Cooking in America, 1590-1840

Mistress Bradstreet

Customs and Fashions in Old New England

that you may not escape nor mistake them) bestrew these funeral verses. If a man chanced to have a name of any possible twist of signification, such as Green, Stone, Blackman, in doleful puns did he posthumously suffer; and his friends and relatives endured vicariously also, for to them these grinning death's-heads of rhymes were widely distributed.

It was with a keen sense of that humor which comes, as Sydney Smith says, from sudden and unexpected contrast, that I read a heavily bordered sheet entitled in large letters, "A Grammarian's Funeral." It was printed at the death of Schoolmaster Woodmancey, and was so much admired that it was brought forth again at the demise of Ezekiel Cheever, who died in 1708 after no less than seventy years of school-teaching. I think we may truly say of him, teaching at ninety-three years of age,

"With throttling hands of death at strife,
Ground he at grammar."

For the consideration and investigation of Browning Societies, I give a few lines from this New England conception of a Grammarian's Funeral.

"Eight parts of Speech This Day wear Mourning Gowns,
Declin'd Verbs, Pronouns, Participles, and Nouns.
The Substantive seeming the limbed best
Would set an hand to bear him to his Rest
The Adjective with very grief did say
Hold me by Strength or I shall faint away.
Great Honour was conferred on Conjugations
They were to follow next to the Relations
. . . . . . .
But Lego said, by me his got his Skill
And therefore next the Herse I follow will
A Doleful Day for Verbs they look so Moody
They drove Spectators to a mournful Study."

I have a strong suspicion that this funeral poem may have been learned by heart by succeeding generations of Boston scholars, as a sort of grammatical memory-rhyme—a mournful study, indeed.

Funeral sermons were also printed, with trappings of sombreness, black-bordered, with death's-heads and crossbones on the covers. These sermons were not, however, preached at the time of the funeral, save in exceptional cases. It is said that one was delivered at the funeral of President Chauncey in 1671. Cotton Mather preached one at the funeral of Fitz-John Winthrop in 1707, and another at the funeral of Waitstill Winthrop in 1717. Gradually there crept in the custom of having suitable prayers at the house before the burial procession formed, the first instance being probably at the funeral of Pastor Adams, of Roxbury, in 1683. Sometimes a short address was given at the grave, as when Jonathan Alden was buried at Duxbury, in 1697. The Boston News Letter of December 31, 1730, notes a prayer at a funeral, and says: "Tho' a custom in the Country-Towns 'tis a Singular instance in this Place, but it's wish'd may prove a Leading Example to the General Practice of so Christian and Decent a Custom." Whitefield wrote

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