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Here lies John Quebecca, precentor to My Lord the King. When he is admitted to the choir of angels, whose society he will embellish, and where he will distinguish himself by his powers of song, God shall say to the angels, "Cease, ye calves! and let me hear John Quebecca, the precentor of My Lord the King!"

It is in remembrance of such fulsome compliments as these that the ghastly jest was made, that skulls grin at thought of the epitaphs above them. But the grin must be on the wrong side of Mary Bond's skull if she has any cognizance of the inscription on her tomb. Here it is, as it still may be seen on a monument in Horsley Down Church, Cumberland, England:

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She was an admirable economist,
And, without prodigality,

Dispensed plenty to every person in her family,

Would sacrifice their eyes to a farthing candle.
She sometimes made her husband
Happy with her good qualities,

Much more frequently miserable with her
Many failings.

Insomuch that in thirty years' cohabitation,
He often lamented that,
Maugre all her virtues,

He had not on the whole enjoyed two years
Of matrimonial comfort.
At length,

Finding she had lost the affection of her hus-
band, as well as the regard of her neigh-
bours, family disputes having been
divulged by servants,

She died of vexation, July 20, 1768,
Aged 48 years.

Her worn-out husband survived her four months
and two days, and departed this life
November 22, 1768,

In the 54th year of his age.
William Bond, brother to the deceased,
Erected this stone as a

Weekly monitor to the wives of this parish,
That they may avoid the infamy of having
Their memories handed down to posterity
with a patchwork character.

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Benjamin Franklin is buried beside his wife in Philadelphia, with nothing to mark the graves save this inscription on a plain slab :

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Far more famous is the epigram which he composed upon himself, at the age of twenty-three, when a journeyman printer :

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But this epitaph is not original. It is plagiarized from one Benjamin Woodbridge, and Woodbridge was only one in a long line of successive imitators. This gentleman was a member of the first graduating class of Harvard University, 1642. The epitaph he made upon himself is thus quoted in Cotton Mather's "Magnalia Christi Americana," a book with which Franklin was admittedly familiar:

A living, breathing Bible; tables where
Both Covenants at large engraven were.

Gospel and law, in 's heart, had each its column;
His head an index to the sacred volume;

His very name a title-page; and, next,

His life a commentary on the text.

O what a monument of glorious worth,
When, in a new edition, he comes forth!
Without errata may we think he'll be,
In leaves and covers of eternity!

Old Joseph Capen, minister of Topsfield, had also, in 1681, given John Foster, who set up the first printing-press in Boston, the benefit of the idea, in memoriam:

Thy body, which no activeness did lack,
Now's laid aside like an old almanac,
But for the present only's out of date;
'Twill have at length a far more active state,
Yea, though with dust thy body soiled be,
Yet at the resurrection we shall see

A fair edition, and of matchless worth,
Free from errata, new in Heaven set forth;
'Tis but a word from God, the great Creator-
It shall be done when he saith Imprimatur.

Davis, in his "Travels in America," finds another source in a Latin epitaph on the London bookseller Jacob Tonson, published with an English translation in the Gentleman's Magazine for February, 1736. This is its conclusion:

When Heaven reviewed th' original text,
'Twas with erratas few perplexed:
Pleased with the copy 'twas collated,

And to a better life translated.

But let to life this supplement

Be printed on thy monument,

Lest the first page of death should be,
Great editor, a blank to thee;

And thou who many titles gave
Should want one title for this grave.
Stay, passenger, and drop a tear;
Here lies a noted Bookseller;
This marble index here is placed
To tell, that when he found defaced
His book of life, he died with grief:
Yet he, by true and genuine belief,
A new edition may expect,

Far more enlarged and more correct.

The latest imitation in the field is this:

In affectionate remembrance of
Lover of Books,

Born at Barnet, Vermont, Aug. 24, 1819,
The volume of whose

Earthly labour was closed

In London, February 28, 1886, in the
Sixty-seventh year of his age.

"And another book was opened, which is the Book

of Life."

Another famous epitaph has also been shown to be a plagiarism, that by Matthew Prior upon himself:

Painters and heralds, by your leave,

Here lie the bones of Matthew Prior,
The son of Adam and of Eve:-

Let Bourbon or Nassau go higher!

Prior borrowed his lines from the following very ancient epitaph upon a tombstone in Scotland:

John Carnagie lies here,

Descended from Adam and Eve;

If any can boast of a pedigree higher,
He will willingly give them leave.

Here is one of the most remarkable epitaphs in literature, both intrinsically for its strange audacity, and on account of its wide diffusion and its ancient pedigree. It is only one example chosen at hap-hazard from a thousand variants, in England, in Scotland, in the United States, and in this special instance is copied from a church-yard in Aberdeen, Scotland:

Here lies I, Martin Elmrod;

Have mercy on my soul, gude God,
As I would have gin I were God,
And thou wert Martin Elmrod.

George Macdonald cites this epitaph in his novel "David Elginbrod," with slightly-varying phraseology :

Here lie I, Martin Elginbrodde;

Hae mercy o' my soul, Lord God,
As I wad do were I Lord God,
And ye were Martin Elginbrodde.

Now, in Howel's Letters is found the following quatrain, the versification of a passage in St. Augustine :

If I were Thou, and Thou wert I,

I would resign the Deity,

Thou shouldst be God, I would be man

Is't possible that Love more can?

Even yet, however, we have not come to the germ of the phrase.

In its

origin it is not Western, but Eastern; not centuries, but æons old. It occurs over and over again in the Rig-Veda and other sacred books of the Orient, -.g.:

Wert thou, Agni, a mortal, and were I an immortal and an invoked son of might, I would not abandon thee to malediction or misery; my worshipper should not be poor, nor distressed, nor wretched.-Rig-Veda, viii. 19, 25.

Were I thou, Agni, and wert thou I, this aspiration should be fulfilled.-Ibid.

The difficulty of tracing an epitaph to its true origin, even when references are given by the authorities, is shown by the following story told by a writer in the English Notes and Queries:

All men (ie., a great many) have heard of Mrs. Martha, or Margaret, Gwynn, celebrated in an epitaph which I may give as follows:

Here lie the bones of Martha Gwynn,

Who was so very pure within,

She broke the outer shell of sin,

And thence was hatched a Cherubin.

Being desirous to find the true form and also the place of this epitaph, I lately searched for and found it in three published collections, each of which gives a text differing from the other two. For the place of it one collector, Mr. Augustus Hare, says Cambridgeshire. Had he said England he would have committed himself to less, and the reference would have been about equally useful. Another more definitely assigns it to St. Albans, Herts. By the help of a friend I was enabled to learn with something like certainty that it is not to be found there, though my friend happily suggested that, as Nell Gwynn once had a house of her own not far off, Martha the immaculate and naughty Nelly may have been sisters. But, unhappily for her fame, it now appears that Martha Gwynn either never had any existence at all, or, if she lived and practised all the virtues, at least was the cause of sin in her grave, seeing that her epitaph was, in Macaulay's phrase, stolen, and marred in the stealing. I have obtained what I suppose must be accepted as the original and veritable matrix from which Mrs. Martha received her mythical being. It is an epitaph in Toddington Church, Bedfordshire, mentioned and partly quoted by Lysons ("Magna Britannia") in his description of that church. In spite of conceits and affectation, it has some literary merit, and at least presents something better and closer in thought than the flabby and pointless saying, "She was so very pure

within." Here it is in full:

Maria Wentworth, illustris Thomæ Comitis Cleveland Filia premortua prima animam virgineam exhalavit [-] Januar. ano Dni. MDCXXXII., ætat. xviii.

And here ye pretious dust is layde
Whose purelie temper'd clay was made
So fine that it ye guest betray'd.
Else the soule grew so faste within,
It broke ye outwarde shelle of sin,
And soe was hatch'd a Cherubin.

In height it soar'd to God above,

In depth it did to knowledge move,

And spread in breadth to generalle love.
Before a pious duty shind,

To Parents curtesie behind,

On either side an equal minde.

Good to ye poore, to kindred deare,

To servants kinde, to friendship cleare,

To nothing but herself severe.

See though a Virgin yet a Bride

To everie grace, she justified
A chaste Poligamie, and dyed.

A variant is found in Chiswick church-yard, close to Hogarth's grave:

Here lyes ye clay
Which th' other day
Inclosed Sam. Sauill's soul,

But now is free and unconfin'd.

She fled and left her clogg behind
Intomb'd within this hole,
May ye 21, 1728,

In the 30th year of his age.

And this in its turn is singularly like an inscription on the door of the cell in which Ettore Visconti is buried in a standing position in Monza :

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The business-like epitaphs combining puffs with pathos deserve a place by themselves. A famous example is said to have been inscribed by a son to his deceased father somewhere in Wiltshire, England:

Beneath this stone, in hopes of Zion,

Is laid the landlord of the Lion.
Resigned unto the Heavenly will,
His son keeps on the business still.

An equally affecting inscription is said to be found in the cemetery of Pèrela-Chaise on the tombstone of one Pierre Cabochard, a grocer. It closes as follows:

His inconsolable widow

dedicates this monument to his memory,

and continues the same business at the
old stand, 167 Rue Mouffetard.

In the year 1868 a Parisian newspaper told this curious story anent the


A gentleman who had noticed the above inscription was led by curiosity to call at the address indicated. Having expressed his desire to see the widow Cabochard, he was immediately ushered into the presence of a fashionably-dressed and full-bearded man, who asked what was the object of his visit.

"I came to see the widow Cabochard, sir."

"Well, sir, here she is."

"I beg pardon, but I wish to see the lady in person." "Sir, I am the widow Cabochard."

"I don't exactly understand you. I allude to the relict of the late Pierre Cabochard, whose monument I noticed yesterday at the Père-la-Chaise."

"I see, I see," was the smiling rejoinder. "Allow me to inform you that Pierre Cabochard is a myth, and therefore never had a wife. The tomb you admired cost me a good deal of money, and although no one is buried there, it proves a first-rate advertisement, and I have had no cause to regret the expense Now, sir, what can I sell you in the way of groceries?''

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But possibly monument and story were both faked" by this esteemed contemporary. This is the more likely that the monument in question figures in various collections of epitaphs, with so many changes of name and venue that one is inclined to look upon it as a myth.

The following probably belong to the same category. The first comes from California; the second is English, and is said to be in memory of one Jonathan Thompson :

Here lies the body of Jeemes Humbrick, who was accidentally shot on the bank of the Pacus River by a young man. He was accidentally shot with one of the large Colt's revolvers with no stopper for the cock to rest on. It was one of the old-fashioned kind,-brass-mounted. And of such is the kingdom of heaven.

A good Husband, and affectionate Father; whose disconsolate Widow and Orphans continue to carry on the Tripe and Trotter business at the same shop as before their bereavement.

Lamb, in one of his Letters, says, "I have seen in Islington church-yard an epitaph to an infant who died atatis four months, with this seasonable inscrip. tion appended: 'Honour thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long in the land,' etc." But this is not so bad as the quotation from Shakespeare, "She never told her love," placed over another infant of about the same age.

Unintentional grotesques of this sort may be found in every graveyard since graveyards were. Now and then when we hear them we have a suspicion that they are too good to be true, but he who has any experience of monumental stupidity will hesitate to put limits to the stupidity it may display. There are de par le monde a number of epitaphs the absurdity of which consists in the substitution of a wrong namie for the deceased person, to accommodate the exigencies of the poet. One of them runs thus:

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