Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

once adopted by the Directors of the Abney Park Cemetery Company, and their mode of registry is, therefore, of equal benefit to the public, with that of similar institutions.

In concluding the account of the constitution of the cemetery, I cannot help inviting attention to the opportunities which its unfettered character affords for erecting cenotaphs, or other monuments commemorative of great and excellent men. The generality of mankind pass from Time comparatively unnoticed, and are soon forgotten ; and yet each succeeding age has produced individuals distinguished above others, whose names deserve to be rescued from oblivion ; or, whose actions have entitled them to the grateful recollection of survivors and of posterity.

Sepulchral monuments are well adapted to fulfil this object, and may have the effect of inciting to emulation and to virtue. In the early ages of the world this idea was not strange or unacceptable ; for we read that Jacob set up a monument over the grave of Rachael, and the proud Absalom did not allow his name to go down to posterity without a monumental pillar.

The intimate connexion which exists between the memory of Watts, and the Abney Park Cemetery, seems to point him out as amongst the most fit recipients of this posthumous honour; and the author is anxious to draw attention to a beautiful design for a cenotaph to the memory of Dr. Watts, which forms the frontispiece to this volume, for which he is indebted to the taste of Mr. James

Nixon, the sculptor. The group at the base represents the interesting incident in the early life of Watts, which has been before alluded to; and if tradition has recorded the fact, that the youthful mother was in the habit of sitting on the steps of her husband's gaol, nursing her “ child of promise,” I trust that the breathing chisel of the sculptor may perpetuate the husband's submission—the wife's and the mother's love and their son's exalted fame.

It is proposed that a subscription should be raised for carrying out the object in sums not exceeding ten shillings each, so that a large number of persons may have the opportunity of contributing ; and should the proposition meet with encouragement, the author would most willingly devote the first-fruits of the profits of this volume, (should the patronage it may receive produce any,) in purchasing the ground necessary for the purpose, of the Directors of the Company. The author will be gratified in receiving any suggestions from those who may approve of the plan, and offers his humble voluntary services to any committee which may be formed to accomplish it.

THE SOLEMN DEDICATION OF THE CEMETERY.

On the 20th of May, 1840, the Abney Park Cemetery was, by a special religious service, dedicated as an asylum for the dead, or, as the free translation of the original Greek “Koime

[ocr errors]

terion" more eloquently expresses it, “ a sleeping-place till the resurrection.”

It was considered that the occasion of laying the foundation stone of the chapel, would present a fitting opportunity for the performance of the ceremony.

The Right Honourable the Lord Mayor, accompanied by Mr. Sheriff Wheelton, the Directors of the Company, and a large assemblage of the Proprietors and visitors, amounting to nearly 1500 persons, congregated under a marquee

erected for the occasion. The foundation stone was laid by the Lord Mayor, a brass plate, with the following inscription, being first deposited in a cavity in the stone prepared for the purpose :

The foundation stone of the chapel of the Abney Park Cemetery was laid by the Right Honorable Sir Chapman Marshall, Knt., Lord Mayor of the City of London (in the presence of the Sheriffs of the City of London and the County of Middlesex and a large assembly of the proprietors of the Cemetery and their friends) this 20th day of May, in the third year of the Reign of our Sovereign Lady Queen Victoria and in the year

of our Lord 1840. “ George COLLISON Solicitor and Secretary.

Designed by William Hosking, F.S.A. Architect and Civil Engineer. Erected by John Jay, Builder, 65, London Wall, City.”

After the stone was deposited, the Lord Mayor and Sheriff retired to their seats on the platform, when the Rev. Mr. Jefferson, the Dissenting Chaplain of the Cemetery, offered up an extempore prayer, at the conclusion of

which, the Rev. Mr. Archer, minister of the Secession Church, Oxendon Street, who had kindly, and at a short notice, assented to the request of the Directors to speak on the occasion, delivered the following Oration or Address :

MY LORD MAYOR-LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,

The occasion which has called us together, and the spot where we have met, are deeply affecting and solemn. We are assembled to devote this ground as the resting-place of the dead—for the undisturbed, protracted sleep of their remains; and we are assembled where, if tradition be correct, there are associations to bind us to the men of past centuries—and where some now present may form links to unite this day and place with remote ages. We commune with the dead; their abode is our subject, and whose sensibilities does it not move ?

I know it may be said, Why think of the templewhy lavish ornament on it when the inhabitant has fled? when breath-feeling-thought—MAN has gone? The question is cold-freezingly, unnaturally cold-as an appeal to experience, to the heart, demonstrates. Why do we impatiently visit the scenes of infancy--where, nursed in the affection, we have listened to the counsels, of age? Why, but because the past is hallowed—and nature, whose impulses are stronger than the dictates of philosophy, irresistibly guides us there? Does any one then say, my Lord, how valueless the breathless frame !

Our ap

peal is to experience—not calculation ; to man---not the sophist. How do we cling to the body when the last spark of life has fled !--stealing into the chamber where it now rests — unconscious of our presence—its features so calm and placid in the dim religious twilight, sympathetic with the occasion and the emotions of the mourner--where the full glare of noonday would offend the soul as incongruous with the sacredness of the scene! How do we gaze upon the countenance where the traces of a wife's beauty still linger, or the expiring faint smile of parental love is fixed by death! and not till the decay and corruption of that body make its presence dangerous, and even intolerable, can we tear ourselves from its side—throwing over it, as we retire, one long deep gaze of the soul—and then, having drunk in the vision of the loved object, permit it to be buried out of our sight! All this may appear to some the drivelling of sentimentalism; and it may be their philosophy to say, Let the dead serve the interests of the living- by promoting the ends of science. With such philosophy I have no sympathy. I know that the corse cannot quiver under the dissector's knife; but who could bear the thought of the limbs of one beloved or venerated being exposed to the rude view of strangers—or to the scientific mangling of the surgeon? Who would not feel his soul lacerated by every incision on the dead, unfeeling frame? My Lord, this may not be philosophy, but it is nature ; and her voice says, Promote science as you may, but

« НазадПродовжити »