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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

Herman Charles Merivale b. 1839

Ætate XIX

NINETEEN! of years a pleasant number;

And it were well

If on his post old Time would slumber

For Isabel:

If he would leave her, fair and girlish,

Untouch’d of him

Forgetting once his fashions churlish,

Just for a whim!

But no, not he; ashore, aboard ship,

Sleep we, or wake,

He lays aside his right of lordship

For no man’s sake;

But all untiring girds his loins up

For great and small;

And, as a miser sums his coins up,

Still counts us all.

As jealous as a nine-days’ lover,

He will not spare,

’Spite of the wealth his presses cover,

One silver hair;

But writes his wrinkles far and near in

Life’s every page,

With ink invisible, made clear in

The fire of age.

Child! while the treacherous flame yet shines not

On thy smooth brow,

Where even Envy’s eye divines not

That writing now,

In this brief homily I read you

There should be found

Some wholesome moral, that might lead you

To look around,

And think how swift, as sunlight passes

Into the shade,

The pretty picture in your glass is

Foredoom’d to fade.

But, ’faith, the birthday genius quarrels

With moral rhyme,

And I was never good at morals

At any time;

While with ill-omens to alarm you

’T were vain to try.—

To show how little mine should harm you,

Your mother’s by!

And what can Time hurt me, I pray, with,

If he insures

Such friends to laugh regrets away with

As you—and yours?