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True, there is always a grave, moral lesson uttered by tombs, which

prompts the heart to cry, in the awfully-sounding words of the office, “ Domine, secundum actum meum noli me judicare : quia peccavi nimis in vita mea, commissa mea pavesco, et ante te erubesco: dum veneris judicare, noli me condemnare." And yet when we visit such places this terror, I know not how, seems but a transient and quite secondary impression, wbich it is difficult even to recall. Hope and confidence seem to reign with invincible power. In this open, smiling meadow, not without a secret and mysterious cause so beautiful, with emble

of light and life on all sides, it can hardly occur to the imagination to represent those who sleep here as having passed to the dark land, covered with the obscurity of death, to the land of misery and darkness, where is no order, but where perpetual horror dwells ; one thinks rather of those who found themselves delivered when the Redeemer of the earth descended, to whom the Church cries in these words, graphic as the sublimest painting, “ Libera me qui portas æreas confregisti, et visitasti infernum, et dedisti eis lumen, ut viderent te-qui erant in pænis tenebrarum-clamantes et dicentes: Advenisti, Redemptor noster.” One thinks of those images saluted in the anthem of the Purification—“Germinavit radix Jesse, orta est stella ex Jacob : Virgo peperit Salvatorem ; te laudamus, Deus noster.” One thinks, therefore, on the whole, of Heaven, and of those who are already there enthroned in eternal love ; and so the road of the tombs produces the effect of causing men to look up to that sovereign light,

“ From whose pure beams all perfect beauty springs

That kindleth love in every godly sprite,
Even the love of God, which loathing brings
Of this vile world, and these gay-seeming things;
With whose sweet pleasures being so possessed,

Their straying thoughts henceforth for ever rest *.” But to contemplate the bliss of eternity, where at last we may all meet for pure, unclouded joy together, without any more distinctions to cause disunion between hearts that were made to love each other, is to have one's thoughts directed in accordance with Catholicism, and in opposition to all the influences of that mere earthly country, where

“ Seldom desponding men look up to Heav'n,

Although it still speak to 'em in its glories;
For when sad thoughts perplex the mind of man,
There is a plummet in the heart that weighs,
And pulls us, living, to the dust we came from.”

Spenser.

Therefore by means of the general impressions consequent on a
visit to the tombs, there is effected a spacious opening, on the
attractions of which no one can be required to dilate ; for
“ Heaven's bright gleams need not the painted flourish of our praise!"

6 Oh! not the visioned poet in his dreams,
When silvery clouds float through the wildered brain,
When every sight of lovely, wild, and grand
Astonishes, enraptures, elevates;
When fancy at a glance combines
The wondrous and the beautiful,
So bright, so fair-a scene

Hath ever eyes beheld.” And yet there are thousands inspired by the central wisdom, who froin these very graves standing thoughtful over them,

“ On the everlasting light, wherein no eye

Of creature, as may well be thought, so far

Can travel inward-gaze fixedly."
They pore upon the view that faith unfolds to them

As one
Who, vers’d in geometric lore, would fain

Measure the circle *." “ There,” cries St. Bonaventura, “the wisdom of Solomon is folly; the beauty of Absolon, deformity; the swiftness of Asaël, slowness ; the strength of Samson, weakness; the years of Mathusale, mortality; the kingdom of Augustus, destitution.” There will be the plenitude of light to reason, the multitude of peace to the will, the continuation of eternity to memory; in a word, as Augustin says, "the necessary presence of all good, the necessary absence of all evil.”

“ Pax secura, decus, et gaudia sunt animabus

Gaudia, pax, requies, libera ac secura juventus f." Such keenness from the living ray those who thus meditate on heaven meet, that if their eyes should turn away they think they would be lost, and though of course never can they conceive such absolute felicity, yet a flash will sometimes dart athwart their mind, and, in the spleen, unfold a reflection of what they seek. “O felix illa Alleluia!” exclaims St. Augustin in one of these moments; o secura! o sine adversario! ubi nemo erit inimicus, et nemo perit amicus. Ibi laudes Deo, et hic Jaudes Deo. Sed hic a sollicitis, ibi a securis ; hic a morituris

Par. 33. † Bonaventura, Compend. Theolog. Verit. vii. c. 31.

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ibi a semper victuris ; hic in spe, ibi in re ; hic in via, illic in patria *.” Alanus de Insulis, similarly rapt in an ecstatic vision, attempts to describe it, saying,

“ Hic risus sine tristitia, sine nube serenum,

Deliciæ sine defectu, sine fine voluptas,
Pax expers odii requies ignara laboris,
Lux semper rutilans, sol veri luminis, ortus
Nescius occasus, gratum sine vespere mane.
Hic splendor noctem, saties fastidia nescit,
Gaudia plena vigent, nullo respersa dolore.
Non hic ambiguo graditur fortuna meatu,
Non risum lacrymis, adversis prospera, læta
Tristibus infirmat, non mel corrumpit aceto,
Aspera commiscens blandis, tenebrosa serenis,
Connectens luci tenebras, funesta jocosis :
Sed requies tranquilla manet, quam fine carentem

Fortunæ casus in nubila vertere nescit t."
There is, in fine, an observation suggested by what is seen in
cemeteries that may be classed among the general impressions
produced by them, partly accounting for the cheerfulness they
inspire, which consists in remarking that it is a mistake to asso-
ciate the idea of solitude, and even of leaving the society of men,
with death.

Lady Capulet is struck with the multitude to whom in such a place she is introduced. “ How oft,” she exclaims, "to-night have my old feet stumbled at graves !” Here one beholds, as it were, a city thickly peopled, a nation, as Homer says. The sense of loneliness and desertion does not here belong to the thought of death. Through these lovely groves and sloping lawns one wanders, as it were, in company with those who only yesterday smiled on us in the streets. We see how numerous are the visitors ; for, after all, the dead are here but visitors like ourselves. The multitude of the former nation being thus presented to us, we feel as if we should be in as much society here, yes, and as much too with the young and beautiful, whose spirits may be looking down upon all, remembering them or compassionating them on reading some bitter fate recorded on their tomb, as if we remained in the capital. In the vision of Drythelm, recorded by Bede, the abode of the just after death was seen full of youth. His guardian angel explaining what he had witnessed, said to him, “ That flowery place wherein thou didst see that most beautiful band of young folks so bright and gladsome, is the one wherein the souls abide that wait till the day of judgment for admission into heaven.” A noble independence, an elevation of sentiment over every thing like human respect,

* Serm. 18.

+ Alani Encyclopædia, lib. v. 6.

arises, therefore, from considering thus how greatly the dead outnumber the living! We are brought, then, to contemplate the mute and boundless fields of the invisible Church, in which men should wander more than they do ; for in this consideration lies the Catholic's refuge from the world. In effect, we need not fear the want of human company on this road, though we may not see our associates and fellow-travellers ; but for that matter neither in life do we see our best friends always living under the same roof with us. Seventy-five thousand persons are supposed to die daily throughout the world; and how many leave each city the same day and hour, each of whom might be consoled by the idea of human sympathy ? Chauteaubriand, on one occasion, seems suddenly struck with the numbers that he has personally known, and who were already gone. Towards the close of his memoirs he calls over the list of his former contemporaries, and demands of each, " Where art thou? Answer,” he says.

“ Alexander, emperor of Russia ? Dead.

Francis II., emperor of Austria ? Dead. Louis XVIII., king of France ? Dead. Charles X., king of France ? Dead. George IV., king of England ? Dead. Ferdinand I., king of Naples ? Dead. Charles Felix, king of Sardinia? Dead. The duke of Tuscany? Dead. The duc de Montmorency? Dead. Mr. Canning? Dead. Ministers of foreign affairs of France, England, Prussia ? Dead." What young man or woman, even in the humble walks of com. mon life, has not, however brief their experience, within the memory some catalogue of this kind as impressive to their poor hearts as the list of the renowned departed proved to the statesman? Where are the fair and comely ones each will ask at times—Anne and Harry, sweet Alice, and “all the friends who were schoolmates then?” Oh! don't you remember? and then,!! as the popular song of Ben Bolt recurs to them, the eyes will glisten with a tear that youthful bashfulness would hide. Nevertheless, in these cemeteries, consecrated by the holy cross which shines over the graves, Death, after all its trophies, seems visibly dethroned, and unable to nullify the worship of the heart which rises to Him, to whom all live,—“Regem cui omnia vivunt.” In being borne hither, the dead seem only to join the majority, and to be united to the whole. What can be better than by surmounting all causes of separation and of isolation, of partition and exclusion, to follow in a Christian sense the advice of Simplicius, congungere se cum universo," as Alfonso Antonio de Sarasa even expressly recommends us to do in his treatise on the art of rejoicing evermore *? In this world of ours, so beset with difficulties and dangers, real or imaginary, we live for the most part shut up and fenced in in particular houses,

• 255.

and can only fancy on passing others at rare intervals how sweet it would be to live with them. There above, after taking this preliminary road of the tombs, we shall be all of us together, without confinement and without disunion, enjoying the same felicity, with the same assurance that it is to be for ever! Here, then, is a place where, without the risk of any dangerous theory, one may be absorbed in a contemplation of the universal frame of things. Here you feel, as you never before felt, that you cannot die, so as to be separated from those you love ; that you and they must live for ever. Here

you

feel fulfilled in yourself the lines of Pope :

“ Hope springs eternal in the human breast;

Man never is, but always to be, blest.
The soul uneasy and confined from home,

Rests and expatiates in a life to come." In fact, even in these common cemeteries one verifies in part the observation of Gerbet on visiting the tombs of the first Christians; for he says, “In the catacombs, all graves that they are, the thought of death is only accessory. The predominant sentiment is that of immortality. If faith in the future life could be lost on earth, we should find it again in the cemeteries of the martyrs. The immense love of truth and justice which has consecrated these places must have another destination besides an eternal hole in a quarry of pouzzoli. The monument of this love cannot be the vestibule of annihilation. The most hardened materialist would, I am sure, be staggered after half an hour's meditation in the catacombs *." We are not here near the martyrs, perhaps any thing, alas ! but that; still we are near those who suffered much, who loved and desired much : we do not trace the palm-branch or the phial, but without any stretch of imagination the tear can be made out, and the lowliness and the poverty. In this place, too, might have been commemorated brave and continued struggles, acts of self-sacrifice, goodness, love, in which perhaps it would not be false or overstrained to say that God did all, as the ancient chorus added,

κουδέν τούτων, και τι μή Ζεύς f. At all events, every one here can see, as it were, that to Him “ omnis caro veniet;" and so in the office after the words, “ Putre. dini dixi : Pater meus es ; Mater mea et soror mea, vermibus," the dead seem to strike their hands together, clasping them, and respond,“ Ubi est ergo nunc præstolatio mea ? et patientiam meam quis considerat ? Tu es, Domine, Deus meus.'

But we must depart, since now our youthful wanderers, with whom we entered this enclosure, can see the sun kissing the

* Esquisse, &c., i. 253.

+ Trach. 1280.

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