
Ye are not sad to see the gathered grain,
Nor when their mellow fruit the orchards cast,
Nor when the yellow woods shake down the ripened mast.

“Ye sigh not when the sun, his course fulfilled,--
His glorious course, rejoicing earth and sky,--
In the soft evening, when the winds are stilled,
Sinks where the islands of refreshment lie,
And leaves the smile of his departure, spread
O'er the warm-colored heaven and ruddy mountain-head. [211]

“Why weep ye then for him, who, having run
The bound of man's appointed years, at last,
Life's blessings all enjoyed, life's labors done,
Serenely to his final rest has passed?
While the soft memory of his virtues yet
Lingers, like twilight hues, when the bright sun is set.

“His youth was innocent; his riper age
Marked with some act of goodness every day;
And, watched by eyes that loved him, calm and sage
Faded his late-declining years away.
Cheerful he gave his being up, and went
To share the holy rest that waits a life well spent.

“That life was happy; every day he gave
Thanks for the fair existence that was his;
For a sick fancy made him not her slave,
To mock him with her phantom miseries.
No chronic tortures racked his aged limb,
For luxury and sloth had nourished none for him.

“And I am glad that he has lived thus long;
And glad that he has gone to his reward;
Nor deem that kindly nature did him wrong,
Softly to disengage the vital cord.
When his weak hand grew palsied, and his eye
Dark with the mists of age, it was his time to die.”


[212]

On the death of a sister.

Charles Sprague.
I knew that we must part! day after day
I saw the dread destroyer win his way.
That hollow cough first rang the fatal knell,
As on my ear its prophet-warning fell;
Feeble and slow thy once light footstep grew,
Thy wasting cheek put on death's pallid hue,
Thy thin, hot hand to mine more weakly clung,
Each sweet “ Good night,” fell fainter from thy tongue;
I knew that we must part — no power could save
Thy quiet goodness from an early grave;
Those eyes so dull, though kind each glance they cast,
Looking a sister's fondness to the last;
Those lips so pale, that gently pressed my cheek,
That voice-alas! thou couldst but try to speak;
All told thy doom, I felt it at my heart,
The shaft had struck — I knew that we must part.

And we have parted, Mary-thou art gone!
Gone in thine innocence, meek-suffering one. [213]
Thy weary spirit breathed itself to sleep
So peacefully, it seemed a sin to weep,
In those fond watchers who around thee stood,
And felt, even then, that God even then was good.
Like stars that struggle through the shades of night,
Thine eyes one moment caught a glorious light,
As if to thee, in that dread hour, 'twere given
To know on earth what faith believes of Heaven;
Then like tired breezes didst thou sink to rest,
Nor one, one pang the awful change confessed;
Death stole in softness o'er that lovely face,
And touched each feature with a new-born grace;
On cheek and brow unearthly beauty lay,
And told that life's poor cares had passed away.
In my last hour, be Heaven so kind to me-
I ask no more than this — to die like thee.

But we have parted, Mary-thou art dead!
On its last resting-place I laid thy head,
Then by the coffin-side knelt down, and took
A brother's farewell kiss and farewell look;
Those marble lips no kindred kiss returned;
From those veiled orbs no glance responsive burned;
Ah! then I felt that thou hadst passed away,
That the sweet face I gazed on was but clay.
And then came Memory with her busy throng
Of tender images, forgotten long;
Years hurried back, and as they swiftly rolled,
I saw thee-heard thee — as in days of old;
Sad and more sad each sacred feeling grew,
Manhood was moved, and sorrow claimed her due;
Thick, thick and fast, the burning tear-drops started,
I turned away-and felt that we had parted. [214]

But not forever — in the silent tomb,
Where thou art laid, thy kindred shall find room;
A little while — a few short years of pain,
And, one by one, we'll come to thee again.
The kind old Father shall seek out the place,
And rest with thee, the youngest of his race;
The dear, dear Mother-bent with age and grief-
Shall lay her head by thine, in sweet relief;
Sister and Brother, and that faithful Friend,
True from the first, and tender to the end,
All, all, in His good time, who placed us here,
To live, to love, to die and disappear,
Shall come and make their quiet bed with thee,
Beneath the shadow of that spreading tree;
With thee to sleep through death's long dreamless night,
With thee rise up and bless the morning light.


[215]

To the memory of an infant.

Mrs. Hemans.
No bitter tears for thee be shed,
Blossom of being! seen and gone;
With flowers alone we strew thy bed,
O blessed, departed one!
Whose all of life, a rosy ray,
Blushed into dawn, and passed away.

Yes, thou art gone, ere guilt had power
To stain thy cherub soul and form!
Closed is the soft ephemeral flower
That never felt a storm!
The sunbeam's smile, the zephyr's breath,
All that it knew from birth to death.

Thou wert so like a form of light,
That heaven benignly called thee hence,
Ere yet the world could breathe a blight
O'er thy sweet innocence;
And thou, that brighter home to bless,
Art passed, with all thy loveliness. [216]

Oh! hadst thou still on earth remained,
Vision of beauty! fair as brief,
How soon thy brightness had been stained
With passion or with grief;
Now, not a sullying breath can rise
To dim thy glory in the skies.

We rear no marble o'er thy tomb,
No sculptured image there shall mourn;
Ah! fitter, far, the vernal bloom
Such dwelling to adorn;
Fragrance and flowers, and dews, must be
The only emblem meet for thee.

Thy grave shall be a blessed shrine,
Adorned with nature's brightest wreath;
Each glowing season shall combine
Its incense there to breathe;
And oft, upon the midnight air,
Shall viewless harps be murmuring there.

And oh! sometimes, in visions blest,
Sweet spirit, visit our repose,
And bear, from thine own world of rest,
Some balm for human woes;
What form more lovely could be given,
Than thine, to messenger of heaven!


[217]

The grave and the tomb.1

John Pierpont.
The tomb is not so interesting as the grave. It savors of pride in those who can now be proud no longer; of distinction, where all are equal; of a feeling of eminence even under the hand of the great leveller of all our dust. And how useless to us are all the ensigns of magnificence that can be piled up above our bed! What though a sepulchral lamp throw its light up to the princely vaults under which my remains repose! They would rest as quietly were there no lamp there. The sleeping dust fears nothing. No dreams disturb it. It would not mark the neglect, should the sepulchral lamp be suffered to expire. It will not complain of the neglect, should it never be lighted again.

And why should my cold clay be imprisoned with so much care Why thus immured, to keep it, as it would seem, from mingling with its kindred clay? When “that which warmed it once” animates it no [218] more, what is there in my dust, that it should be thus jealously guarded? Is it lovely now in the eyes of those who may have once loved me? Will my children, or the children of my children, visit my vaulted chamber? They may, indeed, summon the courage to descend into my still abode, and gaze by torch-light upon the black and mouldering visage, which, not their memory, but my escutcheon, not their love, but their pride, may tell them is the face of their father; and this may eloquently remind them how soon the builder of the house of death must take up his abode in it; how soon the dust that we have, must mingle with the dust that we are; but still there is a feeling of horror in the atmosphere of the tomb, which chills all that is affectionate and tender in the emotions that lead them into it, and is anything but favorable to the moral uses to which the living may convert the dwellings of the dead; uses that will be secured by every daughter of affliction, of whom it may be said, as it was said of the sorrowing Mary, “She goeth unto the grave to weep there.” Yes; though all whom I have loved or venerated sleep within its walls, I retreat from the tomb, the moment that I can do it without impiety, or even with decency. But I am differently affected when, with the rising sun, or by the light of the melancholy moon, I go alone to my mother's grave. There I love to linger; and, while there, I hear the wind sigh over one who often sighed for me. I breathe an air refreshed by the grass that draws its strength from the bosom from which I drew mine; and, in the drops of dew that tremble upon it, I see the tears that so often bedewed her eyes as she [219] breathed forth a prayer that her children might cherish her memory, and escape from the pollutions of the world.

Yes; to the lover of nature, in its simplicity, the grave is more interesting and more instructive than the tomb. It speaks in a voice as full of truth, and more full of tenderness, to those who visit it to indulge their griefs, or to hold spiritual converse with the sainted spirits that are gone. And if the spirit that, while on earth, was loved by us, does not, when it leaves the earth, lose all interest in its crumbling tenement, would it not rather see the child of earth clasped again to the sweet bosom of its mother, to be again incorporated with her substance, to assume again a form attractive and lovely, to become again the recipient of light, an object of admiration, and a conscious medium of enjoyment, than that it should lie and moulder away in darkness and silence — a cause of offence to strangers, and a source of terror to those whom it still loves? Rather than see our own clay thus dwelling in coldness and solitude, neither receiving enjoyment nor imparting it, would not our spirits, purged from all vanity and pride, be pleased to know that it was starting forth again into life and loveliness; that it was moving again in the fair light of heaven, and bathed in its showers; that it was giving forth the perfume of the rose, or blushing with its great beauty; or, that, having clothed the oak with its robe of summer, it was throwing a broad shade over the home of our children; or that, having once more felt the frost of death, it was falling withered upon their graves.

The grave, when visited thoughtfully and alone, [220] cannot but exert a favorable moral influence. It has already been remarked that it speaks in a voice full of tenderness and of truth. Its instructions reach not the ear, indeed, but they do reach the heart. By it, the departed friend is recalled in all but a visible presence, and by it, “he, being dead, yet speaketh.” At such a time, how faithfully will the grave of your friend remind you of the pleasant moments when you were conversing with him in the living tones of affection and truth! when you were opening your hearts to each other, and becoming partakers, each of the other's hopes and purposes and cares; when with a generous confidence those secret things were shown to one another, which were locked up in the heart from all the world beside! Will the grave of your friend allow you to forget his single-heartedness in serving you; his unsullied honor; his plighted faith; his readiness to expose himself to danger that he might save you from it; and the calmness with which, when he perceived that his hold on life was breaking away, he gave up life's hopes, and, turning his eyes for the last time to the light, and looking up, for the last time, to the faces of those who loved him, he bade farewell to all, and gave up his spirit to the disposal of his God? Is all this forgotten, when you stand by his grave? Does not his very grave speak to you? Does it not bear its testimony to the value of youthful purity and truth, and of the power of an humble confidence in the Most High, to give dignity to the character of the young, and to disarm Death of the most dreadful of his weapons, even when he comes for his most dreadful work — to cut off life in the beauty of its morning? [221] Does there not come up from his grave a voice, like that which comes down from the skies — a voice not meant for the ear, but addressed to the heart, and felt by the heart as the kindest and most serious tones of the living friend were never felt?

And the children of sorrow — they whose hands have prepared a resting place for their parents in the “Garden of graves,” shall go to that garden and find that their hearts are made better by offering there the sacrifice of filial piety, or by listening there to the rebuke which a guilty ear will hear coming forth from the dust. The leaf that rustles on his father's grave shall tell the undutiful son of disquiet sleep beneath it. The gray hairs of his father went down to the grave, not in sorrow alone, but in shame. The follies of his son made them thus go down. Son of disobedience, that tall grass, sighing over thy father's dust, whispers a rebuke to thee. It speaks of thy waywardness when a child; of thy want of filial reverence in maturer years; of thy contempt for a parent's counsels; and of thy disregard of his feelings, his infirmities, and his prayers. It will be well for thee if the grave, by its rebuke, shall so chasten thee for thine iniquity, that thine own soul, when called away, may meet thy father and thy God in peace.

How different is the language of thy father's grave to thee, my brother. Does it not recall the many hours to thy remembrance, which were given to his service? Were not his thin locks decently composed, in death, by thine own hand? Did not his dim eye turn to thee in “the inevitable hour” as to the pleasant light of the sun? Did he not, with his last grasp, take hold of thy [222] hand, and did not his pressure of thy hand tell thee, when his tongue could not, that it was that which had upheld and comforted him in his decaying strength; and was it not his last prayer that thou mightest be blest in thine own children as he had been blest in his? He has gone to his rest and his reward. But his sepulchre is green, and at thy coming, though it gives him not to thy embrace, it restores him to thy grateful remembrance. His counsels are again addressed to thine ear. His upright life is still before thine eye. His devotion to thine own highest interests sinks down, with new weight, into the depths of thy heart. Thou catchest again the religious tones of his morning and evening prayer. They speak of peace to the venerated dead. They are full of hope and consolation to the living. They tell how “blessed are the dead that die in the Lord,” how sweetly “they rest from their labors,” and how happy it is for them that “their works do follow them.”

And thou, my sister, why dost thou go forth alone to visit thy mother's grave? Will she recognise thy footfall at the door of her narrow house? Will she give thee a mother's welcome, and a mother's blessing? Her blessing shall indeed meet thee there, though not her welcome; for there shall gather round thee the sacred remembrances of her care and her love for thee; the remembrance of her gentle admonitions, her patience and faithfulness; of her spirit of forbearance and meekness under provocation, and of that ever wakeful principle of industry, neatness and order, which always made her home so pleasant to those whom she loved; and there shall visit thee, like one of [223] the spirits of the blest, the thought of her own blessed spirit, as it rose in fervent prayers for the welfare and salvation of those who were given to her charge. She will speak to thee there, again, as she often spoke in life, of the hour that is coming, when thou, who didst once sleep upon her bosom, shalt sleep by her side, being gathered to the great congregation of the dead. She will speak to thee, from her grave, of the worth of innocence, of the importance of chastening the extravagance of thy young hopes, and of looking thoughtfilly and seriously upon the world as a scene of trying duties and severe temptations, of the countless evils that join hand in hand and follow on in the train of a single folly, and of the momentous bearing of thy present course upon thy peace in this life, and upon thy condition when thy dust shall be mingling with hers. Then,

Let Vanity adorn the marble tomb
With trophies, rhymes, and scutcheons of renown,
In the deep dungeon of some gothic dome,
Where night and desolation ever frown.
Mine be the breezy hill that skirts the down,
Where a green grassy turf is all I crave,
With here and there a violet bestrown,
Fast by a brook, or fountain's murmuring wave;
And many an evening sun shine sweetly on my grave.


[224]

The Sheffield cemetery.

Mrs. Hoffland.2
Methinks the wide earth, in its fairest lands,
Hath not one spot more meet for man's repose,
Than this most lovely scene. Amid these shades,
In contemplative hope, we still may meet
The dear, the lov'd, the honor'd — may imbibe
The solace our bereaved hearts require,
When life's most tender ties in twain are torn,
And chill despair is seated on love's throne.

In pure religion's, or in reason's eye,
It nought avails, whether the friend we lose
Moulders, amid a thousand festering forms,
In the foul pit of pestilence, or rests
In marble sepulchre;--we know God's voice
Will, from old Ocean's central caves, and Earth's [225]

O'erwhelming tumuli, alike, call forth
That great unnumbered family to whom
He gave the “living soul” which never dies.
But yet these human feelings yearn to give
The quiet solitude, the lonely bower,
The peaceful tomb, as our last duteous boon,
Where the dead sleep, the living weep unseen.
Nor does the christian's faith such cares forbid,
For she who came, with alabaster box,
Ta anoint her Saviour's feet, was praised-albeit
She did it as a funeral rite; and he
Who placed his Lord in the new sepulchre
“Where man had never laid,” and wrapt his corpse
In costly ligaments, unto this hour
Is blessed for the deed. The Patriarch thus
Purchased a tomb for his beloved wife,
And thither were his pious offspring borne
From distant lands, to blend with kindred dust.

Such cares belong unto the better part
Of our frail nature, and warm thanks are due
To those who form such garden, and such grave,
For pure affection's solace, which beholds
In each green leaf that springs, each bud that bursts
Its fragile cerements, foretaste of that hour,
Foretold to faith in God's eternal word,
When “these dry bones shall live.” Then the last trump
Shall wake the imprisoned ones,and each green mound,
Or monumental stone, with being rife,
Heave from their bosoms a redundant throng
Of beings bright with glory-yet distinct-
“As one star from another differeth” though all
Are rich in pure effulgence — for their robes [226]
(Whate'er their names amongst their fellow-men)
Were wash'd thus white in their Redeemer's blood.

It were not well these hallowed shades should lack
Observance due of art's accustomed works,
And virtue's claims to live for ages hence
In blest remembrance 'neath the public eye.
If, in the Pagan world, the sculptured fane
Told when a worthy citizen was gone,
A hero fall'n, a loving wife remov'd,
A beauteous daughter in her virgin bloom
Torn from the weeping parent, and the tomb
Was dight with mimic flowers and mourning nymphs,
And fond inscriptions eager to implore
The sympathetic sigh-why should not we
Thus grace the tomb?-thus sue for pity's tear?
Since it is sweet to all; yet even then,
Exult that “life and immortality,”
Given by the Gospel, sheds upon our graves
Hopes known not to their wisest. “Being dead
Yet speak they,” and how deep the lesson thrills
When sinks the sun, and twilight shadows fall
From their umbrageous woods on the white tomb,
Where with his loved ones the pale mourner looks,--
Ere long himself to lie.

Farewell, dear scene. “Pleasant thoa mournful,” thou
Hast touched my heart as by a master-spell,
Making it sweet to weep, and sweet to know,
That in a land so fair I first drew breath,
And gazed on thy bright landscape, gaining thence
Deep sense of all things beautiful and good.


[227]

Song of may.

Willis Gaylord Clark.
The Spring's scented buds all around me are smiling-
There are songs in the stream — there is health in the gale;
A sense of delight in each bosom is dwelling,
As float the pure day-beams o'er mountain and vale;
The desolate reign of old winter is broken-
The verdure is fresh upon every tree;
Of Nature's revival the charm, and a token
Of love, O thou Spirit of Beauty, to thee!

The sun looketh forth from the halls of the morning,
And flushes the clouds that begirt his career;
He welcomes the gladness, and glory, returning
To rest on the promise and hope of the year.
He fills with rich light all the balm-breathing flowers;
He mounts to the zenith, and laughs on the wave;
He wakes into music the green forest bowers,
And gilds the gay plains which the broad rivers lave.
The young bird is out on his delicate pinion-
He timidly sails in the infinite sky; [228]

A greeting to May, and her fairy dominion,
He pours on the west wind's fragrant sigh:
Around, above, there are peace and pleasure-
The woodlands are singing — the heaven is bright;
The fields are unfolding their emerald treasure,
And man's genial spirit is soaring in light.

Alas for my weary and care-haunted bosom!-
The spells of the spring-time arouse it no more;
The song in the wild wood — the sheen in the blossom-
The fresh swelling fountain-their magic is o'er!
When I list to the streams, when I look on the flowers,
They tell of the Past with so mournful a tone,
That I call up the throngs of my long-banished hours,
And sigh that their transports are over and gone.

From the wide-spreading earth, from the limitless heaven,
There have vanished an eloquent glory and gleam;
To my veil'd mind no more is the influence given,
Which coloreth life with the hues of a dream:
The bloom-purpled landscape its loveliness keepeth-
I deem that a light as of old gilds the wave;--
But the eye of my spirit in heaviness sleepeth,
Or sees but my youth, and the visions it gave.

Yet it is not that age on my years hath descended-
'Tis not that its snow-wreaths encircle my brow;
But the newness and sweetness of being are ended-
I feel not their love-kindling witchery now;
The shadows of death o'er my path have been sweeping-
There are those who have loved me, debarred from the day;
The green turf is bright where in peace they are sleeping,
And on wings of remembrance my soul is away. [229]

It is shut to the glow of this present existence-
It hears, from the Past, a funeral strain;
And it eagerly turns to the high-seeming distance,
Where the last blooms of earth will be garnered again;
Where no mildew the soft, damask-rose cheek shall nourish-
Where grief bears no longer the poisonous sting;
Where pitiless Death no dark sceptre can flourish,
Or stain with his blight the luxuriant spring.

It is thus that the hopes, which to others are given,
Fall cold on my heart in this rich month of May;
I hear the clear anthems that ring through the heaven-
I drink the bland airs that enliven the day;
And if gentle nature, her festival keeping,
Delights not my bosom, ah! do not condemn:--
O'er the lost and the lovely my spirit is weeping,
For my heart's fondest raptures are buried with them.


[230]

The lily's quest.

Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Two lovers, once upon a time, had planned a little summer-house, in the form of an antique temple, which it was their purpose to consecrate to all manner of refined and innocent enjoyments. There they would hold pleasant intercourse with one another, and the circle of their familiar friends; there they would give festivals of delicious fruit; there they would hear lightsome music, intermingled with the strains of pathos which make joy more sweet; there they would read poetry and fiction, and permit their own minds to flit away in day-dreams and romance; there, in short — for why should we shape out the vague sunshine of their hopes?-there all pure delights were to cluster like roses among the pillars of the edifice, and blossom ever new and spontaneously. So, one breezy and cloudless afternoon, Adam Forrester and Lilias Fay set out upon a ramble over the wide estate which they were to possess together, seeking a proper site for their Temple of Happiness. They were themselves a fair [231] and happy spectacle, fit priest and priestess for such a shrine; although, making poetry of the pretty name of Lilias, Adam Forrester was wont to call her Lily, because her form was as fragile, and her cheek almost as pale.

As they passed, hand in hand, down the avenue of drooping elms, that led from the portal of Lilias Fay's paternal mansion, they seemed to glance like winged creatures through the strips of sunshine, and to scatter brightness where the deep shadows fell. But, setting forth at the same time with this youthful pair, there was a dismal figure, wrapped in a black velvet cloak, that might have been made of a coffin pall, and with a sombre hat, such as mourners wear, dropping its broad brim over his heavy brows. Glancing behind them, the lovers well knew who it was that followed, but wished from their hearts that he had been elsewhere, as being a companion so strangely unsuited to their joyous errand. It was a near relative of Lilias Fay, an old man by the name of Walter Gascoigne, who had long labored under the burthen of a melancholy spirit, which was sometimes maddened into absolute insanity, and always had a tinge of it. What a contrast between the young pilgrims of bliss, and their unbidden associate! They looked as if moulded of Heaver's sunshine, and he of earth's gloomiest shade; they flitted along like Hope and Joy, roaming hand and hand through life; while his darksome figure stalked behind, a type of all the woeful influences which life could fling upon them. But the three had not gone far, when they reached a spot that pleased the gentle Lily, and she paused. [232]

“What sweeter place shall we find than this?” said she. “Why should we seek farther for the site of our Temple-?”

It was indeed a delightful spot of earth, though undistinguished by any very prominent beauties, being merely a nook in the shelter of a hill, with the prospect of a distant lake in one direction, and of a church-spire in another. There were vistas and pathways, leading onward and onward into the green wood-lands, and vanishing away in the glimmering shade. The Temple, if erected here, would look towards the west; so that the lovers could shape all sorts of fantastical dreams out of the purple, violet and gold of the sunset sky; and few of their anticipated pleasures were dearer than this sport of fantasy.

“Yes,” said Adam Forrester, “we might seek all day, and find no lovelier spot. We will build our Temple here.”

But their sad old companion, who had taken his stand on the very site which they proposed to cover with a marble floor, shook his head and frowned; and the young man and the Lily deemed it almost enough to blight the spot, and desecrate it for their airy Temple, that his dismal figure had thrown its shadow there. He pointed to some scattered stones, the remnants of a former structure, and to flowers, such as young girls delight to nurse in their gardens, but which had now relapsed into the wild simplicity of nature.

“Not here!” cried old Walter Gascoigne. “Here, long ago, other mortals built their Temple of Happiness. Seek another site for yours!” [233]

“What!” exclaimed Lilias Fay, “have any ever planned such a Temple, save ourselves?”

“Poor child!” said her gloomy kinsman, “in one shape or other, every mortal has dreamed your dream.”

Then he told the lovers, how-not, indeed, an antique Temple-but a dwelling had once stood there, and that a dark-clad guest had dwelt among its inmates, sitting forever at the fire-side, and poisoning all their household mirth. Under this type, Adam Forrester and Lilias saw that the old man spoke of sorrow. He told of nothing that might not be recorded in the history of almost every household; and yet his hearers felt as if no sunshine ought to fall upon a spot where human grief had left so deep a stain; or, at least, that no joyous Temple should be built there.

“This is very sad,” said the Lily, sighing.

“Well, there are lovelier spots than this,” said Adam Forrester, soothingly-“spots which sorrow has not blighted.”

So they hastened away, and the melancholy Gascoigne followed them, looking as if he had gathered up all the gloom of the deserted spot, and was bearing it as a burthen of inestimable treasure. But still they rambled on, and soon found themselves in a rocky dell, through the midst of which ran a streamlet, with ripple, and foam, and a continual voice of inarticulate joy. It was a wild retreat, walled on either side with gray precipices, which would have frowned somewhat too sternly, had not a profusion of green shrubbery rooted itself into their crevices, and wreathed gladsome foliage around their solemn brows. But the chief joy [234] of the dell was like the presence of a blissful child, with nothing earthly to do, save to babble merrily and disport itself, and make every living soul its play-fellow, and throw the sunny gleams of its spirit upon all.

“Here, here is the spot!” cried the two lovers with one voice, as they reached a level space on the brink of a small cascade. “This glen was made on purpose for our Temple!”

“ And the glad song of the brook will be always in our ears,” said Lilias Fay.

“And its long melody shall sing the bliss of our lifetime,” said Adam Forrester.

“Ye must build no temple here!” murmured their dismal companion.

And there again was the old lunatic, standing first on the spot where they meant to rear their lightsome dome, and looking like the embodied symbol of some great woe, that, in forgotten days, had happened there. And, alas! there had been woe, nor that alone. A young man, more than a hundred years before, had lured hither a girl that loved him, and on this spot had murdered her, and washed his bloody hands in the stream which sang so merrily. And ever since, the victim's death shrieks were often heard to echo beneath the cliffs.

“And see!” cried old Gascoigne, “is the stream yet pure from the stain of the murderer's hands?”

“ Methinks it has a tinge of blood,” faintly answered the Lily, and being as light as gossamer, she trembled and clung to her lover's arm, whispering, “let us flee from this dreadful vale!” [235]

“Come, then,” said Adam Forrester, as cheerily as he could; “we shall soon find a happier spot.”

They set forth again, young pilgrims on that quest which millions--which every child on earth — has tried in turn. And were the Lily and her lover to be more fortunate than all those millions? For a long time, it seemed not so. The dismal shape of the old lunatic still glided behind them; and for every spot that looked lovely in their eyes, he had some legend of human wrong or suffering, so miserably sad, that his auditors could never afterwards connect the idea of joy with the place where it happened. Here, a heart-broken woman, kneeling to her child, had been spurned from his feet; here, a desolate old creature had prayed to the Evil One, and had received a fiendish malignity of soul, in answer to her prayer; here, a new-born infant, sweet blossom of life, had been found dead, with the impress of its mother's fingers round its throat; and here, under a shattered oak, two lovers had been stricken by lightning, and fell blackened corpses in each other's arms. The dreary Gascoigne had a gift to know whatever evil and lamentable thing had stained the bosom of mother earth; and when his funereal voice had told the tale, it appeared like a prophecy of future woe, as well as a tradition of the past. And now, by their sad demeanor, you would have fancied that the pilgrim lovers were seeking, not a temple of earthly joy, but a tomb for themselves and their posterity.

“Where in the world,” exclaimed Adam Forrester, despondingly, “shall we build our Temple of Happiness!”

“ Where in this world, indeed!” repeated Lilias Fay; [236] and being faint and weary, the more so by the heaviness of her heart, the Lily drooped her head and sat down on the summit of a knoll, repeating, “where in this world shall we build our Temple!”

“ Ah! have you already asked yourselves that question?” said their companion, his shaded features growing even gloomier with the smile that dwelt on them; “yet there is a place, even in this world, where you may build it.”

While the old man spoke, Adam Forrester and Lilias had carelessly thrown their eyes around, and perceived that the spot, where they had chanced to pause, possessed a quiet charm, which was well enough adapted to their present mood of mind. It was a small rise of ground, with a certain regularity of shape, that had perhaps been bestowed by art, and a group of trees, which almost surrounded it, threw their pensive shadows across and far beyond, although some softened glory of the sunshine found its way there. The ancestral mansion, wherein the lovers would dwell together, appeared on one side, and the ivied church, where they were to worship, on another. Happening to cast their eyes on the ground, they smiled, yet with a sense of wonder, to see that a pale lily was growing at their feet.

“We will build our Temple here,” said they, simultaneously, and with an indescribable conviction that they had at last found the very spot.

Yet, while they uttered this exclamation, the young man and the Lily turned an apprehensive glance at their dreary associate, deeming it hardly possible that some tale of earthly affliction should not make these [237] precincts loathsome, as in every former case. The old man stood just behind them, so as to form the chief figure in the group, with his sable cloak muffling the lower part of his visage, and his sombre hat overshadowing his brows. But he gave no word of dissent from their purpose; and an inscrutable smile was accepted by the lovers as a token that here had been no foot-print of guilt or sorrow, to desecrate this site of their Temple of Happiness.

In a little time longer, while summer was still in its prime, the fairy structure of the Temple arose on the summit of the knoll, amid the solemn shadows of the trees, yet often gladdened with bright sunshine. It was built of white marble, with slender and graceful pillars, supporting a vaulted dome; and beneath the centre of this dome, upon a pedestal, was a slab of dark-veined marble, on which books and music might be strewn. But there was a fantasy among the people of the neighborhood, that the edifice was planned after an ancient mausoleum, and was intended for a tomb, and that the central slab of dark-veined marble was to be inscribed with the names of buried ones. They doubted, too, whether the form of Lilias Fay could appertain to a creature of this earth, being so very delicate, and growing every day more fragile, so that she looked as if the summer breeze should snatch her up and waft her heavenward. But still, she watched the daily growth of the Temple; and so did old Walter Gascoigne, who now made that spot his continual haunt, leaning whole hours together on his staff, and giving as deep attention to the work as though it had been indeed a tomb. In due time it was [238] finished, and a day appointed for the simple rite of dedication.

On the preceding evening, after Adam Forrester had taken leave of his mistress, he looked back towards the portal of her dwelling, and felt a strange thrill of fear; for he imagined that, as the setting sunbeams faded from her figure, she was exhaling away, and that something of her ethereal substance was withdrawn, with each lessening gleam of light. With his farewell glance, a shadow had fallen over the portal, and Lilias was invisible. His foreboding spirit deemed it an omen at the time, and so it proved; for the sweetest form, by which the Lily had been manifested to the world, was found lifeless, the next morning, in the Temple, with her head resting on her arms, which were folded upon the slab of dark-veined marble. The chill winds of the earth had long since breathed a blight into this beautiful flower, so that a loving hand had now transplanted it, to blossom brightly in the garden of Paradise.

But alas, for the Temple of Happiness! In his unutterable grief, Adam Forrester had no purpose more at heart, than to convert this Temple of many delightful hopes into a tomb, and bury his dead mistress there. And lo! a wonder! Digging a grave beneath the Temple's marble floor, the sexton found no virgin earth, such as was meet to receive the maiden's dust, but an ancient sepulchre, in which were treasured up the bones of generations that had died long ago. Among those forgotten ancestors was Lily to be laid. And when the funeral procession brought Lilias thither in her coffin, they beheld old Walter Gascoigne [239] standing beneath the dome of the Temple, with his cloak of pall, and face of darkest gloom; and wherever that figure might take its stand, the spot would seem a sepulchre. He watched the mourners as they lowered the coffin down.

“And so,” said he to Adam Forrester, with the strange smile in which his insanity was wont to gleam forth, “you have found no better foundation for your happiness than on a grave!”

But as the Shadow of Affliction spoke, a vision of Hope and Joy had its birth in Adam's mind, even from the old man's taunting words; for then he knew what was betokened by the parable in which the Lily and himself had acted; and the mystery of Life and Death was opened to him.

“Joy! Joy!” he cried, throwing his arms towards Heaven, “on a grave be the site of our Temple; and now our happiness is for eternity!”

With these words, a ray of sunshine broke through the dismal sky and glimmered down into the sepulchre, while, at the same moment, the shape of old Walter Gascoigne stalked drearily away, because his gloom, symbolic of all earthly sorrow, might no longer abide there, now that the darkest riddle of humanity was read.


[240]

The two graves.3

I. McLellan, Jun.
Here, in the ray of morn and eve,
Gleams the white stone, that bears his name;
While far away, beneath the sea,
Is sepulchred his frame.
But here, with solemn step, may come
Affection, with her streaming eye,
The father, with his manly grief,
The mother, with her mournful sigh,
The brother, with his brow of care,
The sister, with her secret prayer.

Dear Youth! when seeking, in a foreign land,
New vigor for thy wasted form,
How fondly didst thou pant once more
To join the anxious group at home;
Or hope, at least, to bid farewell
To life beside a father's hearth,-- [241]
That kindred hands might close thine eye,
And kindred hands place thee in earth.
But no;--strange faces watched thy dying pain,
And strangers laid thy body in the main!
Another grave! another name
Graved on the lonely church-yard stone,
Another youthful heart at rest,
Another youthful spirit flown!
And oft parental love shall seek
To pour its aching sorrow here,
And oft fraternal fondness bring
Its anguish and its tear.
And thou, too, in a foreign land
Didst follow after sacred lore,
Still panting for the joys of home,
When all thy wanderings were o'er.
But soon, alas! ere many days
Had joined thee to that long-wished home,
That blooming head and youthful frame
Were slumbering in the tomb!
Dear Youth! as by thine early grave
I hear the long grass, dirge-like, sigh,
Bright thoughts of other years arise
Till sorrow fills mine eye.
I think of youth, and joy, and bloom,
Of childhood's sports, and boyhood's glee,
When life seemed all a golden dream,
And each young heart beat free.
The happy sun that smiled at morn,
The bird that called us forth to play,
Awaked us then to no sad thought,
Awaked us to no toiling day; [242]
Together, when the school-bell called,
Our willing youthful feet obeyed,
And when the eve grew dim, our heads
Were on the self-same pillow laid
Ah! never more that happy voice
Will cheer me on life's thorny way,
And never more that buoyant frame
Will rise with me at peep of day;
But low within the silent vault,
Beneath the dull and senseless clod,
It rests until that trump shall sound,
The awaking trump of God!


A thought of Mount Auburn.

Miss M. A. Browne.4
Fair land, whose loveliness hath filled
My soul's imaginings,
At whose high names my heart hath thrilled,
Through all its finest strings!
There was a sunny light around
My idlest thought of thee;
I dreamed that thou a hallowed ground,
A fairy land, must be; [243]

I thought upon thy boundless woods,
Thy prairies broad and lone,--
I thought upon thy rushing floods,
Thy cataracts' thunder-tone,--
On valleys, 'midst whose summer pride
Man's foot hath never been,
On cities rising, white and wide,
Amidst the forest green;
I sent my heart to many a nook
Beyond the western waves;
Strange, that its dreams should overlook
The places of thy graves!

I thought upon the Indian race,
Those phantoms of the past,
Following, unchecked, the patient chase,
Through forests, drear and vast;
I thought of all thy mighty ones,
The giants of their time,
Whose names their country proudly owns
Eternal, and sublime.
But of the myriads in their shrouds
Beside thy cities spread,--
I thought not of those nameless crowds,
Thy tribes of lowlier dead!

A shadow comes upon my dream,
Land of fair trees and flowers!
O'er thee hath swept death's mighty stream,
As o'er this isle of ours;
Like hers, thy children have been wrung
With partings, day by day;
Vain tears have poured, vain prayers have sprung,
Beside the senseless clay. [244]
I knew thou hadst no charmed shore,
I knew thy people die,
Yet never felt I so before
The cold reality;
For now hath mournful fancy sped,
And many a lesson brings,
Since o'er one city of thy dead
She droops awhile her wings!

And, let her roam from pole to pole,
'Neath stormy skies or clear,
Still doth she whisper to my soul,
“The dead, the dead are here!”
Yea, all the differences of life
Are merged in one close tie;
Here endeth feud, here ceaseth strife,
For all who live must die.
There is no bond of grief or mirth,
No link of land or faith,
Like that strong chain that binds all Earth
The brotherhood of Death!


The departed.

Park Benjamin.
The departed! the departed!
They visit us in dreams,
And they glide above our memories,
Like shadows over streams; [245]

But where the cheerful lights of home
In constant lustre burn,
The departed — the departed
Can never more return!

The good, the brave, the beautiful!
How dreamless is their sleep,
Where rolls the dirge-like music
Of the ever-tossing deep,--

Or where the hurrying night-winds
Pale Winter's robes have spread
Above the narrow palaces,
In the cities of the dead!

I look around and feel the awe
Of one who walks alone,
Among the wrecks of former days,
In mournful ruin strown.
I start to hear the stirring sounds
Among the cypress trees;
For the voice of the departed
Is borne upon the breeze.

That solemn voice! it mingles with
Each free and careless strain;
I scarce can think Earth's minstrelsy
Will cheer my heart again.
The melody of Summer waves,
The thrilling notes of birds,
Can never be so dear to me,
As their remembered words.

I sometimes dream their pleasant smiles
Still on me sweetly fall!
Their tones of love I faintly hear
My name in sadness call. [246]
I know that they are happy,
With their angel plumage on;
But my heart is very desolate,
To think that they are gone.

The departed!-the departed!
They visit us in dreams,
And they glide above our memories,
Like shadows over streams;
But where the cheerful lights of home
In constant lustre burn,
The departed — the departed
Can never more return!


A mother's monument.

J. R. Chandler.

The flowers that spring up on the sunny side of hillocks, beneath remnants of snow-banks, are very small and entirely scentless, and the little beauty which is imputed to them, is chiefly from contrast with the desolation and coldness in which they are found.

The death of a friend who never spared a fault of my character, nor found a virtue which he did not praise, had cast a gloom over my mind, which no previous deprivation had produced. I remember how [247] sceptical and heart-smitten-(not heart-broken-the broken heart always believes)-I stood at his grave, while the clergyman touched too little on his virtues, and proclaimed,with a humble confidence, that he would spring from the tomb to an immortality of happiness; and suggested the promises of Scripture, and argued with logical precision, from texts and analogies, that my friend should rise from the dead. Despondency is not more the child than the parent of unbelief,--deep grief makes us selfish, and the naturally timid and nervous lose that confidence in promises, including their own particular wish, which they yield to them when the benefit of others is alone proposed. A little learning is dangerous in such matters; I suffered a mental argument upon the probability of an event which I so much desired, to displace the simple faith which would have produced comparative happiness. Those who have contended with, and at length yielded to this despondency, alone know its painful operation.

Occupied with thoughts resulting from such an unpleasant train of mind, I followed into a burying ground, in the suburbs of the city, a small train of persons, not more than a dozen, who had come to bury one of their acquaintance. The clergyman in attendance was leading a little boy by the hand, who seemed to be the only relative of the deceased in the slender group. I gathered with them round the grave, and when the plain coffin was lowered down, the child burst forth in uncontrollable grief. The little fellow had no one left to whom he could look for affection, or who could address him in tones of parental kindness. [248] The last of his kinsfolk was in the grave, and he was alone.

When the clamorous grief of the child had a little subsided, the clergyman addressed us with the customary exhortation to accept the monition, and be prepared; and, turning to the child, he added: “She is not to. remain in this grave forever; as true as the grass which is now chilled with the frost of the season, shall spring to greenness and life in a few months, so true shall your another come up from that grave to another life, to a life of happiness, I hope.” The attendants shovelled in the earth upon the coffin, and some one took little William, the child, by the hand, and led him forth from the lowly tenement of his mother.

Late in the ensuing spring, I was in the neighborhood of the same burying-ground, and seeing the gate open, I walked among the graves for some time, reading the names of the dead, and wondering what strange disease could snatch off so many younger than myself --when, recollecting that I was near the grave of the poor widow, buried the previous autumn, I turned to see what had been done to preserve the memory of one so utterly destitute of earthly friends. To my surprise, I found the most desirable of all mementos for a mother's sepulchre:--little William was sitting near the head of the now sunken grave, looking intently upon some green shoots that had come forth, with the warmth of spring, from the soil that covered his mother's coffin.

William started at my approach, and would have left the place; it was long before I could induce him to tarry; and, indeed, I did not win his confidence, until I [249] told him that I was present when they buried his mother, and had marked his tears at the time.

“ Then you heard the minister say, that my mother would come up out of this grave,” said little William.

“I did.”

“It is true, is it not?” asked he, in a tone of confidence.

“I most firmly believe it,” said I.

“Believe it,” said the child-“believe it — I thought you knew it — I know it.”

“How do you know it, my dear?”

“The minister said, that as true as the grass would grow up, and the flowers bloom in spring, so true would my mother rise. I came a few days afterward, and planted flower-seed on the grave. The grass came green in this burying-ground long ago; and I watched every day for the flowers, and to-day they have come up too-see them breaking through the ground!-by and by mammy will come again.”

A smile of exulting hope played on the features of the boy; and I felt pained at disturbing the faith and confidence with which he was animated.

“But, my little child,” said I, “it is not here that your poor mother will rise.”

“Yes, here,” said he, with emphasis-“here they placed her, and here I have come ever since the first blade of grass was green this year.”

I looked around, and saw that the tiny feet of the child had trod out the herbage at the grave-side, so constant had been his attendance. What a faithful watch-keeper!-What mother would desire a richer [250] monument than the form of her only son, bending tearful, but hoping, over her grave?

“But, William,” said I, “it is in another world that she will arise,” --and I attempted to explain to him the nature of that promise which he had mistaken. The child was confused, and he appeared neither pleased nor satisfied.

“ If mammy is not coming back to me — if she is not to come up here, what shall I do?-I cannot stay without her.”

“You shall go to her,” said I, adopting the language of the Scripture-“you shall go to her, but she shall not come again to you.”

“Let me go, then,” said William, “let me go now, that I may rise with mammy.”

“William,” said I, pointing down to the plants just breaking through the ground, “the seed which is sown there, would not have come up, if it had not been ripe; so you must wait till your appointed time, until your end cometh.”

Then I shall see her?”

“I surely hope so.”

“I will wait, then,” said the child, “but I thought I should see her soon — I thought I should meet her here.”

And he did. In a month, William ceased to wait; and they opened his mother's grave, and placed his little coffin on hers — it was the only wish the child expressed in dying. Better teachers than I had instructed him in the way to meet his mother; and young as the little sufferer was, he had learned that all labors and hopes of happiness, short of Heaven, were profitless and vain.


[251]

I see thee still.

Charles Sprague.
I see thee still!
Remembrance, faithful to her trust,
Calls thee in beauty from the dust;
Thou comest in the morning light-
Thou'rt with me through the gloomy night;
In dreams I meet thee as of old;
Then thy soft arms my neck enfold,
And thy sweet voice is in my ear;
In every scene to memory dear
I see thee still!

I see thee still,
In every hallowed token round;
This little ring thy finger bound-
This lock of hair thy forehead shaded,
This silken chain by thee was braided;
These flowers, all withered now like thee,
Sweet Sister, thou didst cull for me;
This book was thine — here didst thou read-
This picture, ah! yes, here indeed
I see thee still! [252]

I see thee still;
Here was thy summer noon's retreat,
This was thy favorite fire-side seat:
This was thy chamber, where, each day,
I sat and watched thy sad decay;
Here on this bed thou last didst lie,
Here, on this pillow, thou didst die!
Dark hour! once more its woes unfold-
As then I saw thee pale and cold,
I see thee still!

I see thee still:
Thou art not in the tomb confined,
Death cannot claim the immortal mind.
Let earth close o'er its sacred trust,
Yet goodness dies not in the dust.
Thee, O my Sister, 'tis not thee,
Beneath the coffin's lid I see;
Thou to a fairer land art gone-
There let me hope, my journey done,
To see thee still!

1 from an article in the Token for 1832.

2 In offering to the reader this, we believe the latest, poetical production of an accomplished lady whose pen has added so much to the world's happiness, it is proper to remark that she is a native of the town named in the title.

3 see preceding sketches of the monuments of Buckingham and McLellan.

4 Of Liverpool. Received by the Editor in reply to a letter communicating the design of this volume.

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