Sad news has come from England to-day of the death of Sir Edward Burne-Jones. What a loss The following very simple little poem by Byron - not much known, I think - is not modern in feeling, but fits singularly, for those who believe in spirit-land, the death of a man like Burne-Jones:
Bright be the place of thy soul!
No lovelier spirit than thine E'er burst from its mortal control
In the orbs of the blessed to shine.
On earth thou wert all but divine,
As thy soul shall immortally be; And our sorrow shall cease to repine
When we know that thy God is with thee.
Light be the turf of thy tomb!
May its verdure like emeralds be! There should not be the shadow of gloom
In aught that reminds us of thee.
Young flowers and an evergreen tree
May spring from the spot of thy rest; But no Cypress nor Yew let us see,
For why should we mourn for the blest?
Those who do not believe in spirit-land in any thinkable form - and I fancy they are many more than is generally supposed - when brought face to face with death, mourn not for the peace and rest of those that are gone, but for themselves - their own personal grief and loss and misery - and feel a kind of humiliation that what they themselves prized most, or the person who loved them most, is gone from them. Such grief, like all our other selfishness, should be fought and controlled as much as we have strength for. The old notion of those who prayed against sudden death was of a death unprepared, unsanctified by the Church, that did not give the same chance of eternal happiness to some one they loved which was freely granted to the majority. This indeed was a thought only to find relief in wailing and gnashing of teeth. Now we say: 'What was best for them was worst for us, but what does that matter?'
In speaking of Burne-Jones's work many years ago Mr. Ruskin said: 'His work is simply the only art-work at present produced in England which will be received by the future as classic. I know that these will be immortal, as the best things the mid-nineteenth century in England can produce, in such true relations as it had through all confusion retained with the paternal and everlasting art of the world.' And do we not all feel this is true?