Images de page
PDF
ePub

MORAL INDEPENDENCE OF

PUBLIC MEN,

in full assurance of faith, having our tency at their command, are conhearts sprinkled from an evil con- stantly embarrassed in pecuniary science, and our bodies washed with matters ; and pass their life in a pure water : let us hold fast the pro- series of petty shuffles, which de-fession of our faith without wavering grade them in their own eyes and in (for He is faithful that promised); the eyes of all around them. They and let us consider one another, to seem to have begun with taking it provoke unto love and good works." for granted that their birth, station,

S. C. W. or fortune requires a particular style

of living; which, perhaps, wishing to avoid extravagance on the one hand, and sordidness on the other, they were willing to fix neither at its highest nor its lowest point, but

at a fair mean. But with regret To the Editor of the Christian Observer. they soon found this supposed mean Among the causes which have been daily rising : families increase; outassigned to account for the alleged goings multiply; one expense brings venality, selfishness, and want of on another: the stables compete with moral integrity of too many of our the kitchen, and the kitchen with public men, there is one which has the stables; the cellar with the wardnot been generally mentioned, but robe, and the wardrobe with the which, I fear, lies at the root of much cellar: one luxury renders another of the evil : I allude to those habits necessary: resistance, at length, they of shew and extravagance, of living think almost vain; the points of beyond one's income, and burdening attack are too numerous to be fully oneself with debt, which are fatal to guarded; and, the incursion once honesty and independence. A man made, the enemy soon seats himself who enjoys what to him is a com- in the citadel. The individual never petency, contented in mind and free meant to become involved in debt. from debt, is able to resist a bribe : He did not dream of passing an anxI do not mean merely an open, sor. ious life in keeping up his credit at did appeal, in the direct shape of so his banker's ; or in writing promuch filthy lucre, but all those in- missory notes, renewing them with direct bribes which are connected interest, racking his invention to with advancement, patronage, pro- meet them when due, or to save his vision for a family, and future ex. remaining credit when he could not pectations of dignity or emolument. promptly cover their amount. He I would not venture vaguely to cal. simply intended to live with all pro.culate what proportion, but sure I priety, as other gentlemen live in am that a very large number, of our the same station of life. But he overnobility, gentry, and clergy, of the calculated his resources, and under. members of both Houses of Parlia- calculated the demands upon them : ment, of our professional men, our and when he discovered his mistake merchants and higher traders, are he was not prepared to retrench at virtually living beyond their income: once; he did not take alarm the first that is to say, they have not, every moment a single quarterly bill was quarter-day, in hand sufficient to unprovided for; he went on paying up liquidate all demands upon them, and arrears, and contracting new debts; to go on with convenience to the next anticipating the resources of toperiod of settlement. It is noto- morrow; borrowing, selling outrious that thousands of persons of any thing, but resolutely curtailing good reputation, of unimpeached his expenses. He was afraid of principle-and, I grieve to add, some losing his credit : he was ashamed who are in high estimation as reli- to let his friends and servants, his gious men—with a liberal compe, tradesmen and neighbours, discern

that he was going back. Besides, he credit, or rather upon discredit, they did not know where to begin : his must submit to bear what is imposed; table? his domestic establishment ? not being able to emancipate themhis rent ? the education of his chil. selves from their oppressors by disdren? his accustomed decent lux- charging their claim, and seeking a uries ? his wife and daughters' dress more honest or lenient agent. and equipage ? his charities ? At I might trace on the evil till it every turn he whispers, What will arrives at its last stages, and house the world think? And the moment and land are alienated, and the a man asks that question, he is de. thoughtless owner is reduced to a graded; he is a slave ; he proves degree of poverty far below what that faith is not in lively exercise in would have been his lot had he resohis soul, for it is one of the proper- lutely grappled with the danger at ties of faith to overcome the world. an earlier stage. But the object of Not, indeed, that the world will in these remarks is, not to depict exthis case think so badly of him as he treme cases, but only those incipient expects: they will say that he is an and unnoticed stages of the evil which honest man, who prefers true honour, apply to a very large number of and peace of mind, and independence persons of good estimation, and of of character, to keeping up a super- whom nothing worse is popularly ficial shew beyond his ability to said than that “they are always a support, and thus laying traps for little behind-hand.” It is to such his own feet as often as a temptation persons that the present remonarises to cupidity and venality. This strance is presented. Why be always would be the worst of the disparage- a little behind-hand ?" Because, ment in the public eye ;-a dispa- says one, I became early involved in ragement which is never quoted to expenses which my income would not the discredit of Andrew Marvel, and support; but they were absolutely would not be to that of any person necessary to my station. Because, who should evince the integrity and says another, I must contrive to manliness, whatever his station, and maintain my numerous family in my at whatever risk, to reduce his ex- own rank in life ; I cannot see my penses, and if possible his wishes, children descend from a certain scale within the limits of his resources.

which I have marked out for them. But there are men, and even some Because, says a third, my prospects much-esteemed men, who dare not have widened as I rose ; and I must venture on this. They prefer keep- meet my new dignities and perpeing up a nominal rank, and using tuate them after me. Because, says every subterfuge to support it. Thus a fourth, I am obliged to keep up they daily become less sensible to the several establishments, and to make degradation of debt, and soon begin a good appearance, and exercise to practise artifices to avoid its in- charity in them; and I expect, if I conveniences. They flatter them- can only go on a few years longer, selves that the world is ignorant of that I shall be able to obtain such their exigencies; and live in constant or such an appointment, which will terror lest the mortifying truth should liquidate all; but if I proclaim mybecome known among their ac- self a poor man, and lose my influquaintance. In the mean time, the ence, I shall obtain nothing. And toils multiply around them : and, in so on of numerous other cases. particular, they cannot extricate Here, then, is a wide door opened themselves from the usurious exac- to venality, to tampering with contions which those who minister to science, to acting short of conviction, their wants or luxuries will, partly to suppressing truth. A man dares in justice to themselves, and partly in not be independent who is living gross imposition, inflict upon their under these trammels; he cannot helpless victim. Thus, living upon speak, or vote, or act, with fearless honesty. If he is a legislator—and wasted his spirits, ruffled his temper, many such legislators there are—he injured his health, sacrificed his inis likely often to feel his way to a dependence, and perhaps violated decision far otherwise than through his conscience, in pursuit of one of the medium of his understanding or these convenient wind-falls. He has moral sensibility: he cannot afford also a family to provide for, and he to alienate friends, and throw away cannot brook that one of his children prospects, and cut off the entail of should stoop below the supposed patronage. His conscience may not, line which befits his dignity; much indeed, allow him to descend to direct less can he think of dividing with acts of turpitude, but he can be them a property too small for his own conveniently absent, or silent, or ig- demands. He must therefore connorant, or lukewarm. He feels, also, tinue to “ hunt fortune " through that he is so vulnerable that he dares her meanders, and sometimes, not court inquiry: he is afraid to perhaps, in haunts not the most destroy the nest-egg of abuses by honourable: and he brings up his which he secretly hopes that him. family with the same views; and all self or some of his family may some its branches conspire to make an time chance to profit. He must imposing appearance, while the very tack, and trim, and compromise; liveries of his servants are worn out he cannot afford to be a plain-spoken, before they are paid for, and, unless honest man. And why? Because he claim senatorial privilege*, he is he has imposed upon himself shackles; at the mercy of any tradesman who because his growing expenses or his chooses to make a nice calculation ambition lead him to look out for between present pay and contingent some of the emoluments or dignities future advantage. which glitter before him; because

Oh! how much, I repeat it, would he does not in faith and peace commit such a man gain of honour and haphis affairs to Him who is infinitely piness if he could resolve at once to wise and kind; because he does not discard all false notions about what seek first the kingdom of God and his station requires, and bring his his righteousness; and because he mind to believe that no station can wishes for his children what his require what God has not given! Heavenly Father may not see to be with a house of half his present rent, good for them. Is this liberty? Is

or with one house instead of two or this honour? Is this happiness ? I more, and all his other expenses ask not if it be religion.

reduced in the same proportion, he I cannot conceive a greater eman- would be instantly a rich and an cipation from care, a greater addition independent man. Not one particle to true repose, an action more morally honourable or praiseworthy, than

Why does not some high-minded for such a man resolutely and at once

senator bring in a bill for the extinction to retrace his steps. I will imagine of this odious and degrading privilege ? him to be a Commoner with a some- The only plausible plea

for it is, that a sewhat liberal provision ; but who, in nator might

be arrested for party purposes; consideration of what he considers but this might be easily guarded against. It

might suffice that he should not be arrested due to an ancient and honourable for any debt of less than twelve months' house, has been spending much more; standing, and that had not been a certain always in debt and in difficulties, number of times formally demanded. If yet still living below the mark which compromise, he might be fairly considered

after this he did not pay, or make some his supposed dignity requires. He

as a man too much under shackles to be has been, year after year, openly or independent, and his absence from Parsecretly angling for some of those liament would be no loss to his country. additions of income which are con

I do not plead for imprisonment for debt :

far from it: but if others are imprisoned, sidered not to soil the hands like doubly ought a legislator, who should set trade and manufactures ; and has a better example.

of substantial comfort needs he sa- may

all be resolved into one or other crifice; much less needs he say to of the Protean forms of pride and his son, “ I have procured you such selfishness. There is nothing else to an appointment; and I promised to hinder it. There is nothing to prevote for my friend's bill.” He has vent one man giving up his country emancipated himself from the servile residence; another putting down trammels of patronage : it matters his carriage; and another retreating not to him that one appointment is from a square to a street, or from a worth so much more than another, house to a lodging, rather than be in and that by certain convenient pro- debt. The sacrifice may be painful; ceedings, not considered very dis- but it is not impossible; for I am honourable, he might procure it. He not including cases of real indigence walks in his integrity ; his sons and or severe personal privation : and, to daughters hold up their heads with prevent any misapprehension of my independence; his wife does not argument, I confine it to persons drive circuitously round back streets raised above immediate want; to to avoid the glance of a provoked those who might live, as many tradesman : and if he be a Christian, around them do, upon the income he has tranquil private hours, and a they enjoy, if only they would be mind free from inordinate worldly content to come down from their anxieties, to devote to his duties in present elevation, and to bear and life, and to the blessed intercourse of do many things, which involve no his soul with his Creator, Preserver, moral disgrace, but which they have and Redeemer.

hitherto considered as unsuitable to I have argued the subject on their station. But then pride intermoral grounds; but when I address venes ; and it is curious to observe myself to those who “name the name the various forms which it assumes. of Christ,” how much is the argu- I have particularly noticed its effects ment strengthened! Has the exhor- in preventing charity and hospitation of the Apostle Paul, “Owe no tality. A man has it in his heart to man any thing, but to love one ano- give to some object of beneficence ; ther,” ceased to be applicable to be- but as he could conveniently give but lievers? Is our blessed Lord's example a trifle, and that trifle he thought less binding in this than in other would hurt his consequence, he parts of our conduct ? Do we find him gives nothing. He wished to see living after the manner of many his friends around his board; but as who call themselves his disciples ? he could not afford sumptuous enterSooner than the tribute should be tainments, his pride excluded them. unpaid he wrought a miracle ; and, so How different was the conduct of far from inordinately accumulating - ! He had lived honourably, and, houses and lands, he had not where so far as his resources allowed, libeto lay his head. It is easy to sepa- rally and charitably, on a very moderate what is peculiar in his case from rate income. By a change of cirwhat applies also to his followers; cumstances his resources were quaand when this is done, enough will drupled; but, at the same time, his remain to point out what is the line new station, if he was to live as of duty. Let every Christian, who most of those in a similar rank lived, is not only unburdened with debt, but would involve him in at least tenfold who besides this has not somewhat expense. He was therefore in to bestow in charity, seriously, and danger of becoming virtually a much as in the sight of God, inquire, “ Is poorer man than before. But he is a there any thing really to hinder my Christian of remarkable simplicity adopting the suggestions which I of character, and of great strength have now been reading ?” I am and independence of mind. His first aware that many difficulties will in- act was to convert all his guinea stantly present themselves ; but they charity-subscriptions into five-guinea CHRIST. OBSERV. No. 358.

4G

CHURCHES.

[ocr errors]

subscriptions; his next, to quadruple tians, to the glory of God, and as
his former allotment to hospitality; stewards who must give an account
his third, to make such additions to of their stewardship.
his establishment as appeared to him

A CHRISTIAN SPECTATOR.
really requisite under his new circum-
stances; but these he found much
fewer, and less expensive, than some
of his best friends conceived necessary ON MURAL INSCRIPTIONS IN
for his “decent splendour.” He soon
became one of the most independent
men in his station; and one of the

To the Editor of the Christian Observer. causes of his independence was, that IF you

have any influence with cerhe always acted from conscience, and tain lay officers of our Establishment, never from mere fashion. He would called Churchwardens, I wish you put his name down for a sovereign would call it into immediate exercise to a charity, where he could not af- with regard to my own; whom I find ford more, and where most of his very difficult to controul in divers fellows had declined giving any matters pertaining to the weal of thing because they could not bestow my parish, and who are determined twenty pounds : he entertained at this time to beautify my church twice as many friends as most after a manner which frowns open other persons in his station, because defiance upon their vicar's canons he was content that they should be of taste.

I shall not weary you happy, not that he should appear with the tale of all my grievances; magnificent: and his single sovereign but one is, the resolution of the and simple entertainment were valued vestry, under the dictation of the and honoured far more than the ecclesiastical persons aforesaid, to most ostentatious displays of charity renew in black and gold an immense and hospitality. He was rich, be- Table of Benefactions given to us eause his expenses were within his at sundry times in the last two cenresources; he was respected, be- turies. This tablet had become, to cause principle, and not parsimony, my great satisfaction, Dearly illewas his known characteristic; and gible, and was also hung up in an he provided for his family without obscure part of the building; so the slightest murmur of his having that few persons' attention was diever employed the influence of office verted to the spelling out its quaint for any other than the most honour- inscriptions; and as a record its able purposes. But he could not necessity has long been entirely suhave acted thus, without any temp- perseded by other parochial evidence. tation to swerve, any inducement to However, this instrument is on the venality or compromise, if he had point of being renovated ; and it is not considered from the first, not to be suspended in the most conspiwhat the world thought his station cuous quarter of the church-in required, but what his resources fact, close to the pulpit. Think of conscientiously allowed; and been such an article as the following in determined, should any mistake arise a list of charitable donations blazing in the matter, to correct it instantly on the congregation : Master before he had involved either his Simon Younghusband, by a codicil conscience or his property in a snare. to his will, dated January the first,

I trust your readers will excuse 1635-6, bequeathed sixteen marks, these plain-spoken hints; and happy to be payed out of his lands at should I be, if any to whom they Clown's Hill and the Black Ladies, may be applicable should be induced, to buy good and substantial dowlas; in a spirit of prayer and serious whereof garments shall be made for inquiry, to lay them to heart, and to twelve poor spinsters of this parish, act upon them, as becomes Chris- of the age of fifty-five at the least ;

« PrécédentContinuer »