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parting, too, there was now a long ceremony in the hall, buttoning up great coats, tying on woolen comforters, fixing silk handkerchiefs over the mouth and up to the ears, and grasping sturdy walking-canes to support unsteady feet.
Their fiftieth anniversary came, and death had indeed been busy. Four little old men, of withered appearance and decrepit walk, with cracked voices, and dim, rayless eyes, sat down by the mercy of heaven, (as they tremulously declared,) to celebrate, for the fift ieth time, the first day o/ the year, to observe the frolic compact, which half a century before they had entered into at the Star and Garter at Richmond. Eight were in their graves! The four that remained stood upon its confines. Yet they chirped cheerily over their glass, though they could scarcely carry it to their lips, if more than half full: and cracked their jokes, though they articulated their words with difficulty, and heard each othei with still greater difficulty. They mumbled, they chattered, they laughed, (if a sort of strangled wheezing might be called a laugh,) and as the wine sent their icy blood in warmer pulses through their veins, they talked of their past as if it were but a yesterday that had slipped by them, and of their future as if it were but a busy century that lay before them.
At length came the Last dinner; and the survivor of the twelve, upon whose head four score and ten winters had showered their snow, ate his solitary meal. It so chanced that it was in his house, and at his table, they celebrated the first. In his cellar, too, had remained the bottle they had then uncorked, recorked, and which he was that day to uncork again. It stood beside him. With a feeble and reluctant grasp he took the " frail memorial" of a youthful vow, and for a moment memory was faithful to her office. She threw open the long vista of buried years; and hi* heart traveled through them all: Their lusty and blithesome spring,—their bright and fervid summer,—their ripe and temperate autumn,—their chill, but not too frozen winter. He saw, as in a mirror, how one by one the laughing companions of that merry hour, at Richmond, had dropped into eternity. He felt the loneliness of his condition, (for he had eschewed marriage, and in the veins of no living creature ran a drop of blood whose source was in his own,) and as he drained the glass which he had filled, " to the memory of those who were gone," the tears slowly trickled down the deep furrows of his aged face.
He had fulfilled one part of his vow, and he prepared himself to discharge the other by sitting the usual number of hours at his desolate table. With a heavy heart he resigned himself to the gloom of his own thoughts—a lethargic sleep stole over him—his head fell upon his bosom—confused images crowded into his mind—he babbled to himselt —was silent—and when his servant entered the room alarmed by a noise which he heard, he found his master stretched upon the 'carpet at the foot of an easy chair, out of which be had fallen in an apoplectic fit. He never spoke again, nor once opened his eyes, though the vital spark was not extinct till the following day. And this was The Last Dinner.
ORATOR PUFF.—Thomas Moore.
Mr. Orator Puff had two tones in his voice,
The one squeaking lhus, and the other down so;
But he still talked away, spite of coughs and of frowns,
So distracting all ears with his ups and his downs, That a wag once, on hearing the orator say, "My voice is for war;" asked him, "Which of them pray7" Oh! oh! Orator Puff, One voice for an orator's surely enough!
Reeling homeward one evening, top-heavy with gin,
And rehearsing his speech on the weight of the crown, He tripped near a saw-pit, and tumbled right in,— "Sinking fund," the last words as his noddle came down. Oh! oh! Orator Puff, One voice for an orator's surely enough!
"Oh, save!" he exclaimed, in his he-and-she tones,
"Help me out! help me out!—I have broken my bones!" 'Help you out!" said a Paddy who passed, " what a bother I Why, there's two of vou there; can't you help one another?" Oh! oh! Orator Puff One voice for an orator's surely enough!
I loved them so, That when the Elder Shepherd of the fold Came, covered with the storm, and pale and cold, And begged for one of my sweet lambs to hold,
I bade him go.
He claimed the pet—
And yet—and yet—
I laid him down In those white, shrouded arms, with bitter tears; For some voice told me that, in after years, He should know naught of passion, grief, or fears,
As I had known.
And vet again That Elder Shepherd came. My heart grew faint. He claimed another lamb, with sadder plaint; Another! She who, gentle as a saint,
Ne'er gave me pain.
Aghast I turned away!
I knelt to pray:
"Is it Thy will? My Father, say, must this pet lamb be given? Oh! Thou hast many such, dear Lord, in heaven!" And a soft voice said: "Nobly hast thou striven;
But—peace, be still."
Oh! how I wept, And clasped her to my bosom, with a wild And yearning love—my lamb, my pleasant child! Her, too, I gave. The little angel smiled,
"Go! go!" I cried:
Close to his side.
And vet how wondrous sweet The look with which he heard my passionate cry, "Touch not my lamb; for him, oh! let me die!" "A little while," He said, with smile and sigh,
"Again to meet."
Hopeless I fell;
I felt farewell
More deeply, far, Than if my arms had compassed that slight frame: Though could I but have heard him call my name— "Dear mother!"—but in heaven 'twill be the same,
There burns my star I
He will not take
My heart woidd break.
Oh! with what thrill
O heart, be still!
Came morning. Can I tell
How often it is said!
Over the dead.
No tears! no tears! Will there a day come that I shall not weep? For I bedew my pillow in my sleep. Yes, yes; thank God! no grief that clime shall keep,
No weary years.
Ay! it is well: Well with my lambs, and with their earthly guide. There, pleasant rivers wander they beside, Or strike sweet harps upon its silver tide—
Ay! it is well.
Through tho dreary day,
They often come from glorious light to me;
CHRISTMAS EVE.—Miss H. A. Fosteb.
Three little stockings—two blue, and one red,
Two little boys rest in their low trundle-bed,
With foot on the rocker, and love in her eye,
She chants to slow measure an old lullaby—
She stops now and then to replace, with a kiss,
Two dimpled arms under the cover;
'Bound her baby the bright angels hover.
But (he moments glide on; her singing is o'er;
With hands on her lap idly sinking,
She is thinking—so busily thinking.
Thought wings her away to tho sunshiny past,
But round the low cot sweeps the wild wintry blast-
She looks round her room with dissatisfied gaze—
"Alas for the hopes of my long ago days!
"And this for our home; poor, wretched at best;
Though John calls it tidy and cosy;
Their infancy sparkling and rosy,
"My husband could banish the care which annoys;
I would dress in rich satins and laces; We could look with such pride on our bright, noble boys
And our daughter's rare beauty and graces.
Heaven is not lkr away.