Imágenes de páginas

musing, dreamy abstractions in which we become posthumous. I have been fancying that my faded body lay beneath the turf, at the foot of the hill there; that the sun was going down; and that a friend was just plucking a flower from the grave of old Humphry

A gravel walk is the only barrier between the consecrated and the unconsecrated parts of the ground; and as a spectator gazes on the broad acres in the centre, unbroken by a grave, and studded over with myriads of daisies, he can hardly persuade himself that he is in a place of sepulture. Seventy thousand pounds have already been expended to render the place worthy the patronage of the public; and certainly great praise is due to both architect and landscape gardener.

But pleasant as this place is, the thought intrudes, what chequered scenes are yet to be passed through by those whose bodies will here be deposited! what hopes and fears ! what joys and sorrows! Will they thoughtlessly live and die without God in the world ? or will they finish their course with joy, and find the end thereof eternal life? There is no peace to the wicked; but the humble Christian, whose faith is in lively exercise has peace at the last.

A thousand fears of dreadful name

Ungodly men surprise ;
But oh, in what a peaceful frame

The pardon'd sinler dies !
With glory shining round his head,

And sonbeams on his breast,
He lays him calmly on his bed,

And smiling sinks to rest. The episcopal-looking chapel, with its octagonal tow ers, on the brow of the hill, fronting the west, has a fine effect; and that facing the north-west is little inferici to



it. They are built with the Suffolk white brick, and have a chaste and cleanly appearance.

The higt boundary wall and palisades that enclose the cemetery must have been very costly. Here is a heap of clayey soil, recently thrown up from a depth of twenty feet, and yet it is stiff and dry. We carry with us our notions of comfort even in thinking of the grave, and thus a dry soil is indispensable for a burial-ground.

I have passed through the chapels, and descended to the vaults below them, the silent receptacles of the dead. The chapels are plain, but in excellent keeping. Many would like some stained glass in the large win. dow, and I should have no objection to a little drapery round it to increase the solemnity of the place ; but these things are not important, and can be dispensed with. The manner of lowering the coffins into the vaults, (by means of a piston working in water underneath the chapel,) must have a striking effect on those who have never witnessed any thing of the kind. While the mourners, who have attended the solemn service for the dead, are yet gazing, with eyes half blinded with tears, on the coffin that contains the body of the departed, the elevated bier, or stand, on which it lies, begins slowly and noislessly to sink, without any apparent agency. The astonished spectator can hardly believe his senses: yet lower and lower the coffin descends, until it altogether disappears. The service is very solemnly and impressively performed. I am told, that at a funcral, a few days ago, in an assembly of at least a hundred persons, scarcely was a dry eye seen in the chapel.

While walking in the grounds, the sound of youthful voices reaches me. The boys of the neighbouring

duhool, near the entrance of the cemetery, have rushed into their play-ground; and all is liberty, and life, and merriment. Happy boyhood! The cares of the world light not on thy joyous brow, nor do its manifold sorrows rest more than a moment on thy heart.

Thy life is all to-day, and in thy gladness

Thou canst not see nor feel to morrow's sadness.

As I leave the cemetery, a flood of light is pouring down from the south-west on the place; and crimson and gold, and an unbearable blaze of glory, mark where the declining sun is careering along the skies. Let me bear in mind, that whether the last house is shrouded with gloom or gilt with glory, the heritage of the righteous is a life of peace, a death of hope and a resurrection to eternal joy.



I am now at Highgate, having had a pleasant walk here from Highbury with a friend. Part of the road has been along retired lanes, and the other part mostly across green fields; the

breath of heaven has blown around us, the clouds have sailed along majestically over our heads, and varied conversation has made a ramble, agreeable in itself, yet more agreeable. The North London cemetery is before us; and erected on its entrance, facing the south-east, stands an abbey-like kind of edifice, of miniature size, with an octangular and ornamental dome. In this building, which possesses every accommodation for the purpose, with a large room and private gallery for infirm mourners and invalids, the solemn service is performed ; a window of painted glass, representing the ascension of our Saviour, adorns its extremity, with another compartment on each side of it executed in colours of great beauty. But where is the


[ocr errors]

artist whose hand so recently called into existence these trophies of his skill? Alas! he lies motionless: his dust is now reposing in the cemetery.

He has, no doubt, stood where I am standing. Doubtless, his eyes have sparkled with unwonted lustre while gazing on the luminous exhibition before me; but now he is returned to the dust: Thus, at the very threshold of the cemetery, and while looking at the bright emblem of immortality, I am once more reminded that there is but a step' between me and death.”

The solemn procession of a funeral, with hearse, coaches, coal-black horses, and nodding plumes, gliding along the winding avenue of Swain's lane, shaded with overhanging trees, must have an imposing effect as it approaches the cemetery. Swain's lane runs along that part of Highgate hill called Traitors' hill, from the circumstance of the confederates of Guy Faux having assembled there to await the expected explosion of the gunpowder placed under the Parliament house, on the memorable 5th of November, 1605. The cemetery, for the most part, is spread out before

It is a steep acclivity, of some nineteen or twenty acres, with a sựrface beautifully varied; now rising into swelling hills, bedecked with shrubs and flowers, and now exhibiting, on every hand, the monuments of the dead. Column, pyramid, sarcophagus, tomb, vase, and sculptured stone arrest the eye, with a gigantic mound, canopied with a goodly cedar; while Highgate new church, crowning the brow of the hill with its “ heavendirected spire," stands above the upper verge of this place of graves. Beauty and death seem to have entered into a compact together; for while the latter delves



cedar tree,

freely beneath the ground, the former takes undisputed possession of its surface.

Geary, the architect, and Rainsey, the landscape gardener, have united their talents in a very successful manner to decorate the cemetery; while the church above the grounds, a chaste Gothic building, from de. signs of Vulliamy, renders the picture complete. We have gained the rising ground approaching the

and the beauties of the cemetery are more fully unfolded. · Flowers in profusion are blooming in all directions. Mountain ashes, laburnums, sycamores, acacias, laurel, and rose trees, are mingled with others of longer growth. The decorated resting-places of the dead, set forth the attention of their surviving friends ; and the gay colours of the rose, the geranium, and the poppy, contrast the dark hue of the cypress : hearts-ease has been freely planted in the shadow of the tomb, and its deep purple flowers are grateful to the gaze. These Howers spread cheerfulness around them, and breathe of hope and expectation.

As I glance around, I see strangers, young, middleaged, and old, visiting the different parts of the cemetery; and yonder is a matron habited in sable, musing over a graven stone. Not only do the sculptured stones remind me of the brevity of life, but other symbols of mortality are numerous.

Sere leaves sprinkle the pathway ; faded flowrets are drooping in the sunshine; and at my feet lies a hillock of withered grass, that the scythe of the mower has cut down in its prime.

In the north-west part of the heavens, a thunder storm seems brooding in the air-; for the dark clouds are rolled together, in heavy masses, clothing with so

« AnteriorContinuar »