Even in our ashes live our wonted fires.-- GRAY*
ONE summer's eve, as I passed through a burial-ground on the banks of the Nith,* I saw an old man resting on a broad flat stone which covered a grave. The church itself was gone and but a matter of memory: yet the church-yard was still reverentially preserved, and several families of name and standing continued to inter in the same place with their fathers. Some one had that day been buried, and less care than is usual had been taken in closing up the grave, for, as I went forward, my foot struck the fragment of a bone. I lifted it hastily, and was about to throw it away, when the old man said, 'Stay, thoughtless boy, that which you touch so carelessly was once part of a living creature, born in pain and nursed tenderly, was beloved, and had a body to rot in the grave, and a soul to ascend into heaven--touch not, therefore, the dust of thy brother rudely.' So he took the bone, and, lifting a portion of the green sod, which covered the grave, replaced it in the earth. I was very young, and maybe thoughtless, but I was touched with the patriarchal look of the man, and also by his scriptural mode of expressing himself. I remained by him, and was in no haste to be gone.
'My child,' he said, 'I have a melancholy kind of pleasure in wandering about this old burial-place. In my youth I have sat with hundreds of the old and young in the church to which this ground belonged--they are all lying here save one whom the sea drowned and two who perished in a foreign battle, and I am the last of the congregation who lives to say it. I am grown sapless, and I am become leafless. There is not one hair on a head ninety years old and odd--look, my child, it was once covered with locks as dark as the back of yon hooded-crow.' He removed his hat as he spoke, and his bald