Imatges de pÓgina
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architects of their own fortunes-for the case of a man who has himself succeeded to a family estate is different being thoroughly convinced that nothing in the world is so fatal to the development of the intellectual powers of the young, as what are commonly called expectations. Take two boys of the same age, and, as nearly as may be, of the same capabilities. Inform one of them that he is the heir to a large fortune, which, one day or other, must come into his possession; tell the other that he has not a sixpence to depend on, but must thrive by his own exertion-and ten years afterwards there will be a mighty difference between them. You will find that the one has wrapped up his talent in a napkin, while the other has laid his out at interest. Owing to the peculiar form of the British constitution, and the high career of usefulness and honour which may be achieved by men already in an exalted position, our aristocracy has not degenerated either in energy or in talent. In the House of Peers we behold the phalanx of our wisest statesmen; and, in the Commons, those who hereafter will bear the proudest titles in the land are struggling for distinction. But there are thousands of young men, heirs to good fortunes, who have no sphere of exertion; and their case is, we think, rather to be pitied than envied. Wealth contributes very little indeed to the real enjoyment of life. Action is the soul of existence; and he who is either too lazy or too effeminate to act, is wretched, and a Sybarite. Depend upon it, there is nothing like a career; and the best way to win the race is to start lightweighted. We have known many clever fellows, who really might have made a distinguished figure in life, absolutely ruined through the absurd providence of their parents. Had they not been led to expect a competency, they would have plunged at once into active existence, fought their way upwards in the learned professions, become luminaries of law and literature, or otherwise won renown in the service of their Sovereign and their country. The most promising youth we ever knew

one who bid fair, as a phoenix, to rival the Admirable Crichton-re

ceived a permanent concussion of the brain from a legacy of twenty thousand pounds left by a stupid uncle. From that fatal day the decline of his intellect began. He lapsed into the usual course of dull dissipation ; and when we saw him last, his relish of existence was derived from gintwist and cigars. Where would have been Shakspeare's genius, had he been born the heir of the Lucys? Not one single line, even of tolerable verse, would ever have emanated from his pen. He would have drunk and diced, drabbed and hunted, like a primeval Warwickshire squire; and the world would have remained unendowed with the noblest poetry that ever issued from the lips of man. Do not let us be misunderstood. We are sensitively alive to the charms of money; and if any kind friend is desirous to test our sincerity, let him make the experiment, and he will not find us irrationally obstinate. fact, we are not ashamed to confess that we have long sighed, although in vain, for legacies. But we have now been a considerable time in harness, and that makes all the difference. Our experience has merely convinced us of the truth of the earliest social lesson, that the bread which a man has acquired through his own labour, is eaten with a far keener relish than that which he receives without toil; and that those who think they have escaped the penalty of our race, are in no degree the objects of

envy.

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Let a man, by all means, provide for those of his own household. He is bound to do so in regard to his daughters, because, according to our modern methods, they are helpless if reared in a certain position of society, and have a distinct and stringent claim. Provision for sons we look upon in an infinitely more playful light. Admirable was the example of the old Norse Viking, who, having carefully reared his son in warlike exercises, until he had attained the period of manhood, led him down to the beach, showed him a galley manned with some dozen Berserkers, and thus addressed him: "O Thorwald! my father sent me from the fiord in such a vessel as that, with nothing more than his blessing. By

the help of Odin, I ravaged Northumberland, Spain, and Italy, and won glory and renown. I give thee two men for each one that went with me; therefore, take my blessing, go thy way, and see that thou conquer for thyself. O, my beloved son, let me see thy face no more!" And Thorwald, after having received on his knees the paternal benediction, strictly obeyed the mandate, made the Black Raven an emblem of terror throughout all the seas in Christendom, drove his keel through the unexplored wilds of ocean until he reached a land far beyond the fancied Hesperides; and if he did not found a petty kingdom, gave birth to an energetic, race, of whom the greatest modern sculptor of Europe, Thorwaldsen, was a lineal descendant.

And families are to be made by money! "The Founder of the Family." Father Adam! pity and pardon the desecration of the term. The human family has existed well-nigh six thousand years: some of us have pedigrees, and some have not, but the very oldest of them date not back nine hundred years. The reign of Augustus is a comparatively late period of civilisation, but neither king nor kaisar can make out a respectable case of descent from the contemporaries of Horace or Virgil. There are some ancient Saxons in the South; there are some more ancient Norsemen in the North; Welsh and Celts have a pedigree which, if credited, would connect them with Cadwallader and Fergus; and the descendants of our Norman chivalry are very proud of having come over with the bastard William. Well-wherein consists the pride? Not that your ancestors lived before you, because that is the case with every man existing, but because they won for themselves a name in history by their deeds, their energy, and their daring. Go you and do likewise. Christian, in his progress towards the shining gate, was not more trammelled by the burden on his back, than is the modern aspirant after fame, if early saddled with a fortune. And what sort of pedigree is that which commences with Hunks the dry salter? Two hundred years after this, if the race should be propagated so long,

think you that Sir Ferdinand Hunks, the then chieftain, will acknowledge his commercial ancestor? Not he. The services of some future Mr Burke will be called into requisition ; and at the root of the emblazoned family tree will appear the name of Honcius, the victorious general of the Danes.

Now, what has all this to do with the subject of Life Assurance? A very great deal, kind reader, if you have followed us in that frame of mind which the Cockneys designate as "earnest." We have been preaching against accumulation, first, as being ruinous to the intellectual and moral habits of the accumulator himself; secondly, as being absolutely pernicious to the future eminence of his heirs; and, thirdly, as being a distinct injury to the interests of society at large. We might fortify our position by many graver observations, for there are no points more strongly dwelt upon in holy writ than the folly and even wickedness of an inordinate pursuit of Mammon, and the laying up of earthly treasures; but it would be useless to quote such texts to Jews and men of Israelitish tendencies. And from these considerations it humbly appears to us that a strong plea may be urged in behalf of the system of Life Assurance, as opposed to the ancient method of hoarding.

Take the case of a man of forty, with a wife and three children. We shall suppose him to be engaged in a profession, and at the age of thirty to be in receipt of £500 per annum. He then, having no incumbrances, insures his life for the sum of £2000, at the annual premium of £43, and as a reserved fund to meet contingencies lays by annually £57. All beyond that he considers himself free to expend. At thirty-five, his income having risen to £800 per annum, he marries. His wife brings a portion of £3000, which is secured on herself, and he now insures his life for the additional sum of £2000, paying a further premium of £49, or £92 in all. The united income of the couple is rather more than £900, out of which they spend £700, the contingency fund being now raised to £100. At forty, with three children, he again insures for £2000, paying £57 of premium, or £149 annual in

surance. The united income has risen to £1100; he now spends £800, and, irrespective of his insurances, lays by £150. Let us now see how his affairs will stand when he reaches the age of fifty. At his death, whenever that may occur, his children will receive £6000, and £3000 is secured to the mother. The savings of the first period will amount, irrespective of interest, to £285; of the second period, to £500; of the third, to £1500-in all, with interest, about £2500. The accumulated sums constitute, according to our ideas, a very fair provision for a family; and all the while a liberal rate of expenditure is allowed. We have calculated the assurances upon the non-participating scale; but supposing that the insurer selects the other rate, and pays annually for his £6000 about £172, the value of the policies, if he were to die at fifty, would be increased by nearly £1700.

Now, if, instead of insuring, this man had laid by yearly almost onehalf of his income, he would scarcely, if he died at fifty, be able to leave the like sum behind him; at forty, he could not have been worth more than £4000. We have no hesitation in saying, that we consider the man who does not expend more than half his income as a caitiff and a losel. How he expends it, is altogether a different question; but, except in the way of gross immorality, we are decidedly of opinion that a liberal scale of expenditure is a public blessing. We have an intense antipathy to the mean apothegms which we occasionally see quoted, we presume, from the margin of the Miser's Almanac. "Waste not, want not;" "A pin a-day is a groat a-year;" "A penny saved is a penny got;" ;""There are forty sixpences in a pound, and a pound is the seedling of a hundred." No doubt there is a germ of truth in all these propositions, for it is as absurd to be recklessly extravagant as it would be to eat Bank of England notes with your bread and butter; but the reiteration of them is offensive, and they sound like the maxims of a scavenger. One coat in the year may be sufficient to cover your nakedness; but if you can afford them, by all means get three or four. In the first place, your appearance will be materially improved, which,

let us tell you, is often no mean consideration, in so far as your own interest is concerned. Many a clever fellow has been doomed, through sheer seediness, to hard struggles and disappointment, and has most unjustly blamed his stars, whereas, in fact, the fault lay with his apparel. We are acquainted with a meritorious Whig, who has three times been cruelly used by his party on account of the inveterate greasiness of his garments. In the next place, you have the comfortable conviction that you are contributing your just share to the support of a score of excellent individuals, including the farmer, manufacturer, and Snip, who looks to you for his daily cabbage. And, lastly, you become the possessor of a stock of old clothes, which, if you have the feelings of a gentleman, you will bestow upon some indigent Christian, instead of basely bartering them to a Levite.

We have already dilated so fully on the character of the hoarding miscreant, that we have very little further to add. Not altogether unaccompanied is he in his later walks through life; but the motive which actuates his followers is precisely the same which prompts the canine race to pay devoted attention to a used-up horse, whose hour of flaying is at hand. Towards one class of small hoarders, however, we confess that we have a kindly feeling. We allude to those venerable spinsters who, living upon incalculably small means, and yet performing punctually all the duties of humanity, contrive in some mysterious way to amass extraordinary sums. Some of them, whom we have known, were the most charitable creatures alive, and in good works towards the poor displayed the industry of Dorcas. How they managed to save anything was little short of a miracle, for they were as hospitable as benevolent, and shone especially in teas. Blistered be the tongue that would utter one word against that excellent company of females! No selfish motive prompted them, by the curtailment of their private comforts, to realise an independent store. They did so, not for money's sake, but that they might be able, when life was over, to leave some token of their affection and kind remembrance to those

whose first feeble cries had perhaps been uttered in their arms. It is not alone in the season of youth that the tenderness of woman's nature is shown. Age, which hardens men into selfishness, has usually the contrary effect on the other sex, rendering them more gentle, patient, and benevolent than they were in their earlier years. Ill-requited too often they are by those on whom they lavish their affection; for love does not always meet with gratitude, and youth is forgetful of the ties which knit infancy and age together. And yet it would be well for the best of us if our lives were as blameless, and our thoughts as chastened, as those of that sisterhood of charity.

But-mercy on us!-we have been guilty of a gross act of rudeness. Occupied with our own thoughts, we have shut the door in the face of Mr Francis, and fear he will be justly angry. We apologise; and turn to his volume in quest of "Anecdotes and Legends." We are extremely concerned to say that the mantle of the anecdotal Percies has not fallen on the shoulders of Mr Francis. His legendary lore is confined to a few stories of ordinary swindling, such as the case of the gentleman who shammed drowning by leaving his clothes on the bank of the river, or the scoundrel who attempted to impose upon the Equitable by the production of a forged will. Such "legends" are not uncommon in the newspaper columns, or in the reports of jury trials-indeed, any smart attorney's clerk could have made as lively a selection as that which is now offered us, and would have told the stories better. Here, for example, is a sweet instance of the narrative style.

"Residing in one of the wildest districts of Yorkshire, was one of those country squires of whom we read in the pages of our older novelists. He could write sufficiently to sign his name; he could ride so as always to be in at the death; he could eat, when his day's amusement was over, sufficient to startle a modern epicure; and drink enough to send himself to bed tipsy as regularly as the night came. He was young, having come to his estate early, through the death of a father who had broken his neck when his

VOL. LXXIV.-NO. CCCCLIII.

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morning draught had been too much for his seat, and he seemed at first exceedingly likely to follow his father's footsteps." That Yorkshire squire really must have been an enviable fellow! Most medical writers are agreed that continuous hard drinking injures the appetite-according to Mr Francis, nightly potations act as an admirable tonic. How the deuce did he manage "to send himself to bed tipsy ? A man may go to bed in a state of considerable inebriation, or, failing that, he may be sent to his dormitory, but how he is "to send himself" puzzles us extremely. Then, with all due deference to Mr Francis, we are compelled to state that, until he brings forward undeniable proof, we must be excused for considering his account of the paternal death apocryphal. If he had told us that the old squire fell down stairs one night after dinner, and broke his neck, we should have received the legend without hesitation, for such things may take place when the port has been circulating freely; but that a gentleman of convivial and sporting habits lost his seat in consequence of the effects of "a morning draught," is a little too much for our credulity, unless we are to presume that he had imbibed, before nine o'clock, the impossible quantity of half a gallon of dogs-nose, or some equally delectable compound. We have a shrewd suspicion that Mr Francis knows as much of country life as did Mr Winkle the satellite of Pickwick. We have been infinitely amused-a rare exception -by one of his legends regarding a hearty Irish cock who offered himself for insurance in the following way: "The managing director of one of our best offices was offered, while travelling in Ireland, an insurance of £2000 on the life of a gentleman; and an appointment was made to meet next morning at breakfast. The applicant looked strong, and seemed healthy; he was gay, lively, and ready-witted; nothing appeared amiss with him then; and when the necessary certificates of health and sobriety were given, his life was willingly accepted. In a year or two he died. In the mean time information was received that his habits were intemperate, that he was rarely sober, and, therefore,

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that a deception had been passed upon the company. It was discovered that he had been made up for the occasion; that he had dressed himself smartly, assuming a lively air and aspect, and that he had thus misled the gentleman by whom he had been somewhat uncautiously accepted. Such a case it was determined to resist on every ground of public propriety and private right. All necessary legal steps were taken; the lawyers prepared-a terrible show;' and as it was of somewhat doubtful issue, it was deemed wise to take the most eminent advice which could be procured. That advice changed the determination of the company; for it was said that though in England the deceased would have been pronounced a most intolerable drunkard, yet no jury in all Ireland would be found to pronounce a man intemperate who only took a dozen glasses of whisky-toddy nightly; that intemperance in England was temperance in Ireland; and that they had better pay their money than risk a verdict. This they did; and doubt less were very cautious in all Irish cases for the future."

Fortunately for the company in question, Mr Francis has not specified it, else we doubt not that the narration of this anecdote would materially have diminished its business. What does it amount to? A man in strong health proposes for an insurance, appears, and is accepted. It is not alleged that he gave false answers to any question that was put to him-he was medically examined, and declared as sound as a roach. He died, however, in a year or so, and then, forsooth, the company discovered that his habits were intemperate. A dozen of glasses of whisky-toddy-for we presume Mr Francis is too knowing in measures to confound a rummer with a glass-amount precisely to a couple of tumblers, which, though more than an abstemious nature may require even in a moist climate, cannot, we think, by any stretch of argument, be construed into an inordinate debauch. If two tumblers are to be considered as a legal impediment to an insurance, our northern societies may as well shut up shop at once. We are fully aware of the misery which intemperate habits produce,

and the national reproach which has been cast upon us on account of the inordinate consumption of ardent spirits. The extent to which this species of debauchery is carried in the larger towns is fearful; but it by no means follows that the use of alcohol is invariably prejudicial to the health. Much depends upon constitution, habit, and climate. Mr Francis probably would shake in his shoes if he were asked to take off a glass of whisky undiluted - there are patriarchs in Skye, who regularly consume a quart per diem, and go to bed as sober as he would be after imbibing a pint of porter. These things cannot be accounted for on universal principles. What is poison to the European, is wholesome nutriment to the African. The man of Glasgow is petrified at the convulsive effects which his punch produces upon the southern stomach-the Cockney marvels at the pallid look and feckless gait of the Gorbalier after he has imbibed a bottle of particular crusted port. We once heard a Highland veteran who had passed his eightieth year, apologise for the non-fulfilment of what he deemed to be a proper exercise of hospitable example, on the ground that, being "in telicate health," his medical man had advised him to restrain himself within the boundary of six tumblers. We offer no apology for excess; we are simply referring to physical facts. Mr Francis, however, gives us another case, which we hold to have been far more objectionable.

"When the Corn-Law League established its bazaar at Covent Garden, among others who contributed to the exhibition was a cutler from Sheffield, who visited London to see this great political feature of the day. Before he left the city he applied to an office to insure his life. He was examined by the medical adviser; and, though he seemed somewhat excited, this was attributed to a prize which had been awarded him, and he was accepted, subject to the ordinary conditions of payment, with certificates of sobriety and good habits. The same afternoon he left town, arrived at Sheffield very late, and probably very hungry, as he ate heartily of a somewhat indigestible supper. By the morning he was dead. He had fulfilled no conditions, he had

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