In walking through a country graveyard one sees a prominent granite or marble monument here and there, but more of the stones that mark the resting-places of the dead are modest in appearance, plain and humble. But there are some graves that are unmarked by any outward token of remembrance. Such graves may hold the dust of as great and good men and women as those spots above which has been raised the lofty shaft and costly design.
Graveyards are just as deceptive as are the homes of the living. A fine house is not proof of the moral, the manly or womanly worth of its occupant. Saints do not sleep beneath the gilded roof any more than under a leaky thatch. So also the wise, the good, the true, are not the ones over whose ashes rises the chiseled stone. The dead may deserve monuments that the living are not able to buy.
A graveyard might be called a library of lies. Epitaphs are to be read, and believed, if you can believe them. We have found as big falsehoods in cemeteries as in newspapers. “Say nothing bad of the dead” is kindly counsel, but, say nothing of the dead on a tombstone, is wiser.
We have seen a towering stone covered with words of praise over the ashes of a man, who, while living, was simply a lover of money. We have seen the sunken grave of a woman, with no marble to adorn it, who lived a heroic life of love and duty beyond words to tell. If virtues bore monuments one would rise over the neglected grave of that saintly woman that would reach the clouds, and that other grave would be stripped of its marble and left to oblivion.
Though a cemetery is more or less a museum of vanity and pride, there is at the bottom of the costly display of granite and marble a tender feeling, a commendable virtue. There may be as much love and respect for those in unmarked graves as for those who sleep in costly masonry or beneath sculptured stone. In walking through a graveyard, if our steps should go to the places where no monument invited the eye, they would be more likely to walk over the dust of those who did life’s duty well, than if they paused only before the imposing shaft or read the marble tale of virtue that never was told in deeds.