Εικόνες σελίδας
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

much intellectual vigor except when connected with a body too feeble for the masculine efforts of more wealth-procuring occupations; while in England, where lordly distinctions are open to the clergy, the profession has ever included men of the highest intellectual organization. The medical profession depends in England on the money motive as in this country; hence the profession is more alike in the two countries than the clerical ; except that the medical is disadvantageously influenced among us by the money motive, which repels from the profession, to more lucrative employments, the shrewdest intellects; though in no department of knowledge is shrewdness of intellect so advantageous as in medicine and surgery. The State of New York has abol. ished nearly all the lucrativeness of the legal profession, and the youth who now become lawyers are, as a class, especially in the interior of the State, much inferior, intellectually, to those who entered the profession formerly, when its lucrativeness equalled the most favored pursuits. In no country so certainly as here will a deterioration of employees follow a diminution of emolument; and thus we have banished from all our legislatures, National and State, nearly all the most intelligent of our citizens, for they can employ themselves more lucratively than in political sta. tions.

But the worst aspect of the money motive is its tendency to a low state of morals. A sovereign's social position is but little influenced by the means that procured his elevation; so we overlook in a rich man the means by which he obtained his riches. Morality approves this where wealth is untainted with ill desert; but we make no marked difference in our conduct towards wealth, whatever may have been the vileness of its obtainment.

The Jews of Europe exemplify some of the results that


the money motive is eliciting here. Being debarred by law or prejudice from obtaining titular honors, they seek riches as the highest permitted distinction, and naturally subordinate thereto much that the honorary motive prefers. What a loss to the world has been their eighteen centuries of debasement !--if, as is affirmed, they are more intellectually acute than any other race; an affirmation they have, however, not verified here, where they suffer no legal disabilities, and are continually vanquished at their own game of pecuniary accumulation; though, probably, time enough has not elapsed to wean them from the petty traffic to which oppression originally crushed them, and to give their aspirations a higher aim.

Among the specific evils which the money motive is developing in our country, is a corruption in legislation, if we may at all believe what is openly alleged of both Congress and our State Legislatures ; so that private gain supersedes national honor, utility, and justice; while even the perpetuity of our Confederacy seems secondary to the spoils which its wreck may supply to individuals. How long our electors will remain pure from the influence of money is doubtful. Votes are said to be now purchasable in some locali. ties, especially Congressional votes; for in Congress the opportunity is great for corrupt gains, and the motive consequently large for election thereto; hence, in some districts a canvass for Congressional representatives is thought to be hopeless without a profuse employment of money, the victory being sure to the candidate who will expend the most, and who ordinarily is he who expects to make from the office the most in illegal gains; and thus the election seems to be decided on a principle that insures subsequent venality. A like evil is sadly apparent in our management of private corporations, and it ramifies through

all fiducial positions. Our judiciary is believed to have, as yet, escaped the bad influences to which other establishments have yielded; though the economy we practice in the compensation of judges tends to turn from the bench the best organized intellects, and who, generally, are best for also the conception of duty, purity, and integrity.

I have thus stated the relative national value and tendency of the two motives which ordinarily govern society, -the honorary and pecuniary; but I have said only enough to call attention to what has been hitherto overlooked. I believe the money motive to be, in the aggregate, more beneficial to the whole of mankind than the honorary; as witness our unexampled physical achievements, personal enjoyments, and national prosperity; and when our defects are perceived, the good sense and good intentions of our citizens are, I trust, sufficient to correct the evils of the money motive, and enjoy the good unalloyed.





The characteristic of gambling consists in the absence of mutual benefit to the players. So in life insurance, no party thereto will usually gain, except at the loss of the correlative party. The chance of gain is also adverse to the insured, as is demonstrated by the large surplus profits which life insurance companies announce the possession of; and which profits, like the foot-prints around a slaugh

Published in 1851.

ter-house, may admonish those who are entering, that the current inwards exceeds greatly the current outwards. Life insurance is promoted by the same artifice as lotteries, --the publication of every case where an adventurer dies soon after the commencement of liis insurance; while nothing is said where the insured abandons his policy in disgust, or from sickness, poverty, or inadvertence, after having distressed himself for years by annual premiums;

-nor where a person pays much more than his heirs are to receive back on his death. A gentleman of this city, who became married at the age of twenty-five years, and whose support consisted of a small annuity, insured five thousand dollars on his life, at an annual premium of eighty dollars, which he could badly spare. As the premium is paid in advance, it, at the end of the year, amounted, with legal interest, to....

$85 60 He then paid another.....

80 00 The interest on which, with the interest on the former $85 60, was.

11 59 Making at the end of two years...

$177 19 Should he continue the process twenty-four years, he will have paid, in principal and interest, $5,038 86, being $38 86 more than his widow is to receive at his death ; but he is young and robust, and should he live till he becomes seventy-five years old, his payments, and compound interest thereon, will amount to more than $37,000; -consequently, after his widow shall receive the stipulated $5,000, his loss on the transaction will be $32,000.



But gambling lures men from industry, frugality, and accumulation, by hopes of gain, through processes less

slow than these, and less self-denying; and in this result, also, life insurance assimilates with gambling. “ Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die," and a lifeinsurance will provide for our family, is the tendency of life insurances, whether conducted by corporations which catch large adventurers, or by clubs that catch humble people, or by health societies, that wring from manual laborers their pettiest surplus earnings. To paralyze a man's efforts, no surer means can be devised, than

companies and clubs which shall care for him in sickness, bury him when dead, and provide for his widow and orphans. By like influences, the heirs of rich men exhibit rarely self-denial in expenditures, or energy in business, and become drones in society. Necessity is nature's expedient to vanquish man's love of ease. Providence intends that we shall take care of the future by taking care of the present, and take care of our descendants by taking care of ourselves; just as a horse takes care of its hind steps, by taking heed where he places his fore feet.



Ignorant of human nature is he who believes punishment can be wholesomely disconnected from crime, evil from vice, or poverty from any thing but self-denial. If, like our Indians, we possessed no artificial melioration of pauperism, we, like them, should possess no voluntary paupers. The Bavarian Government punishes not only beggars, but persons who give alms, either in money or vic

, tuals. No man is so reckless as to remain in bed when the house in which he is lying is on fire ; but he may reside in a dilapidated house till it fall and crush him, if the catastrophe is not imminent. So, if no life insurance

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »