This is about the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord Massachusetts, not @SleepyHollowFox. Though I'm sure it would get a heck of a lot more attention if it were about the television show. So far in talking about cemetery dedication addresses from Joseph Story's 1831 address at Mount Auburn to Lincoln's in November 1863 I have focused on the consistency of themes in them. One of those themes is the proper burial of the dead as a duty owed by the living. Another is the cemeteryas a sacred trust, which teaches values of patriotism and Union. Another is the ways that the cemetery provides a model of an ordered republic. The addresses portray the cemetery as part of a world of Whig thought of order, beauty, and private action for public good.
Now I want to focus on some distinctions between the addresses. I'll start with Ralph Waldo Emerson's 1855 address at Sleepy Hollow in Concord. This is second only to Lincoln's address in terms of literary merit (and maybe, but I don't think so, Story's 1831 address at Mount Auburn). As in everything else, Emerson was quite the iconoclast, for the Sleepy Hollow address is different from the others. It has substantially fewer references to God than the others; it is more focused on the beauty of nature (it uses one of Emerson's favorite words, sublime, several times); it is more forthright than many addresses in its acknowledgement that cemeteries are about the present. For instance, after discussing that individuals die even as human society continues and that it is impossible to preserve bodies for long, Emerson says that "our people accepting this lesson from science, yet touched by the tenderness which Christianity breathes, have found a mean in the consecration of gardens." Emerson alludes to the "simultaneous movement" in "a hundred cities and towns" to establish rural cemeteries. His focus is on the beauty of nature and the longevity of trees. "What work of man will compare with the plantation of a park," he asked? This address is classic transcendentalism -- and thus has less to do overtly with law than a lot of others. (At some point I need to revisit the issue of how transcendental ideas fit with changes in the common law in the first half of the nineteenth century. Years and years ago Dan Hulsebosch suggested the name for an article about Justice Story -- transcendental jurist. So credit goes to him for this, as with so many other ideas I've worked on over the years.) Emerson explicitly links the cemetery to the local courthouse, when he says they were both "part of a large block of public ground, permanent property of the town and country."
Let me contrast Emerson's Sleepy Hollow address with one given by Increase N. Tarbox. You've certainly never heard of him before. He was a relatively unimportant thinker and minister in Massachusetts. His cemetery dedication address at Framingham (like Emerson's in 1849) was standard fare: the community is coming together to promote a place of beauty and fulfill obligations to the dead. Though the cemetery is near the city, it is a place of repose, where we pay respect to the dead and in that way elevate ourselves. Christianity humanizes people and the cemetery is part of that project. The address centered around the civilizing aspects of Christianity. One key to understanding the different visions of Emerson and Tarbox comes in an address on philosophy that Tarbox at Hamilton College in 1843. Tarbox criticized transcendentalists who found that the "Universe is God." Tarbox, by contrast, wanted a philosophy grounded in the history, rather than one that "send[s] man blindly on his way without guide or compass." Tarbox attacked the transcendentalist philosophy advanced by those who "discourse by day, of moonlight and starlight and abstract beauty generally; who find a sort of religion in dew-drops and flowers and falling snow-flakes, and manufacture a kind of God out of the spirit of the age." Tarbox used the cemetery dedication address as a way of supporting the conservative ideas and Emerson used his dedication address to advance his Transcendental ideas. The Hamilton College address helps us see the points of conflict between those two visions. Each side, though, used the dedication address to discuss how cemeteries advanced the republic as they saw it. That is everyone saw the cemetery as a part of their political and religious world.
The image is of Emerson's grave at Sleepy Hollow, from wikipedia. I don't have a copy of this in my picture files yet.