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I shall expect a letter from you, to be lest with my banker in Paris, and remain
His Friend's Answer. ALY DEAR FRIEND,
Your account of the civil and religious tyranny under which the peo ple groan in foreign nations, together with the progress of deism, ex. hibits to sur view a melancholy picture of human nature. Your de scription reminds me of that beautiful passage in Addison's letters from Italy, where he says,
They starve, in midst of nature's bounty curst,
And in the loaded vineyard die for thirst. These people once enjoyod the same privileges as ourselves, and pos sibly that time may not be far distant when we may be as abject slaves as they. However disagreeable some things may have been to you on your travels, yet I congratulate you on the happiness of being absent from England in these times of public divisions. Never were our Saviour's words more properly verified in this country than at present, when there is scarce one family wherein the most violent dissensions have not happened. An author of no mean rank has asserted, that if ever English liberty is destroyed, it must arise from the people them. selves ; and, if ever the people should become jealous of the conduct of their representatives in Parliament, and those jealousies are well founded, they will soon throw themselves into the arms of arbitrary power.
They'll fly from petty tyrants to the throne.” Virtue and unanimity have at all times preserved liberty ; vice and discord have always procured its ruin. At present there is an univer. sal discontent among nine tenths of the people. The majority of the people not only complain of the conduct of the ministry, but have even gone so far as to impeach the conduct of the house of commons. These complaints are at present carried on to an extraordinary height, and where they will end God only knows. For my own part, I often reflect on it with sorrow, as I am afraid it must at last prove fatal to our excellent constitution, and involve us in those miseries to which the peo ple of other nations are subject.
If I go into a coffee house, the first thing I hear is a political disputo concerning the conduct of the munistry; and when I happen to be invited to dine at the house of a friend, all social converse is destroyed, and the pleasure I used formerly to enjoy on such occasions is lost in violent altercations amongst the nearest relations. I am far from.conJunning all ranks of people. There are many worthy persons, who can view the conduct of each party with impartiality, and see the faults on both sides. They can see that the ministry have not enough considered themselves the servants of the people, and on many occasions abused the confidence of their sovereign. On the other hand, they think the people have carried their jealousies to an unreasonable height, and insisted on the prince exerting a branch of the regal authority
which in the end might prove fatal to themselves. Such is the state of affairs at present in this once happy country; I shall therefore, being fired with the subject, imitate your example, and put an end to this leto ter. Hoping to see you soon,
I am yours sincerely.
LETTER 153 From a young Merchant, to an aged Gentleman, formerly of the
same profession, but now retired from business. HONORED SIR,
Your generosity in sending me instructions during my apprenticeship will ever remain a lasting proof of that innate goodness for which you have been so justly celebrated ; and likewise encourages me to trouble you for advice how to conduct myself, so as to support my credit in the world, now I am entered upon business. Your long and extensive knowl. edge of mercantile affairs, gives a sanction to every thing you say, and your goodness of heart encourages the inexperienced to address them. selves to you with cheerfulness. I hare been now about two years in business, and although my success has been equal to my expectations, yet there are such a variety of failures daily in this city, that I am eve. ry day thinking that my own name may be that week in the Gazette.I should not be much surprised were all to become bankrupts who are abandoned characters, as I do not see how any thing less can be ex. pected. You know, sir, that assiduity and regularity are qualifications indispensably necessary to the merchant; so that it must appear moral. ly impossible for the man to prosper in trade whose time is spent in dis. sipation and idleness; if not, which loo often happens, in debauchery. When I hear of such failing in their payments, I am no ways surprised ; but when great numbers of those, apparently in afiluent circumstances, and the fairest characters, daily fail, I am justly alarmed, and my fears continue to increase in proportion to their numbers.
I would not choose to judge rashly, much less uncharitably of any man ; although I must confess I am very much shocked to hear that á commission of bankruptcy is awarded against one supposed worth thousands, and not sufficient left to pay five shillings in the pound. I am filled with horror on account of my own situation, and led to believe there is a latent curse attending inercantile affairs, which the greatest prudence can neither foresee nor prevent. I am sensible that the per. son to whom I am writing knows the above to be true. Your long acquaintance with the fluctuating state of merchandize procures respect and gives a sanction to every thing you say. But, as far as I am able to learn, those failings in the mercantile world are more frequent now than when you was engaged in trade. I am not ambitious of acquiring riches. My whole desire is to obtain peaceable possessioa of the comforts of life, to do justice to cvery one with whom I have any dealings, and to live and die an honest man. Such, sir, is the plan i have laie. down for my future conduct in life. But, alas! it will require the assistance of all my friends to enable me to execute it with a becoming propriety. Let me therefore beg your advice on an affair of so much importance, and wbatever you dictate shall be the invariable rule oa my conduct, whilst the thanks of a grateful heart shall be continually ra. turned for 60 benevolent an ation.
I am, sir, die
The Answer. SIR,
If I can form any judgment of the integrity of your actions, and the purity of your intentions from the contents of the letter now before ine, I should not hesitate ono moment in declaring, that it is almost impossible your name should ever appear in the Gazette under the disagreeable circumstances you have mentioned. For how is it possible to suppose, that the man who keeps a regular account of his proceedings, his loss and gain, should not know whether his circumstances are affluent or distressed? And whatever you may think of those merchants who havo often failed, although reputed affluent, yet if you had attended to their examination before the commissioners I believe you would have great reason to alter your opinion. I speak concerning bankruptcies in gen eral; for there are some unforoseen accidents which even the greatest prulence cannot prevent. But these are extraordinary cases, and sel dom happen. If you examine minutely into the nature of those causes which generally occasion bankruptcies, you will find them arising from something with which you are still unacquainted. I shall endeavor te point out a few, and submit to your own judgment whether I am mis taken or not. And the first is generally a careless attention to business, the not keeping regular accounts, and a more earnest desire after publio entertainments than assiduity to business on the exchange. Mercantile affairs require a clear and solid judgment, and it is morally impossible for that man to prosper in trade whose mind is continually engaged in the pursuit of things foreign to, and wholly unconnected with, that sta. tion in which Providence has placed him. It is a contradiction in terms Assiduity always procures respect, and generally insures success. An other cause of the many failures in the mercantile world, is the vanity of those in trade living above their circumstances. This vice is a present so predominant among the citizens, and its consequences so fa ial, that one would almost imagine the people were laboring under some penal infatuation. Formerly the citizens of London were distinguished in a peculiar manner for their gravity ; the exchange and the custom house were the only places they frequented when they went from home. But now the face of affairs is changed, and those places where their predecessors acquired fortunes are considered as too low and vulgar for tliem to be seen at. Nay, so far have they carried their extravagance, that all distinctions are in a manner confounded, and the wife of a tradesman is hardly known from the lady of a peer. Dissipation, extravagance, and debauchery have taken the place of activity, prudenco, and frugality; and many instead of acquiring independent fortunes, and Iciring from business with credit and honor, we first see their names in the Gazette, and the remainder of their lives is either spent in prison, or they have to struggle through the world without credit under the odi: ous appellation of a bankrupt. The last cause I would mention is naturally the effect of others; I mean a desperate attempt to repair a brok en fortune by engaging too deeply at gaming in the stocks. This prac cice has been attended with such pernicious consequences, that the
children unborn will become real sufferers through e madness of their infatuated parents. When those who save waste their substance in riotous living are awakened by a feeling sense of their approaching shame and misery, they generally muster up all they can procure, and at one stroke venture it all in the stocks, where, if one is successful, most commonly twenty are ruined. What I have now told you is the result of long experience, and I doubt not but you will find too glaring proofs of it. It now remains that I should, in compliance with your request, point out some rules to be observed, in order to carry on business both with credit, honor and profit. But I know of no method more proper than to act diametrically opposite to the conduct of those already mentioned.
Learn to be wise by others' harm,
And you shall do fúll well. Nerer leave that undone till to-morrow that can be performed to-day.
Never trust that to either a friend or a servant which can be done by yourself.
Keep an account of every day's expense, and once at least every week, compare your debt with your credit
. Be not over anxious in acquiring riches. Trade is solid, but slow; ad experience has long since convinced me, that those who are over hasty in acquiring riches, most commonly fail in their attempts, and soon find themselves real beggars. But, above all, remember, that “ in vain do we rise soon, or sit up late, unless our labors are crowned with di. vine blessings." I leave these things to your consideration, and am, with great sincerity,
Your sincerc well wisher.
LETTER 155. From a Gentleman in decayed circumstances in the country, to an
other lately returned from the East Indies, recommending his
Son to his protection. SIR,
I was greatly pleased to hear of your arrival, but much more so that you had acquired an ample fortune. You knew me when my circum stances were not only easy, but likewise affluent; and you also know that at that time I was glad of every opportunity of assisting my friends But, al as ! I am now in quite a different situation. By the loss of a ship from Jamaica, I was obliged to stop, payment, and give up all to my creditors, who have generously allowed me a small annuity for my subsistence. When that fatal event took place, I retired into the coun uy with my wife and children, and my time since has been spent in sue perintending their education. The bearer, my eldest son, is just twen ty, and is very desirous of going to the Easi Indics ; but my circum. cances are such that it is not in my power to give him any assistance, por indeed do I know in what manner to proceed in an affair of so much importance. The friendship which subsisted betwixt us befors yon left England, gives me some encouragement to hope, that your ele. vation and grandeur will not make any alteration in your sentiments concerning benevolence, notwithstanding the depressed e'tuation to
which I am reduced. I rather think that my present distressed cir Cumstances will plead more powerfully in favor of the youth, than if lic were supported even by the recommendation of the whole body of di. rectors. I have given him an education, perhaps beyond my circumStances, and suitable, I hope, to any situation in the mercantile world. His morals, so far as I know, are pure, and I doubt not his conduct will give satisfaction. If, therefore, you will be pleased either to take him under your own direction, or instruct me in what manner to pro ceed in order to promote his interest, you will thereby confer a lasting obligation on an indulgent, though afflicted parent, and it shall be acknowledged with gratitude to the latest period of my existence.
I am, sir, your very humble servant LETTER 156.
The Answer. DEAR SIR,
When I read your affecting letter, I scarcely knew whether I was more grieved to hear of your distressed circumstances, or filled with shame that I had been three months in England, and never inquired for cne who had not only treated me with humanity, but even assisted me in making my first voyage to the Indies. Your house was an asylum to me when I was utterly destitute, and I should consider myself as an object of the utmost abhorrence, if I hesitated one moment in comply. ing with your request, relating to the amiable youth who brought me the leiter. But, in what light must I consider myself were my gratitude to the best of men confined to such a favor as would cost me nothing, or what I would grant even to a stranger ! No, sir, I am sensible of benefits received, and should consider myself as a mean, abject wretch, if I did not acknowledge them with gratitude. I have just been with your son to the directors, and he is engaged as a writer at Bengal. If the climate agrees with his constitution there is no great fear but he will soon acquire a considerable fortune. For which purpose I have depos ited in the hands of the supercargo live hundred pounds for his iisc, which you know is more than I had when I first embarked for that parı of the world. But still, I should consider myself as acting very par. cially, if whilst I am making provision for the son I should forget his aged parents. The ships for India do not sail till next March, so that your son will have at least three months to remain with you before he embarks. He sets off with the coach to-morrow, and I have intrusted him with something for your immediate use. I intend calling to spend a few days with you next month, and be assured that nothing in my pom er shall be wanting to make your life as agreeable as possible. I have not so far forgot the principles of a virtuous education as to look with indifference on the various dispensations of Providenc. How true is ulat saying of the wise man, “ The race is not to the swift, nor the bal ue to the strong!” As human wisdom cannot discern the progress 10 earthly grandeur, so man's prudence is not always able to guard against calamitous events. I am determined, therefore, not to place too much confidence in riches, and shall only consider myself as the steward of that all bountiful God from whom I have received them. This is my