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An essay by T. S. Arthur


Title:     Wealth
Author: T. S. Arthur [More Titles by Arthur]

THE error of life into which man most readily falls, is the pursuit of wealth as the highest good of existence. While riches command respect, win position, and secure comfort, it is expected that they will be regarded by all classes only with a strong and unsatisfied desire. But the undue reverence which is everywhere manifested for wealth, the rank which is conceded it, the homage which is paid it, the perpetual worship which is offered it, all tend to magnify its desirableness, and awaken longings for its possession in the minds of those born without inheritance. In society, as at present observed, the acquisition of money would seem to be the height of human aim--the great object of living, to which all other purposes are made subordinate. Money, which exalts the lowly, and sheds honour upon the exalted--money, which makes sin appear goodness, and gives to viciousness the seeming of chastity--money, which silences evil report, and opens wide the mouth of praise--money, which constitutes its possessor an oracle, to whom men listen with deference--money, which makes deformity beautiful, and sanctifies crime--money, which lets the guilty go unpunished, and wins forgiveness for wrong--money, which makes manhood and age respectable, and is commendation, surety, and good name for the young,--how shall it be gained? by what schemes gathered in? by what sacrifice secured? These are the questions which absorb the mind, the practical answerings of which engross the life of men. The schemes are too often those of fraud, and outrage upon the sacred obligations of being; the sacrifice, loss of the highest moral sense, the destruction of the purest susceptibilities of nature, the neglect of internal life and development, the utter and sad perversion of the true purposes of existence. Money is valued beyond its worth--it has gained a power vastly above its deserving. Wealth is courted so obsequiously, is flattered so servilely, is so influential in moulding opinions and judgment, has such a weight in the estimation of character, that men regard its acquisition as the most prudent aim of their endeavours, and its possession as absolute enjoyment and honour, rather than the means of honourable, useful, and happy life. While riches are thus over-estimated, and hold such power in the community, men will forego ease and endure toil, sacrifice social pleasures and abandon principle, for the speedy and unlimited acquirement of property. Money will not be regarded as the means of living, but as the object of life. All nobler ends will be neglected in the eager haste to be rich. No higher pursuit will be recognised than the pursuit of gold--no attainment deemed so desirable as the attainment of wealth. While the great man of every circle is the rich man, in the common mind wealth becomes the synonyme of greatness. No condition is discernable superior to that which money confers; no loftier idea of manhood is entertained than that which embraces the extent of one's possessions.

There is a wealth of heart better than gold, and an interior decoration fairer than outward ornament.--

There is a splendour in upright life, beside which gems are lustreless; and a fineness of spirit whose beauty outvies the glitter of diamonds. Man's true riches are hidden in his nature, and in their development and increase will he find his surest happiness.

[The end]
T S Arthur's essay: Wealth