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been presented by Elizabeth to Essex with an express promise that if, having offended her, he sent it back to her and asked for pardon, she would grant it. The ring was sent by Essex, but the queen never received it.
It is said in "The Book of Days," "The day of Elizabeth's death was the birthday of Sir Walter Raleigh's misfortunes, which terminated on the scaffold, October 29, 1618. The night before his death he wrote these lines, afterwards found on a fly-leaf of his bible:-
Even such is Time, which takes in trust
Our youth, our joys, and all we have,
And pays us nought but age and dust;
Which in the dark and silent grave,
When we have wandered all our ways,
Shuts up the story of our days!
And from which grave, and earth, and dust,
The Lord shall raise me up, I trust.
Spenser thus refers to Raleigh's strange reverses.
A prison for a court! an iron chain
For golden braveries! a chamber's span
For one whose very visions were of worlds.
Thy soul, O Ocean Shepherd, sure most be Freighted with good, since thou unmoved canst
To such a dreaded haven as the grave!
About the age of sixty-four or sixty-five, the following birthday poem was written by Joanna Baillie, a worthy dramatist and lyrical poetess, of an age just passing away. She lived through a long and tranquil life, constantly in the society of the sister to whom this poem is addressed. They were
the daughters of a minister of Bothwell, on the Clyde, in Lanarkshire :
TO MISS AGNES BAILLIE
ON HER BIRTHDAY.
Dear Agnes, gleam'd with joy and dash'd with
O'er us have glided almost sixty years
Since we on Bothwell's bonny braes were seen By those whose eyes long closed in death have been
Two tiny imps who scarcely stooped to gather
The slender harebell on the purple heather,
No taller than the foxglove's spiky stem,
That dew of morning studs with silvery gem.
Then every butterfly that crossed our view
With joyful shout was greeted as it flew;
And moth, and lady-bird, and beetle bright,
In sheeny gold, were each a wondrous sight.
Then as we paddled barefoot, side by side,
Among the sunny shallows of the Clyde,
Minnows or spotted parr with twinkling fin,
Swimming in mazy rings the pool within,
A thrill of gladness through our bosoms sent,
Seen in the power of early wonderment.
"A long perspective to my mind appears,
Looking behind me to that line of years;
And yet through every stage I still can trace
Thy vision'd form from childhood's morning
To woman's early bloom-changing, how soon
To the expressive glow of woman's noon;
And now to what thou art in comely age,
Active and ardent. Let what will engage
Thy present moment—whether hopeful seeds
In garden-plot thou sow, or noxious weeds
From the fair flower remove, or ancient lore
In chronicle or legend rare explore,
Or on the parlour hearth with kitten play,
Stroking its tabby sides, or take thy way
To gain with hasty steps some cottage door,
On helpful errand to the neighbouring poor;
Active and ardent, to my fancy's eye
Thou still art young in spite of time gone by.
Though oft of patience brief and temper keen,
Well may it please me in life's latter scene
To think what now thou art and long to me
"Twas thou who woo'dst me first to look
Upon the page of printed book,
That thing by me abhorr'd, and with address
Didst win me from my thoughtless idleness,
When all too old become with bootless haste
In fitful sports the precious time to waste.
Thy love of tale and story was the stroke
At which my dormant fancy first awoke,
And ghosts and witches in my busy brain
Arose in sombre show, a motley train,
This new-found path attempting, proud was I
Lurking approval on thy face to spy,
Or hear thee say, as grew thy roused attention, "What! is this story all thine own invention?"
Then, as advancing through this mortal span,
Our intercourse with the mix'd world began;
Thy fairer face and sprightlier courtesy-
A truth that from my youthful vanity
Lay not conceal'd-did for the sisters twain,
Where'er we went the greater favour gain;
While, but for thee, vex'd with its tossing tide
I from the busy world had shrunk aside.
And now, in later years, with better grace
Thou help'st me still to hold a welcome place
With those whom nearer neighbourhood have
The friendly cheerers of our evening shade.
The change of good and evil to abide,
As partners link'd long have we, side by side,
Our earthly journey held; and who can say
How near the end of our united way?
By nature's course not distant; sad and reft
Will she remain, the lonely pilgrim left.
If thou art taken first, who can to me
Like sister, friend, and home-companion be?
Or who, of wonted daily kindness shorn,
Shall feel such loss, or mourn as I shall mourn?
And if I should be fated first to leave
This earthly house, though gentle friends may grieve,
And he above them all so truly proved
A friend and brother, long and justly loved;
There is no living wight, of woman born,
Who then shall mourn for me as thou wilt
Thou ardent, liberal spirit! quickly feeling
The touch of sympathy and kindly dealing
With sorrow or distress, for ever sharing
The unhoarded mite, nor for to-morrow caring—
Accept, dear Agnes, on thy natal day
An unadorn'd, but not a careless lay.
Nor think this tribute to thy virtues paid
From tardy love proceeds, though long delay'd.
Words of affection, howsoe'er express'd,
The latest spoken still are deem'd the best.
Few are the measured rhymes I now may write,
These are, perhaps, the last I shall indite.
Friendship in age was also a source of the purest happiness to the poet Thomas Campbell:
TO MY NIECE, MARY CAMPBELL.
Our friendship's not a stream to dry,
Or stop with angry jar;
A life-long planet in our sky-
No meteor-shooting star.
Thy playfulness and pleasant ways
Shall cheer my wintry track,
And give my old declining days
A second summer back.
Proud honesty protects our lot,
No dun infests our bowers;
Wealth's golden lamps illumine not
Brows more content than ours.
To think, too, thy remembrance fond
May love me after death,
Gives fancied happiness beyond
My lease of living breath.
Meanwhile thine intellects presage
A lifetime rich in truth,
And make me feel the advance of age
Retarded by thy youth.
Good night! propitious dreams betide
Thy sleep! awaken gay,
And we will make to-morrow glide
As cheerful as to-day.
These stanzas by Mary Landie Duncan sweetly reflect some of the softer rays of a serene evening of life.
Thin clouds are floating o'er the sky,
And in the glorious west
Lingers the rose's brilliancy,
Where sank the sun to rest.