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October 31 , 2009

Shakespeare's Bones


The sentiment which affects survivors in the disposition of their dead, and which is, in one regard, a superstition, is, in another, a creditable outcome of our common humanity: namely, the desire to honour the memory of departed worth, and to guard the "hallowed reliques" by the erection of a shrine, both as a visible mark of respect for the dead, and as a place of resort for those pilgrims who may come to pay him tribute. It is this sentiment which dots our graveyards with memorial tablets and more ambitious sculptures, and which still preserves so many of our closed churchyards from desecration, and our {1a} ancient tombs from the molestation of careless, curious, or mercenary persons.But there is another sentiment, not inconsistent with this, which prompts us, on suitable occasions, to disinter the remains of great men, and remove them to a more fitting and more honourable resting-place. The Hotel des Invalides at Paris, and the Basilica of San Lorenzo Fuori le Mura at Rome, {1b} are indebted to this sentiment for the possession of relics which make those edifices the natural resort of pilgrims as of sight-seers.

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