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CH A P. IV.
Flowers on the Grave; the Antiquity of these
IN some Country Churches 'tis customary, I to hang a Garland of Flowers over the Seats of deceased Virgins, as a Token of Esteem and Love, and an Emblem of their Reward in the heavenly Church
This Custom perhaps may be look'd upon, as sprung from that ancient Custom of the Heathens, of crowning their Corps with Garlands in Token of Victory. But Mr. Bingham tells us, That we find not this Custom used by the Ancients in their Funeral Rites. For as he observes, the Heathen in Minutius makes it one Topick of Accusation against them, * That they did not crown their Sepulchres.
But if they did not crown them after the Manner of the Heathens, they had a Custom of using Crowns of Flowers, if we may believe Casalion, who tells us, † It was a Custom of the ancient Christians to place Crowns of
* Min. P. 35. Coronas etiam sepulchris denegatis. Bing. Vol. 10. P. 68.
† Fuit quoque mos ad capita virginum apponendi florum coronas, Úc. Cal. de Vet. Sacr. Christ. P. 334. · D4
Flowers, at the Heads of deceased Virgins ; for which he quotes Damascen, Gregory Nysjen, St. Jerom and St. Austin.' And this hath probably been the Original of this Custom among the Vulgar.
That other Custom of Arawing Flowers upon the Graves of their departed Friends, is also derived from a Custom of the ancient Church. For it was usual in those Times for the common Sort of People, to straw the Graves of their Friends with various Flowers, Of this there are two notable Instances taken Notice of by Cassalion, and several other Ritualists. The one is that of St. Ambrose, in his Funeral Oration on the Death of Valentinian, * I will not Sprinkle his Grave with Flowers, but pour on bis Spirit the Odour of CHRIST. Let others Scatter Baskets of Flowers : CHRIST is our Lilly, and with this will I consecrate bis Relicks.
The other is that of St. Jerom, in his Epistle to Pammachius upon the Death of his Wife. † Whilst other Husbands strawed Vio.
* Nec ego floribus tumulum ejus afperagam, fed fpiritum ejus Christi odore perfundam; fpargant alii plenis lilia calathis: Nobis lilium elt Chriftus: Hoc reliquias ejus facrabo. Ambrof. Orat. Funebri, ae obitu Valentin
+ Cæteri mariti fuper tumulos conjugum fpargunt violas, sofas, lilia, foresque purpureos, & dolorem pectoris his offi. ciis confolantur; Pammachius nofter fanctam favillam olsaque veneranda eleemofynæ balsamis rigat. Hieron. Epift. ad Pam, machium de obitu Uxoris,
lets, lets, and Roses, and Lillies, and purple Flowers, upon the Graves of their Wives, and comforted themselves with such like Offices, Pammachius bedew'd her Ashes and venerable Bones with the Balsam of Alms.
Now these Instances, tho' they justly commend these other Actions, and wisely prefer them to the Ceremonies of adorning Graves with Flowers, yet they no Way decry these ancient Customs. These lower Marks of Efteem and Honour, which the Vulgar paid to the Remains of their friends, were in themselves harmless and innocent, and had no Censure; and as they were so, so should the present Customs be without any, being full as harmless and innocent as the other.
Have seen many of the Garlands our Author I here speaks of, in Village Churches in the South of England: The Custom seems to be entirely laid aside in the North*. It is undoubtedly
* Not entirely:-1 faw lately, in the Churches of Wolfingham and Stanhope, in the County of Durham Specimens of these Garlands. The form of a Wonian's Glove, cut in white Paper, hangs in each of them.
of very high Antiquity.-In the earlier Ages of the Church, Virginity (out of Deference, it should seem, to the Virgin Mother) was honoured with almost divine Adoration. There is little Doubt but that Nunneries and this Garland claim one common Origin.
Durant * tells us, the antient Christians, after the Funeral, used to scatter Flowers on the Tomb.—There is a great Deal of Learning in Moresin + above cited, on this Subject.—It appears from Pliny's Natural History, from Cicero in his Oration for Lucius Plancius, and from Virgil's fixth Æneid, that this was a Funeral Rite among the Heathensf. They used also to scatter them on the unburied Corps.Gay describes the Itrewing on the Grave,
“ Upon her Grave the Rosemary they threw,
* Condito et curato funere folebant Nonnulli antiquitus tumu. lum floribus adspergere. Durant. p. 237.
+ Sepulchra funeralibus expletis quandoque floribus, odoramen. tisque fuisse sparsa legimus. Idemque mos cum in plerisque Regionibus Italiæ, tum maximè in subjectis Appennino Collibus, Romandiolæ alicubi ætate nostra servatur. Adhibita funt poft funeralia in Templis Ornamenta, Clypei, Goronæ, et hujusmodi Donaria, quod noftra quoque Ætas in nobilibus et honoratis viris fervat.
Moresini Deprav. Rel. Orig. p. 156. Hence our Custom of hanging up over the Tombs of Knights, &c. Banners, Spurs, and other Inlignia of their Order. · Flores et serta, educto cadavere certatim injiciebant Athenienses. Guichard, lib. 2. cap. 3. Funeral. Retinent Papani morem. Moresini Deprav. Rel. Orig. p. 62. Thus also our Shakespear: Our bridal Flow'rs ferve for a buried Coarse.
Rom, and Juliet.
Thus also the Garland:
The Custom too, still used in the South of Eng. land, of fencing the Grave with Ofiers, &c. is added : The Poet glances in the two last Lines at clerical Oeconomy:
« With Wicker Rods we fenc'd her Tomb around, " To ward from Man and Beast the hallow'd Ground; 6. Lelt her new Grave the Parson's Cattle raze, For both his Horse and Cow the Church-yard graze."'*
* Mr. Strutt cites the Bishop of London in his Additions to Camden, telling us, that of old it was usual to adorn the Graves of the Deceased with Roses and other Flowers (but more especially those of Lovers, round whose Tombs they often planted Rose Trees): Some traces (he observes) of this antient Custom are yet remaining in the Church-yard of Oakley, in Surry, which is full of Rose Trees, planted round the Graves.
Anglo Saxon Æra, Vol. I. p. 69. Mr. Pennant, in his Tour in Scotland, remarks a singular Custom in many Parts of North Britain, of painting on the Doors and Window-shutters, white Tadpole-like Figures, on a black Ground; designed to express the Tears of the Country for the Loss of any Person of Distinction.
Nothing seems to be wanting to render this Mode of expressing Sorrow compleatly ridiculous, but the subjoining of a N. B. Ms These are Tears."