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With reverence I look up to: direct me,
That swells my wasted lungs. Though not in life,
In fine, providing for the last wants of the body, Catholicism supplies men with a decorous burial, and, wherever it is possible, with an inviolable grave. Now, like the sensitive plant as described by the poot, methinks we feel the sound of the funeral chant,
"And the steps of the bearers, heavy and slow,
Cicero speaks of funerals where robbers and spoilers preying on the dead, rather than friends sympathizing, attended-funeral, indeed! he exclaims, "si funus id habendum sit, quo non amici conveniunt ad exsequias cohonestandas, sed bonorum emptores ut carnifices ad reliquias vitæ lacerandas et distrahendas *." We, too, on occasions of burial call about us a set of officious mechanics of all sorts, who, as a late writer says, are counting their shillings, as it were, by the tears that we shed, and watching with jealousy every candle's end of their perquisites;" but Catholicism seeks to obviate such evils. It collects the friends of the deceased, as in all countries where its customs last; for to seek privacy would be to diminish supplicants; and therefore those who in life were hidden are followed by many to their graves, as when the Queen Mary de Medicis, with many princesses and great ladies of the court, assisted at the interment of Sister Anne des Anges, a Carmelite nun; but in general it inspires men with aversion for expensive obsequies, and makes them desire, like the noble Queen Eleanor, dowager of France and Portugal, and sister of the Emperor Charles V., that their interment should be simple, and that the money which more sumptuous obsequies would cost should be given to the poor.
is the wish of the poet for himselft, which most persons influenced by central principles would express as their own. Nero burned in one day, at the funeral of Poppaa, more odoriferous spices than Arabia Felix produces in a year. Catholicism renders men apt to dislike and abhor such extravagance. It even not uncommonly inspires words like those of Menaphon, in the Lover's Melancholy,
* Pro Quintio.
+ Propert. iii.
Save charge; let me be buried in a nook;
No plumes, no pompous whining: these are fooleries.
Jostled by carmen, foot-boys, and fine lads
In silken coats, unminded, and scarce thought on,
In antic trappings. Scorn to useless tears!"
The general of the Jesuits is entitled to no high funeral office; it is only a low mass which is said for him, as for the poorest of the common people. The Archduchess Mary of Austria ordered that her body should be buried by night, with only a few assist ants and only one or two torches, in the church of St. Clare ; so that her contempt of the world might be manifested even in the funeral *.
At the same time, there is no such master as Catholicism for teaching the art of showing with true magnificence respect to the dead who are entitled by general opinion to peculiar honours; and to whom, for the sake of the living, it is sometimes wise to pay them. Allusion has been just made to the death of the illustrious warrior whom our whole nation sought to honour at his obsequies. May one be pardoned for returning to the subject, in order to observe how natural it is to refer to the Catholic Church at such a moment to ask for precedents and rules respecting such a ceremony, when men's hearts are set upon having it produced in the highest perfection? For, after all, mere mortuary hangings and triumphal cars, lighted tapers, inspiring, as we are told, “great satisfaction in the spectators," and the long train of noble mourners, who have nothing to do but to evince the dejected behaviour of the visage, together with all forms, modes, and shows of grief, as if with veiled lids seeking for him they loved and honoured in the dust, signify but little, when the idea that would have given eloquence to all these things is gone with the prayer which they were only intended to assist or to signify. The multitude, instinctively guided in its taste towards truth, seems to look on all sides in hopes of discovering some trace of that religious symbolism which speaks to the heart. But in vain. All is cold, stately, official. As is remarked by a contemporary, Pericles or Scipio might have been borne along in the same manner. So it is also
when a poet dies. Like Orpheus of Thrace, the Muses may bury him with his golden lyre, but many reflect how much more to the purpose it would be to hear sung requiem æternam." Truly it is on these occasions that the noblest and most illus
* Drexel. Rose Select. Virt., P. i. c. 12.
trious nations officially separated from Catholicism may, for reasons even of dignity and taste alone, envy the most humble that are possessed of its consolations and inheritors of its genius. What is all the magnificence of a state pageant, if compared with the office of the dead? How solemn would sound under the dome of St. Paul's, where our great duke is laid to rest, the nocturns and psalms, the antiphons and prose, of that highinspired, matchless lamentation! How impressive would it be to hear the vested priest, in allusion to him, sing "Breves dies hominis sunt; numerus mensium ejus apud te est. Constituisti terminos ejus, qui præteriri non poterunt!" "Popery, it must be owned," says Dr. Johnson, "is a religion of external appearance sufficiently attractive." We are observing an instance which verifies his words. But why limit its advantages to what is external? Surely the utterance of such prayers is accompanied with an internal act, and with consequences, though invisible to human eyes, which render so reserved a eulogy unjust.
During the middle ages the funerals of eminent and holy men were often, owing to popular reverence, great public events, which were commemorated ever afterwards by the erection of crosses or chapels where the bearers rested. Thus in a spot of wild grandeur amidst pines and torrents near the cascade of Bonnant, between Mont Blanc and the Col du Bonhomme, was a chapel under the invocation of St. Germain l'Auxerrois, on the spot where the Gauls and people of Auxerre, in solemn procession, met the Italians escorting the remains of St. Germain, who had died at Ravenna, and who had desired to be buried in his native land. Exact details respecting such ceremonies used to be taken into grave histories, as in the instance of the funeral of St. Hugues of Lincoln. When Maria de Escobar died, Don Francis de Vinjuela wrote a long letter describing her obsequies to Don Louis of Castilia, assessor of the Council of Granada and governor of Gupuzcoa *. "As soon as she was dead, the whole population of Valladolid flocked to the house where her body lay; and as the house was small and old, so as to be insecure when overcrowded, it was necessary to order out guards immediately to prevent more than a certain number from entering at a time. The vice-governor and all the authorities, the nobility and the poor, all testified the same respect and devotion; and though the rain fell in torrents, the multitude never left the open square, but waited day and night. funeral obsequies were appointed to occupy nine days, with solemn offices and sermons each day. Such were the honours paid after death to one who had wished to lie hidden in life through a religious motive t."
* Vita ejus, P. ii. lib. iii. c. 3.
† ii. iii. 2.
It cannot be denied, however, that even for common persons, Catholicism, where its influence is widely felt, provides a respectful and even imposing burial, midst tapers, and floating odours, and music soft and majestic. Though the ancestors of the deceased, represented by living men with waxen masks, no longer walk before the corpse, as in Roman times, when the whole line of progenitors, along with collateral branches, swept along in front of the body, there are not wanting heraldic images to proclaim the family, and sacred symbols to recall faith and honour, when Catholics are paying those tragic duties to the dead which become piety and love. At the funeral of Michael Angelo were represented in painting all his illustrious predecessors in art from Cimabue downward. His own portrait was displayed, as were also the principal events in his life. A figure of death appeared, lamenting that he had robbed the world of such a man; it held a tablet with these words, “coegit dura necessitas." There was also a female figure representing Christian love; for, says the admiring disciple who records the ceremony, "this being made up of religious and every other excellence, being no less than an aggregate of all those qualities which we call the cardinal, and the pagans the moral virtues, was thus appropriately displayed at his obsequies, since it beseems Christians to celebrate those qualities, without which all other ornaments of body and mind are as nothing."
In general it is worthy of remark that Catholicism, without incurring expense, seeks to invest even burial rites with a certain beauty. At Florence it was the custom, at the funerals of the nobility, to carry before the bier a range of small banners affixed to some devout picture, which used to be left as a present to the Church, and in perpetuation of the memory of the deceased and the family. Thus, for the burial of one gentleman, we read that the celebrated artist Jacopo da Puntormo painted twentyfour banners, on each of which was a figure of our Lady with the divine Child, and on two of them a figure of the patron saint of the deceased. On all these occasions, and not less so when the poor are buried, nothing hideous or revolting is permitted to appear. We read of the great artist, Baldassare Peruzzi of Sienna, having painted an exceedingly beautiful bier for the removal of the common dead to the place of their burial. Domenico Beccafumi employed his genius in the same way for the two burial confraternities of Santa Lucia and Sant' Antonio. "Nor let any one marvel," says an old historian of painters, "that I should mention works of this character, since these are, in fact, beautiful to a miracle, as all who have seen them can bear witness." The beautiful bier which Giovan Antonio Razzi painted for a burial confraternity in Sienna may still be seen in the church of the Laical Brotherhood of San Giovanni and San
Gennaro; and all this latter decoration, we must remember, was for the burial of the indigent. In general the lovely forms of children in white veils are employed to grace the funerals of the young, on whose coffins are strewed chaplets of sweet flowers, Catholicism in every case favouring eminently the general principle of cheap beauty opposed to expensive horrors, though for the burial of persons of high quality, of course, it sometimes provides a suitable and costly solemnity. How grand is that scene described by Cervantes, when his knight and squire, travelling in darkness, see all of a sudden advancing towards them a great number of lights, resembling so many moving stars! Soon after, we read, they perceived about twenty persons in white robes, all on horseback, with lighted torches in their hands, behind whom came a litter covered with black, which was followed by six persons in deep mourning; and the mules they rode on were covered likewise with black down to their heels; and those in white came muttering to themselves in a low and plaintive tone. This was the funeral of a gentleman who died in Baerza, which was proceeding to Segovia, where he was born, and where he wished to be buried. All this, no doubt, involved expenses; but it ill becomes the frivolous to find fault, when we find the grave Mabillon writing to Magliabechi, and saying, "I am grateful to those who have procured such solemn obsequies for the good Signor Mazzi, who loved literature, and who enriched the public with productions of his mind. It is just that the loss of so good a man should be marked with regrets *."
But lo! the gate of the cemetery and the cypress groves! It is here that the road terminates; we shall now see the tombs from which it derives its name. Here are those, Homer would say, whom the life-producing earth holds down. What care, what solicitude seems to reign in human breasts, having regard even to these last mansions ! It is that there are wants beyond life itself. "To man alone of all animals is given," says Pliny, "the care of sepulture-uni sepulturæ cura." Christian religion, in committing human bodies to the earth, only consecrated the ancient and primitive practice of mankind. "At Rome," says Pliny, " wars, sparing not even the dead, caused the ancient mode of burial in the ground to be changed for burning, though some families never adopted the new rite. No one of the Cornelian house was burned before the dictatorship of Scylla +." Young children, however, were never burnt, but always inhumed.
Sophists, who would dig turfs out of a maiden's grave to feed
• Correspondance, &c., tom. ii. let. cxcii.