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RICH AND POOR.
[From "Nuts and Nutcrackers -an interesting little volume, fulf of harnıless mirth and homely satire, and an admirable companion for a winter evening at home or a summer journey in a railway carriage.] “ If I was a king upon a throne this minute, an' I wanted to have a smoke for myself by the firesidewhy, if I was to do my best, what could I smoke but one pen'orth of tobacco, in the night, after all ?—but can't I have that just as asy?
“ If I was to have a bed with down feathers, what could I do but sleep there?—and sure I can do that in the settle-bed above."
Such is the very just and philosophical reflection of one of Griffin's most amusing characters, in his inimitable story of “The Collegians”—a reflection that naturally sets us a thinking, that if riches and wealth cannot really increase a man's capacity for enjoyment with the enjoyments themselves, their pursuit is, after all, but a poor and barren object of even worldly happiness.
As it is perfectly evident that, so far as mere sensual gratifications are concerned, the peer and the peasant stand pretty much on a level, let us inquire for a moment in what the great superiority consists which exalts and elevates one above the other. Now, without entering upon that wild field for speculation that power (and what power equals that conferred by
wealth ?) confers, and the train of ennobling sentiment suggested by extended views of philanthropy and benevolence-for, in this respect it is perfectly possible the poor man has as amiable a thrill at his heart in sharing his potato with a wandering beggar, as the rich one has in contributing his thousand pounds' donation to some great national charity-let us turn rather to the consideration of those more tangible differences that leave their impress upon character, and mould men's minds into a fashion so perfectly and thoroughly distinct.
To our thinking, then, the great superiority wealth confers lies in the seclusion the rich man lives in from all the grosser agency of every-day life-its makeshifts, its contrivances, its continued warfare of petty provision and continual care, its unceasing effort to seem what it is not, and to appear to the world in a garb, and after a manner, to which it has no just pretension. The rich man knows nothing of all this: life, to him, rolls on in measured tread; and the world, albeit the changes of season and politics may affect him, has nothing to call forth any unusual effort of his temper or his intellect; his life, like his drawing-room, is arranged for him; he never sees it otherwise than in trim order; with an internal consciousness that people must be engaged in providing for his comforts at seasons when he is in bed or asleep, or otherwise occupied, he gives himself no farther trouble about them; and, in the monotony of his pleasures, attains to a tranquillity of mind the most enviable and most happy.
Hence that perfect composure so conspicuous in the higher ranks, among whom wealth is so generally diffused-hence that delightful simplicity of manner, so captivating from its total absence of pretension and affectation-hence that unbroken serenity that no chances or disappointments would seem to interfere with ; the knowledge that he is of far too much consequence to be neglected or forgotten, supports him on every occasion, and teaches that, when anything happens to his inconvenience or discomfort, that it could not but be unavoidable.
Not so the poor man: his poverty is a shoe that pinches every hour of the twenty-four; he may bear up from habit, from philosophy, against his restricted means of enjoyment; he may accustom himself to limited and narrow bounds of pleasure; he may teach himself that, when wetting his lips with the cup of happiness, that he is not to drink to his liking of it: but what he cannot acquire is that total absence of all forethought for the minor cares of life, its provisions for the future, its changes and contingencies—hence he does not possess that easy and tranquil temperament so captivating to all within its influence; he has none of the careless abandon of happiness, because even when happy he feels how short-lived must be his pleasure, and what a price he must pay for it. The thought of the future poisons the present, just as the dark cloud that gathers round the mountain-top makes the sunlight upon the plain seem cold and sickly.
All the poor man's pleasures have taken such time and care in their preparation that they have lost their freshness ere they are tasted. The cook has sipped so frequently at the pottage, he will not eat of it when at table. The poor man sees life “ en papillotes” before he sees it“ dressed.” The rich man sees it only in the resplendent blaze of its beauty, glowing with all the attraction that art can lend it, and wearing smiles put on for his own enjoyment. But if such be the case, and if the rich man, from the very circumstance of his position, imbibe habits and acquire a temperament possessing such charm and fascination, does he surrender nothing for all this ? Alas! and alas! how many of the charities of life lie buried in the still waters of his apathetic nature! How many of the warm feelings of his heart are chilled for ever, for want of ground for
eir exercise! How can he sympathize who has never suffered ? how can he console who has never grieved ? There is nothing healthy in the placid mirror of that
wealth ?) confers, and the tr. suggested by extended views volence-for, in this respect poor man has as amiable a tl.r his potato with a wanderita has in contributing his thor: some great national charityconsideration of those mort leave their impress upon et minds into a fashion SO distinct.
To our thinking, then, tis. confers lies in the seclusios i all the grosser agency vi shifts, its contrivances, iis, provision and continualu seem what it is not, and garb, and after a manner, : tension. The rich man som to bim, rolls on in measti the changes of season anii nothing to call forth any his intellect; his life, for him ; he never seen with an internal consci. gaged in providing for is in bed or asleep, or self no farther trouble tony of his pleasures, : the most enviable ani!
Hence that perfect higher ranks, amor fused-hence that captivating from affectation-her chances or di with ; the kn