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Heaven gives our years of fading strength
Proportioned to their sweetness.
Sentimental regrets for the loss of youth abound in poetry. Thus bitterly lamented the American poet, N. P. Willis :I'm twenty-two—I'm twenty-two! They gaily give
me joy, As if I should be glad to hear that I was less a
boy; They do not know how, carelessly, their words have
given pain To one whose heart would leap to be a happy boy
A change has o'er my spirit pass'd: my mirthful
hours are few ; The light is all departed now my early feelings
knew; I used to love the morning grey, the twilight's quiet
deep, But now like shadows on the sea upon my thoughts
And love was as a holy star when this brief year
was young, And my whole worship of the sky on one sweet ray
was flung; But worldly things have come between and shut it
from my sight, And though that star shines purely yet, I mourn the
And fame!-I bent to it my knee, and bow'd to it
my brow, And it is like a coal upon my living spirit now; But when I pray'd for fire from heaven to touch
the soul I bow'd, I little thought the lightning flash would come in
such a cloud.
Ye give me joy! Is it because another year has
fled; That I am farther from my youth and nearer to the
dead? Is it that manhood's cares are come---my happy
boyhood o'er? Because the visions I have loved will visit me no
Oh! wherefore give me joy, when I can smile no
welcome back? I've found no flower, and seen no light, on man
hood's weary track. My love is deep, ambition deep, and heart and
mind will on, But love is fainting by the way, and fame consumes
And this at two-and-twenty! Surely
He who mourneth day by day
In Tennyson's “Maud” we light upon a very common-sense view of these early repinings :
Ah, what shall I be at fifty,
Should nature keep me alive,
When I am but twenty-five?
But who does not know that exaggeration of feeling and of sentiment are native to the poetic temperament? And there can be no doubt that rolling years bring painfully home to most of us, as to the Laureate, the fact that,
There's somewhat in this world amiss,
though this same mysterious world he avers is gentle to the gentle :
The wind that beats the mountain, blows
More softly round the open wold,
That are cast in gentle mould.
It will be well now for early manhood to recall Dr. Doddridge's lines on his family motto, styled by Dr. Johnson “one of the finest epigrams in the English language":
Live while you live, the epicure would say,
The transition from early to later birthdays can only be safely and happily made while relying on a superior power-a solemn truth that we are all prone to forget.
Weak and irresolute is man:
The purpose of to-day,
To-morrow sends away.
Vice seems already slain,
And it revives again.
Finds out his weaker part,
But pleasure wins his heart.
And dangers little known,
Man vainly trusts his own.
To reach the distant coast;
Or all the toil is lost.
How profound and absolute were Milton's reliance on and submission to the will of God appears in that most noble sonnet on his twenty-fourth birthday :
How soon hath Time, the subtle thief of youth,
Perhaps my semblance might deceive the truth,
Milton and other fine old poets took high ground in their views of human life, and its intimate dependence on the Creator ; their solid basis being
MAN THE IMAGE OF HIS MAKER.
My God, I heard this day
But he that means to dwell therein:
What house more stately hath there been, Or can be, than is man? * . *
The stars have us to bed : Night draws the curtain which the sun withdraws;
Music and light attend our head. All things unto our flesh are kind
In their descent and being ; to our mind In their ascent and cause.
More servants wait on man
When sickness makes him pale and wan,