The UK Bible Students
Joseph Addison On Westminster Abbey
Joseph Addison, quoted in British Poetry
(Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.; 1928), p. 511.
‘When I am in a serious humour, I very often
walk by myself in Westminster Abbey; where the gloominess of the place, and the
use to which it is applied, with the solemnity of the building, and the
condition of the people who lie in it, are apt to fill the mind with a kind of
melancholy, or rather thoughtfulness, that is not disagreeable.
I yesterday passed a whole
afternoon in the churchyard, the cloisters, and the church, amusing myself with
the tombstones and inscriptions that I met with in those several regions of the
Most of them recorded nothing
else of the buried person, but that he was born upon one day, and died upon
another: the whole history of his life being comprehended in those two
circumstances that are common to all mankind.
I could not but look upon
these registers of existence, whether of brass or marble, as a kind of satire
upon the departed persons; who had left no other memorial of them but that they
were born, and that they died.
They put me in
mind of several persons mentioned in the battles of heroic poems, who have
sounding names given them, for no other reason but that they may be killed, and
are celebrated for nothing but being knocked on the head.’