NEW-YEAR'S EVE. 203
sit with him, on this night, about the social table, may have their names written in its last page I Thoughts like these, however, are instantly treated like informers,—and ducked, as they deserve to be, in the wassail-bowl.
But, in any case, we have never failed to observe that, as the midnight hour draws near, a hush falls upon these assemblies;— and when men rise to ushe.r in the new comer, it is, for the most part, in silence. We do not believe that moment is ever a merry one. The blithe spirits of the night stand still. The glasses are full ;—but so is the heart—and the eye is strained upon the finger of the dial whose notes are to sound the arrival, as if held there by a spell. We believe that few men could turn their faces away from the dial, even by an effort;—and he who could would be out of place in any assembly of which we made one—unless we were out of place ourselves. The instant the solemn sounds of the midnight chime have ceased, the bells from a thousand steeples lift up their merry voices—but they never, at that moment, found a true echo in our hearts ; and the shout which rises from the wassail table, in answer, has ever seemed to us to want much of the mirth to which it makes such boisterous pretension.
But this oppressive sensation soon passes away ;—and the glad bells of the spirit, like those of the steeples, ring freely out. When the old year is fairly withdrawn—when we have ceased to hear the sound of the falling earth upon its coffin lid—when the heir stands absolutely in our presence, and the curtain which hides his features has begun slowly to rise (while the gazer on that curtain can discover, as yet, nothing of the dark things that lie behind—and the hopes which the new year brings are seen through it, by their own light)—then does the heart shake off all that interfered with its hearty enjoyment,—and then " comes in the sweet o' the night!" It will be late, we promise you, before we separate. One song to the past! and then, " shall we set about some revels ?"—as our old friend, Sir Andrew, hath it—
" Here's to the year that's avva!
We'll drink it, in strong and in sma'; And to each bonny lassie that we dearly loo'd,
In the days o' the year that's awa'!