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him. He that stumbles is trampled over by the crowd behind him. It is all a scramble, in which the successful competitors are greeted with shouts of applause, and the unsuccessful ones assailed with the hisses of derision and scorn. In a former
age it was the ambition of the celebrated Cardinal de Retz, to be first in the hearts of his fellow citizens the Parisians. His munificence exceeded all former example : his liberalities were unbounded. The courtesy of his manners and the fascinating charms of his address, won him universal friendship and admiration. At home he was crowded with visiters; when he rode through the streets he was accompanied with a splendid retinue of nobility and gentry, all proud to do him honour; and whenever he entered the parliament, marked respect and homage were paid him there.
But there happened an incident that put this friend. ship to the test, and proved it light as air. Upon a. time, the Cardinal was thought to be on the eve of ru. in. In that situation he went to the parliament, te clear himself of heavy chargés which his enemies had raised against him ; and the account of his reception there is thus given in his Memoirs written with his own hand.
“ We went to the parliament. The princes had there near a thousand gentlemen with them ; and I may say hardly one from the court was missing there. I was in my church habit, and went through the great hall with my cap in my hand, saluting every body; but I met with but few that returned me that civility, so strongly was it believed that I was an undone man.”
Neither is this a solitary example, nor one of rare occurrence. History abounds with examples, that in the falling fortunes of the great and noble of the earth
their friends fall off like leaves from the trees in the first frosts of autumn. Sir Walter Raleigh, alike celebrated as a scholar, a gentleman, a statesman, a soldier, and a man of genius, in his last letter to his wife after his most unjust condemnation to death, says, 66 To what friend to direct you I know not ; for all mine have left me in the true time of need."
But not any longer to dwell on the scenes of high life, with which the generality of my readers have as little concern as myself, I will turn, now, to the walks of the more common sort.
In countries where distinction of orders is established by law, ambition runs in two different channels. With not a few, its main object is rank, titles, stars, , garters, and ribbands; these baubles being by them preferred greatly to mere wealth, which is eagerly pursued by those chiefly who can have little or no expectation of attaining to the high distinctions of civil, ecclesiastical, or military rank. Whereas in this free country of ours, where there is no distinction of orders and no established rank of one family above another, the undivided current of ambition is towards wealth. Avarice is the general and the ruling passion. The pursuit of gain is the only secular pursuit that is much -valued or thought of ; because, in the common estimation, the grand point of honour is to be rich. Mammon is the idol, to which every thing else is made to bend. Offices are sought after for their emoluments chiefly. Nay, the august seats of legislation are unhesitatingly deserted for public employments barren of honour, but of greater profit. Men are appraised, and rated high or low, according to the magnitude of their property. The common question, What is he worth ? Is answered only in one way. If his estate be small, he is worth but little ; if he have no estate left, he is worth nothing. It is but of small account though he
have an ample fund of moral and intellectual worth ; the worth that is most eagerly sought, most highly prized, and most generally esteemed, is pecuniary worth.
In the scramble of such multitudes after riches, very many must needs be unsuccessful : for in no country whatever can more than a comparative few arrive to wealth, By far the greater part of the candidates, falling short of their expectations, endure the pangs of disappointment, and pine under the corrodings of envy. With some, avarice defeats its own aim. Their greediness of gain, if it impel them not to deeds of fraud or violence which bring them to shame and ruin, spurs them on to engage
in rash and ruinous adventures. The estates of others, as Franklin's Poor Richard said, are spent in the getting.--Fondly anticipating a fortune, they dash away as if they really had it in hand. Others again, counterfeit the splendor of riches, that they may put themselves and their families in the ranks of honour. For as long as a family can keep up
the appearance of wealth by whatever means, so long is it accounted a good family, and so long is it entitled to the privilege of alliance with good company. But if it have fallen from these appearances, it had better, in the eye of fashion, have fallen from grace. Whatever of estimable and amiable qualities such a family may possess, it fares, with its former visiters and familiars, as the Cardinal did with his, at the time he was thought an undone man.
Industry, Frugality, and Thrift, are republican virtues ; but a scrambling for money as the chief good, is of bad omen.
It produces meanness of sentiment and sordidness of disposition. A free people, whose passions are set altogether on the pursuit of gain, can hardly remain free very long ; because the necessary consequence of such a spirit of avarice, is fraud in pri
vate life, and venality and corruption in the higher departments.
An able author, while treating incidentally of the fall of the Roman republic, remarks :-56 The course that a free nation runs, is from virtuous industry to wealth ; from wealth to luxury ; from luxury to an impatience of discipline and corruption of morals ; till by a total degeneracy and loss of virtue, being grown ripe for destruction, it falls at last a prey to some hardy oppressor, and with the loss of liberty, loses every thing else that is valuable. *
* Dr. Middleton on the Life of Cicero.
Of the tyranny of Fashion in laying enormous taxes
upon common-conditioned folks, and grinding the faces of the poor.
Every one who reads English history must know, that Richard the Third had a humped back. And, as ancient story goes, humping became quite fashionable during his reign: the courtiers, the Lords, the Ladies, and the under gentry, patterning after royalty, wore, each, a fashionable crook in the back : so that the English of that day were “a crooked generation," sure enough. Be this, however, as it may, in point of ridiculous absurdity it bardly exceeds what is very commonly seen among
ourselves. Though we fain would be called a christian people, it is a fact, as notorious as sad, that an antichristian deity is worshipped among us in town and country, and by immense numbers of all classes and of both sexes. Look where you will, you see all ranks bowing, cringing, bending the knee-to what? to Fashion. This is the goddess of their idolatry. They yield implicit obedience to her laws, however absurd and barbarous; and though she changes as often as the moon, they follow her in all her changes, and ape her in all her freaks--humping whenever she humps. They are brought to endure cold and nakedness, when, but for having followed her mandates, they might be comfortably clad. They reject and despise the diet which she forbids, though wholesome and palateable, and best suited, as well to their constitutions as to their circumstances. They pay tythes to her of all they possess. Tythes did I say? It were well if only a tenth would satisfy her : she often claims even more than one half. Did she tax only the rich, who are able to pay, it would be not so bad; but she lays her rapacious hands on the middling classes, and even upon the poor. Nay, the knavish huzzy seizes what ought to be laid up against old age and sickness, and also what ought to go to the creditor.
By the decree of fashion, this republican, and otherwise free nation, is thrown into castes, as really, in some respects, as the east Indians have been by their brahmins ; and the only way to gain admission, or maintain a standing, in the higher castes, is to dress gorgeously and fare sumptuously, no matter by what means. Hence the general struggle. The rich march foremost in the ranks of fashion, and the others keep as close to their heels as possible, following on, in a long train, like files of geese. This is comic in appearance, but tragic in reality. It is amusing at first
. thought, to see families in narrow circumstances struggling to make the appearance of high life; to see them vying not only with one another but with the rich, to exceed in finery and spiendor ; to see how much pains