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Cottager's MonthlyVisitor.

MARCH, 1824.


In passing the house of a stone-cutter, a short time ago, I saw several grave-stones near his door, and particularly a large and handsome one just finished, and very richly ornamented. After the name and description of the person for whom it was intended, I read this sentence:

"Here my dust lays, in hopes of a joyful resurrection."

I could not help lamenting, that, when surviving friends had evidently been at much cost to pay a tribute of respect to the memory of their deceased relative, the stone should be literally spoiled by the needless introduction of a line which was neither sense nor grammar. I was naturally led to the consideration of grave-stone inscriptions in general, and to lament the little attention which is usually paid to so interesting a subject. Perhaps the very worst poetry to be found in our language is in our church yards; so that, in reading the inscriptions upon tombs, it is sometimes difficult to prevent ideas coming into the mind which are quite át variance with the sanctity of the place. This is not the case merely in one or two country villages, but in almost every parish in the kingdom. Unpoetical and uninstructive verses, and, what seems

No. 39.-VOL. IV. F


strange, the very same verses are to be found in almost every church-yard we enter.

A circumstance which I witnessed a few years ago served to explain this. A villager, who had formerly been a servant of the squire of the parish, died; and his widow, intending to shew her respect for his memory, had put herself to the expense of a handsome grave-stone; and wishing to have a few verses at the bottom of it, she very wisely came to the clergyman of the parish requesting his assistance in helping her to select such as he most approved. The list of Epitaphs, which she brought him to choose from, was contained in a dirty book which had been lent to her by the stone-cutter, and which was, on such occasions, no doubt, submitted by him to every one of his customers who wished to add a pious tribute to the memory of a deceased friend. Now this book contained all the common-place Epitaphs which we generally see in our church-yards ;-a very bad collection indeed! And it is probable that this book is in the hands of almost every grave-stone cutter in England; and this will account for the Epitaphs in our church-yards being generally alike, and generally bad. This is a subject well worthy of attention : 'as an improvement in the general style of our Epitaphs might be productive of highly beneficial effects. Whenever strangers, in passing through a town, are led to pause awhile for the sake of examining the objects of interest which the place affords, they generally visit the Church-yard : and, when-meditations the most interesting and instructive, might have been excited, often will the perusal of the strange and absurd Epitaphs which they read, drive away every hallowed feeling which the scene around them was calculated to inspire. Children, too, are very fond of reading the inscriptions on grave. stones; and many a child can repeat, by heart, every Epitaph 'in his parish Church-yard. And

what a vast difference it must make whether a ehild's head be filled with good poetry, and right religion, or whether it is stored with false notions conveyed in bad grammar and bad verse. The following Epitaph is in almost every Chureh-yard in the kingdom

Afiction sore, long time I bore,

Physicians were in vain;
Till death did seize, as God did please,

And case me of my pain. Now what do we learn by this jingling verse, but that the subject of it died, after a long and afflicting sickness?

The following lines, too, are to be found almost

every where.

Farewell, vain world, I've seen enough of thee,
I value not what thou canst say of me;
Tby-smiles I court pot, nor thy frowns I fear,

All's one to me, my head lies quiet here. Now what sentiment is there here to make amends for such bad verses? I remember these lines being put over the grave of a very loose and profligate character, who, whilst he was alive, had, as they say, " nobody's good word,” and he seems, by his epitaph, to rejoice that all his troubles are over. Is this the right sentiment to be expressed by such a man? Does it not rather lead us to lament,-in addition to the misery in which he lived -the ignorance in which he died.

It certainly is much to be wished that those persons, who are themselves incompetent to chuse an epitaph for a deceased relative, should take the opinion of some judicious friend, who would be able to give them such advice as might make their offering a real tribute of respect. The clergyman of the parish might always be consulted; and, if this were generally done, we might hope, in time, to-see a better style of epitaphs introduced, than we have at present, into our burying grounds.

It is highly desirable, too, that, if stone-cutters keep a book of epitaphs by them, it should be a better book.

We have occasionally been favoured by our Correspondents with epitaphs; and there are some feu good ones perhaps to be found in many Churchyards. If these were brought together, and some original ones added to them, surely a collection might be made, from which even the ignorant might safely choose.

We shall really feel much obliged to such of our readers, as are acquainted with any real, good, Christian-like epitaphs, to favour us with them; and, if we are not mistaken in our guess at the signatures of some of our Correspondents, we know that they could add some valuable original Christian poetry to the existing stock. By means of our little work, such epitaphs might become generally known, and probably be the means of producing an improvement so much wanted, and so important. How pleasing, and how instructive,,a visit to a Church-yard might be, if we could generally find such' verses as those at Brading, in the Isle of Wight :

Forgive, blest shade, the tributary tear,

That mourns thy exit *, from a world like this ; 1
Forgive the wish that would have kept thee here,
And stay'd thy progress to the seats of bliss.

No more confin’d to groy'ling scenes of night,

No more a tenant pent in mortal clay;
Now should we rather hail thy glorious flight,
And trace thy journey to the realms of day."

: V:

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SOBERNESS. COMMODORE Anson, and the crew of his ship, the Centurion, after having suffered incredible hardships of fatigue and hunger, at length reached the uninhabited island of Tinian." Whilst their ship was at anchor, their plan was to put her in repair after the dangerous state to which by storms and tempests she had been reduced; and they hoped too that the sickly crew would, by residing for a time on shore, be restored to health. But a new disaster reduced them to a miserable state. Whilst a part of the crew was on shore, a tremendous storm arose, and when they awoke in the morning, the ship was gone, and they had no expectation of ever seeing

her again.

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Some of them were ready to give themselves up to despair, but the Commodore endeavoured to cheer them, whilst at the same time he found it difficult to hide his own melancholy forebodings. He told his men that they might still, some day, see their ship again ; but he at the same time exhorted them cheerfully to prepare for the worst. And the account of their proceedings will shew what diligence and perseverance can do.

They had a Spanish bark with them; but this was far too small to carry them all. The Commodore therefore proposed that they should hale her on shore, and undertake the difficult work of lengthening her twelve feet, so that they might all venture to go on board her, and thus attempt to reach China. But the resolution and industry of all the men was reedful for such an undertaking; and the Commodore said that he would expect from no man greater exertions than he was willing to undergo himself. He represented to them the importance of saving time, and urged them to set about the work immediately. It was, however, some days

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