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Godwin, in his clever romance of 'St. Leon,' forcibly delineates the sufferings attendant on the possession of the philosopher's stone.
Alfred Tennyson, in • Locksley Hall,' after a beautiful description of a mercenary marriage, saysWhat is that which I should turn to, lighting upon days like
these ? Every door is barred with gold, and opens but to golden keys.' Cowley remarks,
Gold begets in brethren hate;
Gold doth friendships separate.' Mary Howitt observes that money quarrels are always bitter ones :' and Charles Mackay praises the man
• Who only asks for humblest wealth,
Enough for competence and health.' However, I must not longer intrude on your time. So far from needing any quotations from me on the subject, I am sure you must each be able to recall an abundance of them to your own mind."
“There is a sweet song of Moore's," remarked Miss Otley, “which-says
The love that seeks a home
Where wealth and grandeur shines,
That dwells in dark gold mines !'” “I remember," said Nelcombe, “when I was at school, being greatly impressed with the fable of
Midas, who wished to turn everything he touched into gold, and died of starvation from the realization of his desire."
“There is a true story of a similar description, said Harville, “ in Brown's "Lays and Legends of the East. An Arab had been two days in the desert, without food; coming to a well where caravans were accustomed to halt, he perceived a small bag on the sand. • Heaven be praised !' he said; “I doubt not it is flour.' He untied it, and exclaimed, ‘Miserable creature that I am! it is only gold-dust!”
Just then the drawing-room door opened, and a sober grave-looking matron in a dark gray dress appeared at it. Mrs. Trafford shook her head, and the intruder disappeared. She was the nurse of Juliana Trafford—a little girl of eight who was standing at her mother's knee; and Mrs. Trafford thought it right that her child, like those of the Vicar of Wakefield, should be “kept up a little beyond her usual time for the sake of listening to so much edifying discourse."
“I remember," said Mr. Trafford, “that Pope energetically inquires what riches can give to us, and replies that they can afford us no more than 'meat, clothes, and fire.'
“ And Goldsmith,” said Mrs. Trafford, “tells us that
• Man wants but little here below,
Nor wants that little long' “Why have you said nothing on the subject, Mr.
Stanford ?" said Miss Otley, addressing the only person in company who had kept silent during the foregoing conversation, but whose intelligent countenance evidently showed that he had listened with interest to the discussion. “I know you are very clever, and I am sure that you would be able to remember plenty of quotations on our side of the question.”
“Begging to deny that I am very clever,'” said the young man, “I yet confess that I could remember several quotations on your side of the question : but I am rather disposed to repeat quotations on the other side, because I differ much from the view you have all taken of the subject.”
A general murmur of surprise and disapprobation ensued.
“What quotations can you find on the other side, Stanford ?" asked the author. “I suppose some sordid, worldly maxims inculcated on your trusting youth by a grasping uncle, or miserly grandfather ?”
“I will only trouble you with two quotations,” said Stanford. “ One is from Dr. Johnson :- All the arguments which have been brought to represent poverty as no evil, prove it evidently to be a great evil.' The other is from ‘Emerson's Essays:'‘Money, which represents the prose of life, and which is hardly spoken of in parlours without an apology, is in its effects and laws as beautiful as roses !'”
“Perhaps, then, Mr. Stanford,” said his host, with severe gravity, "you even approve of the motives of
the rapacious crowd who are going out to dig gold in Australia ?”
“I do not at all disapprove of their motives," said Starford. “I certainly think that many of them are credulous and incautious, and that they ought well to weigh the hardships in store for them—the dangers and difficulties which surround the wished-for gold, and the probability that, after all, they may gain but a very small share of it: but their desire for gold I think very lawful, and their anxiety to take active measures for its possession perfectly natural.”
“I am surprised, indeed, to hear such sentiments from your lips, Stanford,” said Harville. " I had hoped better things of you!" “ And perhaps," said Miss Otley," you would even,
, Mr. Stanford, approve of marrying for money ?”
” “I certainly,” replied Stanford, “think that a comfortable income is a material ingredient in matrimonial happiness. But do not look horrified, Miss Otley, and do not suspect that I am brooding over a dark prospect of marrying for money. I think I must clear my character, by telling you that I have been for some time engaged to a young lady without fortune."
“You are quite in the right,” said Harville; "the wealth of the cottage is love."
“But I have no prospect even of a cottage wherein to install Clara Belson," replied Stanford. “The medical profession is a very uphill one, and if, after a few years' trial, I find that my prospects do not
greatly improve, I think it is very probable that I may myself emigrate to Australia, not with the view of gold-digging, but with the hope of gaining that golden recompense for my professional services which here is so difficult of attainment."
“Put off your marriage for a few years because you are not rich enough to marry !” exclaimed Miss Otley.
“Forsake your native country !” cried Harville.
Similar upbraidings were poured forth from the rest of the party, and when Stanford took his departure, he literally, like Lady Teazle, “left his character behind him.” The company sat together for half an hour, lauding their own disinterestedness, and blaming Stanford's love of money; and when at length they separated, Mr. Trafford complacently remarked that “he thought they had spent a very profitable evening !"
Juliana told her nurse, while she was undressing her, that “Papa and mamma, and all the visiters but Mr. Stanford, had been talking against money, and said that it was of no use, and that people were much better without it.”
To which statement the nurse returned an avowal of unqualified disbelief, saying that “Miss Juliana looked more than half asleep, and that she was very certain she had misunderstood the whole of the conversation, and that the company had been talking exactly the other way!”
The next day, all the conversers of the preceding evening were moving in the busy scenes of life; and it may, perhaps, be amusing to my readers if I detail how far their theory and practice proved consistent.