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The sound of casual footsteps had ceased from the abbey. I 265 could only hear, now and then, the distant voice of the priest repeating the evening service, and the faint responses of the choir; these paused for a time, and all was hushed. The stillness, the desertion and obscurity that were gradually prevailing around, gave a deeper and more solemn interest to the place: 270

"For in the silent grave no conversation,

No joyful tread of friends, no voice of lovers,
No careful father's counsel, nothing's heard,
For nothing is, but all oblivion,
Dust, and an endless darkness."

Suddenly the notes of the deep-laboring organ burst upon the ear, falling with doubled and redoubled intensity, and rolling, as it were, huge billows of sound. How well do their volume and grandeur accord with this mighty building! With what pomp do they swell through its vast vaults, and breathe 280 their awful harmony through these caves of death, and make the silent sepulchre vocal! And now they rise in triumphant acclamation, heaving higher and higher their accordant notes, and piling sound on sound. And now they pause, and the soft voices of the choir break out into sweet gushes of melody; 285 they soar aloft, and warble along the roof, and seem to play about these lofty vaults like the pure airs of heaven. Again the pealing organ heaves its thrilling thunders, compressing air into music, and rolling it forth upon the soul. What longdrawn cadences! What solemn sweeping concords! It grows 290 more and more dense and powerful, it fills the vast pile, and seems to jar the very walls; the ear is stunned, the senses are overwhelmed. And now it is winding up in full jubilee,—

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267. Responses of the choir. In the English church the congregation answer the minister, as in the litany or the psalms, by reading alternate petitions or verses. When the service is performed in the most ceremonious and impressive manner, as in Westminster Abbey, the responses are chanted by the choir, composed of men and boys.

276. The deep-laboring organ. This is a remarkable piece of description; the words are so skilfully selected and combined that the passage almost reproduces in sound the music itself.

it is rising from the earth to heaven, -the very soul seems rapt away and floated upwards on this swelling tide of harmony!

I sat for some time lost in that kind of reverie which a strain of music is apt sometimes to inspire; the shadows of evening were gradually thickening round me; the monuments began to cast deeper and deeper gloom; and the distant clock again gave token of the slowly waning day.

I rose and prepared to leave the abbey. As I descended the flight of steps which lead into the body of the building, my eye was caught by the shrine of Edward the Confessor, and I ascended the small staircase that conducts to it, to take from thence a general survey of this wilderness of tombs. The 305 shrine is elevated upon a kind of platform, and close around it are the sepulchres of various kings and queens. From this eminence the eye looks down between pillars and funereal trophies to the chapels and chambers below, crowded with tombs; where warriors, prelates, courtiers, and statesmen lie moulder- 310 ing in their “beds of darkness." Close by me stood the great chair of coronation, rudely carved of oak, in the barbarous taste of a remote and Gothic age. The scene seemed almost as if contrived, with theatrical artifice, to produce an effect upon the beholder. Here was a type of the beginning and the end of 315 human pomp and power; here it was literally but a step from the throne to the sepulchre. Would not one think that these incongruous mementos had been gathered together as a lesson

303. Edward the Confessor (King of England from 1041 to 1065), founder of the abbey.

312. Chair of Coronation. The oak coronation-chair was made by order of Edward I., and in it was enclosed the stone of Scone, brought by him from Scotland. A legend identified this stone as the pillow on which Jacob slept at Bethel (Gen. xxviii. 11). After many wanderings it was deposited in the Abbey of Scone, and the kings of Scotland sat on it during the ceremony of being crowned. Edward I. intended to present this stone, as a trophy of his conquest of Scotland, to Edward the Confessor's Shrine. In this oak chair all the English sovereigns since Edward the First's time have sat to be crowned. Cromwell was formally made Lord Protector in Westminster Hall, and for this ceremony the coronation-chair was used. This is said to have been the only time it was ever carried out of the abbey.




to living greatness? - to show it, even in the moment of its proudest exaltation, the neglect and dishonor to which it must 320 soon arrive; how soon that crown which encircles its brow must pass away, and it must lie down in the dust and disgraces of the tomb, and be trampled upon by the feet of the meanest of the multitude. For, strange to tell, even the grave is here no longer a sanctuary. There is a shocking levity in 325 some natures, which leads them to sport with awful and hallowed things; and there are base minds, which delight to revenge on the illustrious dead the abject homage and grovelling servility which they pay to the living. The coffin of Edward the Confessor has been broken open, and his remains despoiled of their funereal ornaments; the sceptre has been stolen from the hand of the imperious Elizabeth, and the effigy of Henry the Fifth lies headless. Not a royal monument but bears some proof how false and fugitive is the homage of mankind. Some are plundered, some mutilated; some covered with ribaldry and insult,—all more or less outraged and dishonored!

I endeavored to form some arrangement in my mind of the objects I had been contemplating, but found they were already


The last beams of day were now faintly streaming through the painted windows in the high vaults above me; the lower parts of the abbey were already wrapped in the obscurity of 340 twilight. The chapel and aisles grew darker and darker. The effigies of the kings faded into shadows; the marble figures of the monuments assumed strange shapes in the uncertain light; the evening breeze crept through the aisles like the cold breath of the grave; and even the distant footfall of a verger, traversing the Poets' Corner, had something strange and dreary in its sound. I slowly retraced my morning's walk, and as I passed out at the portal of the cloisters, the door, closing with a jarring noise behind me, filled the whole building with echoes.


333. Henry the Fifth, King of England from 1413 to 1422.



fallen into indistinctness and confusion. Names, inscriptions, trophies, had all become confounded in my recollection, though I had scarcely taken my foot from off the threshold. What, 355 thought I, is this vast assemblage of sepulchres but a treasury of humiliation, a huge pile of reiterated homilies on the emptiness of renown and the certainty of oblivion! It is, indeed, the empire of Death, his great shadowy palace, where he sits in state, mocking at the relics of human glory, and spreading 360 dust and forgetfulness on the monuments of princes. How idle a boast, after all, is the immortality of a name! Time is ever silently turning over his pages; we are too much engrossed by the story of the present to think of the characters and anecdotes that gave interest to the past; and each age is a volume thrown 365 aside to be speedily forgotten. The idol of to-day pushes the hero of yesterday out of our recollection; and will, in turn, be supplanted by his successor of to-morrow. "Our fathers," says Sir Thomas Browne, "find their graves in our short memories, and sadly tell us how we may be buried in our survivors." 370 History fades into fable; fact becomes clouded with doubt and controversy; the inscription moulders from the tablet; the statue falls from the pedestal. Columns, arches, pyramids, what are they but heaps of sand, and their epitaphs but characters written in the dust? What is the security of a tomb, or the perpetuity 375 of an embalmment? The remains of Alexander the Great have

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359. The empire of Death. What is personification?

369. Sir Thomas Browne, M. D., was a merchant's son, born in London in 1605; was knighted by Charles II. in 1671; died in 1682. The Religio Medici (The Religion of a Physician) was his first and most remarkable work. Dr. Johnson says of him, "There is scarce any kind of knowledge, profane or sacred, abstruse or elegant, which he does not appear to have cultivated with


374. Epitaph (Gr. èπí, upon; Tápos, tomb), an inscription on a monument in honor or memory of the dead.

376. Alexander the Great. He was the son of Philip of Macedon; conquered Greece, and finally made himself master of the known world: he died B. C. 324. A stone coffin in the British Museum, found at Alexandria, was fancied by Dr. Clark, the traveller, to be the identical sarcophagus that once contained the body of Alexander.

been scattered to the winds, and his empty sarcophagus is now the mere curiosity of a museum. "The Egyptian mummies, which Cambyses or time hath spared, avarice now consumeth; Mizraim cures wounds, and Pharaoh is sold for balsams."

What, then, is to insure this pile which now towers above me from sharing the fate of mightier mausoleums? The time must come when its gilded vaults, which now spring so loftily, shall lie in rubbish beneath the feet; when, instead of the sound of melody and praise, the wind shall whistle through the broken 385 arches, and the owl hoot from the shattered tower, when the garish sunbeam shall break into these gloomy mansions of death, and the ivy twine round the fallen column, and the foxglove hang its blossoms about the nameless urn, as if in mockery of the dead. Thus man passes away; his name perishes from record 390 and recollection; his history is as a tale that is told, and his very monument becomes a ruin!


377. Sarcophagus (Gr. σаркоpáyos, from σápέ, sarx, flesh, and payeîv, phagein, to eat; from a notion that the stone consumed in a few weeks the flesh of bodies deposited in it), a stone coffin or tomb.


378. Mummies. A dead body embalmed and dried after the Egyptian One of the simplest processes was drying by the use of salt or natron, and wrapping in coarse cloth. The bodies of the rich underwent the most complicated operations; perfumes were put into the body, it was covered with natron and steeped in it for seventy days; after this it was washed, steeped in balsam, and wrapped up in linen bandages, sometimes to the number of twenty thicknesses. Various ornaments were placed above the bandages, particularly about the head. Mummies were formerly much used in medicine on account of the balsam they contain. Hence "avarice now consumeth" the mummies which the conquerors of Egypt or "time hath spared." The bodies of great kings may enrich the maker of patent medicine !

379. Cambyses, King of Persia, conquered Egypt 525 B. C.

380. Mizraim. The first mortal king of Mizraim, "the double land," is said to have been Menes. He inherited Upper Egypt, and made himself mas-ter of Lower Egypt. Menes may be considered the founder of the empire. The word Mizraim here seems to mean the oldest kings or nobles of Egypt. See Genesis, x. 6. Pharaoh. The title of Pharaoh was like that of Czar or Sultan, and given to a series of different dynasties in Egypt.

387. Garish, glaring, staring.

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