Saturday, May 2, 2009

"When God ye Fatal Dart He Sends"

When I plug Mary Brown's epitaph into Google, the only hits are references to her gravestone in Providence's North Burial Ground. That doesn't necessarily mean that this is an original verse, composed especially for Mary Brown, but it may be. It's certainly clumsy enough.
Here lies Inter'd ye
Body of Mary Brown
Widow & Relict of James
Brown, Decd. August ye 18th
1736. in ye 66th Year of her Age
Old Age being come her race here ends
When God ye fatal Dart he sends.

I always thought that "widow" and "relict" were synonyms, but apparently, you can be both a widow and a relict at the same time.

Also, isn't it usually Death who sends the dart, not God?

1 comment:

Robert J. said...

> Widow & Relict

Very interesting, as I had thought them synonyms also. Surely this must be an inherited legal formula. (Didn't we see one like this before?) My understanding is that there are a lot of formulaic pairs in English law that trace to the merger of Norman and Saxon law, and so include one Latinate and one Germanic-derived word:"law and order" etc. Is this true, or folk etymology? If true could "widow and relict" be such a pair?