RICHES WITHOUT WINGS.
Walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called.
–EPH. iv. I.
Abundance consists not alone in material possession, but in an
Less coin, less care; to know how to dispense with wealth is to
Rich, from the very want of wealth,
In heaven’s best treasures, peace and health.
Money never made a man happy yet; there is nothing in its
nature to produce happiness. The more a man has, the more he
wants. Instead of filling a vacuum, it makes one.
There are treasures laid up in the heart, treasures of charity,
piety, temperance, and soberness. These treasures a man takes
with him beyond death, when he leaves this world.
“It is better to get wisdom than gold; for wisdom is better
than rubies, and all things that may be desired are not to be
compared to it.”
“Better a cheap coffin and a plain funeral after a useful,
unselfish life, than a grand mausoleum after a loveless,
I ought not to allow any man, because he has broad lands, to
feel that he is rich in my presence. I ought to make him feel
that I can do without his riches, that I cannot be
bought–neither by comfort, neither by pride,–and although I
be utterly penniless, and receiving bread from him, that he is
the poor man beside me.
“I don’t want such things,” said Epictetus to the rich Roman orator who was making light of his contempt for money-wealth; “and besides,” said the stoic, “you are poorer than I am, after all. You have silver vessels, but earthenware reasons, principles, appetites. My mind to me a kingdom is, and it furnishes me with abundant and happy occupation in lieu of your restless idleness. All your possessions seem small to you; mine seem great to me. Your desire is insatiate, mine is satisfied.”
“Lord, how many things are in the world of which Diogenes hath no need!” exclaimed the stoic, as he wandered among the miscellaneous articles at a country fair.
“One would think,” said Boswell, “that the proprietor of all this (Keddlestone, the seat of Lord Scarsfield) must be happy.” “Nay, sir,” said Johnson, “all this excludes but one evil, poverty.”
“What property has he left behind him?” people ask when a man dies; but the angel who receives him asks, “What good deeds hast thou sent before thee?”
“What is the best thing to possess?” asked an ancient philosopher of his pupils. One answered, “Nothing is better than a good eye,”–a figurative expression for a liberal and contented disposition. Another said, “A good companion is the best thing in the world;” a third chose a good neighbor; and a fourth, a wise friend. But Eleazar said: “A good heart is better than them all.” “True,” said the master; “thou hast comprehended in two words all that the rest have said, for he that hath a good heart will be contented, a good companion, a good neighbor, and will easily see what is fit to be done by him.”
“My kingdom for a horse,” said Richard III. of England amid the press of Bosworth Field. “My kingdom for a moment,” said Queen Elizabeth on her death-bed. And millions of others, when they have felt earth, its riches and power slipping from their grasp, have shown plainly that deep down in their hearts they value such things at naught when really compared with the blessed light of life, the stars and flowers, the companionship of friends, and far above all else, the opportunity of growth and development here and of preparation for future life.
Queen Caroline Matilda of Denmark wrote on the window of her prison, with her diamond ring: “Oh, keep me innocent; make others great.”
“These are my jewels,” said Cornelia to the Campanian lady who asked to see her gems; and she pointed with pride to her boys returning from school. The reply was worthy the daughter of Scipio Africanus and wife of Tiberius Gracchus. The most valuable production of any country is its crop of men.
“I will take away thy treasures,” said a tyrant to a philosopher. “Nay, that thou canst not,” was the retort; “for, in the first place, I have none that thou knowest of. My treasure is in heaven, and my heart is there.”
Some people are born happy. No matter what their circumstances are they are joyous, content and satisfied with everything. They carry a perpetual holiday in their eye and see joy and beauty everywhere. When we meet them they impress us as just having met with some good luck, or that they have some good news to tell you. Like the bees that extract honey from every flower, they have a happy alchemy which transmutes even gloom into sunshine. In the sick room they are better than the physician and more potent than drugs. All doors open to these people. They are welcome everywhere.
We make our own worlds and people them, while memory, the scribe, faithfully registers the account of each as we pass the milestones dotting the way. Are we not, then, responsible for the inhabitants of our little worlds? We should fill them with the true, the beautiful and the good, since we are endowed with the faculty of creating.
“Genius,” says Whipple, “may almost be defined as the faculty of acquiring poverty.” It is the men of talent who make money out of the work of the men of genius. Somebody has truly said, that the greatest works have brought the least benefit to their authors. They were beyond the reach of appreciation before appreciation came.