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Are we no longer to think of them as friends, but to mistrust them as enemies? If so, farewell at once, to all those generous sympathies that connect man with angels, and redeem the baser qualities of his nature.
For my own part, contemplative from habit, and from choice, I can feel no pleasure in society, equal to what I derive from rambling through a church yard. Here I lose my worldly identity, and stand upon the isthmus between two seas, the past and the future. Seated upon some time-worn sepulchre, I enter into the soul-stirring solemnity of the scene. The landscape of my intellect is enlarged by meditation, the winds of heaven blow over it, and I hear the wing of cherubim rustling amid its inmost recesses. Memory rushes like a torrent upon my mind. Hopes blighted-friends buried-feelings chilled or forgotten, all-all rise to view arrayed in the same sweet freshness which they wore in the morning of existence. Such is the case at present. The shadowy forms of those whom I have loved, now flit before my mind, like the spectral race of Banquo before Macbeth. In their presence I live over again the days that are past, and only when I cast my eyes upon the grey flag-stone, do I feel that they are gone for ever.
How beautiful is the spot where I am seated,
how still the landscape that sleeps beneath me. There is hardly breath enough to stir yon grove of elms, for even the rank nettle stands unshaken on the sod. That small mound of earth which chequers the western quarter of the church yard, records the decease of some lowly village maiden. What was her simple tale? she died perhaps of a broken heart, that malady of young and susceptible females. I can image her gradual decay. It was peaceful as the death of summer, noiseless as the expiring whisper of the breeze. She stole from the world as from a revel, and bade good night to her friends in the hopes of a happier morrow. The stages of her decline were tardy— dejected spirits, timid shyness, tenderness almost infantine, a fading eye, and a sunken cheek, all conspired to snap the slender ligaments which bound her to the world. At length her cares are ended :
"After life's fitful fever she sleeps well,
In yon westernmost corner of the grove, I perceive another little tomb, erected to the memory of a
parent and an orphan. Who was he that sleeps beneath it? A father perhaps who had survived his children, and stood like a leafless tree alone in the autumn of his days. His end naturally engenders a serious train of musing, but the death of the young girl extorts a bitterer pang. When age sinks into the tomb, although we mourn we are easily appeased, for grey hairs are associated with the sepulchre. But there is something inexpressibly awful, when innocence, love, and beauty are thus wrenched from the world. In vain we strive to connect the irrelevant ideas of youth and death, "for when doth winter come 'ere yet sweet spring has flown."
For myself, I can pass by the tomb of a man with somewhat of a calm indifference; but when survey the grave of a female, a sigh involuntarily escapes me. With the holy name of woman I associate every soft, tender, and delicate affection. I think of her as the young and bashful virgin, with eyes sparkling, and cheeks crimsoned with each impassioned feeling of her heart; as the kind and affectionate wife, absorbed in the exercise of her domestic duties; as the chaste and virtuous matron, tired with the follies of the world, and preparing for that grave into which she must so soon descend. Oh! there is something in contem
plating the character of a woman, that raises the soul far, far above the vulgar level of society. She is formed to adorn and humanize mankind, to sooth his cares, and strew his path with flowers. In the hour of distress, she is the rock on which he leans for support, and when fate calls him from existence, her tears bedew his grave. Can I look down upon her tomb then without emotion? Man has always justice done to his memory-woman, never. The pages of history lie open to the one, but the meek and unobtrusive excellencies of the other, sleep with her, unnoticed in the grave. Such perhaps was the case with this village maiden. In her may have shone the genius of the poet, with the virtues of the saint-the energy of the man, with the tender softness of the woman. She too may have passed unheeded, along the sterile path-way of her existence, and felt for others as I now feel for her.—
The fear of death, which forms the bug-bear of existence to the many, is to me a matter of indifference. I can calmly contemplate the hour, when I shall slumber as soundly as the village girl, and provided, that when this idle dream of life is over, I could lie in so secluded a spot as Llansaddon church yard, with a little sunshine to brighten on my tomb, a few flowers to wave above it, and a
few friends to gladden at my memory; I would this instant be ready to depart. Nor is the boast a vain-glorious one, for life can only be cherished in proportion to the happiness it confers. Upon this principle, Lord Chesterfield looked calmly forward to his decease; because the blessings of existence had long since palled upon his taste.
I know one young metaphysician who dreads the idea of dissolution, from a mere physical timidity, and another, who shrinks from it, because a dreamy doubt hangs like a thick cloud upon its confines. This is the most pardonable weakness. I remember that when I ventured to explore the subterranean cavern of Cerig-cennan, I was partly deterred from the deep and rayless obscurity that pervaded it. I could distinguish nothing; all before me was a sombre gloom, and this very uncertainty increased the fever of my apprehensions. Such is the case with death; were its consequences fully developed, we might arm our minds with courage to endure them; but the doubt that shrouds it in darkness, inflames our imagination, until we work ourselves up to a state of ineffable disquietude.
"Aye! but to die, and go we know not whither-To lie in cold obstruction and to rot;
This pitiless warm motion, to become