Графични страници
PDF файл


Of the necessity of learning how to use money.

- To know
That which before us lies in daily life
Is the prime of wisdom ; what is more, is fume,
Or emptiness, or fond impertinence."


THERE is one inferior or subordinate branch of knowledge, which great learning overlooks, and great genius contemns; though, in all ages of the world, learning and genius have suffered sore hardships and perplexities for the lack of it: I mean the knowledge of the use of money:

This is, it must be owned, a vulgar kind of knowledge; amply possessed, not unfrequently, by minds of the baser sort. So far from entering into the scope

of scholastic education, few are more destitute of it than some of the deepest scholars. The studies they pursue are altogether foreign from this, and the classical authors which they most admire, speak of it with contempt. It is the ambition of the studious boy to be a fine scholar. This object, along with virtuous dispositions, embraces, in his estimation, every thing desirable in character. After a painful and laudable course of exertions, he attains it. He steps forth into the busy world in the majesty of learning. By all men that are scholars themselves, his parts and his progress are admired. He has great talents, rare talents, shining talents, and all sense but common sense.

He knows the reputed number of the visible stars in the firmament, and not a few of them he can call by their names.

He has explored the depths of natural philosophy. In metaphysical acumen he is keen, and can split hairs, as

with an edge finer and sharper than a razor's. In the most celebrated languages of antiquity, and perhaps in several modern languages, he is marvellously skilled. But, with respect to that ordinary chaffer, which all, who have bodies to feed and cloath, must be concerned in, he knows less than a market boy of the age of twelve. And how will he ever get this kind of knowledge ? His books teach it not, and besides, to make it an object of practical attention, is repugnant alike to his habits and feelings. Thus richly endowed, and, meanwhile deplorably lacking, he steps into the busy world :-and experience tells the rest.

It is no uncommon thing to find men of excellent parts and profound erudition, who, nevertheless, of the little affairs of practical life, are as ignorant as children. In their deal they are exposed to daily impositions: the sharks of society prey upon them, and they perceive it not. If they employ labourers, they know neither how to direct them, nor how to estimate their services; and are quite as likely to find fault with the honest and faithful, as with those who defraud them and artfully cover the cheat. If they enjoy an income, which, rightly managed, would be competent, it melts away in their improvident hands, and they suffer want. In whatever pertains to abstract science, they are entitled to rank with the great ; but in every thing that relates to the supply of their daily necessities, or those of their families, they are least among the little. Though they have an accurate knowledge of the map of the heavens and of the earth, as they know nothing, or next to nothing, of the things about them, they are more pitiable for their ignorance than enviable for their learning

This sort of helplessness does not, however, befal the learned only : it is alike common to the inheritors of opulence. As they who, from childhood, have been altogether engaged in scientific pursuits, know less of the economy of a family, than of the economy of the visible heavens ; so they that are born to the inheritance of wealth, are naturally inclined to despise the very name and appearance of economy, as little and mean.

Possessing a superfluity of money which they never knew the getting of, they squander, rather than spend ; and, in a very little while, the fruits of a whole age of painful industry are utterly wasted and gone : not always from any uncommon pravity of heart, but sometimes, nay often, from me rely the lack of ordinary prudence ; of that worldly prudence, the study or observance of which they deemed beneath their condition.

“ The love of money” (not money itself) “ is the root of all evil." There is almost no evil, to which the inordinate love of money has not given birth or aid. But if things were to be estimated merely by the abuse of them, Literature, Science, the lights of Reason, and even Reason itself, must fall under reproach. What though money be the idol of griping avarice and the pillar of devouring ambition ? What thongh it minister in a thousand ways, to the lusts of men ? What though, to many, it opens the flood-gates of vice? What though the sordid seek it as the chief good, and the knavish snatch it by whatever means ?- Is money itself in fault ? Is it not a blessing after all ? If it be not a blessing, then it follows, that the naked famishing savage is as well off as the well-fed and well-cloathed European or American ; that vile smoky cabins are as comfortable as choice houses ; and that civilization itself is no better than the forlorn state of nature.

Money is indeed a great blessing, and the knowledge of using money as not abusing it charitably whenever

charity calls, but always discreetly—is an interesting branch of knowledge, and well deserves a place in our systems of education. For it is far more important to learn to guide our affairs with discretion, than to learn to “ speak with tongues.” Neither is any science else so often and so urgently needed, as homely household science-or practical skill in managing those little domestic and personal concerns which every day of life brings along with it.


Of the wonderful boyor the frequent failure of for:

ward parts.

There is a remarkable variety in the growth of mind, from the first visible dawnings of reason to the full maturity of its powers. Of minds that finally attain to an uncommon degree of intelligence, some have a slow growth; an ample harvest of fruit succeeds to no extraordinary blossom. Neither their childhood nor their youth gave promise of the parts which the process of time gradually and slowly developed. It has been remarked of the late Patrick Henry, so celebrated in the annals of Virginia, “ that he did not appear at the bar until he was about thirty years old, and that he had attained nearly to forty, before the extent of his talents was discovered by the public, and probably before it was known to himself.” Other minds have a rapid growth, and shortly become stationary, or even go to decay ; and the maturity of age, disappoints the high expectations that had been built upon the singular forwardness of childhood and youth. Their premature brightness passes away, and is presently gone, like the passing blaze of a meteor.

“ The wonderful boy, being no longer a boy, is no longer a wonder.” Not that this is the fact in all instances : there have been men of gigantic minds, who discovered marks of superiority in mental stature, almost from the cradle. One remarkable instance of it, was Doctor Samuel Johnson ; and another, the late Chief Justice Parsons. Of the latter, the Hon. Judge Parker, in an address to a Grand Jury, observes :From the companions of his early years I have learned, that he was comparatively great, before he arrived at manhood ; that his infancy was marked by mental labour and study, rather than by puerile amusements; that his youth was a season of persevering acquisition, instead of pleasure ; and that, when he became a man, he seemed to possess the wisdom and experience of those, who had been men long before him."

But, notwithstanding these and sundry other similar instances, experience teaches that the wonderful boy, not seldom, makes but an ordinary, and, sometimes, but an inferior man : and this is owing, perhaps for the most part, to the two following causes.

In the view that is taken of childhood and immature youth, the partial or superficial observer is very apt to mistake loquacious vivacity for brightness of intellect, and a forward pertness for genius : and the fond hopes that are founded upon this common mistake, are at length blasted of course. In the progress of age, there is discovered the want of solidity and depth. The mind has no bottom. It retains its sprightliness through life ; but it is still the sprightliness of childish years.

But the most common cause of the deplorable failure of youths of great promise, is the indiscretion, not to say vanity, of their friends. It is quite common for parents to mistake their own goslins for swans ; to think their children very bright, if they have merely

« ПредишнаНапред »