However we may hint at its explanation by theories of inheritance, it still remains curious with what unerring instinct a child of character will from the first, and when it is so evidently ignorant of the field of choice, select, out of all life’s occupations and distinctions, one special work it hungers to do, one special distinction that to it seems the most desirable of earthly honours. That Mary Mesurier loved poetry, and James Mesurier sermons, in face of the fact that so many mothers and fathers have done the same with no such result, hardly seems adequate to account for the peculiar glamour which, almost before he could read, there was for Henry Mesurier in any form of print. While books were still being read to him, there had already come into his mind, unaccountably, as by outside suggestion, that there could be nothing so splendid in the world as to write a book for one’s self. To be either a soldier, a sailor, an architect, or an engineer, would, doubtless, have its fascinations as well; but to make a real printed book, with your name in gilt letters outside, was real romance.
At that early day, and for a long while after, the boy had no preference for any particular kind of book. It was an entirely abstract passion for print and paper. To have been the author of “The Iliad” or of Beeton’s “Book of Household Recipes” would have given him almost the same exaltation of authorship; and the thrill of worship which came over him when, one early day, a man who had actually had an article on the sugar bounties accepted by a commercial magazine was pointed out to him in the street, was one he never forgot; nor in after years did he ever encounter that transfigured contributor without an involuntary recurrence of that old feeling of awe. No subsequent acquaintance with editorial rooms ever led him into materialistic explanations of that enchanted piece of work—a newspaper. The editors might do their best—and succeed surprisingly—in looking like ordinary mortals, you might even know the leader-writers, and, with the very public, gaze through gratings into the subterranean printing-rooms,—the mystery none the less remained. No exposure of editorial staffs or other machinery could destroy the sense of enchantment, as no amount of anatomy or biology can destroy the mystery of the human miracle.
So I suppose Nature first makes us in love with the tools we are to use, long before we have a thought upon what we shall use them. Perhaps the first desire of the born writer is to be a compositor. Out of the love of mere type quickly evolves a love of mere words for their own sake; but whether we shall make use of them as a historian, novelist, philosopher, or poet, is a secondary consideration, a mere afterthought. To Henry Mesurier had already come the time when the face of life began to Wear a certain aspect, the peculiar attraction of which for himself he longed to fix, a certain mystical importance attaching to the commonest