By Andrew Sanders
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Additional resources for Charles Dickens Resurrectionist
At the height of the romantic period, the sufferings of parents at the death of a child reached an extreme intensity. 40 Stone supports his contention by quoting examples of bereavement in both aristocratic and bourgeois households, and he thereby helps to establish a social basis from which we can draw literary conclusions for both the eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries. A similar argument, based largely on French evidence, runs through Philippe Aries's study, Western Attitudes toward Death from the Middle Ages to the Present Day.
The Victorian cemetery, like the lingering nostalgia for the countryside, expressed an idyllic and pastoral alternative to the spiritual emptiness of the city. Nature hallowed and comprehended Death. To many Victorian citydwellers, mortality was no less a familiar phenomenon than it had been to their recent forbears, but a new insistence on commemorating the dead, and the inevitable pressure of population, demanded a dignified alternative to the evident unpleasantness of intra-mural interment. The Victorians were heirs not only to the invigorated pastoral tradition of the Romantics, but also to the new sensibility about death which had gradually established itself during the eighteenth century.
The servants, male and female, standing in a group, at a small distance from the bottom of the bed, in mute and serious attention to the last good words of their dying master, which he is in the act of uttering. ' 51 If the ars moriendi is not strictly being practised as an art, at least this tableau suggests that there is an ideal to be aimed at, if not exactly lived up to. When, in 1779, John and Charles Wesley first published their collection of hymns 'for the use of the people called Methodists', they included some fourteen in the section 'describing Death'; nearly all eagerly look forward to the release of the spirit from its carnal prison, and express an earnest joy at the passage of the Christian soul out of the Vale of Tears and into the celestial kingdom.
Charles Dickens Resurrectionist by Andrew Sanders