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THE l LAST CH.RiSTMAS DAY. (Br FaPsaasca.) SSuach a clinging, ouch arioging, Thought in melody far-flnging ; Faded, hopes and perished joys, To the darkness which destroys. SHearts with new-born hopes are thrilling, -Back we glance, but not unwilling ; . To exchange the old for new, Fondly dream all may be true. Time's pendulum is swiftly swinging: To and fro. he new Age bringing ; To nos, wider life and free, - tGreater, opening gloriously. Swiftly now the hours are winging, Christmas birds already singing; Carry on their licatsome way". Hopes of this "Last Christmas Day." '*The lost Christmas' Day."" That title has a Ingohrious enough appearance. " One is forcibly. reminded by it of pietorially depicted " Last Days " seen at various times or that copy of "Tne Last Judg ment" sent in to our National Gallery by Mr. D.' Alton, one of the winners of the travelling scholarship competed for anne ally. This-picture sends a shiver of re polsioo through almost all who venture to gaze upon it for long, and is certainly the most dreadful conception of punishment likely to be meted out by a Saviour who came notto the righteous, but to sinners ?? Saviour of love and mercy ever, that conid hre enotered the mind of mortal man. An the punishbments imagined, 'and sor forclably pen-pourtrayed by -'Dante, lin?gi not in the minds as this bone picture does, and all the glorious visions set forth in B Heaven unveiled" are powerless to banish it entirely. It is not, however, with "Last Days" jagdmente or punishments, pictorially or otherwise depicted, we are here concerned, but with the last Christmas Day of the century. The long-expected here at last. - How strange it seme,- now the end is so near. So acecustomed to the nineteenth century have we become, that -it is like parting with an old' friend to have to say good-bye to it, and it will be some time before we get quite used to it. We will, however, and most probably before the strangeness quite wears off, will have ,egun to wonder how it ever came to seem strauge at all. Perhaps If the century were closing in an ordinary manner, the last Christmas in it might seem of no more' than ordinary importance, but a century in which sore of the marvellous, the unex. pected (and in the industrial and world of invention) of the revolutionary has hap pened, never before opened, or completed itsi allotted span of life. When on the-eve of ther Christmas - tides, retrospective thought has aelom travelled further than the Christmas before, for events on which to dwell or dilate, and last Christmas it did not ii many cases travel even so far. - All thought was hovering over and around South African battlefields, 'all feeling 'wo merged in the glory our men were- winning, and the credit they were bringing to Aus tralia, and in toe bond also, that every life given for it,'knitted the more strongly be tween the mother country and her colonies. Who could have dreamed then that yet another Christmas mutt passc before the trouble could -be settled, though soldiers have returned, and are returning to their respective countries, and in the proud con scionenes that the joyous welcomes re ceived, or 'awaiting them there, has been preceded by well-earned and grateful thanks, earnest 'and. discriminate praise from the Commander-in-Chief, as well as all in com mand in the great British Army! There are many left to fight still beneath the 'South Africa skies, and evident it is that there is still much fighting, to do. Thoce most competent to judge seem to think that well into the next century will the war be carried, and mayhap another Christmas ee: near- ere final settlement of Boer and Chinese difficulties is effected. HOWr cer -rain-many, ayi, most people, werbelist Chriabtma,'that before the century closied, all would be' smooth sailing. . Instead of which. we are still .breathing forth in passioned prayers for That Christmas -peace .which should come with the dawn Of the mytic day. That holiest morn: When the Star of the Easn shed its purest ray, - - - O'er the spot where the infant Saviour lay. Bat our human passions and human care, Briog burdens tco heavy for hearts to hbear, And "The month that is holiness" ntirs with strife, And with cares most grievous earth-days are rife. . Oh, Peace, sweet Peace, cometh not to nus yet, And the heart stirs still to a life-regret, While thefirt faint hues of a dawning age, Is flushing the snow of unwritten page. Soon the Christmas hymns and the organ swell,-- __... _ --- Will breathe joy and- hope.- Yet a long .farewell . To century closing, for Time's stern play; Has worn smooth the path for ."Last Christmas Day." If any doubt existed in the iindso 6f the returned soldiers of Fitzroy as to their wel come. it must have been dissipated by -the heartiness of their reception at the Fitzroy Cricket Ground. This, one of the finest re serves in the metropolis, flag-adorned, and commanding in pesitinn, gave ample notice to all and sundry who went that way on Thursday last, that something of more than ordinary importance was to be, and though envy is regarded as one of the cardinal sins, yet even the "unco guid" would scarcely have felt "once" severe on several from other eubhurbe bho saw the cricket re serve in full dress on Thursday, and freely acknowledged that they envied Fitroy the possession of such fine sports and arboreal reserves. Sometimes these are thought too large for requirements, but on Thursday evening it looked as if the cricket ground would prove all too small for the thousands who thronged thither. Had the weather been fine, enormously larger would the crowd have been, but tempestuous-looking clouds and warring winds kept numbers who had not - strength to face them within doors, when hearts were with the brave soldier laddies, of whom all Fitzroy is so proud. There was another thing of which many of the suburb were proud also, and that was the greater control the feminine admirers of the popular idols of the time exercised over their feelings. There were none of the demonstrations that have reflected no little credit on so many, but there was genuinely heartfelt pieasure demonstrated at everyturn,andon every face. It was remarked that none better than the Cornish Choir could have been engaged for the evening, as the Cornish are always " full of fight." Whether this is eo in all cases it is not safe to say, hot the choir on this occasion fought its way to the front through an enthusiastic crowd, and, vocally, in a manner worthy of any number of war-like ancestors. None too sodan either, for the heroes of Ithe hour were not over-late in arrivingon the scene. Boys in numberleso ways they left us, men in every senose of the word they have returned. Grateful men too, and greatly moved by the spontaneity of the welcome accorded. South African hardships seem to have agreed with them, and the pity that has mingled so largely with so many of the welcomes accorded, found no place in that tendered by Fitaroy to its retirned soldiers. The medals pre sented were very pretty, and will, no doubt, be much valued. In one of the ethee suburbs these medals- were supplemented by a purse of ten sovereigns each, and some regret was expressed at a money gift not having being given in addition the medaln il aYitaroy, The ayor and other Cone oillor paid oral trihoto to local braverny, and in the naum of the people welcomed the - neldcll back to Pitu'cyn - .