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Cotton Mather himself is characteristically described as distinguished for
« Care to guide his flock and feed his lambs
By words, works, prayers, psalms, alms, and — anagrams!» One of the anagrams upon the name of Mather makes out of Cottonus Matherus, Tu tantum Conors es, another Tuos tecum ornasti, etc.; and on the death of the Rev. John Wilson, Shepard wrote:
« JOHN WILSON, Anagr. John Wilson
We have collected a few specimens of the epitaphs of our first century, which, from their ingenuity or quaintness, cannot fail to amuse the reader. The first is on Samuel Danforth, a minister of Roxbury, who died in 1674, a few days after the completion of a new meetinghouse, and was written by Thomas Welde, a poet of considerable reputation in his day:
“Our new-built church now suffers by this —
Thomas Dudley, who came to Massachusetts in 1630 as deputy governor, was subsequently chief magistrate of the colony for several years. He died on the last day of July, 1653, in the seventy-third year of his age, and was buried in Roxbury, where, in the records of the Congregational Church, is preserved an anagram said to have been sent to him by some anonymous writer, in 1645.
« THOMAS DUDLEY, Anagr.
"Ah, old must dye!
The following was found in his pocket after his death:
«On HIMSELF — BY THOMAS DUDLEY
This is characteristic of the Puritans. The reader should, however, understand that the old meaning of the word Libertine was tolerant or liberal, so that the governor merely designed to enjoin conformity to his doctrines. Dudley was a narrow-minded man, as much distinguished for his miserly propensities as for his bigotry. Among the epitaphs proposed for his monument was one by Governor Belcher:
«Here lies Thomas Dudley, that trusty old stud —
A bargain's a bargain, and must be made good ! »
Donne nor Cowley ever produced anything more full of quaint conceits, antitheses, and puns, than the elegy written by Benjamin Woodbridge, in 1654, on John Cotton:
“Here lies magnanimous humility,
The celebrated epitaph of Dr. Franklin is supposed to have been suggested by this; but the lines of Joseph Capen, a minister of Topsfield, on Mr. John Foster, an ingenious mathematician and printer, bear to it a still closer resemblance:
« Thy body which no activeness did lack,
It shall be done when he saith Imprimatur.” One of the most poetical of the epitaphs of this period is that by Cotton Mather on the Rev. Thomas Shepard, before mentioned, who died in 1649:
«Heare lies intombed a heavenly orator,
From the great King of kings Ambassador-
Crown to our heads, and loadstone to our heartes.” The following lines are from the monument of the Rev. Richard Mather, who died in Dorchester, in 1669, aged seventy-three:
“Richardus hic dormit Matherus,
Nor his ascended spirit or renown.”
« Here, in a tyrant's hand, doth captive lye
A rare synopsis of divinitye.
All rest awhile, in hopes and full intent,
Governor Theophilus Eaton, of New Haven, died at an advanced age, on the seventh of January, 1657. His son-in-law, Deputy-Governor William Jones, and his daughter, are buried near him, and are alluded to in the lines upon the monument erected to his memory:
«Eaton, so famed, so wise, so meek, so just -
On each hand to repose yr weary bones.”
« Heare lyes our captaine, who major
Of Suffolk was withall,
And major generall!
Such worth his love did crave,
Mourning marcht to his grave.
The faith as he has don;
Was Humphrey Atherton.
He died the 16th of November, 1661." In the same cemetery «lies the body of James Humfrey, one · of the ruling elders of Dorchester, who departed this life May 12th, 1686, in the seventy-eighth year of his age.” His epitaph, like many of that period, is in the form of an acrostic:
«Inclosed within this shrine is precious dust,
And only waits the rising of the just;
Renowned Danforth did he assist with skill;
The most ingenious of the Puritan poets was the Rev. Michael Wigglesworth, whose “Day of Doom” is the most remarkable curiosity in American literature. «He was as skilled,” says one of his biographers, «in physic and surgery as in diviner things,” and when he could neither preach nor prescribe for the physical sufferings of his neighbors, –
«In costly verse, and most laborious rhymes,
He dish'd up truths right worthy our regard.” He was buried in Malden, near Boston, and his epitaph was written by Mather:
« THE EXCELLENT MICHAEL WIGGLEWORTH
«Remembered by some good tokens
And waits with joy to see his Day of Doom.) »
“He who among physicians shone so late,
Long as his piety and love be known.” Many of the elegies preserved in the « Magnalia,” Morton's «New England Memorial,” and other works of the time, are not less curious than the briefer tributes engraven upon the tombstones of the Pilgrims.
From “Curiosities of American