'Nothing venture, nothing have,' is one of the homely sayings against which sentence of banishment has been pronounced from the high places of what we are pleased to call refined society. When I scrawled the adage in my first copy-book, I thought it exceedingly wise ; and reduced it to practice a few evenings afterwards, in a merry holiday party, where the old game of snap-dragon was played. I had rarely borne off a single plum' from the midst of those pale blue flames that appeared in my eyes most terrific ; indeed, all my prizes had been made under circumstances that called only the best part of valour into exercise; for I watched when some more adventurous wight, who had boldly seized them, wras induced, either by alarm or burned fingers, to let the trophy fall, which I quietly picked up, and conveyed into my mouth. The proverb, however, seemed to have inspired me with somewhat of a more enterprising character; for, on the evening in question, I elbowed my way through the laughing, screaming little folks, and secretly ejaculating, 'Nothing venture, nothing have,' I bravely plunged my hand into the dish, and bore off a noble plum, enveloped in those alarming flames, which I blew out; and certainly I thought the morsel that my own chivalrous exploit had secured, infinitely superior in flavour to any of the more ignoble, spoils of former times.
How far this successful application of an old saw might influence my after life, I know not but certain it is, that I have done many things which wiser people call rash, and imprudent in the highest degree, under an impulse very similar to the foregoing. Not that, in the darkest days of my ignorance, I ever looked to what is called chance, or luck: even in childhood, I regarded with inexpressible contempt what the grace of God subsequently taught me to reject as decidedly sinful. I was taken to church every Sunday, even before I could read the bible, and when sufficiently advanced in learning to do so, I was told to receive every word that I read in it, as the declaration of God himself. This I did: and I believe that a reverential reception of our Lord's plain assurance, that the very hairs of our head are all numbered, and that not a sparrow could fall to the ground without our Father, proved sufficient to arm me against the whole theory of luck. I notice this with gratitude ; and as an encouragement to parents to bring that blessed book within the reach of their little ones, from the first dawning of their infant faculties.
It was not, therefore, in a gambling spirit that I applied the adage :—to venture something, where the object was to be gained according to the turning up of a card, or the random decision of a lot, I felt to be foolish, before I knew it to be wicked ; but when any desirable thing was placed within my grasp, the attainment of which I might honestly compass, at the expense of some loss, or perhaps suffering to myself, I have rarely shrunk back from the enterprise. It has pleased God, in his great mercy, so far to sanctify this feature of my natural character, that I am able, through prayer, to attempt things, where his glory alone is concerned, that some who are far superior to me in every spiritual gift and grace would pause at. and I have a criterion whereby to judge when it is through the help of my God that I overleap any wall. Accomplishing it in my own strength, and for my own gratification, I am sure to carry off either broken bones, or some severe sprain or contusion ; obliging me to limp for a long while after : but when the power of faith has alone wrought the achievement, I alight unharmed, and go on my way rejoicing.
'Nothing venture, nothing have,' was my mental reflection, as T inserted my hand, the other day, within the strong fence-work of a hardy furze-bush, to possess myself of the fragrant flower that reposed its golden bosom where few would have cared to invade its retreat. But the plant was an old, an endeared associate, having formed a distinguishing feature of the wild, sweet scenery, amid which I passed many a happy day. A type, too, it was of those days; for as the bright and beautiful furze-blossom throws its sunny gleams over the withering herbage that lies frozen around, —shedding lustre and breathing fragrance on its own thorny tree,—so did the transient loveliness of that short season to which I refer, ameliorate the dreariness of a wintry doom, and sweeten many thorns, planted around me by the hand of unerring wisdom. The furze-bush from whence I last plucked a flower, is located, indeed, in a region as dissimilar from that which my memory-enshrines, as are the feelings excited by a glance at the present, contrasted with the retrospection of what is forever past: but its tints are as mellow, its foilage as green, and its aspect altogether the same, I knew that if I secured a cluster of its soft petals, they would breathe a like fragrance; and I was content to venture a scratched finger, for the indulgence of a sweet, though melancholy, gratification.
There was yet another inducement to gather these buds of furze: I was about to pass a spot singularly interesting to me—a grave, over which I have often bent with sensations of exquisite delight. The silent tenant of that dark and narrow house, in the few months of our intimate acquaintance, furnished me with an opportunity of bringing into action all that God was pleased to impart to me of enterprize and perseverance, for the attainment of a trophy more glorious than aught, and all, that can perish. I could not but frequently compare that work with the attempt to gather flowers from the midst of numerous and piercing thorns; and more than once, during its progress, have I stopped to rend a sprig from the forbidding?furze, and then divested that sprig of all individual points, that I might rejoice in the success of an allegorical exploit. To none but to Him who helped me, is it known what I endured before the victory was made manifest which He, not I, achieved; nor will Christian charity admit the lifting of that veil which I desire to throw over the opposition of some, whose crown of rejoicing it might well have proved to be fellow-helpers in such a work. I gathered the blossoms ; and thankfully will I leave the thorns out of sight, forgetting those things that are behind, and reaching forward to what is yet before me.