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pursuits, however unprofitable! Nay, how difficult is it often to prevent those who have no turn that
way, but prefer starving to a certain income! If there is one in a family brighter than the rest, he is immediately designed for one of the learned professions. Really, the dull and plodding people of the world have not much reason to boast of their superior wisdom or numbers: they are in an involuntary majority!
3. The value of money is an exchangeable value ; that is, this pursuit is available towards and convertible into a great many others. A person is in want of money, and mortgages an estate to throw it away upon a round of entertainments and company. The passion or motive here is not a hankering after money,
but society, and the individual will ruin himself for this object. Another, who has the same passion for show, and a certain style of living, tries to gain a fortune in trade to indulge it, and only goes to work in a more round-about way. I remember a story of a common mechanic at Manchester, who laid out the hard-earned savings of the week in hiring a horse and livery-servant to ride behind him to Stockport every Sunday, and to dine there at an ordinary, like a gentle
The pains bestowed upon the main
chance here was only a cover for another object, which exercised a ridiculous predominance over his mind. Money will purchase a horse, a house, a picture, leisure, dissipation, or whatever the individual has a fancy for, that is to be purchased; but it does not follow that he is fond of all these, or of whatever will promote his real interest, because he is fond of money, but that he has a passion for some one of these objects, to which he would probably sacrifice all the rest, and his own peace and happiness into the bargain.
4. The main chance is an instrument of various passions, but is directly opposed to none of them, with the single exception of indolence, or the vis inertia, which of itself is seldom strong enough to master it, without the aid of some other incitement. A barrister sticks to his duty, as long as he has only his love of ease to conquer ; but he flings up his briefs or neglects them, if he thinks he can make a figure in Parliament. A servant-girl stays in her place and does her work, though perhaps lazy and slatternly, because no immediate temptation occurs strong enough to interfere with the necessity of gaining her bread, but she goes away with a bastard-child, because here passion and desire come into play, though the consequence is that
she loses not only her place, but her character and every prospect in life. No one, therefore, flings away the main chance without a motive, any more than he voluntarily puts his hand into the fire or breaks his neck by jumping out of window. A man must live; the first step is a point of necessity: every man would live well, the second is a point of luxury. The having or even acquiring wealth does not prevent our enjoying it in various ways. A man may give his mornings to business, and his evenings to pleasure. There is no contradiction in this; nor does he sacrifice his ruling passion by this, any more than the man of letters by study, or the soldier by an attention to discipline. Reason and passion are opposed, not passion and business. The sot, the glution, the debauchee, the gamester, must all have money, to make their own use of it, and they may indulge all these passions and their avarice at the same time. It is only when the last becomes the ruling passion that it puts a prohibition on the others.
In that case, every thing else is lost sight of; but it is seldom carried to this length, or when it is, it is far from being another name, either in its means or ends, for reason, sense, or happiness, as I have already shown.
I have taken no notice hitherto of ambition
or virtue, or scarcely of the pursuits of fame or intellect. Yet all these are important and respectable divisions of the map of human life. Who ever charged Mr Pitt with a want of common sense, because he did not die worth a plumb? Had it been proposed to Lord Byron to forfeit every penny of his estate, or every particle of his reputation, would he have hesi. tated to part with the former ? Is not a loss of character, a stain upon honour, as vere a blow as any reverse of fortune ? Do not the richest heiresses in the city marry for a title, and think themselves well off ? Are there not patriots who think or dream all their lives about their country's good; philanthropists who rave about liberty and humanity at a certain yearly loss? Are there not studious men who never once thought of bettering their circumstances ? Are not the liberal professions held more respectable than business, though less lucrative ? Might not most people do better than they do, but that they postpone their interest to their indolence, their taste for reading, their love of pleasure, or to some other influence ? And is it not generally understood that all men can make a fortune or succeed in the main chance, who have but that one idea in their heads? Lastly, are there not those who pursue
or husband wealth for their own good, for the benefit of their friends or the relief of the distressed ? But as the examples are rare, and might be supposed to make against myself, I shall not insist upon them. I think I have said enough to vindicate or apologize for my first position
“ Masterless passion sways us to the mood
Of what it likes or loaths;"
-or if not to make good my ground, to march out with flying colours and beat of drum !