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THE RAINBOW AND THE CROSS.
BY JOSEPH R. CHANDLER.
It was an afternoon in the month of June I had left the city, and had approached the country as far as the House of Refuge, in Francis' lane.—Opposite the building, is a burying ground. Some one had “ set before me an open door;" and I entered the silent but instructive mansion of the dead, to meditate among the tombs, and familiarise myself with scenes in which all must become unconscious participants.
I looked around-the green carpeted earth and swelling herbage told of life; but of a life that depended on seasons and their incidents; and in a few months at best, the breath of the North would sweep away their glories, and desolation would take the place of their beauties. These things told of death in the vegetable world. The hillock by which I stood, was a memento of what had been; while the stifled cough, and the face that disease had blanched white as the monumental stones among which it was, told plainly what was to be in the animal creation. We inhale death with the first inspiration of life, and all our marchings are in the downward path to the tomb, from whose open door the hand of death continually beckons the contemplative, while pleasure smooths down the track for the thoughtless and the gay.
Hillock after hillock told of the long abiding place of beings, who had once gone forth among their fellows in
the pride of health and the boast of friendship. Their agile limbs had stiffened; the manly sinews had shrunk; the bright eye had become dim; beauty and strength had departed, and those who had once loved them, had hastened to bury the dead out of their sight. They had heaped up the earth, and erected stones in memorial of life-perhaps of virtue and of friendship; but the earth was gathering back its imparted dust; and that which had once stood out upon earth, and talked of life, and rights, and liberty —which had claimed affinity with spirit, and had measured the path of the sun_ numbered the stars, and called them all by name;" had passed away from such eminences, shrunk into the narrow grave, and was becoming one with the parts, and with the fellow occupants, of its long home.
Stepping up upon one of the newly sodded graves, I leaned over the headstone to contemplate the scenery, and thereby mellow the feelings into that melancholy richness that constitutes the enjoyment of those whose afflictions have not indurated their affections. It is good for the dying to stand up among the dead, and discourse of death; it is profitable, among the wasted glasses of life, to court the few remaining sands that are running for us, and think how soon, and for what, the wheel will be broken at the cistern—and why it yet turns. The heart beats—the breast dilates, and the limbs move, these are the machineries of life-does their busy function keep alive that spirit which is only found where those functions are? or does the spirit—that unseen portion-give motion and activity to the frame. Is one the effect of an independent cause, or are both dependent. If the latter, on what a store house do we stand!-the depository of priceless wealth, that shall not leave its treasury.
Where is the Token of the Promise, that the Slumbers of the grave shall be broken; or where is the Sign that the sleepers shall awake!
The whole heaven was darkened; and in the east especially a black, dense cloud, which had passed round from the south rested upon the horizon, like the pall of the departed day. All was hushed—the gloomy doubts that had pressed upon my mind seemed to have hung also a gloom upon the earth and the heavens. Just then the clouds of the west broke away, and the sun, sinking into night, threw his parting, beams upon the earth—the brilliant cross of Saint Augustine's church caught the rays, and flashed out its glories upon the dark clouds that rested in the east; while above its emblematic radiations, shone a brilliant Rainbow, spangling the whole horizon with its liquid hues.
While wrapt in awe at the scene before me I gazed in admiration—was it imagination, or did the voice that instructed my infancy, now breathe along the evening breeze, the monition—" Behold the Token of the Promise, that the slumbers of the grave shall be broken; and the Sign that the sleepers shall awake.
A pilgrim lone I've wander'd through
Oh! I would sooner walk alone
Sweet messenger to me!
The tiny insect buzzing round-
Our life is but one scene of ill-