The return of Spring has reminded us of a subject which lies long occupied in our own thoughts, and to which we wish to call the attention of our citizens--the present condition of our villiage burial ground. No place in our village is so frequently visited, both by citizens and strangers, as this, and yet there is none that is more unsightly in itself, or yet that brings so much reproach upon our good taste and cultivated feelings. It is visited from that universal desire of the living to linger about the resting places of the loved and lost, and from the magnificent view to be seen from it.
Our lovely village, scattered over its irregular terraces--the bold and rugged mountain that, rock-ribbed, lists itself so precipitately from the river bed on the east--the Connecticut and West rivers winding in placid beauty beneath the rocks that wildly overhang, and the trees that sweetly fringe their banks,--their highly cultivated valleys, dotted with farm-houses, flocks and herds,--the hills, whose knobby pinnacles rise between the two streams, and which repose in such majestic quiet against the northern sky, their sides covered with beautiful farms, and their summits crowned with their native forests--and all forming a combination of wild and beautiful scenery, scarcely surpassed in New England--can no where be seen at so great an advantage as from the cemetery.
But it is only the view from the cemetery that is delightful. The view of it, gives any thing but pleasure. If the earth ever was covered with soft green grass, it has long since been rooted out by the noxious weeds and ugly briars, that now cover its surface. Not a tree sends forth its grateful shade or invites the warblers of the grove there to tune their 'wood notes wild.' Except in a very few instances, no shrubbery or flowers have been planted around the homes of the departed, by mourning friends. There is no system in the division of the grounds or the arrangement of the graves, and many of the latter are left in a rude, unfinished, untasteful condition, that seems disrespectful to those who occupy their narrow cells.--All this is revolting to that instinctive respect for the dead, that is a universal feeling of our natures, and has exhibited itself in all ages, among all nations, in every stage of civilization, and under every form of religion. The effect upon strangers is extremely unpleasant, and any thing but a favorable impression of the refinement and good taste of our citizens is produced, while we know this state of things is a source of deep regret to many of our own village.
It appears to us that two things are required. One is, every person who has friends deposited there should see that the spot that they occupy is properly cared for. Let the soil be prepared, let grass seed be sown, and let flowers, shrubbery, and trees be planted and nursed until they take root and grow. In this way the cemetery would lose its present shabby and repulsive appearance, altho' from the confused arrangement of the graves, and the difficulty of improving a burial place already occupied, it might not be made very beautiful.
The other, and much the most important, is no new suggestion. It is, that we should have a new cemetery, or an enlargement of the old one. The wood opposite, on the west side of the road, is most admirably fitted for the purpose. It has a fine growth of young and thrifty trees. The soil is light and sandy, of little value for any other purpose. The view from the spot is fully equal to that from the old one, and the surface of the ground is decidedly better. With comparatively little expense it might be made a most lovely spot, one that would be an ornament to our place instead of a reproach. Will not some of our public spirited citizens see to this. We shall again advert to the subject.
Vermont Phoenix, May 24, 1844. Article by William E. Ryther.
Two sons of William Eaton Ryther died young---
William E. Ryther, Jr. (1837-1838), and William G. Ryther (1839-1840).
Our village readers will not have forgotten that a few weeks since, we called their attention to the present condition of our village Cemetery, and urged the importance of improving and ornamenting it. We are glad to find that we are not alone in calling public attention to this subject.
Last Sabbath the Rev Mr Brown preached to his people in relation to it. He adverted to the intuitive and universal respect that had been paid in all ages to the remains of the departed, and the sacredness with which their resting places had ever been regarded, and gave a very interesting historical view of the manner in which the dead had been disposed of in different ages, and among various tribes and nations. He noticed the very general movement in our own country within a few years for the improvement of burial places, and dwelt upon the happy moral and religious influences of lovely and attractive cemeteries, and earnestly hoped that our own would be made one of that class.
We hope that the example of Mr Brown will be followed by the other clergymen of our village, and that a general interest will be awakened among our citizens, that will lead to practical results.
Vermont Phoenix, July 5, 1844.