Sidor som bilder

these trifles, that girls should be supplied with an independent stock of all the little things that are in daily use, housewifes, et cætera. It is but just to provide our pupils with convenient places for the preservation and arrangement of their little goods. Order is necessary to economy; and we cannot more certainly create a taste for order, than by shewing early its advantages, in practice, as well as theory. The aversion to old things, should, if possible, be prevented in children.

We should not express contempt for old things, but should treat them with increased reverence, and exult in their having arrived under our protection at such a creditable age. Money should be represented as what it really is, the conventional sign of the value of commodities.” More that is equally excellent, on the subject of economy, follows these wholesome precepts; but I refer my readers to the treatise itself.

I have hinted at the possibility of economy degenerating into meanness. Of this, it must be allowed, there is, in certain cases, much danger. It frequently happens that persons, who, in early life, or indeed during the larger portion of life, are compelled to exercise a strict economy, either by means of that economy, or owing to other fortuitous circumstances, gradually get the better of their pecuniary difficulties, and in the end become rich. Habit, we know, is second nature. With such persons, the long continued habit of looking narrowly after trifles will remain, after the necessity

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

for so doing has ceased; and what, under different circumstances, was a virtue, becomes, if not a vice, a lamentable failing. This is the most common, and, if I may so express myself, the most natural cause of avarice, and one against which it is highly requisite to be vigilant. The infirmity comes upon one so insidiously, so insensibly; it attaire its climax ere one is aware of its existence.


When we contemplate the besetting snares of social life at the present day, luxury and ostentation, there seems more danger of youth rushing headlong into extravagance, than lapsing into the opposite vice of parsimony. The old race of misers, the sordid pelf-scrapers, who were wont to hide themselves in nooks and corners, with closed hands and hearts, starving amid heaps of gold, more abject, more poverty-stricken than the beggars driven from their threshold; these anatomies, morally as well as physically, of the human species, are, we presume, all but extinct. But the spirit of avarice, unhappily, is not quenched, or departing along with them. It is quite compatible with luxury; and the allegory which represents Avarice and Extravagance as twin brothers, is strictly consistent, both being equally the offspring of selfishness, equally callous in their nature, equally opposed to the spirit of Christianity.

The miser is a madman; as much under mental delusion as any hapless wretch shut up in Bedlam, for fancying himself a king. The self-denial, the privations, the humiliations to which he voluntarily submits, if practised in a holy cause, would render him worthy of canonization ; but the principle whence they proceed, is the most unholy, the most corrupt, the most debasing, that can mingle in the elements of human nature.

Over the door of the miser's home might be inscribed the motto which Dante has placed over the Gate of Hell, for there, assuredly, Hope enters not. Wherever he takes up his abode, he makes a desert all around him, sitting, like the fiend of desolation, amid blighted affections, whose beauty and whose sweetness he has never known. It was a saying of Lord Bacon, that money, like manure, was of no use until spread. One might carry the simile farther, and say, that like manure that has lain long heaped up, it makes barren the spot where it is hoarded.

Yet is the miser, that sordid, abject being, a candidate for posthumous fame; he, too, is under the influence of that species of pride which would, if possible, extend the idea of self through countless ages; and as it is through the wealth scraped together, and hoarded with so much vigilance, that he expects to do this, his self-imposed privations are perfectly consistent with his self-love, however inconsistent his conduct may appear to superficial observers.

It is this craving for notoriety, combined with

[blocks in formation]

the desire of exercising the only species of power such minds can comprehend, that give rise to the eccentric and often unjust wills made by misers. Incapable, through their moral infirmity, of launching out in any way remarkable during life, they indulge the vanity of their hearts by making such a testamentary disposition of their property as shall, so they think, astonish the world when they are gone. These eccentric wills, seemingly dictated by caprice, are, in fact, consistent though ill-directed efforts to prolong an ideal existence after death, and are in perfect accord with the character of those who devise them. Sometimes, however, the self-love of the miser takes an opposite direction; and instead of making any testamentary disposition of the wealth with which his ideas of self have been exclusively associated, he shrinks from a task which appears to him like self-annihilation, and so dies without bequeathing his possessions to any one.

The miser is a bonded slave to the hardest of task-masters — insatiable covetousness. In the language of Scripture, “All his days he eateth in darkness, and hath much sorrow.” “There is," saith the Preacher, “a sore evil which I have seen under the sun, namely riches, kept for the owners thereof for their hurt. And what profit hath he that hath laboured for the wind ? There is an evil, and it is common among men: a man to whom God hath given riches, yet God giveth him not power to eat thereof; but a stranger eateth it: this is vanity, and it is an evil disease.”

EXTRAVAGANCE. Though the progress made by luxury and a love of display may have done something towards the extinction of the old race of money-hoarders, I apprehend that the multiplied wants and necessities both have created, tend in an equal degree with the love of hoarding to make mankind rapacious, hard-hearted one towards another, unjust in their dealings, and greedy of gain. The man who squanders with prodigality will often descend to the same mean, unworthy acts, swayed by the same mercenary motives, that influence the man who hoards. Like the miser, he will beset the deathbed of his rich relations, ready to grasp their money-bags the moment the breath is out of the body. Nay, so nearly akin, as I before observed, are the vices of avarice and extravagance, that there have been instances, where circumstances admitted of the change, of spendthrifts turned misers; nor can it be matter of astonishment, seeing that selfishness is the ruling principle, that the results should be similar.

To impress upon youth, even at that early period of life when the intellect is first able to comprehend the use of money, the justice as well as wisdom of regulating our desires by our means, will be the best method we can take to ground

« FöregåendeFortsätt »