“A despiser of sorry persons”

The internet is wonderful! I mentioned in service this morning one of my favorite epitaphs in a Boston graveyard. But I got several of the details wrong. First, it was in the Copps Hill burial ground. Second, the phrase I remembered was not the end of the epitaph. But you get the idea. Here’s the whole of it:

Here lyes the mortal part of William Clark, Esq. An Eminent Merchant of this Town and an Honourable Counsellor for this Province Who Distinguished Himself as a Faithful and Affectionate Friend a Fair and generous Trader Loyal to his Prince Yet always zealous for the Freedom of his Country A Despiser of Sorry Persons and little Actions, An Enemy to Priestcraft and Enthusiasm, Ready to relieve and Help the Wretched, A Lover of Good Men of Various Denominations, and a Reverent Worshipper of the Deity.

I didn’t do more research than that. I know it’s eighteenth century, and from the details, it probably derives from the colonial period (“loyal to his prince” suggests pre-revolutionary). But it does provide some interesting religious info: an enemy to Priestcraft suggests he wasn’t Anglican/Episcopalian, the mention of Enthusiasm implies he rejected the Great Awakening (i.e., Methodism), and “a Reverent Worshipper of the Deity” implies that he was moving toward Unitarianism, or at least Deism, as were many in the eighteenth century, Thomas Jefferson, for example.

1 thought on ““A despiser of sorry persons”

  1. Just now reading this blog – the first part of the epitaph has grabbed my attention this morning as I am dealing with the age- and heart-related ailments of my mother-in-law.
    I can keep reminding myself that this illness is affecting ‘the mortal part.’ Simple as it sounds, just that thought helps.

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