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but twice, -once in the dusk of the evening, walking with a bevy of ladies and an old gentleman, very like his grandfather; and again, coming out of the Cathedral after divine service, when he even touched lier dress, though in the crowd she was not aware of his presence. Nothing provoked Reuben more than the stupid system Mr. Brough had of taking his boys to the Church of All Saints instead of the Cathedral, where the service was so much more solemnly performed, and where the Barsace invariably went.
Misfortune, indeed, may be said to have persecuted Reuben at this epoch; for when the next festivity took place at the winemerchant's, and there was no black eye to prevent him from sharing it, Blanche was from home, on some visit to relations, as she had often been when poor Reuben was running in all directions to catch a glimpse of her.
It was most probably about this period that Reuben's young brain, excited by the action of his susceptible heart, began first to secrete that particular humour called poetry, a certain quantity of which (be the quality what it may) is supposed by some philosophers to exist in the head of every man born of woman. It is not very clear, however, whether he wrote poetry before he wrote prose, or whether the productions came forth in the reverse order. Probably the two fountains within him began to flow much about the same time; for Hyacinth Primrose had unquestionably commenced distinguishing himself both in prose and rhyme, and it was not likely that the versatile and imitative Reuben was far behind him in the one accomplishment more than the other. Reuben and Primrose fraternised early. Among other enterprises, they established a manuscript magazine, of which they were joint editors, and almost the sole contributors; 80 that, between the business of the school and the business they made for themselves, they had work enough on their hands for their leisure hours, especially Reuben, who had his flageolet to practise and Blanche to think of into the bargain. The business of the school, however, was not neglected, for both Reuben and Hyacinth loved the classics. Reuben's first essay of any length in verse was a translation of the story of Pyramus and Thisbe, which, in point of merit, challenged comparison with the drama of the same name, enacted by Mr. Bottom and his
company, a drama which is believed, upon valid grounds, to be the work of Shakspeare himself. Neither Mr. Brough nor Henry Winning, therefore, had any ground for complaint, and neither of them did complain,-Mr. Brough because he knew nothing about the literary labours in question, and Winning because he was extremely busy himself
, and his good sense pointed out the folly of interfering too much in the character of a Mentor, even with a boy whom he loved as he did Reuben.
A CHAPTER OF GOOD ADVICE AND OF GOOD INTENTIONS.
The time, indeed, soon came for Henry Winning to leave school for college. A brilliant career was evidently before him; for to talent he united industry, and to both high principle and frank popular manners. He had a manly person, moreover, a good constitution, and a good voice, so that he possessed the physical as well as the intellectual qualities which the bar requires ; for that was the profession upon which, no less by his own inclination than by the advice of his relative and guardian, Mr. St. Stephen, he had fixed his choice. Winning was sorry to part with Reuben, appreciating his amiable disposition, and recognising his abilities while he perceived the radical faults of his character, and had done all in his power to correct them.
“You are too versatile and too squeezable, my dear fellow," he said, as they strolled in the fields together the day before their separation; "those are your defects, if it is not presumptuous in me to tell you of them."
With the greatest sincerity, Reuben thanked him for taking so friendly a liberty.
“ You take impressions too readily, and pursue too many objects, not reflecting that life is so short that there is no more than time for a fair degree of success in some one leading pursuit. Ars longa, vita brevis-you remember that pregnant aphorism of Hippocrates. What I now say to you is not any wisdom of my own, for I possess none and I pretend to none; it is what my guardian, Mr. St. Stephen, one of the ablest and most successful men of the day, has always impressed upon my mind, and firmly believing in its truth and importance, I would be glad, my dear fellow, to impress it in turn upon yours. I have observed, although I have said very little to you on the subject, how Primrose has been influencing you of late ; you have been writing essays and making verses because he does so, just as you took up the flageolet because your shoemaker played it; in fact, you possess a great many talents, a facility for picking up almost everything that you see done by any body; and pardon me if I add, that you seem more disposed to hearken to the praises of shallow people who call you a clever fellow for all this, than to believe me, for example, when I try to show you the dangers of it."
Reuben pleaded guilty to every charge but that of swallowing the sort of compliments alluded to by his friend; but probably his conscience smote him that there was something even in that accusation not altogether unfounded in truth.
Reuben had as yet scarcely thought of a profession. The Church had always been his father's plan for him, but the subject had not received mature consideration, either from himself or his parents. There seemed time enough to discuss the question in the case of a boy under sixteen. Winning, however, now spoke of it in his direct practical way, wishing to discover whether Medlicott had any strong leaning towards any particular vocation, and hoping that
, like himself, he would decide in favour of the Law. But neither law, physic, nor divinity had as yet seized hold of Reuben's imagination. He thought it likely that the Church would eventually be his destiny ; but he was equally disposed to the bar, and he had no decided dislike to the notion of physic. Such ideas of a career as Reuben had were of the most confused, but most high-flown and disinterested character. He had no notion of emolument at all, or of prosecuting any pursuit with a view to make money by it. Winning, although his character was ingenuous, and had even a noble strain, had already caught the worldly spirit, without which worldly success is not very easily attained; but Medlicott had not a conception of lucre. In his pure romantic mind, , divinity was indeed divine, and every other calling was almost as ethereal as divinity: when he thought of the law, it was only as the science of justice, unpolluted by the notion of a fee; and when medicine took its turn in his cogitations, the notion he had of a physician's life was a sort of Quixotic ramble through the world, tilting with disease and pestilence, out of mere unadulterated philanthropy.
It was very clear that the time was not yet come for coupling the wisdom of the serpent with the innocence of the dove in young Medlicott's understanding. Winning, however, was far
from ridiculing or despising him for this. On the contrary, he could not help thinking to himself how few boys he had ever met with who were not more or less infected prematurely with the sordid spirit of life; and though he would have wished Reuben's head a little harder, he found an attraction in his rare simplicity, and parted from him with a feeling of strong and tender attachment.
Well, Reuben,” was his last observation, “ as to the profession, you have lost no time; it is a subject on which the minds of most people waver a considerable time before they fix; your present business is the knowledge and preparation equally necessary for all professions. Mind that steadily. Hoc age-another pregnant maxim ; let me hear from you ; I shall be backwards and forwards a good deal between Cambridge and Lincoln's Inn.”
The young men parted affectionately, in a few hours after the preceding conversation, and the next day, in the same place, Reuben was sauntering with Hyacinth Primrose, the poet's grandson, repeating to him the sage counsels he had received from his friend; resolving himself to be guided by them rigidly and unswervingly for the future, and deeply impressed with the duty of making Primrose a convert to them also. Hyacinth was, indeed, profoundly impressed for a minute or two with the sound wisdom of Winning's remonstrances, and, pulling out a pocket Shakspeare,
introduced Reuben to that splendid passage in " Troilus and Cressida,” where Ulysses, in a strain so wise and eloquent, recommends the virtue of perseverance :
“ Perseverance, dear my lord,
Reuben, to whom the works of the great dramatist were yet an unworked mine, was delighted with the aptness of this quotation, and borrowed the book from Primrose to make himself master of the entire of the play containing it. Hyacinth was enthusiastic on the subject of Shakspeare, and had a rhapsody in his praise at his fingers' ends; how he was an encyclopædia of poetry, an armoury of philosophy, a library of knowledge, a magazine of thought, a body of divinity. Reuben soon fell into the same transports. Primrose and he were proofs that a man may be mad about wisdom without being wise, just as he
be wild about poetry and wit, without being either a wit or a poet.
As an invalid, when he dismisses one doctor, usually sends for another, or as a sultan, having bow-stringed his vizier, promotes some one else to the post, so did Reuben Medlicott, after the loss of Winning, finding a bosom friend and bookmate indispensable, select the light-hearted and literary Hyacinth Primrose, to fill those important offices about his person; an unfortunate choice, but a very excusable one, as Primrose was one of the most intellectual boys in the school,-in fact, the only boy of abilities and tastes akin to Reuben's, after winning had left Finchley.
The volatility of the new minister was of a livelier description than Reuben's, who at this period of his life was rather a penseroso, and except when he was in his loquacious mood, enjoyed the mirth of his companions in a sort of passive melancholy way, that was partly his temperament, but not altogether, perhaps, free from affectation. Primrose was always gay, always riant; full of pleasantry sometimes malicious, generally good-natured ; he saw every object in a rose-coloured light; and was determined to prosecute literature to please himself, while he studied the law to please his relations.
“ I'll read law," he said. "I'll make myself a lawyer, a black-letter lawyer; I don't at all despair of being a judge; but I don't pretend that I have any love for the profession. However, a profession is necessary, and a profession 1 must have. I'll make my bread by the bar and my character by the pen. That's my plan, Medlicott; is it not a good one ?"
• Remember Winning's maxim," Reuben would say gravely; “ remember the wise aphorism of Hippocrates."
“ But, Medlicott, I have been reading about Hippocrates lately, and I find he was not a mere physician, but a brilliant and almost universal genius. I shall probably write his life one of these days."