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very pious Ex
They chime or ring too in some places while the grave is filling up.
There seems to be nothing intended by tolling the pussing Bell at present, but to inform the Neighbourhood of any Person's Death, and I am much mistaken if our Author's * hortation will ever be able to revive the primitive Use of it.
I know not how the present Generation will relish his Reflections in this and many subsequent Chapters : Serious Animadversions of this Sort seem by np Means pleasing to the refined Taste of our Age. We plainly discover an Intention of uniting Entertainment with Utility in his little Sermons ;, which, it must be confessed, are not always delivered in the most agreeable Manner.-He does not always stick by his Text :--His inferences are often far fetched :-His good Meaning, however, must atone for some little Deficiencies of Stile, and Penury of Composition.-Men, provided with keen Appetites for this kind of Entertainment, will content themselves with the homely Manner in which he has served it up to them.-Indeed Squeamishness in this Particular would but ill suit the Study of the English-Antique. A great deal of wholesome Meat of this Sort has been brought on upon wooden Platters. Nice Guests will think our famous old Cook, Mr. Hearne himself, but a very coarse and greasy Kind of Host. In fine, I have not presumed to violate
* Mr. Bourne complains in his Preface of the invidious Behaviour of some of his Townsmen :-It is beneath a Man, conscious of inward Worth, to complain of that which he ought always to despise.--Posterity seems to have done himn very ample Justice for their Insults:-A Copy of the Antiquitates Vulgares has of late fetched seven or eight Shillings in London. Many perhaps will think the Purchasers mistook an Accident for Merit, and confounded the Idea of Scarceness with that of intrinsic Value.--I received this Information from one of the Society of Antiquaries, who understands the Subject too well himself to be inistaken in his Opinion of the Merit of those who have written upon it. On the the Weight of that Opinion alone I have been induced to preserve every Line that our Author has left us in that Work.
Author's Text, lest I should seem to play the Empiric, and lay the Foundation of my own little Structure upon the Ruins of his.
CHAP, CHAP. Il.
Of Watching with the Dead. WATCHING with the Corpse was an antient Custom of the Church, and every where practised. They were wont to sit by it, from the Time of its Death till its Exportation to the Grave, either in the House it died in, or in the Church itself. Agreeable to this, we read in St. Austin, That as they watched his Mother Monicu, * Euodius took the Psalter, and began to sing a Psalm, which the whole Family answered with that of the Psalmist David, I will sing of Mercy and Judgment, unto thee, O LORD, will I sing. And we are told, f. That at the Death of St. Ambrose, his body was carried into the Church before Day, the same Hour he died. It was the Night before Easter, and they watched with him there.
How unlike to this ancient Custom of
• Psalterium arripuit Euodius, & cantare cæpit psalmum, cui respondebamus omnes domus : Miserecordiam & judicium cantabo tibi Domine. Aug. Lib. 9. Confes. C. 12.
+ Ad ecclesiam antelucana hora qua defunctus est, corpus ipsius portatum est: ibique eadem fuit nocte, quam vigilavimus in pascha. Greg. Turon. de Gloria, Confes. C. 104.
watching is the modern one, of locking up the Corpse in a Room, and leaving it there alone? How unlike to this decent Manner of watching, is that watching of the Vulgar, which is a Scene of Sport and Drinking and Lewdness? Watching at that Time with a dear Friend, is the last Kindness and Respect we can shew him; and how unfriendly is it, to change it into Negligence and too great Resignation ? How unchristian, instead of a becoming Sorrow and decent Gravity, to put on an unbecoming Joy and undecent Pastime,
OBSERVATIONS ON CHAP. II.
OUR Author, for what Reason I know not, has roitted the vulgar Name given here to this watching with a Corpse. It is called the Lakewake; a Word plainly derived from the Anglo-Saxon Lic or Lice, a Corpse, and Wæcce, a Wake, Vigil, or Watching. It is used in this Sense by Chaucer, in his Knight's Tale :
Shall not be told for me,
All that Night long.
learned* * By the late Mr. Ruddiman, as is generally supposed.
learned * Glossary to Douglas' Virgil, “ Properly “ Like-wakes (Scotch) are the Meetings of the “ Friends of the Deceased, a Night, or Nights be«fore the Burial.”
I am not satisfied with either of the Quotations he has given us in Proof of the Antiquity of the Custom : They are indeed something to the Purpose; but in the last cited Passage, one would be inclined to think from the Words of the Original, that the Watching was on Account of its being the Vigil of Easter-Day.
The subsequent Extract from one of the antient Councils quoted in Durant, † p. 232, is, I think, much more apposite;" Now it must be observed, << that Psalms are wont to be sung not only when “the Corpse is conducted to Church, but that the « Antients watched on the Night before the Burial, « and spent the Vigil in singing Psalms." So also Gregory, in the Epistle that treats of the Death of his Sister Macrina, has these Words: “ Now when the nightly Watching, as is usual,” &c.
I could give numerous Passages from the Antients, were there any Doubt of the Antiquity of a Custom, which probably owes its Origin to the
+ Porro observandum est, nedum Psalmos cani consuetum, cum funus ducitur, sed etiam nocte, quæ præcedit funus, veteres vigilasse, nocturnasque vigilias canendis Psalmis egisse.
* Cùm igitur (inquit) nocturna pervigilatio, ut in Martyrum celebritate canendis Psalmis perfecta esset & Crepusculum adve. pisset, &c. Durant, p. 232.