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The true love which needs not to be repented of, which endures the refining tests of later life, is thus described by Butler in Hudibras:
All love at first, like generous wine,
Among the many excellent persons who in advancing age have enjoyed this unfading love was that great lawyer, Lord Chancellor Eldon, who, forty years after his marriage, pays this touching tribute of loving constancy to his wife, Elizabeth :
Can it, my lovely Bessy, be,
That when near forty years are past,
Dearer and dearer at the last ?
Nor time, nor years, nor age, nor care,
Believe me, lovely Bessy, will
Affect the heart that's Bessy's still.
In Scotland's climes I gave it thee,
In Scotland's climes I thine obtain'd;
True, till an heaven we have gain'd.
So true it is, as Campbell sings :-
That ne'er are riven,
And up to heaven!
For time makes all but true love old;
And will not cool
In Lethe's pool. The poet Milton's father was probably entering on later life when this poem was addressed to him by his son, afterwards the author of “Paradise Lost.”
TO MY FATHER. Oh! that, descending from the two-fold hill, Pieria's fountain would my bosom fill; Through all its depths, in limpid fancy, roll, Blend with my thought and sparkle in my soul: That thus my song might happily aspire From meaner themes to hail my honour'd sire. The muse, thou best of parents ! fain would twine A wreath to crown paternal worth like thine ; The gift, though small, my sire will not refuse; Nor know we how, without the according muse, To find what we may offer—you receive, In fond requital of the love you give, To form the just requital of your love. Poor would the muse with all her offerings proveTo absolve my mighty debt her gifts how vainA tuneful nothing, and a barren strain, But in my numbers all my wealth residesI own no means of recompense besides ; My sole exchequer filled by Clio's smile, The regal maid, who crowns my faithful toil ; Who, as beneath her laurel shade I dream, Visits my slumbers in a golden stream, Nor slight the treasures of the harmonious nine, Who greatly speak the source of man divine,
Show that he caught a sparkle from above;
We, too, when raised to our celestial land,
sphere, Wheels the vast orb, and guides its proud career, Pours, as he circles through the starry throng, The unutterable notes of angel song.
* * * * * * * I pass the endearing fatherly caressAnd in the greater kindness lose the less. When by your bounty, sire, the words that hung In strength and sweetness on the Latian tongue, I now had learn'd; and, what even Jove could
And read the native-strains of hallow'd lore
* * * * * * *
* * * * * * * *
The far-renowned Madame de Staël, the devoted daughter of M. Necker, died just after her 51st birthday. Shortly before her death she said, “I think I know what the passage is from this life to another; and I feel convinced that God, in His goodness, softens it for us. Our intellect becomes troubled, and the pain is not very great." Her last words were, “My father is waiting for me!-my father is waiting for me!-there--he is calling me!”. This reminds us of Mrs. Hemans' verses on following our departed friends who have gone before us into eternity.
There have been sweet singing voices
In your walks, that now are still ;
Which none again may fill.
Soft eyes are seen no more
That made spring-time in your heart;
Though the way through darkness bends;
Our own familiar friends! At the age of fifty-two, on the anniversary of St. George, the tutelar saint of England, died the poet of all time, Shakespeare, to whom his country owes so deep a debt of reverential love.
The day of his death, April 23, 1616, was also his birthday.
The same day was to be ever memorable for the death of Cervantes, who was seventeen years older than Shakespeare. It is one of the most striking things in all history, that two such men as our great dramatist and the author of “ Don Quixote” should at the same time be sinking and expiring on the bed of death. Their closing years had been unlike in external fortune: Shakespeare had lived in calm and dignified retirement, in his native town of Stratford, during four years, wealthy and honoured, as“ gentle Shakespeare, throned in all hearts;" while Cervantes, in Madrid, lingered in poverty and dependence.
In one of Shakespeare's sonnets we have a beautiful picture of the birth of his own wonderful genius and its ascent to the “highmost pitch" of middle age, but that descent to feeble age, described in the closing lines, he was never to endure.
Lo, in the orient when the gracious Light
Lifts up his burning head, each under eye Doth homage to his new-appearing sight,
Serving with looks his sacred majesty;