Friday, February 21, 2014

"To the memory of a Lady" (1789)

                To the memory of a LADY.

SHE sleeps in peace, on death's cold lap reclin'd,

        Who once could beauty boast, and polish'd grace,

In whom that truth and sweetness were combin'd,

        By which divine in human forms we trace.

If it be true, that those belov'd of Heav'n

        Bear of affliction's grief the heavier load,

Her soul, ah sure ! enjoys the promise giv'n,

        And rests with angels high enthron'd with God.

For woe, succeeding woe, a grievous train,

        She bore with firm, serene and patient mind;

In her own bosom buried all her pain,

        Upheld by faith, nor once at fate repin'd.

Pleas'd nature smil'd, Heav'n rais'd her portals high,

        Whilst saints in strains seraphic loudly cry'd

'Haste to thy blest abode above the sky,'

        She droop'd her pious head, conform'd & dy'd.

The Federal Herald [Lansingburgh, NY]. June 1, 1789.

The poem was reprinted, with slight alterations, in the American Museum, or, Universal Magazine in July 1791 as "Verses on miss Honoria Leamy, sister of Join Leamy, esq. who departed this life July 14, 1791."

"Honoria Leamy, died July 14, 1791; age, 38 years and 9 months" had been recorded as being buried in Section J, Vault 25 of St. Mary's Graveyard, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

"Some new features have been introduced into this volume, which, it is hoped, will meet with approval. As nothing conveys an idea so well as a picture, we have endeavored to illustrate historical events by half-tone cuts, where such could be well introduced, and where we could command a good photograph to copy from. We have also given portraits of the first and the second Presidents of the Society.

"An important innovation is the photogravure of St. Mary's graveyard, Philadelphia. It is to be hoped that its appearance will induce persons, in a position to do so, to make drawings of all old graveyards throughout the country. [...]

"The American Catholic Historical Society considers the preservation of the records and inscriptions of Catholic graveyards throughout America of vast importance. Therefore it intends to gather such records and inscriptions before the ravages of time make the work impossible.

"The list of inscriptions and the photographure, which are here presented to the public, show the nature of the work which the Society expects to accomplish. It has been able to make this good beginning through the generosity of Mr. John J. Maitland, a member of the Society, who very kindly had the survey made and the inscriptions copied.

"The Society could not well have chosen a more fitting spot to begin the work with, for St. Mary's graveyard is one of the oldest Catholic graveyards in the country, and, therefore, most closely connected with early American Catholic history. [...]

"Owing to the ravages of time many tombstones and consequently many records of death in this old graveyard are lost. Recently, whilst the gravel walk was being repaved a broken stone was unearthed [...] The sexton of St. Mary's Church says that there are many vaults under this gravel walk. [...]

"Every effort has been made to give the extracts from the records and inscriptions of St. Mary's graveyard, which appear in the foregoing pages, correctly. It must be born in mind, however, that inscriptions on very old tombstones, owing to their indistinctness, will permit of various readings by different persons.

"Many stones in St. Mary's graveyard are so deeply sunken that the inscriptions upon them could only have been read after digging them up. This, of course, it was impracticable to do."

"St. Mary's Graveyard, Fourth and Spruce Streets, Philadelphia; Records and Extracts from Inscriptions on Tombstones." Records of the American Catholic Historical Society of Philadelphia. Vol. 3. 1891. 6, 253, 271.

Fourth and Spruce seems to have been the address of the church, not the cemetery. Whatever the case, the cemetery is no longer where it was.

"By 1910, the cemetery was neglected and a fire (date unknown) destroyed the cemetery records. The bodies in Saint Mary's were re-interred at Holy Cross Cemetery in Yeadon, Delaware County, PA in a mass grave."

"Saint Mary's Cemetery (Defunct)" Find A Grave.

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