Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

like a

66

burial-place, presents you with the headless trunk of an individual, from whose severed throat the gushing blood is spirting up fountain, while the head itself is pillowed on the clasped hands!

Many of the more ancient among the tombs are very richly and elaborately wrought; but all the modern ones are perfectly simple ; and you seldom pass the spot without seeing groups of people seated upon the graves, beneath the shadow of the trees, talking, and even smoking. *

* Death has no gloom for the natives of the East.

- The Turkish cemetery stretches along the slope of the hill, behind the barracks, and descends far into the valley ; it is thickly planted. Cypresses form a dense shade, beneath which the stall headstones gleam out, white and ghastly. The grove is intersected by footpaths, and here and there a green glade lets in the sunshine to glitter on many a gilded tomb. Plunge into the thick darkness of the more covered spots, and for a moment you will almost think that you stand amid the ruins of some devastated city. You are surrounded by what appear, for an instant, to be the myriad fragments of some mighty whole,—but the

* In reading Miss Pardoe's interesting account, due allowance must be made for the peculiarities of the religion and the civil customs of the inhabitants; but place the whole tale in contrast with the desecrating customs of the thickly-populated districts of England, with reference to the dead, and the Turk will bear the palm.

gloom has deceived you—you are in the midst of a necropolis—a City of the Dead.”

“ The Turks have a strange superstition attached to this cemetery—they believe that on particular anniversaries sparks of fire are emitted from many of the graves and lose themselves among the boughs of the cypresses. The idea is at least highly poetical.”

*

*

*

“But Constantinople boasts of no burialplace of equal beauty with that of Scutari, and probably the world cannot produce such another, either as regards extent, or pictorial effect. A forest of the finest cypresses extending over an immense space, clothing hill and valley, and overshadowing, like a huge pall, thousands of dead, is seen far off at sea, and presents an object at once striking and magnificent. Most of the trees are of gigantic height, and their slender and spiral outline, cutting sharply against the clear sky, is graceful beyond expression. The Turks themselves prefer the great cemetery of Scutari to all others; for, according to an ancient prophecy, in which they place the most implicit faith, the followers of Mahonnet are, ere the termination of the world, to be expelled from Europe ;* and

* Mr. Carne, in his Letters from the East, has the following remarks on this cemetery—“ The Turkish buryingground stands on the slope of a hill, at a small distance from the town, near that of the Jews, and is encircled by a deep grove of cypress trees. No guard or shade around a cemetery can be so suitable as that of this noble tree; with its waveless and mournful foliage it looks like the very as they are jealous of committing even their ashes to the keeping of the Giaour, they covet, above all things, a grave in this Asiatic wilderness of tombs. Thus, year after year, the cypress forest extends its boundaries and spreads further and wider its dense shadows; generation after generation sleeps in the same thickly peopled solitude; and the laughing vineyard and grassy glade disappear beneath the encroachments of the ever-yawning sepulchre—the living yield up their space to the dead- the blossoming fruit trees are swept away, and the funeral and feathering boughs of the dark grave tree tower in their stead.

*

*

“ I remember nothing more beautiful than the aspect of the burying ground of Scutari, from the road which winds in front of the summer palace of the Princess Haybitoullah. The crest of the hill is one dense mass of dark foliage, while the slope is only partially clothed with trees, that advance and recede in the most graceful curves; and the contrast between the deep dusky green of the cypresses and the soft bright tint of the young fresh grass in the open

emblein of mortality. The Orientals love that every thing should be sad and impressive round the abodes of the dead, which they never approach but with the deepest reverence, and they often sit for hours in their kiosques on the Bosphorus, gazing with a mournful pleasure on the shores of Asia, where the ashes of their fathers are laid; for the rich Turk of Stamboul generally wishes to be carried after death to the Asiatic side, which he believes destined to be the last restingplace and empire of his countrymen when the fair men from the north shall have driven them from Europe

L

spaces between them, produces an effect almost magical, and which strikes you as being more the result of art than accident, until you convince yourself by looking around, that it is not to its extent alone that this noble cemetery owes its gloom ; for its site is eminently picturesque and beautiful. One one side an open plain separates it from the channel ; on the other it is bounded by a height clothed with vines and almond trees; the houses of Scutari touch upon the border, and even mingle with its graves in the rear, while before it spreads a wide extent of cultivated land, dotted with habitations.

*

*

*

*

“ It is a beautiful custom, that of burying the dead upon the very path of the living! It destroys so much of the gloom which imagination is prone to drape about the grave—it creates so much more of common interest. The Turk smokes his chibouk, with his back resting against a turban-crested gravestone; the Greek spreads his meal upon a tomb: the Armenian shelters himself from the sunshine beneath the boughs that overshadow the burial-places of his people; the women sit in groups and talk of their homes and little ones, among the ashes of their ancestors; and the children gather the wild flowers that grow amid the graves, as gaily as though death had never entered there."

AMERICAN CEMETERIES.

The examples of the Old World have not been thrown away upon the inhabitants of the New, and the United States now possess cemeteries hardly inferior to the models after which they are formed.

The provident arrangements which the Americans make in designing the plans of their towns and cities, always keeping in view the health, the comfort, and commercial convenience of the inhabitants, induce a feeling of surprise that their sagacity should not have been earlier exercised with reference to the subject of cemetery interment.

It will not, perhaps, be necessary, or convenient to our general purpose, to do more than to describe the cemetery of Mount Auburn, near Boston; both because it may be considered a kind of prototype of the rest, is an object of transcendant interest to the traveller, and, in its constitution and general arrangements, is in a great degree similar to our own cemetery at Abney Park.

The tract of land which bears the name of Mount Auburn is situated on the main road leading from Cambridge to Watertown, is partly within the limits of both towns, and distant about four miles from Boston.

Mount Auburn was formerly known by the name of Stone's Wood, the estate having lineally descended through the family of Stone, from an early period after the settlement of the country.

« НазадПродовжити »