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Poor Rich Men and Rich Poor Men. – A Word or
two on the Periodical Writings of the Author.
LEASURE is the business of this book: we
own it. We love to begin it with the word : WY
it is like commencing the day (as we are now commencing it) with sunshine in the room. Pleasure for all who can receive pleasure; consolation and encouragement for the rest, — this is our device. But then it is pleasure like that implied by our simile, innocent, kindly; we dare to add, instructive and elevating. Nor shall the gravest aspects of it be wanting. As the sunshine floods the sky and the ocean, and yet nurses the baby buds of the roses on the wall ; so we would fain open the largest and the very least sources of pleasure, - the noblest that expands above us into the heavens, and the most familiar that catches our glance in the homestead. We would break open the surfaces of habit and indifference, of objects that are supposed to contain nothing but so much brute matter
or commonplace utility, and show what treasures they conceal. Man has not yet learned to enjoy the world he lives in ; no, not the hundred-thousand-millionth part of it: and we would fain help him to render it productive of still greater joy, and to delight or comfort himself in his task as he proceeds. We would make adversity hopeful, prosperity sympathetic; all kinder, richer, and happier. And we have some right to assist in the endeavor: for there is scarcely a single joy or sorrow, within the experience of our fellow-creatures, which we have not tasted; and the belief in the good and beautiful has never forsaken us. It has been medicine to us in sickness, riches in poverty, and the best part of all that ever delighted us in health and suc
There is not a man living, perhaps, in the present state of society, - certainly not among those who have a surfeit of goods, any more than those who want a sufficiency, that has not some pain which he would diminish, and some pleasure, or capability of it, that he would increase. We would say to him, Let him be sure he can diminish that pain and increase that pleasure. He will find out the secret by knowing more, and by knowing that there is more to love. 66 Pleasures lie about our feet.” We would extract some for the unthinking rich man out of his very carpet (though he thinks he has already got as much as it can yield); and for the unthinking or unhoping poor one, out of his bare floor.
Can you put a loaf on my table?” the poor man may ask. No: but we can show him how to get it in the best manner, and comfort himself while he is get
ting it. If he can get it not at all, we do not profess
my gout, or my disrelish of all things?” the rich man may ask. No: nor perhaps even diminish it, unless you are a very daring or a very sensible man; and if you are very rich indeed, and old, neither of these predicaments is very likely. Yet we would try. We are inextinguishable friends of endeavor.
If you had the gout, however, and were Lord Holland, you would smile, and say, “ Talk on."
You would suspend the book, or the pen, or the kindly thought you were engaged in, and indulgently wait to see what recipes or amusing fancies we could add to
Nay, if you were a kind of starving Dr. Johnson, who wrote a letter one day to the editor of the magazine to which he contributed, signing himself, “Dinnerless, you would listen to us even without a loaf on your table, and see how far we could bear out the reputation of the Lydians, who are said to have invented play as a resource against hunger. But Dr. Johnson knew he had his remedy in his wits. The wants of the poor in knowledge are not so easily post
* Impransus. It might mean simply, that he had not dined; but there is too much reason to believe otherwise. And yet how much good and entertainment did not the very necessities of such a man help to produce us!