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if many could obtain the sum which now makes a man wealthy, the name of wealth must then be transferred to still greater accumulation. But I am not certain that it is equally impossible to exempt the lower classes of mankind from poverty; because, though whatever be the wealth of the community, some will always have least, and he that has less than any other is comparatively poor; yet I do. not see any coactive necessity that many should be without the indispensable conveniencies of life; but am sometimes inclined to imagine, that, casual calamities excepted, there might, by universal prudence, be procured an universal exemption from want; and that he who should happen to have least, might notwithstanding have enough.
But without entering too far into speculations which I do not remember that any political calculator has attempted, and in which the most perspicacious reasoner may be easily bewildered, it is evident that they to whom Providence has allotted no other care but of their own fortune and their own virtue, which make far the greater part of mankind, have sufficient incitements to personal frugality, since, whatever might be its general effect upon provinces or nations, by which it is never likely to be tried, we know with certainty, that there is scarcely any individual entering the world, who, by prudent parsimony, may not reasonably promise himself a cheerful competence in the decline of life.
The prospect of penury in age is so gloomy and terrifying, that every man who looks before
him must resolve to avoid it; and it must be avoided generally by the science of sparing. For, though in every age there are some, who by bold adventures, or by favourable accidents, rise suddenly to riches, yet it is dangerous to indulge hopes of such rare events: and the bulk of mankind must owe their affluence to small and gradual profits, below which their expence must be resolutely reduced.
You must not therefore think me sinking below the dignity of a practical philosopher, when I recommend to the consideration of your readers, from the statesman to the apprentice, a position replete with mercantile wisdom, "A penny saved is two-pence got ;" which may, I think, be accommodated to all conditions, by observing not only that they who pursue any lucrative employment will save time when they forbear expence, and that the time may be employed to the increase of profit; but that they who are above such minute considerations will find, by every victory
1 Goldsmith wrote to a friend :-"Instead of hanging my room with pictures I intend to adorn it with maxims of frugality. Those will make pretty furniture enough, and won't be a bit too expensive; for I shall draw them all out with my own hands, and my landlady's daughter shall frame them with the parings of my black waistcoat. Each maxim is to be inscribed on a sheet of clean paper, and wrote with my best pen; of which the following will serve as a specimen : -Look sharp,' 'Mind the main chance,' 'Money is money now,' 'If you have a thousand pounds you can put your hands by your sides, and say you are worth a thousand pounds every day of the year,' 'Take a farthing from a hundred, and it will be a hundred no longer.'"-Prior's Life of Goldsmith, i. 271.
over appetite or passion, new strength added to the mind, will gain the power of refusing those solicitations by which the young and vivacious are hourly assaulted, and in time set themselves above the reach of extravagance and folly.
It may, perhaps, be inquired by those who are willing rather to cavil than to learn, what is the just measure of frugality? and when expence, not absolutely necessary, degenerates into profusion? To such questions no general answer can be returned; since the liberty of spending, or necessity of parsimony, may be varied without end by different circumstances. It may, however, be laid down as a rule never to be broken, that a "man's voluntary expence should not exceed his revenue." A maxim so obvious and incontrovertible, that the civil law ranks the prodigal with the madman, and debars them equally from the conduct of their own affairs. Another precept arising from the former, and indeed included in it, is yet necessary to be distinctly impressed upon the warm, the fanciful, and the brave; "Let no man anticipate uncertain profits." Let no man presume to spend upon hopes, to trust his own abilities for means of deliverance from penury, to give a loose to his present desires, and leave the reckoning to fortune or to virtue.
To these cautions, which, I suppose, are, at least among the graver part of mankind, undisputed, I
1 "Furiosi quoque et prodigi, licet majores viginti quinque annis sint, tamen in curatione sunt agnatorum ex lege Duodecim Tabularum. Sed solent Romæ præfectus urbi vel prætor, et in provinciis præsides ex inquisitione eis dare curatores."-Justinian, Institutes, i. 23, 3.
will add another, "Let no man squander against his inclination." With this precept it may be, perhaps, imagined easy to comply; yet if those whom profusion has buried in prisons, or driven into banishment, were examined, it would be found that very few were ruined by their own choice, or purchased pleasure with the loss of their estates; but that they suffered themselves to be borne away by the violence of those with whom they conversed, and yielded reluctantly to a thousand prodigalities, either from a trivial emulation of wealth and spirit, or a mean fear of contempt and ridicule; an emulation for the prize of folly, or the dread of the laugh of fools.1
I am, Sir,
Your humble Servant,
1 Johnson often pointed out with great force the evils of poverty, as the following passages show:-"Poverty, my dear friend, is so great an evil, and pregnant with so much temptation and so much misery, that I cannot but earnestly enjoin you to avoid it."-Boswell's Johnson, iv. 149. "Do not accustom yourself to consider debt only as an inconvenience; you will find it a calamity. Poverty takes away so many means of doing good, and produces so much inability to resist evil, both natural and moral, that it is by all virtuous means to be avoided."-Ib. p. 152. "Resolve not to be poor; whatever you have, spend less. Poverty is a great enemy to human happiness; it certainly destroys liberty, and it makes some virtues impracticable, and others extremely difficult."Ib. p. 157. "Resolve never to be poor; frugality is not only the basis of quiet but of beneficence. No man can help others that wants help himself; we must have enough before we have to spare.”—Ib. p. 163.
No. 58. SATURDAY, OCTOBER 6, 1750.
Crescunt divitæ, tamen
Curta nescio quid semper abest rei.-HOR.1
But, while in heaps his wicked wealth ascends,
There's something wanting still to make him bless'd.
S the love of money has been, in all ages, one of the passions that have given great disturbance to the tranquillity of the world, there is no topic more copiously treated by the ancient moralists than the folly of devoting the heart to the accumulation of riches. They who are acquainted with these authors need not be told how riches excite pity, contempt, or reproach, whenever they are mentioned; with what numbers of examples the danger of large possessions is illustrated; and how all the powers of reason and eloquence have been exhausted in endeavours to eradicate a desire which seems to have intrenched itself too strongly in the mind to be driven out, and which, perhaps, had not lost its power, even over those who declaimed against it, but would have broken out in the poet or the sage, if it had been excited by opportunity, and invigorated by the approximation of its proper object.
Their arguments have been, indeed, so unsuc1 Horace, 3 Odes, xxiv. 62.