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A GREAT MAN'S RESTING-PLACE.
BY EDWARD P. ROWSELL.
THERE are few who, during their lives, do not give a thought or two to their last earthly homes. Most persons, as death approaches, become even solicitous about those narrow receptacles which they are finally to fill. In some cases peculiar influences will prevail. The man of renown will probably wish to be laid near the scene of some great worldly success ; the mariner, who has almost passed his existence on the ocean, will be pleased with the idea of reposing within sound of its murmur; while to many a man, recollection of the village churchyard, associated with his earliest life, will lead him to think that therein, above all other places, he would desire his body should find rest in death.
But the chief thought on this subject which commonly arises in the minds of most of us is, that where those loved ones lie who have gone before should we wish to sleep when our time shall come. It is true that, to entertain this feeling, we must shut our eyes to a fallacy. We shall no more be with our friends in the grave than we are with them now, when they are beneath the sod and we are above it. Yet we dislike to criticise so soothing a fancy. Be it so. Let us think that we are reunited in the tomb, and that the eight or ten feet of earth which lie crushingly upon us bind us closely together evermore in this world. Let us continue to dream that in that narrow home are, indeed, rejoined father and mother, husband and wife, son and daughter, brother and sister, and that there they will rest in slumber unbroken, until the long darkness be over and the great morning dawn.
An eminent man lay dead, and was to be buried in Westminster Abbey. We attended to witness his interment.
The sun shone brightly upon the venerable pile, and plenty of sightseers were crowded round the gates. A funeral of any description will always excite interest. Pass through some small, poor neighbourhood, wherein one tiny house being closely shut up tells the old tale, and mark the furtive observation which that house is attracting. What are all these shy watchers looking for? They are waiting to see “it” come out. And presently the door opens, and the scared spectators behold a sight, the which, having seen, they will half regret their curiosity; for it is only a ghastly kind of pleasure that which any one can experience in looking at the tenement of the dead. How closely it corresponds to the shape of the body, small at the head, broad at the shoulders, and then tapering towards the feet. To be enclosed in this, and then to be laid ten feet in the ground, and the earth to be shovelled in, and battened down upon us, O horror! Air, air ! the bare thought suffocates us.
A moderate-sized mob may be collected in or about London by the smallest matter out of the usual course, and at the shortest notice. A pickpocket captured, an accident, a drunken wretch full of gin and abuse, even a horse which has lost its footing and is receiving a whipping correspondent to such an awful delinquency, will attract a crowd directly. So, of course, there were plenty of idlers congregated to see this great funeral.
A mob without, but a much larger mob within. We were amazed. Within the abbey we found ourselves in the midst of a huge crowd, which had evidently been gathering a long time, for the few seats provided were filled by ladies and gentlemen sitting smiling and chatting in that calm, satisfied fashion which is so galling to be witnessed by unfortunates who, leg-weary, hot, and flustered, are paying the penalty which properly attaches to all insignificance in this present world. As we were being jostled and shoved, as somebody's hat knocked our head and somebody's heel kicked our shins, as we gasped and groaned for air, as we clung to a pillar for support, as we stretched our neck till it cracked to gain a view which was not obtainable, the Earl of Carlisle walked majestically along the open space to doubtless some reserved seat where all could be seen and heard freely and without discomfort. Well, we do not complain. These things must be so. If we were all made equal tomorrow, we should be unequal the next day; so let us be contented with existing differences.
Plenty of smiling faces, my friend, and abundance of lively chat. Time getting on. Nearly one o'clock. Something to see soon. Yes, here it comes, and a tall man, with most lugubrious countenance, habited in a vestment which might be described as being saturated with gloom, and positively oozing out melancholy, hastens to the entrance. Presently he turns round and begins slowly to retrace his steps. Now we see it approaching. All is expectation. Our friend on our left cuts a joke on the appearance of the huge hatbands. Our friend opposite, who has a seat in the very front row, giggles his gratification to companions around, and points with his finger to some amusing oddities which seem to attract his attention. On passes the procession. The organ plays, the choristers chant, the crowd heaves with excitement. An almost interminable train of mourners follow. The great majority look marvellously unconcerned. They have come to show their respect to the dead. That is what they say, or will say. To the dead, friend reader. Mark ye that. They knew very little of the living, save this : that in the world he was an eminent and successful man. But, perhaps, it is desirable there should be testimony to this fact now that he is out of the world. Perhaps it is but right that those points which only profited him in this world should be held up on high and blazoned forth at the grave's foot. A great man dead has not done with earthly greatness when his body has become dust. Honour at the grave. Bring hither the trophies. Exhibit by every device—but in silence--his reputation, success, influence, wealth ; and at the same time sing aloud the nothingness of worldly greatness and the grass-like character of worldly hopes.
Much pains the officials took to arrange the mass of witnesses in a graceful curve round the grave. There we stood, huddled and weary, until the actual interment. Slowly the procession reapproached. The coffin was uncovered, and deposited at the grave-side. Yes, we saw the narrow home of the poor dust which was the occasion of all this ceremony. And as we saw it we saw something else, something which brought warmth into our heart again. The mourners were not all of them callous. Some stood there whose hearts defied the deadening influence of the miserable parade. Imagination stirred, and from that narrow tenement sprang up, not the man of renown, but the kind and faithful father. Imagination sank, the vision was gone, and oh, the bitterness of the blank
alone remaining! No wretched pomp over the dust could fill that blank. The question was, where was he now?
And then those hired voices sang that his body was buried in peace, but that his name evermore would live. The same sounds have gone forth many times before, and will issue many times again over the graves of good and bad indiscriminately. In this instance, indeed, we believe that to a happy union of largeness and ingenuity of thought in the particular pursuit which had characterised the life, there had been joined those qualities of heart which, more than all the faculties of head, we come to think of when we stand by a man's open grave.
What are the things which a man must have done in the short day of life to enable us to declare at that day's end that “his name liveth evermore”?
It was over, and we felt ourselves violently pulled by some one at our side, who intimated that “our fellows were coming this way.” fellows” were a certain distinguished body which had attended in vast force. Anxious depart, we accepted the mistake, fell into the ranks, and were soon in the
air. The open air. Dear to us in life, let it play around our grave. We have said that all of us think now and then where we should like our resting-place to be. And no wonder. Death is not unhappy at seeing some of us so strong and lusty. We walk from the grave-side, our chest expands, our eyes brighten, our limbs stretch forth. But Death only smiles. All in good time. There is another scene not far off. And even the most hardened amongst us cannot quite get rid of that thought. Where should we like to lie during the long night?
Reader, you will probably answer with us, in the open ground, with nothing intervening between our grave and the sky. "Cast away, now, the fancy we indulged at the outset, and remember that it is but dust for which we seek a temporary abode. Yet, even in pure imagination there is pleasure in thinking of that brief resting place of the body being; as it were, in the direct view of the dear havens which will have received the spirit. Nothing between it and the broad sunlight, the pale moon, the glittering stars-nothing to screen it from the frost, and snow, and rainnothing to surround it but the trees and flowers-no sound to break its stillness but the songs of birds-nothing to disturb it until the Masterhand rend its bonds, and open wide the portals of the Great Eternal World.
THE CLONMEL TRAGEDY.
A TRUE STORY.
We see the ground whereon those woes do lie,
Romeo and Juliet.
Of the character and nature of Irish murder we have many essays written, and manifold are the leading articles in the Times especially, and in other publications occasionally, denouncing it, commenting on its horrors, and dilating upon the extensive agency in organising crime which exists in the country where it is dominant. I would address myself to those who read these talented and gifted productions, who weigh the . cogency of their arguments, and who accede to the truth of their corol. laries. I would solicit their attention to the details of a fact which came before my own notice, and which lives in my memory recorded as one of those incidents which time, changes of scene, or events of more importance intervening, could never serve to obliterate from it. It is not a statement treating of the agrarian crime which so often has shown itself in that unhappy country; it is not the narrative of deeds which were the impassioned result of an injured and infuriated tenant being goaded to frenzy by a cruel and tyrannising landlord; it is not the story of the effect which designing and delusive priestcraft had produced by working on the impulsive passions of men who were sunk in barbaric ignorance or brutalising superstition; it is the “round unvarnished tale,” treating of what happened subsequent to an event of a common-place kind. It was very many years ago that I was stationed with my regiment in the town of Clonmel, in Ireland. Of all the young officers which then belonged to the corps, there was not one who, in personal appearance, talent, or gaiety of manner, could match with the youthful Frederick Clany. His fortune was ample, and his liveliness of temper, undaunted spirit and pleasantry, rendered him a universal favourite with his brother officers, and a guest whose society was much courted by all the gentry with whom he came in contact. In stature he was above the middle height, and his frame was both athletic and graceful. At the period I speak of his age was twenty-two, and there were few indeed who could excel him in feats of agility and strength; his countenance had the promise of openness and generosity, that ruddy hue of health and glow of youthful exuberance of spirit, and that faultless symmetry of features, which tended to prepossess the minds of all that he was thrown in
with-most especially the fair sex—and to elicit the truth so often advanced by many writers, that “a good face is a good letter of introduction.” I can fancy him now before me, his jocund laugh, his ready wit, his prompt and energetic language, his facility of investing all subjects, whether refined or sportsmanlike, whether of the school or of the stable, whether intellectual or material, with the interest which passion and earnestness can give them. Could it, then, be a matter of surprise that such a being should succeed in winning upon the affections of a young and artless female ? VOL. XLVIII.
Of all the temptations which the tempter has arrayed as the most fascinating lure to lead the youth of sanguine temperament to sin and to transgression, love presents the most engaging appearance; of all the charms that fancy could present to the gay and ardent temperament, the presence of beauty was the most powerful to influence the taste and to control the actions.
There was a young female, a Quakeress, who resided in the town at the house of her father, and, as is usual with the persons
persuasion, he was engaged in business. His shop was the usual resort for purchasers of haberdashery and fancy articles; it was much frequented, and the officers, amongst others, used to go thither, as well from idleness as from the attraction which the graces of the young person who presided at the counter presented and she was one of the fairest and loveliest specimens of youth and beauty of the age of eighteen that it was possible to conceive-her figure tall, her features of Grecian mould, her face of a softness congenial to the choicest of Guido's colourings; in look, voice, manner, and deportment, she would have well become the scenes allotted for ladies in the highest rank of life, and her mild, hazel eyes of bewitching innocence in their expression, could make one quite forget all the circumstances of her situation, and imagine that one was in presence of a being whose sphere was to adorn the drawing-room, or move the “cynosure of many eyes” in the brilliant assembly. The extreme neatness and simplicity of the costume which is peculiar to her sect, contributed to render more engaging the characteristics of beauty which Nature had endowed her with; and amongst all the females which met the admiring glances of the young and gay in the neighbourhood, there certainly was none who shared them so largely as the fair Emilia Graves, and her education seemed far superior to what one would expect from the daughter of a Quaker in a provincial town.
To those who are unacquainted with the style of locality which comprises the idea of an Irish town, it may be necessary to say that the ruin, the dilapidation, the dirt, the poverty of the houses, the destitution, the haggard and reckless appearance of the half-naked inhabitants of its lower orders, and the uncouth and half-savage appearance of the soi-disant gentry, or squireens, were much more striking, and much more unmixed with the leaven of English refinement and English usages at the period that I speak of than they are now. At the time I speak of, Clonmel was not an exception to general rule, which set down the provincial towns in that country as wretched in almost every respect, and devoid of all that could contribute to render them the agreeable residence of the gentry, or the home of the respectable. The neighbourhood had its pleasant walks and romantic localities, and some of these quite realised the idea of what I have heard expressed with regard to Irish scenery as contrasted with English, the outline of it being bolder and more romantic when viewed as a landscape at a distance, but much less pleasing in detail than English scenery is found to be. Of the walks, I think that by the river Suir was the pleasantest, and afforded the most agreeable views and greatest variety, The paths, lying close by its deep and broad waters, are wide, and extend in an uninterrupted course north and south. From Clonmel to Carrickon-Suir, a distance of ten miles, the way is beautifully diversified by high and low lands, villas, cottages, and forest scenery, and mountains in the