12 THE BOOK OF CHRISTMAS.
shall never be put together again on earth—many a lost treasure and many a perished hope,—
" Hopes that were angels in their birth, But perished young, like things of earth."
Happy, happy days were they :—" O ! their record is lively in my soul!" and there is a happiness, still, in looking back to them :—
" Ye are dwelling with the faded flowers,
Ye are with the suns long set,
But oh ! your memory, gentle hours,
Is a living vision yet!"
Yet are they, for the most part, eras to count our losses by. Beside them, in the calendar of the heart, is written many a private note, not to be read without bitter tears:—
" There's many a lad I loved is gone, And many a lass grown old ; And when, at times, I think thereon, My weary heart grows cold."
" Oh! the mad days that I have spent," says old Justice Shallow, " and to see how many of mine old acquaintance are dead !" Yet still, we love these commemorations ; and hail them, each and all, as the year restores them to us, shorn and scarred as they are. And though, many and many a time, the welcome has faltered on our lips, as we " turned from all they brought to all they could not bring," still, by God's help, we will enjoy them, as yet we may,—drawing closer to us, and with the more reason, the friends that still remain, and draining, to the last,
" One draught, in memory ofmany A joyous banquet past."
The revels of merry England are fast subsiding into silence, and her many customs wearing gradually away. The affectations and frivolities of society, as well as its more grave and solemn pursuits,—the exigencies of fashion, and the tongue of the pedagogue,—are alike arrayed against them ; and one by one, they are retreating from the great assemblies where,mankind " most do congregate," to hide themselves in remote solitudes and rural nooks. In fact, that social change which has enlarged and