Page:Twice-Told Tales (1851) vol 2.djvu/218

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At our next meeting I found him chiseling an open book upon a marble head-stone, and concluded that it was meant to express the erudition of some black-letter clergyman of the Cotton Mather school. It turned out, however, to be emblematical of the scriptural knowledge of an old woman who had never read any thing but her Bible; and the monument was a tribute to her piety and good works, from the Orthodox Church, of which she had been a member. In strange contrast with this Christian woman's memorial, was that of an infidel, whose grave-stone, by his own direction, bore an avowal of his belief that the spirit within him would be extinguished like a flame, and that the nothingness whence he sprang would receive him again. Mr. Wigglesworth consulted me as to the propriety of enabling a dead man's dust to utter this dreadful creed.

'If I thought,' said he, 'that a single mortal would read the inscription without a shudder, my chisel should never cut a letter of it. But when the grave speaks such falsehoods, the soul of man will know the truth by its own horror.'

'So it will,' said I, struck by the idea: 'the poor infidel may strive to preach blasphemies from his grave; but it will be only another method of impressing the soul with a consciousness of immortality.'

There was an old man by the name of Norton, noted throughout the island for his great wealth, which he had accumulated by the exercise of strong and shrewd faculties, combined with a most penurious disposition. This wretched miser, conscious that he had not a friend to be mindful of him in his grave, had