With fifty years between you and your well-kept wedding vow,
The Golden Age, old friends of mine, is not a fable now.
And, sweet as has life's vintage been through all your pleasant past,
Still, as at Cana's marriage-feast, the best wine is the last!
Again before me, with your names, fair Chester's landscape comes,
Its meadows, woods, and ample barns, and quaint, stone-builded homes.
The smooth-shorn vales, the wheaten slopes, the boscage green and soft,
Of which their poet sings so well from towered Cedarcroft.
And lo! from all the country-side come neighbors, kith and kin;
From city, hamlet, farm-house old, the wedding guests come in.
And they who, without scrip or purse, mob-hunted, travel-worn,
In Freedom's age of martyrs came, as victors now return.
Older and slower, yet the same, files in the long array,
And hearts are light and eyes are glad, though heads are badger-gray.
The fire-tried men of Thirty-eight who saw with me the fall,
Midst roaring flames and shouting mob, of Pennsylvania Hall;
And they of Lancaster who turned the cheeks of tyrants pale,
Singing of freedom through the grates of Moyamensing jail!
And haply with them, all unseen, old comrades, gone before,
Pass, silently as shadows pass, within your open door,
The eagle face of Lindley Coates, brave Garrett's daring zeal,
Christian grace of Pennock, the steadfast heart of Neal.
Ah me! beyond all power to name, the worthies tried and true,
Grave men, fair women, youth and maid, pass by in hushed review.
Of varying faiths, a common cause fused all their hearts in one.
God give them now, whate'er their names, the peace of duty done!
How gladly would I tread again the old-remembered places,
Sit down beside your hearth once more and look in the dear old faces!
And thank you for the lessons your fifty years are teaching,
For honest lives that louder speak than half our noisy preaching;
For your steady faith and courage in that dark and evil time,
When the Golden Rule was treason, and to feed the hungry, crime;
For the poor slave's house of refuge when the hounds were on his track,
And saint and sinner, church and state, joined hands to send him back.
Blessings upon you! What you did for each sad, suffering one,
So homeless, faint, and naked, unto our Lord was done!
Fair fall on Kennett's pleasant vales and Longwood's bowery ways
The mellow sunset of your lives, friends of my early days.
May many more of quiet years be added to your sum,
And, late at last, in tenderest love, the beckoning angel come.
Dear hearts are here, dear hearts are there, alike below, above;
Our friends are now in either world, and love is sure of love