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the people, is it not to be feared that owing to instructions given by the interested in modern systems and manners rising out of them, Kensal-green and Norwood receive few special visitors who seek communion there with friends departed, each of whom with a double truth may say, in the words of the office, “nec aspiciet me visus hominis ?” Many have adopted a new maxim, saying, in reference to them, “ De non apparentibus et non existentibus eadem est ratio."
“ Les morts durent bien peu: laissons-les sous la pierre !
Hélas ! dans le cercueil ils tombent en poussière
Moins vîte qu'en nos ceurs !” Their only visitors now seem to be moving shadows on the grass and glossy bees at noon. Alas! alas ! the beloved ones are alone, mouldering upon the skirts of human nature—far from the holy mass, far from all little sounds of life. The chapel bell is strange to them, and those whom they once so doated on are distant in a new humanity, which has removed itself from all communion with the dead. Their surviving friend is an honest gentleman, but he is never at leisure to be himself, he has such tides of business : or he is a foe to popery and enslaved by dogmatic formulas, and would deem it superstitious to visit through religion such a place. Though he may hear of well-attested, modern instances like that of Eisengrun, who said he was enjoined by an apparition to go to the Catholic cemetery of Neckarsteinach, and repeat certain words before a certain tomb there-the truth of whose statement was maintained before a judicial court, composed of shrewd, practical men, wholly uninterested, who decided in favour of an impression which seemed to justify what is produced with such effect in some of the most beautiful poems that our literature can boast of–he remains obdurate and unbelieving, while only the curious and impertinent now rudely press into the confines of forsaken graves. It would not be so, companion, if the tenderness of English hearts were given by Catholicism a direction, in regard to departed friends, beyond a mere sentimental indulgence, of which instinctively they feel the vanity. Let them only once know that their kindest office is to pray for them, and those who, living, were their garland's chiefest flower, and in their death hath buried their delights, would still be objects of an active as well as tender solicitude. We should then see the busiest men and youths stealing an hour from their drudgery to visit some companion's grave; we should then see not alone some pretty, sad, talking boy, but fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, and sweethearts, kneel and gaze upon these tombs, as if “ each youth and tender maiden whom they once ought fair, with every friend and fellow-woodlander, passed like a dream before them.” Πού δε οι καλοί εισιν, ή αι καλαί; asks Menippus in the Shades. He was shown Hyacinthus and Narcissus, and Helen and Leda. We, too, remembering those who once lived with us may be moved here to ask the same question, and when shown the spot not to answer cynically, like him, dotā μόνον ορώ, και κρανία, των σαρκών γυμνά, όμοια τα πολλά, but to believe that their beauty is now glorified and eternal. It is related of Luca Signorelli
, that he had a son killed in Cortona, a youth of singular comeliness in face and person, whom he tenderly loved. In his deep grief, the father caused his child to be stript naked, and with extraordinary constancy of soul, uttering no complaint and shedding no tear, painted his portrait, to the end that he might still have the power of contemplating, by means of the work of his own hands, that which nature had given him, but which an adverse fortune had taken away. Even so would those persons gaze here, painting in their imagination the fair blue eyes, the dark or flaxen curls, the graceful form of those whom they loved dearer than all things else in life. Ah, how many poor lovers would they trace lying side by side perhaps !
“ Such thousands of shut eyes in order placed;
Such ranges of white feet, and patient lips
This visiting of places where some of the departed may be even hovering near, has a natural attraction, and seems justified by the sense of the people still acquiescing in the ancient opinion that the souls of men, on being disengaged from the bodies, passing into a middle state, which implies, perhaps, not a place, but a condition of desiring, longing, asking, and praying, may not be far removed from the earth, which they can revisit, drawn by affection and the memory of the past. Popular and philosophic views seem to agree in favouring the opinion that as even here our spirits are where our thoughts and affections are, so may be our souls after leaving the body, as the old Greek says, though without meriting his ridicule, εκείνων μεμνημένοι των άνω, since, as he represents them saying of themselves, kai ánolaνόντες έτι μέμνηνται και περιέχονται τών άνω. Who can disprove that the dead may sometimes also break through the boundaries that hem in the ethereal crowds; and, as if by trespass, in single instances infringe upon the ground of common corporeal life? In all ages of the world it has been thought that they retain their personality, their human form, and their interest in those who had been dear to them on earth, that they mourn over duties neglected and errors committed ; and that they sometimes seek through the instrumentality of the living to repair injuries. But, as a modern author says, “ Wbat is in some countries generally called the religious world, is so engrossed by its struggles for power and money, or by its sectarian disputes and enmities, and so narrowed and circumscribed by what it deems dogmatic orthodoxies, that it has neither inclination nor liberty to turn back or look around, and endeavour to gather up from past records and present observation, such hints as are now and again dropt in our path to give us an intimation of what the truth may be.” Central principles, then, have this immense attraction, that they sanction what mankind has always believed, and is still inclined to believe, on this head, and that they keep alive, at least by a yearly commemoration, the recollection of our deceased friends. Catholics have the day of All Souls-to the dead they believe devoutly, and to the living they visibly perceive, affording an immense consolation. Then upon
“A dreary morning they take this way
Into the breezy clouds, to weep and pray.” The path is still as the grave ; men can recollect themselves, recollect the dead, and feel that eternity is not a dream. Then they go about the cemeteries, where lamps lend light to grubs and eyeless skulls, like that torch which burned in the Capels” monument. Then are some seen to open these dead men's tombs—these houses that last till doomsday; to enter past the iron door, and to kneel down in prayer. Thus they are familiarized with death ; the place no longer yielding terror, though full of vaults and ancient receptacles, where, for these many
hundred years perhaps, the bones of all their buried ancestors are packed. There are flowers, and crosses, and holy pictures, amidst forefathers' joints and by the side of some great kinsman's bone, perhaps laid bare by dirty shovels ; and though the memory of some be green, yet so far doth discretion fight with nature, that we with wisest sorrow think on him, together with ourselves ; and thus with their veiled lids sons seek for noble fathers, friends for companions, the betrothed for lovers, in the dust, having that within which passeth show-an understanding schooled—no peevish opposition ; but a heart loving heaven, loving the dead, loving nature, loving all, and therefore unconsciously forethoughtful of itself. But let us walk on
“ The dead are in their silent graves,
And the dew is cold above, And the living weep and sigh,
Over dust that once was love *."
Mark that youth of fair but melancholy countenance, courteous in manners, yet proud and solitary. He seems lost in thought. If you would speak, he soon turns away and disappears among the tombs. It is some poet, some other Guido Cavalcanti, the bosom friend of Dante, who used to be so much alone among the marble sepulchres about the Church of St. John. Look again at that pale mourner with clasped hands standing by a
She seems to be saying,
I sigh-he breathes no more on me;
Is such as mine should be Caligula's saying, implying a disregard for all memorial of the dead
εμού θανόντος γαία μιχθήτω πυρί, argues an unnatural as well as selfish disposition of mind. As we observed already, the desire of a tomb, whatever Diogenes might say, forms even a distinctive attribute of our nature. Catholicism, however, once escaped from the catacombs, taught men to prefer the green earth to any vaulted solitude of Egyptian art; and in fact, to nature's eye also, as Cyrus said, the ground which produces flowers and fruits constitutes the most magnificent of all sepulchres. Neither Cyrus, nor Alexander, nor Cæsar had a tomb in the sense of heathen or of Jewish antiquity. During the middle ages, it is true, men were frequently entombed in vaults beneath the sacred edifices ; Constantine the Great chose to be buried thus in the church of the Twelve Apostles, in order as he said to have part after his death in the prayers of the faithful offered there t; which however he might have had without taking such steps to secure them ; but the general practice of the early Church was different. The Jews always buried their dead without the city, except those of the family of David. The Romans placed the sepulchres of the most illustrious houses, as those of the Metelli, Claudii, Scipios, Servilii, and Valerii along the highways, which thence derived their names of the Via Aurelia, Flaminia, Lucilia, Appia, Laviniana, and Julia. In the environs of ancient Rome there were more than forty cemeteries, the names of which ecclesiastical history has preserved. Burial out of cities was an obligation upon the three nations who composed the primitive church, and the early Christians followed that wise practice. It was deemed criminal to allow the dead to be buried under churches $; and
+ De Vit. Constant. iv. 60. I Marten, de Antiq. Monac. Rit. v. c. 10.
St. Chrysostom says cemeteries should be always placed beyond the gates of cities. The Christian emperors censured and prohibited burial within cities *. Theodosius the Great, in his celebrated constitution called the Theodosian Code, renewed preceding edicts, and on sanitary grounds forbade the interment of the dead in the interior of cities. The ancient ecclesiastical constitution and the bulls of the popes all concurred to preserve towns and churches from being invaded by the dead ; but in the sixth century, abuses relative to sepulchres being very prevalent, not only synods but even councils endeavoured to abolish them, and to restore the ancient discipline of the Church. The council of Bracar and that of Auxerre published celebrated canons on this head. Charlemagne lent all the force of his inAuence and of his laws to promote the same end; Theodolphus at that time having complained that the churches of France had almost become cemeteries. Hincmar, archbishop of Rheims, followed in endeavouring wholly to eradicate the abuse by cutting off all possibility of its being favourable to the material interest of the clergy. The councils of Meaux, of Nantes, and of Tribur, and Erasdus, archbishop of Tours, required the adoption of the same measures. Interment in churches was in fact prohibited by almost every council held in France, and in accordance with the capitularies which declare “ Nullus in ecclesia mortuus sepeliatur.” The Bishop of Avranches in 1600, of St. Malo in 1620, of Lizieux in 1650, of La Rochelle in 1655, of Chalons in 1661, of Amiens in 1662, of Orleans in 1664, of Aleth in 1670, of Cahors in 1673, of Senez in 1673, of Grenoble in 1690, of Noyon in 1691, of Soissons in 1700, and of Rouen in 1721, promulgated ordinances against burial in churches or towns. The most remarkable, perhaps, of all these statutes was that of De Lomenie de Brienne, archbishop of Toulouse, created a cardinal by Pope Pius VI., in which the learned and eloquent prelate, after speaking of the duty of attending to the public health, makes the remark that“ such is the harmony always existing between religion and sound policy, that what is acknowledged as decorous and useful by the one, is also commanded and prescribed by the other.” In fine, the royal decrees of Louis XV. and Louis XVI. concurring with these ecclesiastical enactments, a total end was put to burials within churches and cities in France ; and cemeteries were established beyond the gates of cities, as in primitive times. Catholicism thus evinces its affinity with what social legislation now endeavours to enforce, providing for all cities those public cemeteries which are re. commended by the Church, both on grounds of respect for ancient discipline, and of regard for the health of the living, which
* Van Epsen, T. N. sect. 4, tit. 7, c. 2.