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This collection of epitaphs was started in a very modest fashion about thirty-five years ago, when the compiler found great pleasure in searching all the graveyards near her Vermont home for quaint inscriptions upon old tombstones. It was neither a morbid curiosity nor a spirit of melancholy that attracted her to the weather-beaten slabs of marble and slate, but rather a fondness for studying human eccentricity as revealed in whimsical epitaphs. In almost every graveyard one can find
"Some frail memorial still erected nigh,
and these have given many hours of pleasure to one who finds in such sombre elegies of the dead most interesting reflections of the living.
As the only purpose of carrying on such odd researches was to satisfy a fondness for freakish ingenuity, much less interest was found in the thousands of amusing epitaphs that are penned by writers for comic papers or by wags in general. ITictitious inscriptions lack the charm of authenticity, which in the case of epitaphs is decidedly more desirable than imagination. All selections which could not be definitely located are classed by themselves but many of these are known to have actually existed though for varying reasons the collector is unable to vouch for their exact locality.
In a few instances the names have been changed, where it was thought that verbatim copies of the epitaphs might prove invidious to the relatives or friends of the dead. It is hoped that the division into localities will prove a convenience to a majority of readers, who naturally will not care to read such a book through at one sitting, but rather to pick it up now and then when in the mood for such light entertainment as it can afford. The spelling has necessarily been changed at times from the antiquated and almost hieroglyphic forms which would defy the most careful typography; but in general the orthography and punctuation are copied verbatim from the originals.
The compiler trusts that it is not an act of unreasonable presumption to publish a book of epitaphs when so many already exist. In fact it was partly because of the numerous requests for an examination of her collection that the plan of publishing it was adopted. Such an ambitious consummation of her pleasant labor never occurred to her until her original note-books became badly worn and torn in their travels from friend to friend, from town to town, and it is hardly an exaggeration to say that they have been from Portland to Portland, from Augusta to Augusta, in response to the urgent requests of those who have in some manner heard of their existence. If her collection is as kindly received in book form as it has been in its less pretentious condition, the editor will feel that its publication was not due to an immoderate confidence in its variety and general interest.
SUSAN DARLING SAFFORD. Boston, Mass., April 6,1895.
Here lies the body of Richard Thomas, an Englishman by birth, a Whig of '76 — a Cooper by trade, now food for worms. Like an old rum puncheon whose staves are all marked and numbered he will be raised and put together again by his Maker.
Here lies the body of John Mound
Here lies one Wood enclosed in wood,
The little hero that lies here
Beneath this stone now dead to grief