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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 insult not over their ashes.
In the offer of these antiquities, we drive not at ancient families, so long out-lasted by them ; we are far from erecting your worth upon the pillars of your forefathers, whose merits you illustrate. We honor your old virtues, conformable unto times before you, which are the
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,* and must profess myself, even to urn and ashes,
Your ever faithful friend,
Norwich, May 1, 1658.
* Adamas de rupe veteri præstantissimus.
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.
* The original title was as follows:-“ Hydriotaphia, Urn-Burial, or a Discourse of the Sepulchral Urns lately found in Norfolk.”
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 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 ; 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 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 corporal dissolution ; whilst the soberest nations have rested in two ways, of simple inhumation and burning.
* Sit tibi terra levis.
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 Calvary, 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 great antiquity, and of no slender extent. For (not to derive the same from Hercules) 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 Meneceus 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 Amazonian queen, and long continuance of that practice in the inward countries of Asia ; while as low as the reign of Julian, we find that the king of Chionia * burnt the body of his son, and interred the ashes in a silver urn.
* Gumbrates, king of Chionia, a country near Persia.