Henry Pynchon Robinson.

Guilford portraits; memorial epitaphs of Alderbrook and Westside with introductory elegies and essay online

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Guilford Portraits

Memorial Epitaphs

Alderbrook and Westside

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handle this volume

with care.

The University of Connecticut
Libraries, Storrs

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Guilford portraits;

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Guilford Portraits

Memorial Epitaphs of Alderbrook

and Westside with Introductory

Elegies and Essay



Fifty-three Illustrations







Prefatory Essay on Epitaphs and Burials v//

Introductory Elegy, Alderbrook.

Part I. The Journey's End i

Part II. The Burial Train n

Part III. The Pathos of the Past 23

Part IV. Alderbrook 35

Guilford Portraits, Memorial Epitaphs of Alderbrook. v

Part V. Baldwin — Dunn 46

Part VI. Dupraz— Hall 64

Part VII. Halleck— Munson 83

Part VIII. Norton— Woodruff 101

Introductory Elegy, Westside.

Part III. Spirit Life and Lore 153

Part I. Riverside 117

Part II. The Hidden Mystery 133

Part IV. Westside Obsequies 173

Guilford Portraits, Memorial Epitaphs of Westside.

Part V. Allen— Fisher 183

Part VI. Goldsmith — Johnson 196

Part VII. Leete — Robinson 211

Part VIII. Smith— Weld 228



Rev. A. C. Baldwin facing 183

Mrs. Ruth E. Baldwin " 48

Rev. L. T. Bennett, D.D " 50

Miss Caroline Bradley " 185

Miss Frances S. Burgis 53

Miss Clarissa Caldwell " 55

Dr. Joel Canfield " 186

Mrs. Eunice F. Chittenden 188

Henry W. Chittenden " 56

Mrs. Mary G. Chittenden " 58

Miss Mary Dutton " 65

Mrs. Catherine H. Elliott " 67

Charles Wyllys Elliott " 68

Lewis R. Elliott " 70

Col. Geo. A. Foote " 72

Henry Fowler 193

Rev. A. B. Goldsmith " 197

Mrs. M. C. Goldsmith " 197

Elliott W. Gregory " 75

Mrs. Charlotte S. Gregory " 75

Judge Nathaniel Griffing 199

Mrs. Sarah B. Griffing " 199

Rev. E. Edwin Hall " 80

Rev. Henry L. Hall " 82

Fitz Greene Halleck 84

Daniel Hand " 204

Amos S. Hotchkiss " 206




John Hotchkiss facing 206

Major Samuel C. Johnson " 209

Judge George Landon " 93

Mrs. Ruth H. Landon " 94

Judge Edward R. Landon 96

Mrs. Parnel C. Landon 98

Deacon Albert A. Leete 212

Deacon Edward L. Leete 215

William H. H. Murray " 219

Mrs. Mary C. Parker " 221

Deacon Eli Parmelee 102

Jonathan Parmelee 104

Capt. U. N. Parmelee " 222

Rev. Henry Robinson 224

Mrs. Mary C. Robinson 225

Major Samuel Robinson 226

Judge Ralph D. Smyth " 108

Richard E. Smyth " 1 1 1

Samuel Spencer 229

Mrs. Elizabeth T. Spencer 230

Mrs. Temperance T. Spencer 232

Miss Clara J. Stone 236

Miss Sarah Talcott 236

Dr. Alvan Talcott " 238

Mrs. Sarah R. Todd " 113

Mrs. Annie G. Vittum " 114



This little work, a harvest chiefly of memories of the past,
has been in a special way spontaneous. When moved to
express regrets on the recent loss of a friend, visions of others
rose before me and I continued to write, passing from one to
another. The subject dwelt with me and strangely engaged
my attention; the vividness of memories revived was like a
revelation and the experience of dwelling from month to month
in reverie over those who have passed away has been peculiar
and absorbing.

These portraits or memorials, with few exceptions,
are drawn from personal impressions, in some cases
verified, and in some enlarged, by the more intimate
recollections of others ; in no case purely imaginary, they are
yet mere shadows of the living originals. Not all memories
of the past are vivid, and I regret in too many instances the
scant tracing of character and the faint revival of personality
presented. It is hardly necessary to say that they have been
prepared under great limitations.

Lives, like suns and moons, present phases that vary with
their own periods. Personal traits and humors, and our
knowledge of them, are to some extent inconstant. One can-
not hope to be always fortunate in dealing with such
vicissitudes. Of these, some appear in early maturity, some in
meridian fulness, and others in the past prime of their
decadence. In taking subjects for memorial I have chosen,
amid the accidents of opportunity, such as seemed to lend
themselves to the conditions ; in a few cases grappling with


the contrary, though mindful of the forbidding adage, "if
you do not know of me do not speak of me."

If such sketches, from their required exactness, are thought
to be ill suited to metrical treatment, certainly verse, employed
to convey with a little more grace, vignettes of life and
character, need not be expected to do more than that. Such
verse, a mere "homespun thread of rhymes," outside the
sphere of the imagination, has little of poetry but its
measured form, and aims to be simply narrative and descrip-
tive or quaintly plaintive and bewailing. A writer of authority
declares "that whatever subject matter can be penetrated
with strong human feeling is fit for verse ; then the rhythm
and form become spontaneous." This has been my experience
here, and while the use of verse has been exceptional, as con-
trary to my habit of writing, its trammels and exactions
serving both as irritant and stimulus, the discipline has led to
compacter expression and even to better results in pith and
point of the matter expressed.

To extend the scope and possible value of the whole, I have
added parts introductory on related topics ; not assuming to
have news along lines almost as old as the race itself, where
by special division and later extension I have striven to give
tokens of design to what was earlier written without design.
If there, I depart from the local limit, set to my general
purpose, yet what is lost in unity will be found in diversity
and nowhere is the true tenor of the subject abandoned.

The literature of epitaphs and of mortuary memorials,
obscure and rare, would yet fill a storehouse with lamentations
and 'compleynts.' Puttenham, in the "Art of English Poesie"
[1584-88], quaintly sets forth this species of writing: "An
epitaph is an inscription, such as a man may commodiously
write or engrave upon a table, in few verses pithie, quicke
and sententious, for the passer-by to peruse and judge upon


without any long tauriance." They were orginally sung at
burials and were then engraven upon the tomb. Philologists
say that all old words for writing mean cutting, since all writ-
ing was originally graving upon a stone as the most durable

In Greek epitaphs the thought is turned backward to the
life that is past and seldom to the life that is supposed to
come, and the seriousness of the tomb is not incompatible
with a note of cheerfulness. The Lacedemonians forbid them
save for those who had died for their country. The historian
Merivale has translated many of Greek origin as written in
elegiac verse by Theocritus, Aeschylus, Sappho and other
Grecians. The following on the poet Sophocles is by Simmias
of Thebes :

Wind, gentle evergreen, to form a shade
About the tomb where Sophocles is laid :
Sweet ivy, wind thy boughs and intertwine
With blushing roses and the clustering vine :
Thus shall thy lasting leaves with beauties hung
Prove grateful emblems of the lays he sung.

We find colloquies carried on in stately courtesy between the
tenants of sepulchres and passers-by. Not only human beings
but sometimes favorite animals had their burials and epitaphs.
Orators of the first class, as Pericles and Demosthenes, made
addresses at public funerals. How natural, as if spoken by
an orator of our day, sounds this, taken from the funeral
oration of Pericles over Greeks, the first fallen in the Pelo-
ponnesian war: 'Tor the whole earth is the sepulchre of
famous men : not only are they commemorated by columns
and inscriptions in their own country, but in foreign lands
there dwells also an unwritten memorial of them, graven not


on stone but in the hearts of men." (Thucydides II. 43 ;
Jowett.) Among the Romans, Julius Caesar, at the age of
eighteen, delivered the eulogy over his aunt Julia, the widow
of Marius. Grand burials were made along the great public
roads, as at Rome, chiefly on the Appian and Flaminian ways,
leading south and north from the city. A coin was provided
to pay Charon's ferriage over the Styx ; this toll has been found,
as placed between the teeth. The ceremonies among the upper
classes were imposing. At the grand funeral of Junia, the
wife of Cassius and sister of Brutus, the images of Cassius
and Brutus were conspicuous by their absence, they being
still under attainder for their parts in the death of Coesar.

Outside, near the Colline Gate, erring vestal virgins were
buried alive. These animate burials, described by Pliny and
Plutarch, were rare ; some twelve are known. The senior
vestal, Cornelia, is an instance in the reign of Domitian, A. D.
91. Cicero's sister-in-law, his wife Terentia's sister Fabia,
a vestal, barely escaped this fate. Cremation, practiced in
remote antiquity, was revived in the time of Sylla, near 100
B. C. : who, from fear of enemies, offered himself for
example and was then urned among the old kings of Rome, on
the banks of the Tiber. In the second century, the older
practice of burial was more fashionable. Cremation was dis-
continued early in the fifth century, owing chiefly to the
Christian belief in the resurrection of the body. Burial in the
Catacombs was given up about 410, the year of the storming
of Rome by Alaric the Visigoth, when the geese of Juno failed
to warn the city.

' A common sentiment on Roman monuments is the passage
from Tacitus : Terra tibi levis sit ! "Let earth lie light
above thee !" Pope, in his epigram on Vanbrugh, the architect
of Marlborough Mansion, gives a sharp turn to the thought :


Lie heavy on him earth, for he
Laid many a heavy load on thee.

Lucian satirized the tomb of King Mausolus of Caria, erected
352 B. C., as a crushing weight of stones to lay upon a man.
Some few broken remnants of this, the original mausoleum,
one of the wonders of the world, are preserved in the British
Museum. As described by Pliny and Martial, it was built,
based like a pyramid, extending broad and deep underground,
but of marbles so bright that above it seemed to hang in the

In addition to their common oracles, the Romans had places
where the dead were called up to hold communion with the
living; this very much in the faked fashion of our day.

We are told that the ancient Etruscans [whose rule as a
people lasted about twelve centuries preceding the Romans],
in order to bring themselves nearer to the dead and to com-
municate with their spirits, would come to the sepulchres at
nightfall and sometimes sleep beside the urns of their friends,
wives and children, brothers and lovers, and receive visions
from their souls that always hovered around.

More than three thousand mortuary inscriptions have been
found in the Etruscan tombs, in central and southern Italy,
Perugia, a capital city. They now contain little but names.

English epitaphs have been written largely in vernacular
verse and Latin prose. At one period jocular men of letters
came together with their pockets crammed with epitaphs,
which they read for amusement. The company of wits, to
which Goldsmith belonged, took a fancy to write playful
epitaphs upon him as "the late Dr. Goldsmith." This was
written by Garrick :

Here lies poet Goldsmith : for shortness, called Noll ;
Who wrote like an angel, but talked like poor Poll.


Goldsmith retaliated :

Here lies David Garrick, describe him who can;
An abridgment of all that was pleasant in man;
As an actor, confessed without rival to shine ;
As a wit, if not first, in the very first line.

Doctor Johnson made a review of Pope's epitaphs, as did also
the poet Wordsworth, who spoke sharply of them. The lofti-
est writers from Spenser to Pope thought it no condescension
to pen an epitaph. Milton made one on Hobson, the Cam-
bridge carrier to London, the original of 'Hobson's choice.'
Mary, Queen of Scots, amused herself in writing them. Ben
Jonson wrote these lines on Mary, the sister of Sir Philip

Underneath this sable hearse
Lies the subject of all verse:
Sidney's sister, Pembroke's mother.
Death, ere thou hast slain another,
Learned and fair and good as she,
Time shall throw a dart at thee.

'Rare Ben' made tender little epitaphs on children. The
following upon a child is by Robert Herrick :

Here she lies, a pretty bud
Lately made of flesh and blood ;
Who as soone fell fast asleep
As her little eyes did peep.
Give her strewings but not stir
The earth that lightly covers her.

In early days, inscriptions were prohibited save to those
high in rank and honor. Few, of any kind, are known
before the eleventh century; these are chiefly of kings,


princes and prelates of the church, and are in the Latin tongue.
French epitaphs appear in England belonging to the fourteenth
and fifteenth centuries. A very singular one of twenty-eight
lines, old French, on Edward the Black Prince, is found in
Canterbury Cathedral. Edward died in 1376. Verses were
sometimes inscribed in golden letters, as at Rouen over
Richard Coeur de Lion.

The style of actual inscriptions, often playful and peculiar,
became after a time degraded and vulgarized. Indeed, like
the graffiti, or scribblings, seen on old Roman and Pompeiian
walls to-day, such inscriptions do not belong to lawful litera-
ture. Various collections of them are recommended as
curious, quaint and amusing and are put forward as "light
writings on grave subjects."

At Saint Paul's, London, "obiit 1633 Reverend John
Donne." The day after his burial, these lines were found,
written with a coal on the wall above his grave : they are
believed to be by Isaac Walton:

Reader, I am to let thee know
Donne's body only lies below ;
For, could the grave his soul comprise,
Earth would be richer than the skies.

Oxford scholars of the last century doted on epitaphs like
this on an infant from Eglingham churchyard :

When the archangel's trump doth blow
And souls to bodies join,
Thousands will wish their life below
Had been as brief as mine.

Fuller, in his "Worthies," does not disdain the subject, as
in the lines on a 'painful' preacher, one Ward of Haverhill :


Grant some of knowledge, greater store,

More learned some in teaching ;
Yet few in life did lighten more,

None thundered more in preaching.

Fuller's epitaph upon himself was "Here lies Fuller's earth."

Now and then a choice humor, quaintly put, seems half
pardonable, and at this distance of time and space we
shall half forgive this sly turn from Ashburton Church,
England, 1779, on Elizabeth Ireland :

Here I lie at the chancel door;
Here I lie, because I'm poor.
The farther in, the more you pay;
Here lie I as warm as they.

At Edinburgh this is found :

Remember man, as thou goes* by,
As thou art now, so once was I ;
As I am now so shalt thou be :
Remember man that thou must die.

Such sentiment, always tersely expressed, is common to the
catacombs and ossuaries of Europe and is of great antiquity.
Scaliger, who in a sleepless fit of the gout could make two
hundred verses in a night, would have but five plain words
upon his tomb.

Acute writers have treated sepulchres and memorials. Sir
Thomas Brown in "Urn Burial'' declares "that grave stones
tell truth scarce forty years; generations pass while some
trees stand and old families last not three oaks." Sir Thomas
sets out in quaint terms his truly erudite and hermit studies.

* Northern dialect.


Erasmus makes a merry colloquy on "The Funeral" and
again on "The Scholastick Funeral," in which solemn topics
are drolled upon in his peculiar humor. Alcidamus left a
treatise in praise of death, enumerating the evils of life.
Cicero calls it, not philosophical, but eloquent in diction.
Cicero, to console himself for the loss of his daughter Tullia
who died in giving birth to a son Lentulus, wrote a book,
called "The Consolatio," which is lost. Goethe wrote in
caricature "The Skeleton's Dance." Dryden represents the
dead at the resurrection as "fumbling for their bones."
Coleridge composed his own epitaph in four maundering lines.
The poet Horace declares that "the Gauls never feared
funerals." The Druids believed death was but the middle of
a long life.

Bishop Taylor, with droll humor, writes in "Holy Dying:"
"Take away but the pomps of death, the disguises and solemn
bugbears and the actings by candlelight and proper and
phantastick ceremonies ; the minstrels and the noisemakers,
the women and the weepers, the nurses and the physicians,
the dark room and the ministers, the kindred and the watchers,
and then to die is easy and quitted from its troublesome
circumstances. It is the same harmless thing that a poor
shepherd suffered yesterday or a maid-servant to-day."

When Edmund Spenser, the poet-laureate, was buried in
Westminster Abbey near Chaucer, mournful elegies and
poems with the pens that wrote them were thrown into the
grave. These by Shakespeare, Ben Jonson and mighty

The days of Shakespeare are termed "the epitaph-making
period." The present monument to Chaucer was erected
over one hundred and fifty years after his decease. The only
memorial to him. for many years was a leaden plate, hanging
nearby on a pillar with an epitaph made by a poet-laureate.
There lie the cross-legged effigies of the Crusaders, in attitude,
upturned and appealing. Many of the Abbey monuments


now appear indecorous and rude. Canon Farrar is frank in
condemnation of the "kicking gracefulness" of certain statues
and sighs over "the lumpy monuments, the hideous and vulgar
tombs." Hundreds of epitaphs are found in the Abbey;
some of these are called 'heathenish' and even 'bloodthirsty',
some are designed 'to puzzle posterity.' Mr. Loftie also
speaks of 'odious little busts' as of Grote, Longfellow, and
Macaulay, and 'the funny little white busts' as of Kingsley
and Maurice. He refers to a so-called 'pancake monument'
and finds others 'ugly and vulgar.' Mr. J. Gwin in 1749
declared in substance that some of the statuesque representa-
tions were no more suitable than the lions of Van Amburgh
would be, if placed there in marble.

Dr. Wiseman, writing of Saint Paul's Cathedral, London,
marks the incongruity of drum, trumpet, boarding-pike and
cannon, displayed there. These grim tokens of Death's
weapons, having passed from armories to cathedrals, have
come into rural cemeteries, where sometimes cannon are set
up, those engines of war being curiously turned in times of
peace into emblems of consolation. This too, however drama-
tic, has more of the nature of crude irony and jest. Tomb-
stones of the eighteenth century even now appear grotesque
with hour-glass, scythe, cherubs' heads, vertebrae, skull and
bones, sculptured upon them. When Sir Christopher Wren
directed the building of the present Saint Paul's Cathedral
there were seen under the graves of the later times the burial-
places of the Saxon days; the graves lined with chalkstones.
Below these were British graves where were found ivory and
wooden pins that had fastened the stout woolen wraps in
which their simple conveyances were made. In the same row
and at the depth of eighteen feet were Roman urns inter-
mixed. These were of the times when British and Romans
lived and died together,


Celtic, Roman and Saxon remains have been unearthed, much
intermingled within the same mounds. Pepin the short, the
father of Charlemagne, was buried face downward (A. D.
768.) Hugh Capet, the ancestor of all the throned Kings of
France, was, in like manner, put to rest under the spout of
Saint Denis' Cathedral, so that his sins might be washed out
by the falling rains (A. D. 996). This face-down fashion
was termed adens burial: (ad dentes, upon the teeth).

The practice of burying the head and other parts separate
from the body is traced to the Egyptians, whose sepulchres
chiseled into the mountain rock along the Nile, are among
the most impressive memorials of antiquity. Indeed, the
sepulchral valley of the Nile has been termed, "a long funeral
path." In Egypt, layers of papyrus pasted together inclosed
the body for ordinary interment.

It was a fancy of the Scandinavians that the soul remained
conscious in the tomb :

Now children, lay us in two lofty graves
Down by the sea-shore, near the deep blue waves ;
Their sounds shall, to our souls, be music sweet,
Singing our dirge as on the strand they beat ;
When, round the hills the pale moonlight is thrown
And midnight dews fall on the Bauta stone,
We'll sit, O Thorsten, in our rounded graves,
And speak together o'er the gentle waves.

The passing bell to announce the dying can be retraced to
Anglo-Saxon days. It was tolled in churches as early as
640 : its first use being to drive away evil spirits, then to
spread the tidings that a soul was about passing away. The
custom was common in the fifteenth century of keeping the
obit or anniversary of a person's decease, noticed with prayers
and alms or other observance. Funds were devoted in wills



for this purpose. Four obits a year were kept for William
Wykeham, Bishop of Winchester : whose eyes in life, we are
told, always filled with tears when he sang the Requiem for
the dead.

The last ceremonies of the common people, as was custom-
ary also among the Romans, took place by torchlight at night.
The lych gate served for a short stay and lych stones likewise
provided rests on the way to the burial.

The English planted the long lived yew and the stately
cypress in their sacred grounds, as at Canterbury and Stoke
Pogis. Of the yew, Tom Hood speaks thus tenderly :

How wide the yew tree spreads its solemn gloom
And o'er the dead, lets fall its dew ;
As if in tears, it wept for them.
The many human families that sleep around its stem.

Data of American memorials are now collected. This by the
Rev. Mr. Woodbridge on the Reverend and 'much desired'
minister John Cotton, deceased 1652, is one of the best
examples of the old style :

A living, breathing bible, tables where
Both covenants at large engraven were.
Gospel and law in heart had each its column;
His head, an index to the sacred volume.
His very name, a title page; and next
His life, a commentary on the text.
Oh! what a monument of glorious worth
When, in a new edition, he comes forth
Without errata : we may think he'll be
In leaves and covers of eternity.

Mrs. Earle, in a chapter on "Burial Customs in old New
England," describes the gruesome ways of Colonial times
when laudatory lines and verses were fastened to the bier and


the funeral elegy was in vogue. At burials the bell was tolled
four strokes to the minute : two sets of bearers were usual :
addresses were common at the grave and funeral feasts
followed. The magistrate walked with the mourning widow :
rings and gloves were given out and finally tombstones were
fetched over seas from the old flinty mother country to rock-
bound New England.

A legend of Brittany, to which allusion is elsewhere made,
tells of an imaginary town called Is, that was swallowed up
by the sea at some time unknown. The tips of its towers and
spires appear in the troughs of the ocean when the waves
sink low, and when the tides are spent the sound of tolling
bells is fancied or faintly heard above the quiet waters. We
too have a scarce fanciful past of vanished village world with
its peculiar phases and peoples that have fallen beneath Time's

Guilford Green itself illustrates this rise and fall of com-
munity life, where

"Hidden from all mortal eyes
Deep the sunken city lies."

Burials on Guilford Green were discontinued in 1818.
These covered the central lower part, full from east to west
over about one third of the entire Common. Owing to the
low grade or tight texture of the land, water would some-
times rise in new-made graves. Close along the roadway
running across on a diagonal west and east, the stubbed stones
dark brown rose up and inclined like mourners upon each side.
These "pious marbles," native sandstones, were removed,
some to the new grounds, a few were put for stepping-stones
in dooryards, while still fewer broken ones strayed into stone

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Online LibraryHenry Pynchon RobinsonGuilford portraits; memorial epitaphs of Alderbrook and Westside with introductory elegies and essay → online text (page 1 of 15)