Thursday, June 11, 2009

101 Ways, Part 86: Resigned This Life in Calm and Humble Hope of Heaven

For a brief intro to the "101 Ways to Say 'Died'" series, click here.

It's part 86 of this series and I've finally found a gravestone that explicitly mentions heaven. I thought it would never happen. One other uses the adjective "heavenly," but that's as close as I've gotten.

It's telling that this stone dates from the 19th century rather than the 17th or 18th. I don't have a very clear sense of how Puritans imagined heaven — they don't seem to have dwelled on the particulars. I've read plenty of Puritan sermons on hell, salvation, and resurrection, but not on the specifics of heaven. Most of the time, Puritan preachers seem to use "heaven" to mean "place where God lives" or "Providence," but they certainly don't seem to have foreshadowed the fluffy-cloud heaven invented by later generations. What did they imagine the experience of heaven would be? I have no idea.
Here Sleep
The Remains of
Mrs. Elizabeth Fernald
Wife of
Mr. Nathanl. W. Fernald, & daughter of
Capt. Nathanl. Melcher,
who resigned this life,
in calm and humble hope of heaven
October 5th. 1809, Aged 36 Years.
Kind husband, children, parents, friends,
When here you rest your eye;
Or pensive tread this hallow'd ground,
Remember, you must die.

Elizabeth Fernald, Portsmouth, NH, 1809


Robert J. said...

I think #100, when you get there, should go out with a flourish. I have an idea for one to use, but unfortunately it's a fictional example. Real ones like it must exist, though.

ExecutedToday said...

Sure, her resume says she *resigned*, but she probably got fired.

Caitlin GD Hopkins said...


I've been thinking of going out with a bang, but I don't have one up my sleeve. I should have saved the stone that shows the kid falling out of the tree.

What fictional stone did you have in mind?

Robert J. said...

What fictional stone did you have in mind?

#100 signals the departure of the series, and so this one would be a perfect literary ending.