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“ How so, Mr. Vane ?" said Mrs. / for he had left her. No true lover Eastwood, with a faint smile, the first man worthy to be Nelly's husband that had relieved the tension of her pale would have left her at such a moment. face since the terrible news came. Had she been wise enough to see this?
“I can understand now all about Inno- Would she be strong enough to perceive cent's marriage,” he said. “God forgive it hereafter ? Mrs. Eastwood did not me for doubting her best friends. I know — she made not the siightest alluthought you were like other women sion to Ernest. When Nelly had come thinking of a good match above every- downstairs, and the cab had driven up to thing."
the door which was to take them to the “ Are you so sure that other women railway, she left detailed instructions with think of a good match above every- Brownlow as to the messages to be given thing?" said Mrs. Eastwood, once more to callers. “You can tell Mrs. Everard with a smile ; and then as she had spared and Mr. Brotherton if they call, that a moment from Innocent, compunction they will hear from me very soon,” she seized her. “What are we to do,” she said ; "and the same to Mr. Molyneux ; cried, “oh, what are we to do for my though, indeed, Nelly, it is negligent not poor child "
to have let Ernest know sooner. “I am going with you,” said Vane, “I have let him know,” said Nelly, to whose own eyes (though he was a softly; and Vane thought she gave him man not given to emotion) the moisture a piteous appealing look, as if to beg rose. Mrs. Eastwood sent Nelly away to him not to say anything
- a look which put on her bonnet, knowing nothing of almost made him glad, though she was the interview which Nelly. had gone in trouble, and they were all in trouble. through in the meantime - and entered There are things that make one's heart into all the dismal story which Nelly had rise even in the midst of lamentation briefly unfolded to him. He made no re- and woe. proaches as Ernest had done that he “That is well that is always somehad not been told at the time. He un- thing spared,” said Mrs. Eastwood, with derstood without explantions how unwil- a sigh; "and be careful of the young ling they must have been to confide such gentlemen, Brownlow. Ask Mr. Easta story to any one - even to Innocent's wood if he would like any change made relation ; and he listened with the deep- in the dinner hour while I'am away; and est attention to Mrs. Eastwood's account see that Mr. Richard is called regularly of her own anxious visit to Sterborne, at seven, and that he has his coffee. My and the total absence of all suspicion at poor Dick must go on working whatever the time of Amanda's death. John Vane, happens,” she said, taking her place in an idle man, had read for the bar in a the cab with a sigh. cursory way in his youth, not pursuing And thus Innocent's friends, all who the study, but yet retaining some frag- loved her, gathered round in her direst ments of knowledge — and it seemed to need. There was but one deserter, and him that this was very important. He he no friend of hers. discussed the whole matter closely, giving, his companion thought, his whole attention to it; but yet — will the reader think less well of John Vane for it? with a corner of his mind or heart, if you
From Blackwood's Magazine. like the word better, he was following Nelly, wondering why she took so long All the thought that gets hold of the to put on her bonnet – whether she was world's car and imprints itself on the crying, poor soul, over some lost illusion, memory, all sententious wisdom and all some disappointed hope of her own, as sentimental poetry, agree in disparaging well as over her cousin'? He was almost the latter half of man's life. Life natuglad to think that he alone was, as it rally divides itself into four ages - childwere, in her confidence - that even her hood, youth, middle life, and old age. mother did not know that Molyneux had The poet, the man the world, and the been there and disappointed Nelly. He moralist, are of one mind to centre all the must have disappointed her (this train of charm, beauty, and joy of life upon the thought went on like an undercurrent two first of these conditions, and to treat while he discussed, and that with an the remaining half, or it may well be anxiety beyond words, the fate of Inno- three-fourths of existence, as at best a cent) — he must have disappointed her, flat, dull level of unromantic occupations,
THE FOUR AGES.
pleasures, and pains; more commonly a who does not, as far as he can, drag all period of disappointment, failure, flagging his youth's intimates down hill along with hopes, discontent, and bodily suffering, him. “When people grow old, as you
of losses which find no compensation ; and I do,” says a man of this temper to where we are daily losing what we desire some friend, on whose unaccustomed ear to keep: a period in which it is ignoble the epithet falls chill and strange, - others to feel satisfaction, and truest philosophy do not care for us, but we seem wiser to to make short work of, and confound at one another by finding fault with them. once with old age. And so much are peo- I dare say that monks never find out that ple the prey to popular impressions, and they grow old fools when age gives them so apt to be guided by the prevailing tone authority and nobody contradicts them.”
so prone, we will add, to ingratitude If the pleasures and dignities of midfor blessings which come as a matter of dle life were acknowledged as frankly as course that they raise no remonstrance, they are in reality appreciated and enand affect to acquiesce in sentiments joyed, we should see less fantastic aping which their life and aspect alike contra- of youth (though this is an aspect of hudict. Who dares stand up for that mental man folly unduly enlarged on by satire), prime — forty or forty-five ? — with some and less of the contrary affectation. The it is fifty ; who ventures to set at its true true view of life, to put it in trite phrase, worth as an element of happiness, liberty is that every stage has its pleasures as of action ? What man has the courage to well as its duties, and in each the pleasset his gains through thought and experi- ures are real, not ghosts of pleasures. ence against his losses in youthful ar-But to make life this harmonious whole, dour? He is ready enough to estimate neither pleasures nor duties must be antime's maturing benefits in his case, above ticipated: nor taken out of course, nor the rising aspirant's flash and fire of hurried forward. Keep the child a child youth ; but it is a mark of genius to have its full time, let not youth propel itself had unutterable communings in the spring into manhood, and let manhood hold its of existence, whisperings which the inevi- own manfully, and not weakly, sheepishly, table discords of life have silenced ; - grumblingly, ungraciously, unthankfully few can forego a claim to such elevating shelve itself even in words - empty as regrets.
they generally are, and not intended to As nothing is morally salutary but the carry weight - upon the period of passive truth, we take exception to this tone as a experience and the borders of oblivion. general experience. It fits certain tem- When age really overtakes men, then, and peraments of passiona e sensibility, it often not till then, they value at its true follows naturally upon a youth of brilliant worth the period answering to the sumpromise; but it is not real with the ma- mer and autumn of nature, the strength jority, and it leads to two opposite mis- of maturity, —“l'âge viril que nous chiefs. This excessive exaltation of n'estimons pas assez," says La Bruyère, youth leads the vain and frivolous on to - which they disparaged and miscalled greater frivolity and vanity ; and some, while it lasted, because it was not the who are neither the one nor the other, it season of blossom and hope. Not that almost excuses and justifies in their re- age is without its pleasures, which a coil from the inevitable yoke of years and thankful heart makes much of, and which their melancholy clinging to habits and recommend themselves to the observer companionship which no longer become as he sees them, and where they are not welcome.
Age steal to his allotted nook Those, on the other hand, who alike dis
Contented and serene; dain fraud or self-deception, or to linger where they are not wanted, officiously for nothing cheers the whole prospect of anticipate the world's judgment, resolv- life to the young like a picture of calm, ing to be beforehand with the insolence bright, intelligent old age. And examples of youth, or gossip's cold scrutiny; and of such are not rarer to be met with than so do injustice to their manhood — the ideal examples of every age. period of performance, the week-day of Very true — all people have not those labour, wherein is done the work of the accompaniments and privileges of middle world — and call themselves old before age we have assigned to it: it sometimes their time : an act of treachery towards suffers the loss of all things, while hope is self which is generally accompanied by left with a barren prospect scarcely to similar treachery towards contempora- be gilded by any charm ; but if they have, ries; for no one affects age prematurely it makes very little difference in the
strain we speak of, which comes so natur- from it, whether deliberate or due to ally to the hand that holds the pen; for circumstances. It is a notable compenmen are more themselves in speech and sation for a life without marked sucaction than in silent weaving of senten- cesses, show or glory of any kind, that to ces. It is the happy men of middle age, such a condition the pleasures and satishappy in their circumstances, men sleek factions of life are meted out most equally. and well nourished, who think it high- | All greatness, every distinction that lifts minded and poetical to be querulous to- men above their fellows at one period of wards the tract of life they are passing their life, spoils the harmony of parts. through. The truth is, most people go An undue brilliancy of childhood or by looks : that part of their life when youth is apt to tell upon the stage that they were at their comeliest, when every- follows to its disadvantage. Each period thing became them, when even follies should keep to nature's programme ; were graceful, fascinates the memory. It hence the life of most solid and lasting is not the mind of youth but its body that happiness is unquestionably that which is mainly sighed over; that charm of starts with a secret unforced growth; grace, strength, and bloom ; and a cer- whatever substitutes in infancy exhibitain subtle sense of immortality that goes tion and achievement for the state of along with it. So long as most of the preparation, borrows some of the strength people we encounter are our seniors, which manhood cannot lend with imdeath is regarded practically as a thing punity, and tends to a weak, ineffectual that does not concern us. It is so many middle life. For the most flagrant outolder folks’turn first, so many must enter- rages upon nature's plan, for examples of tain the thought before it becomes neces- childhood forced into action and pubsarily our business. If young people die licity, tampered with and victimized, and it is a sort of accident - it is not natural ; denied the all-essential privilege of obso that even the death of the young scarce- scurity, we must look to the records of ly disturbs this sense of immortality as the royal children, and follow their course in attribute of youth ; for to the imagination history; or it may be enough to take up they remain, wherever they are, the same. the narratives of their tutors and governWe cannot so easily accommodate the esses, elate with the dignity of the maleanness, the massiveness, the stoop, the terial on which to try their educational heightened or fading colouring of middle experiences. In the case of absolute life, or the decrepitude of old age, to our monarchies, circumstances are too exactideas of another state of being. To feel ing to allow of privacy and secret growth. immortal, then, on whatever grounds, is Unless there is some political reason for no doubt a sensation which passes off. neglect, the children of the dynasty have It has no share in the serener pleasures a part to play as soon as they chip the we assert to be the attendants of fairly shell, evidently in many cases to the lastprosperous middle life. But if we kept ing injury of physical, intellectual, or our good looks we should miss the warn- moral strength. And they can be taught ings and trouble ourselves much less to play it with propriety. A charming about the other losses which time brings. manner and a sense of importance can be
instilled into a sucking child, separating O youth ! for years so many and sweet 'Tis known that thou and I were one,
it for ever from childhood's more forI'll think it but a fond conceit
tunate conditions, in which It cannot be that thou art gone !
Children are blest and powerful ; their world Thy vesper bell hath not yet tolled.
lies And thou wert aye a masker bold !
More justly balanced; partly at their feet, What strange disguise hast thou put on
And part far from them : sweetest melodies To make believe that thou art gone?
Are those that are by distance made more
In the secret correspondence of Madame
de Maintenon with her agent at the Our subject naturally opens with child- Spanish Court, we read of the Prince of hood. Upon how it is passed depends Asturias, the first Bourbon born in Spain, emphatically the due progress of life receiving the homage of the Spanish nothrough its successive stages; and per- bility when a baby of nineteen months. haps we realize most forcibly the value “Never," writes the Princess des Ursins, of nature's silent method of operation was a ceremony performed with more by noting the effect of early deviation pomp, order, and magnificence. The Prince himself gave his hand to kiss to And infant princes were turned into fine those who kneeled before him, and as gentlemen by as rapid a process as they that lasted more than three hours, and he were made pbilosophers. These unforwas attacked with hunger and sleep at tunates were the subjects of journals the same moment, he began to cry, being carefully kept by their attendants. "I quite exhausted with the exercise ; but find," writes Madame de Genlis, to her his nurse being sent for she relieved him, little pupils of the Orleans family, “ by and he continued to hold out his little the Journal of M. le Brun, that it was the hand in the most charming manner.” Duke of Montpensier who thought this This Prince was equally prematurely set morning of writing to inquire how I did on the throne by the abdication of his after a slight indisposition. You left me father, when the small-pox put an end to yesterday in a calm state, and there was a life which had run through all its nat- no reason for anxiety ; but consistently ural share of action and events in child- with the strict duties of friendship you hood. Equally instructive is the account ought to have given orders before you of the early years of that Duke of Bur- went to bed for inquiries to be made at gundy, the boast of Fénélon, and father 'eight o'clock in the morning to know of Louis XV. The forcing process had, whether I had had any return of my comat the age of seven, turned this preco- plaint during the night; and you should cious child into a monster; only the lan- again have sent at ten to learn from my. guage ordinarily applied to adult wicked- self, the instant I awoke, the exact state ness sufficed to describe the strength and of my health. Such are the benevolent vehemence of his passions. " He was and tender cares which a lively and siathe prey of every passion, and the slave cere friendship dictates.” Whó can wonof every pleasure ! He was often fero- der at the dissimulation of the kings and cious and cruel. Inordinately proud, he princes of histoły, when make-believe looked upon men only as atoms with and seeming were their earliest lessons ! whom he had no sort of similarity what. It is certainly necessary to filling a great ever. But the brilliancy of his mind, part well to be pretty early initiated into and his penetration, were evident, even a sense of distinction; but we may rein his moments of greatest vioience. His 'mark by the way that premature lessons replies created astonishment in all who in self-assertion — especially as they tamheard them,” &c., &c. A formidable pupil per with the simplicity of infancy, very certainly to tackle with, especially as he naturally defeat their own end. We are must always be addressed “ Sir.” “I told of the Princess Louise, eighth know not, Sir, whether you recollect what daughter of Louis XV., that when only you said to me yesterday, That you knew three years old she was served in state. who you were and who I am. It is my It was the custom when royal personduty to inform you that you are ignorant ages drank during their meals, for every. of both the one and the other.” The good body to stand up. The governess obbishop brings the young prince to reason serving her supercilious demeanour and virtue, and in his case, we may say towards her attendants, requested them he had the good fortune to die young- to forego this ceremony, upon which the a model prince : but evidently he had little Princess immediately stopped outlived all this brilliancy; his short drinking, and issued the stately order, man's career was a failure. Not the “Debout, s'il vous plait ! Madame Louleast misfortune of these royal infants is ise boit.” To judge from this example the weight of learning in their tutors. of premature dignity, it may be taught Condillac, chosen preceptor to the Prince too soon for its purpose. Louise early of Parma, composed a course of meta- got tired of grandeur and went into a physical lessons for his pupil of seven convent; but of the demeanour of her years, in which he made such progress sister princesses in later life, we have that the complacent philosopher writes, some record. Horace Walpole writes of that his Highness ” of that tender age his visit to the French Court in 1765.
was perfectly acquainted with the sys- After King and Queen he is introduced tem of intellectual operations, and was in to the four Mesdames, the King's daugha condition to substitute just ideas for ters, whom he describes in easy terms as the false ones which had been given him." "clumsy, plump old wenches, with a bad “Your Highness knows what is meant by likeness of their father. They stand in a system” - deriving an analogy on this a bedchamber in a row, with black cloaks abstruse subject from his Highness's lit- and knotting-bags, looking good-hutle chair as compared to his own big one, moured, and not knowing what to say."
They could not be so very old, for their ness and under his bed-clothes ." and father at this time was only fifty-five; biles !” The time is Christmas Eve. but youth so treated is soon run through. What's Chrismiss ?” he asks his faThe insight into the training of princes ther. “ What's Chrismiss any way? given us by these complacent records of Wot's it all about?” O, it's a day," is processes and triumphant results, goes all his father can answer. far to excuse all the errors and failures The child born under, happily, more of after-life. Life is made a conscious ordinary, circumstances, not subject to piece of acting from the first. Their either of these extremes, has neither a part is given them too soon, nor is there part to play nor any sense of responsibilan alternative of wholesome neglect. ity as to material wants. It trusts the Neglect can only be wholesome when it guardianship of its wellbeing to its pais in a manner inevitable and surrounded rents implicitly and without a thought, by natural protections. Happily for and pursues its speculations on the life modern princes, their tutors have left off before it quite apart from its own share writing about them, and illustrating their in it. Nor are these speculations too cutheories by appeals and references to riously inquired into. It works out the their immature judgment. As far as ob- problems of life at its leisure, no wise tuscurity is possible to lofty station, royal tor forestalling every difficulty, and infancy in our days enjoys it. We have watching for every opportunity for into borrow our examples from a past age. stilling a maxim or opening out a field of
As short-lived and not less precocious inquiry. It is only by chance and some is infancy in the social opposite of exist- naive revelation that we learn anything ence. The literature of destitution is of the puzzles and comical bewilderfull of the premature sagacity of its ments the mind passes through in the childhood. The gamin of Paris or Lon- way from partial knowledge to a clear undon is a match in all the arts of dissimu- derstanding, and how it slowly disentanlation with the scion of a hundred ty- gles them for itself, — as when the little rants; and the small rustic knave fol- girl gravely remarked to her mother on lows not far behind, masking his designs the birth of a litter of kittens, “ Mamma, under an aspect of impervious stolidity. I was not aware that ours was a married Nor are these evidences of a corrupt cat." The child may have a philosophic civilization. Misery and bad company father to whom nothing is more interestare the same forcing agents in the Far ing than to trace the course of thought West, wherever the child is driven to its and the steps of inquiry ; but he has own guardianship. Witness Bret Harte's something else to do, which the tutor pictures of childhood : little Johnny has not, than to urge his infant to crack more than the intellectual equal of “the hard metaphysic nuts with his first teeth. old man ” his father, and of the diggers, So when he hears of baby watching the whose pet he is, and whose language he horse he is used to stroke in the stable copies. “ The child, whose face could as he is being harnessed to the carriage, have been pretty, but that it was and still with a perplexed air turning his darkened by knowledge of evil, and head to the empty stall to satisfy himwhose weak treble was broken by the self that he is not there also, he only hoarseness which vagabondage and pre- pronounces it an interesting observation. mature self-assertion can give." It is a “Baby was testing an identical proposipathetic sketch — the child thrown en- tion by experience,” and leaves him to tirely on his own sense and resources, at discover, by degrees, that a thing can't once so knowing and so ignorant, with be in two places at once. his sad experience of sickness, and old-stimulator of the faculties, it good downfashioned views of regimen. “ Thar's right passion, visits small and great dried appils,” he says to his father's alike; but on isolated royalty it is alguests, " but I don't admire 'em ; appils lowed to become gigantic, generating is swellin':” his long catalogue of dis- a morbid self-consuming intelligence. eases, of which he enjoys the repetition The child of ordinary life has his temto his strong burly friends, who ask, pers quickening the intellect in the same " You ain't agoin' to turn in agin, are way, and prompting the inexperienced ye?” “Yes, I are," responded Johnny, tongue to very apt language. Duly prodecidedly. “Why, what's up, old fel- voked, he will rattle off a string of molow ?” “ I'm sick." “ How sick ?"' tives and reveal bis inner mind with a “ I've got a fevier and chilblains, and clearness which leaves nothing to be deroomatiz," and, as he retreated into dark- sired. A little fellow of three, irritated