Page images
PDF
EPUB

I also saw a dear matron, whose emotions and actions run together like parted mercury, leave the room, saying, “I think the gown I am wearing will look best for poor Mrs — at the funeral—will you excuse me, ladies, while I go and change it, that she may have it?” Refinement that is refined away into inanity may be squeamish at this plan, and the reserve of ancient etiquette may scorn it. To me, there was a simplicity, and heartiness, and helpfulness in the style of sympathy, which indicated real love for the neighbour. And who that has gone through the infliction of having boxes of bonnets and caps to fit on, and that has stood under the hand of a dressmaker, when ready to expire, and flung herself down, when released, in an irrepressible burst of woe, would not feel the gentle helping hand in such a place as this to be like that of a ministering angel ?

The natural and the real is always beautiful in time of sorrow, and to be preferred to the artificial and the ceremonial.

CHAPTER XVII.

THE CEMETERIES AND FIREMEN.

The cemeteries are laid out in fine taste. Père-laChaise at Paris has formed the pattern, and tastefully is it imitated, and even surpassed. There are many beautiful. That on the banks of the Passaic at Newark has a fine position in reference to the river. It was rather a delicate matter to pronounce between the claims of Mount Auburn at Boston, and Greenwood beyond Brooklyn; not only because both are beautiful, but because there exists a degree of rivalry on the subject between Boston and New York, of which latter city Greenwood is the principal cemetery. It contains 242 acres of the most beautifully varied grounds, and is rich in avenues of pines, elms, and yews; with fine slopes shaded by magnificent locust, cypress, and weeping willow; and picturesque pieces of water, with fountains casting up the sparkling element to a great height, which, falling, forms rainbows in the sunbeams, and tranquillises the spirit with its monotonous and stilly plash. One felt inclined to linger out the day, and yet to return again on the morrow.

There is much taste and sentiment in the monuments in both these beautiful cemeteries ; some massive, of gray granite, mingling well with the more varied forms of white marble, Mount Auburn has memorials to Fulton, Channing, and Spurzheim -the latter noble in its simplicity, the name alone in the centre of the tablet being the only, epitaph. In the inscription on Channing's monument, one cannot but remark that they have evaded confessing his Unitarian principles, by making mention only of the Christian community to which he belonged," or a similar expression. Was the rumour then true, that, in his latter days, the apostle of Unitarianism found Christ as a pattern-man inadequate to his soul's necessities? Would that it may have been so!

At Greenwood, the lamb, the dove, the broken bud, the bursting chrysalis, the rising sun, the embraced urn, the veiled mourner, and whatever other emblem grief and faith mingled might suggest to taste, are to be seen. Nothing, however, seemed so very touching as the name alone. The sacred spot is measured out, and encircled by a light iron fence. On the locked gateway the family name is placed in large characters; but within, as each dear member occupies the place, you see on the monument, “Our Emily," "Our Henry," “ Our Mother," “ Our dear Parents,” “ Our only Son.” If you will know who they are, you must look at the gate, but they who placed them there know well. They were Ours, the spot and the ashes are Ours still. With that perti

[ocr errors]

nacity indicative of immortality and the resurrection, affection cleaves to the ashes; and many a rose within the rail, and many a bunch of “Forget-menot” planted at the feet, shews that love is stronger than death, and makes its vow of constancy even to the cold clay.

The Firemen's monuments are noble and deservedly conspicuous. The cold marble erected to their memories was their country's only method of expressing its gratitude to them. And above the rest shews the statue of that brave man with the sleeping infant on his arm, to rescue whom he perilled his own life, and lost it. As a work of art, it is very beautiful; but as a testimony of his people's gratitude, it is sublime. The man who wins the battle, or raises tbe siege, or secures the peace, receives, of course, his meed of laurels, and storied urn and monumental bust;" but the man who risks his life to save one poor little infant, who works not for fame nor for fortune, but for humanity, how worthy is he of a statue! It was bravely done! One honours the patriotic spirit that erected it. The same spirit was also shewn in the erection of that other beautiful monument over the grave of the Pilot, who, in saving the ship, was himself drowned.

Having mentioned firemen, it may be as well to remark upon them here.

Fires are more frequent in the United States than elsewhere. “How it comes, let doctors tell.” Wooden

houses alone will not account for it—as wood, though combustible, will not burn unless it be kindled. They have, however, become nearly as expert in extinguishing as they seem careless in kindling fires

so that a stranger learns by and by to hear the startling toll which announces the number of the district where a conflagration is going on, without any unusual beating of heart, even though it be not far off. In Philadelphia, people profess to be more afraid of the damage done by the water than by the fire.

We learned that the firemen had certain immunities, and that their enrolment originated with the Quakers. According to their principles, Friends could not go to war, but, to prove themselves willing to defend the State, they offered to take charge of extinguishing fires, on condition that they should not be liable to serve in the militia. They have other privilèges, I believe, such as not being called to sit as jurymen on trials. In return, however, they have no sinecure office. The night without a fire is the exception, and it is not uncommon during winter to have several in one night.

One never saw a more 'light-built, active set of men, than those of the fire brigades. They wear dresses fit to protect the head, and leave their limber limbs unencumbered; and they have as much pride in the bright brasses and gay painting of their engine, as a sailor has in his ship, or a driver in his team. The first who with his engine reaches the

« PreviousContinue »