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When that true friend answers,
Oh, my heart!
And, as they prosper, clasp to show our friendship.” 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
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
Lamenting love's bereavement
With secret, smiling tears,
From sweets of former years !” 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 shall see again the maid !
* Nat. Hist. xvi. 60.
“ Yes, I shall see them all once more,
Who now lie beneath the sod;
In the Paradise of God." 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, Memorials of the perishable state Of all beneath the sun.”
The simple poor
Before those shadows warn of parting day.” In Catholic countries and in religious communities, processions for the dead draw often crowds to visit, for a religious purpose, cemeteries, which themselves, when ancient by reason of their porticoes, arcades, and chapels, are visible witnesses of the uni. versality and antiquity of prayer for the dead; since originally, as people met there to perform duties of religion, it was neces. sary to supply them with shelter from the weather, which was the reason why these oratories and piazzas were erected. At Grandmont supplications of this kind used to be made daily; the first after prime, the second after vespers, the third before complin. To no strange brother arriving was any salutation given until he was led into the cemetery to pray for the dead. We see from the history of Madame de Longueville how the great ladies of France used to make a custom of visiting frequently the tombs of the Carmelite nuns whom they had known. The queen mother, Anne herself, says, “I often go to the tomb of Mother Magdalen, and I never fail to do so on the anniversary of her decease, whatever may be the number of affairs on that day ; and I have often conducted to it the king, my son.” Wherever the ancient religion has votaries among the population, there are always some kind, constant friends visiting, as it were, the dead. Nature, indeed, herself will sometimes not be outdone in this affection. Where do you hasten, sorrowful sister? The answer
Thither where he lies buried ! That single spot is the whole world to me." Then follow through the hallowed grove, and you will hear perhaps,
“ Now speak to me again! We loved so well
We loved ! oh! still, I know that still we love!
This is my home!"
“ O! synge, unto my roundelaie,
My love is deede,
Gone to his death-bed
But it is at All Souls that the Catholic part of the inhabitants seem to desert the busy thoroughfares of the living for the calm, silent city of the dead. Then they are invited to do so, and take the funeral path that leads to household graves ; for on that day death would have us throng unto her palaces, and court her crowded sepulchres. The dew is still on the grass, the columns and images glitter in the golden light, and
The merry lark has pour'd
That spreads so clear o'er our solemnity.” Every variety of human class and age is met here—from the prince to the mendicant, from the aged mourning creature shuffling along with ivory-headed wand, to the poor girl who has just put on her stilling widow's weed.
“ Yet mournfully surviving all,
A flower upon a ruin's wall,
Thine is her lone devotion still.
Where that undying love hath part ;
may its depths by heaven be stirred,
Its prayer for thee be poured and heard * !” The crowd that comes along the road, to use the words of a great author, forms a procession of nature, whose groups an artist may delight to study. The old man who loves the pilgrimage too much to avail himself of the privilege of a substitute accorded to his grey hairs, comes in person with his grandchild. There hasten also the young and the infantine ; some sorrowful faces, and some pale ; many a serious one, and now and then a frolic glance; many a dame and many a maiden, curly-headed urchins with demure looks, and sometimes a stalwart form dispensed for the hour with his habitual labour. But not a heart there that does not bless and venerate the solemnity that calls them. Assuredly it is a good angel that guides to such a place our steps. We are all so much better for coming to it! Our English cities seem beginning to desire a return to such devotions; for they provide public cemeteries with attention to respect and even beauty. But, alas ! in spite of groves and pleasing walks, and pretty sculpture, and plenty of warm hearts among
# Mrs. Hemans.