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(provided they do not offend in point of taste), collected in and around a place of worship, must promote the feeling which some of them at least were intended to excite. The lesson on mortality is most striking, when we see the earthly pomps of age after age, in the outward fashion of each period, all gathered within the same precinct; the dead, great and small, of different generations, waiting alike the Resurrection.
Still, it must be admitted that commonplace monuments and tablets have been, and continue to be, most needlessly multiplied, and that this excess might be wisely restrained. On the walls of many churches, instead of contributing to the beauty of the fabric, they are unsightly
Not only has every vacant place been seized upon, but portions of the original structure have been, and are shamefully mutilated to receive them. For example: Mr. Rickman, speaking of the ancient altar-screen at Beverley,“ unrivalled in its description of work," states “that some remarkably fine and intricate tracery has been cut away to put in some poor modern monumental tablets."* The beautiful altar-screen in the Lady Chapel of York Minster, and the screens in various other cathedrals and churches, have equally suffered. A long catalogue of similar enormities might be given, as instances of gross carelessness and depraved taste.
. In the majority of cases, why is not the simple gravestone allowed to suffice? Perhaps the very individual whose name is to be engraved on a costly monument was so averse to notoriety, that the distinctive excellence of his character consisted in those retiring qualities which never desired to travel out of the domestic circle.
6“ It is my will (the excellent Bishop Sanderson desired) that no costly monument be erected for my memory, but only a fair flat marble stone be laid over me. And I do very much desire my will may be carefully observed herein, hoping it may become exemplary to some one or other; at least, however, testifying at my death, what I have so often earnestly professed in my lifetime—my utter dislike of the vast expenses laid out in funeral solemnities, with very little benefit to any, which, if bestowed in pious and charitable works, might redound to the public or private benefit of many persons.” Dr. Wells requested “to have no stone set up to his memory;
» but he did leave a monument in his parish, for he rebuilt the parsonage at his own cost. Mr. Newman justly observes that “it is always a satisfaction to have evidence that an author is writing under the practical influence of his own principles." Sir Henry Wotton directed his executors to “ lay over his grave a marble stone, plain and not costly; considering that time moulders even marble to dust, for monuments themselves must die.”
· Again, how frequently does it happen that on such memorials all that is mentioned is nothing more than what the parish-register could tell us! “Most inscriptions record nothing else of the buried person, but that he was born upou one day and died upon another : the whole history of his life being comprehended in those two circumstances that are common to all mankind could not but look upon these registers
* A still more lamentable instance may be seen in the exquisite Lady Chapel, or Trinity Church, attached to Ely Cathedral.
of existence, whether of brass or marble, as a kind of satire
the departed persons, who had left no other memorial of them, but that they were born and that they died.”
• Collins, in his exquisite lines on the death of Colonel Ross, gives to that brave soldier a grave covered with turf, and tells us that
“ Aërial hands shall build his tomb,
With shadowy trophies crown'd." But men “of meaner mould, life's common clods,” are not to be thus easily satisfied. By their own testamentary directions, or by the mistaken kindness of surviving friends, tombs of a costly and substantial character are prepared for numbers, whose claims to sepulchral honours could not well be classed with those of the hero of Fontenoy. The poet's lament is not to apply to them, and, after a vast expense and waste of talent and labour, the “polished marble,” in the shape of a statue or bust, is placed upon its pedestal.'—p. 36, &c.
And the suggestion which follows is obvious :
* If, from the comparatively humble station which an individual may have occupied, or from his uneventful life, no useful lesson can be taught by the inscription on his tomb, why should not an expenditure (which in this case must be prompted by somewhat of vanity in his surviving friends) receive another and a higher direction ? Might not the cost be made instrumental to a better and a holier end ? Might it not be devoted to the service and glory of God, and to the benefit of those who worship in His house? For more than a century, mural monuments with cherubs, skulls, lamps, and twisted columns, with little variety, were permitted to deform our churches. In later days we have had the urn or the sarcophagus—strange ornaments in a Christian temple ! or a female figure, veiled with drapery, sitting under a willow, bending over a tomb, or leaning upon an extinguished torch! These designs have become wearisome and uninteresting from repetition, and unless they proceed from the chisel of a master, cannot but be wholly disregarded. It should be an object, therefore, with us all, where our influence may extend, to endeavour to restrain the passion for erecting sepulchral memorials, in order that they may be confined exclusively to those, who, from their distinguished talents and their useful lives, merit posthumous honours; and that when they are erected, due attention should always be paid to the proper disposal of them in our churches, and also to their adaptation to the character of the building, which is to contain them. But far more strongly may it be urged, that instead of costly monuments, memorials should be chosen, which, from being really useful, might be stamped with a more imperishable character.
• In pointing out another class of memorials for the dead, as substitutes for a large proportion of unimportant and unedifying monuments and tablets, the object should be to associate the names and the virtues of those who are really worthy of such commemoration with something more important and more beneficial than all that sculpture and epitaphs alone can afford. . On the death of the head of a family of rank or wealth, the more pressing wants, both spiritual and temporal, of a neighbourhood should be consulted, and a parish church, a district church or chapel, a school, almshouses, or an hospital should be erected, or enlarged, as circumstances might require. If no such building or additions to an existing building be called for, then let inquiries of the following kind be made. Does the body, or an aisle of the church of the parish, its chancel, porch, roof, tower, or spire, call for restoration? In what state are the altar and its screen, and the font? In many of our churches the altar-screens have either perished, or the original work is hidden or defaced, as we have seen, by clumsy wood-work, or by paintings, “where sprawl the saints” of artists less skilful than “Verrio or Laguerre ;"--let such be carefully restored. In others of our churches, the altars themselves and fonts will be found in a state of filth and decay disgraceful to us as members of Christ's Church, professing to hold in reverence the sacraments which He has ordained, but wholly regardless of the places of their celebration.'
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We have wished to let Mr. Markland speak for himself, because a good man's voice, whose acts are like his words, is never heard in vain. And without any effort at deep research, or philosophy, or eloquence-even where a writer prefers, like Mr. Markland, to speak rather in the language of others than in his own-there is a secret charm in the very absence of pretension, which cannot but tell upon a well-constituted mind.
Our object is one, to which Mr. Markland himself would far rather that we should devote the little space which can be given to these observations than to any praise of himself. on the good work which he has begun; and to urge the same suggestion, that our sepulchral monuments should be shaped hereafter to some more appropriate and religious purpose than the mere commemoration of a name by a mass of marble.
The time when this suggestion has been thrown out is peculiarly appropriate to it. The eyes of the country have been opened to a sense of its spiritual destitution. With this new sense (for new it is) has come a deep conviction upon all classes, not merely on those who view things religiously, but on the politician, the philosophical speculator, even on the worldly proprietor, to whom property is an idol, that unless some great efforts are made to place once more over our dense masses of population some more efficient teaching and guidance than the staff of a policeman, or even the bayonet of a regiment, society must be disorganized; and with this must come ruin to every interest, worldly or unworldly alike. We have learnt at last that this teaching and guidance must be one of the heart, and of the whole man; not merely of the head, administered by doses in newspapers, and at Mechanics’ Institutes, but guaranteed and enforced with all the authority which can be given to human words by a divine
It is to carry commission, and by all good and holy appeals to human affections, appeals which can be found nowhere perfect but in the declarations and ministrations of the gospel. To the Church therefore men are looking on each side to come forward and do for the country, what no statesman, or Parliament, can hope of themselves to doto infuse into the effete limbs of the empire new life and vigour; to teach those to obey who are now disposed for anarchy; to fill those with love who are now hating; to give contentment to those who cannot be rich ; and benevolence and charity to the rich, who, if they can be brought to devote to religious and charitable purposes only a portion of their wealth, may yet preserve the remainder.
και το μεν προ χρημάτων
ουδ' επόντισε σκαφος.- Agamemnon, V. 978. And in looking round for the various resources which may be made available to this purpose, few present themselves as more obvious and more likely to be productive than the one suggested by Mr. Markland.
As a better and higher spirit revives among us, the questions must occur, especially in those moments when the heart is most softened, and the truth of things most vividly brought out by the presence of death-what is the nature of death itself; what the relations between the dead and the living ; what the proper destination of sacred buildings; what language ought to be used in them; and with what eye those whom we commemorate would regard the honour which we pay them. We shall in the same proportion learn to think more of others than of ourselves; more of the truth than of what the world will say on our own thristiness or profusion; inore, in one word, of heaven than of earth ; and then, perhaps, we may be able to form a right conception and pure taste, as on an infinite variety of other subjects, so especially on sepulchral monuments.
Their history indeed is remarkable; and well deserves to be studied by a philosophical antiquarian, not merely to trace costumes, and define periods of architecture, but as a practical illustration of the changes which have followed each other in habits of thought and action, upon the most important questions, and under the most exciting circumstances of human life. It is a listory of religion; and in the Christian period, a history of the Church; an exhibition of prevailing thought and feeling, deliberately planned, contrived for perpetuity, permitted under the sanction of the Church, and so intimately connected with the saddest realities of life, that either affectation and hypocrisy must be considered as excluded, or, if admitted, must betray a state of mind completely wedded to falsities. Mr. Markland has already enlarged his original memoir to the Oxford Architectural Society. He might find a very extensive and interesting field for still further researches, by prosecuting them in this direction; and we will venture to offer a few questions and suggestions ourselves.
It is no slight change of circumstances, nothing perhaps short of the whole Christian revelation, which was implied either directly or indirectly in the first great change from cremation to interment, which marked the rise of Christianity. How deeply must an entirely new system of belief have sunk into the popular mind, before it could have borne an alteration in those practices relating to the dead, to which it clings with the deepest superstition! What a revolution of thought in regard to the relations in which the body stands to the soul; and in which relations are comprised so much of past revealed knowledge, so much of elevated and self-disciplining moral teaching, so much of faith in a future resurrection, so many miraculous facts, on which that faith must rest! Execrantur rogos,' says Minucius, 'et damnant ignium sepulturas. Coupled with this, Christianity retained the two principal, and seemingly contradictory sentiments, which the human mind has always associated with its mortal remains. It honoured, and yet dreaded and almost loathed them, as if the strange combination of a blessing and a curse were visible in natural death, as it was supposed to exist in the case of sacrificed victims; which were, in the eyes of the heathens and of the Jews, both consecrated and pol. luted. Thus the early Christians, while they buried their dead out of their sight, lavished on them many marks of veneration and affection.
* Tertullian says, that though Christians in his time abstained from sumptuous and effeminate decorations and applications to their persons when living, yet they bestowed on their dead the most choice and erpensive spices, perfumes, odours, drugs, and ointments: they were also embalmed and entombed with great magnificence.'- Apol. 1, 42, 34. We quote from Gough—who goes on to cite, to the same effect, Origen, Eusebius, Prudentius, St. Gregory of Nyssa, &c. &c.
Perhaps no form or place of sepulture could be imagined harmonizing more completely with true reason and the spirit of the Gospel than those vast catacombs, stretching in every direction under the city of Rome, on the illustration of which so much pains have been bestowed. Originally excavated, it is probable, by the workers of pozzolana, they offered a natural refuge from persecution both for living Christians and for dead. Their long