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Laurens, archbishop of Arles, excommunicated those zealots who should dare to break the pagan tombs, lamps, and lachrymatories with which these graves in Eliscamp were furnished; the lamps being thought, according to a poetic fancy, to burn perpetually, in token of the pagan belief in the immortality of the soul. This was the spot in which Constantine was said to have seen the cross in the air, as Nicephorus relates, in memory of which the Laborum is represented on many of these tombs.. Michael de Morieres, archbishop of Arles, and Gervais de Tilbury, the Englishman who was mareschal of the kingdom of Arles, say that Eliscamp was so celebrated throughout the world, that all Christians desired to be buried there; and in the church of St. Severin, at Bordeaux, was an inscription on an ancient stone attesting this fact. Many of the paladins who had died in the Holy Land were buried here. In this solemn field lie kings, princes, governors of provinces, generals of armies, and great noblemen. Turpin says that Charlemagne caused to be buried here those who fell at Roncevaux, amongst whom were Astolphe, count of Langres, Sanson, general of the Burgundians, Ārlant of Berlant, and Estamat Athon. Here lay also St. Trophime, and his successors, St. Honorat, St. Hilary, St. Concorde, St. Aurelien, St. Eonius and Virgile, St. Rotland, and others t.
It is an ancient sentiment of humanity, though ridiculed by sophists in all ages, which induces men to prefer some particular place for their own interment, and in general to wish that their remains may be placed near the just, or in the neighbourhood of those to whom they were themselves once known. Fulbert of Chartres deems that Solomon was saved merely from observing that he was buried among the kings of Israel, which was a privilege denied to reprobate kings who maintained their perverse will to the last ‡. "When a man has travelled in his youth," says Chateaubriand, “and passed many years out of his country, he grows accustomed to place death every where. In traversing the seas of Greece, it seemed to me that all the monuments which I perceived upon the promontories were hostelries, where a bed was prepared for myself." And yet, in regard to a grave, it is not perhaps quite natural for men to be such cosmopolites. The circumstance of one's bones lying utterly undistinguished where no one that ever passes will have any memory or knowledge of him whose spirit has again to be associated with what reposes beneath the earth, rather seems to add to the misfortune of dying φίλης ἀπὸ πατρίδος αἴης. There is a charm which attracts us to the place where sleep our former friends and companions with whom we played as youths, studied as scholars,
* Du Port, Hist. de l'Eglise d'Arles.
acted as men. The heathen Eneas felt this attraction, and exclaimed,
An sit mihi gratior ulla
Quove magis fessas optem demittere naves,
Quam quæ Dardanium tellus mihi servat Acesten,
Et patris Anchisa gremio complectitur ossa?"
All Christian antiquity recognized the force of the same sentiment, by which, no doubt, many are still moved.
""Tis little; but it looks in truth
As if the quiet bones were blest
Formerly," says a French writer, "men knew where they were born, and they knew where was their tomb." Penetrating into the forest, they could say,
"Beaux arbres qui m'avez vu naître,
Bientôt vous me verrez mourir."
Formerly, too, every one desired to know where were buried those whose memory was dear to him. Inspired by that sentiment, our contemporary Charles Swain represents a youth saying to a mysterious stranger, "I have one only wish on earth-it is to see my mother's grave, to kneel upon it." To whom the gipsy answers, "I know thy mother's grave! Now would'st thou to it?
'But one besides myself can show it thee,
All knowledge of her burial-place dies too!
When the youth, though terrified by the dark, reprobate look of such a guide, exclaims,
"Take me! do what thou wilt!
Show me my mother's grave."
Dying persons would charge their friends to visit the spot where they were to be buried. So the Friar, in the Lovers' Progress, relating to Lidian the death of Clarange, says,
He did desire, bathing my hand with tears,
That with my best care I should seek and find you,
And from his dying mouth prevail so with you,
That you awhile should leave your hermit's strictness,
To witness how you loved him."
When that true friend answers,
Oh, my heart!
To witness how I loved him! Would he had not
His sorrows upon mine! He was my friend,
Thus were dead friends bewailed, and all domestic bonds perpetuated with the affections and duties that resulted from them.
Every family," says Gerbet, "worthy of the name, venerates the resting-place of its fathers. Woe to a family if the passion for enjoyment extinguishes this sentiment-if the exchange or the racecourse makes it forget its old tombs!" The Church has always favoured such respect. Catholicism would preserve the sepulchres even after the families that used them were extinct. The ancestral tomb could still be seen, though the marble contained only pale ashes, while the ebony pillars that so many years sustained their titles seemed ready to shake and sink beneath them. Despotism in modern as in ancient times has set this sentiment at nought, or even employed it to perpetrate cruelty beyond the grave. Napoleon, who caused the deaths of many men, "would not," says a great writer, "have thought that he had done with them, if he had left them the choice of their tomb. In this instance he had not done with them yet, and so he refused it."
But let us walk on and wind our way between these monuments, some only discoverable to the affection of lowly visitors, guided to them by love; others perhaps of memorable fame, built by the curious thoughts of noble minds, in which sleep those who possessed valiant souls. Oh, what a solemn place is this, and yet how beautiful! It seems made for pleasure, not for death.
Thou dark grove
That hast been call'd the seat of melancholy,
And shelter for the discontented spirits.
Sure thou art wrong'd: thou seem'st to me a place
Of solace and content; a paradise,
That giv'st me more than ever court could do,
Let birds of music ever chant it here !"
Hither the forest seems to send such of its children as seem to
sympathize with man. The weeping birch and willow mix with
the ever-green oaks, laurels, and sweet bays; while round and between the tombs stand cypresses, which "cleave with their dark green cones the silent skies, and with their innoxious shadows the bright marble;" innoxious, since, as an old poet observes, "These pyramidical trees injure the least of any by their dropping." The cypress, which yields a crown for the urn of your child, points to the heaven where his spirit lives. "The cypress," says Pliny, " is a stranger and difficult of growth,-natu morosa, fructu supervacua, baccis torva, folio amara, odore violenta, ac ne umbra quidem gratiosa, Diti sacra, et ideo funebri signo ad domos posita *." The naturalist, however, in this passage overlooks the only properties which render it suitable to the Christian necropolis-its durability and its spire, symbolical of a life that lasts for ever in the realms above. But see how many flowers bloom over these graves! The ancients used to say that those who died young were changed into flowers. When the earth receives some sweet and lovely form, framed in the prodigality of nature, these fragile beauties of an hour seem to be in truth a fitting emblem of its fate; for, as the Fernando of Calderon says to Fenix, in the garden of the Moor, "these flowers, born with the Aurora, appear to die with the day." The flower of the common dandelion lives two days and a half. On the first two days it is expanded in the day, and shuts at night; but on the third day it closes about noon, and this closing is followed by the death of the corolla. Flowers are associated with tender memories; they are the language of our valentines, which every year come out with the earliest, decking our streets with beauty. How wistfully does that stranger look upon the primrose near the grave, as if
66 Lamenting love's bereavement
With secret, smiling tears,
It is that love slumbers on the thoughts of those who are gone; for such a flower perhaps in days of happy youth was the fond pledge given and received by one who sleeps beneath that green sod; and therefore now some deep loving, and in one sense happy, thoughts are blended with its pale beauty. He says to himself perhaps,
"New hopes, new thoughts, are in me stirred,
Old memories ne'er fade;
I have seen again my youth's fair flower,
* Nat. Hist. xvi. 60.
"Yes, I shall see them all once more,
The Duchesse de Richelieu, speaking of the grave of a certain Carmelite, says, "I have seen many of the persons who accompany the queen to visit it on the anniversary of her decease, gather some of the flowers near it, kiss them, and carry them away as a relic." There is a return to the thought which suggests all feelings and practices of this kind in the world around us. How many voices are heard now from persons separated by circumstances, that seem responding, like that of Madame de Staël, to the Catholic doctrine respecting the relation which the dead hold to the living! "A belief in the possibility of communion with the spirits of the departed, and that they watch over us, should," says Washington Irving, "be a new incentive to virtue, rendering us circumspect even in our most secret moments, from the idea that those we loved once and honoured are invisible witnesses of our actions. It would take away, too, from the loneliness and destitution which we are apt to feel more and more as we get on in our pilgrimage through the wilderness of this world, and find those who set forward with us lovingly and cheerily on the journey, have one by one dropped from our side."
We observed in the beginning that the road of the tombs is familiar to the young. At all seasons of the year they seem attracted to it; and when is a grave ever dug but you see some of tender age gathered round it, standing silent, and gazing, hand in hand, while bending low, their eager eyes explore its depth? But it is at the fall of the leaf, when the breath of winter comes from far and plays, as the poet says, "a roundelay of death among the bushes, to make all bare before he dares to stray from his northern cave,” that the great anniversary of All Souls causes these holy colonnades to be thronged with visitants. Golden vesper's pageants are then the drifting yellow leavings of the first cold, for
The charmed eddies of autumnal winds
Of red and gold leaves."
From the cemetery methinks one sees at such an hour a new tinge in the western skies-something beyond them.
When sunbeams write
With lengthening shadows on the graves reclined,
Of all beneath the sun."