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Romance And Reality
by [?]

“I MET with a most splendid girl last evening,” remarked to his friend a young man, whose fine, intellectual forehead, and clear bright eye, gave indications of more than ordinary mental endowments.

“Who is she?” was the friend’s brief question.

“Her name is Adelaide Merton. Have you ever seen her?”

“No, but I have often heard of the young lady.”

“As a girl of more than ordinary intelligence?”

“O yes. Don’t you remember the beautiful little gems of poetry that used to appear in the Gazette, under the signature of Adelaide?”

“Very well. Some of them were exquisite, and all indicative of a fine mind. Was she their author?”

“So I have been told.”

“I can very readily believe it; for never have I met with a woman who possessed such a brilliant intellect. Her power of expression is almost unbounded. Her sentences are perfect pictures of the scenes she describes. If she speaks of a landscape, not one of its most minute features is lost, nor one of the accessories to its perfection as a whole overlooked. And so of every thing else, in the higher regions of the intellect, or in the lower forms of nature. For my own part, I was lost in admiration of her qualities. She will yet shine in the world.”

The young man who thus expressed himself in regard to Adelaide Merton, was named Charles Fenwick. He possessed a brilliant mind, which had been well stored. But his views of life were altogether perverted and erroneous, and his ends deeply tinctured with the love of distinction, for its own sake. A few tolerably successful literary efforts, had been met by injudicious over praise, leading him to the vain conclusion that his abilities were of so high a character, that no field of action was for him a worthy one that had any thing to do with what he was pleased to term the ordinary grovelling pursuits of life. Of course, all mere mechanical operations were despised, and as a natural consequence, the men who were engaged in them. So with merchandizing, and also with the various branches of productive enterprise. They were mere ministers of the base physical wants of our nature. His mind took in higher aims than these!

His father was a merchant in moderate circumstances, engaged in a calling which was of course despised by the son, notwithstanding he was indebted to his father’s constant devotion to that calling for his education, and all the means of comfort and supposed distinction that he enjoyed. The first intention of the elder Mr. Fenwick had been to qualify his son, thoroughly, for the calling of a merchant, that he might enter into business with him and receive the benefits of his experience and facilities in trade. But about the age of seventeen, while yet at college, young Fenwick made the unfortunate discovery that he could produce a species of composition which he called poetry. His efforts were praised–and this induced him to go on; until he learned the art of tolerably smooth versification. This would all have been well enough had he not imagined himself to be, in consequence, of vastly increased importance. Stimulated by this idea, he prosecuted his collegiate studies with renewed diligence, storing a strong and comprehensive mind with facts and principles in science and philosophy, that would have given him, in after life, no ordinary power of usefulness as a literary and professional man, had not his selfish ends paralysed and perverted the natural energies of a good intellect.

The father’s intention of making him a merchant was, of course, opposed by the son, who chose one of the learned profession as more honorable–not more useful; a profession that would give him distinction–not enable him to fill his right place in society. In this he was gratified. At the time of his introduction to the reader, he was known as a young physician without a patient. He had graduated, but had not yet seen any occasion for taking an office, as his father’s purse supplied all his wants. His pursuits were mainly literary–consisting of essays and reviews for some of the periodicals intermixed with a liberal seasoning of pretty fair rhymes which rose occasionally to the dignity of poetry–or, as he supposed, to the lofty strains of a Milton or a Dante. Occasionally a lecture before some literary association brought his name into the newspapers in connection with remarks that kindled his vanity into a flame. Debating clubs afforded another field for display, and he made liberal use of the facility. So much for Charles Fenwick.