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Scotch Stories and Lectures, Humorous and Amusing
Lecture — Money


It is a fact pretty generally known that men famous for their laughter-raising powers frequently cherish a longing desire to become distinguished exponents of the tragic muse. Were the crack comedian of the dramatic company, who has dug Ophelia’s grave time out of mind, permitted to choose his own part in Shakespeare’s greatest drama, he would, I believe, at once don the sable plume, and step forth as “Hamlet the Dane;” creating, no doubt, as much laughter by his delineation of the “ Philosophic Prince” as when he flourished

“A pick-axe and a spade, a spade.”

This yearning after honours and pleasures which nature has denied us is no doubt implanted in the human heart for some wise purpose, and may occasionally result in transforming a famous fool into a profound philosopher; for to be a famous clown much philosophy is required. It is, therefore, but uatural that the wise fool should often long to drop his grotesque mask, to rank amongst men of acknowledged wisdom. I am led into this train of thought in glancing at the grave and somewhat hard subject on which I have chosen to address you this evening. Why have I chosen such a subject? I, who have spent so many of my few leisure hours in wooing the muse, in cudgelling my brains to turn up to me the droll corners of Nature’s book, that I might reap the laurels given by

“Laughter, holding both his sides.”

Why have I chosen to speak of “money?” Perhaps 1 have been inspired by the same feeling as would have prompted the inimitable Weeks to have made his bow as Borneo. I say, perhaps it is some such thought that has guided me in the selection of my subject The guiding thought which was apparent to myself when I chose to speak of money was this: I thought that on such a subject I might be able to string together a few of my jottings on life’s journey, that might be of some little service to an audience chiefly composed of those who must stand or fall on fortune’s field unaided, save by self-help. I have known not a little of the humble working-classes, who have very little money. I have seen a good deal of the more comfortable middle-classes, many of whom have acquired a competence; and I have now and then been brought into contact with the very rich; and remember a few trifles concerning all three classes, which I know is of service to myself; and shall now, as well as I can, present you with the cream of these remembrances. And if I succeed in dropping a few seeds into any mind present, which will germinate and sprout, and bring forth ultimately happiness, I shall account myself well repaid for my labour.

I spoke of my subject as a hard one. Well, a little skill may soften it. What does any man see in extreme poverty? He sees very soon neglect, and even insult; he sees weary days and still more weary nights; he sees the beings of his love compelled to hopeless drudgery, perhaps tempted to crime, and so the heirs of all its sorrows. What is seen in the possession of even a little well-earned money? Genuine home comfort, the sweets of friendship, the respect of our fellow-men, an honourable position in society, ever-brightening prospects, the ability to do good, high hopes for our children, and an independent old age. Poets have often grumbled at this contrast between the position of the very poor and that of the well-to-do. This grumbling, however consolatory to the poet’s feelings, is somewhat absurd; for, in such matters, “whatever is, is (very often) right." A retrospective glance at the history of a great many very poor men brings to our knowledge talents unemployed, opportunities neglected, sometimes principles of rectitude forgotten, unfair advantages sought after, and gross passions indulged; while the review of the life of a man well-to-do generally discloses self-denial, economy, scrupulous honesty, wise forethought, patient industry, and heroic perseverance. Wherefore, then, should the poet complain that the husbandman reaps according to the quality of the seed he has sown? Some of my hearers may be inclined to think that there is more in luck than these remarks of mine would seem to indicate. To this thought, which may exist in the minds of some, I have to reply, that all my experience in life has gone directly to prove that every man in a great measure holds his fortune in his own hands, and is poor or comfortable just in proportion as he deserves to be. I believe that all men, by putting forth a fair amount of exertion, may acquire as much as any man needs. I do not say that all may become rich, but every man may have enough, and

“He that has just enough can soundly sleep.
The overcome only fashes folk to keep.”

My early remembrances of monetary matters are a portion of my experiences of the workshop; and I shall give you these recollections as nearly as I can in the order in which they occurred. The first note on the subject of money that still dwells in my mind is that the frugal saving of a little money soon commands the respect of one’s shopmates, whilst its lavish expenditure, and the consequences thereof, soon take a man down in the workshop. This became impressed on my mind very strongly by the following circumstances, which occurred under my observation when I was about twelve years of age. I was then message-boy in a tailoring establishment, spending a few hours each day upon the board amongst the men. Tailors are not proverbial for their saving habits : certainly my early shopmates had few dreams of ever becoming rich. “ If they did not earn their money easily, they got easily clear of it,” was a favourite saying amongst them. As a whole, my shopmates were decent fellows, with nothing very remarkable aljout them. There was one man amongst them who was blamed with being a hoarder; and, to balance this, there was another who was notorious as a spendthrift. The board was frequently the scene of much humorous “chaffing,” or “ragging,” as it was more generally called. A quiet question would be asked by the fast man as to how much his parsimonious shopmate had in the savings’ bank, which commonly drew forth remarks to the effect that Donald was “better up” than to trust his money in any bank. Banks might fail, and so Donald’s treasure was far safer in the corner of his “kist,” in good-looking half-crowns. There were queer hints thrown out as to Donald spending his Sunday mornings in building bridges in the corner of the said “kist” with the said good-looking half-crowns. Donald would sometimes retort, that he would rather have a very few half-crowns in his “kist” than a great many pawn tickets. This being recognized as a hit at the fast man, some one, hitherto silent, would take up his defence by asserting that Donald’s insinuation was quite unfounded, as it was many a day since a certain party had anything to pawn. Such “bars” were usually followed by a fair proportion of “hear, hear’s,” laughter, &c. One day, after more than an ordinary set-to about Donald’s savings, on Donald leaving the board on some trifling errand, one man, usually very hearty in his “sets” about Donald’s riches, said—“You must drop this nonsense, chaps; Donald is the only man amongst us.” There was dead silence as he added—“God only knows what I would have done when my lassie died if it hadna been Donald: he came ower to my house that very night, and slipped me quietly a couple o’ pounds, like a right good Samaritan as he is,”

When Donald returned to his seat he was quite unconscious of the cause of the silent respect with which all treated him. When Donald’s bridges of half-crowns were alluded to after this, there were, of course, jokes as usual; but often the jokers expressed an earnest wish that they had the standing piers of a few such bridges erected. Donald soon became the most respected man in the shop: the “fast man” fell in esteem just as quickly as Donald rose. Every now and then some fact came out concerning him that indicated thorough shabbiness at bottom. One Monday morning the removal of his very few tools told he had taken his leave—gone no one knew whither. On Tuesday a decent old woman called to make inquiry about him : she was his landlady. When she fully understood that he had “ bolted,” her eyes filled with tears; and she was quietly turning away when Donald asked how much the defaulter was owing her. The answer was—“ Just a fortnight’s meat and lodging: ” she added—“ I’ll get ower’fc, and he’ll no be much the richer.” Donald asked the woman to stop a little. He proposed a subscription. Each man was ready with his name for a shilling, and Donald was at once ready with the funds. No one knew, but Donald got credit for making his subscription five shillings. And so the landlady departed, saying, what I know is true—“ They’re a good-hearted set, the tailors.” What was the after-fate of the fast man I do not know. Donald, I know, left that shop thoroughly respected both by master and men, in possession of fully fifty pounds of his honest savings, and is now in a comfortable position, doing a good business on his own account. This fast young man I have spoken of, by his foolish and reckless expenditure of his hard-won earnings, led himself directly into meanness, and even dishonesty, and so, no doubt, embittered all his after-life; while Donald’s wise course of conduct laid the foundation of a prosperous and happy life. I have no hesitation in asserting that the great mass of well-employed unencumbered young men may, by the exercise of a moderate amount of exertion, save as much as Donald saved, and so secure a comfortable position for life.

About this same time I became acquainted with the son of an humble neighbour, whose quietly heroic conduct called forth even then my admiration. This youth was the son of a labouring man: a right sturdy, selfish old fellow, that labourer was. His son wished to learn a trade : he wished to be an engineer; but his father decidedly refused to keep him for the wages given to the apprentices of that trade. The old man in his youth had been a farm servant, and this he decided should be the work of his son. The young man uncomplainingly took a fee, but still cherished his desire to improve his position. He wrought on at the country work for about five years, at the end of which period he had saved a sufficient sum to eke out his apprentice wage to the self-sustaining point. He engaged himself to a first-class engineering firm, and spent his evenings,—not in singing saloons and “free-and-easies,”—no; but in the drawing and other schools. That young man was, shortly after the expiry of his apprenticeship, first engineer in one of the large steamships that sail between Liverpool and New York. Is not such a man a hero?—ay, and a general tool Driven by a stern fate into the most obscure position, by patient perseverance and the judicious management of his humble earnings, he soon found for himself a place in the first rank of workmen. Had that young man not known the true value of money, he would have been a poor drudge; whereas he is now in a position where he can easily secure all comforts, and make ample provision for the still distant decline of life.

The next monetary note recorded in my memory presents a very complete life drama. I had left the clothing department, and was engaged in a cabinet shop. The business was not a large one, and so the few hands employed were very intimately acquainted. Next door to our shop there was a public-house: that house had rather a peculiar sign for such an establishment: the sign was a full-length portrait of a negro man holding aloft in triumph his broken fetters, the word “freedom” being written under. Well, in this “freedom” our shop had credit; and for a considerable time such scores were run up for drink as made quite a hole in the pays on Saturday. One Monday morning after a rather heavy week’s score, as we were seated round the stove in the breakfast hour, one of our number said, “This drinking is confounded nonsense; for my part, I mean to give it up.” He was as good as his word, and henceforth this young man saved that portion of his earnings that was wont to find its way into “freedom’s” till. In a very short time, with a very small capital, this shopmate of mine was in business on his own account, and was thoroughly successful : he proved a blessing to the family circle of which he was a member. Some two years ago I met him,

“The night before the wedding.”

He was not indulging in gloomy reminiscences over “a slowly dying pint of port;” no, he felt himself quite young and fresh at more than “thirty-four.” He had no fears of muttering dark memories in his bride’s ear. His bosom was warmed by a wholesome manly love. In assuming the duties of the husband he right gracefully took leave of his father and mother by settling on them for life the sum of sixty pounds a-year. That was a handsome thing for a commonplace unpoetical man to do the night before his wedding.

These incidents of real life that I have given you, all convey one lesson—namely, that by a little prudent exertion, men while young and unencumbered may easily save a little money, and that money, saved at such an early period of life, is very valuable in laying the foundation of future comfort. You are all familiar with the insurance tables which exhibit the small sum with which a young man can insure his life for a respectable amount, compared with the sum required to insure for an equal amount a man of advanced life. To the great mass of young men such insurance would be very easy, while to many advanced in life it is all but impossible. It is precisely the same in the saving a little money: if it is done in youth, it is easily done; if left over to a late period of life, it is very difficult: and remember, a pound saved by a young man keeps on growing;—the quietly accumulating interest ere long doubles the amount. This is the case if it is only consigned to the bank; but if invested in some prosperous mercantile enterprise, it goes on “hop, step, and jump,” until it becomes a large capital; and its possessor may enjoy therewith “the luxury of doing good.”

I can easily imagine that some few of my hearers may be thinking that my counsellings on the subject of saving money can only be acted upon by the coldly philosophic, knowing ones, who know nothing of passion’s fire. Were all present to give us the benefit of their experience in life, not a few would have to tell that before they had the chance of saving a penny, their “ eyes looked love to eyes that spake again;” and the pleasure of saving money had no chance with the indulgence of the “ glorious passionand so, without a sixpence of provision for the future, they married, and got into a mess from which they can never extricate themselves. To such I say,—Be of good heart; a bright future may be before you, if you discharge your own duties aright. I trust you will believe my “single” self when I tell you that I never see a very young couple proudly carrying the first-fruits of their love (it may be calf love), but frond the bottom of my heart I say, God bless them; and assuredly God will bless them if they do their duty. There are many places in the world,—and I think our own land is one of them,—where

“ Children are blessings, and he that lias most Hath aid to his fortune, and riches to boast.”

But to prove a blessing, children must be well trained. They must have sound principles implanted in them; their errors must be corrected, and a fair amount of education given them: they must be taught self-respect, which can only be taught by their being firmly grounded in truth and honesty—by their being taught to shun all appearance of evil, to despise meanness, and cleave to all that is noble; and this can only be taught by the virtuous example of their parents. I need hardly tell you that, in the elevation of the family, very much depends on the conduct of the mother. I might give mothers much general counsel: I think, however, it will better serve my present purpose to tell the story of one noble mother’s life.

Some forty years ago a young couple took up their first home in one small furnished room as lodgers. After defraying the expenses of their marriage, they had one pound to begin the world with,—certainly a very small sum, seeing that they had no furniture of their own. Before the honeymoon was over, the wife had discovered that her husband’s education was more defective than she had thought. She proposed that he should go to an evening school to make up his educational lee-way. A false pride caused the husband to refuse to comply with his wife’s request. On hearing his refusal, she said—“You can be nothing, then, but a poor drudge for life.” And, sore at heart by her first matrimonial grief, she took what in after years she called “ a good hearty greet.” This young wife was very soon in a house of her own, having (although little finery) what did her turn. She was soon engrossed by the cares of a young family. Her income was small, and it took strict economy to make ends meet. It was her chief pride to see her family every Sabbath morning going “amongst the very first to church.” And that family might have very humble fare, but they had always, not only good, but fine “Sunday clothes.” I could easily sketch that family group (from memory) as I first saw it, The eldest daughter with her light blue frock and round straw hat, from under which fell clusters of glossy ringlets; the second daughter with frock and trousers—her head-gear a brown beaver, with a tiny real ostrich feather; the elder boy with blue jacket and white trousers, and sporting a cloth cap with gold band; the youngest of the family, a very rosy fair-haired little fellow, in a smartly braided nankeen dress, with handsome cap and gold tassel, which his father, who now sailed (he was a ship carpenter) from London, had sent home to him. The mother was attired like any lady of the land. I dwell upon these particulars because I believe this nicety about the Sabbath costume did much to inspire that family with the desire to get on in the world, and did not a little in inspiring them with self-respect. With her husband very often at sea, that mother had a hard struggle—was often at her last shilling; but, although she made all her family purchases with ready cash, she always knew where she could borrow. In case of extremity she had sometimes to borrow. For years, besides doing her housework, she earned fully a shilling a-day at a certain kind of sewing; in which work her eldest boy and girl were soon learned to give a hand between school hours. When he was little more than ten years of age, her eldest son, anxious to help his mother, sought and obtained employment. When he presented his mother with his first-earned half-crown, she smiling said, “There will be a blessing with your siller, Jamie.” Her second son was as soon at work. He, too, sought employment unbidden. Don’t think that that mother had no desire to educate her sons. She would have done it nobly if she had had the means; but she scorned to beg even education for them. With their own earnings they paid their own evening school fees, and so became fair scholars. While her sons were learning their trades, that mother could save no money : it was when the eldest became a journeyman that she saw the tide in her affairs that led on to fortune. The mother was her son’s banker; and when, seven years after the expiry of his apprenticeship, he resolved to enter business on his own account, his mother brought forth his treasure : it had lain, I know not where, concealed in a well-darned old stocking. When counted, it amounted to more than sixty pounds. At the end of his first year in business the sixty pounds were more than doubled; and now the second son was assisted by his brother to enter business on his own account. Many prophesied that he would not succeed. He had spent his first seven shillings in the purchase of the works of Shakespeare, and was given to the company of “ spouters.” But he did succeed. He cleared his little stock during the first six months after his sign was hung out. That family soon became independent; and well they know how much they owe to their worthy mother. She fought life’s battle well, and closed her eyes in peace. Her last words to her family were—“ I ken ye’ll no be shabby to ane anither when I am awa’.” Her husband still survives her, hale and hearty; and may now be seen during the summer months trimming the roses that begin to cluster round his own cottage windows, on the fair margin of the frith of Clyde. She has gone to her Father’s house of many mansions, and her memory shall ever live in the hearts of her children as a strong motive to good. I shall make no comment on this mother’s life, but leave the simple statement of the facts, as what I believe to be the best counsel I can give our mothers.

Before stepping on to the middle-class branch of my subject, I must give expression to one thought which may be of some service to very poor parents. This thought arose in my mind in the following circumstances :—I was speaking one evening to a large mercantile concern. I had spoken to all the different departments, and was winding up with a few words to the labourers employed by the firm. I found it somewhat difficult to point out to them the road to any great advancement. I told them how I felt. They seemed to appreciate my sincerity, when a happy thought came to the rescue. I said,—Do you not think it possible that even the poorest amongst you, if you were determined on it, could get at least one of your sons well educated—educated in such a way as that he could take his place in your employer’s office? Sure am I, I added, nothing would give the heads of this firm more pleasure than to receive into their office the son of their most humble labourer, if he were fit for the place; and thus would a direct passage be made from the humblest to the very highest position in such a firm. I know not what of worth there was in this hint, but the pleasant acquiescence of the chairman and the hearty applause of the men indicated that they thought the thing quite practical. Remember this thought, then, you who have little chance of making money. Make a hard struggle to have your children well educated. If you do so, fortune may tumble right upon you just when you most need it.

The second branch of ray subject—namely, “Middle-class efforts at money making”—is a very interesting matter, if I am able properly to exhibit it We daily see the wheel of fortune taking what appears to us the most fantastic turns : one man becoming rich, another becoming poor; one man failing in his every effort, while another finds everything prospering in his hands. Carelessly looked at, the prizes of life seem drawn by lottery; but upon careful scrutiny we find that chance has nothing, or next to nothing, to do with either man’s success or failure. This I shall endeavour to exemplify by giving you, as briefly as I can, a few sketches from mercantile life, which will illustrate the ups and downs, exhibiting at the same time the “why so,” arranging them thus for the assistance of our memories: the three Georges, the three Jameses, and the three Johns.

Taking them, then, in this order, we begin with our George the first. He had talents above average. He was in every way suited for his trade. He began business on his own account at the age of twenty-four. He had at once a very good trade,—was highly popular with his customers. He was what is generally termed “ good-hearted,” — ever foremost with his contribution to any object of charity. He had a large circle of friends, by whom he was very much respected. He made money fast, and spent it just as fast. His philosophy on the journey of life was, to “live by the way.” When, as was often the case, some of his more sensible friends suggested the propriety of his making an effort to save a little money, he gave a knowing look, and said—“It will be all right with me when the old fellow drops off.” This old fellow, all his friends knew, was an old uncle worth several thousand pounds, whose sole heir he was certain of being. Our George the first for a very few years led rather a jolly life, but saved no money. Many of his friends who began business about the same time as George, acting on a wiser policy, had acquired considerable capital, and somehow George seemed to have little relish for their company. He indicated this so plainly that they ceased to visit him. He, however, had plenty of company. His back-shop became quite a haunt for all the good fellows of the district. Customers began to take notice (his customers were chiefly ladies) of his improper company, and told him of his error. George, who was pretty good at a defence, thought he answered the ladies interested very satisfactorily. But George’s trade began to fall off. Well, George knew it would be all right when the old fellow died, and that surely could not be long. George married, became bankrupt, and died. His rich old uncle laid his head in the grave. Thus was a life wasted and cut short by a foolish looking forward to what was to be received, to the neglect of what might have been honourably acquired. That young man, I am confident, might with moderate wisdom have this day been one of our most successful merchants. He was wrecked in fortune, in health, and in character; and dying, left a wife and family entirely unprovided for. It only throws a stronger light on George’s folly, when I tell you that the old uncle did leave his money to George’s children.

George the second was a smart, active fellow. Occupying a good situation, and living cheaply with his parents, he soon saved a very considerable sum of money, with which he began business on his own account. He was thoroughly successful. He was one who did business in what he called a first-class style. All his communications were written on the most beautiful paper; his envelopes were of the best quality; his steel pens ditto. He had ample assistance for every department of his trade, and his trade went right ahead. There was, no doubt, a deal of money spent; but then there was more made, so it was best that everything should be done in style. George the second married, and in this matter acted quite like a gentleman; that is, he started a first-class establishment. Some of his friends thought a rather humbler style of life would have been more suitable to one who had his fortune to make. George replied to this by taking a larger house, and increasing his expenditure. Unforeseen circumstances still further increased his expenditure. Business the while, in his expensively conducted establishment, falling off, George barely made as much as it required to keep him. Worth more than a thousand pounds, he felt himself poor, inasmuch as he was going back rather than forward in the world. He lost heart, and confessed his life a bungle. Thus was one naturally well qualified to make a very considerable figure in the world, set aside for want of a very little Scotch caution. Had he been more economical in the conducting of his business, a lull in trade would have been less felt. Had he started housekeeping in rather a more homely style, he would have certainly had more of home comfort; and his fine house would have surely come in due course. But George was too fond of show, and so became the victim of appearances.

George the third was of delicate constitution. With very small capital, he began business about the age of twenty-six. He was 110 way attractive in his manner; had a veiy moderate trade, but conducted it with great care and economy; and lived in a very humble house, which was very moderately furnished; but all his friends were welcome to a seat at his kitchen fireside;—he kept always a first-rate kitchen fire. George the third was never in the very first fashion as regarded dress: he cared very little for appearances. When spoken to about his rather too strict economy, his answer was—“I come out as strong as I can afford: remember I am not rich.” George was most attentive to his business, and thus it gradually increased. Customers found that, although they got no soft sawder from George, they could depend upon him. George’s trade was now very considerable; but he still lived in the same small house, and still held all his levees at his kitchen fireside. One of the largest merchants in George’s trade talked of retiring. George made offer for the business, and got it, and was at one step in a first-rate position. George for a year or two still retained the small house; but in due time, still young, he married, furnished a rather handsome house, and really came out strong. Not long after, he purchased a neat self-contained house with garden, a little way out of town.

I need make no comment on this wise man’s life. The lives of the three Georges show, I think—-first, the folly of neglecting opportunities of making, in the mean expectation of getting; second, the evil of pitching on a style of life even a shade too high; and third, the true wisdom of quiet, persevering, sober economy, which leads certainly to comfort, riches, splendour.

James the first was left by his father a considerable sum of money—several thousand pounds. His father had been a quiet plodding man, and had died rich. James, of course, found, when left to himself, with merely his own portion, that he was very far from being as rich as his father had been. He felt impatient at this idea, and was in haste to make rich. He tried his hand at a few railway shares. His father never would go at all out of his own business for any spec., however tempting. James had more courage. His first transaction in shares proved quite a hit: his second and his third spec, in the same line had made him money. There was an apparent rise in the article of James’s own legitimate trade. James resolved to make a large fortune at a single stroke: he purchased on a gigantic scale. The markets took a sudden turn downwards. James tried his hand again at railway stock. His transactions were all ruinous. He became not only bankrupt in trade, but bankrupt in reason. Here was a life wrecked, as thousands have been, in a mad grasping at fortune by any and every means!

James the second was somewhat advanced in life before he entered business on his own account. He was industrious, cautious, and persevering, and so made (although slow) certain progress in money-making. He was a most correct business man. After a few years of very hard work he found himself worth three thousand pounds—all of his own making. On various occasions during his business career he had been what he thought favoured by a very large firm from whom he very frequently purchased. All his transactions with that great firm had been gone about in the most correct business fashion. In his visits to the establishment of the great merchants, James was often overawed at the vastness of their doings,—often wondered how a business so huge could be managed profitably. James was flattered by the personal attentions he received from the merchant princes. He was honoured on more occasions than one by going publicly arm in arm with the chief of the large firm. After one of these personal agreeabilities, James having during the interview made rather, for him, a large purchase, on returning home found that the merchant prince had taken the liberty of forwarding through the bank bills to the full amount of his purchase,—James not yet having the goods bought in possession. James thought the liberty taken quite improper, and so resolved to return the bills, until he was put in possession of value, which would be several weeks, the goods being heavy, and it being impossible to forward them in a shorter time. James, however, did not act on his first and correct decision. He thought on the persona] kindness of his business friends, on their great position, on his own comparative insignificance. Again, he thought that he really knew nothing of the real strength of the great people; but then they surely must be safe. Everybody seemed to do them reverence. After a sleepless night James signed the paper; and in a few days learned from a friend on the street that a telegram had just been received, announcing the failure of the said great firm. James lost every penny of two thousand pounds—the earning of many years of patient labour—by being simple enough to be overawed into doing that which he knew was wrong by the sham flash of a great house. James is plodding quietly on, and will, I believe, make up his loss by patient labour; but really he paid a painful price for his one lesson.

James the third was an humble merchant, early in business. For the first year his success was very moderate: his second year did much better. After a very few years in business, having several hundred pounds to spare, he purchased the property in which his shop was situated. Thus invested, his money accumulated pretty quickly. He soon added to his possessions by becoming the laird of a whole range of houses in the little country town of which he was a native. This second purchase proved a very good spec., and now the laird’s entire annual rents were something very considerable. The laird’s business did still more than keep himself and family; so the rents, all saved, soon came to something handsome. All the laird’s law business had been done by one first-class legal firm. This firm called James the third’s attention to a very large block of property which they had to dispose of. The property belonged to a rich public trust, who wished to have a certain fixed interest for their money, and to be clear of all the bother of looking after tenants. The laird’s quick eye at once saw a bargain. He offered the sum which his legal friends advised him to offer, got the property; and now the humble merchant can pocket his five hundred a-year, after all deductions for interest are made; and still you can any day find him working hard behind his own little counter. A friend of mine, however, was taken some time ago to see a fine country-house which the laird was thinking of purchasing as a family residence. Meanwhile he still lives in an humble flat of his own property. These three lives have all their lessons.

James the first exhibits the folly and crime of a too great haste to become rich by any and every means. His shattered reason was the legitimate result of his attempt to fly over fortune’s well-spiked walls, instead of being content to enter by the gates of industry, frugality, and perseverance. James the second, plodding on as he did for years, and then by a departure—one departure—from business correctness, losing at one sweep almost his entire earnings, should impress on us all the necessity of keeping entirely clear of every risk we can legitimately avoid; and especially should it be a lesson to us to beware of being mesmerized by great people, the foundation of whose greatness is to us a mystery. While the life of James the third, who believed in hard work, economy, and substantial stone and lime, and so made a snug fortune, repeats to us the lesson of our George the third’s life—namely, the true wisdom of quiet, sober, persevering economy.

My first John began business with a fair amount of capital. Advised by his best friends, he resolved that all his stock should be purchased with ready cash; but very soon this excellent resolution was broken through.

A plausible merchant, with whom he had a transaction, requiring, as he said, cash very urgently, proposed to take John’s bill for the amount. John was reluctantly consenting to accept, when, as if struck by a bright thought, the bill drawer said, “If you were in want of a little ready money, I could draw for double the amount, and hand you the balance.” John was just needing a little money; he agreed to the proposed accommodation, and so, by this one false step, entered on a course that proved his ruin. The accommodation, so simply begun, was carried on for a good number of years, during which John was thought by all to be making money. He became bankrupt, and freely confessed that he could not tell how he stood with the party to whom he had so simply at first given his name for a few pounds. He believed the same gentleman had cheated him altogether out of about a thousand pounds; but he could not prove it, and so his creditors had to lose the sum. At thirty-four John began the world anew, and has, we trust, profited by his former egregious bungle.

John the second was early in business. He was pretty successful, and very generally accounted talented. He had several companions, who were to some extent lights in the literary world. The select circle had frequent meetings, the chief effect of which was, by a great exchange of compliments, to raise the entire circle in self-importance. They were all making money: they had always done so. One of the party, half in joke, one evening proposed that they (the clever circle) should become a power in the state, and make their power known by starting a newspaper as the organ of their views. John at once caught at the idea. He would write leaders; the proprietary would be kept secret, and more than one would be astonished by the new broadsheet. John was the only one of the circle who had ready money, which he could spare, to set the paper a-going, and so he came down handsome. The birth, life, and death of the great organ was all got over in rather less than two years, John having in that time spent all his spare capital—some eighteen hundred pounds—in a vain attempt to establish his importance in the world of letters. When John wishes now to look large in print, he pays for an advertisement. That he accounts by far the cheapest method of flourishing in type.

My third J ohn is a youth of about eighteen years of age, of a sanguine, uervous temperament. He has written respectable poetry, and essays on various subjects that would do no disgrace to any older author. He leaves his native countty town for a situation in Glasgow. He enters the counting-house of a large public work as the humblest clerk. He is Well treated by his employer, and never thinks of changing. His salary is small, yet he saves a little money. He is promoted in the office; his salary is raised; his expenditure is not increased; and he saves more money. Again his position is improved; yet still he lives on in the most quiet way. A change is taking place in the partnership of ths firm. J ohn puts in his claim for a share in the business: he has, of his own saving, the requisite capital. He is admitted as a partner. He in no way changes his style of life. He quietly progresses in fortune, until he becomes sole proprietor of the magnificent work which he entered as its humblest clerk. Years after, every stone of the great structure was his own. He was still to be found occupying a modest parlour and bed-room. If you seek him now, you will find his name in every subscription list, and that, too, for handsome sums. And if you follow him to his home, you will find it has every comfort, and not a little splendour.

So ends my somewhat monotonous catalogue of lives. The simplicity of John the first, which led to his being so easily entrapped into unwholesome accommodation, is to be avoided by all; the vanity of John the second, which, by his literary venture, cleared him of his eighteen hundred pounds, is to be remembered by every one troubled with a belief in his own great mental weight; while the modest and thoroughly successful life of John the third again repeats the great value of the simple virtues of quiet industry, and sober, persevering economy.

I can easily imagine that some of you may think there is very little remarkable about any of these lives I have endeavoured to sketch. I have not told you of any new Bar-num-like dodge about money-making. I have no faith in the success of any dodge. The showman’s own ups and downs is an excellent commentary, I should think, on his dirty book; which, I am glad to say, I was not tempted to read. As a knowing one, his dodge was to sell his book. My dodge, or rather, I should say, my right, was not to buy it; and I exercised that right. I saw numbers of people reading Bamura’s stuff, and I could not help feeling contempt for their simplicity, in thinking he could teach them aught that would be of service to any honest man. I would just as soon think of taking lessons from our thimbleriggers: they are smart fellows; but after all, few of them seem to get rich.

One thought I would have you all note regarding the nine lives I have sketched; that is, that while they exhibit six different causes why the six men did not get on, or failed in life, they exhibit but one road to competence. George, James, and John, who were successful in life, all climbed fortune’s stiff hill by the same steep, narrow path of industry, economy, and perseverance. The moral, then, we draw from the nine lives is, that there are many and various ways of going down fortune’s hill, and, so far as we know, but one way of ascending; and that path may be entered upon by all of us, and will certainly, if walked in, lead us to competence.

Before quitting this branch of my subject, I would like still further to impress on your recollections the errors which led to comparative ruin the six men whose lives I have been sketching. This I shall best accomplish by reminding you of the facts which I mean these lives to typify. I would then have you all remember that there are thousands of men who, like George the first, become wrecks in foolishly looking forward to what they are to get, while they neglect making what they might honourably acquire. There are fully, perhaps, as many thousands like George the second, who get amongst life’s breakers from carrying just rather much sail; that is, living in rather too stylish a fashion. In recent times, there have been thousands of lives wrecked, as was that of our James the first, by the desire to become rich at once. A giving way to this desire is certain ruin. When such a desire rises in any of our minds, it would be of service were we to take note of all the well-to-do people we know, and try to find out how they acquired their treasure. Such a course would soon dispel the dream of riches at one bold stroke. James the second lost two thousand pounds by one departure from a correct business rule,—by paying goods before he had them in possession. Many worthy men have been cleared out in this way. It is usually safe to purchase from very large firms; but it is never safe to let them take any such liberty as was taken with James. If any of you think there is little fear of you at any time erring in this way, I have to say to such, See that you don’t; and to impress my counsel on your memories, I may as well tell you that your humble servant very nearly lost all the earnings of his life just as my second James lost his. The fictitious credit into which my first John was so simply led is the rock on which very many have split. Let us, then, avoid all fictitious accommodation. The interest of such money eats into the vitals of a business like a cancer. Let us be content to square our transactions as nearly as possible to the amount of capital we can legitimately command. The circumstances by which my second John lost his money—namely, his newspaper adventure—I introduced to exhibit the fact that there are very odd ways of losing money; and that vainly carrying out any of our favourite hobbies too far, is very likely to lead to the loss of money. Of my three successful men, I have to say, that all the men of means that I know have risen in life in precisely the same way as my three model men; and there is really no other way of honourably rising.

The third branch of my subject, viz., the “very rich,” must necessarily be treated with brevity; and I enter on it by telling you in one word, that the very rich men of whom I have known anything have been very much alike: with some noble exceptions, they have been hard, narrow-hearted, selfish, illiterate, and consequently far from being “very happy” men. Let me give you a sketch of one rich man’s house, and its occupant, and the one picture shall stand as the type of all I have seen in that way.

I had a letter of introduction to the rich man. I had some little business to transact with him, but wanted no favour from him. Walking on according to the direction I had received, I passed several very fine houses with gardens laid off in the most tasteful manner. One of these particularly arrested my attention. The sweet fragrance of flowers rose so thickly on the evening breeze, as I drew near, that I paused in admiration at the garden gate. Oh it was a lovely sight, the view into that garden! To the right there were roses, to the left there were roses, and right on there were roses, roses, roses. As I gazed in admiration on the sweet scene before me, I was still further charmed by the appearance of a still more beautiful flower in full bloom,— a charming young lady. Having gazed at her, what seemed to me, somewhat stupidly, I set myself to rights by asking

if this was Mr. -“ the rich man’s” house. The young lady smiled, and answered me with a rather long-drawn no-o-o. She then directed me on my way. Her last words to me were—“ You will know your friend’s garden at once: there is not a flower in it. He has no belief in flowers.” I walked on. On reaching the rich man’s gate, clean, cold-looking gravel and cold dark evergreens were the only objects that met my view. I at once passed on to the house door: it was not opened to me in any haste. The servant gave me rather a suspicious look: she would see if her master was in; would I give my name) My letter of introduction was sufficient to insure me a seat at the rich man’s parlour fire. I spoke of the beautiful gardens I had passed, and complimented the taste of his neighbours, and was very soon given to understand that there was no neighbourly intercourse existing between the man of money and lovers of flowers. I was told that the said neighbours were well enough in their way; but they had no money. The fair lady I had been charmed with, I was told, was a pretty doll; but she had no money. I wondered that, with such a fine piece of ground in front of his house, my friend did not cultivate flowers. “What would be the use of them?” was the reply. “I am not fond of spending money on what will not bring money.’ I changed the subject of conversation from flowers to books. The man of money brought me to a stand still by saying—“ Is it not rather strange that the banks are charging 6£ per cent for discounts, and only giving 3^ per cent, on deposits? I mentioned the power and noble purpose of Mrs. Stowe’s great work, Uncle Tom'8 Cabin. My friend said the only cabins he took any interest in were good four-storey houses, on which there was no danger of lending money. I asked who was minister of the parish, and what sort of person he was? “He did well enough,” my friend said. “The minister was a man of means; his father left him ten thousand pounds, and he was one that could take care of it.” I now submitted myself to be led in conversation by my friend. We were soon among bills and bonds, per centages and mortgages. Great firms, very wealthy people, the Messrs. Baird of Gartsherrie, was the last topic introduced; and, as a subject of talk, they lasted until bedtime. Money, money, money, was the only subject in which the rich man could take any interest. I retired to rest, praying to God that I might never become the slave of money.

This is in no way an overdrawn picture of many a ricli man, and it has its important lessons to all. The deadly blight which the love of money had thrown over all that was naturally noble in that man should speak to each and all of us of the folly and sin of giving our hearts to Mammon. God has given us in this world many duties to discharge besides the scraping together of money; and many noble engagements with which the acquiring of money should in no way be permitted to interfere. This should be well remembered by men in every position of life. We have duties to God, duties to our fellow-men, and duties to ourselves, in the discharge of which we should ever find our chief delight. There is no pleasure of which humanity is susceptible half so exquisite as that of doing heart-homage to our Father in heaven. This is the sweet that never cloys,—the seeking to find out the perfections of the Deity, and to live according to His blessed will. In this search wo are led directly to the discharge of our duties to our fellow-mortals. We are led directly to the sweets of love and friendship, and to the true joys of Christian charity; to the luxury of doing good; to the Christ-like work of cheering the drooping spirit, and binding up the broken heart. In discharging all such duties we are merely doing the duties we owe to ourselves. How poor is the position of the mere money grub, however rich he may be, compared with that of the true, fully developed man! The slave of money sees nothing in the world but the yellow dross. To the true man every flower that blows has a thousand charms.

“The spacious firmament on high,
With all the blue ethereal sky,
And spangled heav'ns, all give rapture to his soul.

Each ray of sunshine carries a joy to his heart. The rich music of nature’s minstrel, the winds, is melody to his spirit. He delights in the storms of ocean, and is enraptured by the glorious sparkling of the moonlit sea. The singing of birds fills him with a holy joy. He hears God’s voice in the thunder. On every page of nature’s book he reads lessons of love and mercy. The treasures of art are to him the source of profound delights. Literature to him unfolds her witching stores, and pours the essence of all mental greatness into his heart. From all these joys the mere money worshipper is shut out. He sees no colour but yellow; hears no sound but the jingle of his own “counters.” Let us all, then, in our efforts to make money, keep clearly in view the fact that that is but a very small portion of our work on earth. There is nothing to prevent the young tradesman who is striving hard to make a little money, at the same time to cultivate fully both his head and his heart. There is nothing to prevent such a one from giving a portion of his time to some good work. Such a one may, with little effort, take some part in the training of the neglected young in our Sabbath schools. He may be instrumental in promoting the temperance, or some kindred movement. He may, too, to fit him for such work, give not a few of his spare hours to the perusal of the great masters of literature. If he does not take part in some such works he may rest assured he is leaving in barrenness that portion of his nature which would, with very little trouble, bring forth flowers which would lend both beauty and perfume to all his after-life and make him, when he had acquired the position he is so earnestly striving after, both a blessing and blessed.

The active young business man, whose conduct evinces clearly that he will make way in the world, would do well to guard against giving his every effort to the furtherance of his business. The bow hath greater elasticity and power which is occasionally unbent; and unbending will produce the same effect on the business man. If you turn aside now and then from the pursuit of money to the cultivation of your head and heart, you will (to say nothing of duty) be all the happier for it. Our philanthropic movements, our benevolent institutions, and our local governments must all be managed by volunteers from the ranks of active business men; and it is not only a duty, but a privilege, to take part in such work. The mere business worm, whose whole heart is set on making money, is a very miserable creature indeed. When he has attained the object of his desire—a large fortune—and tries to sit down to enjoy it, he finds his power of such enjoyment is gone; and he must either return to business or die! I could, without much effort, give you a long list of business men who, after acquiring a fortune, retired, and having no sources of enjoyment, were most un-happy, and either rushed back to business or sunk into the grave. How different would have been the condition of these men, if, in their early life, they had snatched a few hours now and then from the pursuit of gain for the cultivation of their hearts and intellects, gathering, as they went along, the flowers of literature and the gems of art, and scattering in their path kind words and kinder deeds to the everpresent “God’s poor!” Such a course of conduct would have given charms to their quiet retirement in the evening of life, and furnished them with noble work, which would have daily become to them more acceptable as the hour drew near when they would meet, face to face, Him “ who went about continually doing good.” Let us all then, whilst we pursue money

“By every wile That’s justified by honour,”

at the same time endeavour to cultivate our entire nature. Let us daily rise in mental grandeur, by gathering the honeyed sweets from all the flowers of thought that have been given forth by the great of all ages; and let us daily rise in nobility of heart, by practising in our lives, in all things, true Christian charity. This done, when we knock at the celestial gates, be we poor or be we rich, there will be no mention made of our Money.


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