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greater and more agreeable possibili- keep unsparingly before our eyes the ties of frequenting them. It cannot deterioration of character that may be give the power of understanding books; brought about by either the lack or but to those who can understand, it the excess of means, and be on our gives the power of buying books to watch against it. This is an insidious read, without stint. It cannot give the and a great danger. For there are two heaven-sent rapture in pictorial or qualities which most of us agree are musical art, but it gives the possibility fine and good, and to be desired, that of enjoying it more often. It cannot are liable to be modified and distorted give us good and gifted children, but it by the variations in our means. One may help us to train them to advantage. is the large-hearted impulse to part with The best is not to be bought with what we have, not for our own good money, but the setting of the best is. only, but for that of the community or For this reason is the possession of it of individuals; the other is the spirit a crucial test, especially when newly of a sober self-denial opposed to selfacquired; and for those who have no indulgence. This, the spirit of temgentle tastes to gratify a dazzling light perance; that, the spirit of magnifisuddenly shed on their barren exist cence. But we cannot, in the perfuncence, revealing with unsparing con- tory teaching of morals, which is all spicuousness the vulgar channels in we have time for in these days, make it which alone it occurs to them that clear to ourselves and to others how wealth should run. It is, no doubt important it is that these finer impulses good that wealth should be spent and should not be at the mercy of our varynot hoarded; the purpose of any cur- ing conditions. We are apt, in the rency is that it should ultimately be hurry of material life, to lose sight of exchanged for something that it will this main point at issue; to confuse enbuy. That the something should be forced, distasteful acts of economy worth having is, of course, essential. with a noble impulse of sober simplicBut what people spend their money on ity; we are misled into attributing generally does, at the moment, appear the constant and cruel necessity, forced to themselves to be worth buying. It on the great majority of mankind, of is other people who feel it is not. What spending and of buying less than they money brings us should add to the would like to spend or to buy, to a adornment, the beauty, the seemliness fine spirit of self-denial, and we graduof life, whether we buy with it things ally grow into considering the mere or ideas. That is the thing to grasp. act of saving as a virtue in itself. But Let us recognize as sanely and wisely it is not there that virtue lies. as we can that the defects incidental to There are certain qualities necessary the possession of wealth need not be to a complicated social organization inevitable, if we are on our guard Thrift is one of them-which, encouragainst them. The limitations of taste aged at first entirely on grounds of and character which, as we have expediency, become through the ages already said, wealth so unsparingly so indispensable to the state of society gives us an opportunity of displaying, which calls them forth, that they are are not caused by it, any more than a erected into virtues necessary to the limelight shed on to an unprepossessing ideal character, and taught to one genobject creates the ugliness it reveals. eration after another, indelibly imLet us not fear to say that in itself it pressed on them. And that quite in* is not wicked to be rich, any more than discriminately; for we are obliged to it is estimable to be poor; but let us embody our teaching of morals in a
series of rough-and-ready uncompro- maxim which should govern the mamising maxims, that we impart to all jority; and the minority must hobble alike, whatever the circumstances of through existence cramped by the orthe learner. There is no leisure, in the dinances made to fit the narrowly cirevil days we have fallen upon, to ex- cumstanced, until the minds of the easy pound with care to reverent disciples become inevitably crippled and narhow infinitely varying are the canons rowed, too. "A penny saved is a penny and obligations of what we may call gained"_"Take care of the pence, and the lesser virtues—to point out and to the pounds will take care of themdistinguish, in a dignified, exhaustive selves"_"Turn a penny in your pocket and philosophical fashion. The result before you take it out”-such are some is that we attempt to guide the whole of the stultifying maxims we learn and of our kind by precepts fitted for one repeat until, upon my soul, they can portion of them and absolutely unfitted never quite be unlearnt again. "Penny for another. The terse and pithy max- wise and pound foolish,”-one of the ims in which the experience of gener- few utterances on the other side of the ations finds its final form, although question-sometimes arises to stagger they may serve crudely enough as a and confuse us by confronting us with working basis of conduct, are unavoid- an admonition entirely opposite to ably apt to lead us astray by not pre- those we have the acquired habit of senting alternatives. It is obvious that obeying. there must be a want of half-tones, so I recall a saying I used to hear in to speak, about such definite utterances; my youth-we were expected to allow for if a proverb were to attempt to it reverently to sink into our minds qualify its own authority by pointing until it became part of our code of out the cases in which it may be modi- morals—"When you are going to buy a fied, it would cease to be so portable thing, think first if you want it, and a piece of wisdom, and would more re- secondly, if you can do without it.” semble a speech or a sermon. We ate, Do without it? Why, all the beautiful therefore, driven into the constant and, and most of the agreeable things of life immense mistake of inflicting the same can be "done without" in the sense that ordinances on every one alike. And in we do not die of renouncing them-we the particular subject we are discuss- only become stupidly resigned and liming, we commit the absurdity of laying ited human beings if we carry that prindown for rich and for poor the same ciple to its extreme limit and never get rule; and instead of admitting that anything we can do without. Here, there is a certain line of conduct, not again. we encounter the absurdity of wicked, but only highly inexpedient trying to make such a proposition of and unadvisable for those who are universal application, with the monpoor, and entirely allowable in those strous result that, framed for those who are the reverse, we lay down who could only afford to buy the necesthe same precept for all indis- saries of life, it has been adopted by criminately, and call it a virtue. many others who could have afforded Since, therefore, there are more very much more, and who actually people, unfortunately, in the world with think they are being praiseworthy in little money than with much, since keeping their lives as barren and unthere are more who are under the obli- adorned as possible. There are chargation to provide for their necessaries acters with regard to whom such a only, and not for the superfluities, we system as this combines the evil influmust needs-so we are told-adopt the ences of both poverty and riches, and
brings out the finer results of neither. to spend it-will think twice before he It is impossible to advance through the buys an extra copy of the Times to read world in a stately and seemly fashion on his way home, or before he gives a if you are forever stumbling over little cabman an extra sixpence on a cold wooden precepts; there cannot be a day. And yet, if that rich man wasted noble amplitude of moral gesture if pennies and overpaid cabmen to the exevery time the hand is extended the ac- tent of even a shilling a day, which would tion is accompanied by a corresponding seem to most millionaires very extravaimpulse to draw it back. The instinc- gant, the net result would only amount tive impulse to save ungracefully, on to 181. 58. in one year, the price of one small occasions, when it is not worth of his wife's cheaper gowns. But to while to make a deliberate effort to effect that saving in a lump sum by overcome it, may exist side by side going without the gown, which would with an impulse towards equally un- be much better than going without the graceful self-indulgence. The latter is picture, in order to have a small daily not magnificence; the former is not margin, supposing that only one of temperance. And the man with many these alternative courses can be pennies, brought up on the maxims adopted, does not appear often to occur suitable to the man with few, will to the minds of the people concerned. probably, if he is that way inclined, Why? Because we had persuaded ourhave the tendency to keep a penny in selves that we had better take care of his pocket when he had better take it the pence than the pounds. What we out. But let us call things by their buy with the pounds, what we save proper names. A first-class passenger with the pennies, is not really the picgiving an inadequate tip to a railway ture, is not the satisfaction of obeying porter, or a man in a fur coat refusing an impulse of economy; it is the attia penny to the street loafer who opens tude of mind that we are buying, that the door of his brougham, is not exer- we are intensifying, every time we concising self-denial or practising thrift, solidate it in one direction or another. he is obeying a sedulously implanted for this is a terrible danger that may instinct of saving; that is all. Those await us; that the doors closed by our ugly little economies have no relation own action against fine and noble posto the renunciation-fine, if exercised sibilities become more and more ineviin the right spirit-of the man who goes tably sealed by the action of time, until on foot because he cannot afford an at last we forget that they ever were omnibus, or without his newspaper be- open. There are always, unhappily, cause his wife and children want the under all conditions of life, some doors money for their clothes. There is that we close, some possibilities we something stern and noble in that form stifle forever. And it may happen to of saving; but there is none when the us as well in poverty as in riches, only same action is unnecessary, and is the possibilities stifled will be of a prompted, not by Thrift, but by that different kind. Terrible snares as to half-brother of Thrift whose name is the directing of character lie in the Stinginess.
way of both. By poverty I do not here It may sometimes happen that a mean that absolute poverty of the man who will spend a thousand pounds slums, in which each penny lacked on a fine picture-and if he can see means a corresponding deprivation of with his own eyes that it is a fine pic- actual food and warmth, or shelter; I ture, and can be uplifted by living in mean that other poverty, hard also to its presence, he is incalculably right so bear, whose necessities include super
fluities which have to be renounced by protest more loudly against the neighan endless series of efforts of self bor who, lying necessarily beyond the denial.
reach of offers of help, persists in exThere should be different names plaining her existence in the terms of for these two forms of lack of pounds, shillings and pence, and so means, or, at any rate, for the different bringing money, in words as well as in forms of suffering they inflict-which, deeds, prominently into the foreground in the one case, is mainly physical, and as almost the principal factor of life. the other, mental-for it becomes con Such conditions, in natures which are fusing, blurring, and entirely mislead not noble, are apt to engender a coning if we try to compare them on actu centration upon the petty details of ally the same grounds and using the existence, a habit of selection not govsame words. The deprivations and re erned by high standards, but by an adnunciations which may fall upon us, justment to possibilities. This is a going up through the different layers possible danger of both limited and unof the social order, not infrequently limited means. In the former case, include people of a station and posi ideals may fade and standards become tion obliging them to live, in a measure, blurred by the interposition of ignoble according to the standards of the preoccupations; in the latter, from its wealthy and distinguished. This is not being absolutely essential that a the thing that is difficult to bear with wise reflection and weighing of altersimplicity and dignity, and in those who natives should accompany the process lack those qualities, and who, whatever of selection, the capacity to select is their social position or their absolute again likely to suffer. The finer tastes means, conceive they have not enough, and discriminations are not necessarily it sometimes gives rise to the most curl- brought to their greatest perfection ous manifestations. Is not this, by the by being able to afford to get the secway, one of the foxes that ought to be ond best as well as the best, by being kept under one's cloak? Not, perhaps, able, without a thought, to make a from the point of view of the financial trial of something that may be inadeequilibrium of society, but simply from quate, in order to discard it afterwards, that of making the social relations of it may be, for something not more de human beings with one another seemly, sirable. agreeable and dignified. The person There is a danger in an existence who, in a smart drawing-room, laments too easy-going and prosperous of losaloud over her lack of means—I saying hold on the finer, stronger aspira“her” advisedly, for this seems to be tions, on the virtues of sobriety and an error that women are more likely to temperance in the widest sense; a danfall into than men-is hardly less un ger of being gradually overlaid by an pleasant than the one who, on the same abundance of detail and ornament, in occasion, loudly proclaims the fact of every order a sign of decadence. In having money in superfluity. To be the noble nature, on the other hand, sure, we tolerate one manifestation more which succeeds in governing its fate readily than the other, because the com instead of being governed with it, in bination of high social claims with in- keeping hold of the ideal in the face of adequate means is, on the whole, more poverty, the finer, stronger virtues are likely to produce a bearable result than more likely to be engendered than in the opposite combination of too ample the case of the prosperous who hold on means with inadequate standards. This their satisfied way in an existence subis the reason, perhaps, why we do not ject to the continued encroachment of
LIVING AGE. VOL. VIII. 398
self-indulgence both of the body and who, under similar circumstances, simof the spirit.
ply draw out their purse, or write a let- · I am not pausing to discuss here the ter ... and send somebody else. It is desirability that the affluent should probably unavoidable. These acts of enjoy part of their means in a way daily heroism and self-sacrifice, accomwhich appears to most people so ob- plished as a matter of course at the cost viously "right,” according to the re- of personal fatigue, suffering and privaceived doctrines of altruism, that it is tion, are things that cannot be learnt needless to spend time in discussing it. in theory, and are likely to be practised I am not going to repeat a thought that but very exceptionally by those who occurs in so many wise and foolish can exercise them by proxy. Is it true, forms to most human minds at either then, after all-can it be?-that there end of the social scale, that part of the is a high level of moral achievement means of the rich should be consecrated which it may be difficult for the rich to to helping those who deserve help, or attain? certain qualities, and those of even those who simply need it. the finest kind, which are bound to lie both cases I would say incidentally dormant, if circumstances do not call that it is always possible to find out them forth? If so, let us seek for the whether they do either one or the other, remedy in the right place. Thrift is though this means a great deal more not the virtue we need here. It is not trouble than enunciating a general re- so simple as that. What is needed is luctance to "pauperize." It may some- to make a vigorous stand against the times be allowable to act for the legiti- action of surroundings and circummate advantage of the individual on stances, lest we should fall a helpless lines which would not be practicable prey to them; to keep alive by constant if applied to the community. But the effort the conviction that it is necessary welfare of the two appear at first sight to resist them. But it is possible that so inextricably intertwined that it is, those whose lives are sunny and prosno doubt, more easy to say that the one perous may mistake the content and must not be attempted for fear of en- satisfaction they feel for a condition of dangering the other, than carefully and moral excellence in which watchfulpatiently to disentangle, for a given ness is not so much needed. Plato contingency, the threads that bind them tells us that it is difficult to be cheerful together; and take the considerable when you are old and poor; and we trouble that it means to arrive at dis- may presume, therefore, that it is not tinguishing.
difficult when you are old and rich. And as for the really, absolutely But even granting that that is so, which poor, those in whom every generous it certainly is not invariably-otherwise impulse, every offer of help, every con- we should have a whole class of cheertribution towards the needs of another ful old rich whose existence would be means, as the French say, paying with of the greatest gain to the communitytheir person, depriving themselves of that is not the highest form of excelwhat they have to give to some one lence. That is the sort of well-being else, sitting up themselves at night by that comes from repletion; you have a neighbor's sick bed and thus practi- had your fill of the good things of life, cally taking their share of another's and can sit down well content. It is trouble,,I would almost go so far as not philosophical and spiritual, calm, to say that such an attitude of mind arrived at by effort and aspiration. The engenders certain high virtues which obvious and disheartening condition of are practically unknown among those the people who have had enough is