SOME of the extraordinary and amusing Epitaphs into the use of which people have been led, either by ignorance or a taste for satire, are so curious, that it may be well to insert a few of them here. Many of these are still remaining upon the gravestones or tablets where they were originally placed, and some of them are already well known from their having appeared in different Archæological Magazines or other Periodicals.
Few are better known than the famous Epitaph at Pewsey in Wiltshire: -
"HERE lies the body of the Lady O' Looney, great niece of Burke, commonly called the Sublime. She was bland, passionate, and deeply religious; also, she painted in Water-Colours, and sent several pictures to the Exhibition. She was first cousin to Lady Jones, - and of such is the kingdom of heaven."
The following are from various sources: -
"SHARP was her wit,
Mild was her nature;
A tender wife,
A good-humour'd creature."
Dead and gone."
St. John's, Worcester.
"HERE lies the dust of Margaret Gywn,
Who was so very pure within,
That she chipp'd the shell of her earthly skin,
And hatch'd herself a Cherubim."
"On a Thursday I was born,
On a Thursday made a bride,
On a Thursday broke my leg,
And on a Thursday died."
"HERE lies the body of Daniel Saul,
Spitalields weaver, - and that's all."
St. Dunstan's, Stepney.
"HERE lies John Pye,
Doth he so?
There let him lie."
"HERE lies Williain Shaw,
An attorney-at-law, -
If he is not blest,
What will become of all the rest?"
St. Bartholomew's, London.
"A MAID of eighteen
We have laid in this green,
To rest herself a short space,
And after that time
This Rose in her prime
Shall rise up again by God's grace."
To Mrs. Pennaiah Juckes. Hackney.
"HERE lies Mrs. Buff, who bad money enough;
She laid it up in store:
And when she died she shut her eyes,
And never spoke no more.
(She was a fortune-teller.)"
St. Mary's, Nottingham.
"HERE lies John Mills, who over hills
Pursued the hounds with hollow
The leap though high, from earth to sky
The huntsman we must follow."
"THROUGH Christ, I'm not inferior
To William the Conqueror." - Rom. viii. 37.
Cupar Fife, Scotland.
"HERE lies Mass Andrew Gray,
Of whom ne muckle good can I say:
He was ne Quaker, for he had ne spirit;
He was ne Papist, for he had ne merit;
He was ne Turk, for he drank muckle wine;
He was ne Jew, for he eat muckle swine;
Full forty years he preach'd and lee'd,
For which God doom'd him when he dee'd."
Glasgow Churchyard, Scotland.
"HERE lies the body of Richard Hind,
Who was neither ingenuous, sober, or kind."
"THE Lord saw good, - I was lopping off wood,
And down fell from the tree;
I met with a check, and I broke my neck,
And so death lopp'd off me."
The following colloquial Epitaph is from St. Margaret Moses, London: -
"Body.] I, Mary Pawson, ly below slepyng.
Soul.] I, Mary Pawson, sit above waking.
Both] We hope to meet again with glory cloathed,
Then Mary Pawson for ever blessed."
"In memory of David Fletcher, smith to this church, who died Feb. 14, 1744, aged 48.
My sledge and hammer lie reclin'd;
My bellows too have lost their wind;
My fire's extinguish'd, forge decay'd,
And in the dust my vice is laid;
My coal is spent, my iron gone,
My last nail's driven, - my work is done.
Finis coronat opus."
"UNDERNEATH lieth the remains of Patrick Jones, son of Morris and Catherine Jones, of this town, who departed this life Dec. 16, 1811, aged 19.
Our life is but a winter's day, -
Some only breakfasts and away;
Others to dinner stay, and are full fed;
The oldest man but sups and goes to bed.
Large is his debt who lingers all the day;
Who goes the soonest has the least to pay."
"In memory of Alexander Layton, Master of Defence. 1679.
"His thrusts like lightning flew; but skilful Death
Parry'd them all, and put him out of breath."
St. Dunstan's-in-the-West, London.
"HIC jacet Tom Shorthose, sine tomb, sine sheets, sine riches,
Qui vixit sine gown, sine cloak, sine shirt, sine britches."
St. Alban's Churchyard.
"HERE lies father and mother, and sister and I, -
We all died within the short spase of one short year.
They all be buried at Wimble except I,
And I be buried here."
"OF such is the kingdom of heaven.
Here lie the remains of Thomas Chambers,
Whose genteel address and assiduity
Recommended him to all that had the
Pleasure of his acquaintance
He died June 13, 1765,
"O CRUEL Death! how cou'd you be so unkind,
To take him before, and leave me behind?
You should have taken both of us, if either;
Which would have been more pleasing to the survivor."
St Philip, Birmingham.
"NOBLES and heralds, by your leave,
Here lie the bones of Matthew Prior,
The son of Adam and of Eve, -
Let Bourbon or Nassau go higher."
"HERE lies John Bun,
Kill'd by a gun;
His real name was Wood,
But that wouldn't rhyme, so I thought Bun should."
"TAKE time in time, while time doth laste,
For time is not time, when time is paste."
"THAT which a being was, it is not now;
That being which it was, it is not now;
To be what 'tis, is not to be, you see;
That which now is not, shall a being be."
"HERE lies the body of Sarah Sexton,
Who as a wife did never vex one; -
I can't say so much for her on the next stone."
"HERE lies my wife, -
Poor Molly, let her lie;
She finds repose at last,
And so do I."
"My pains were great, no tongue can tell
What I endnr'd when I was ill:
The Lord in mercy thought it best,
And took me to a place of rest.
Then parents dear, weep not for me;
I hope in heav'n I shall you see."
In Bakewell Churchyard is the following curious testimony to the vocal powers of its late clerk: -
"THE vocal powers hear let us mark
Of Philip, our late parish clark.
In church none ever heard a layman
With a clearer voice say Amen.
Who with Hallelujahs sound
Like him can make the roof rebound?
The choir laments his choral tones,
The town so soon here laid his bones.
Sleep undisturb'd within thy peaceful shrine,
Till angels wake thee with such notes as thine."
In St. Mary's Churchyard at Elland, in Yorkshire, is an anagram on Maria Tailour, which will make "a mari alto rui," - with the following observation by way of allusion: -
In the same churchyard is the following: -
"From seas of woes, which were due to my crimes,
Death snatcht me hence, to go to rest betimes."
"SHE was, - but room forbids to tell you what; -
Think what a wife should be, for she was that."
By the chancel door of Hartland Abbey Church, also called Stoke St. Nectan, in Devonshire, is the tomb of one Docton, bearing a quaint inscription, beginning "Rejoice not over me, oh my enemie." This stone was once surrounded by a brass rim, with the following verse: -
"HERE l lie outside the chancel door;
Here I lie because I'm poor:
The further in, the more they pay;
But here I lie as warm as they."
"HERE old John Randal lies,
Who, counting from his tale,
Liv'd threescore years and ten,
Such vertue was in ale.
Ale was his meat,
Ale was his drink,
Ale did his heart revive,
And if he could have drunk his ale,
He still had been alive. –
He died January 5,
Great Wolford Churchyard.
"WHETHER he lives, or whether he dies,
Nobody laughs and nobody cries;
Where he's gone and how he fares,
Nobody knows and nobody cares."
On Mary Arundell.
"MAN to the marigold compar'd may be,
Man may be liken'd to the laurel-tree,
Both feade the eye, both please the optic sense,
Both soon decay, both suddenly fleet hence.
What then infer you from her name but this, -
Man fades away, - man a dry laurel is † ."
Dulse Churchyard, Cornwall.
†Alluding to the fact that the letters of her name spell this sentence.
Dr. Benjamin Franklin's Epitaph on himself: -
"THE body of Benjamin Franklin, Printer, - like the covering of an old book, its contents torn out, and stript of its lettering and guilding, - lies here, food for worms; yet the work itself shall not be lost, for it will (as he believed) appear once more in a new and beautiful edition, corrected and amended by the Author."
GRIM Death took me without any warning,
I was well at night, and dead at nine in the morning."
"TWAS by a fall I caught my death, -
No man can tell his time or breath.
I might have died as soon as then,
If I had had physicians men."
"PAIN was my portion,
Physic my food,
Groans was my devotion,
Drugs did me no good.
Christ was my Physician,
Knew what way was best,
To ease me of my pain,
He took my soul to rest."
St. John's, Clerkenwell.
These lines are in the churchyard of St. Mary, York, on a tombstone raised to the memory of a young maid, who was accidentally drowned Dec.24, 1696. The inscription is said to be penned by her lover: -
"NIGH to the river Ouse, in York's fair city,
Unto this pretty maid Death shew'd no pity;
As soon as she'd her pail with water fill'd,
Came sudden Death, and Life like water spill'd."
St. Mary, York.
On Mr. Airs.
"UNDER this stone of marble fair
Lies the body entomb'd of Gervase Aire;
He dy'd not of an ague-fit,
Nor surfeited of too much wit; -
Methinks this was a wondrous death,
That Aire should die for want of breath."
St. Giles, Cripplegate.
"HERE lie I and my three daughters,
All from drinking the Cheltenham waters;
While if we had kept to the Epsom salts,
We should not be now in these here vaults.''
"HERE lies the body of Robert More, -
What signify's more words?
Who kill'd himself by eating of curds;
But if he had heen rul'd by Sarah his wife,
He might have liv'd all the days of his life."
"HERE lies Joan Onely, the onely most faithful wife of John Onely, in Warwickshire, Esq., to whose soul the onely Trinity be merciful."
St. John's, Hackney.
"HERE lyeth wrapt in clay
The body of William Wray; -
I have no more to say."
St. Michael's, Crooked-lane.
"To free me from domestic strife,
Death called at my house, but he spoke with my wife.
Susan, wife of David Pattison, lies here.
Oct 19, 1706.
Stop, reader! and if not in a hurry, shed a tear."
Hadleigh Church, Suffolk.
"HERE lies one More, and no more than he,
One More and no more, and how can that be?
Why one More aud no more may well lie here alone,
But here lies one More, and that's more than one."
St. Bennet's, Paul's Wharf, London.
The epitaph on Shakespeare, in the church of Stratford-on-Avon, is well known, though it has generally been misprinted. Given exactly as it occurs on the monument, it is as follows: -
This inscription has had its effect. The bones still rest undisturbed, and it has probably preserved them from a journey to Westminster Abbey.
"GOOD Frend, for Jesus sake forbeare
To digg the dust encloased heare;
Blest be EY man TY spares these stones,
And curst be he TY moves my bones."
It may not be out of place to add here two remarkable foreign inscriptions :-
On an ancient monument of whitish marble, in the "New Church" at Amsterdam, are engraved a pair of slippers of a very singular kind, with the two words Essen Uyt, which mean "exactly." The story is, that a man tolerably rich, and who dearly loved good eating, took it into his head that he was to live a certain numher of years, and no longer. Under this idea, he counted that if he spent so much a-year, his estate and his life would expire together. It happened by chance that he was not deceived in either of these computations he died precisely at the time he had prescribed to himself in his imagination; and had then brought his fortune to such a pass, that after paying his debts he had nothing left but a pair of slippers. His relations buried him creditably, and would have his slippers carved on his tomb, with the above-mentioned laconic device.
In a churchyard at Marle, in France, is the following enigma: -
"CI gît le fils, ci gît la mere,
Ci gît la fille avec le pere,
Ci gît la sœur, ci gît le frere,
Ci gît la femme et le mari,
Et n'y a que trois corps icy."
Which may be rendered in English thus: -
"Here lies the son, here lies the mother,
Here lie the daughter, with the father,
Here lies the sister, here lies the brother,
Here lies the wife and the husband to her,
And but three persons buried here."
A large collection of ludicrous, as well as of panegyrical and moral, epitaphs, was published in two volumes, by T. Webb, in 1777, to which collection I am indebted for several of the above.
The "Reverence due to Holy Places" gives the following examples. The first, near the west end of Winchester Cathedral; the second, in the graveyard of the fine parish church of Yatton, Somersetshire. It is only by the exposure of such scandals that we may hope to effect their non-appearance in future.
"In memory of Thomas Thetcher, a Grenadier in the Hants Militia, who died of a violent fever contracted by drinking small beerr when hot, the 12th of May, 1764, aged 26 years.
"Here sleeps in peace a Hampshire grenadier,
Who caught his death by drinking cold small beer.
Soldiers be wise from his untimely fall,
And when ye're hot drink strong or not at all.
"This memorial being decayed, was restored by the Officers of the Garrison, A.D. 1781.
"An honest soldier never is forgot,
Whether he died by musket or by pot.
"This stone was placed by the North Hants Militia, 1802, in consequence of the original stone being destroyed."
"HERE lies Merrily Joules,
A beauty bright,
That left Isaac Joules,
Her heart's delight."
Many of these examples will forcibly shew into what lengths bad taste, or a love for absurdities, may lead people who have nothing better to guide them. And yet, while all these strange Epitaphs are introduced, "the law," says the Dean of Salisbury, in a Charge to the clergy of the Archdeaconry of Sarum, (1844,) "is explicit, that no Epitaphs can be placed either within churches or burial-grounds, but by the consent of the clergyman." All should be "simple, monitory, scriptrual." Were these directions attended to, how different would be the aspect of our churchyards, - how contrary the impression they would convey!
With regard to the emblems to be found upon tombstones, we cannot do better than examine the rules which were observed by the early Christians; with regard to which there is the following passage in Maitland's "Church in the Catacombs:" –
"On stones innumerable appears the Good Shepherd, bearing on His shoulders the recovered sheep, by which many an illiterate believer expressed his sense of personal salvation. One, according to his Epitaph, sleeps in Christ; another is buried with a hope that she may live in the Lord Jesus; but most of all, the Cross in its simplest form is employed to testify the faith of the deceased: and whatever ignorance may have prevailed regarding the letter of Holy Writ, or the more mysterious doctrines contained in it, there seems to have been no want of apprehension of that sacrifice 'whereby alone we obtain remission of our sins, and are made partakers of the kingdom of heaven.'"
Among the old English Epitaphs we may, however, give many instances which possess both great beauty and depth of meaning.
Among these is the Epitaph of "Florens Caldwell, Esq., and Mary his wife:" –
"EARTH goes to earth, as mold to mold;
Earth treads on earth glittering in gold;
Earth as to earth returne ne'er should,
Earth shall to earth goe e'er he would;
Earth upon earth consider may;
Earth goes to earth naked away; -
Earth tough on earth be stout and gay,
Shall from earth pass poor away.
Be merciful and charitable,
Relieve the poor as thou art able.
A shrowd to thy grave
Is all thou shalt have."
St. Martin's, Ludgate.
On a tombstone, inscribed without a name, is the following, given by Webb: -
"LOOK, man, before thee, how thy death hasteth;
Look, man, behind thee, how thy life wasteth;
Look on thy right side, how death thee desireth;
Look on the left side, how sin thee beguileth;
Look, man, above, - the joys that ever shall last;
Look, man, beneath thee, - the pains without rest."
The following, on Margaret Humble, is from St. Saviour's, Southwark: -
"LIKE to the damask rose you see,
Or like the blossom on the tree,
Or like the dainty flow'r of May,
Or like the morning of the day,
Or like the sun, or like the shade,
Or like the gourd which Jonas had;
Even so is man, whose thread is spnn,
Drawn out, and cut, and so is done:
The rose withers, the blossom blasteth,
The flower fades, the morning hasteth,
The sun sets, the shadow dies,
The gourd consumes, and man he dies."
The Epitaph on " Elizabeth," by Ben Jonson, is already well known: -
"WOULDST thou hear what man can say
In a little? Reader, stay.
Underneath this stone doth lie
As much beauty as could die,
Which when alive did harbour give
To more virtue than doth live.
If at all she had a fault,
Leave it hurled in this vault.
One name was Elizabeth,
Th' other, let it sleep with death;
Fitter, where it dyed to tell,
Than that it lived at all. - Farewell"'
In the cemeteries at Florence are many sentences which are remarkable for their poetry of expression such as –
"HER beautiful eyes are closed in calm sleep.
"This stone was placed by the husband, with that sorrow which the agonized heart feels but cannot speak of."
Also on a mother and her infant: -
"HERE reposes the first kiss of love:
The mother went before, the infant followed."
The Epitaph of Mr. Beckford, in the Lansdowne Cemetery, near Bath, is very remarkable. One sentence alone in all his writings seemed to shew some faint apprehension of divine truth. This sentence his daughter has found consolation in placing on his grave: -
Grant me, thro' obvious clouds, one transient gleam
Of Thy bright Essence in my dying hour."
Of innumerable curious and beautiful Latin Epitaphs, the following are examples: -
On the rich Thomas Carter:
"Hic jacet vir, perpendiculariter honestus."
died A.D. 1586,
aged 80, - March 10.
died A.D. 1593,
aged 80, - March 10.
"Vitæ ambo et mortis par fuit ipsa dies."
"ANNA filola Thomas et Mariæ Rivers
O felices parentes!
Si idem nostris tumulis inscribi posset epitaphium!
Decimus dies Junii vitam dedit, vicesimus abstulit."
"HOC memores dulcis pueri posuere parentes,
Ah! Non flere licet, quem Deus arripuit.
Natus . . . . Renatus . . . . Translatus . . ."
"MUSICUS et Logicus Wynal hic jacet ecce Johanne;
Organa namque loqui fecerat ille quasi."
"HODIE Mihi! Cras Tibi!"
"QUOD fuit esse, quod est, quod non fuit esse, quod esse,
Esse quod est, non esse quod est, non est, erit, esse."
"ANTE malum quam te culpa maculaverat ante,
Quam poterat primum carpere cura decus,
In cœlos gemmam leni mors transtulit ictu,
Inque suo jussit sese aperire solo."
"QUOD cum cœlicolis habitus, pars altera nostri,
Non dolet, hic tantûm me superesse dolet.
Hoc posuit mœstissima uxor, Sara."
St. Giles, Cripplegate.
"VIATOR, mirum referam
Quo die efflavit animam Thos. Carter, prædictus,
Acûs foramen transivit Camelus Sudburiensis,
Vale!" – 1706.
St. Gregory, Sudbury.
"VITA, crucem, ut vivas, hominum si noscere velis,
Quis? quid? cur? cujus? passus amore fuit."
Qu an tris di c vul stra
\ \ \ \ \ \ \
o guis ti ro um nere vit.
/ / / / / / /
H San Chris mi t mu la
In the cloisters at Worcester is a simple gravestone, inscribed with the one word
which has long and fruitlessly proved a study for antiquarians.
I cannot conclude with a more beautiful Epitaph than the recent one to Alice Evelyn, daughter of Martin F. Tupper.
"IT is an early hour,
Sweet child, to fall asleep!
Ere yet thy bud had shewn its flower,
Or morning dews had ceased to shower; -
But in repose how deep
Thou calmly liest, on thy infant bed!
Were all the dead like thee, how lovely were the dead!
"Ere day was well begun,
In what brief span of time
Thy living course and work were done:
Thou saw'st no night, nor even noon,
But only morning's prime;
Smiling thou sleepest now, but hadst thou found
A longer life, tears might those smiles have drown'd.
"Thine was a blessed flight,
Ere sorrow clouded, or ere sin could slay;
No weary course was thine, no arduous fight;
But an hour on earth of labour light,
And hire for all the day!
Can aught be more than this?
Yes, Christian, yes!
It is much more to live,
And a long life to the 'good fight' to give;
'To keep the faith,' the appointed race to run;
And then to win the praise, - 'Servant of God, well done!'"