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sweetest flowers had drooped and died; and that now, even now, it was to be laid in the earth's cold bosom.
4. I had seen the child in its guileless beauty, when it was a thing all glowing with health, innocence, and joy. I had seen it folded in the arms of her who bore it, in all the overwhelming fondness of a mother's love. But now her firstborn blessing, her first, last, and only one, slept; not on the soft bosom of a mother's tenderness, but with the quiet dead! Death! death! how lovely thou canst be!
5. Though pale and lifeless, it wore a smile passionless and pure as the cherub of immortality; it had nothing of the corpse about it but its whiteness, nothing of the grave but its silence. So beautiful it seemed, like a sportive lamb, decked with a flowery garland for the sacrifice, I could fain have lain down by its side in the cold bosom of our common mother, in the dark and silent valley.
6. Thou weepest, childless mother. Ah! well thou mayest. The Son of God wept at the tomb of his friend; and thou mournest thy first-born. Hard is it for thee to lay thy loved one in the damp earth, beneath the cold clods of the valley; hard it is to reflect that this, thy child of peerless beauty, will never more raise its rosy lips to thine, in all the fondness of childhood's warm affection. Ah! there are recollections that weigh upon the soul even to overpowering.
7. Memory tells thee thou art desolate. It tells, too, of playful smiles, of a thousand soft and winning ways that twine around the mother's heart; it tells of the sweetest wild throbbings of unspeakable bliss that were thine, which softly soothed it to slumber and repose. Now the foliage of the cypress will be its shelter, and the narrow house its abiding place; the nursery will no more resound with its gladsome mirth; the cradle in which it had so often reposed in quiet is now desolate. Thou weepest, childless mother!
8. The time is come when she may gaze once more upon her sleeping boy, ere the pall is settled upon his lifeless brow. O! the bitter agony of that moment. One long, agonizing kiss upon his marble forehead, and he is shut from her view.
The long train of weeping friends gathered around a fresh dug grave. The coffin was lowered into its final restingplace, in the vale of solitude and silence. The spirit of him who was so lovely here had, long ere this, crossed the dark waters, and is safely landed upon the flowery coast of a world of fadeless bloom!
SORROW FOR THE DEAD.
[The reader may note the emphatic words which are repeated in the following piece, and tell how such words should be read. See Rule 3, for Emphasis, p. 19.]
1. THE Sorrow for the dead is the only sorrow from which we refuse to be divorced. Every other wound we seek to heal, every other affliction to forget; but this wound we consider it a duty to keep open; this affliction we cherish and brood over in solitude.
2. Where is the mother who would willingly forget the infant that perished like a blossom from her arms, though every recollection is a pang? Where is the child that would willingly forget the most tender of parents, though to remember be but to lament? Who, even in the hour of agony, would forget the friend over whom he mourns? Who, even when the tomb is closing upon the remains of her he most loved, when he feels his heart, as it were, crushed in the closing of its portal, would accept of consolation that must be bought by forgetfulness?
3. No; the love which survives the tomb is one of the noblest attributes of the soul. If it has its woes, it has likewise its delights; and when the overwhelming burst of grief is calmed into the gentle tear of recollection, when the sudden anguish and the convulsive agony over the present ruins of all that we most loved is softened away into pensive medita
tion on all that it was in the days of its loveliness, who would root out such a sorrow from the heart.
4. Though it may sometimes throw a passing cloud over the bright hour of gayety, or spread a deeper sadness over the hour of gloom, yet who would exchange it even for the song of pleasure or the burst of revelry? No; there is a voice from the tomb sweeter than song. There is a remembrance of the dead to which we turn even from the charms of the living.
5. O, the grave! the grave! It buries every error, covers every defect, extinguishes every resentment. From its peaceful bosom spring none but fond regrets and tender recollections. Who can look upon the grave even of an enemy, and not feel a compunctious throb that he should ever have warred with the poor handful of earth that lies moldering before him?
6. But the grave of those we loved, what a place for meditation! There it is that we call up in long review the whole history of virtue and gentleness, and the thousand endearments lavished upon us almost unheeded in the daily intercourse of intimacy. There it is that we dwell upon the tenderness, the solemn, awful tenderness of the parting scene.
7. The bed of death, with all its stifled griefs, its noiseless attendants, its mute, watchful assiduities! The last testimonies of expiring love, the feeble, fluttering, thrilling, O, how thrilling pressure of the hand. The last fond look of the glazing eye, turning upon us even from the threshold of existence. The faint, faltering accents struggling in death to give one more assurance of affection.
8. Ay, go to the grave of buried love, and meditate! There settle the account with thy conscience for every past benefit unrequited, every past endearment unregarded, of that departed being who can never never -never return to be soothed by thy contrition!
9. If thou art a child, and hast ever added a sorrow to the soul, or a furrow to the silver brow of an affectionate parent; if thou art a husband, and hast ever caused the fond bosom
that ventured its whole happiness in thy arms, to doubt one moment of thy kindness or thy truth; if thou art a friend, and hast ever wronged in thought, or word, or deed, the spirit that generously confided in thee; if thou art a lover, and hast ever given one unmerited pang to that true heart which now lies cold and still beneath thy feet; then be sure that every unkind look, every ungracious word, every ungentle action, will come thronging back upon thy memory, and knocking dolefully at thy soul; then be sure that thou wilt lie down sorrowing and repentant on the grave, and utter the unheard groan, and pour the unavailing tear, more deep, more bitter, because unheard and unavailing.
10. Then weave thy chaplet of flowers, and strew the beauties of nature about the grave; console thy broken spirit, if thou canst, with these tender, yet futile tributes of regret; but take warning by the bitterness of this thy contrite affliction over the dead, and henceforth be more faithful and affectionate in the discharge of thy duties to the living.
THE CLOSING OF THE YEAR.
1. 'Tis midnight's holy hour, and silence now
The still and pulseless world. Hark! on the winds
a Knell; funeral tolling.
Young spring, bright summer, autumn's solemn form,
'Tis a time
Within the deep,
For memory and for tears.
That specter lifts
In its swift course
Dirge; a funeral song.