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On the subject of wealth, the proper use of it, and the effects of that art which is called æconomy, Johnson once observed, “ It is wonderful to think how men of very large estates not only spend their yearly income, but are often actually in want of money. It is clear, they have not value for what they spend. Lord Shelburne told me, that a man of high rank, who looks into his own affairs, may have all that he ought to have, all that can be of any use, or appear with any advantage, for five thousand pounds a year. Therefore a great proportion must go in waste; and indeed this is the case with most people, whatever their fortune is.”—Boswell. “I have no doubt, Sir, of this; but how is it? What is waste?"-JOHNSON. “ Why, Sir, breaking bottles and a thousand other things. Waste cannot
man, as a place where a prodigious deal of business is done upon 'Change; a dramatic enthusiast, as the grand scene of theatrical entertainments; a man of pleasure, as an assemblage of taverns, and the great emporium for ladies of easy virtue. But the intellectual man is struck with it, as comprehending the whole of human life in all its variety, the contemplation of which is inexhaustible.”
be accurately told, though we are sensible how destructive it is. Economy on the one hand, by which a certain income is made to maintain a man genteelly, and waste on the other, by which, on the same income, another man lives shabbily, cannot be defined.' It is a very nice thing; as one man wears his coat out much sooner than another, we cannot tell how.".
On the right employment of wealth he remarked thus: “A man cannot make a bad use of his money so far as regards Society, if he does not hoard it; for if he either spends it, or lends it out, Society has the benefit. It is in general better to spend money than to give it away; for industry is more promoted by spending money than by giving it away. A man who spends his money is sure he is doing good with it; he is not so sure when he gives it away. A man who spends ten thousand a year will do more good than a man who spends two thousand, and gives away 'eight.”
His Ofellus, in the Art of living in London,' he has been heard to relate, was an Irish painter, whom he knew at Birmingham, and who had practised his own precepts of æconomy for several years in the British capital. He assured Johnson, who perhaps was then meditating to try his fortune in London, but was apprehensive of the ex
pence, “ that thirty pounds a year was enough to enable a man to live there without being contemptible. He allowed ten pounds for clothes and linen. He said a man might live in a garret at eighteen pence a week; few people would enquire where he lodged; and if they did, it was easy to say, 'Sir, I am to be found at such a place. By spending threepence in a coffeehouse, he might be for some hours every day in very good company; he might dine for sixpence, breakfast on bread and milk for a penny, and do without supper. On clean shirt-day he went abroad, and paid visits.” Johnson would often talk of this frugal friend, whom he recollected with esteem and kindness, and did not like to have any one smile at the recital. " This man (said he gravely) was a very sensible man, who perfectly understood common affairs; a man of a great deal of knowledge of the world, fresh from life, not strained through books. He borrowed a horse and ten pounds at Birmingham. Finding himself master of so much money, he set off for West Chester, in order to get to Ireland. He returned the horse, and probably the ten pounds too, after he got home.”
To Mr. Boswell Johnson once said, “ Get as much force of mind as you can. Live within your income. Always have something saved at the end of the year. Let your imports be more
than your exports, and you'll never go far wrong."
A gentleman praised the accuracy of an account book of a lady whom he mentioned. Johnson said," Keeping accounts, Sir, is of no use when a man is spending his own money, and has nobody to whom he is to account. You won't eat less beef to-day, because you have written down what it cost yesterday." Another lady was mentioned who thought as he did, so that lier husband could not get her to keep an account of the expences of the family, as she thought it enough that she never exceeded the sum allowed her. JOHNSON. “ Sir, it is fit she should keep an account, because her husband wishes it; but I do not see its use."--Mr. Boswell maintained, 'that keeping an account had this advantage, that it satisfied a man that his money had not been lost or stolen, which he might sometimes be apt to imagine, were there no written state of his expences; and besides that, a calculation of economy, so as not to exceed one's income, could not be made without a view of the different articles in figures, that one might see how to retrench in some particulars less necessary than others. This Johnson did not attempt to answer.
At another time speaking of economy he remarked, that it was hardly worth while to save anxiously twenty pounds a year. If a man could
save to such a degree as to enable him to assume a different rank in society, then, indeed, it might answer some purpose. .“ I told him (says Mr. Boswell) that at a gentleman's house where there was thought to be such extravagance or bad management that he was living much beyond his income, his lady had objected to the cutting of a pickled mango, and that I had taken an opportunity to ask the price of it, and found it was only two shillings; so here was a very poor saving.” “ Sir (said Johnson), that is the blundering oeconomy of a narrow understanding. It is stopping one hole in a sieve.”
Talking of a penurious gentleman of his acquaintance, Johnson' said, “ He is narrow, not so much from avarice, as from impotence to spend his money. He cannot find in his heart to pour out a bottle of wine; but he would not much care if it should sour.”
His friend Edward Cave * having been on some occasion mentioned, he said, “ Cave used to sell ten thousand of · The Gentleman's Magazine;' yet such was then his minute attention and anxiety that the sale should not suffer the smallest decrease, that he would name a particular person
* The original proprietor of The Gentleman's Magazine, in which Johnson was employed as a writer.