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its place on the first page of each weekly number,
and will be continued from week to week
until finished.



It has been said, that any man, no matter
how small and insignificant the post he may have
filled in life, who will faithfully record the events
in which he has borne a share, even though
incapable of himself deriving profit from the lessons
he has learned, may still be of use to others
sometimes a guide, sometimes a warning. I
hope this is true. I like to think it so, for I
like to think that even IA. S. P.—if I cannot
adorn a tale, may at least point a moral.

Certain families are remarkable for the way in
which peculiar gifts have been transmitted for
ages. Some have been great in arms, some in
letters, some in statecraft, displaying in successive
generations the same high qualities which
had won their first renown. In an humble
fashion, I may lay claim to belong to this
category. My ancestors have been apothecaries
for one hundred and forty odd years.
Joseph Potts, " drug and condiment man,"
lived in the reign of Queen Anne, at Lower
Liffey-street, No. 87; and to be remembered
passingly, has the name of Mr. Addison
amongst his clients; the illustrious writer
having, as it would appear, a peculiar fondness
for " Potts's Linature," whatever that may
have been; for the secret died out with my
distinguished forefather. There was Michael Joseph
Potts, "licensed for chemicals," in Mary's
Abbey, about thirty years later; and so we
come on to Paul Potts and Son, and to then,
Lanncelot Peter Potts, " Pharmaceutical Chemist
to his Excellency and the Irish Court," the
father of him who now bespeaks your indulgence.

My father's great misfortune in life was the
ambition to rise above the class his family had
adorned for ages. He had, as he averred, a soul
above senna, and a destiny higher than black
drop. He had heard of a tailor's apprentice
becoming a great general. He had himself seen a
wig-maker elevated to the woolsack; and he kept
continually repeating, " Mine is the only walk
in life that leads to no high rewards. What
matters it whether my mixtures be addressed to
the refined organisations of rank, or the
'dura iliarasorum'I shall live and die an apothecary.
From every class are men selected fo
r honours save mine, and though it should rain
baronetcies, the bloody hand would never fall
to the lot of a compounding chemist."

"What do you intend to make of Algernon
Sydney, Mr. Potts?" would say one of his neighbours.
"Bring him up to your own business?
A first-rate connexion to start with in life."

"My own business, sir? I'd rather see him
a chimney-sweep."

'' But, after all, Mr. Potts, being, so to say,
at the head of your profession— "
" It is not a profession, sir. It is not even a
trade. High science and skill have long since
left our insulted and outraged ranks; we are
mere commission agents for the sale of patent
quackeries. What respect has the world any longer
for the great phials of ruby, and emerald, and
marine blue, which, at nightfall, were once the
magical emblems of our mysteries, seen afar
through the dim mists of louring atmospheres,
or throwing their lurid glare upon the passers-by?
What man, now, would have the courage
to adorn his surgeryI suppose you would prefer
I should call it ' shop'with skeleton fishes,
snakes, or a stuffed alligator? Who, in Ihis age
of chemical infidelity, would surmount his door
with the ancient symbols of our artthe golden
pestle and mortar? Why, sir, I'd as soon go
forth to apply leeches in a herald's tabard, or a
suit of Milan mail. And what have they done,
sir?" he would ask, with a roused indignation
"what have they done by their reforms? In
invading the mystery of medicine, they have
ruined its prestige. The precious drops you
once regarded as the essence of an elixir vitae,
and whose efficacy lay in your faith, are now so
much strychnine, or creosote, which you take
with fear, and think over with foreboding."

I suppose it can only be ascribed to that
perversity which seems a great element in human
nature, that, exactly in the direct ratio of my
father's dislike to his profession was my fondness
for it. I used to take every opportunity of
stealing into the laboratory, watching intently
  all the curious proceedings that went on there,
learning the names and properties of the various
ingredients, the gases, the minerals, the salts,
the essences; and although, as may be imagined,
science took, in these narrow regions, none of
her loftiest flights, they were to me the most
marvellous and high-soaring efforts of
human intelligence. I was just at that period
of lifethe first opening of adolescence
when fiction and adventure have the strongest
hold upon our nature, my mind filled with the
marvels of Eastern romance, and imbued with
a sentiment, strong as any conviction, that
I was destined to a remarkable life. I passed
days in dreamland what I should do in this
or that emergency; how rescue myself from
such a peril; how profit by such a stroke of
fortune; by what arts resist the machinations of
this adversary; how conciliate the kind favour of
that. In the wonderful tales that I read,
frequent mention was made of alchemy and its
marvels now, the search was for some secret
of endless wealth; now, it was for undying youth
or undecaying beauty; while in other stories, I
read of men who had learned how to read the
thoughts, trace the motives, and ultimately sway
the hearts of their fellow-men, till life became to
them a mere field for the exercise of their every
will and caprice, throwing happiness and misery
about them as the humour inclined. The strange
life of the laboratory fitted itself exactly to this
phase of my mind.

The wonders it displayed, the endless
combinations and transformations it effected, were
as marvellous as any that imaginative fiction

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