202 THE BOOK OF CHRISTMAS.
He was full of joke and jest, But all his merry quips are o'er. To see him die, across the waste His son and heir doth ride post-haste, But he'll be dead before !
Every one for his own !
The night is starry and cold, my friend,
And the New-year, blithe and bold, my friend,
Comes up to take his own.
How hard he breathes !—over the snow, I heard just now the crowing cock. The shadows flicker to and fro; The cricket chirps; the light burns low: 'Tis nearly one* o'clock.
Shake hands, before you die.
Old year, we'll dearly rue for you.
What is it we can do for you ?—
Speak out before you die !
His face is growing sharp and thin. Alack ! our friend is gone ! Close up his eyes: tie up his chin: Step from the corpse, and let him in That standeth there alone,
And waiteth at the door.
There's a new foot on the floor, my friend,
And a new face at the door, my friend,
A new face at the door!
Occasionally, too, there will come a thought across us, in these hours, which cannot be made to harmonize with the feelings we are seeking to encourage,—and has the unpleasing effect of a discord. It is felt, at times, for instance, to be a sort of indecency that we should be looking out merrily for the new year, when the old one is perishing by our side,—and, for an instant, the heart's joyous issues are thrown back upon it. And then, again, the looker forward to hail the " coming guest," will suddenly fix his eyes upon the veil which shrouds that face; and the chill of a moment will creep over his heart, as he speculates on what it may conceal,—or, gazing on the sealed book which the New-Year carries in his hand, asks himself hoy manv of those who
* (Twelve t)