Tuesday, June 23, 2009

101 Ways, Part 91: "Quitted the Stage"

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

This is a fairly famous stone — that is, it appears in more than one book on New England history/literature, where people of extreme nerdliness may have come across it. It is a replica of the original stone dedicated to Caesar, a slave belonging to the Maxcey family of North Attleboro, MA. I don't know whether it stands in exactly the same place as the original — if it does, it is somewhat unusual in that it is not relegated to a far corner of the graveyard.
In memory of
Here lies the best of slaves
Now turning into dust;
Caesar the Ehiopian craves
A place among the just.
His faithful soul has fled
To realms of heavenly light,
And by the blood that Jesus shed
Is changed from Black to White
Jany. 15 he quitted the stage
in the 77th year of his age.

For an excellent discussion of imagery of racial transformation through salvation in 18th/19th-c. New England epitaphs, see John Wood Sweet's Bodies Politic: Negotiating Race in the American North, 1730-1830.

If you wish to visit Caesar's grave, it is in a little graveyard on Rte. 1 in North Attleboro, MA, just a few miles north of the junction with 295.

No comments: