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Conduct Of Life:
Manners When Travelling
How To Dress
Of A Happy Life And Wherein It Consists
Man The Maker Of Happiness
Happiness Through The Pursuit And Use Of Money
The Art Of Having Time
The Miracle Of Tact
Frienship - Part 1
Friendship - Part 2
Friendship - Part 3
The Simple Life
The Essence Of Simplicity
Right Living As A Fine Art
( Originally Published 1913 )
In their dreams of the ideal commonwealth all reformers and statesmen have held that happiness involves not only freedom, intelligence, but abundance also. During the last century society achieved liberty, and led the black race far from the slave market, and the white race away from the debtor's dungeon. Colleges, and schools, too, were increased, until the paths that lead to the schoolhouse are open to all young feet, while the educator has exposed all those pitfalls associated with ignorance, vice, and crime. Now comes an age of abundance, when wealth is here, to build a highway of happiness for society, and to hasten all footsteps along this way that leads unto intelligence and integrity, to peace and prosperity. As never before, property has become an evangelist, and wealth a distributor of happiness. The time was when property owners were a little class by themselves, but now property owning is a characteristic of all society.
Wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, it has been said, is as dangerous as the snow when collected in drifts, while wealth evenly diffused is like the snow blanket, a fer tilizer for the entire land. Already the people of this country are the possessors of property representing eighty billions of treasure, in towns and cities, and farms and factories, in ships and railways, in institutions of art and science, education and religion. Each year increases the treasure. Ledges are being uncovered that sparkle with treasure beyond all the dreams of avarice. Under the new methods of cultivation the black soil of the prairies is seen to hold a richness for sheaf and cluster that has hitherto been the despair of the laboratories. Every month, also, brings some new discovery as to the use of the metals, with coal, copper and iron. For the treasures of the wilderness are as yet unbroken.
With the increase of intelligence, also, is coming an increase of riches; for wealth is condensed brain and integrity. Nature compacts the riches of soil and sun and air into a single cluster of ripe figs. In themselves, however, clay and air and sunshine are worthless for food; combined and passed through root and branch, they change their form and become apple or orange. Similarly, raw iron and wood are comparatively worthless; passing through man's mind and hand, they take on value. Iron plus intellect is an engine. Wool plus intellect is a coat. Leather plus intellect is the shoe. Stone and brick plus intellect become a temple or a house. Each new tool abbreviates labor, and frees the boy for study; each new convenience frees the girl to read or write or sing. Other ages have been taught by war, by the revival of learning, by the Reformation, by the overthrow of feudalism, but ours is an area when property is freeing men from drudgery unto the higher life.
Say what we will, happiness, individual and social, is indissolubly bound up with wealth. Long ago Carlyle said, "An Englishman's hell was want of money." Wendell Phillips was even more severe regarding his own countrymen, saying that if an American saw a silver dollar on the other side of hell he would jump for it. Angered by the misuses of wealth and the cruelty of great corporations, men who misunderstand the problem heap execrations upon property. Many have come to think that wealth is a veritable Pandora's box, out of which comes every possible ill. No sentence is more frequently on the lips than Paul's words, "The love of money is a root of all evil." Nevertheless, that statement is a half truth, for money is also a root of all good. Strictly speaking, money is neither good nor ill. It is a force, like water or wind or electricity, and in itself is therefore without moral quality.
Money is simply energy made portable: convertible manhood. It is as foolish to inveigh against fire because it burns careless people, or against steam because it scalds ignorant ones, as to inveigh against money because it is misused by bad men, and avaricious. In their foolish diatribes against money men forget that if the wind and tide hurl careless captains upon the rocks they sweep the wise one into the harbor. Thus money is a force, made good or bad by its use. Analyzed, wealth begins with two loaves of bread, when but one is needed; with two suits, when only one can be worn; with a horse for riding, when a man could walk; with a boat to cross the stream, when one could swim; with an axe for firewood, when one could break the sticks; with the book that takes one through Iceland in an evening, without tire or exposure, when the trip itself would involve years of both; and with this saving against tomorrow's need, the scholar has leisure to go apart and feed his genius, the poet has solitude for pluming his wings, the philanthropist has freedom to become the knight-errant for the poor and the weak, the statesman and the missionary can toil unrequited for the common people. Therefore Professor Brownson defines property as "communion with God through material things."
Fundamentally, God creates all treasure. Man cannot create gold: he uncovers it. He cannot create diamonds: he finds them; nor can he create the raw material of wealth. In exalted mental moods Handel communes with God through his symphony, Von Rile through his aspiring arches, Lowell through his solemn prayer and poem. Not otherwise, all those forms of treasure for which man digs and delves represent the philanthropy of God rushing into those visible shapes called a sheaf, a waving pine or palm, the shining ledge of gold. If the masterpiece of some artist is precious, then surely this example of God's artistry named a sheaf is as sacred as a sacrament. A certain form of divinity also belongs to every ledge and mine, and trade itself may well be looked upon as a form of worship. NO artist ever lingered over his picture as the infinite God lingers over a cornfield, putting the last touches upon the sheaf and shock for man's admiration and delight. Looking at the Damascus blade, we admire the skill that tempered and polished it; but the Creator was the first worker in iron, heating and alloying every ton of the rough ore in mines. We marvel at the crystallized carbon that men dig out of the earth, that makes the soft climate of California portable; but what infinite labor was involved in taking the masses of ferns and blossoms and boughs, and pressing them into these blocks of anthracite that yield warmth to our winter.
Nor should we be surprised that the pursuit of riches contributes to man's happiness, when we consider that the genius of business is the genius of the teacher. All the fundamental knowledges have grown out of the necessity of producing wealth, and preserving and distributing it. Take away the good habits that come through trade, destroy the moralities developed through the right use of wealth, and man would become a mere pulp of animalism. In the long ago man was sent away to school. The earth was the room in which he studied, and the habits of patience, self-reliance, and courage, in providing against the exigencies of winter, with cold and hunger, represent the lessons that man is learning. Trees are rooted to the earth that they may grow, and the handicrafts are roots that hold man to the earth that he may grow and find enrichment.
As the race rises in the scale of manhood, and becomes wise towards furrow, forest, and field, it moves toward wealth. What moralities, bringing happiness, are taught by work! When man wished for some luscious fruit, the tree refused to grow the plum, in a single night, but promised that fruit unto long-continued thought and care. Seven years of caring for the tree finally ripened the plum for our father man, but better still, ripened those fruits named patience and courage within the human heart. Seeking treasure for wife or child, man made himself impervious unto heat and cold, and wet and dry. For the enrichment of his home he sweltered in the tropics and shivered in the arctics ; and having searched out all forests, and the riches of all seas and rivers, he returned from far-off islands, bringing back his "golden fleece" indeed, but bringing the greater riches named self-reliance, fortitude, fertility of resource.
The man at his loom, therefore, the potter with his vase, the husbandman with his sickle, the men who cut and carve, and plough and plant, and so create objects of use and beauty, are also creating a manhood, and achieving a character, so precious as to make their material products comparatively contemptible. Riches, therefore, enrich the individual, and are the school of character, as well as the almoner of bounty unto art and science, liberty and religion. All philosophers have noted that if individuals have sometimes prospered in poverty, nations never have. A great nation means colleges, schools, libraries, galleries, hospitals, a thousandfold conveniences in cottage and mansion; and these imply wealth as the fruitage of labor. God, who makes one rose to be a blessing, does not turn it into a curse when this one sweetbrier becomes a thousand. There can be, therefore, no warfare between wealth and the God who created it. Gold is sometimes defiled, but it borrows that filth from a bad man's fingers.
The relationship between wealth and happiness becomes the clearer when we consider how wealth has contributed to the nation's upward progress. The production of wealth, its control, its use, and enjoyment, is one of the most powerful of all the stimulants to social advancement. When the savage starts toward work, he starts toward wealth and greatness, because Nature knew of no better way of changing a babe into a man, crowned with full power of faculty. God made it necessary for the youth to earn his own livelihood, placed him in competition with his fellows, surrounded him with stimulants to ambition, and provocatives to property. At first his vices wasted wealth, later his virtues began to assemble it. The early savage man was a sluggard who wore a coat of skin, and dwelt in a bark hut, ate raw meats, lived by hurling clubs. The problem was, given a savage, how can you turn him into a hero and a scholar and a saint? Then the winter was sent, with its snow and rain, to smite man for his lazy life, his lack of thrift and foresight.
Shivering with cold, man went forth to pluck the soft wool from the sheep, the cotton from its pod, the linen from the flax, and soon he wove all these into garments against the winter's snow. In the summer, man ate the wild apple and the pear, or rubbed out the handfuls of rice growing in the field, but when the winter came there were no fruits on the boughs, no nuts on the branches, no roots in the ground. Then hunger lifted its scourge, and Nature pointed man to the squirrel, that had harvested the nuts, to the bees that had hived their honey. Then man went forth to dig up the apple trees and plant them in his garden, near the tent, and cut down a forked stick with which to scratch the ground, to tame a bullock with which to draw his new implement; founded a granary also, to hold his little store.