« ПредишнаНапред »
visitor to the place, either before or after he has examined the chapel. There are catacombs in WUiGh two thousand coffins may rest undisturbed; and the number of monuments already erected is considerable. The north side of the cemetery is much more thickly peopled with the dead than any other part, probably on account of its elevated s'tuation.
Death is indeed no respecter of persons: the infant and the aged are sleeping beneath my feet.
There is the last house of Morrison, the hygeist, the celebrated vender of pills; and yonder is the higherected monument of John St. John Long, no less fa~‘ mous than the former personage for the peculiarity of his medical practice.
‘ I . . Q
And this is Norwood! ' Green fields, grassy slopes, woods, and handsome mansions in the distance; and here is the goodly cemetery of forty acres, which has drawn me from the busy city whose cathedral is visible from this place. ‘
Ihave stepped into the entrance-lodge, and turned over the ample leaves of the great parchment book, whose pages, formed into squares, correspond, on a miniature scale, with the forty acres of burial ground immediately around me. Every tree within my view seems to flourish but the cypress. From this spot I can count five cypress trees, absoiuely withered from their natural green colour to a ruddy brown.
The monuments of the dead are at present few; ant. the cemetery presents that retired, grassy, leafy, flowery appearance, which canopied by the clear blue sky, and breathed on by the balmy air, is truly delightful. Unconsci'usly, I have been indulging one of those
musing, dreamy abstractions in which we become posthumous. I have been fancying that my faded b0dy lay beneath the turf, at the foot of the hill there; that the sun was going down; and that a friend was just plucking a flower from the grave of old Humph w y
A gravel walk is the only barrier between the consecrated and the unconsecrated parts of the ground; and as a spectator gazes on the broad acres in the centre, unbroken by a grave, and studded over with myriads of daisies, he can hardly persuade- himself that he is in a place of sepulture. Seventy thousand pounds have already been expended to render the place worthy the patronage of the public ; and certainly great praise is due to both architect and landscape gardener.
But pleasant as this place is, the thought intrudes, what chequered scenes are yet to be passed through by those whose bodies will here be deposited l what hopes and fears ! what joys and sorrows I Will they thoughtlessly live and die without God in the world? or will they finish their course with joy, and find the end thereof eternal life? There is no peace to the wicked ; but the humble Christian, whose faith is in lively exercise has peace at the last.
A thousand fears of dresdfirl name
But oh, in what a peaceful frame
With glory shining round his head,
Hela'ys him calmly on his bed,
The episcopal-looking chapel, With its octagonal tow :rs, on the brow of the hill, fronting the west, has a fine effect ; and that facing the north-west is little infericr to it. They are built with the S‘ufi'dl‘k white brick, and have a chaste and cleanly appearance. The high" boundary wall and palisades that enclose the cemetery must have been very costly. Here is a heap of clayey soil, recently thrown up from a depth of twenty feet, and yet it is stiff and dry. We carry with us our notions of comfort even in thinking of the grave, and thus a dry soil is indispensable for a burial-ground. .
I have passed through the chapels, and descended to the vaults below them, the silent receptacles of the dead. The chapels are plain, but in excellent keeping. Many would like some stained glass in the large win~ dow, and I should have no objection to a little drapery round it to increase the solemnity of the place ; but these things are not important, and can be dispensed with. The manner of lowering the coflins into the vaults, (by means of a piston working-in water underneath the chapel,) must have a striking effect on those who have never witnessed‘ any thing of the kind. While the mourners, who have attended the solemn service for the dead, are yet gazing, with eyes half blinded with tears, on the coffin that contains the body of the departed, the elevated bier, or stand, on which it lies, begins slowly and noislessly to sink, without any apparent agency. The astonished spectator can hardly believe his senses: yet lower and lower the cofiin descends, until it altogether disappears. The service is very solemnly and impressively performed. I am told, that at a funeral, a few days ago, in an assembly of at least a hundred persons, scarcely was a dry eye seen in the chapel.
While walking in the grounds, the sound of youthful voices reaches me. The boys of the neighbouring behool, near the entrance of the cemetery, have rushed into their play-ground ; and all is liberty, and life, and rnerriment. Happy boyhood! The cares of the world light not on thy joyous brow, nor do its manifold sorrows rest more than a moment on thy heart.
As I leave the cemetery, a flood of light is pouring down from the south-west 0n the place; and crimson and gold, and an unbearable blaze of glory, mark where the declining sun is careering along the skies. Let me hear in mind, that whether the last house is shrouded with gloom or gilt with glory, the heritage of the \righteous is a life of peace, a death of hope and a. resurrection to eternal joy.
U ' i ‘ I!
I am now at Highgate, having had a pleasant walk here from Highhury with a friend. Part of the road has been along retired lanes, and the other part mostly across green fields ; the pure breath of heaven has blown around us, the clouds have sailed along majestically over our heads, and varied conversation has made a ramble, agreeable in itself, yet more agreeable. The North London cemetery is before us; and erected on its entrance, facing the south-east, stands an abbey-like kind of edifice, of miniature size, with an octangular and ornamental dome. In this building, which possesses every accommodation for the purpose, with a large room and private gallery for infirm mourners and invalids, the solemn service is performed ; a window of painted glass, representing the ascension of our Saviour, adorns its extremity, with another compartment on each side of
it e..ecuted in colours of great beauty. But where is the O\).
artist whose hand so recently called into existence these trophies of his skill? Alas ! he lies motionless: his dust is now reposing in the cemetery. He has, no doubt, stood where I am standing. Doubtless, his eyes have sparkled with unwanted lustre while gazing on the luminous exhibition before me; but now he is returned to the dust. Thus, at the very threshold of the cemetery, and while looking at the bright emblem of immortality, I am once more reminded that “there is but a step between me and death.”
The solemn procession of a funeral, with hearse, coaches, coal-black horses, and nodding plumes, gliding along the winding avenue of Swain’s lane, shaded with overhanging trees, must have an imposing effect as it approaches the cemetery. Swain’s lane runs along that part of Highgate hill called Traitors’ hill, from the circumstance of the confederates of Guy Faux having assembled there to await the expected explosion of the gun.powder placed under the Parliament house, on the memorable 5th of November, 1605.
The cemetery, for the most part, is spread out before us. It is a steep acclivity, of some nineteen or twenty acres, with a surface beautifully varied ; now rising into swelling hills, bedecked with shrubs and flowers, and now exhibiting, on every hand, the monuments of the dead. Column, pyramid, sarcophagus, tomb, vase, and sculptured stone arrest the eye, with a gigantic mound, canopied with a goodly cedar; while Highgate new church, crowning the brow of the hill with its “ heavendirected spire,” stands above the upper verge of this place of graves. Beauty and death seem to have entered into a compact together ; for while the latter delves