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TO MRS. AGNES BAILLIE.
BY JOANNA BAILLIE.
Dear Agnes, gleamed with joy and dashed with
tears O’er us have glided almost fifty 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 hare-bell or the purple heather; No taller than the fox-gloves 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 par 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 in my mind appears, Looking behind me to that line of years, And yet through every stage I still can trace Thv visioned form, from childhood's morning
To woman's early bloom, changing how soon!
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 concealed) 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 neigbourhood have made The friendly cheerers of our evening shade.
With thee my humours, whether grave or gay, Or gracious or untoward, have their way. Silent if dull, oh, precious privilege! I sit by thee; or, if called from the page Of some huge, ponderous tome which, but thyself, None e'er had taken from its dusty shelf, Thou read me curious passages to speed The winter night, I take but little heed, And thankless say, “I cannot listen now," 'Tis no offence; albeit much do I owe To these, thy nightly offerings of affection, Drawn from thy ready talent for selection; For still it seemed in theo a natural gift, The letter'd grain from letter'd chaff to sift.
By daily use and circumstance endear'd, Things are of value now that once appear'd
Of no account, and without notice past,
The change of good and evil to abide,
Or who, of wonted daily kindness m.,
Thou ardent, liberal spirit! quickly feeling The touch of sympathy, and kindly dealing With sorrow and distress, for ever sharing The unhoarded mite, nor for to-morrow caring: Accept, dear Agnes, on thy natal day, An unadorned 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.
The dearest friend to me, the kindest man,