Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

In

architects of their own fortunes-for ceived a permanent concussion of the the case of a man who has himself brain from a legacy of twenty thousucceeded to a family estate is dif- sand pounds left by a stupid uncle. ferent-being thoroughly convinced From that fatal day the decline of that nothing in the world is so fatal his intellect began. He lapsed into to the development of the intellectual the usual course of dull dissipation ; powers of the young, as what are and when we saw him last, his relish commonly called expectations. Take of existence was derived from gintwo boys of the same age, and, as twist and cigars. Where would have nearly as may be, of the same capa- been Shakspeare's genius, had he bilities. Inform one of them that he been born the heir of the Lucys ? is the heir to a large fortune, which, Not one single line, even of tolerable one day or other, must come into his verse, would ever have emanated possession ; tell the other that he has from his pen. He would have drunk not a sixpence to depend on, but and diced, drabbed and hunted, like must thrive by his own exertion—and a primeval Warwickshire squire; and ten years afterwards there will be a the world would have remained unmighty difference between them. You endowed with the noblest poetry that will find that the one has wrapped up ever issued from the lips of man. Do his talent in a napkin, while the other not let us be misunderstood. We are has laid his out at interest. Owing sensitively alive to the charms of to the peculiar form of the British money ; and if any kind friend is deconstitution, and the high career of sirous to test our sincerity, let him usefulness and honour which may be make the experiment, and he will not achieved by men already in an exalted find us irrationally obstinate. position, our aristocracy has not de- fact, we are not ashamed to confess generated either in energy or in talent. that we have long sighed, although in In the House of Peers we behold the vain, for legacies. But we have now phalanx of our wisest statesmen; and, been a considerable time in harness, in the Commons, those who hereafter and that makes all the difference. will bear the proudest titles in the Our experience has merely convinced land are struggling for distinction. us of the truth of the earliest social But there are thousands of young lesson, that the bread which a man men, heirs to good fortunes, who have has acquired through his own labour, no sphere of exertion; and their case is eaten with a far keener relish is, we think, rather to be pitied than than that which he receives withenvied. Wealth contributes very out toil; and that those who think little indeed to the real enjoyment of they have escaped the penalty of our life. Action is the soul of existence; race, are in no degree the objects of and he who is either too lazy or too envy. effeminate to act, is wretched, and a Let a man, by all means, provide Sybarite. Depend upon it, there is for those of his own household. He nothing like a career; and the best is bound to do so in regard to his way to win the race is to start light- daughters, because, according to our weighted. We have known many modern methods, they are helpless if clever fellows, who really might reared in a certain position of society, have made a distinguished figure in and have a distinct and stringent life, absolutely ruined through the claim. Provision for sons we look absurd providence of their parents. upon in an infinitely more playful Had they not been led to expect a light. Admirable was the example competency, they would have plunged of the old Norse Viking, who, having at once into active existence, fought carefully reared his son in warlike their way upwards in the learned exercises, until he had attained the professions, become luminaries of period of manhood, led him down to law and literature, or otherwise the beach, showed him a galley won renown in the service of their manned with some dozen Berserkers, Sovereign and their country. The and thus addressed him: “O Thormost promising youth we ever knew wald | my father sent me from the - one who bid fair, as a phenix, fiord in such a vessel as that, with to rival the Admirable Crichton—re- nothing more than his blessing. By the help of Odin, I ravaged North- think you that Sir Ferdinand Hunks, umberland, Spain, and Italy, and won the then chieftain, will acknowledge glory and renown. I give thee two his commercial ancestor ? Not be. men for each one that went with me; The services of some future Mr therefore, take my blessing, go thy Burke will be called into requisition ; way, and see that thou conquer for and at the root of the emblazoned thyself. O, my beloved son, let me family tree will appear the name of see thy face no more !” And Thor. Honcius, the victorious general of the wald, after having received on his Danes. knees the paternal benediction, strictly Now, what has all this to do with obeyed the mandate, made the Black the subject of Life Assurance? A very Raven an emblem of terror through- great deal, kind reader, if you have out all the seas in Christendom, drove followed us in that frame of mind his keel through the unexplored wilds which the Cockneys designate as “earof ocean until he reached a land far nest.” We have been preaching against beyond the fancied Hesperides ; and accumulation, first, as being ruinous if he did not found a petty kingdom, to the intellectual and moral habits of gave birth to an energetic , race, of the accumulator himself; secondly, as whom the greatest modern sculptor being absolutely pernicious to the fuof Europe, Thorwaldsen, was a lineal tureeminence of bis heirs; and, thirdly, descendant.

as being a distinct injury to the interAnd families are to be made by ests of society at large. We might money! “The Founder of the Fa- fortify our position by many graver mily." Father Adam! pity and par- observations, for there are no points don the desecration of the term. The more strongly dwelt upon in holy writ human family has existed well-nigh than the folly and even wickedness of six thousand years : some of us have an inordinate pursuit of Mammon, and pedigrees, and some have not, but the laying up of earthly treasures; the very oldest of them date not back but it would be useless to quote such nine hundred years. The reign of texts to Jews and men of Israelitish Augustus is a comparatively late tendencies. And from these considerperiod of civilisation, but neither king ations it humbly appears to us that a nor kaisar can make out a respectable strong plea may be urged in behalf of case of descent from the contempo- the system of Life Assurance, as opraries of Horace or Virgil. There posed to the ancient method of hoardare some ancient Saxons in the South; ing. there are some more ancient Norse- Take the case of a man of forty, men in the North ; Welsh and Celts with a wife and three children. We have a pedigree which, if credited, shall suppose him to be engaged in a would connect them with Cadwal- profession, and at the age of thirty to lader and Fergus; and the descen- be in receipt of £500 per annum. He dants of our Norman chivalry are then, having no incumbrances, insures very proud of having come over with his life for the sum of £2000, at the the bastard William. Well-wherein annual premium of £43, and as a reconsists the pride ? Not that your served fund to meet contingencies lays ancestors lived before you, because by annually £57. All beyond that he that is the case with every man ex- considers himself free to expend. At isting, but because they won for them- thirty-five, his income having risen to selves a name in history by their £800 per annum, he marries. His deeds, their energy, and their daring. wife brings a portion of £3000, which Go you and do likewise. Christian, is secured on herself, and he now inin his progress towards the shining sures his life for the additional sum gate, was not more trammelled by of £2000, paying a further premium the burden on his back, than is the of £49, or £92 in all. The united inmodern aspirant after fame, if early come of the couple is rather more than saddled with a fortune. And what £900, out of which they spend £700, sort of pedigree is that which com- the contingency fund being now raised mences with Hunks the drysalter ? to £100. At forty, with three chilTwo hundred years after this, if the dren, he again insures for £2000, payrace should be propagated so long, ing £57 of premium, or £149 annual in

a

surance. The united income has risen let us tell you, is often no mean conto £1100; he now spends £800, and, sideration, in so far as your own inirrespective of his insurances, lays by terest is concerned. Many a clever £150. Let us now see how his affairs fellow has been doomed, through sheer will stand when he reaches the age of seediness, to hard struggles and disapfifty. At his death, whenever that pointment, and has most unjustly may occur, his children will receive blamed his stars, whereas, in fact, the £6000, and £3000 is secured to the fault lay with his apparel. We are mother. The savings of the first period acquainted with a meritorious Whig, will amount, irrespective of interest, who has three times been cruelly used to £285; of the second period, to by his party on account of the invete£500; of the third, to £1500—in all, rate greasiness of his garments. In with interest, about £2500. The ac- the next place, you have the comfortcumulated sums constitute, according able conviction that you are contrito our ideas, a very fair provision for buting your just share to the support a family ; and all the while a liberal of a score of excellent individuals, inrate of expenditure is allowed. We cluding the farmer, manufacturer, and have calculated the assurances upon Snip, who looks to you for his daily the non-participating scale; but sup- cabbage. And, lastly, you become posing that the insurer selects the the possessor of a stock of old clothes, other rate, and pays annually for his which, if you have the feelings of a £6000 about £172, the value of the gentleman, you will bestow upon some policies, if he were to die at fifty, indigent Christian, instead of basely would be increased by nearly £1700. bartering them to a Levite.

Now, if, instead of insuring, this We have already dilated so fully man had laid by yearly almost one- on the character of the hoarding mishalf of his income, he would scarcely, creant, that we have very little furif he died at fifty, be able to leave the ther to add. Not altogether unaclike sum behind him ; at forty, he companied is he in his later walks could not have been worth more than through life ; but the motive which £4000. We have no hesitation in say- actuates his followers is precisely the ing, that we consider the man who same which prompts the canine race does not expend more than half his to pay devoted attention to a used-up income as a caitiff and a losel. How horse, whose hour of flaying is at hand. he expends it, is altogether a different Towards one class of small hoarders, question; but, except in the way of however, we confess that we have a gross immorality, we are decidedly of kindly feeling. We allude to those opinion that a liberal scale of expen- venerable spinsters who, living upon diture is a public blessing. We have incalculably small means, and yet an intense antipathy to the mean performing punctually all the duties apothegms which we occasionally see of humanity, contrive in some mystequoted, we presume, from the margin rious way to amass extraordinary of the Miser's Almanac.

Some of them, whom we have want not;" “ A pin a-day is a groat known, were the most charitable a-year;"

;" “A penny saved is a penny creatures alive, and in good works togot ;" " There are forty sixpences in wards the poor displayed the industry a pound, and a pound is the seedling of Dorcas. How they managed to of a hundred." No doubt there is a save anything was little short of a germ of truth in all these propositions, miracle, for they were as hospitable for it is as absurd to be recklessly ex- as benevolent, and shone especially in travagant as it would be to eat Bank teas. Blistered be the tongue that of England notes with your bread and would utter one word against that butter; but the reiteration of them is excellent company of females! No offensive, and they sound like the selfish motive prompted them, by the maxims of a scavenger. One coat in curtailment of their private comforts, the year may be sufficient to cover to realise an independent store. They your nakedness; but if you can afford did so, not for money's sake, but that them, by all means get three or four. they might be able, when life was over, In the first place, your appearance to leave some token of their affecwill be materially improved, which, tion and kind remembrance to those

" Waste not,

sums.

whose first feeble cries had perhaps morning draught had been too much been uttered in their arms. It is not for his seat, and he seemed at first exalone in the season of youth that the ceedingly likely to follow his father's tenderness of woman's nature is footsteps.” That Yorkshire squire shown. Age, which hardens men into really must have been an enviable felselfishness, has usually the contrary low! Most medical writers are agreed effect on the other sex, rendering them that continuous hard drinking injures more gentle, patient, and benevolent the appetite-according to Mr Franthan they were in their earlier years. cis, nightly potations act as an adIll-requited too often they are by those mirable tonic. How the deuce did he on whom they lavish their affection; manage " to send himself to bed for love does not always meet with tipsy ? " A man may go to bed in a gratitude, and youth is forgetful of state of considerable inebriation, or, the ties which knit infancy and age failing that, he may be sent to his dortogether. And yet it would be well mitory, but how he is " to send himfor the best of us if our lives were as self” puzzles us extremely. Then, blameless, and our thoughts as chas- with all due deference to Mr Francis, tened, as those of that sisterhood of we are compelled to state that, until charity.

he brings forward undeniable proof, But-mercy on us !-we have been we must be excused for considering guilty of a gross act of rudeness. his account of the paternal death apoOccupied with our own thoughts, we cryphal. If he had told us that the have shut the door in the face of Mr old squire fell down stairs one night Francis, and fear he will be justly after dinner, and broke his neck, angry. We apologise; and turn to we should have received the legend his volume in quest of “ Anecdotes without hesitation, for such things and Legends." We are extremely may take place when the port has concerned to say that the mantle of been circulating freely; but that a the anecdotal Percies has not fallen gentleman of convivial and sporting on the shoulders of Mr Francis. His habits lost his seat in consequence of legendary lore is confined to a few the effects of "a morning draught," stories of ordinary swindling, such as is a little too much for our credulity, the case of the gentleman who sham- unless we are to presume that he had med drowning by leaving his clothes imbibed, before nine o'clock, the imon the bank of the river, or the possible quantity of half a gallon of scoundrel who attempted to impose dogs-nose, or some equally delectable

upon the Equitable by the production compound. We have a shrewd susof a forged will. Such“ legends” picion that Mr Francis knows as much are not uncommon in the newspaper of country life as did Mr Winkle the columns, or in the reports of jūry satellite of Pickwick. We have been trials-indeed, any smart attorney's infinitely amused--a rare exception clerk could have made as lively a se- by one of his legends regarding a lection as that which is now offered hearty Irish cock who offered himself us, and would have told the stories for insurance in the following way: better. Here, for example, is a sweet “The managing director of one of our instance of the narrative style. best offices was offered, while travel

" Residing in one of the wildest ling in Ireland, an insurance of £2000 districts of Yorkshire, was one of those on the life of a gentleman; and an country squires of whom we read in appointment was made to meet next the pages of our older novelists. He morning at breakfast. The applicant could write sufficiently to sign his looked strong, and seemed healthy; name; he could ride so as always to he was gay, lively, and ready-witted; be in at the death ; he could eat, when nothing appeared amiss with him his day's amusement was over, suffi- then ; and when the necessary certicient to startle a modern epicure ; and ficates of health and sobriety were drink enough to send himself to bed given, his life was willingly accepted. tipsy as regularly as the night came. In a year or two he died. In the He was young, having come to his es- mean time information was received tate early, through the death of a father that his habits were intemperate, that who had broken his neck when his he was rarely sober, and, therefore,

VOL. LXXIV.-NO. CCCCLIII.

H

that a deception had been passed upon and the national reproach which has the company. It was discovered that been cast upon us on account of the he had been made up for the occasion; inordinate consumption of ardent spithat he had dressed himself smartly, rits. The extent to which this speassuming a lively air and aspect, and cies of debauchery is carried in the that he had thus misled the gentle- larger towns is fearful; but it by no man by whom he had been somewhat means follows that the use of alcouncautiously accepted. Such a case hol is invariably prejudicial to the it was determined to resist on every health. Much depends upon constiground of public propriety and private tution, habit, and climate. Mr Francis right. All necessary legal steps were probably would shake in his shoes if taken; the lawyers prepared-a ter- he were asked to take off a glass of rible show;' and as it was of some- whisky undiluted — there are patriwhat doubtful issue, it was deemed archs in Skye, who regularly consume wise to take the most eminent advice a quart per diem, and go to bed as which could be procured. That ad- sober as he would be after imbibing a vice changed the determination of the pint of porter. These things cannot company; for it was said that though be accounted for on universal prinin England the deceased would have ciples. What is poison to the Eurobeen pronounced a most intolerable pean, is wholesome nutriment to the drunkard, yet no jury in all Ireland African. The man of Glasgow is would be found to pronounce a man petrified at the convulsive effects which intemperate who only took a dozen his punch produces upon the southern glasses of whisky-toddy nightly; that stomach-the Cockney marvels at the intemperance in England was tempe- pallid look and feckless gait of the rance in Ireland ; and that they had Gorbalier after he has imbibed a bottle better pay their money than risk a of particular crusted port. We once verdict. This they did ; and doubt- heard a Highland veteran who had less were very cautious in all Irish passed his eightieth year, apologise for cases for the future."

the non-fulfilment of what he deemed Fortunately for the company in to be a proper exercise of hospitable question, Mr Francis has not specified example, on the ground that, being it, else we doubt not that the narra- “in telicate health," his medical man tion of this anecdote would materially had advised him to restrain himself have diminished its business. What within the boundary of six tumblers. does it amount to? A man in strong We offer no apology for excess; we health proposes for an insurance, ap- are simply referring to physical facts. pears, and is accepted. It is not al- Mr Francis, however, gives us another leged that he gave false answers to case, which we hold to have been far any question that was put to him—he more objectionable. was medically examined, and declared “When the Corn-Law League estaas sound as a roach. He died, how- blished its bazaar at Covent Garden, ever, in a year or so, and then, for- among others who contributed to the sooth, the company discovered that exhibition was a cutler from Sheffield, his habits were intemperate. A dozen who visited London to see this great of glasses of whisky-toddy-for we political feature of the day. Before presume Mr Francis is too knowing he left the city he applied to an office in measures to confound a rummer to insure his life. He was examined with a glass — amount precisely to by the medical adviser; and, though a couple of tumblers, which, though he seemed somewhat excited, this was more than an abstemious nature may attributed to a prize which had been require even in a moist climate, can- awarded him, and he was accepted, not, we think, by any stretch of argu- subject to the ordinary conditions of ment, be construed into an inordinate payment, with certificates of sobriety debauch. If two tumblers are to be and good habits. The same afternoon considered as a legal impediment to he left town, arrived at Sheffield very an insurance, our northern societies late, and probably very hungry, as he may as well shut up shop at once. ate heartily of a somewhat indigestible We are fully aware of the misery supper. By the morning he was dead. which intemperate habits produce, He had fulfilled no conditions, he had

« AnteriorContinua »