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confess, this spot is always more interesting than any other.
2. As you wander over the rest of the ground, you see humble memorials of humbler worth, mixed perhaps with the monuments of rank and wealth. But these tell always a definite tale. It is either the lord or the tenant of some of the neighbouring fields, or a trading burgher, or perhaps a clergyman; and there is an end of it. These men performed their parts on earth, like the generality of their fellows, and, after figuring for a space on the limited arena of the parish or the district, were here gathered to their fathers. But the graves of the strangers ! what tales are told by every undistinguished heap—what eloquence in this utter absence of epitaphs !
3. There can be no doubt that the individuals who rest in this nook belonged, with hardly the possibility of an exception, to the humbler orders of the community. But who will say that the final sufferings and death of any individual whatsoever are without their pathos ? To me, who have never been able to despise any fellow-creature, the silent stories related by these little heaps, possess an interest above all real eloquence. 4. Here we may suppose, rests the weary
to whom, after many bitter shifts, all bitterly disappointed, wandering and mendicancy had become a last trade. His snow-white head, which had suffered the inclemency of many winters, was here at last laid low for ever. Here also the homeless youth, who had trusted himself to the wide world in search of fortune, was arrested in his wanderings; and whether his heart was as light as his purse, or weighed down with many privations and disappointments, the end was the same—only in the one case a blight; in the other, a bliss.
5. The prodigal, who had wandered far, and fared still worse and worse, at length returning, was here cut short in his better purpose, far from those friends to whom he looked forward as a consolation for all his wretchedness. Perhaps, when stretched in mortal sickness in a homely lodging in the neighbouring village, where, though kindness was rendered, it was still the kindness of strangers, his mind wandered in repentant fondness to that mother whom he had parted with in scorn, but for whose hand to present his cup, and whose eye to melt him with its tenderness, he would now gladly give the miserable remains of his life.
6. Perhaps he thought of a brother, also parted with in rage and distrust, but who, in their early years, had played with him, a fond and innocent child, over the summer leas, and to whom that recollection forgave everything. No one of these friends to soothe the last moments of his wayward and unhappy life-scarcely even to hear of his death when it had taken place. Far from every remembered scene, every remembered face, he was doomed here to take his place amidst the noteless dead, and be as if he had never been.
7. Perhaps one of these graves contains the shipwrecked mariner, hither transferred from the neighbouring beach. A cry was heard by night through the storm which dashed the waves upon the rocky coast; deliverance was impossible; and next morning the only memorial of what had taken place was the lifeless body of a sailor stretched on the sand. No trace of name or kin, not even the name of the vessel, was learned; but, no doubt, as the villagers would remark in conveying him to the Strangers’ Nook, he left some heart to pine for his absence, some eyes to mourn for him, if his loss should ever be ascertained. There are few so desolate on earth as not to have one friend or associate. There must either be a wife to be widowed, or a child to be made an orphan, or a mother to suffer her own not less grievous bereavement.
8. Perhaps the sole beloved object of some humble domestic circle, whose incomings and outgoings were ever pleasant, is here laid low, while neither can the bereaved learn aught of the fate and final resting-place of their favourite, nor can those who kindly, but without mourning, performed his last offices, reach their ears with the intelligence, grateful even in its pain, of what had been done to his remains. Here the energies which had battled with the waves in their hour of night, and the despair whose expression had been wasted upon the black tempest, are all stilled into rest, and forgotten. The storm is done; its work has been accomplished; and here lies the strange mariner, where no storm shall ever again trouble him.
9. Such are the imaginings which may arise in contemplating that neglected nook in our churchyards which is devoted to the reception of strangers. The other dead have all been laid down in their final beds by long trains of sorrowing friends. They rest in death in the midst of those beloved scenes which their infancy knew, and which were associated with every happiness, every triumph, every sorrow which befell them.
10. But the homeless strangers ! they died far from every endeared scene. The rills were not here like those which they had known; the hills were different too. Instead of the circle of friends, whose anticipated grief tends so much to smooth the last bed of suffering man, the pillow of the homeless was arranged by strangers; they were carried to the burial-ground, not by a train of real mourners, anxious to express their respect and affection for the departed, but by a few individuals, who, in so doing, complimented human nature in general, but not the individual.
11. To the other graves there was also some one to resort afterwards, to lament the departure of those who lay below. The spot was always cherished and marked by at least one generation of kind ones; and, whether distinguished by a monument or not, there was always a greater or less interval before the memory of the deceased entirely perished from its place. Still, as each holy day came round, and the living flocked to the house of prayer, there was always some one to send a kind eye aside towards that little mound, and be for a moment moved with a pensive feeling, as the heart recalled a departed parent, or child, or friend.
12. But the graves of the strangers ! all regard was shut out from them as soon as the sod had closed over them. The decent few who had affected mourning over the strangers had no sooner turned away, than they were at once forgotten. That ceremony over, their kind had done with them for ever. And so, there they lie, distinguished from the rest only by the melancholy mark that they are themselves undistinguished from each other; no eye to weep over them now or hereafter, and no regard whatsoever to be paid to them till they stand forth, with their fellow-men, at the Great and Final Day.
re-cep-tion burgh'-er prod'-i-gal ac-com'-plished mon'-u-ments gen-er-al-i-ty wretch'-ed-ness in'-ter-val in-quire' ab'-sence in'-no-cent de-ceased' sen'-ti-ment in-di-vid-u-als as-cer-tained pen'-sive def'-in-ite pos-si-bil'-i-ty do-mes'-tic cer'-e-mon-y ten'-ant dis-ap-point-ed en'-er-gies mel'-an-chol-y
dis-tin'-guished, marked off.
re-pent'-ant, sorry for past neglect peas'-ant, countryman.
or misdeeds. me-mo'-ri-als, something to re- leas, grassy fields. member people by.
re-col-lec'-tion, memory ; a-ro'-na, space to live and work.
brance. el'-o-quence, deep feeling finely beach, sea-shore. expressed.
kin, persons related to one another, ep'-1-taphs, inscriptions on a tomb. or of the same family. com-mun'-i-ty, people living to- con-vey-ing, carrying. gether.
pine, lament; to be sorry for. pa'-thos, expression of deep feeling. as-so'-ci-ate, person they keep commen'-di-can-cy,
begging. in-clem'-en-cy, coldness; severity. be-reave'-ment, loss of some one by ar-rest'-ed, stopped.
death. pri-va'-tions, hardships.
in-tel'-li-gence, news; information. blight, something that injures or con-tem'-plat-ing, looking at. destroys.
an-tic'-i-pat-ed, expected ; foreseen. con-sol-a'-tion, something to lighten com'-pli-ment-ed, paid some honour or alleviate.
to. EXERCISES.-1. The Saxon prefix over- means over, above, beyond ; as overhead, over or above the head; overcharge, to charge beyond what is right; overseer, one who has charge over others.
2. Analyse and parse the following: “When you inquire of the passing peasant respecting this part of the burial-ground, he tells you that it is the corner for strangers.'
3. Make sentences of your own, and use in each one or more of the following words : Arrest, pine, bereavement, anticipate.
THE VIRGINIANS. [This extract is from the Virginians, a story by William Makepeace Thackeray, one of the greatest novelists of modern times.]
1. Mr Esmond called his American house Castlewood, from the patrimonial home in the old country. The whole usages of Virginia, indeed, were fondly modelled after the English customs. It was a loyal colony. The Virginians boasted that King Charles II. had been king in Virginia before he had been king in England. English king and English church were alike faithfully honoured there.