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must have happened lately in the neighbourhood not in visible accordance with this smiling serenity of nature. Many young men and other persons are standing silently in groups under the shade, collected round the ivy-bound gate of a long poplar avenue which leads to a great house, which is the well-known seat of an old historic family. A priest clad in his vestments and many acolytes and children are waiting about the lodge, ready, it would seem, to do all rites that appertain unto a burial. Several soldiers too are straying about, while others of their company are expressing regret that they can wait no longer, as duty calls them elsewhere. The strangers stop and join the groups, as if they had no other occupation but to observe. At length, about two o'clock, between the dusky trees and along the road through the open green, comes gliding on serene and slow, soft and silent as a midsummer day's dream, a funeral procession. There is a hearse with four tired horses and white trophies, preceded by tall bending vapoury plumes that wave their swan-like purity over the summer corn.
There are two coaches, and all the horses seem to have come from far. The broad gate swings on its hinges. Some mourners alight. If there was a diviner of the future to whisper in your ear, you would take especial notice of that tall, well-timbered, and handsome youth, wearing over his deep black a white scarf. As it is, they who know him remark his graceful noble air, and think that it never struck them more forcibly than at this moment. More of him anon. You would say now how well he looks. You do not yet see death about him. This is not your induction; I will undraw the curtains of the tragedy hereafter, and then we shall find that the impression of which I speak at present was an affecting instance of what the old Greek mind was fond of observing ; but we must not suppose ourselves at present competent to make any such reflections; we must attend only to what is actually passing before us. Then from the second carriage some women descend, all clad as maidens in their silver livery, as if with mirth in funeral and with dirge in marriage, in equal scale weighing delight and dole. The coffin of an ivory hue, as if white to figure purity, is then taken out and borne on men's shoulders. The priest receives it processionally, and all move on, singing as they walk the funeral chant appropriated for those peace-parted souls who died in their innocence. Hence the mystery of this mourning with a double face. The Psalm, “ Praise the Lord, ye children,” is entoned with a clear voice; and to that music the little train moves up the avenue.
“How like a gentle stream shaded with night
And gliding softly, with our windy sighs,
Tears, songs, and blacks filling the simile.” The view on both sides of the leafy aisle, which is fragrant with the perfume of a thousand flowers, that grow within an open garden on one side of it, is smiling as if in spite of death. The groves at least seem happy.
“Non canimus surdis; respondent omnia silvæ.”
And, in fact, those who follow the train said later, that after a long journey along scorching roads and across vast open shadeless plains, and latterly through the streets of an adjacent city filled with strange faces, where, though all respected no one recognized as his own the symbols of their ancient faith,coming to this spot, where for ages it had reigned uninterruptedly, and where so many friends were waiting for them with their hymns, encompassed with the charms of nature, that seemed to join in with its own responsive voice, they felt as if they had reached the gate of that Paradise which was to receive the little one.
But let us mark all as if we were unconcerned spectators. They move on. Observe their order. First glides the processional cross, with its attendant acolytes carrying lighted tapers in their hands. Then
“ Village girls in robes of snow
Follow, weeping as they go;
The song is then changed to our Lady's litany; the clergy preceding the body close the procession, which is like the subject of it, simple,—acolytes and schoolboys, a few women mourners in white, and thoughtful-looking soldiers compose the chief part of the train ; but the avenue is lined on each side with people that in the burning sun walk with forgetful sadness. Arrived at the chapel, which adjoins the house, the coffin is laid down in front of the altar. An aged priest who had come with it places on it wreaths of flowers, while round it are arranged the customary lights. Then the choir sings, “Praise ye the Lord from the heavens,” and the organ, causing long pentup tears to burst forth, accompanies the chant. After this little office the procession is formed toward a 'monumental cave of death behind the altar, of which the marble door that leads beneath is now wide stretched, staring on us with unfolded leaves. Here the coffin is sprinkled with holy water, and the cold vault fumed with incense. The poor remains are then deposited in their sacred resting-place, the priest taking off his own sacerdotal girdle, to offer it to those who let it glide down, as if he thought nothing too precious to use on such an occasion.
“Sorrows mingled with contents prepare rest for care ;
Love only reigns in death; though art
Can find no comfort for a broken heart." The priest and his attendants return to the altar, singing the Canticle of the Three Children, “All ye works of the Lord, bless ye the Lord;" and then turning to the people, he speaks a few simple words, which for aught a stranger knew might or might not be commonplace, while he seems to struggle with himself, as he looks at some before him, saying, “Noli flere, noli flere, melior est dies mortis quam dies nativitatis."
“ It grieves me that a tear should fall upon him,
Being a thing so joyful, but his memory
Will work it out I see.” Then he adds, that though this was the funeral of one mourned with uncommon sorrow, the whole ceremony they had witnessed was intended to signify that this child had died in the Lord, and was therefore blessed for ever. Then he said with great
solemnity, as if weighing each word before he gave it utterance, that this little one, though he had only lived eight years, deserved a few words about him from that place to be spoken before they separated; he tells them that he had possessed a degree of intelligence and discretion far beyond his age, that he had combined a sense of religion and goodness, which attracted the deep attention of those who knew him; that really heaven seemed about him, and yet that he had all the innocent graces of common youth, so that wherever he entered joy seemed to come in with him. He then says slowly and gravely, that this child was never known to have committed a single fault. He says he speaks on the best authority; he adds, that his love of truth broke out on the slightest occasions, and that nothing could ever induce him to do what he thought he ought not to do; at which he stops and looks around him : then he continues, he was loved at home as a child, and as a brother; abroad, as a little stranger, pleasing and edifying all who saw him ; while those intimate with him, who meditated on his piety, could not help revering him, as if he had been already in some sort an angel. He then, in a very artless way, on his own behalf, and particularly on that of the afflicted family, thanks his audience for their kind and consoling attendance, and begs of God to bless them all. He says it was in consideration of the character of the deceased, that his parents thought it their duty to pay
honours they could to his remains; and that it was with the same intention, not exclusive of a generous and human sympathy, the family of this manor had placed them in their chapel of St. Stephen. As if just coming from his books, the good man wished them to understand that all this little pomp was but an innocent thing, and no verification of the words of St. Jerome, “that ambition amidst grief and tears does not cease."
So they have done their obsequies. Come, look down the vault. Here's a few flowers, which are like the pleasures of the world, my pretty one.
66 You wer
as flowers, now wither'd; even so These herblets shall, which we upon you strow."
Come on, away. The crowd withdraws; but still some few, anxious to bestow at least some gifts, and discharge a fond duty, scatter flowers from full hands, as if saying, “Sweets to the sweet, farewell ;” and one unknown stranger, as if by stealth, throws kisses to the coffin, as a lover to his betrothed, raising afterwards a sigh audible to those near him, a sigh so piteous and profound, as it did seem to shatter all his bulk and end his being; natural gh inconsequent; for it wa a moment to verify the poet's impressions of the clock
6. There in that silent room below,
The dead lay in his shroud of snow;
Never-for ever *!'” Reader, while seeking to know perhaps more full details about the little guest whom we have accompanied up the poplar avenue to his last home, with such affection and childlike solemnity, do you ask, Homeric-like, his name,
Ου μέν γάρ τις πάμπαν ανώνυμος έστ' ανθρώπων,
'Αλλ' επί πάσι τίθενται, επεί κε τέκωσι τοκες ;
shall hear much of his story told in fragments; and besides, mark me, who knows how our impressions might be scattered and confused with compound images, were we to stop at the beginning thus? I do fear lest we should lose distinction in our griefs, as doth a battle, when they charge on heaps the enemy flying." Who knows? Perhaps you may already suspect it from a chance word lately dropt; perhaps other funerals, those