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OF primary causes or primary colours, we
are neither philosophers nor opticians enough
to be enabled profitably to discourse. Yet
there are primariesfirst thingsin all our
lives very curious and wonderful, replete with
matter for speculation, interesting because
they come home to and can be understood by
us all.

That it is "le premier pas qui co├╗te"—that
the first step is the great pointis as much
a household word to us, and is as familiar to
our mouths as that the descent of Avernus
is unaccompanied by difficulty, or that one
member of the feathered creation held in the
hand is worth two of the same species in the
bush. And, if we might be permitted to add
to the first quoted morsel of proverbial philosophy
a humble little rider of our own, we
would say that we never forget the first step,
the first ascent, the first stumble, the first fall.
Time skins over the wound of later years,
and, looking at the cicatrice (if, indeed, a scar
should remain), we even wonder who inflicted
the wound, where, or how, or when it was
inflicted, and when and where healed. But the
first-born of our wounds are yet green; and
we can see the glittering of the glaive, and
feel the touch of the steel, now that our hair
is grizzled, and our friends and enemies are
dead, and we have other allies and foes who
were babies in the old time when we got that

Many men have as many minds; but we
are all alike in this respect. The camera
may be of costly rosewood or plain deal, the
lens of rare pebble or simple bottle-glass;
but the first impressions come equally through
the focus, and are daguerreotyped with equal
force on the silver tablet of memory. The
duke and the dustman, the countess and the
costermonger, the schoolboy and the white-
headed old patriarchfor all the dreary seas
that flow between the to-day they live in
and the yesterday wherein they began life
still, like the cliffs of the Ancient Mariner,
bear the "marks of that which once hath

Many of the primaries are locked up in
secret cabinets of the mind, of which we have
mislaid (and think we have lost) the keys;
but we have not; and, from time to time,
finding them in bunches in old coat-pockets,
or on disregarded split-rings, we open them.
From the old desk of the mind, we take the first
love-letter, of which the ink is so yellow now,
and was so brilliant once, but whose characters
are as distinct as ever. From the old wardrobe
of the mind, we draw the first tail-coat
threadbare, musty, and worm-eaten, now; but
the first tail-coat for all that. For all that
we may have been twice bankrupt and once
insolvent; for all that Jack may have been
transported, or Ned consigned to his coffin
years ago, or Tom barbecued in Typee
or Omoo regions; for all that we may be
riding in gold coaches, and denying that
we ever trotted in the mud; for all that
we may have changed our names, or tacked
titles to them, or given the hand that
was once horny and labour-stained, a neat
coat of blood-red crimson, and nailed it on a
shield like a bat on a barn-door; for all that
we eat turtle instead of tripe, and drink
Moselle in lieu of "max;"—the primaries
shall never be forgottenthe moment when
our foot pressed the first step shall never
vanish. Cast the stone as far into the river
of Lethe as you will, the sluggish tide shall
wash it back again, and after playing dully
with it on the sand, ever land it high and
dry upon the beach.

Male primaries and female primaries there
be, and we are of the ruder sex; but there are
many, common to both sexes.

Not this one, though; the firstwell,
there is no harm in it!—the first pair of
trousers. Who does not remember, who can
ever forget, those much-desiderated, much-
prized, much-feared, much-admired articles
of dress? How stiff, angular, hard, wooden,
they seemed to our youthful limbs! How
readily, but for the proper pride and manliness
we felt in themthe utter majority and
independence of seven years of agewe would
have cast them off fifty times, the very first day
we wore them, and, resuming the kilt, have once
more roamed our little world, a young
Highlander. How (all is vanity!) we mounted on
surreptitious chairs, viewed ourselves in mirrors,
and were discovered in the act by cousins, and
blushed dreadfully, and were brought thereby
to great shame and grief. What inexpressible
delight in that first plunge of the hand (and
half the arm) into the trousers-pockets,—in