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THE ADVENTURES OF AN ENTHUSIAST.
The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together : our virtues would be proud, if our faults whipped them not; and our crimes would despair, if they were not cherished by our virtues.--SHAKSPEARE.
My name is Paul Ulric. Thus much, gentle reader, you already know of one whose history is about to be recorded for the benefit of the world. I say benefit, because I trust there are but few who have not sufficient discretion to profit by the experience of others.
I was always an enthusiast; but of this I deem it inexpedient to say much at present. I will merely remark, that I possessed by nature a wild and
adventurous spirit, which has led me on, blindly and hurriedly, from object to object, without any definite or specific aim. My life has been one of continual excitement ; and in my wild career I have tasted of joy as well as sorrow. At one moment I have been elevated to the very pinnacle of human happiness ; at the next, I have sunk to the lowest depths of de. spair. Still, I fancied there was always an equilibrium. This may seem a strange philosophy to some; but is it the less true? The human mind is so constituted as always to seek a level. If it is depressed, it will be proportionately elevated ; if elevated, it will be proportionately depressed. It may justly be compared to a ship riding upon the billows; at one moment cleaving the heavensat the next, wrecking in the troubled waters. We can neither be entirely miserable, nor superlatively happy. There will be a mixture of sunshine and storm, the one continually succeeding the other. Those who have their dark thoughts—their moments of gloom and despondency-experience subsequently a corresponding degree of animation, and their spirits leap up and soar away as upon the wings of an angel.
But I am growing metaphysical, which I did not intend. Let me change the subject, and say a few words of my father.
He-good soul —had the misfortune to become a baronet; and, like many other baronets-with reverence be it spoken—was not remarkable for his intelligence. He was born in Lower Saxony, but was taken by his parents, when only a year old, to England. They died soon after, and he was thrown upon a benevolent parish, where he was initiated, by a certain distinguished rector, into the mysteries of boot-cleaning. He appears to have been a lad of some spirit, as well as industrious habits; and was generally noted for his enterprise. At the age of ten he eloped from his kind-hearted master—the rector --and became a vender of newspapers in the streets of London; at twelve, he sold potatoes in Covent Garden market on commission; at fifteen, he absconded from a soap-boiler in the Strand, to whom he had been apprenticed; at eighteen, he engaged in a profitable speculation with a Jew—such as purchasing and selling old clothes ; at twenty,' he became the proprietor of a mock auction in Cheapside ; and, at twenty-five, by some unaccountable good fortune, he was the owner of a house in Regent-street, and could boast of several thousand pounds in the funds.
The method by which he so suddenly acquired this affluence, has, thus far, remained a secret. I once heard it intimated, however, that he was a frequent visiter at certain houses in St. James's, usually denominated hells; but I was never at any pains to ascertain the truth of the surmise. It was enough to know that he was rich; and as he had gained a reputation among his friends for excellent wines and good dinners, this was a sufficient palliation for the sins and peccadilloes of his previous life, whatever they might have been.
My father had not reached his thirtieth year, when a signal mark of distinction was conferred upon him, which produced a inomentary sensation throughout all England. Let me narrate the circumstance. He was returning late one night from a visit to a friend in the neighbourhood of the Regent's Park; and as he was moving slowly along one of the principal streets, he observed a welldressed gentleman, a short distance before him, who stumbled and fell to the pavement. My father, with considerable effort, succeeded in raising him to his feet-for he was a heavy muscular personbut he proved to be too much under the influence of wine to travel further without assistance. The stranger had a full, handsome face; and the large, magnificent diamond which glittered on one of his fingers, was sufficient evidence, in my father's estimation, that he was too fine a gentleman to be left a prey to the police. Accordingly, a carriage was ordered ;