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10

THE GHARMED ONE.

ters, possibly, if Scarlet has them yet, will be torn up for pipe lights! And Scarlet came back, and, as the reader may guess, did not waut to marry Miss Thwaites; and she did not break her heart about it He had been writing to the ball-room sylph of whom I have already spoken, and not the stout lady with a waist not fit to be seen in a waltz, into which Miss Thwaites had'grown at thirty-two: and she had despatched to the postoffice in St. MartinVle-Grand, every time an Indian mail was made up, a tender missive, not to that middle-aged hero with a thick, heavy moustache, and the scar left by a Sikh tulwar across the bridge of his nose, and a complexion compounded of yellow ochre and mahogany, the joint effects of a tropical sun and a liver-complaint, but to young George Scailet, as he was the first time he donned his epaulets, and the last time she danced with him. Ah 1 memory had something to anwer for in this case. Memory had smothered good sense. Theee two people, if they had met at thirty-two for the first time, might have liked each other well enough, but they had now been living for twelve years on memory and imagination, and could not bear the contract between what they once had been and now were.

The memory, however, of what people have been has its pleasant side also. Good old Mrs. and Mr. Partridge, and plenty of other ancient couples, are instances of this. It is half a century since they came together, and do you think they see each other with the same eyes with which any ordinary etranger regards them? Do you think he notices the wart upou her chin? or that she has acquired such a rotundity that it is quite a little journey to walk round her? No, not he! And even-if he did, what would that matter to him? Do you suppose she sees him merely the lame man—so crippled with rheumatism that he cannot hobble without two sticks? or bentshouldered and wrinkled, as he appears to you and me at first sight I If you do. you are completely mistaken. When they married, Partridge was the finest young man in his parish; and as for Mrs. Partridge, (Miss Hare she was then,) the ancient postman recollects with a chuckle, even now, how he used to besiege her father's door on Valentine's Day with a thunderstorm of knocks, and a shower of letters. Old people said of them that they were "the handsomest couple the sun ever shone on,'" and thanks to memory, that which they were to each other then, they are now; nay, even much more, for they have gleaned and garnered up, through the

long experience of their pilgrimage, memories which have outshone mere youth and beauty; holy memories of sorrow and suffering, of love and joy, of kindness and sympathy, and mutual forbearance, which, like links in the golden chain of life, have bound them the more tenderly and the more inseparably together. Half a century, which has made them feeble and ailing, which has silvered their hair and dimmed their sight, has given them new and better charms in each other's eyes. Their transfiguration has already begun ; they entertain angels unawares: so much truer, so much nobler is the love which has stood the test of trial—the love of the old married pair—than that of the mere youthful lover, roseate and smiling though it may appear. Yes, of a truth, and as to our old Partridge couple, memory's tricks on them are all pleasant ones. Someway or other she hides what is unsightly from them. Troubles they have had, but memory keeps no count of them—if she does, it is only of the good that came out of them; false friends they have had, and have met with unkindnees and ingratitude, as who has not? but memory has not chronicled these things; or if she has, it is in a sort of debtor and creditor account with life, and there is a rich balance on the other side ; winters they have passed through, and dark days, and many bitter baptisms of experience; but if memory keeps count of these, they are only jotted down to be read against all the springs, and the summers, and the rich autumns, and the sunshiny days, and the affluence of good, with which God has so bountifully enriched them.

THE CHARMED ONES.

BY MRS. MARIA C.' TRACY.

A Ijttlk child had wandered fur one bright and sunny day. To where in cool and shady bower the murmuring breezes

play; And near there rolled a pebbly brook, the verdant banks

between, And birds were singing merrily nmoug the foliage gTeen.

As on the mossy bank she played and plucked the violets blue,

And from the sparkling, crystal wave, the clear, white pebbles drew,

She sung in lightest tones of joy, nor dreamed of danger near,—

So guileless, fair and beautiful, what should the infant fear?

At length, quite wearied with her play, she sat her down the while,

And in a garland wove the flowers, with many a beaming smile;

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The glisieuing trees
That wave in the breeze;
The rill and the river,
They sing to me ever;
Cheerily, cheerily,
Sing to me ever.

Loving, lovingly,
Whisper to me.

•' The beautiful flowers,
The shadowy bowers;
The dew on the leaf,
So like eo my grief;

"I'll sing and I'll play
Through ihe livelong day;
Xo harm can I fear,
Xo danger is near;
I dream not of sorrow,
And know no to-morrow;
Merrily, merrily,
Sing I and play."'

The joyous song ceased suddenly ;—thou darling child,

beware! For though thou knowest it not, sweet one, there's danger

everywhere; Even now there lu.rk.eih in thy path a fearful, deadly

harm ;— Oh for an arm to save thee now, or voice to sound alarm!

What sees ihe child? As if transfixed,in wondering,deep

amaze, Spell-bonml and motionless she stands, with eager, earnest

gaze ;— In many a coil, beneath a shrub, a poisonous serpent lies, And on the charmed child are fixed his keen and lustrous

eyes.

She gazes still ;—for beautiful, and glorious to behold,
lis folds like liquid amber, girt with bands of molten go!d;
Its arching neck midmsted head, its Hashing eyes of light,
Like diamonds set in rings of jet, magnificently bright!

One moment more! and, clasped within ihe reptile's slimy

fold.

Thy heart shall feel the murderous fang ; for even now, behold,

The rings of gold are glistening with wavy, tremulous light,—

One moment more, and thy bright dreams are^closed in baleful night!

The child is saved I—A loving mother's ever-watchful eye

Had missed the darling from her home, and sought her far and nigh,

Till Heaven in meTcy led her steps to where, in thoughtless glee,

The wreath-crowned child a victim stood—and eet the captive free.

So have I seen—O mournful sight !—a neble, manly youth
Whose lisping tongue had early learned the word of sacred

truth,
Lured by the tempter's siren voice in pleasure's path to

stray Where beauteous flowers are strewn along to charm the

devious way.

And bright and dazzling fantasies allure the wanderer on,
And mingles many a dream of bliss his roving thoughts

among,
Till in his wayward, erring path the basilisk is seen,
Willi light and brilliant tints adorned, and proudly grace-
ful mien.

Within the wine-cup's ruby brim, and in ihe foaming bowl,
The hall of festal mirili, Ihe dance, the joyous How of soul,
In lovely maiden's witching smile, and in the gush of song,
The serpent's flashing eye is seen, and charms his steps
along.

And lightly glides the dancing wave, and fragrant is the
gate

That wafls his plexsure-bark along, and swells his spreading sail;

The serpent's glare is on him still, and dazzling is the light

That glitters o'er the floating tide, and on his ravished sight.

He courts the reptile's slimy fold, and wooes the poisoned

breath, Till, frenzied, giddy, madly wild, he rushes on to death !— An arm is raised 1 weak woman's arm ;—and, beautiful to

tell,

She spreads her kerchief o'er his sight,* and breaks the
fatal spell!

O woman! be it ever thine, with sweet, persuasive power,
To save the wandering, erring one, in strong temptation'*

hour;
Thy loftiest aspirations here may triumph in their birth,
And thy fair name be chronicled with sons of noblest

worth.

* A distinguished statesman of our country, now deceased, in his early manhood was held in bondage by the intoxicating bowl, from which, his affection for a lady of high moral and intellectual worth was not sufficient to release him. She therefore wisely refused to unite her destiny with his for life. Returning one day from his haunts of convivality, in a state o( inebriation, he fell by Ihe wayside, and was unable to rise. As be lay thus stupefied and imbruted by the fumes of the wine-cup, a lady passed by and, to screen him from the gaze o( travellers, spread her handkerchief over his face, nnd went her way. Recovering from his intoxication, he drew the friendly covering from his face, and anxiously examined it, hoping it might reveal the hand that had thus with delicate tenderness sought to hide his shame from the public eye. With deep emotion he discovered the name of his beloved ; and from that hour he renounced allegiance to his cruel tyrant. After his reformation had been sufficiently tested, the lady gave him the hand that had saved him . and he was as eminently happy in hisconjugal relation as distinguished in the high position to which his intelligence and goodness raised him

12

WANT OF OPPORTUNITY.

WANT OF OPPORTUNITY.

Thkre ia hardly any subject which has produced more speculation than the question whether fortune or will is more influential in shaping a man's destiny. The ancients evidently leaned to the side of fate; they elevated Fortune to the rank of a goddess, and dwindled the human will down to a very inconsiderable affair indeed. The Homeric heroes are instances of this. The courage of Achilles or Ajax wanes away to a kind of Bob Acres sort of trepidation, when some opposing god twitches at their heart-strings, and hosts fight or fly, despair or hope, according as the deities of Olympus aid or contend against them. There is very little room there for the doctrine. Coming down to more modern times, we have the authority of the "divine Williams 1" —as an enthusiastic Frenchman or Frenchwoman once termed William Shakepeare—for the notion that the lives of mortals depend on something almost as uncertain as the "hazard of a die." He tells ua of a fate which "shapes our ends, rough-hew them as we will." He avows that "there ia a tide in the affairs of men which taken at the flood leads on to fortune;" and he is still more to the point when he informs us, that while some men are born to honor, others achieve honor, and a third class have honors thrust upon them.

But it is of little avail to quote the records of ancient faith, or the dicta of time-honored authority; for mental fashions change as much as physical . ones, and the modern habits of thought are as unlike those of our predecessors as the coat, troupers, waiscoat, and chimney-pot hat of the nineteenth century are to the doublet*, laces, trunk-hose, slouched beavers, and feathers of the Cavaliers. Time does what Andrew Marvel tells us that Cromwell intended to do:

"Cost llie kingdoms okl t

Into a different mould;"

and as the centuries follow one another, men invent new modes for mind and body, or adopt old ones, which were worn out and thrown away long enough ago to be forgotten. The belief, in our day, is almost universally in favor of will. Men may do any thing they like, if they only earnestly and resolutely will it. The hero may grow into a courtier; the fool into a philosopher; the ragged starveling beggar into a fullfed, purse-proud millionaire. There ia no height which may not be climbed, no obstacle which cannot be removed, Do difficulty which may cot

be overcome, by persevering effort. This tone-^ the tone of a hard-headed age, gains almost universal acceptance. It pervades all classes; it speaks through the press; it rounds the periods of orators. It is not long since we saw inscribed on the banner of enthusiastic'politicians, who sigh for the enfranchisement of Europe, the not overgrammatical averment, "There is no difficulty for him who wills." We have deified Will and pulled down Fortune, who has entirely gone out of fashion; or, at all events, is never heard of except in novels, where the tangled skeins of life are unravelled by an invisible hand, arid woven into the web of poetical justice; or on the stage, where rich uncles walk about with long, well• filled purees, ready to hand over to scapegrace nephews or amorous nieces, and give away the title-deeds of estates as liberally as though they were waste-paper. We still allow the fickle goddess a sort of limited reign in the world of literature and the drama; but in the world of men and effort she is deposed, waiting for some fresh revolution, perhaps of her own wheel, to regain her ascendancy.

Which is right, the old world or the new? We dare say we shall get ourselves laughed at and sneered at by the wise generation who hold that "man is his own providence;" but if we must give an answer after propounding the question, we believe there is a good deal to be said in favor of Fortune. We know (here are thousands of instances, or v. hat seem to be so, against it, and that they will be in the mouth of everybody who holds a different opinion. Examples can be given of men rising to power ap. parently by sheer force of determination, like Cromwell, who ascended from the state of a country gentleman to more than imperial authority; to scientific eminence, like Faraday, who once tramped the streets in the character of a bookseller's boy; to wealth, like George Hudson, who, from standing behind a linen-draper's counter, became the Railway King of England, and put uncounted thousands into his purse; to a regal position, like Louis Napoleon, who, when a penniless exile, never despaired of sitting on the throne of Charlemagne. But the fact is, that individual instances prove nothing, or prove any thing. We could point to many upon the other side, and one we have especially in our eye at the present moment; and as the history is rather a singular one, we will jot down the facta, concealing only the real name, of an actual victim of the want of opportunity.

Our earliest recollections of Theophilua Wan

"WANT OF OPPORTUNITY.

13

tage belong to "the days when we were young." We were playmates together, bom in the same quiet little village, to whieh railroads have not even yet penetrated, within a month or so of one another. We went to the same school, kept by a Dr. Broom, stood in the class, and took our first birching on the sime morning, as the consequence of participating in some juvenile prank, of which the woithy doctor was a victim. The misfortunes of Theophilus may be said to have begun a little while before he came into the world; in fact, the1 first opportunity he wanted was the opportunity of being born about a month earlier. His father, Wantage senior, was a cadet of an ancient and wealthy-family, but very little of its riches ran in his direction. lie enjoyed what some people call "a moderate competency," that is, just enough to eke out the means for a decent home; where Mrs. Wantage helped the red-fisted maid of-all-work to keep domestic affaire in proper order, and Mr. Wantage assisted Benjamin, the shock-headed boy, who was his only male retainer, to weed the garden. But the Wantages had great expectations, if they hud not much in possession, and on the strength of these expectations, Mr. Wantage held his head tolerably high in the world. The family estates, whieh represented nearly as many thousands a-year as Mr. Wantage's income numbered pounds, were entailed There was a failure of heirs in the direct line. The old bachelor cousin, who held them when Theophilus was "expected''in the world, was on his last legs. )f Theophilus gave hi* first scream before the shaky old gentleman died, then with that scream he claimed the magnificent inheritance; if not, then the broad lands went into the hands of the nearest living heir, who had a family large enough to have made him the envy of the patriarchs, if he had lived in the days of those venerable and prolific personages. There was a match between young life, just about to begin, and death clutching at the old life, which was just about to cease. Mrs. Wantage was running a race against time, and the "Destroyer" was the fleetest. The advent of Theophilus took place on the first of April; but the old cousin had already, on the first of March, taken that step which transfers us from Time to Eternity. The door out of the world had opened before the latch of the door into the world was lifted; and when the nurse informed Mr. Wantage that his lady was "doing nicely," and that it was "a beautiful boy," that gentleman only remarked, " what a pity it was he was not born a month earlier!"

We don't know much about the long-clothes history of Master Theophilus, nor about the sub

sequent period of short-frocks, except that he did not miss the opportunities which offered of having in succession the thrush, whooping cough, and measles. But he got through them, grew into trousers and jackets, and came under the superintendence of Dr. Broom. There the fatality which attended him seemsd to us quite sufficient to establish, so far as he was concerned, the littleness of Will, and the omnipotence of Fortune. There never was such an unfortunate boy, at least within my experience. Though generally tolerably healthy, he was sure to have some malady, which prevented him from having half

| the enjoyments of the rest of us. He was tormented just at the time when the torment was doubled by its keeping him out of some good thing. Ou Dr. Broom's birthday, for example, when all the boys were called in to rejoice over cake and wine, and a half-holiday, nature was sure to touch Theophilus with a toothache, or a

I headache, or a bilious attack, which shut him out from the festivity. If a picnic were pro

I jected, 0e sometimes happened, to some glades of the adjacent forest, certain as the day came,

I Theophilus had a bad cold, whieh would not allow him to risk sitting on the gross, and con

| fined him' to the house, in the care of Dr. Broom's maiden sister, who had an intense and unaccountable pleasure in putting boys' feet into hot water, tallowing their noses, wrapping their heads in flannels, and administering hot gruel in large quantities. Theophilus was out of all comparison the best cricketer in the school; yet, when we played our annual match with the boys of Dr. Hazel, who presided over the rising intellect of the neighboring parish of Shipley-cum

'Ripton, Theophilus was always nonest; a week, or a day or so before, something was certain to happen—that exact time was always selected by an adverse fate for Theophilus to sprain his arm or his leg, or to catch one of the dashing balls of Tom Armstrong—an overhand bowler—upon his finger nail, instead of upon his bat, and so get disabled for the coming contest. It really was quite remarkable, as Dr. Broom used to observe, that Wantage al ways had something the matter with him, just when he ought not, and was never available just when he was wanted. Other boys could manage to be ill, or hurt, when it did not matter much; but the ill-luck which dogged the heels of Theophilus, picked out the precise

I times when its inflictions were most provoking. It was not only in euch things that fate ran counter to our hero; as we have heard him say, at a later period of his life, he never had an opportunity of any sort. When he got into the first

I class, though in capacity and merit he was supe14

WANT 0*F OPPORTUNITY.

rior to all of us, he never could get to the top. The first boy in the first class was Jack Hinks, a cautious, hard-working fellow, who never gave Theophilus a chance of taking him up; but at the last examination of the last half-year of Theophilus'a school-life—when Theophilus, of course, was away in consequence of some fatality—Jack Hinks made a slip, which put little Tompkins at the head of the school, and entitled him to the prize which fell to the lot of the Dux. If Theophilus had been there that day, he would certainly have had it So all the boys said, and so said Dr. Broom, who did give Theophilus a silver pencil-case, as a mark of his approbation; but Theophilus was not there, and many will maintain that it was fate, and nothing but fate, kept him away, and made him miss that among the other opportunities of life.

Well, when Theophilus's school-days were over, he did seem, for once, to get an opportunity. A rich relation, who had a fancy for the lad, offered to send him to Oxford, and give him a chance of distinguishing himself. Old Wantage jumped at the offer, and Theophilus was wild with delight. He would do something now— he bad it in him, he knew ; and his friends were equally sanguine. To Oxford he went, and for a time all seemed to go smoothly. Fortune smiled for a while as blandly as a siren, when she is luring some wretch on to destruction. Each account of Theophilus which came from the seat of learning was more favorable than the last. He was getting on, Mrs. Wantage (who, by the way, came of a vulgar family) remarked, "like a house a-fire." His tutor was full of praises of him; his father showed his letters to Dr. liroom, and rubbed his hands, as he said, "Theophilus will make his way in the world;" and Dr. Broom prophesied that he would turn out an honor to the academy at Laurel House, and held him up as a bright example to the !dle and stupid boys of the echool. Alas! as the poet singe, "All that's bright will fade ;" and so it proved with Theophilus. He had nearly completed his studies at the University; he had carried off all the minor honors which lay in his path; he polled stroke in the leading boat on the Isis; and the crisis of his fate was j ust approaching. The expectations of everybody in his favor were sanguine. Sporting-men betted on "the double event"—that Wantage would take the first place at the coming examination, and that his crew would win the prize at the forthcoming regatta. We have no doubt in the world that the backers of the double event would have been justified by •he result, but destiny had decreed it otherwise.

Up to the last moment, Theophilus had been remarkably steady; at the last moment he committed an act of folly which spoiled all. He accepted an invitation to a wine-party, at the roome of young Lord Oldacres. As at most wine-parties, the result was that the youths got "elevated." Flushed with the grape, they sallied forth into the town, and there got involved in one of those town and gown rows which have caused so much scandal. This one was a more than usually serious affair. Still, at another time, it might have been lightly passed over; but just then those radicals in Parliament were advocating inquiry and reform, and Heaven knows what, in the universities, and the authorities felt themselves compelled to make an example. Who was to be the scapegoat f It would not do to punish Lord Oldacres, that was quite clear; his father, the Earl of Bisketville, was one of the stanchest supporters of the University, and to offend him would be madness. Most of the others were lords, or right honorables, or honorables, and they are not the stuff examples are usually made of. Poor Wantage was the only available sacrifice; and though, if the truth must be told, he was too helplessly drunk to have taken any active part in the affray, a sentence of expulsion was passed against him, and he was dismissed the University.

That was a heavy blow of the jade Fortune: it positively killed old Wantage. From the time the news of his son's disgrace reached him, he pined away, till he died a year or so afterwards. It affected Dr. Broom in a different way. How savage it made him! those who were boys then feel their backs tingle when they remember it n ,w. Mrs. Wantage survived the shock, perhaps, because she did not thoroughly understand it. She never could see how not getting "a double first" should keep Theophilus from getting a good place in the world. As for Theophilus himself, though he was terribly cast down at first, and tilked savagely about the "fiunkeyism" and " snobbishness" of his judges, he soon rallied, and determined to do great things. He would make opportunities, he said, and, despite of every thing, would be a great man yet. With that determination, he entered for the bar. Nobody could work harder than Theophilus did now. He was as steady as though he had been a judge in reality, instead of one in expectancy; and old Mr. Tapely, the special pleader, in whose chambers he fagged from morning till night, was confident that his pupil would make no mean figure in Westminster Hall. We are as certain as Mr. Tapely was confident that Theophilus would

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