« PreviousContinue »
covered with a large cloth, which the four nearest relations held each by a corner with one hand, and in the other carried a bough” (this must have been a branch of rosemary); "the other relations and friends had in one hand a flambeau, and in the other a bough, marching thus through the street, without singing or saying any prayer, till they came to the church.” After the burial service, he adds, the clergyman, “having his bough in his hand like the rest of the congregation, threw it on the dead body when it was put into the grave, as did all the relations, extinguishing their flambeaux in the earth with which the corpse was to be covered. This finished, every one retired to his home without further ceremony.” See the Antiquarian Repertory, ii. 101-2.
Wordsworth, in his Lyrical Ballads, ii. 147, tells us that in several parts of the North of England, when a funeral takes place, a basin full of sprigs of box-wood is placed at the door of the house from which the coffin is taken up, and each person who attends the funeral ordinarily takes a sprig of this wood, and throws it into the grave of the deceased.
FUNERAL sermons are of great antiquity.' This custom used to be very general in England. I know nowhere that it is retained at present, except upon Portland Island, Dorsetshire, where the minister has half-a-guinea for every sermon he preaches, by which he raises annually a very considerable sum. This species of luxury in grief is very common there, and indeed, as it conveys the idea of posthumous honour, all are desirous of procuring it, even for the youngest of their children, as well as their deceased friends. The fee is nearly the same as that mentioned by Gay in his dirge:
“ Twenty good shillings in a rag I laid,
Be ten the parson's for his sermon paid.” Gough, in the introduction to the second volume of his
! " Ceterum priusquam corpus humo injecta contegatur, defunctus oratione funebri laudabatur.” Durand, p. 236.
Sepulchral Monuments, p. 11, says: “From funeral orations over Christian martyrs have followed funeral sermons for eminent Christians of all denominations, whether founded in esteem, or sanctioned by fashion, or secured by reward. Our ancestors, before the Reformation, took especial care to secure the repose and well-being of their souls, by masses and other deeds of piety and charity. After that event was supposed to have dispelled the gloom of superstition, and done away the painful doctrine of purgatory, they became more solicitous to have their memories embalmed, and the example of their good works held forth to posterity. Texts were left to be preached from, and sometimes money to pay for such preaching. Gratitude founded commemorative sermons, as well as commemorative dinners, for benefactors.”
In Cotgrave's Treasury of Wit and Language, p. 35, we read,
" In all this sermon I have heard little commendations
Of our dear brother departed : rich men doe not go
To the pit-hole without complement of Christian buriall." Even such an infamous character as Madam Creswell bad her funeral sermon. She desired by will to have a sermon preached at her funeral, for which the preacher was to have ten pounds; but upon this express condition, that he was to say nothing but what was well of her. A preacher was, with some difficulty, found, who undertook the task. He, after a sermon preached on the general subject of mortality, and the good uses to be made of it, concluded with saying, By the will of the deceased it is expected that I should mention her, and say nothing but what was well of her. All that I shall say of her, therefore, is this: she was born well, she lived well, and she died well ; for she was born with the name of Cresswell, she lived in Clerkenwell, and she died in Bridewell.'
Dr. Fuller, in his Appeal of Injured Innocence, (Part ii. p. 75,) tells us that “When one was to preach the funeral sermon of a most vicious and generally hated person, all wondered what he would say in his praise; the preacher's friends fearing, his foes hoping, that, for his fee, he would force his conscience to flattery. For one thing, said the minister, this man is to be spoken well of by all; and, for another thing, he is to be spoken ill of by uone. The first is,
because God made him; the second, because he is dead." Granger's Biogr. Hist. 1775, iv. 218.
Misson, in his Travels in England, translated by Ozell, p. 93, speaking of our funerals, says: “ The common practice is to carry the corpse into the body of the church, where they set it down upon two tressels, while either a funeral sermon is preached, containing an eulogium upon the deceased, or certain prayers said, adapted to the occasion. If the body is not buried in the church, they carry it to the churchyard, where it is interred (after the minister has performed the service which may be seen in the Book of Common Prayer) in the presence of the guests, who are round the grave, and do not leave it till the earth is thrown in upon it. Then they return home in the same order that they came.”
It is still a custom for the ordinary of Newgate to preach a funeral sermon before each execution. mpare Whimzies, or a New Cast of Characters, 1631, p. 70.
In the Burnynge of Paule's Church in London, 1561, 8vo. 1563, we read : “Gregory Nazanzene hais his funerall sermons and orations in the commendacion of the party departed; so hais Ambrose for Theodosius and Valentinian the emperours, for his brother Statirus,” &c.
The author of the Philosophical Survey of the South of Ireland, says, p. 207 : “It was formerly usual to have a bard to write the elegy of the deceased, which contained an enumeration of his good qualities, his genealogy, his riches, &c.; the burden being, O why did he die?'”
BLACK USED IN MOURNING
DURAND mentions black as anciently in use at funerals, which St. Cyprian seems to have inveighed against as the indication of sorrow, on an event which to the Christian was matter of joy.
1 " Induebantur atris vestibus, præsertim apud Gallos : hunc tamen lugubrem et atrum amictum videturim probare Cyprian., Serm. de Mortalitate."-Durand. de Rit. p. 225. Cyprian's words are: “Cum sciamus fratres nostros accersione dominica de seculo liberatos, non amitti sed præmitti, non sunt nobis hic accipiendæ atræ vestes, quando illi ibi indu. menta alba jam sumpserint."
Gough, in the Introd. vol. i. Sepulchral Monuments, p. 20, gives us numerous references to the classics to prove that the colour of mourning garments has, in most instances, been black from the earliest antiquity.
Langley, in his translation of Polidore Vergil, f. 123, says: “Plutarch writeth that the women in their mournyng laied a parte all purple, golde, and sumptuous apparell, and were clothed bothe they and their kinsfolk in white apparel, like as then the ded body was wrapped in white clothes. The white coloure was thought fittest for the ded, because it is clere, pure, and sincer, and leaste defiled. Of this ceremonie, as I take it, the French quenes toke occasion, after the death of their housebandes, the kynges, to weare onely white clothyng, and if there bee any suche widdowe, she is commonly called the White Quene. Mournyng garments for the moste part be altogether of blacke coloure, and they use to weare theim a whole yere continually, onlesse it bee because of a generall triumphe or rejoysyng, or newe magistrate chosyng, or els when thei bee toward marriage.” Cotgrave, in his Treasury of Wit and Language, p. 36, has these lines :
" Funeralls hide men in civill wearing,
And are to the drapers a good hearing,
Than rotten trees which shine in the night." In the Supplement to the Athenian Oracle, p. 301, it is stated that Black is the fittest emblem of that sorrow and grief the mind is supposed to be clouded with ; and, as death is the privation of life, and black a privation of light, 'tis very probable this colour has been chosen to denote sadness upon that account; and accordingly this colour has, for mourning, been preferred by most people throughout Europe. The Syrians, Cappadocians, and Armenians, use skye-colour, to denote the place they wish the dead to be in, i. e. the heavens; the Egyptians yellow, or fillemot, to show that, as herbs being
faded become yellow, so death is the end of human hope ; and the Ethiopians grey, because it resembles the colour of the earth, which receives the dead. So in Romeo and Juliet :
“ All things that we ordained festival,
And all things change them to their contraries.” Granger, however, tells us, “it is recorded that Anne Bullen wore yellow mourning for Catharine of Arragon.” For his authority he refers to Walpole's Anecdotes of Painting. The same circumstance is found in Hall's Chronicle, with the addition of Henry's wearing white mourning for the unfortunate Anne Bullen.' Crimson would have been a much more suitable colour.? In England it was formerly the fashion to mourn a year for very near relations. Thus Pope:
“ Grieve for an hour perhaps, then mourn a year.” Dupree tells us, in his Conformity, p. 181, that the ancient Romans employed certain persons, named Designatores, clothed in black, to invite people to funerals, and to carry the coffin. There are persons in our days who wear the same clothing, and serve the same office. The Romans, saith Marolles, had, in their ceremonies, lictors, dressed in black, who did the office of our mourners.
At the funerals of unmarried persons of both sexes, as well as infants, the scarves, hatbands, and gloves, given as mourning, are white. In the Archæologia, 1796, vol. xii. the Rev. Mr. Wrighte, in his Short Notices relating to the Parish of Llanvetherine, Monmouthshire, p. 100, says :
“ In such ob
1 In a rare book on dreams, by Thomas Hill, b. l. is the following passage: “ To a sicke person to have or weare on white garments doothe promyse death, for that dead bodyes bee caryed foorth in white clothes. And to weare on a blacke garmente, it doothe promyse, for the more parte, healthe to a sicke person, for that not dead personnes, but suche as mourne for the deade, do use to be clothed in blacke."
? In Sir John Sinclair's Statistical Account of Scotland, ii. 80, the minister of Galston, in Ayrshire, informs us, “ It is usual for even the women to attend funerals in the village, drest in black or red cloaks."