« PreviousContinue »
is by the south, it was natural for burials to be on that side, that those who were going to Divine service might, in their way, by the sight of the graves of their friends, be put in mind to offer up a prayer for the welfare of their souls; and eren now, since the custom of praying for the dead is abolished, the same obvious situation of graves may excite some tender recollections in those who view them, and silently implore
the passing tribute of a sigh. That this motive has its influence, may be concluded from the graves that appear on the north side of the churchyard, when the approach to the church happens to be that way; of this there are some few instances in this neighbourhood.” Pennant, speaking of Wbiteford church, (Hist. of Hollywell and Whiteford, p. 102,) says: “I step into the churchyard, and sigh over the number of departed which fill the inevitable retreat. In no distant time the north side, like those of all other Welsh churches, was, through some superstition, to be occupied only by persons executed, or by suicides. It is now nearly as much crowded as the other parts.” He also says that in North Wales none but excommunicated, or very poor and friendless people, are buried on the north side of the churchyard.
In the Cambrian Register, 1796, p. 374, is the following very apposite passage respecting churchyards in Wales : “ In country churchyards the relations of the deceased crowd them into that part which is south of the church ; the north side, in their opinion, being unhallowed ground, fit only to be the dormitory of still-born infants and suicides. For an example to his neighbours, and as well to escape the barbarities of the sextons, the writer of the above account ordered himself to be buried on the north side of the churchyard. But as he was accounted an infidel when alive, his neighbours could not think it creditable to associate with him when dead. His dust, therefore, is likely to pass a solitary retirement, and for ages to remain undisturbed by the hands of men.” In the printed trial of Robert Fitzgerald and others, for the murder of Patrick Randal M'Donnel, 4to. p. 19, we read: “The body of Mr. Fitzgerald, immediately after execution, was carried to the ruins of Turlagh House, and was waked in a stable adjoining, with a few candles placed about it. On the next day it was carried to the churchyard of Turlagh, where he was buried on what is generally termed the wrong side of the church, in his
clothes, without a coffin.” The above murder and trial happened in Ireland in the year 1786.
In Paradoxical Assertions and Philosophical Problems, by R. H., 1661, p. 45, we read : “Cælo tegitur, qui non habet urnam. Doubtless that man's bones in the north churchyard - rest in more quiet than his that lies entomb'd in the chancel.” Moresin says that, in Popish burying-grounds, those who were reputed good Christians lay towards the south and east; others, who had suffered capital punishment, laid violent hands on themselves, or the like, were buried towards the north : a custom that had formerly been of frequent use in Scotland.!
Jamieson, in his Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language, v. Bery, Berisch (to inter, or bury), quotes the following passage from Archbishop Hamiltoune's Catechisme, 1551, f. 23: “Siclyke supersticion is amang thame, that they will nocht berisch or erde the bodis of thar friendis on the north part of the kirk-vard, trowand that thair is mair halynes or verteu on the south syde than on the north.” From what has been already quoted from Martin's Month's Mind, it should appear, too, that there was something honorable or dishonorable in the position of the graves : the common and honorable direction is from east to west, the dishonorable one from north to south. The famous antiquary, Thomas learne, had such correct notions on this head, that he left orders for his grave to be made straight by a compass, due east and west; in consequence of which his monument, which I have often seen, is placed in a direction not parallel with any of the other graves. Its being placed seemingly awry gives it a very remarkable appearance. Craven Ord informed me that “at the east end of the chancel, in the churchyard of Fornham All Saints, near Bury, Suffolk, is the coffin-shaped monument of Henrietta Maria Cornwallis, who died in 1707. It stands north and south, and the parish tradition says that she ordered that position of it as a mark of penitence and humiliation.” 2
I “In cæmeteriis pontificiis, boni, quos putant, ad austrum et oriens, reliqui, qui aut supplicio affecti, aut sibi vim fecissent, et id genus ad septentrionem sepeliantur, ut frequens olim Scotis fuit mos.” Moresini Papatus, p. 157.
I find in Durandi Rationale, lib. vii. De Officio Mortuorum, cap. 35-39, the following: “Debet autem quis sic sepeliri, ut capite ad occidentem posito, pedes dirigat ad orientem, in quo quasi ipsa positione orat : et “As to the position in the grave, though we decline,” says Sir Thomas Browne, in his Urneburial, “the religious consideration, yet in cæmeterial and narrower burying-places, to avoid confusion and cross-position, a certain posture were to be admitted. The Persians lay north and south; the Megarians and Phænicians placed their heads to the east; the Athenians, some think, towards the west, which Christians still retain; and Bede will have it to be the posture of our Saviour. That Christians buried their dead on their backs, or in a supine position, seems agreeable to profound sleep and the common posture of dying; contrary also to the most natural way of birth; not unlike our pendulous posture in the doubtful state of the womb. Diogenes was singular, who preferred a prone situation in the grave; and some Christians, like neither, (Russians, &c.,) who decline the figure of rest, and make choice of an erect posture."!
In Articles of Enquiry for the Diocese of Ely, in the second Visitation of the R. R. Father in God Matthew (Wren) Lord Bishop of that Diocese, 1662, p. 6, speaking of churchyards, it is asked: “When graves are digged, are they made six foot deep (at the least), and east and west ?” In Cymbeline, act iv. sc. 2, Guiderius, speaking of the apparently dead body of Imogen, disguised in men's apparel, says: “Nay, Cadwal, we must lay his head to the east ; my father has a reason for 't.”
There is a passage in the Grave-diggers' scene in Hamlet, act v. sc. 1: “Make her grave straight," which Dr. Johnson has thus explained : “Make her grave from east to west, in a direct line parallel to the church; not from north to south, athwart the regular line. This I think is meant.” Under this idea, the context must be thus explained: the two Grarediggers, with their implements over their shoulders, come, as they have been directed, to make Ophelia's grave. The first asks, Must I make the grave of her who has been a suicide like that of other Christians ? She is to be buried so, says the other, therefore make her grave straight, i. e. parallel with those of other Christians. This explanation seems to do more innuit quod promptus est, ut de occasu festinet ad ortum : de mundo ad seculum.”
! A correspondent says: “Die an old maid, and be buried with my face downwards.” I have seen this expression in some work by Waldron.
honour to Shakespeare, who was not likely to make his cha-
• And, but that great command o'ersways the order,
Shards, flints, and pebbles should be thrown upon her.' But as she was to have Christian burial, there could be no reason for the clown's debating whether the grave was to be made straight or crooked, north or east. Had the first clown doubted this, his first question would have been whether the grave was to have been dug straight ?”
Arnot, in his History of Edinburgh, p. 252, speaking of St. Leonard Hill, says: “In a northern part of it,” (he mentioned before that part of it was the Quakers' burying-ground,) “children who have died without receiving baptism, and men who have fallen by their own hand, use to be interred.” !
! " Infantumque animæ flentes in limine primo:
Quos dulcis vitæ exortis : et ab ubere raptos,
[To be buried out of the sanctuary does not mean interment in unconsecrated ground, but in some remote part of the churchyard, apart from that in which the bodies of the inhabitants in general are deposited. In many churchyards may be seen a row of graves on the extreme verge, which are occupied by the bodies of strangers buried at the parish charge, of suicides, or of others, who are considered unfit to associate underground with the good people of the parish. These are said to “lie out of the sanctuary.”]
In Malkin's Scenery, Antiquities, and Biography of South Wales, 1804, p. 261, we read : “ The custom of dancing in the churchyard at their feasts and revels is universal in Radnorshire, and very common in other parts of the principality. Indeed this solemn abode is rendered a kind of circus for every sport and exercise. The young men play at fives and tennis against the wall of the church. It is not however to be understood that they literally dance over the graves of their progenitors. This amusement takes place on the north side of the churchyard, where it is the custom not to bury. It is rather singular, however, that the association of the place, surrounded by memorials of mortality, should not deaden the impulses of joy in minds in other respects not insensible io the suggestions of vulgar superstition.” Ibid. p. 281, Aberedwy: “In this churchyard are two uncommonly large yewe trees, evidently of great age, but in unimpaired luxuriance and preservation, under the shade of which an intelligent clergvinan of the neighbourhood informed me that he had frequently seen sixty couple dancing at Aberedwy feast on the 14th of June. The boughs of the two trees intertwine, and afford ample space for the evolutions of so numerous a company within their ample covering.”
In the Description of the Isles of Scotland, by J. Moner. penny, 4to., under the Island of Rona, is the following passage: «« There is in this island a chapel dedicated to Saint Ronan ; wherein (as aged men report) there is alwaves a spade wherewith, whenas any is dead, they find the place of his grare
Abstulit atra dies, et funere mersit acerbo.-