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There's a daisy ; * - I would give you some violets, but they withered all, when my father died.” The appropriate gift of Perdita, in the “ Winter's Tale,” will at once recur to the mind here. Arviragus, in Cymbeline, true to the natural dictate of the heart, says;
" With fairest flowers,
To winter-ground thy corse." And, with what kindred beauty, has Collins embodied these thoughts in the song beginning with,
“ To fair Fidele's grassy tomb,
Soft maids and village hinds shall bring
And rifle all the breathing spring.”
" I shall be married shortly,
; — one whose lips, though cold,
To make us garlands." Indeed, the older English poets abound in tender allusions of the same kind. The following lines from Milton's “ Lycidas are among the most beautiful of that solemn strain ;
Commentators have been much perplexed to ascertain the allegorical meaning of the other flowers in Ophelia's parting gift. It has occurred to us that the exposition might be furnished by the poet W. Browne, who was contemporary with Shakspeare, and doubiless embodied in his verse the prevailing impression of the time. According to him, the columbine was the emblem of desertion; and the daisy, that of beauty and innocence. Shakspeare himself, in one of his sonnets, tells us what the violet typifies;
Violet is for faithfulness
“ Bring the rathe primrose that forsaken dies,
To strow the laureate herse where Lycid lies.” Chatterton, in one of the sweetest stanzas of his “Mynstrelles Song,” says;
“ Heere uponne mie true love's grave,
Schalle the baren fleurs be layde,
Al the celness of a mayde." But we may not further multiply quotations. The whole body of English poetry, which is more thoughtful and suggestive, and deals more with the real and inherent, though often remote and obscure analogies of external things with the inner heart, than all other poetry, - is fraught, throughout, with allusions to the beautiful practice of placing flowers on graves.
We conclude these remarks by a slight reference to a subject, intimately connected with the preceding, – that of Symbols or Emblems which are placed on tombs and funereal structures. Some of the more common of these are the following ; — The Caudivorous Snake, Inverted Torch, Winged Globe, Hour-glass with and without wings, Cross, Harp, Globe with star surmounted by a cross, Veiled Urn, Lacrymatories or tear-vessels, Snake tasting from a bowl, Scythes, Bows with broken strings, &c. Some of these fall under the category of what are called conceits in design ; some are exceptionable on other accounts ; and some seem to be employed on no other ground than the long-continued usage of the stonecutters. We shall not here attempt to go deeply into the philosophy of those rules by which this species of symbolical representation should be governed. There is one principle, however, as it seems to us, which lies on the very surface of the subject, and which should never be violated. It is, that a symbol or emblem should be the natural and obvious expression of the idea or event it is intended to suggest. It is desirable, moreover, though not indispensable, that an emblem should be beautiful in itself, or at least one free from mean and offensive associations. They who have compared the symVOL. LIII. - No. 113.
bols of ancient Egypt with those of classical antiquity, will at once appreciate the force of this remark. On this account, as well as for other reasons, we must object to the emblem first named above, which has now become very common, the snake with its tail in its mouth. The only authority that we have heard assigned for this, is, that it is an old Egyptian emblem of eternity. We believe this to be an entire mistake. Pettigrew, a very high authority, says, this emblem “is not found on any Egyptian sculptured mythological representation of an early epoch.” * Wilkinson, in his late learned work on Egypt, † comes to the same conclusion. His words are ;
" It is doubtful if the snake with its tail in its mouth was really adopted by the Egyptians as the emblem of eternity. It occurs on papyri, encircling the figure of Harpocrates ; but there is no evidence of its having that meaning, and I do not remember to have seen it on any monuments of an early Egyptian epoch.” He quotes Macrobius in a note, who declares it to be a “ Phænician mode of representing the world.” The Greek writers, it is ascertained, “imagined that this emblem was used by the Egyptians to indicate the unutterable name of the eternal Ruler of the universe.” | We may add, that our own inquiries, after much research, including the great work of the French savans who accompanied Bonaparte to Egypt, have led us to the conclusion that it rests on no eurly authority of the Egyptians.
But even if the emblem were Egyptian and ancient also, it seems to us that the utter opposition between our associations and those of the early dwellers on the Nile, in relation to the snake, render it an incongruous and improper emblem
With them, a certain species of this class of animals was looked
with respect, from the circumstance of their use in destroying mice and reptiles. But with us, the old curse still abides with the serpent in all its forms, and there is yet “enmity put between us and him," so that his image is to us the emblem and appropriate embodiment of guile and sin. It is thus the furthest possible from the associations we cherish in regard to our departed friends, and is, in no respect, suggestive of the emotions and sentiments proper to a burial-place. We only add on this subject, that if there be
Pettigrew on Egyptian Mummies, p. 215. | Second Series of the “ Manners and Customs of the Ancient Egyptians.” Vol. II.
Wilkinson, Vol. I. p. 178.
any soundness in these remarks, all must revolt especially from one very common use of this emblem, we mean that of the caudivorous snake encircling the cross.
Another of these symbols appropriated to funereal monuments is the hour-glass, employed as typical of the steady lapse of time. If this can be used singly without being liable to the objection of conceit, yet the addition of wings seems to constitute a very incongruous image, — a sort of mixed metaphor. The inverted torch is an emblem of undoubted antiquity, and was an appropriate symbol of death to those who believed it to be the extinction of life ; but with Christians, who regard death but as an event in an imperishable existence, its use is at least questionable.
We will close these remarks with a slight reference to one other of these symbols, - the winged globe. This is one of the oldest and most common that is found on Egyptian sculptures. It is said, in some books on architecture,* to be a type or symbol of the Deity. But this is probably a mistake, since, according to Wilkinson,t it is very questionable whether the Deity himself was ever represented under any form by the Egyptians, or was supposed to be “ approachable unless der the name and form of some deified attribute indicative of his power.” The winged globe was probably one of this latter kind. I But in modern times, this emblem is almost uniformly misapplied, whether it be regarded as typical of the one or the other. Thus it may be found at the gate-way of a railroad car-house, in the western part of Massachusetts, where an emblem of this sacred significance will not be considered as peculiarly called for. It is scarcely less out of place, as we think, on the monumental structures of cemeteries, where it is often found, both in this country and elsewhere.
It is at least doubtful, whether, at the present day, and under the spiritual light of Christianity, any graven image” of the Deity, or of His attributes, should be employed ; and still more doubtful, if used, that
* In Stuart's “Dictionary of Architecture," for example. 1 " Ancient Egypt," Second Series. Vol. I. pp. 178, 179.
# Since writing the conjecture in the text, we have ascertained it to be well founded. According to Wilkinson, (Vol. I. p. 412,) the symbol of the Winged Globe, supported by two asps, is that appropriated' to HorHat, or Agathodæmon, ihe genius who presided over the persons of kings and sacred temples. It unites the emblems of Re, the Sun, of Neph, the Spirit of the Deity, and Mant, Nature.
it should be derived from the ancient Egyptians, whose idolatry was so gross, sottish, and bestial, and its outward expression so grotesque, mean, and contemptible, as to render them the laughing-stock of even the idolatrous Greeks and Romans. Thus Juvenal, in one of his most severe and dignified satires, exclaims;
“O holy nations ! Sacro-sanct abodes !
Where every garden propagates its gods!” But we do not intend to protract these remarks, and would not willingly incur the charge of hypercriticism, and especially on a subject of such seemingly small importance. We think, however, that all must agree with us, that if these symbols or emblems are used at all, they should be appropriately used; and that all incongruity, and still more any approach to absurdity, sadly jar with the fitting associations of the place.
Art. V.-1. Speech of MR. CHOATE, of Massachusetts,
on the Case of Alexander McLeod, delivered in the Senate of the United States, June 11th, 1841. Washing
ton : “ National Intelligencer" Office. 8vo. pp. 16. 2. Speech of MR. BENTON, of Missouri, on the Case of McLeod.
In Senate, Monday, June 14th, 1841. Washington: “Globe" Office. Svo. pp. 8. 3. Opinion delivered by Mr. Justice Cowen, in the Matter
of Alexander McLeod, in the Supreme Court, on Habeas Corpus, July Term, 1841. (Published in the “ New
York Spectator” of July 14th.) 4. Message from the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED
States, (July 14th, 1841,) transmitting a Communication from the Socretary of State, in Relation to the Seizure of American Vessels by British armed Cruisers, under the Pretence that they were engaged in the Slave Trade ; and also, Correspondence with Consul Trist, upon the Subject of the Slave Trade, in Compliance with a Resolution of the House of Representatives, of the 21st ultimo. Twenty-seventh Congress. First Session. Document No. 34.
There is no question that we stand just now on rather a slippery footing with our stern mother England. The affair