« السابقةمتابعة »
affliction we cherish and brood over in solitude. Where is the mother who would willingly forget the infant that perished like a blossom from her arms, though every recollection is a
recollection is a pang ? Where is the child that would willingly forget the most tender of parents, though to remember be but to lament? Who, even in the hour of agony, would forget the friend over whom he mourns? Who, even when the tomb is closing upon the remains of her he most loved'; when he feels his heart, as it were, crushed in the closing of its portal; would accept of consolation that must be bought by forgetfulness?
-No, the love which survives the tomb is one of the noblest attributes of the soul. If it has its woes, it has likewise its delights; and when the overwhelming burst of grief is calmed into the gentle tear of recollectionwhen the sudden anguish and the convulsive agony over the present ruins of all that we most loved, is softened away into pensive meditation on all that it was in the days of its loveliness—who would root out such a sorrow from the heart? Though it may sometimes throw a passing cloud over the bright hour of gayety, or spread a deeper sadness over the hour of gloom; yet who would exchange it even for the song of pleasure, or the burst of revelry? No, there is a voice from the tomb sweeter than
There is a remembrance of the dead, to which we turn even from the charms of the living. Oh, the grave!--the grave!
-It buries every error-covers every defect-extinguishes every resentment! From its peaceful bosom spring none but fond regrets and tender recollections.
Who can look down upon the grave even of an enemy, and not feel a compunctious throb, that he should ever have warred with the poor handfull of earth that lies mouldering before him?
But the grave of those we loved—what a place for meditation! There it is that we call up in long review the whole history of virtue and gentleness, and the thousand endearments lavished upon us almost unheeded in the daily intercourse of intimacy ;-there it is that we dwell upon the tenderness, the solemn, awful tenderness of the parting scene. The bed of death, with all its stifled griefs—its noiseless attendance---its mute, watchful assiduities. The last testimonies of expiring love! The feeble, flattering, thrilling, oh! how thrilling !-pressure of the hand. The last fond look of the glazing eye, turning upon us even from the threshold of existence. The faint, faltering accents, struggling in death to give one more assurance of affection! ..Ay, go to the grave of buried love, and meditate! There settle the account with thy conscience for every past benefit unrequited, every past endearment unregarded, of that departed being, who can nevernever--never return to be soothed by thy contrition !
If thou art a child, and hast ever added a sorrow to the soul, or a furrow to the silvered brow of an affectionate parentmif thou art a husband, and hast ever caused the fond bosom that ventured its whole happiness in thy arms, to doubt one moment of thy kindness or thy truth-if thou art a friend, and hast ever wronged, in thought, or word, or deed, the spirit
that generously confided in thee if thou art a lover, and hast ever given one unro erited pang to that true heart which now lies cold and still beneath thy feet; then be sure that every unkind look, every ungracious word, every ungentle action, will come thronging back upon thy memory, and knocking dolefully at thy soul—then be sure that thou wilt lie down sorrowing and repentant on the grave, and utter the unheard groan, and pour the unavailing tear--more deep, more bitter, because unheard and unavailing.
Then weave thy chaplet of flowers, and strew the beauties of nature about the grave; console thy broken spirit, if thou canst, with these tender, yet futile tributes of regret ;--but take warning by the bitterness of this thy contrite affliction over the dead, and henceforth be more faithful and affectionate in the discharge of thy duties to the living.
In wiiting the preceding article, it was not intended to give a full detail of the funeral customs of the Enga lish peasantry, but merely to furnish a few hints and quotations illustrative of particular rites, to be apa pended, by way of note, to another paper, which has been withheld. The article swelled insensibly into its present form, and this is mentioned as an apology for so brief and casual a notice of these usages, after they have been amply and learnedly investigated in other works.
I must observe, also, that I am well aware that this
custom of adorning graves with flowers, prevails in other countries besides England. Indeed, in some it is much more general, and is observed even by the rich and fashionable; but it is then apt to lose its simplicity, and to degenerate into affectation. Bright, in his travels in Lower Hungary, tells of monuments of marble, and recesses formed for retirement, with seats placed among bowers of green-house plants; and that the graves generally are covered with the gayest flowers of the season. He gives a casual picture of final piety, which I cannot but describe, for I trust it is as useful as it is delightful to illustrate the amiable virtues of the sex " When I was at Berlin," says he, “I followed the celebrated IMand to the grave. Mingled with some pomp, you might trace much real feeling. In the midst of the ceremony, my attention was attracted by a young woman who stood on a mound of earth, newly covered with turf, which she anxiously protected from the feet of the passing crowd. It was the tomb of her parent; and the figure of this affectionate daughter presented a monument more striking than the most costly work of art.” · I will barely add an instance of sepulchral decoration that I once met with among the mountains of Switzerland. It was at the village of Gersau, which stands on the borders of the lake of Luzerne, at the foot of Mount Rigi. It was once the capital of a miniature republic, shut up between the Alps and the lake, and accessible on the land side only by footpaths. The whole force of the republic did not exceed six hundred fighting men; and a few huiles of VOL. I.
circumference, scooped out, as it were, from the bosom of the mountains, comprised its territory. The village of Gersau seemed separated from the rest of the world, and retained the golden simplicity of a purer age. It had a small church, with a burying ground adjoining. At the heads of the graves were placed crosses of wood or iron. On some were affixed miniatures, rudely executed, but evidently attempts at likenesses of the deceased. On the crosses were hung chaplets of flowers, some withering, others fresh, as if occasionally renewed. I paused with interest at this scene ; I felt that I was at the source of poetical description, for these were the beautiful, but unaffected offerings of the heart, which poets are fain to record. In a gayer and more populous place, I should have suspected them to have been suggested by face titious sentiment, derived from books; but the good people of Gersau knew little of books; there was not a novel nor a love poem in the village; and I ques. tion whether any peasant of the place dreamt, while he was twining a fresh chaplet for the grave of his mistress, that he was fulfilling one of the most fanciful rites of poetical devotion, and that he was practically a poet.