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Memory of the Dead.

Many ages ago the eloquent Pericles, in an oration in honor of the hero-dead who fell fighting for the liberties of Greece, declared in true and burning words the good of doing honor to the memory of the noble dead. It was not that they — immortal in their deeds-needed temple or column to perpetuate their fame or reward their virtues, but because the living, by thus spurring emulation of the good and heroic dead, inspired and ennobled themselves. Their homage was proof that they were not ungrateful, nor insensible to the deeds that constitute glory and renown. No wreath is given, and no monument reared by a nation to the memory of its illustrious dead, but it blossoms. with good for the living through all future time. Virtue is encouraged, patriotism kindled, and all that is noble in our nature inspired to action, by this homage to the greatness and goodness of our race.


"Time corrodes our epitaphs and buries our very tombstones."

The practice of erecting memorials of some kind is almost coeval with the existence of the human race, but at what precise date epitaphs were first introduced, and by what nation, is involved in obscurity. The first we have been able to find is that about 876 B.C., when Sardanapalus, the last King of the Assyrians, ordered the following inscription to be engraved on his tomb, which was found at Anchiale in the time of Alexander, 543 years later:

“Sardanapalus built Anchiale and Tarsus in one day. Go, Passenger, eat, drink, and rejoice. for the rest is nothing."

Epitaphs have long been declared as a means of communication between the living and the dead; a means of instruction as well as a reminder of our mortality. It is that we may make acquaintance with those who have lived before us, to inquire into their habits, their peculiarities, to investigate their history, which is not the least interesting object of the student and the antiquary, and to the biographer they are legitimate sources of inquiry.


The importance of monuments and inscriptions cannot be too strongly stated. But for these, many persons, as well as events worthy of remembrance, would have been forgotten. In the early days of epitaphial writings, inscriptions were prohibited except upon the monuments of illustrious persons; but now it is the universal custom among all classes of people to adopt them.

An epitaph to the honor of the dead has ever been regarded as of all praise the most noble and the most pure, especially when it expresses the character and actions of the good. Private virtues are as much entitled to this homage as public ones, and the title of a good parent, a good friend, and a good citizen is worthy of being engraved on brass or marble. Thus the tomb of a good man may in some degree be made to supply the want of his presence, and attach a veneration to his memory, and prove a benefit by his example. "Records on tombstones," says Leigh Hunt, "are introducers of the living to the dead, makers of mortal acquaintances; and 'one touch of nature,' in making the whole world kin, gives them the right of speaking like kindred to and of one another."

An eminent writer says, "When I properly look upon the tombs of the great, every emotion of envy dies within me, when I read the epitaphs of the beautiful, every inordinate desire goes out, when I see the grief of parents for children, my heart melts with compassion, and yet, when afterwards I have beheld the tombs of parents themselves, I see the vanity of grieving for those that we must follow, when I see kings lying, perhaps, by those who deposed them,

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when I consider rivals who are placed side by side, or the great men who divided the world with their contests and disputes, in the same situation, I reflect with sorrow and astonishment on the little competitions, factions, and debates of mankind, — and finally, when I read the several dates on the tombs of some who died recently and some who died many years ago, I consider that great day when we shall be all cotemporaries and make our appearance together."

The author of this work has for a long time been exceedingly interested in collecting memorials of persons who have been distinguished as citizens as well as in the annals of fame, and whose memory should be cherished with a reverence due to their position.

Among the many places that the writer has visited, none has exceeded in interesting associations that of Plymouth and of "Burial Hill," and as the interest attached to this beautiful spot, once trodden by the steps of our early fathers, has become so universal, the long-cherished purpose of preserving the memorials of this locality has at last been realized, and the results are now offered to the public in this volume, with the hope that all may find as much personal gratification in its perusal as has the writer in its compilation.

Epitaphs descriptive of the personal character and social lives of those who lie beneath them are interesting and instructive, especially when drawn with truth and discrimination, and the advice given to the living in many of them are worthy of more than a passing thought. It would seem but natural that in a burial ground found in the oldest town of New England, the grave-stones should be the earliest to be found anywhere; but such is not the case. There are found elsewhere many whose records antedate those on Burial Hill, but none more interesting. Those buried here are mostly descendants of the early Pilgrims, as will appear by a careful perusal of the index at the end of this volume.

Here there are not only single graves representing a family, but whole households, parents, brothers, sisters, children, and grandchildren, all grouped together in immediate proximity; these, united in life, are not separated in death. Among these occupants of the soil may be found persons of prominence as well as those from the ordinary walks of life. Here rest the remains of many of the earliest settlers of the colony and children of the next generation, none of whom are now living. Here, too, may be found ministers who led the devotions of the sanctuary near by, which, for many years, was the only church in the town, and those who, by their lengthy terms of faithful pastoral duties, manifested an interest in their fellow-worshippers, and desired to remain in their midst after death.

Here moulders the dust of several prominent physicians who completed their terms of usefulness to their fellow-townsmen, and lie within this sacred enclosure beside those whom even their skill could not save.

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Here also may be found the names of those who were called to take an active part in the councils of the nation when the country was in peril during the revolution, and a long list of those who died in their country's service in the late rebellion.

Many also who have lost their lives on the perilous sea have found their final resting-place beneath the turf in these grounds.

At the time of commencement in copying these epitaphs, nearly forty years since, there were a large number of badly broken and defaced grave-stones lying about the ground. Since the work was begun a still larger number of slates

* Rev. Dr. Kendall was pastor of the First Church for nearly sixty years.

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