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It is opportune to look back upon old times, and contemplate our forefathers. Great examples grow thin, and to be fetched from the past world. Simplicity flies away, and iniquity comes at long strides upon us. We have enough to do to make up ourselves from present and past times, and the whole stage of things scarce serveth for our instruction. A complete piece of virtue must be made up from the centos of all ages, as all the beauties of Greece could make but one handsome Venus.
When the bones of King Arthur were digged up,(9) the old race might think they beheld therein some originals of themselves. Unto these of our urns none here can pretend relation, and can only behold the relics of those persons, who in their life giving the laws unto their predecessors, after long obscurity, now lie at their mercies; but remembering the early civility they brought upon these countries, and forgetting long-passed mischiefs, we mercifully preserve their bones and piss not upon their ashes.
In the offer of these antiquities we drive not at ancient families, so long outlasted by them. We are far from erecting your worth upon the pillars of your forefathers, whose merits you illustrate. We honour your old virtues, conformable unto times before you, which are the noblest armoury. And having long experience of your friendly conversation, void of empty formality, full of freedom, constant and generous honesty, I look upon you as a gem of the old rock,(1) and must profess myself even to urn and ashes,
Your ever faithful friend and servant,
Norwich, May 1.
(9) In the time of Henry II. Camden.
IN the deep discovery of the subterranean world a shallow part would satisfy some inquirers; who, if two or three yards were open about the surface, would not care to rake the bowels of Potosi(') and regions towards the centre. Nature hath furnished one part of the earth, and man another. The treasures of time lie high, in urns, coins, and monuments, scarce below the roots of some vegetables. Time hath endless rarities, and shows of all varieties; which reveals old things in heaven, makes new discoveries in earth, and even earth itself a discovery. That great antiquity, America, lay buried for a thousand years; and a large part of the earth is still in the urn unto us.
Though if Adam were made out of an extract of the earth, all parts might challenge a restitution, yet few have returned their bones far lower than they might receive them: not affecting the graves of giants, under hilly and heavy coverings, but content with less than their own depth, have wished their bones might lie soft, and the earth be light
(1) The rich mountain of Peru.
upon them; even such as hope to rise again, would not be content with central interment, or so desperately to place their relics as to lie beyond discovery, and in no way to be seen again; (2) which happy contrivance hath made communication with our forefathers, and left unto our view some parts which they never beheld themselves.
Though earth hath engrossed the name, yet water hath proved the smartest grave; which in forty days swallowed almost all mankind, and the living creation; fishes not wholly escaping, except the salt ocean were handsomely contempered by a mixture of the fresh element.
Many have taken voluminous pains to determine the state of the soul upon disunion; but men have been most fantastical in the singular contrivances of their corporeal dissolution; whilst the soberest nations have rested in two ways-of simple inhumation and burning.
That carnal interment, or burying, was of the elder date, the old examples of Abraham and the patriarchs are sufficient to illustrate; and were without competition, if it could be made out that Adam was buried near Damascus, or mount Cal
(3) A Mr. James Douglas, to whom the copy we print from belonged, has written on the margin a few notes, which we insert as he wrote them, appending his name to each. On the above passage he exclaims: "A charming inference to illustrate the small depth of ancient burial." But Sir Thomas's notion is merely a poetical extravagance. The true reason, of course, why men do never bury themselves in the centre of the earth, is, that it would cost too much trouble to reach it. -ED.
vary, according to some tradition. God himself, that buried but one, was pleased to make choice of this way, collectible from Scripture expression, and the hot contest between Satan and the archangel, about discovering the body of Moses. But the practice of burning was also of a great antiquity and of no slender extent. For (not to derive the same from Hercules) (3) noble descriptions there are hereof in the Grecian funerals of Homer, in the formal obsequies of Patroclus, and Achilles; and somewhat elder in the Theban war, and solemn combustion of Menaceus, and Archemorus, contemporary unto Jair, the eighth judge of Israel. Confirmable also among the Trojans, from the funeral pyre of Hector, burnt before the gates of Troy, and the burning of Penthesilea, (') the Amazonean queen; and long continuance of that practice, in the inward countries of Asia: while as low as the
() Why not? The story is extant in choice Greek, written originally by the historian Andron, and preserved by the Scholiast on the first Iliad. Upon the treachery of Laomedon, celebrated by poets, and known to every school-boy, Hercules determined on assembling an army, for the purpose of chastising his majesty's jesuitical conduct, and bringing him to reason. The hero, having no authority to employ compulsion, was fain to make use of persuasion, and obtained from King Lycimnius permission to take along with him his son Argeios, upon condition he would swear to bring him back. Hercules of course took the oath, as any soldier would, and Argeios accompanying him was slain. He was now somewhat puzzled, but, being fertile in expedients, and bold besides, he burned the body, and taking back the ashes along with him, presented them to Lycimnius, as a proof of his faith. This, according to Hellenic tradition, was the origin of burning the dead.-ED.
(*) Q. Calaber. lib. i.