and call to mind the church-yard stile, and his Mary

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Senior Member
Hi folks, this is cited from Redburn by Hermann Melville (1849)

Context: Melvilyle pays attention to contrasts in recruit bills and reality.
Q: Mary, mother of Christ? Or any Mary? and why would he think “church yard stile, what relevance? To me, this Mary must his lover or something but, the word churc yard stile confuses me.

There, as his eye sweeps down the St. Lawrence, whose every billow is bound for the main that laves the shore of Old England; as he thinks of his long term of enlistment, which sells him to the army as Doctor Faust sold himself to the devil; how the poor fellow must groan in his grief, and call to mind the church-yard stile, and his Mary.
  • Barque

    Senior Member
    It's probably a reference to how recruits might be thinking fondly of romances with girls back home in England (Mary is a common English name) and the stile (or any place) where they used to sit and spend time together.
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