Under these two names-Sweet Auburn
and Mount Auburn
— have the beautiful grounds, now endeared to countless hearts, been known and loved for more than a century.
In 1635, Simon Stone
, an English gentleman, came to New England
with his family and settled on the banks of the Charles River
; and his broad lands, after having passed from father to son in unbroken line of descent, for over two hundred years, form now portions of the Cambridge Cemetery
and of Mount Auburn
In the former a small tablet, marked Simon Stone
, denotes the spot where still lives and bears fruit one of the ancient pear trees planted by the pilgrim's hand, and looked on with reverential interest by his descendants to the eleventh generation.
's Mount, on which the Tower in Mount Auburn
stands, formed a part also of the many acres of Simon Stone
and his descendants.
These beautiful grounds possessed every variety of charm that nature could bestow.
The hills were covered with a great variety of trees, among which the oak, the chestnut, the pine and the walnut were prominent, forming a delightful shade and a winsome retreat from o'er burdening care.
The ground was carpeted with wild flowers from the
earliest spring to the latest fall.
The foliage was ever beautiful, from the first tender greens of the leaves dancing on their light stems against the pure and delicate blue of the overarching sky, to the gorgeous gold and crimson and purple of the royal robes of autumn.
There were deep hollows, and shady dells, and long tree-clothed ridges, on either side of which were deep ponds, whose tranquil waters shimmered under the shadowing canopy of leaves, stretched over them by the long arms of the lofty trees.
There were grassy slopes, and steep descents, and winding ways that lured the straying feet to explore the mystery that might lie beyond; and stretches of level greensward, and swampy lands where the most daring foot must be wary, and whoever would secure the sweet swamp honeysuckle, or the early cowslip, or the bright blue iris, must have a quick eye and springy limbs.
Here the boys and girls that went a-maying gathered the hepaticas and houstonias, and danced round the May-pole; here the botanist found store of treasures for scientific lore; here the good housewife gathered her stock of fragrant roots and herbs for household use; and the children shouted with delight over the checkerberries, bunchberries, partridge berries and wild strawberries in their season.
Under the leafy coverts the quail hid her brood, and piped her warning cry--“More wet, more wet!”
From the hollow stumps and fallen trunks the partridge drummed.
In its den hid the red fox; lithe squirrels sprang from limb to limb, chattering and scolding at intruders; many birds sang and built among the branches; the spotted turtles crept down to the water-side; little green snakes glided through the undergrowth and nobody feared them, black snakes and adders fled from the step of man;
the hoot of the owl startled the belated lover of nature who lingered too long in the solitudes.
Here in the moonlight nights gathered youths and maidens, and listened to the soft tones of the flute and flageolet, and sang sweet songs, and sat under the scattered trees on an open knoll near the Stone
mansion, hard by the river.
Far and wide was Sweet Auburn
known, and dear to many hearts, being full of sweet memories.
From its highest hill, Stone
's Mount, the prospect stretched wide and beautiful on every hand.
A grand old oak stood on the summit; in the boughs of this a seat was constructed to which access was gained by a ladder of easy ascent.
This was the favorite seat of the last owner of the ancestral acres.
From this mount of vision could be descried by the aid of a spy-glass, Boston
and its harbor and islands, Charlestown
, the young towns beyond, Lynn
far away and faintly lined, Watertown
and West Cambridge
) near by, Fresh Pond
sparkling almost under his feet, the hills of Newton
across the river, Brighton nearer still, the marshes, the winding river, classic Cambridge
, historical Dorchester
, and Roxbury
— an unequalled panorama of town, village, hill, forest and many waters, orchards and gardens, meadows and fields of waving grain.
No wonder the old oak furnished so great an attraction for its numerous visitors.
To the poet Sweet Auburn
was a spot of romantic interest.
It was the theme of many a lay, and dear to many a heart.
But the time came when it was to be yet dearer and more widely sacred, when as Mount Auburn
it was to have a national reputation.
Probably no place in the world was ever more naturally beautiful
and appropriate for the city of the dead, or more attuned to the sacred sorrow and upward-looking hope of the living who mourned their departed.
Thou who art weary of the world's wild strife,
Leave for a time the busy scenes of life.
Come to these shades; in meditation calm
For thy chafed spirit shall be found a balm.
Thought, in this lovely place, more holy grows,
Feeling's deep current here more tranquil flows,
A calm, a soothing influence o'er the heart
These scenes so fair, so beautiful impart.
Blest, O Mount Auburn, be thy leafy shades!
Blest be thy hills, thy streams, thy cool, green glades!
The solemn service of the dedication of the lovely grounds as the holy resting-place sacred to the dead was held in Mount Auburn
, September 24, 1831.
Calm was the morning of that lovely day,
The autumnal sun in golden splendor lay
On the smooth turf, the broad enamelled plain,
The waving harvest field of ripened grain,
And shed its glory o'er the forest wide,
In rich and glowing colors deeply dyed.
Upon the earth the cloudless heavens smiled,
The soft southwest breathed perfume faint and mild.
Such kindly influence from above was shed
Upon that day which gave thee to the dead.
Where the green hills, rising abrupt and steep,
Guard that calm dell where peaceful waters sleep,
An earnest multitude assembled there,
Listened with reverence to the solemn prayer,
That, rising through the dim aisles of the wood,
Went from full hearts up to the living God.
There, in beautiful Consecration Dell
, seated on the green hillsides, under the shadowing trees, in all their glory of brilliant autumnal foliage, that great congregation of thousands lent themselves
with reverent silence and profound delight to the enjoyment of the eloquent address of Judge Story
, the accomplished scholar and eminent jurist, the man justly honored and beloved of all. There was a burst of solemn music by the band, and a thousand voices united in a grand melody as the hymn of praise ascended on high.
It was a scene and a time never to be forgotten by those so fortunate as to be present.
Since that perfect autumnal day, an innumerable multitude have been laid in their last silent sleep to dreamless rest under the empoweringZZZ trees.
Now all the winding ways, the secluded path, the hillsides, the hollows, the long ridges, the mount, are marked as the resting-places of the statesmen, the warriors, the scholars, the philanthropists, the heroes, the sages, the poets, the scientists, the Christian
teachers, the beloved and honored women, to whose memories all the world comes to do reverence in this city of the departed, this still and silent land.
Yet not still, yet not silent; for all the sweet voices of nature, the song of birds, the dropping of waters, the wind's soft sighing that stirs the trembling leaves, the tremor that thrills along the grass, the faint rustle of the waving ferns, the hum of bees, the shrill call of insects, --are they not all meet for the requiem service of the silent sleepers?