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BY OCTAVIUS FREIRE OWEN.
To watch the sunlight of the soul go down,
To mourn those paths obstructed of fair thoughts
Thou lofty potentate, Intelligence,
Gnaws at thy breast, with fruitless rage inflamed;
To muse upon the chords of that sweet lyre
As though a spirit sighed at Music's death, -
It was a busy night in the metropolis of Ireland, that 20th of June, on which her gracious Majesty Victoria ascended the throne of England. Every window glittered with lights, and beautiful as gorgeous were the many-coloured lamps which decked the public buildings, and threw their varied hues over the queenly city. Many a banquet was spread to celebrate the event, and many a ball-room was filled with gay and brilliant guests; whilst bands of music pealed far and wide; and, for the first time, the chorus of our national anthem resounded with “ The Queen! the Queen! God save the Queen!”
It was on that night that, amongst a dazzling crowd assembled at the residence of Lady S— , in — Square, the handsome daughter of a baronet attracted the admiration of the light-hearted and imaginative Alfred Fitzallen, then a student in — College. Alfred was young and good-looking, highspirited and ingenuous; fresh from his mother's home, his mind was as pure and unsullied as it had been in childhood. His figure was tall and manly, and not wanting in grace; and his whole deportment indicated that open and unsuspecting nature which is at once so pleasing and attractive, yet which, alas ! too frequently leads its possessor to become the dupe of the wily or the vicious. With Alfred, to think and to act were almost simultaneous; and once attracted by the fair and stately Helen B- , it took him but another moment to get an introduction, and demand her hand in the dance. Frequently, during the evening, he was by her side; and more than once he “ led her through the glittering throng.” The glow of a summer's morning was abroad ere the music had ceased and the dance was done, and Alfred returned to his chambers in
- College, amidst the raillery of his young companions, with whom he was an especial favourite, who each and all declared that Fitzallen had positively lost his heart.
Days passed away, and every time they met the jest was renewed ; and whenever the friends chanced to sup together, Helen's health was drank with all the honours, and Alfred called upon by many a merry voice to return thanks for his lovely enslaver.
Thus was the topic and the raillery kept up for some time, when one morning a neatly-folded and delicately-written billet was placed in the hands of Fitzallen, and on opening it what was his astonishment to find it bore the signature of Helen B- , and contained a request for the loan of a particular work, from a certain library to which he had free access, with instructions to have the volume left at — Street, till called for. For an instant it crossed his mind that it was singular to be thus addressed by a lady, almost a stranger, and one whose family and friends were altogether unacquainted with him ; but this thought was momentary, and soon drowned in the pleasure of being thus remembered by his gay and handsome partner of the last ball. The book was despatched, accompanied by an entreaty that a like honour and pleasure might occasionally be granted him. It was not long until the favour was repeated ; another and another billet came, and was answered; and thus a regular correspondence sprang up, which shortly carried words of more than friendly import. The brief, bright hour upon which they had met in Lady S- 's ball-room, was recurred to and dwelt upon as the young and the ardent know how to dwell upon such topics; and Alfred ceased to think of Helen B-- as a passing acquaintance, and began to watch for each fresh epistle with trembling interest.
In this correspondence he showed a mind exalted above the usual vanity of men, in the love of displaying such favours when bestowed on them by the opposite sex. With true delicacy of feeling, he kept it secret from all, save one favourite friend, young Armand, who had been his companion from childhood, and to whom he had been in the habit of imparting every family secret as if they had been brothers. Harry Armand was a few years older than Alfred, for whom he felt a warm attachment. Though deficient in refinement of feeling, he was nevertheless good-hearted and generous, and possessed many excellent and noble qualities to warrant our hero's partiality for him. But gay, even to thoughtlessness, his untiring love of amusement sometimes led him into follies. Reckless and well-tempered, there was no frolic of which Harry was not one of the first projectors and foremost actors; there was nothing too hazardous or troublesome for him to undertake and carry through ; and frequently his own companions were the subjects of his merry, and at times somewhat provoking, humour ; but the sound of his hearty laugh as it rang upon their ears, and the inexhaustible stores of fun that lurked in his half-closed eyes, or lingered about the corners of his mouth, told but too plainly that it was useless to be angry with Harry.
Weeks and months had rolled over since the night of the ball; and it was only now and then that the subject of Fitzallen's lost heart was revived. But absence from the object of