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A Friend

"Your invitation, sir, to dine
With you to-night I must decline
Because to-day I lost a friend--
A friend long known and loved;" thus penned
The good Sir Walter, aptly named
The Wizard of the North, and famed
For truest, gentlest heart, among
The homes that love the English tongue.
Great heart, that felt the soul of things
In all its high imaginings,
And showed, mid vexing stress and strife
Of worldly cares, a hero's life!
An humble friend it was he loved,
And oft together they had roved
The heather hills and sweet brae side,
Or braved the rushing river's tide,
And many a frosty winter night
Sat musing by the warm firelight--
A faithful friend, whom chance and change
Of fleeting years could ne'er estrange.
For he who once has gained the love
And friendship of a dog shall prove
Thro' joy and sorrow to the end
The deep devotion of a friend.
What is it? More than instinct fine,
This something man cannot divine,
Which speaks from eyes where lips are mute,
Which makes the creature we name brute
The noblest pattern we may see
Of loving, lasting loyalty.
We dare not call it mind or soul,
We know not what or where its goal,
But aye we know its little span
Of life spells large--Friendship to man;
Nor wonder Scott, in grief, should say,
"I lost a much-loved friend to-day!"

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