198 THE BOOK OF CHRISTMAS.
to visit its own tomb, will end by carrying him round its dreary precincts, and showing him all the graves that he has planted, from his childhood. There will be hours on a day like this, to many—and, in some year or another, to most—when the cheerful hopes which are, also, of the natural spirit of the season, would contend in vain with the memories which it conjures up, but for that furthest and brightest hope which lies beyond the rest,—and which is, at this moment, typified and shadowed forth, by the returning sun and the renewing year.
We cannot refrain from pausing here, to quote for our readers a few exquisite and affecting lines, written in the seventeenth century, by Henry King, Bishop of Chichester, to one such beloved remembrancer,—and in the cheering spirit of that same precious hope. We fancy they are very little known.—
" Sleep on, my love ! in thy cold bed, Never to be disquieted ! My last' good night!'—thou wilt not wake, Till I thy fate shall overtake ; Till age, or grief, or sickness, must Marry my body to that dust It so much loves,—and fill the room My heart keeps empty in thy tomb. Stay for me there!—I will not faile To meet thee in that hollow vale :— And think not much of my delay, I am already on the way, And follow thee with all the speed Desire can make, or sorrows breed. Each minute is a short degree,' And every houre a step tow'rds thee :— At night, when I betake to rest, Next morn I rise nearer my West Of life, almost by eight houres' sail, Than when sleep breathed his drowsy gale!"
There are, in the last volume of poems published by Mr. Tennyson, some beautiful verses,—in which the natural thoughts that inevitably haunt this season of change are touchingly expressed —as they arise even in the young breast of one for whom " seasons and their change" are immediately about to be no more. We are in a mood which tempts us to extract them,—