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Mr. P. replied, the observations appear to be generally Borrect, as far as you have gone ; but you might have taken in other characters, and enlarged on some which are noticed. One character in particular, with which I am acquainted, and somewhat related to Gripus, I will describe to you.
Peter Richton is a man of immense possessions. He discovered an excessive fondness for money from his very childhood. His education rather increased, than checked, or even regulated this propensity. Being the son of a rich merchant, he was furnished with a large capital when he arrived
From this period, he incessantly employed his time and talents to accumulate wealth. It was never out of his mind; he dreamed of it by night, by day it was a subject of constant conversation. The common appearances of avarice and fraud, were totally disregarded ; yet he took some care to escape the lash of the law, and the broad seal of public infamy. In the methods of gain, which the worshippers of this world call innocent and honorable, he possessed an uncommon ability.
It is, easy to see, that such methods are contrary to the justice and charity of the gospel ; but we know, at the sanie time, whatever such men pretend, the gospel is never admitted to be a rule of their conduct.
There never were wanting pretexts for taking unlawful interest, getting mortgaged estates for half their value, the taking of extortionate prices for all articles of trust, and the reducing the price of labor, so as to keep a number of persons about him, in a state of penury and vassalage. Owning lands in the country, on which he kept tenants, he had an opportunity to display his covetous disposition towards them. He would make no allowance in his demand of rents, for destructive diseases among the cattle, or for intemperate sexsons, which lessened the fruits of the field.
Being punctual himself, on the principles of gain, and because he always had the means of punctuality, he made no allowances for the failure of others; ever considering them as unnecessary delays, or the effects of dishonesty. In vain, therefore, a debtor“ fell down before him, saying, have påtience with me, and I will pay thee all-"
He was ready enough to give credit, when it would furnish an opportunity to seize on real or personal estates, great
, ly to his own advantage; but has been often known, to steel bis heart against the persuasives of a poor man, whose unal
fected eloquence plead relief for a family, laboring under the distresses of sickness and poverty.
Though he very rarely, if ever, bestowed any thing in private, yet he sometimes contributed on a very public occasion, that he might gratify his pride, by reading his name in the newspaper, printed in large capitals, and himself extolled as a public benefactor. One may easily guess, from his predominant passion, that he grudged the gist, but he was not wholly dead to the desire of public praise.
Indeed, few are so in love with money, as not to make now and then a small sacrifice, for the delight they feel in hearing the loud blast and distant echoes of the trumpet of fame. Most men have a predominant passion, yet others may be called into action, for a short time, but soon become dormant, and give place to that which governs. Men of this class may also have hours of remorse, in which they attempt to atone for past frauds and oppressions, by seeming liberalities; just as abandoned sinners in the church of Rome, in view of death, endeavored to atone for crimes, and ease, a pained mind, by building houses of worship, or giving largely to the church.
Whichever of these may prompt them to seeming charity, it can hardly be supposed to be done on any right motive ; that is, on account of their love to God, or his creatures; for such men love the world supremely, and hence the love of the Father cannot be in them. And though I would not hinder or refuse the gifts of such men, when intended for the poor; yet we ought not to applaud them as Christians, but rather to tell them in faithfulness, that whether they eat, or drink, or give to the poor, they should do all to the glory of God. Yet it is not uncommon for such to fatter themselves that evangelical charity is nothing but such occasional gifts; and if they, though but rarely, seed the hungry, and clothe the naked, they certainly possess Christian charity. If so, St. Paul was in the wrong, when he said, “ Though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and bave not charity, it profiteth me nothing.” What is evangelical charity, then? It is the love of God shed abroad in the heart, by the Holy Ghost, and habitually acted out in the life; and particularly in feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick, and prisoners.
If these observations be just, shall Mr. Richton be called a charitable Christian, because his name appears now and then in a newspaper, accompanied with the sum he gave for
building a hospital, an alms-house, or relieving the distresses of a town consumed by fire ?
He obtained the appointment of guardian over some fatherless children, and administrator to the estate to which they were heirs. It is useless and tedious to detail the extravagant charges he made, for guardian and administering services ; and the secret dishonest artifices he practised, to wrong the widowed mother, and her fatherless children, out of their estate, that he might add it to bis own immense possessions. Suffice it to say, he effected it so covertly as to escape legal detection, and make it generally believed he did them justice ; but others, who knew more of the matter, are satisfied beyond a doubt, that he was guilty of abominable fraud.
Mr. Richton declined marriage for a number of years, lest the
expense of a family should retard his progress in the road to wealth; and because, during that time, he met with no one of his own disposition, and whose riches, by being united with his, would augment his already overgrown estate. Piety, beauty, and a polite, useful education, were qualifications for which he had no concern; nay, he rather detested than desired them; fearing that piety might occasion liberality, or that beauty might lead to dress, and a good education might want company and sociability ; requiring for their support an expense he was no way disposed to bear. If there was an aptness to get money, a readiness to reckon dues and pay off demands ; a scrupulous exactness in prices and charges, an ardent thirst for gain, an unremitting pursuit of it, united with much ready cash of her own ; he cared not, if she were as impious as an infidel, as ugly featured as an ape, a dwarf or giant for size, and as uncultivated in her mind and manners, as a tawny aboriginal. A stranger to the reciprocity of friendship, and all the lovely sympathies of an ameliorated mind, he never sought the enjoyment of domestic life, nor cultivated any of the social affections of the human soul.
At length he met with a person every way according with bis wishes. Her name was Wealthy Platina, the daughter of a rich merchant, inheriting the large estate of a deceased father. Common amusements, gay dress, costly equipage, luxurious living, &c. were insipid to her taste. To refrain from these, was no act of self-denial ; though she often boasted of her virtue, in denying herself of that on which others squandered away so much time and money.
She walked on
foot, bought second-handed clothes, lived in a small upper room, renting her best houses and rooms for gain, and to save expense.
One is naturally led to contrast her character with such as seem to delight in nothing but dress, amusements, &c. They regard not the sacrifices made, or the expenses incurred, if their darling passion can be gratified. Some dissipate large estates, others expend all their earnings in gew-gaws. It is difficult to say which of these is the most despicable character.
When Mr. Richton became acquainted witb Miss Platina, his doubts concerning the propriety of marrying, were at an end ; especially if she should consent to give him her hand ; as to her heart, he cared not a cent for that. If she loved him, he cared not; or if she did not, it was to him a matter of equal indi ference. One thing he knew, and that was, he loved her ready cash, and her disposition to keep what she had and get what she could ; and if these might be put in his power, he was willing to leave, what he esteemed the lesser things of matrimony, to those who liked them.
After thinking of the matter a little, he ventured to make proposals ; and this he did more with the air of making a great bargain, than that of a tender lover ; adopting for his maxim, that a faint heart never wins a fair lady. She was at first a little pradish, but these common female appearances, were, by degrees, laid aside, and he was encouraged to hope for success.
Could the conversation on both sides be known, it would, doubtless, provoke our risibles, as well as our indig. pation. It must, however, remain a secret ; yet the substance of it may be guessed by the following letter.
My Dear Wealthy,
My heart burns with impatience for the hour, when I can call you mine. The estate you possess, and the ready mind you evidence for further acquirements, leave me no doubt but you were made on purpose to render me happy in a matrimonial alliance. Our united possessions and undivided exertions, cannot fail to make us the richest and happiest of the age. I have compared the value of my estate with yours, and
find them so exactly bala that I have the brightest prospect of being happily freed from any uneasiness or hard words which might be occasioned, if one of us were rich and the other poor. You are not a stranger to the endless disputes and ill will between Mr. Poor and his wife, be
cause she brought him an immense fortune by marrying him. She never fails to tell him of his poverty and dependance on her, at least every meal, and especially before company; she tells him, also, how much he is honored by such an alliance, and the great condescension on her part, to marry with one so destitute.
Though he is a man of some good nature, he will not bear such insults without reply. . Thus the contention begins, and the house is in perfect uproar for two hours; nor does it cease, till both get out of breath and retire, to gain strength for another war of words.
But O, the felicity of our expected union! We shall certainly escape all this. O, the delight of laying whole nights together, to talk of what we have, and in laying schemes of getting more! In the exultation of my mind, I cry out with rapture, 0, thou goddess of fortune! deny us not of thy gifts, but inspire us with true wisdom, that we may see and embrace every opportunity of laying up of thy choicest and largest blessings, till none shall excel us in all the earth. So shall the approaching nuptials of Peter and Wealthy, be a matter of thankfulness forever. Adieu. Miss Wealthy Platina.
PETER RICATON. It may be supposed that Miss Platina read the above with as rapturous a heart as that with which it was written. At least this is to be conjectured, from the style of the answer. Mr. Riebton,
Yours arrived last evening. My heart said Amen, to the contents, and I nearly uttered it with my lips ten times. I freely own that I feel a secret pleasure in the prospect before us. Solomon has said, money answereth all things ; so that it can hardly be doubted, when our interests and endeavors are united, but we shall be the most favored of mortals. Till that happy period, may neither of us slacken in the pursuit of riches, nor lose by negligence, a cent of present enjoyment. For I am certain, froin the oneness of disposition we now feel, that we shall readily quicken each other's pace, and prove as guardian angels for the safe keeping of all we have; and push each other onward, till we arrive at the highest summit of the golden mount. I cordially join in your prayer to the goddess of fortune, not doubting but she will answer greatly to our mutual satisfaction. Adieu. Ar. Peter Richton.