« ПредишнаНапред »
ANECDOTES OF MISERS;
Passion of Avarire Displayed :
IN THE PARSIMONIOUS HABITS, UNACCOUNTABLE LIVES AND RE-
OF ALL AGES, WITH A FEW WORDS ON
FRUG ALITY AND SAVING.
DARK, OR LIGHTS AND SHADOWS OF THE OLDEN TIME," ETC.
If the poet said true, when he wrote that the proper study of mankind is man, the subject of this little volume will serve some better object than mere curiosity. It has been my aim throughout its compilation, to render it a volume of instruction as well as of amusement. I think it a pleasant way to instil a moral by exciting curiosity, and have endeavoured, in gathering together examples of avarice, to show the evils of that passion—to show how, before its influence, vanish the better spirits of the heart, and how impossible it is, that within the avaricious soul, virtue or charity can find a profitable habitation.
In presenting this volume to the public, I deem it, but justice to myself, and candour to
my readers, to intimate that I do not profess to fill the book with novel and unheard-of instances of avarice. I have not sought, like a diligent antiquary, into the biographical minutiæ of misers. I have not met with any old manuscript lives; I have discovered in public libraries no curious diary of a miser's schemes, or of a miser's gains. Some of these materials have been in print before, and have doubtless long ago, amused many of my readers; but a great proportion have been extracted from books but little known—from forgotten pamphlets, and from newspapers long out of date. Some have been gathered from old country gossips, and some have been gleaned from ephemeral sources, to which I cannot even myself distinctly refer. I have thought it fit to declare thus much, lest, in introducing some anecdote which my readers may have heard of before, they should accuse me of plagiarism. I would have it remembered too, that old illustrations may be so re-applied, as that the life of a Daniel Dancer, or of a John Elwes, may still carry a warning, of how sinful is avarice, or of how fruitless is an eternal parsimony; although they may have been related in other books.
My instances are veritable ones, and most of them I believe to be illustrations of real life unexaggerated by fiction. Whilst I have an object in the compilation-whilst I aim, to point now and then a moral, and to exemplify sometimes one of the propensities of the human mind, I have not forgotten that many will read the book to drive away ennui ; and that youthful readers in winter evenings may expect some amusement from my pages. As I earnestly wish that such may be the case, I have endeavoured, in choosing my illustrations and anecdotes, to select those which appeared the most amusing from their eccentricity, or the most instructive by the warning they convey. I have winnowed my multitudinous materials from all those anecdotes and reminiscences, which from the coarseness of their allusions, or the indelicacy of their nature, might seem offensive to virtue, or likely to prove dangerous to innocence.
I hope then, the book may not be without its use, and am inclined to say, as Southey said on one occasion,
Be it with thee according to thy worth;
or in the quaint words of a very old author, whose