Samuel Adams Drake.

Historic fields and mansions of Middlesex online

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Howard, who became the wife of Eev. Samuel Oilman, of
Charleston, in 1819, and is widely knoAvn as an authoress of
repute. At the age of sixteen she commenced a literary career
with her first composition in poetry, " Jepthah's Eash Vow,"
which was followed by other efforts in prose and verse. Per-
haps her best-known work is the "Recollections of a Southern
Matron."

Miss Howard was the daughter of Samuel Howard, a ship-
wright of North Square, Boston. Her father dying in her in-
fancy, Caroline came to live with her mother at Sweet Auburn,
whose wild beauty impressed her young mind with whatever
of poetic fire she may have possessed. Indeed, it is her own
admission that her childhood days, passed in wandering amid
the tangled groves, making rustic thrones and couches of moss,
stamped her highly imaginative temperament with its subtle



OLD TORY ROW AND BEYOND. 325

influences. In girlhood slie was fairy-like ; her long oval face,
from which the clustering curls were parted, having a deeply
peacefully contemplative expression. She was a frequent vis-
itor at Governor Gerry's, where she found books to feed, if not
to satisfy, her cravings. Owing to changes of residence, her
education was indifferent ; but her mind tended most naturally
to the beautiful, music and drawing superseding the multipli-
cation-table. When she was about fifteen she walked, every
week, four miles to Boston, to take lessons in French.



326 HlSTOlllC FIELDS AND MANSIONS OF MIDDLESEX.



CHAPTEE XV.



MOUNT AUBURN TO NONANTUM BRIDGE.

" Crowii me with flowers, intoxicate me with perfumes, let me die to the
sounds of delicious music." — Dying ivords of Mieabeau.

IT ^vould be curious to analyze the feelings with which a
dozen different individuals approach a rural cemetery.
Doul)tless repulsion is uppermost in the minds of the greater
number, for death and the grave are but sombre subjects at the
best, and few are willingly brought in contact with the outward
symbols of the Kinq of Terrors.




EMI \N r r M INT \I11R>



Much of the aversion to graveyards which is felt by our
country people may be attribiited to the hideous and fantastic
emblems which are sculptured on our ancestors' headstones.



MOUNT AUBURN TO NONANTUM BRIDGE. 327

The death's-liead, cross-bones, and hour-glass are but little em-
ployed by modern art. We are making our cemeteries attrac-
tive, and — shall we confess it ? — tliat rivalry displayed along
the splendid avenues of the living city finds expression in the
habitations of the dead.

The city of the dead has much in common witli its bustling
neighbor. It has its streets, lanes, and alleys, its aristocratic
quarter, and its sequestered nooks where the lowlier sleep as
Avell as they that bear the burden of some splendid mausoleum.
It lias its ordinances, but they are for the living. Here we
may end the conqiarison. Statesmen who in life were at
enmity lie as quietly here as do those giants who are entombed
in Westminster Abbey with only a slight wall of earth between.
Pitt and Fox are separated by eighteen inches.

" But wliere are they — the rivals ! a few feet
Of sulleu earth divide each winding-sheet."

Authors, learned professors, men of science, ministers, soldiers,
and magistrates people the silent streets. Every trade is repre-
sented. The rich man, Avhose wealth has been the envy of
thousands, takes up his residence here as naked as he came
into the world. Sin and suffering are unknown. Tliere is no
money. Night and day are alike to the inhabitants. The dis-
tant clock strikes the hour, unheeded. Time has ended and
Eternity begun.

Perhaps Franklin expressed the idea of death as beautifully
as has been done by human lips, to Miss- Hubbard on the death
of his brother. He says : —

" Our friend and we are invited abroad on a party of pleasure that
is to last forever. His chair is first ready, and he is gone before us,
— we could not all conveniently start together, and why should you
and I be grieved at this, since we are soon to follow, and we know
where to find him V

IMount Auburn is a miniature Switzerland, though no loftier
summits than the Milton Hills are visible from its greatest ele-
vation. It has its ranges of rugged hills, its cool valleys, its
lakes, and its natural terraces. The Charles miglit bo the



328 HISTORIC FIELDS AND MANSIONS OF MIDDLESEX.

Rhine, and Fresh Pond — could no fitter name be found for
so lovely a sheet of water 1 ^- would serve our purpose for Lake
Constance. A thick growth of superb forest trees of singular
variety covered its broken, romantic surface ; deep ravines,
shady dells, and bold, rocky eminences were its natural attri-
butes. You advance from surprise to surprise.

Art has softened a little of the savage aspect without impair-
ing its picturesqueness ; has liung a mantle of green tresses
around tlie brow of some gray rock, or draped with willows
and climbing vines each sylvan retreat. The green lawns are
aglow with rich colors, — purple and crimson and gold set in
emerald. Every clime has been challenged for its contribution,
and the palm stands beside the pine. " How beautiful ! " is the
thought which even the heavy-hearted must experience as they
pass underneath the massive granite portal into this paradise.
Nature here offers her consolation to the mourner, and man is,
after all, only one of the wonderful forms sprung from her
bosom.

" Lay her i' the eartli ;

And from lier fair and unpolluted flesh

May violets spring ! "

As you thread the avenues, the place grows wonderfully upon
you. The repugnance you "may have felt on entering gives way
to admiration, until it seems as if the troubles of this life were
like to fall from you, with your grosser nature, leaving in tlieir
stead nothing but peace and calm. Turn into this path which
sometimes skirts the hillside, and then descends into a secluded
glade environed with the houses of the dead. Here the Avork-
men are enlarging tlie interior of a tomb, and the click of chisel
and hammer vibrates with strange dissonance upon the stillness
which otherwise enfolds the place. And one fellow, with no
feeling of his office, is singing as he plies his task !

"Who shaU write the annals of this silent city 1 A sarcoph-
agus on which is sculptured a plumed hat and sword ; a broken
column or inverted torch ; a dove alighting on the apex of
yonder tall shaft, or is it not just unfolding its white wings
for flight ] the sacred volume, open and speaking ; a face trans-



MOUNT AUBURN TO NONANTUM BRIDGE. 329

figured, with holy angels flitting about in niarhle vesture. Here
in a corner is one little grave, with the myrtle lovingly cluster-
ing above ; and here is no more room, for all the members of
the family are at home and sleeping. Each little ridge has its
story,. but let no human ghoul disturb the slumberer's repose.

Pass we on to the tower and up to the battlement. Our
simile holds good, for here in gray granite is a counterfeit of
some old feudal castle by the Rhine. Here we stand, as it
were, in an amphitheatre, hedged in by walls whose gi-een
slowly changes into blue ere they lose themselves Avhere the
ocean lies glistening in the distance. The river, making its
way through the hills, is at our feet. The rural towns which
the city, like some huge serpent, ever uncoiling and extending
its folds, is gradually enveloping and strangling, nestle among
the hillsides. Seaward, the smoke from scores of tall chimneys
seams and disfigures the delicate background of the sky, while
they tell of life and activity within the vast workshop beneath.
Let the great city expand as it will, here in its midst is a city
of graves, its circle ever extending. It needs no soothsayer to
tell us which will yet enroll the greater number.

A view of Mount Auburn by moonlight and from this tower
we should not commend to the timid. The white monuments
would seem so many apparitions risen from their sepulchral
habitations. The swaying and murmuring branches would send
forth strange whisperings above, if they did not give illusive
movement to the spectral forms beneath. But none keep vigil
on the watch-tower, unless some spirit of the host below stands
guard upon the narrow platform waiting the final trumpet
sound.

Mount Auburn has always been compared with the great
cemetery of Paris, originally called Mont Louis, but now every-
where known by the name of old Frangois Delachaise, the con-
fessor of Louis Quatorze, and of whom Madame de Maintenon
said some spiteful things. The celebrated French cemetery was
laid out on the grounds of the Jesuit establishment, and first
used for sepulture in 1804, nearly thirty years previous to the
occupation of Mount Auburn for a similar purpose. The area



330 HISTOEIC FIELDS AND MANSIONS OF MIDDLESEX.

of the American considerably exceeds that of the Parisian cem-
etery, while its natural advantages are greatly superior.

The two remaining survivors among the founders of Mount
Auburn are Dr. Jacob Bigelow, its earliest friend, and Alexan-
der AVadsworth, who made the first topographical survey. It
should afford singular gratification to have lived to witness not
only their creation serving as a model for every city and village
in the land, but also to see that it has been the actual means
of preserving the remains of those gathered "within its compass
from that miscalled spirit of progress which threatens the exist-
ence of the most ancient of our city graveyards. It is as like
as not that the remains of Isaac Johnson, the founder of Bos-
ton, will be disturbed erelong, and that the old enclosure
which contains the ashes of John Hancock and of Samuel
Adams will be crossed by an avenue. When this takes place
we hope the relics of these patriots will be removed to some of
the rural cemeteries, where their countrymen may rear that
monument to their memory the lack of which savors much too
strongly of the ingratitude of republics.

But this experience in regard to cemeteries is not peculiar to
American cities. The old burial-ground of Bunhill-Fields in
London, called by Southey the " Campo Santo of the Dissent-
ers," and where Bunyan, George Fox, Isaac Watts, and De Foe
lie, was only jDreserved, in 1867, after considerable agitation.
The ancient custom of entombment under churches may also be
considered nearly obsolete. The old English cathedrals are
vast charnel-houses, in which interments are prohibited by act
of Parliament, special authority being necessary for interment
in Westminster Abbey. The mandates of health alone were
long disregarded, but the absolute insecurity of this method of
sepulture has been too recently demonstrated by the great fii-e
in Boston to need other examples.

Keither are the rural cemeteries totally exempt from adverse
contingencies. War is their great enemy, and as they are
usually located upon ground the best adapted to the operations
of a siege, they have often become the theatre of sanguinary
confl.ict. The shattered stones at Gettysburg, where the dead



MOU^'T AUBUEN TO NOXANTUM BEIUGE. 331

once lay more thickly above ground than beneath, will long
bear witness of the destructive power of shot and shell. Cave
Hill, the beautiful burial-place of Louisville, Ivy., still bears
the scars made by General ^Nelson's trenches.

AVe do not now need to cite the customs of the ancients who
often built their cemeteries without their walls, since the prac-
tice of interment within the limits of our larger cities is now
generally expressly forbidden. Our own ancestors chose the
vicinity of their churches, as was the custom in Old England.
Sometimes burials were made along the highways, and not un-
frequently in the private grounds of the family of the deceased.
This custom, which has prevailed to its greatest extent in the
country, has, in many instances, been productive of consecpien-
ces revolting to the sensibilities. Often the fee of a family
graveyard has passed to strangers. "We have seen little clusters
of gravestones standing uncared for in the midst of an open
field ; we have known them to lie prostrate for years, and even
to be removed where they obstructed the mowing.

There was a curious resemblance between the manner of
sepulture practised by the ancient Celts and Britons with that
in vogue among the American aborigines. The former buried
their dead in cists, barrows, cavities of the rocks, and beneath
mounds. The deceased were often placed in a sitting posture,
and their arms and trinkets deposited with them. The latter
heaped uj:) mounds, or carefully concealed their dead in caves.
The implements of war or the chase, belonging to the warrior,
Avere always laid by his side for his use in the happy hunting-
grounds. Some analogy in religious belief would justly be
inferred from this similarity of customs. The Indian remains
are commonly found in a sitting posture also, except where cir-
cumstances do not admit of inhumation, Avhen they are fre-
quently placed on scaflblds, in a reclining posture, in the
branches of trees and out of the reach of wild animals. This
disposition of the dead appears to be peculiar to the red-men
of Xorth America.

Our own sepulchral rites have altered but little in a century.
Mankind yet craves "the bringing home of beU and burial."



662, HISTORIC FIELDS AND MANSIONS OF MIDDLESEX.

A liundred years ago, carriages being as yet confined to the
few, the greater part of the mourners often walked to the grave.
Decorum, indeed, exacted that the immediate relatives of a
deceased person should walk in procession, no matter what the
weather might be. These were followed by acquaintances, who
paid with simulated sorrow the duties required of them by
fashion. A train of emjDty carriages brought up the rear, while
the bells Avere tolled to keep the devil at a respectful distance.
The custom of the nearest friends following the body to the
grave in their moments of greatest affliction originated, it is
said, with us in New Enlgand. It is worthy of being classed
with that other agonizing horror which compelled the mourner
to listen to the fall of the clods upon the coffin.

Hired mourners have not yet made their appearance among
us ; but if, while we stand here in Mount Auburn, we scan the
faces of the occupants of yonder long train of vehicles, how
many shall bear the impress of real grief 1

" Hor. My lord, I came to see your father's funeral.

"Ham. I pray thee, do not mock me, fellow-student; I tliink it was to
see my motlier's wedding. "

The increasing cost of funerals is becoming a matter of seri-
ous solicitude. The equality of the grave is by no means appli-
cable to these displays. The rich, who can aiford to be lavish,
are copied by the poor, who cannot afford it. The trappings of
the hearse, the number and elegance of the carriages, are noted
for imitation. " Such a one made a poor funeral," or " There
were but half a dozen carriages," followed by an expressive
shrug, are not uncommon remarks, serving to fix the worldly
condition of the deceased.

Pomp at funerals is an inheritance which lapsed into the
observance of a few simple forms under our Puritan ancestors.
It grew under the province into siich proportions as called for
the intervention of positive law to prevent the poorer classes
ruining themselves, for it was long the custom to present
mourning scarfs, gloves, and gold rings to all the friends and
relatives.



MOUNT AUBURN TO NONANTUM BRIDGE. 333

In England Lord Chesterfield was among the first to dis-
countenance ostentatious funerals. His wQl, marked by pecu-
liarities, provides for his own last rites in these words : —

" Satiated with the pompous follies of this life, of which I have
had an uncommon share, I would have no posthmnous ones dis-
played at my funeral, and therefore desire to be buried at the next
burying-place to the place where I shall die, and limit the whole
expense at my fimeral to one hundred pounds."

Not unfrequently, however, the will of a deceased person is
thwarted, as was the case with Governor Burnet, Avhose friends
were determined that his exit should not be made without noise
or ceremony, in accordance with his request.

The Irish may claim pre-eminence for singularity in the
funereal rite. With us the house of mourning is sacredly
devoted to silence and sorrow. "We step as lightly as if Ave
feared the slumberer's awakening. The light burns dimly in
the chamber of death, casting pale shadows on the recumbent,
rigid figure, robed for eternity. Hushed and awe-stricken
watchers flit noiselessly about. It is difficult, therefore, to
comprehend the orgies which usually attend on a " wake." All
we knoAv is, it is a custom, and as such is respected, though to
our mind " more honored in the breach than the observance."

Our veneration for the dead is not of that fine, subtle quality
that guards the place of sepulture, even of the great, with jeal-
ous care. The mother of Washington long slept in an unknown
grave ; the place where the ashes of Monroe were deposited was
wellnigh forgotten, while that of President Taylor is neglected.
It is doubtful if there are fifty persons now living who know
the last resting-place of Samuel Adams. Michel Xey has no
monument in Pere la Chaise. What better illustration of the
doom of gTeatness than the cash entry upon the parish records
of the Madeleine ] " Paid seven francs for a coffin for the
Widow Capet."

Low as we are inclined to estimate our own reverence for the
departed, it is infinitely greater than exists in England or
France at the present day. Just now we related that the



334 HISTOEIC FIELDS AND MANSIONS OF MIDDLESEX.

graves of the martyrs were only preserved in London by a
narroAV chance. In the so-called work of restoration in the grand
old cathedrals like Chester and Bath, it is stated that the
bones of bishops, judges, and the magnates of the 'time, whose
remains were supposed to have been consigned to everlasting
rest, have been dug up from the cellars and carted away like
so much rubbish !

In Pere la Chaise you may see half an acre of gravestones
collected in a certain part of the cemetery. These once belonged
to graves, the leases of which having expired or purchase not
being completed within a specific time, the headstones are re-
moved, the remains disinterred and consigned to a common
trench. In the face of that morbid sentimentality displayed by
the French in the construction of their tombs and their decora-
tion at certain periods with chaplets, wreaths, and immortelles, it
is believed that no other civilized nation regards the burial of
the common people with so much indifference. Even the poor
Chinese sells himself to obtain a coffin in which to bury his
father ; and one of the most pleasing features of the American
cemetery is the space set apart for the interment of strangers.

Hamlet inquired of the grave-digger how long a man will lie
in the earth ere he rot. This c|uestion has been answered in a
manner from time to time where measures of identification have
become necessary. The body of Henry' IV. was recognized in
Canterbury Cathedral after nearly four and a half centuries.
The remains of Charles I. were also fuUy identified by the
striking resemblance to portraits and the division of the head
from the trunk. The bodies, in these cases, were of course em-
balmed. Henry VIII. had been interred in the same vault in
which Charles I. had been deposited. The leaden coffin of
Henry, which was enclosed in one of wood, had been forced
open, exhibiting the skeleton of the king after the lapse of 266
years. The disinterment of bones in Egypt, Pompeii, and
elsewhere, after they have lain in the earth more than a thou-
sand years, renders it impracticable to fix any limit for their
.preservation.

A city like Mount Auburn, which counts its eighteen thou-



MOUNT AUBURN TO NONANTUM BRIDGE.



335



sand inliabitants, requires time to observe. There are the
natural beauties of tree, shrub, and flower ; there are the
tombs, the monuments, and the simple stones. Then there are
the epitaphs, some of which even the casual visitor may not
read without emotion. He may stand before the tablets of
Kirkland, Euckminster, Everett, Story, Channing, or wander
about until the name of Margaret Fidler or of Mrs. Parton
stays his footsteps. Not far from the entrance is the tomb of
the gifted Prussian, Spurzheim, a chaste and beautiful design.
Bowditch's statue, in bronze, by Ball Hughes, challenges our
respect for the man who was the equal of Laplace in everything
but vanity.











TUE UiPEL



Mount Auburn boasts of other architectural features besides
its tombs, of which so many are now being built above ground
that the avenues will, in time, acquire a certain resemblance to
Pere la Chaise, where one seems always walking in the streets
of a city. The Chapel is a gem of its kind, a cathedral in the
diminutive. It has become a central object of attraction, from
the works of art it contains, — the most remarkable specimens
of statuary in America. They were designed to represent four



336 HISTORIC FIELDS AND MANSIONS OF MIDDLESEX.

distinct periods of American history, — the Colonial, Revolu-
tionary, Assumption of Sovereignty, and the Supremacy of the
Laws.

The first phase is exhibited by John Winthrop, who appears
" in his habit as he lived," with ruff, doublet, and hose. The
figure is seated, and has a contemplative air. This was the
work of Horatio Greenough.

Crawford selected James Otis as a type of the Revolution.
His conception is grand and impressive in treatment, noble and
striking in form and feature, thoiigh to us there appears a
superabundance of drapery. Some fault has been found by
critics with the pose, as too theatrical, but this objection does
not find support in the very general admiration bestowed upon
the work, which, to be judged by the groups that assemble be-
fore it, is considered the peer among these marbles. Vinnie
Ream visited the Chapel when she was engaged in modelling
her statue of Abraham Lincoln, and studied the figure of Otis
attentively.

The artist, who, we believe, became totally blind before this
work was completed, did not succeed in creating the ideal of
Otis as a ' flame of fire,' but rather, as it seems to us, of calm
and conscious power. But this strength is expressed with
great skill. Otis is given to i:s by Blackburn Avith a counte-
nance rather cheerful than severe. He was a merry companion,
irascible to a degree, but magnanimous, — the life of the clubs
and detestation of the crown officers. He might have appeared
in the very attitude in which Crawford's chisel has left him
when making his celebrated reply to Governor Bernard. Hav-
ing cited Domat, the famous French jurist, the Governor in-
quired who Domat was. " He is a very distinguished civilian,"
answered Otis, " and not the less an authority from being un-
known to your Excellency."

Opposite the statue of Otis is that of John Adams, by Ran-
dolph Rogers. It possesses much animation and character,
being attired in the costume of the time, so that one sees the
man as he really appeared, and not a lay figure. The garb of
1776, male and female, civil and military, was worn with as



MOUNT AUBURX TO NONANTUM BRIDGE. 337

much ease and grace as any more modern costume has been,
nor will it in after time appear a whit more awkward than that
which happens to be the fashion of the present generation.
John Adams in toga and sandals wonld be no greater anachro-
nism than Julius Ctesar in trousers and French boots.

No doubt the proudest moment Mr. Adams ever knew was
the day on Avhicli he was presented to George III. as the first
American Ambassador. " Sir," said the king, " I Avas the last
man in -my kingdom to consent to your independence, and I
shall be the last to do anything to infringe it," — a manly as
well as kingly speech.

Judge Story's statue has a singular appropriateness in this
place. He was the early friend of IMount Auburn, and de-
livered the beautiful and impressive address of consecration.
Pie often visited its precincts, and lies couched, as he wished to
lie, beneath its green turf. His son, William W. Story, Avrought
on his labor of love many years, and produced a masterpiece.

Besides these more prominent subjects there are in the grounds
of Mount Auburn numerous works from the chisels of Dexter,
Brackett, Carew, and others. There is also the monumental
urn erected in Franklin Street, Boston, in the day of the Old
Crescent, in memory of Franklin, since placed above the tomb
of Charles Bulfinch, one of the authors of that improvement.



Online LibrarySamuel Adams DrakeHistoric fields and mansions of Middlesex → online text (page 29 of 39)