Architects of fate or, steps to success and power a book designed to inspire youth to character building, self-culture and noble a

Download 0.88 Mb.
Size0.88 Mb.
1   ...   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14



Economy is half the battle of life.--SPURGEON.

Economy is the parent of integrity, of liberty and ease, and the beauteous sister of temperance, of cheerfulness and health.--DR. JOHNSON.

Can anything be so elegant as to have few wants and to serve them one's self?

As much wisdom can be expended on a private economy as on an empire.--EMERSON.

Riches amassed in haste will diminish; but those collected by hand and little by little will multiply.--GOETHE.

No gain is so certain as that which proceeds from the economical use of what you have.--LATIN PROVERB.

Beware of little extravagances: a small leak will sink a big ship.--FRANKLIN.

Better go to bed supperless than rise with debts.--GERMAN PROVERB.

Debt is like any other trap, easy enough to get into, but hard enough to get out of.--H. W. SHAW.

Sense can support herself handsomely in most countries on some eighteen pence a day; but for phantasy, planets and solar systems will not suffice.--MACAULAY.

Economy, the poor man's mint.--TUPPER.

I can get no remedy against this consumption of the purse; borrowing only lingers and lingers it out; but the disease is incurable.--SHAKESPEARE.

Whatever be your talents, whatever be your prospects, never speculate away on the chance of a palace that which you may need as a provision against the workhouse.--BULWER.

Not for to hide it in a hedge, Nor for a train attendant, But for the glorious privilege Of being independent. BURNS.

"We shan't get much here," whispered a lady to her companion, as John Murray blew out one of the two candles by whose light he had been writing when they asked him to contribute to some benevolent object. He listened to their story and gave one hundred dollars. "Mr. Murray, I am very agreeably surprised," said the lady quoted; "I did not expect to get a cent from you." The old Quaker asked the reason for her opinion; and, when told, said, "That, ladies, is the reason I am able to let you have the hundred dollars. It is by practicing economy that I save up money with which to do charitable actions. One candle is enough to talk by."

* * * * * *


"The Moses of Colonial Finance."

"Poverty is a condition which no man should accept, unless it is forced upon him as an inexorable necessity or as the alternative of dishonor."

"Comfort and independence abide with those who can postpone their desires."

* * * * * *

Emerson relates the following anecdote: "An opulent merchant in Boston was called on by a friend in behalf of a charity. At that time he was admonishing his clerk for using whole wafers instead of halves; his friend thought the circumstance unpropitious; but to his surprise, on listening to the appeal, the merchant subscribed five hundred dollars. The applicant expressed his astonishment that any person who was so particular about half a wafer should present five hundred dollars to a charity; but the merchant said, "It is by saving half wafers, and attending to such little things, that I have now something to give."

"How did you acquire your great fortune?" asked a friend of Lampis, the shipowner. "My great fortune, easily," was the reply, "my small one, by dint of exertion."

Four years from the time Marshall Field left the rocky New England farm to seek his fortune in Chicago he was admitted as a partner in the firm of Coaley, Farwell & Co. The only reason the modest young man gave, to explain his promotion when he had neither backing, wealth, nor influence, was that he saved his money.

If a man will begin at the age of twenty and lay by twenty-six cents every working day, investing at seven per cent. compound interest, he will have thirty-two thousand dollars when he is seventy years old. Twenty cents a day is no unusual expenditure for beer or cigars, yet in fifty years it would easily amount to twenty thousand dollars. Even a saving of one dollar a week from the date of one's majority would give him one thousand dollars for each of the last ten of the allotted years of life. "What maintains one vice would bring up two children."

Such rigid economy, such high courage, enables one to surprise the world with gifts even if he is poor. In fact, the poor and the middle classes give most in the aggregate to missions and hospitals and to the poor. Only frugality enables them to outdo the rich on their own ground.

But miserliness or avariciousness is a different thing from economy. The miserly is the miserable man, who hoards money from a love of it. A miser who spends a cent upon himself where another would spend a quarter does it from parsimony, which is a subordinate characteristic of avarice. Of this the following is an illustration: "True, I should like some soup, but I have no appetite for the meat," said the dying Ostervalde; "what is to become of that? It will be a sad waste." And so the rich Paris banker would not let his servant buy meat for broth.

A writer on political economy tells of the mishaps resulting from a broken latch on a farmyard gate. Every one going through would shut the gate, but as the latch would not hold it, it would swing open with every breeze. One day a pig ran out into the woods. Every one on the farm went to help get him back. A gardener jumped over a ditch to stop the pig, and sprained his ankle so badly as to be confined to his bed for two weeks. When the cook returned, she found that her linen, left to dry at the fire, was all badly scorched. The dairymaid in her excitement left the cows untied, and one of them broke the leg of a colt. The gardener lost several hours of valuable time. Yet a new latch would not have cost five cents.

Guy, the London bookseller, and afterward the founder of the great hospital, was a great miser, living in the back part of his shop, eating upon an old bench, and using his counter for a table, with a newspaper for a cloth. He did not marry. One day he was visited by "Vulture" Hopkins, another well-known miser. "What is your business?" asked Guy, lighting a candle. "To discuss your methods of saving money," was the reply, alluding to the niggardly economy for which Guy was famous. On learning Hopkins's business he blew out the light, saying, "We can do that in the dark." "Sir, you are my master in the art," said the "Vulture;" "I need ask no further. I see where your secret lies."

Yet that kind of economy which verges on the niggardly is better than the extravagance that laughs at it. Either, when carried to excess, is not only apt to cause misery, but to ruin the character.

"Lay by something for a rainy day," said a gentleman to an Irishman in his service. Not long afterwards he asked Patrick how much he had added to his store. "Faith, nothing at all," was the reply; "I did as you bid me, but it rained very hard yesterday, and it all went--in drink."

"Wealth, a monster gorged 'Mid starving populations."

But nowhere and at no period were these contrasts more startling than in Imperial Rome. There a whole population might be trembling lest they should be starved by the delay of an Alexandrian corn-ship, while the upper classes were squandering fortunes at a single banquet, drinking out of myrrhine and jeweled vases worth hundreds of pounds, and feasting on the brains of peacocks and the tongues of nightingales. As a consequence, disease was rife, men were short-lived. At this time the dress of Roman ladies displayed an unheard-of splendor. The elder Pliny tells us that he himself saw Lollia Paulina dressed for a betrothal feast in a robe entirely covered with pearls and emeralds, which had cost 40,000,000 sesterces, and which was known to be less costly than some of her other dresses. Gluttony, caprice, extravagance, ostentation, impurity, rioted in the heart of a society which knew of no other means by which to break the monotony of its weariness or alleviate the anguish of its despair.

The expense ridiculously bestowed on the Roman feasts passes all belief. Suetonius mentions a supper given to Vitellius by his brother, in which, among other articles, there were two thousand of the choicest fishes, seven thousand of the most delicate birds, and one dish, from its size and capacity, named the aegis or shield of Minerva. It was filled chiefly with the liver of the scari, a delicate species of fish, the brains of pheasants and peacocks, and the tongues of parrots, considered desirable chiefly because of their great cost.

"I hope that there will not be another sale," exclaimed Horace Walpole, "for I have not an inch of room nor a farthing left." A woman once bought an old door-plate with "Thompson" on it because she thought it might come in handy some time. The habit of buying what you don't need because it is cheap encourages extravagance. "Many have been ruined by buying good pennyworths."

"Where there is no prudence," said Dr. Johnson, "there is no virtue."

The eccentric John Randolph once sprang from his seat in the House of Representatives, and exclaimed in his piercing voice, "Mr. Speaker, I have found it." And then, in the stillness which followed this strange outburst, he added, "I have found the Philosopher's Stone: it is Pay as you go."

Many a young man seems to think that when he sees his name on a sign he is on the highway to fortune, and he begins to live on a scale as though there was no possible chance of failure; as though he were already beyond the danger point. Unfortunately Congress can pass no law that will remedy the vice of living beyond one's means.

"The prosperity of fools shall destroy them." "However easy it may be to make money," said Barnum, "it is the most difficult thing in the world to keep it." Money often makes the mare--run away with you.

Very few men know how to use money properly. They can earn it, lavish it, hoard it, waste it, but to deal with it wisely, as a means to an end, is an education difficult of acquirement.

After a large stained-glass window had been constructed an artist picked up the discarded fragments and made one of the most exquisite windows in Europe for another cathedral. So one boy will pick up a splendid education out of the odds and ends of time which others carelessly throw away, or gain a fortune by saving what others waste.

It has become a part of the new political economy to argue that a debt on a church or a house or a firm is a desirable thing to develop character. When the young man starts out in life with the old-fashioned idea strong in his mind that debt is bondage and a disgrace, that a mortgage is to be shunned like the cholera, and that to owe a dollar that you cannot pay, unless overtaken by misfortune, is nothing more or less than stealing, then he is bound in so much at least to succeed, and save his old age from being a burden upon his friends or the state.

To do your best you must own every bit of yourself. If you are in debt, part of you belongs to your creditors. Nothing but actual sin is so paralyzing to a young man's energies as debt.

The "loose change" which many young men throw away carelessly, or worse, would often form the basis of a fortune and independence. The earnings of the people of the United States, rich and poor, old and young, male and female, amount to an average of less than fifty cents a day. But it is by economizing such savings that one must get his start in business. The man without a penny is practically helpless, from a business point of view, except so far as he can immediately utilize his powers of body and mind. Besides, when a man or woman is driven to the wall, the chance of goodness surviving self-respect and the loss of public esteem is frightfully diminished.

"Money goes as it comes." "A child and a fool imagine that twenty years and twenty shillings can never be spent."

Live between extravagance and meanness. Don't save money and starve your mind. "The very secret and essence of thrift consists in getting things into higher values. Spend upward, that is, for the higher faculties. Spend for the mind rather than for the body, for culture rather than for amusement. Some young men are too stingy to buy the daily papers, and are very ignorant and narrow." "There is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty." "Don't squeeze out of your life and comfort and family what you save."

Liberal, not lavish, is Nature's hand. Even God, it is said, cannot afford to be extravagant. When He increased the loaves and fishes, He commanded to gather up the fragments, that nothing be lost.

"Nature uses a grinding economy," says Emerson, "working up all that is wasted to-day into to-morrow's creation; not a superfluous grain of sand for all the ostentation she makes of expense and public works. She flung us out in her plenty, but we cannot shed a hair or a paring of a nail but instantly she snatches at the shred and appropriates it to her general stock." Last summer's flowers and foliage decayed in autumn only to enrich the earth this year for other forms of beauty. Nature will not even wait for our friends to see us, unless we die at home. The moment the breath has left the body she begins to take us to pieces, that the parts may be used again for other creations. Mark the following contrast:--

1772. 1822. Man, to the plow; Man, tally-ho; Wife, to the cow; Wife, piano; Girl, to the sow; Miss, silk and satin; Boy, to the mow; Boy, Greek and Latin; And your rents will be netted. And you'll all be gazetted. Hone's Works. The Times.

More than a lifetime has elapsed since the above was published, but instead of returning to the style of 1772, our farmers have out-Heroded Herod in the direction of the fashion, of 1822, and many a farmhouse, like the home of Artemas [Transcriber's note: Artemus?] Ward, may be known by the cupola and the mortgage with which it is decorated.

It is by the mysterious power of economy, it has been said, that the loaf is multiplied, that using does not waste, that little becomes much, that scattered fragments grow to unity, and that out of nothing or next to nothing comes the miracle of something. It is not merely saving, still less, parsimony. It is foresight and arrangement, insight and combination, causing inert things to labor, useless things to serve our necessities, perishing things to renew their vigor, and all things to exert themselves for human comfort.

English working men and women work very hard, seldom take a holiday, and though they get nearly double the wages of the same classes in France, yet save very little. The millions earned by them slip out of their hands almost as soon as obtained to satisfy the pleasures of the moment. In France every housekeeper is taught the art of making much out of little. "I am simply astonished," writes an American lady stopping in France, "at the number of good wholesome dishes which my friend here makes for her table from things, which at home, I always throw away. Dainty little dishes from scraps of cold meat, from hard crusts of bread, delicately prepared and seasoned, from almost everything and nothing. And yet there is no feeling of stinginess or want."

"I wish I could write all across the sky, in letters of gold," says Rev. William Marsh, "the one word, savings-bank."

Boston savings-banks have $130,000,000 on deposit, mostly saved in driblets. Josiah Quincy used to say that the servant girls built most of the palaces on Beacon Street.

"So apportion your wants that your means may exceed them," says Bulwer. "With one hundred pounds a year I may need no man's help; I may at least have 'my crust of bread and liberty.' But with five thousand pounds a year I may dread a ring at my bell; I may have my tyrannical master in servants whose wages I cannot pay; my exile may be at the fiat of the first long-suffering man who enters a judgment against me; for the flesh that lies nearest my heart some Shylock may be dusting his scales and whetting his knife. Every man is needy who spends more than he has; no man is needy who spends less. I may so ill manage, that with five thousand pounds a year I purchase the worst evils of poverty,--terror and shame; I may so well manage my money, that with one hundred pounds a year I purchase the best blessings of wealth,--safety and respect."

Edmund Burke, speaking on Economic Reform, quoted from Cicero: "Magnum vectigal est parsimonia," accenting the second word on the first syllable. Lord North whispered a correction, when Burke turned the mistake to advantage. "The noble lord hints that I have erred in the quantity of a principal word in my quotation; I rejoice at it, sir, because it gives me an opportunity of repeating the inestimable adage,--'Magnum vectigal est parsimonia.'" The sentiment, meaning "Thrift is a good income," is well worthy of emphatic repetition by us all.

Washington examined the minutest expenditures of his family, even when President of the United States. He understood that without economy none can be rich, and with it none need be poor.

"I make a point of paying my own bills," said Wellington.

John Jacob Astor said that the first thousand dollars cost him more effort than all of his millions. Boys who are careless with their dimes and quarters, just because they have so few, never get this first thousand, and without it no fortune is possible.

To find out uses for the persons or things which are now wasted in life is to be the glorious work of the men of the next generation, and that which will contribute most to their enrichment.

Economizing "in spots" or by freaks is no economy at all. It must be done by management.

Learn early in life to say "I can't afford it." It is an indication of power and courage and manliness. Dr. Franklin said, "It is not our own eyes, but other people's, that ruin us." "Fashion wears out more apparel than the man," says Shakespeare.

"Of what a hideous progeny of ill is debt the father," said Douglas Jerrold. "What meanness, what invasions of self-respect, what cares, what double-dealing! How in due season it will carve the frank, open face into wrinkles; how like a knife it will stab the honest heart. And then its transformations,--how it has been known to change a goodly face into a mask of brass; how with the evil custom of debt has the true man become a callous trickster! A freedom from debt, and what nourishing sweetness may be found in cold water; what toothsomeness in a dry crust; what ambrosial nourishment in a hard egg! Be sure of it, he who dines out of debt, though his meal be a biscuit and an onion, dines in 'The Apollo.' And then, for raiment, what warmth in a threadbare coat, if the tailor's receipt be in your pocket! What Tyrian purple in the faded waistcoat, the vest not owed for; how glossy the well-worn hat, if it covers not the aching head of a debtor! Next, the home sweets, the outdoor recreation of the free man. The street door falls not a knell in his heart, the foot on the staircase, though he lives on the third pair, sends no spasm through his anatomy; at the rap of his door he can crow 'come in,' and his pulse still beats healthfully. See him abroad! How he returns look for look with any passenger. Poverty is a bitter draught, yet may, and sometimes can with advantage, be gulped down. Though the drinker makes wry faces, there may, after all, be a wholesome goodness in the cup. But debt, however courteously it may be offered, is the Cup of Siren; and the wine, spiced and delicious though it be, is poison. My son, if poor, see Hyson in the running spring; see thy mouth water at a last week's roll; think a threadbare coat the only wear; and acknowledge a whitewashed garret the fittest housing-place for a gentleman; do this, and flee debt. So shall thy heart be at rest, and the sheriff confounded."

"Whoever has sixpence is sovereign over all men to the extent of that sixpence," says Carlyle; "commands cooks to feed him, philosophers to teach him, kings to mount guard over him,--to the extent of that sixpence."

If a man owes you a dollar, he is almost sure to owe you a grudge, too. If you owe another money, you will be apt to regard him with uncharitable eyes. Why not economize before getting into debt instead of pinching afterwards?

Communities which live wholly from hand to mouth never make much progress in the useful arts. Savings mean power. Comfort and independence abide with those who can postpone their desires.

"Hunger, rags, cold, hard work, contempt, suspicion, unjust reproach, are disagreeable," says Horace Greeley, "but debt is infinitely worse than them all."

Many a ruined man dates his downfall from the day when he began borrowing money. Debt demoralized Daniel Webster, and Theodore Hook, and Sheridan, and Fox, and Pitt. Mirabeau's life was made wretched by duns.

"Annual income," says Micawber, "twenty pounds; annual expenditure, nineteen six, result--happiness. Annual income, twenty pounds; annual expenditure, twenty pounds ought and six, result--misery."

"We are ruined," says Colton, "not by what we really want, but by what we think we do. Therefore never go abroad in search of your wants; if they be real wants, they will come home in search of you; for he that buys what he does not want will soon want what he cannot buy."

The honorable course is to give every man his due. It is better to starve than not to do this. It is better to do a small business on a cash basis than a large one on credit. Owe no man anything, wrote St. Paul. It is a good motto to place in every purse, in every counting-room, in every church, in every home.

Economy is of itself a great revenue.--CICERO.



Let others plead for pensions; I can be rich without money, by endeavoring to be superior to everything poor. I would have my services to my country unstained by any interested motive.--LORD COLLINGWOOD.

Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey, Where wealth accumulates and men decay. GOLDSMITH.

Pennilessness is not poverty, and ownership is not possession; to be without is not always to lack, and to reach is not to attain; sunlight is for all eyes that look up, and color for those who choose.--HELEN HUNT.

I ought not to allow any man, because he has broad lands, to feel that he is rich in my presence. I ought to make him feel that I can do without his riches, that I cannot be bought,--neither by comfort, neither by pride,--and although I be utterly penniless, and receiving bread from him, that he is the poor man beside me.--EMERSON.

To be content with what we possess is the greatest and most secure of riches.--CICERO.

There is no riches above a sound body and no joy above the joy of the heart.--ECCLESIASTES.

Where, thy true treasure? Gold says, "Not in me;" And "Not in me," the Diamond. Gold is poor; India's insolvent: seek it in thyself. YOUNG.

He is richest who is content with the least, for content is the wealth of nature.--SOCRATES.

A great heart in a little house is of all things here below that which has ever touched me most.--LACORDAIRE.

My crown is in my heart, not on my head, Nor decked with diamonds and Indian stones, Nor to be seen: my crown is called content; A crown it is, that seldom kings enjoy. SHAKESPEAKE.

Many a man is rich without money. Thousands of men with nothing in their pockets, and thousands without even a pocket, are rich.

* * * * * *


"The Sage of Concord."

"I revere the person who is riches: so I cannot think of him as alone, or poor, or exiled, or unhappy."

* * * * * *

A man born with a good, sound constitution, a good stomach, a good heart and good limbs, and a pretty good headpiece, is rich.

Good bones are better than gold, tough muscles than silver, and nerves that carry energy to every function are better than houses and land.

"Heart-life, soul-life, hope, joy, and love, are true riches," said Beecher.

Why should I scramble and struggle to get possession of a little portion of this earth? This is my world now; why should I envy others its mere legal possession? It belongs to him who can see it, enjoy it. I need not envy the so-called owners of estates in Boston and New York. They are merely taking care of my property and keeping it in excellent condition for me. For a few pennies for railroad fare whenever I wish I can see and possess the best of it all. It has cost me no effort, it gives me no care; yet the green grass, the shrubbery, and the statues on the lawns, the finer sculptures and the paintings within, are always ready for me whenever I feel a desire to look upon them. I do not wish to carry them home with me, for I could not give them half the care they now receive; besides, it would take too much of my valuable time, and I should be worrying continually lest they be spoiled or stolen. I have much of the wealth of the world now. It is all prepared for me without any pains on my part. All around me are working hard to get things that will please me, and competing to see who can give them the cheapest. The little I pay for the use of libraries, railroads, galleries, parks, is less than it would cost to care for the least of all I use. Life and landscape are mine, the stars and flowers, the sea and air, the birds and trees. What more do I want? All the ages have been working for me; all mankind are my servants. I am only required to feed and clothe myself, an easy task in this land of opportunity.

A millionaire pays thousands of pounds for a gallery of paintings, and some poor boy or girl comes in, with open mind and poetic fancy, and carries away a treasure of beauty which the owner never saw. A collector bought at public auction in London, for one hundred and fifty-seven guineas, an autograph of Shakespeare; but for nothing a schoolboy can read and absorb the riches of "Hamlet."

Why should I waste my abilities pursuing this will-o'-the-wisp "Enough," which is ever a little more than one has, and which none of the panting millions ever yet overtook in his mad chase? Is there no desirable thing left in this world but gold, luxury, and ease?

"Want is a growing giant whom the coat of Have was never large enough to cover." "A man may as soon fill a chest with grace, or a vessel with virtue," says Phillips Brooks, "as a heart with wealth."

Shall we seek happiness through the sense of taste or of touch? Shall we idolize our stomachs and our backs? Have we no higher missions, no nobler destinies? Shall we "disgrace the fair day by a pusillanimous preference of our bread to our freedom"?

In the three great "Banquets" of Plato, Xenophon, and Plutarch the food is not even mentioned.

What does your money say to you: what message does it bring to you? Does it say to you, "Eat, drink, and be merry, for to-morrow we die"? Does it bring a message of comfort, of education, of culture, of travel, of books, of an opportunity to help your fellow-man, or is the message "More land, more thousands and millions"? What message does it bring you? Clothes for the naked, bread for the starving, schools for the ignorant, hospitals for the sick, asylums for the orphans, or of more for yourself and none for others? Is it a message of generosity or of meanness, breadth or narrowness? Does it speak to you of character? Does it mean a broader manhood, a larger aim, a nobler ambition, or does it cry "More, more, more"?

Are you an animal loaded with ingots, or a man filled with a purpose? He is rich whose mind is rich, whose thought enriches the intellect of the world. It is a sad sight to see a soul which thirsts not for truth or beauty or the good.

A sailor on a sinking vessel in the Caribbean Sea eagerly filled his pockets with Spanish dollars from a barrel on board while his companions, about to leave in the only boat, begged him to seek safety with them. But he could not leave the bright metal which he had so longed for and idolized, and was prevented from reaching shore by his very riches, when the vessel went down.

"Who is the richest of men," asked Socrates? "He who is content with the least, for contentment is nature's riches."

In More's "Utopia" gold was despised. Criminals were forced to wear heavy chains of it, and to have rings of it in their ears; it was put to the vilest uses to keep up the scorn of it. Bad characters were compelled to wear gold head-bands. Diamonds and pearls were used to decorate infants, so that the youth would discard and despise them.

"Ah, if the rich were as rich as the poor fancy riches!" exclaims Emerson.

Many a rich man has died in the poorhouse.

In excavating Pompeii a skeleton was found with the fingers clenched round a quantity of gold. A man of business in the town of Hull, England, when dying, pulled a bag of money from under his pillow, which he held between his clenched fingers with a grasp so firm as scarcely to relax under the agonies of death.

Oh! blind and wanting wit to choose, Who house the chaff and burn the grain; Who hug the wealth ye cannot use, And lack the riches all may gain. WILLIAM WATSON.

Poverty is the want of much, avarice the want of everything.

A poor man was met by a stranger while scoffing at the wealthy for not enjoying themselves. The stranger gave him a purse, in which he was always to find a ducat. As fast as he took one out another was to drop in, but he was not to begin to spend his fortune until he had thrown away the purse. He takes ducat after ducat out, but continually procrastinates and puts off the hour of enjoyment until he has got "a little more," and dies at last counting his millions.

A beggar was once met by Fortune, who promised to fill his wallet with gold, as much as he might please, on condition that whatever touched the ground should turn at once to dust. The beggar opens his wallet, asks for more and yet more, until the bag bursts. The gold falls to the ground, and all is lost.

When the steamer Central America was about to sink, the stewardess, having collected all the gold she could from the staterooms, and tied it in her apron, jumped for the last boat leaving the steamer. She missed her aim and fell into the water, the gold carrying her down head first.

In the year 1843 a rich miser lived in Padua, who was so mean and sordid that he would never give a cent to any person or object, and he was so afraid of the banks that he would not deposit with them, but would sit up nights with sword and pistol by him to guard his idol hoard. When his health gave way from anxiety and watching he built an underground treasure-chamber, so arranged that if any burglar ever entered, he would step upon a spring which would precipitate him into a subterranean river, where he could neither escape nor be heard. One night the miser went to his chest to see that all was right, when his foot touched the spring of the trap, and he was hurled into the deep, hidden stream.

"One would think," said Boswell, "that the proprietor of all this (Keddlestone, the seat of Lord Scarsfield) must be happy." "Nay, sir," said Johnson, "all this excludes but one evil, poverty."

John Duncan, the illegitimate child of a Scottish weaver, was ignorant, near-sighted, bent, a miserable apology for a human being, and at last a pauper. If he went upon the street he would sometimes be stoned by other boys. The farmer, for whom he watched cattle, was cruel to him, and after a rainy day would send him cold and wet to sleep on a miserable bed in a dark outhouse. Here he would empty the water from his shoes, and wring out his wet clothes and sleep as best he might. But the boy had a desire to learn to read, and when, a little later, he was put to weaving, he persuaded a schoolgirl, twelve years old, to teach him. He was sixteen when he learned the alphabet, after which his progress was quite rapid. He was very fond of plants, and worked overtime for several months to earn five shillings to buy a book on botany. He became a good botanist, and such was his interest in the study that at the age of eighty he walked twelve miles to obtain a new specimen. A man whom he met became interested at finding such a well-stored mind in such a miserable body, poorly clad, and published an account of his career. Many readers sent him money, but he saved it, and left it in his will to found eight scholarships and offer prizes for the encouragement of the study of natural science by the poor. His small but valuable library was left for a similar use.

Franklin said money never made a man happy yet; there is nothing in its nature to produce happiness. The more a man has, the more he wants. Instead of filling a vacuum, it makes one. A great bank account can never make a man rich. It is the mind that makes the body rich. No man is rich, however much money or land he may possess, who has a poor heart. If that is poor, he is poor indeed, though he own and rule kingdoms. He is rich or poor according to what he is, not according to what he has.

Who would not choose to be a millionaire of deeds with a Lincoln, a Grant, a Florence Nightingale, a Childs; a millionaire of ideas with Emerson, with Lowell, with Shakespeare, with Wordsworth; a millionaire of statesmanship with a Gladstone, a Bright, a Sumner, a Washington?

Some men are rich in health, in constant cheerfulness, in a mercurial temperament which floats them over troubles and trials enough to sink a shipload of ordinary men. Others are rich in disposition, family, and friends. There are some men so amiable that everybody loves them; some so cheerful that they carry an atmosphere of jollity about them. Some are rich in integrity and character.

One of the first great lessons of life is to learn the true estimate of values. As the youth starts out in his career, all sorts of wares will be imposed upon him, and all kinds of temptations will be used to induce him to buy. His success will depend very largely upon his ability to estimate properly, not the apparent but the real value of everything presented to him. Vulgar Wealth will flaunt her banner before his eyes, and claim supremacy over everything else. A thousand different schemes will be thrust into his face with their claims for superiority. Every occupation and vocation will present its charms in turn, and offer its inducements. The youth who would succeed must not allow himself to be deceived by appearances, but must place the emphasis of life where it belongs.

No man, it is said, can read the works of John Ruskin without learning that his sources of pleasure are well-nigh infinite. There is not a flower, nor a cloud, nor a tree, nor a mountain, nor a star; not a bird that fans the air, nor a creature that walks the earth; not a glimpse of sea or sky or meadow-greenery; not a work of worthy art in the domains of painting, sculpture, poetry, and architecture; not a thought of God as the Great Spirit presiding over and informing all things, that is not to him a source of the sweetest pleasure. The whole world of matter and of spirit and the long record of human art are open to him as the never-failing fountains of his delight. In these pure realms he seeks his daily food and has his daily life.

There is now and then a man who sees beauty and true riches everywhere, and "worships the splendor of God which he sees bursting through each chink and cranny."

Phillips Brooks, Thoreau, Garrison, Emerson, Beecher, Agassiz, were rich without money. They saw the splendor in the flower, the glory in the grass, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything. They knew that the man who owns the landscape is seldom the one who pays the taxes on it. They sucked in power and wealth at first hands from the meadows, fields, and flowers, birds, brooks, mountains, and forest, as the bee sucks honey from the flowers. Every natural object seemed to bring them a special message from the great Author of the beautiful. To these rare souls every natural object was touched with power and beauty; and their thirsty souls drank it in as a traveler on a desert drinks in the god-sent water of the oasis. To extract power and real wealth from men and things seemed to be their mission, and to pour it out again in refreshing showers upon a thirsty humanity. They believed that man's most important food does not enter by the mouth. They knew that man could not live by estates, dollars, and bread alone, and that if he could he would only be an animal. They believed that the higher life demands a higher food. They believed in man's unlimited power of expansion, and that this growth demands a more highly organized food product than that which merely sustains animal life. They saw a finer nutriment in the landscape, in the meadows, than could be ground into flour, and which escaped the loaf. They felt a sentiment in natural objects which pointed upward, ever upward to the Author, and which was capable of feeding and expanding the higher life until it should grow into a finer sympathy and fellowship with the Author of the beautiful. They believed that the Creation thunders the ten commandments, and that all Nature is tugging at the terms of every contract to make it just. They could feel this finer sentiment, this soul lifter, this man inspirer, in the growing grain, in the waving corn, in the golden harvest. They saw it reflected in every brook, in every star, in every flower, in every dewdrop. They believed that Nature together with human nature were man's great schoolmasters, that if rightly used they would carve his rough life into beauty and touch his rude manner with grace.

"More servants wait on man than he'll take notice of." But if he would enjoy Nature he must come to it from a higher level than the yardstick. He must bring a spirit as grand and sublime as that by which the thing itself exists.

We all live on far lower levels than we need to do. We linger in the misty and oppressive valleys, when we might be climbing the sunlit hills. God puts into our hands the Book of Life, bright on every page with open secrets, and we suffer it to drop out of our hands unread. Emerson says, "We have come into a world which is a living poem. Everything is as I am." Nature provides for us a perpetual festival; she is bright to the bright, comforting to those who will accept comfort. We cannot conceive how a universe could possibly be created which could devise more efficient methods or greater opportunities for the delight, the happiness, and the real wealth of human beings than the one we live in.

The human body is packed full of marvelous devices, of wonderful contrivances, of infinite possibilities for the happiness and riches of the individual. No physiologist nor scientist has ever yet been able to point out a single improvement, even in the minutest detail, in the structure of the human body. No inventor has ever yet been able to suggest an improvement in this human mechanism. No chemist has ever been able to suggest a superior combination in any one of the elements which make up the human structure. One of the first things to do in life is to learn the natural wealth of our surroundings, instead of bemoaning our lot, for, no matter where we are placed, there is infinitely more about us than we can ever understand, than we can ever exhaust the meaning of.

"Thank Heaven there are still some Matthew Arnolds who prefer the heavenly sweetness of light to the Eden of riches." Arnold left only a few thousand dollars, but yet was he not one of the richest of men? What the world wants is young men who will amass golden thoughts, golden wisdom, golden deeds, not mere golden dollars; young men who prefer to have thought-capital, character-capital, to cash-capital. He who estimates his money the highest values himself the least. "I revere the person," says Emerson, "who is riches; so that I cannot think of him as alone, or poor, or exiled, or unhappy."

Raphael was rich without money. All doors opened to him, and he was more than welcome everywhere. His sweet spirit radiated sunshine wherever he went.

Henry Wilson was rich without money. So scrupulous had he been not to make his exalted position a means of worldly gain, that when this Natick cobbler, the sworn friend of the oppressed, whose one question as to measures or acts was ever "Is it right; will it do good?" came to be inaugurated as Vice-President of the country, he was obliged to borrow of his fellow-senator, Charles Sumner, one hundred dollars to meet the necessary expenses of the occasion.

Mozart, the great composer of the "Requiem," left barely enough money to bury him, but he has made the world richer.

A rich mind and noble spirit will cast a radiance of beauty over the humblest home, which the upholsterer and decorator can never approach. Who would not prefer to be a millionaire of character, of contentment, rather than possess nothing but the vulgar coins of a Croesus? Whoever uplifts civilization is rich though he die penniless, and future generations will erect his monument.

Are we tender, loving, self-denying, and honest, trying to fashion our frail life after that of the model man of Nazareth? Then, though our pockets are often empty, we have an inheritance which is as overwhelmingly precious as it is eternally incorruptible.

An Asiatic traveler tells us that one day he found the bodies of two men laid upon the desert sand beside the carcass of a camel. They had evidently died from thirst, and yet around the waist of each was a large store of jewels of different kinds, which they had doubtless been crossing the desert to sell in the markets of Persia.

The man who has no money is poor, but one who has nothing but money is poorer than he. He only is rich who can enjoy without owning; he who is covetous is poor though he have millions. There are riches of intellect, and no man with an intellectual taste can be called poor. He who has so little knowledge of human nature as to seek happiness by changing anything but his own disposition will waste his life in fruitless efforts, and multiply the griefs which he purposes to remove. He is rich as well as brave who can face poverty and misfortune with cheerfulness and courage.

We can so educate the will power that it will focus the thoughts upon the bright side of things, and upon objects which elevate the soul, thus forming a habit of happiness and goodness which will make us rich. The habit of making the best of everything and of always looking on the bright side of everything is a fortune in itself.

He is rich who values a good name above gold. Among the ancient Greeks and Romans honor was more sought after than wealth. Rome was imperial Rome no more when the imperial purple became an article of traffic.

This is the evil of trade, as well as of partisan politics. As Emerson remarks, it would put everything into market,--talent, beauty, virtue, and man himself.

Diogenes was captured by pirates and sold as a slave. His purchaser released him, and gave him charge of his household and of the education of his children. He despised wealth and affectation, and lived in a tub. "Do you want anything?" asked Alexander the Great, forcibly impressed by the abounding cheerfulness of the philosopher under such circumstances. "Yes," replied Diogenes, "I want you to stand out of my sunshine and not to take from me what you cannot give me." "Were I not Alexander," exclaimed the great conqueror, "I would be Diogenes."

Brave and honest men do not work for gold. They work for love, for honor, for character. When Socrates suffered death rather than abandon his views of right morality, when Las Casas endeavored to mitigate the tortures of the poor Indians, they had no thought of money or country. They worked for the elevation of all that thought, and for the relief of all that suffered.

"I don't want such things," said Epictetus to the rich Roman orator who was making light of his contempt for money-wealth; "and besides," said the stoic, "you are poorer than I am, after all. You have silver vessels, but earthenware reasons, principles, appetites. My mind to me a kingdom is, and it furnishes me with abundant and happy occupation in lieu of your restless idleness. All your possessions seem small to you; mine seem great to me. Your desire is insatiate, mine is satisfied."

"Do you know, sir," said a devotee of Mammon to John Bright, "that I am worth a million sterling?" "Yes," said the irritated but calm-spirited respondent, "I do; and I know that it is all you are worth."

A bankrupt merchant, returning home one night, said to his noble wife, "My dear, I am ruined; everything we have is in the hands of the sheriff." After a few moments of silence the wife looked into his face and asked, "Will the sheriff sell you?" "Oh, no." "Will the sheriff sell me?" "Oh, no." "Then do not say we have lost everything. All that is most valuable remains to us,--manhood, womanhood, childhood. We have lost but the results of our skill and industry. We can make another fortune if our hearts and hands are left us."

What power can poverty have over a home where loving hearts are beating with a consciousness of untold riches of head and heart?

Paul was never so great as when he occupied a prison cell; and Jesus Christ reached the height of his success when, smitten, spat upon, tormented, and crucified, He cried in agony, and yet with triumphant satisfaction, "It is finished."

"Character before wealth," was the motto of Amos Lawrence, who had inscribed on his pocket-book, "What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?"

If you make a fortune let every dollar of it be clean. You do not want to see in it drunkards reel, orphans weep, widows moan. Your riches must not make others poorer and more wretched.

Alexander the Great wandered to the gates of Paradise, and knocked for entrance. "Who knocks?" demanded the guardian angel. "Alexander." "Who is Alexander?" "Alexander,--the Alexander,--Alexander the Great,--the conqueror of the world." "We know him not," replied the angel; "this is the Lord's gate; only the righteous enter here."

Don't start out in life with a false standard; a truly great man makes official position and money and houses and estates look so tawdry, so mean and poor, that we feel like sinking out of sight with our cheap laurels and gold. Millions look trifling beside character.

A friend of Professor Agassiz, an eminent practical man, once expressed his wonder that a man of such abilities should remain contented with such a moderate income as he received. "I have enough," was Agassiz's reply. "I have no time to waste in making money. Life is not sufficiently long to enable a man to get rich and do his duty to his fellow-men at the same time."

How were the thousands of business men who lost every dollar they had in the Chicago fire enabled to go into business at once, some into wholesale business, without money? Their record was their bank account. The commercial agencies said they were square men; that they had always paid one hundred cents on a dollar; that they had paid promptly, and that they were industrious and dealt honorably with all men. This record was as good as a bank account. They drew on their character. Character was the coin which enabled penniless men to buy thousands of dollars' worth of goods. Their integrity did not burn up with their stores. The best part of them was beyond the reach of fire and could not be burned.

What are the toil-sweated productions of wealth piled up in vast profusion around a Girard, or a Rothschild, when weighed against the stores of wisdom, the treasures of knowledge, and the strength, beauty, and glory with which victorious virtue has enriched and adorned a great multitude of minds during the march of a hundred generations?

"Lord, how many things are in the world of which Diogenes hath no need!" exclaimed the stoic, as he wandered among the miscellaneous articles at a country fair.

"There are treasures laid up in the heart--treasures of charity, piety, temperance, and soberness. These treasures a man takes with him beyond death when he leaves this world." (Buddhist Scriptures.)

Is it any wonder that our children start out with wrong ideals of life, with wrong ideas of what constitutes success? The child is "urged to get on," to "rise in the world," to "make money." The youth is constantly told that nothing succeeds like success. False standards are everywhere set up for him, and then the boy is blamed if he makes a failure.

It is all very well to urge youth on to success, but the great mass of mankind can never reach or even approximate the goal constantly preached to them, nor can we all be rich. One of the great lessons to teach in this century of sharp competition and the survival of the fittest is how to be rich without money, and to learn how to do without success, according to the popular standard.

Gold cannot make the miser rich, nor can the want of it make the beggar poor.

In the poem, "The Changed Cross," a weary woman is represented as dreaming that she was led to a place where many crosses lay, crosses of divers shapes and sizes. The most beautiful one was set in jewels of gold. It was so tiny and exquisite that she changed her own plain cross for it, thinking she was fortunate in finding one so much lighter and lovelier. But soon her back began to ache under the glittering burden, and she changed it for another cross very beautiful and entwined with flowers. But she soon found that underneath the flowers were piercing thorns which tore her flesh. At last she came to a very plain cross without jewels, without carving, and with only the word, "Love," inscribed upon it. She took this one up and it proved the easiest and best of all. She was amazed, however, to find that it was her old cross which she had discarded. It is easy to see the jewels and the flowers in other people's crosses, but the thorns and heavy weight are known only to the bearers. How easy other people's burdens seem to us compared with our own. We do not appreciate the secret burdens which almost crush the heart, nor the years of weary waiting for delayed success--the aching hearts longing for sympathy, the hidden poverty, the suppressed emotion in other lives.

William Pitt, the great Commoner, considered money as dirt beneath his feet compared with the public interest and public esteem. His hands were clean.

The object for which we strive tells the story of our lives. Men and women should be judged by the happiness they create in those around them. Noble deeds always enrich, but millions of mere money may impoverish. Character is perpetual wealth, and by the side of him who possesses it the millionaire who has it not seems a pauper. Compared with it, what are houses and lands, stocks and bonds? "It is better that great souls should live in small habitations than that abject slaves should burrow in great houses." Plain living, rich thought, and grand effort are real riches.

Invest in yourself, and you will never be poor. Floods cannot carry your wealth away, fire cannot burn it, rust cannot consume it.

"If a man empties his purse into his head," says Franklin, "no man can take it from him. An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest."

"There is a cunning juggle in riches. I observe," says Emerson, "that they take somewhat for everything they give. I look bigger, but I am less, I have more clothes, but am not so warm; more armor, but less courage; more books, but less wit."

Howe'er it be, it seems to me, 'T is only noble to be good. Kind hearts are more than coronets, And simple faith than Norman blood. TENNYSON.

Download 0.88 Mb.

Share with your friends:
1   ...   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14

The database is protected by copyright © 2020
send message

    Main page