J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Friday, March 24, 2017

“Here lies ye Body of Dr Enoch Dole”

Earlier in the month I quoted a diary that mentioned the death of Dr. Enoch Dole during the final days of the siege of Boston.

Dr. Dole’s widow erected a striking gravestone for him in Littleton (shown in a photo by Carol A. Purinton, here courtesy of Wikipedia). At the top is a relief of a hand wielding a sword, an angel’s head, and the motto “Memento Mori.” Below that is this text, some words squeezed in by the carver:
Here lies ye Body of Dr Enoch Dole of Lancaster AE. 33 Years 5 months & 3 days, he unfortunately fell with 3 others ye 9th of March 1776, by a Cannon Ball from our cruel & unnatural Foes ye British Troops, while on his Duty on Dorchester Point.

No warning giv’n! Unceremonious fate!
A sudden rush from Lifes meredian joys.
A wrench from all we are! from all we love!
What a change
From yesterday!* Thy darling hope so near,
Long labourd prize!) O how ambition flushd
Thy glowing cheek! ambition truly great,
Of virtuous praise.
And Oh! ye last, last, what (can word express
Thought reach?) ye last, last silence of a friend.
Those lines of poetry are cobbled together, not always accurately, from Edward Young’s The Complaint, or Night-Thoughts on Life, Death, and Immortality, a very popular poem in the late 1700s.

This is a rare gravestone that contains a footnote, attached to the asterisked phrase “What a change from yesterday!” The stone’s last line explains: “Meaning his Entrance into Boston which so soon took Place & on which his Heart was much sett.”

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