페이지 이미지

[For the National Magazine. 1

death advertisements so often placed upon INSCRIPTIONS FOR THE DEAD.

the column and tablet over their dust; the

revenue of which, the dead should give as "PITAPHS present curious specimens a charity to improve the heart and brain

The only of them from almost any grave-yard would criticism to which most of the tomb-stone make one mourn or laugh over their pecu- poetry is submitted for approval is the liar constructions. It would contain all affection of the often unwise heart of the the variations between tragedy and comedy, mourner or relative; which frequently is though it is an inappropriate province for not so good and restrictive as that which either; while its highest relief and re- we have from the editors of journals and deeming quality would be the interspersion publishers of books, which the world of of Scriptural epitaphs. With the excep- oblivion has full evidence is poor enough, tion of sentences from the sacred writings, holding as it does the remains and skeletons we think that the literature of tomb-stones of dead unread words deeper down than is a greater commemoration of the weak- any geologist or antiquarian is able to ness of the living, than of honor to the descend. If the press has ever needed a dead.

censor, some of our church-yards have Though the good and gifted who are needed one still more. gone may deserve enduring testimonials

How often has a miserable epitaph exof respect, many of their epitaphs are not cited irresistible laughter or contempt, worth being written upon anything as while we have been reading the inscripdurable as stone. It is a mercy to human tions of the silent land, which has been history and to the reputation of our race poorly accordant with the solemn suggeswith succeeding generations, that there is tions of the place; and instead of leaving power enough in rain and frost to obliterate the gate of the cemetery with the prayerful many of these monumental records of the and lofty purpose to learn how to die, we folly and frailty of the past. If the com

walk forth playfully from a field so thick mon sunlight was gifted with perception with graves. and will, it would be no wonder if it should

We will present below a few examples refuse to light up many of our burial-places of this sepulcher poetry, which is mostly with their chiseled nonsense ; thus leaving taken from a single yard; while the recolthem in a “plague of darkness."

lection of the reader will convince him Tennyson has said :

that they are not extreme or local speci“I sometimes think it half a sin mens, and are far superior to thousands To put in words the grief I feel.”

which might be found :Assuredly, many of our grave-stone

"My friends and brethren, rhymers commit a whole sin in writing

When you come here

This to see, much of their epitaph-poetry. Many of

Prepare to follow me.” these sad rhyming memorials originate in

It is to be wished that the grass before the following way: There may be some poet in the family, or in the circle of kind the stone which bears such an epitaph acquaintance, who finds a great inspiration might not be kept from growing up by the in a death occasion, and forthwith goes to

feet of numerous readers. dishonoring poetry. And the relatives, in

“Ye wandering travelers who pass,

Pray stop, and look into this glass. the tenderness of their wisdom, thinking

A heap of moldering dust I lie: all words, especially words of home As you are now so once was I.” praise, have a consecrated beauty, when

O, bard of the sepulcher, it will take ever they are in the shape of a verse, better poetry than this to crystallize marble with rejg give them to the stone- into window glass or a mirror. catter.

“ Behold my tomb, It would be well if the dead charged for

My grave how small, many of the inscriptions upon their tomb

Yet large enough stones, as the newspapers do for a good

To earth you all." deal of the obituary poetry which is sent We think it a pity that such unsuggestto them; for it is certainly offensive to ive words were not put under ground, inthe memory of the departed to give room stead of being left in sight. Truly, they and perpetuity to many of the praising need to be interred nearly as much as a

VOL. III, No. 4.-AA

this :

corpse. Yet few tears could be dropped years ago, are just as beautiful now. The over such a burial.

sculptor, after collecting the finest elegiac “Behold and see as you pass by,

passages of human literature, could chisel As you are now so once was I;

nothing upon the tomb of Job surpassing As I am now so you must be ; Prepare for death and follow me.”

“I know that my Redeemer liveth! And We think that the transition and con- though after my skin worms destroy this body, trast between life and death receives no yet in my tlesh shall I see God." grand solemnity from such a warning. It Nor could he inscribe upon the sepulcher rather translates us back to the days of of the apostle John finer words than his district-school poetry.

own: “ He was a flower so early cropt,

“Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it Was handed to the tomb;

doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we Yet death this angel only left

know that when he shall appear we shall be In paradise to bloom."

like him; for we shall see him as he is." Just see how this epitaph cuts off a “ Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord," flower and an angel in the same metaphor! The beauty of early childhood withers though it has been cut on ten thousand away very fast under the cropping of such grave-stones, will have just as holy a

charm when it shall be cut on a million a poetic knife; while it is rather cruel for the same knife to be lopping off angels.

more; ay, and will hold its charming

benediction of peace upon the last tomb“ Whirlwinds arise; my branches tear, stone that shall be raised upon the earth. And to some distant region bear Far from this spot a wretched mother,

“I am the resurrection and the life !" Whose fruit and joys are gone together.”

will not fade away when the solemn It is hopeful that such a tempest of splendors of the last day shall burn upon grief might be short. We fear that this them, while many of the inscriptions of huepitaph would look rather too wild and

man composition will vanish from sight. stormy even to the tearful eye of the fond mother at the after hour of clear and sub

"O grave! where is thy victory?" dued resignation. It would be wise to will sound triumphant beside the final remember that such tornadoes sometimes death-march of the world, while the reblow over.

peating of most of the epitaph-poetry The adoption of Scriptural epitaphs would chord poorly with the voice of the would prevent such wretched inscriptions. descending archangel and of the trump of Those selected from the Bible would be God. superior in many ways. We will suggest Again: what is more appropriate for a few of them. The revolutions in liter- the dead and the living than the language ary taste and style can never make them of the only revelation of that invisible appear antiquated. They have not the world to which the dead are gone, and to perishing and vanishing properties which which the living are going? If the deexist so largely in human literature. They ceased are permitted to read the inscripare higher above the variations of history tions upon their own graves, would they than all other words. The languages of not find that the speech of the evangelists nations change, but the word of the Lord and prophets corresponded best with the endureth for ever. The highest culture dialect of that country to which they have and finest rhetoric of the future will find passed ? many of the most ancient lines of Scrip- And surely there are no words with ture more perfect than their criticism. which the living should be more familThough the race has been wailing and iar, or should more often read upon the crying for hundreds of years, the wailing commemorating stones of the departed of Rachel and David cannot be deepened than those which alone reveal our solemn by all this long experience of sorrow. destiny beyond the borders of the grave. None ever wept so sublimely, or wiped It is wise in a traveler, who goes to visit away a tear so gently, as Christ. Senten- a foreign land, to become acquainted with ces from the Sacred Writings which would the peculiarities of its government; it is have been beautiful upon the graves of wiser still for man to understand the law the earliest patriarchs, over five thousand and privileges of the empire beyond the

sea of life. It may here also be suggested SHOPKEEPING ON TWO PRINCIPLES. that nearly all the serious reading of some is their reading upon tomb-stones, and 66 TT'S all nonsense, old boy. I take more many who will seldom read a religious money on a Sunday than on any day in sentence elsewhere, will patiently read the week: so do n't think I am so foolish whatever is written upon the tablets and as to shut up my shop, and trust to God's shafts of a cemetery. How ample then blessing, as you say. "God helps them is the reason that these inscriptions should that help themselves:' that's my maxim." be of a divine quality!

“Well, Mr. Johnson, you quote one An additional reason for Scriptural epi- proverb, and I will quote another : “All's taphs is, that the soul has seldom a more well that ends well.' Good morning." tender sensibility or truer perception, is “Shut up my shop on a Sunday!" said seldom more pervaded with the solemn | George Johnson, with some bitterness, to and vast meaning of life, than when in himself. “O yes! I am sure to do that, communion with the dead. In such a to please a set of sanctified hypocrites, who communion the throbbing, swelling bosom would n't care if I was starving, so long as feels more than ever that it is moving I made my appearance with a long face at close beside the drapery which conceals church every Sunday. But I am too old a the drama of the eternal world. While bird to be caught by such chaff as that." we are bereaved and broken in spirit, the A few months rolled on, and George prophets and apostles seem almost to have was still toiling in his shop; but from some a fresh commission and new miracles, and cause or other, notwithstanding his Sunday we listen with a larger faith to their proph- gains, he could only just meet his dayly ecy and evangel. Though skepticism expenses, and sometimes he could scarcely may move with firm feet and daring lips do that. He lived in a poor, over-peopled amid the enchantment and commerce of district of London, where Sunday-trading life, those feet often tremble and those lips was general ; and he candidly believed falter when they are in the council of the that he must do as others did, or be comdead.

pelled to give up business, in a neighborhood How appropriate, then, that the where his fellow-tradesmen had the seemsoul, while it has this enlarged suscepti- ing advantage of an additional day's profits. bility to receive the fullest and truest in- But this advantage proved of no great serterpretation of the mission of our being, vice to George; and, judging from appearshould have the words of the oracles of God ances, few of his neighbors were enriched in its presence! How appropriate that by it. He felt, too, that there were some the child of sin and sorrow should be led great drawbacks. The confinement to a by the sacred teachings of the burial- close, small shop, in a narrow and dark ground to drop his tears upon the feet street, for so many hours of the Sunday, of the Prince of Consolation, and to lean was a grievous burden. Borne up at first his weary head upon His palm! How by the hope that he should reap a silver, appropriate that the failing theory of the if not a golden, harvest from his business, skeptic might be replaced by the substan- George had endured the confinement patial hope of the gospel, by his reading the tiently ; but when he found that he reaped words of inspiration among the dead! nothing but thin and withered ears, barely With these bright and holy instructions sufficient for his necessities, he viewed written over the dead, instead of a ceme this grievance in a very different light. tery being like a field at golden sunset, “Well, Mr. Johnson, are you still of the with the shadows deepening, lengthening, same opinion as when I last spoke to you and widening, till they cast a shade every- | about Sunday-trading ?" said the old genwhere, some might find it like a field at tleman who had addressed to him on a morning, with the long mysterious shad- former occasion the inquiry with which ows continually shortened by the uprising our paper opens. of the orb of celestial faith, while its light “Not exactly, Mr. Hooper; for I conin passing through the soul, showered by fess there are great disadvantages connected holy thoughts and tears, would be sepa- with the system. But what is the use of rated and blended into a beautiful curve, talking? Here I am fixed in it; and I must which would arch with promise into eter- I swim with the stream, or be drowned.” nity.

“But, to make no mention of other and

higher reasons, are you sure that you to have a trip to the sea-side. Starting should be drowned, as you term it? Are early, they resolved to make the day as there not others—a few, I confess—in this long as possible. They rambled upon the neighborhood who close their shops on a beach, breathing the sea-breeze with greatSunday? Is health of no value ? and I am er zest than ever any epicure quaffed his sure you look the worse for such close choicest wine. They clambered up to a confinement; and do you not think that point on the rocky cliffs that towered above many would prefer to deal with one who the beach, from which they obtained a good showed that he had some respect for the view of the magnificent prospect. But, Sabbath, and who therefore might be ex- tempted by the success of their first ascent, pected to deal honestly with his customers, they resolved to try for a higher point. In which is more than can be said for many doing so the foot of George's companion of your Sunday-trading neighbors ?" slipped, and he was precipitated on the

“Ay, well, sir; you and I see things sands beneath them. George almost rushed differently. I know very well that I must down, he often wondered how, and arrived either open my shop every day in the week, only in time to see his companion breathe or shut it altogether: for I find business his last. bad enough as it is; and what should I do This melancholy incident made a deep if I lost my best day's profits ?"

impression upon his mind. He became an “Well, you confess that your present altered man. Quitting his present master, plan is not a very prosperous one. I will he obtained, through the influence of Mr. say as I said before, “All's well that ends Hooper, a situation where his Sundays well.' Good morning, Mr. Johnson : no were his own. Here he remained for three offense, I hope."

years, acquiring a character for steadiness, Plague the old fellow," muttered integrity, and aptitude for business, which George, after his visitor had departed: “I proved afterward, as we shall see, of emi. wish he'd mind his own business: though, nent service to him. He put by also a after all,” he added, musingly, “I feel portion of his salary. he's in the right; for I know this Sunday- “Well, George,” said his old friend Mr. trading is wrong. But what can I do ?": Hooper, on accidentally meeting him one

Six months more had scarcely passed day, after having heard from him the reaway before a handbill was posted on the cital of what had occurred since they last closed-up window of George's shop, adver- met, “I think we agree now about Sundaytising a sale of his effects. He had been trading: suppose we put our principles to compelled to give up his business; for he the test.” could not live by it. Competition, and “In what way do you propose to do this, especially the opening of a large and gayly- Mr. Hooper?" decorated shop in George's immediate “I have thought of your starting in busineighborhood, in the same way of trade as ness again in your old neighborhood. I himself, seemed to be the chief causes of am not a wealthy man, far from it; but his want of success. He applied for, and for several years I have been a prosperous obtained, a situation in the recently-opened one, and I can advance something for you. shop. Here he was made to feel keenly I know you have saved a part of your sathe evils of the system which he had de- lary, and your master is willing to lend a fended. When a master, he could relax helping hand, by supplying you with goods somewhat when he felt disposed to do so at a low rate to commence with. What do through sheer weariness; for certainly he you say to this proposal ?" seldom, if ever, did this for any other “Give me a few days to consider, Mr.

But here he could not rest: he Hooper; but allow me at once to return must tug at the oar through the whole you my grateful thanks for your kindness.” work-day week, and through a good part “Certainly: take your own time for of the Sunday besides. His master was a weighing the proposal. I have watched grasping, selfish, and unfeeling man, and your career, and I feel a warm interest in George groaned under his load. At length your welfare. I know, too, that you wish a holiday did arrive-a whole day was his to marry; and in your present situation I own; and he hailed it as a prisoner would see that you cannot well do so." rejoice at a day's freedom from his chain. In a few days George gave his consent He arranged with one of his companions to the proposal. A shop was taken, and


[ocr errors]

neatly fitted up, and in about two months more than once. A wife, and a family of from the time of the above conversation he blooming children, now add to his happientered upon his new sphere of action. ness; and he is an active member of several

societies which have been formed for the “Give him a rouser, Mrs. Vanes," said a amelioration, physical and moral, of the slatternly-looking woman to another still


and ignorant. more so, who had come rather early on the “Well, Mr. Johnson," said his old first Sunday morning after George had friend, one day, “it is now a good many opened his shop for some articles which years since I entered your shop, and, in she required. Accordingly, Mrs. Vanes the course of our conversation, proposed gave a few vigorous knocks with a penny- to you to give up Sunday-trading. I met piece upon the shop-door.

with a very unfavorable reception; and I Mr. Johnson opened a window overhead. little expected then to see what I behold " Aint you latish this morning, Mr. John- now." son?" said the female who had advised the “ No, Mr. Hooper: I was ignorant and trial of knocking for admittance: “I want conceited in those days; but bitter expesome things."

rience made me wiser. Putting higher “I do not intend to open the shop on considerations aside, I see that in many Sundays, Mrs. Mellish; I have given up other points of view Sunday-trading is to Sunday-trading,” replied Mr. Johnson, be condemned. The benefits of my preclosing the window as he spoke, to avoid sent course are many and important: its altercation, which, from the known cha- physical advantages are repose, cleanliness, racter of Mrs. Mellish, he felt sure and health ; its mercantile advantages to would ensue, if he prolonged the conver- the laborer are diminished competition and sation.

increased wages; its intellectual advan“Well, here's a pretty go! And so a tages are opportunities for reading and repoor woman is n't to have a bit of butter flection, public oral instruction, and Sunon a Sunday morning, because he's so day-school training for the young; whilst mighty religious. Howsumiver, if he wont its moral advantages are too numerous and have my Sunday money, he shan't have too obvious to be insisted upon." my week-day: I'll take care o' that.” “Well spoken, Mr. Johnson. You are

“ Yis, aint he pious now?” chimed in yourself a good example of the truth of Mrs. Vanes. “O deary me! but I know the doctrines you preach. The aid which what it'll all come to. He keeps his you received cannot be said to have made shutters up to-day, and he'll very soon the experiment an unfair one ; for it was keep 'em up altogether.”

scanty and limited. Allow me to add one They then departed, to procure what more advantage in this case; and at is, they required elsewhere.

the good interest which I have always Mr. Johnson steadily persevered in the punctually received for the small sum that course which he had commenced, though I advanced to you. May many follow frequently bantered at first by some of his your good example.” old customers. But his firmness in sustaining pecuniary loss won the admiration Be SOMETHING.-Don't be a drone. You of some, and the secret respect of nearly may rely upon your present possessions, all of them. They argued that a man who or on your future prospects; but these would act thus would be almost sure to riches may fly away, or hopes may be deal fairly with them, both in the quantity blighted; and if you have no place of your and the quality of the articles with which own, in such case, ten to one you will he supplied them. Some families in the find your path beset with thorns. Want neighborhood bought from Mr. Johnson may come upon you before you are aware solely because he made a stand against the of it; and having no profession, you find prevailing Sunday-trading of the district. yourself in anything but an enviable con

In short, the experiment succeeded sig- dition. It is therefore important that you nally; for Mr. Johnson became one of the should be something. Don't depend upon most flourishing tradesmen in the neigh- fortune, for she is a fickle support, which borhood. He still lives at the same place often fails when you lean upon her with where he achieved his victory; but he has the greatest confidence. Trust to your been compelled to enlarge his premises ' own exertions.

« 이전계속 »