« PreviousContinue »
The staircase, the Shakspeare recess, and the south and north drawing-rooms, have their several attractions; and the Tivoli recess, the morning-room, the model-room, and recess, are well supplied with stores of art, for the gratification of the virtuoso and visitor of leisure. I have been most struck with the drawings, etchings, medals, and engravings. The number of these is great, and many of them are beautiful. The ivory table, richly carved and gilded, and the ivory chairs around it, possess an interest beyond that arising from the excellency of their workmanship. They were formerly in the royal palace of Tippoo Saib, at Seringapatam. Thus the sword of war disperses what the hand of power collects together.
What a profusion of paintings, drawings, etchings, engravings, miniatures, sculpture, busts, models, casts, medals, medallions, vases, bronzes, terracottas, gems, cameos, intaglios, fragments, and other curiosities, have I passed without notice! A few hours have been spent pleasantly ; and I feel grateful that such depositories of costly things are so easy of access! To such as would inspect, in a small space, a great collection of works of art and vertu, Sir John Soane's Museum will afford much interest and pleasure.
ing sias, casto cems, ties,
CEMETERIES OF LONDON.
Hardly ever do I feel myself in so peaceful a frame of mind, as when silently musing in the resting-places of the dead. The green hillocks and the grave-stones are fit objects for an old man to regard ; and sin and death, and time and eternity, are suitable subjects for his reflections.
Sin and sorrow may be called twins, for they both appear to have entered the world together ; and if they are not always seen walking side by side, the latter is continually found to be treading on the heels of the former. No sooner did our first parents sin, than they hid themselves, through fear, from the presence of the Lord. No sooner did they forfeit paradise by transgression, than the sentence of death was passed upon them : “ Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return,” Gen, iii. 19. Truly, indeed, is it said in Holy Writ, “ The wages of sin is death,” Rom. vi. 23. And ever since those earlier days, have feebleness and strength, age and youth, gone down to
the grave: we not only hear, but see, the humiliation of mortal man. “One dieth in his full strength, being wholly at ease and quiet ; another dieth in the bitterness of his soul,” Job xxi. 23, 25. And thus will it be with the goodliest and the greatest, the mightiest and the meanest, until death shall be swallowed up in victory. “They shall lie down alike in the dust, and the worms shall cover them,” Job xxi. 26.
Under this general sentence of death, the committal of the lifeless body to the ground becomes a matter of importance. Where the inhabitants of a place are few, the burial of the dead is attended with little difficulty. The wilderness and solitary place of the savage, and the retired villages of civilized life, are differently situated, in this respect, to the populous town and crowded city. In the latter, sad spectacles are often seen, and fearful consequences frequently follow the unhealthy accumulation of the remains of the dead. From these evils, the establishment of cemeteries, somewhat remote from the busy haunts of men, appears to be the simplest, if not the only cure.
A brief sketch of the cemeteries of modern London may not be unwelcome ; but as part of them are, as yet, but imperfectly formed, it would be time thrown away to dwell upon them. The crowded graves, the grassless ground, the reposeless publicity, the noxious vapours, and the objectionable sights of city churchyards, have long cried aloud for a more decorous and desirable interment of the dead.
The cemetery at Stoke Newington is regarded by many with much interest, from the circumstance of its being formed in Abney Park, where Dr. Watts so often strolled, while residing, for thirty-six years, in the hospitable mansion of Sir Thomas Abney and his excellent family.
I was walking, slowly, from grave to grave, in this cemetery, a short time ago, meditating somewhat mournfully on the past. All at once joyous sounds burst upon me. I had approached the large cedar tree, which lifts its head high, and widely spreads its dark and gloomy branches, in the upper part of the cemetery ; when, judging from the fluttering among the boughs in every part, as well as from the goodly chorus that regaled my ears, at least a hundred of the feathered race were holding a jubilee of joy among the shadowy recesses of that aged tree.
There are few things, when the heart is sad, more afflictive to the spirit than the sound of mirth and revelry from human beings. Music, and songs, and laughter, make the sad heart sadder than ever ; but this is not the case with the music and songs of the feathered creation. In sorrow, we are rather soothed than afflicted by the warbling of birds. I found it so. From the graves my eyes were raised to the branches of the old cedar tree, and thence to the clear, blue, bright sky, and my thoughts went upwards to that heaven where neither sin nor sorrow are allowe to enter.
When I walked, slowly, among the graves, my reflections were mournful. “Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”—“We spend our years as a tale that is told.”—“We must needs die, and are as water spilt on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again.”—“Man dieth, and wasteth away; yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he?” But after I had heard the happy birds in the cedar tree, my thoughts took a contented, a hopeful, and a joyous turn. “It is the Lord ; let him do what seemeth him good.” — “ There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.”—“ I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.”—“Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord.”—“God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave; for he shall receive me.” Mourner, whoever thou art, He who can make the shadowy branches of the darkest tree in a burial-ground vocal with joy and gladness, can animate thy spirit in the darkest hour, filling thy heart with thanksgiving, and thy mouth with praise.
At last I have arrived at Old Brompton. This West of London and Westminster Cemetery differs considerably from all the other modern burial