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Cairo, is mostly on Fridays, to the Burialplaces, to adorn with flowers and boughs the Sepulchres of their relations, to hang a lamp over them, and pour water on their graves.
A veneration for deceased friends and relatives is a favourable trait in the character of a people. This taste for decorating the Tombs occurs in very remote Countries, which hold but little communication with each other, and prevails equally in South Africa, and in China.'
And our own sweet SHAKESPEARE, with inimitable tenderness, adds,
With fairest flowers, Whilst summer lasts, and I live here, Fidele, I'll sweeten thy sad grave: Thou shalt not lack The flower, that's like thy face, pale primrose ; nor The azur'd hare-bell, like thy veins; no, nor The leaf of eglantine, whom not to slander, Out-sweetén'd not thy breath.
Cymbeline, Act. iv. Sc. 2.
7 Pococke's Descript. of the East, vol. i. p. 192. 8 TUCKEY's Narrative, p. 382.
• Hall's Voyage to The Great Loo-Choo Island, p. 143.
In 1652, Edward Rose, by his Will, directed his body to be buried in the church-yard of Barnes, and bequeathed 51. for making a frame or partition of wood in the church-yard where he had appointed his burying-place, and ordered three Rose trees, or more, to be planted about the place where he should be so interred,—and he also bequeathed to the Minister, Churchwardens and Overseers of the poor of Barnes, for the use of the poor of that parish, 201. to be laid out, within three years, in the purchase of an acre of land for the use of the poor,—but he willed, that out of the rents and profits of the same, they should cause the frame and partition of wood to be kept in repair, and the rose trees to be preserved, or others planted in their places, from time to time, as they should decay.10 ... . :: On the outside of the Church of Barnes, in the South wall, is fixed a small tablet of stone between two of the buttresses, to the memory of Mr. Rose. The space
10 Rep. x. p. 589.
between the buttresses is inclosed with wooden pales, and some rose trees are planted against the wall on each side of the tablet, which are healthy and flourishing, and the Clerk of the parish receives a small annual salary for taking care of them. 11
. As a resident in Surrey, Mr. Rose might be well acquainted with the custom observed at Ockley, and which was doubtless derived from the Romans, who were much in that neighbourhood,12 —or, it might be intended in playful allusion to his own name. Mr. Gough remarks, that in South and North Wales he has seen new graves stuck round with flowers, 13 — and such affectionate decoration of the sepulchres upon the Continent is also very common, as well as in Norway.
It was, and perhaps is still, the custom in Dublin on St. James's day, for the relatives and friends of those who are buried in St. James's church-yard, to dress up the Graves with flowers, cut paper, Scripture phrases, garlands, chaplets, and a number of other pretty and pious devices, where those affectionate mementos remained, until they were displaced by fresh ones the next year.14
11 Lysons's Environs of London, vol. i. p. 17. 12 MANNING and BRAY's Hist. of Surrey, vol. ii. p.165. 13 Britannia, vol. i. p. 251.
This HISTORICAL DESCRIPTION may possibly be thought, at first sight, to have been extended to a greater length than is necessary,—But it must be considered, that ancient and pious rights have become the subject of Legislation, and that any degree of information, however humble, may aid in storing the mind with a species of Knowledge suitable to the occasion.
Benevolence needs not abundance,and it may with the greatest truth be announced to the Public, that the sum of their Bounty is not negligently preserved, but, with comparatively few exceptions, is faithfully administered according to the Injunctions of the Donors.
As the present Investigation of The COMMISSIONERS is one of the most important in which the Legislature has lately