The Landscape Guide

American Cemetery Gardens

1501. Mount Auburn Cemetery. A public cemetery was formed in 1831 at Mount Auburn, about three miles from Boston, and is easily approached either by the road, or the river which washes its borders. On the eligibility of the situation, and the manner in which it should be laid out, a writer in the North American Review has the following remarks: - "It affords every variety of soil and elevation which trees or flowers would require, with streams and meadows, from which ponds may be made for plants which love the water. The plants of every climate may find there a suitable home. It might be thought that would require many years to cover it with verdure; but nature has anticipated this objection; it being already clothed with trees and shrubs of almost all descriptions which grow in this part of the country. The most striking part of this tract is a conical hill of considerable height, which commands an extensive and beautiful prospect. This is reached by a gentle ascent, which winds like a road round the bill, with valleys on each side and is so exact in its bearing, that it is difficult to persuade one's self that man had no agency in forming it. The top of the height is an admirable place for a monument intended to be seen at a distance, and the sides will afford room for the resting place of many generations. The whole country would not afford a better spot for the purpose than this. it is consecrated already by many delightful associations in the memory of most of those who have left the university for many years past; and the plan proposed instead of breaking up this favorite resort, would only render it better suited to aid the inspirations of science, feeling, or imagination. There is something unpleasant to many in the idea of cultivating the place of death. This may be owing to the old prejudice which regards nature and art as opposed to each other. Nature, under all circumstance was meant to be improved by human care; it is unnatural to leave it to itself; and the traces of art are never unwelcome, except when it defeats the purposes and refuses to follow the suggestions of nature. We trust that the public-spirited authors of this design will consider themselves as giving a direction to public taste; and that they will therefore not suffer the ground to be disfigured with dungeon-like tombs, which are only suited to the cellars of churches and burying-places of cities, where the dead cannot find room to lie dust to dust. The monuments also deserve regard. The stiff and ungainly headstone should be banished, to give place to the cippus, or some simple form suited to resist the elements, and receive inscriptions. But the ornaments of the sepulcher should be trees and flowers. Let the monuments be found in the noble forests of our land; let them not be such as the elements waste, but such as time only strengthens and repairs." (North. Amer. Rev., Oct. 1851.)

1502. Newhaven Cemetery. The burying-ground at Newhaven "is laid out with more care and attention, and is better kept, than any ground devoted to the same purpose in the United States. It is of considerable size, and formed into broad lanes, shaded by weeping willows poplars, &c. The whole has a good effect; many of the monuments are fine, and considerable number of them were brought from Italy. In short, the burying-ground at Newhaven is quite the Père la Chaise of the United States." (Stuart's Three Years, &c.vol. i. p. 365.)

1503. Guilford Cemetery. The cemetery of the Episcopal church of the town of Guilford is in a public 1 square, and unenclosed. The graves are therefore trampled upon, and the monuments injured, both by men and cattle. On this cemetery Dr. Dwight makes the following judicious remarks :-" The design of locating places of burial in this manner was probably good. In its execution, however, it evidently defeats itself, while it is also a plain violation of propriety. Instead of producing those solemn thoughts and encouraging those moral propensities, which it was intended to inspire, it renders death and the grave such familiar objects to the eye, as to prevent them from awakening any serious regard. Here, particularly, both the remains and memorials of the dead are presented to the mind in circumstances so gross, and indicative of so little respect in the living, as to eradicate every emotion naturally excited by the remembrance of the deceased, and give to those which remain a coarseness and commonness, destructive of all moral influence. Nor is it unreasonable to suppose that the proximity of those sepulchral fields to human habitations is injurious to health. Some of them have, I believe, been found to be offensive; and will probably be allowed to have been noxious Even in eases where nothing of this nature is perceptible, it is far from being clear that effluvia too subtle to become an object of sense do not ascend in sufficient quantities to affect with disease, or at least with a predisposition to disease, those who, by living in the neighborhood, are continually breathing this mischievous exhalation." (Dwight's Travels in New England and New York, Svo, London, 1823, vol. ii. p. 489.) 

1504. In Virginia and Maryland almost every family mansion has its little graveyard, sheltered by locust and cypress trees; and one mansion on the Delaware, near Philadelphia, has the monument which marks the family resting-place, rearing itself in all the gloomy grandeur of black and white marble, exactly opposite the door of entrance. (Domestic Manners of the Americans, vol. ii. p. 133.)