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dinary cases, and seldom happen. If you examine minutely into the nature of those causes which generally occasion bankruptcies, you will find them arising from something with which you are still unacquainted. I shall endeavour to point out a few, and submit to your own judgment whether I am mistaken or not. And the first is generally a careless attention to business,--the not keeping regular accounts,-and a more earnest desire after public entertainments, than assiduity to business on the 'Change. Mercantile affairs require a clear and solid judgment, and it is morally impossible for that man to prosper in trade, whose mind is continually engaged in the pursuit of things foreign to, and wholly unconnected with that station in which Providence has placed him. It is a contradiction in terms. Assiduity always procures respect, and generally insures success. Another cause of the many failures in the mercantile world, is the vanity of those in trade living above their circumstances. This vice is at present so predominant among the citizens, and its consequences so fatal, that one would almost imagine the people were labouring under some penal infatuation. Formerly the citizens of London were distinguished in a peculiar manner for their gravity : the 'Change and the custom-house were the only places they frequented when they went from home. But now the state of affairs, is changed, and those places where their predecessors acquired fortunes, are considered as too low and vulgar for them to be seen at. Nay, so far have they carried their extravagance, that all distinctions are in a manner confounded, and the wife of a tradesman is hardly known from the lady of a peer. Dissipation, extravagance, and even debauchery, have taken place of activity, pru
dence, and frugality ; so that instead of acquiring independent fortunes, and retiring from business, with credit and honour, in their advanced years, we first see their names in the gazette, and the remainder of their lives either spent in a prison, or they are left to struggle through the world without credit, under the odious appellation of a bankrupt. The last cause I would mention, is naturally the effect of the others ; I mean a desperate attempt to repair a broken fortune, by engaging too deeply at gaming in the Alley: This practice has been attended with such pernicious consequences, that the children unborn will become real sufferers through the madness of their infatuated parents. When those who have wasted their substance in riotous living, are awakened by a feeling sense of their approaching shame and misery, they generally muster
up all they can procure, and, at one stroke, venture it all in the Alley, where, if one is successful, most commonly twenty are ruined. What I have now told yta is the result of long experience, and I doubt not but you will find too glaring proofs of it. It now remains that I should, in compliance with your request, point out some rules to be observed, in order to carry on business, both with credit, honour, and profit. But I know of no method more proper than to act diametrically opposite to the conduct of those already mentioned.
Learn to be wise by other's harm,
And you shall do full well. Never leave that undone till to-morrow that can be performed to-day.
Never trust that to either a friend or a servant which can be done by yourself.
Keep an account of every day's expense, and once, at least, every week, compare your debit with
Be not over anxious in acquiring riches. Trade is solid, but slow; and experience has long since convinced me, that those who are over hasty in acquiring riches, most commonly fail in their attempts, and soon find themselves real beggars. But, above all, remember, that in vain do we rise soon, or sit up late, unless our labours are crowned with divine blessings. I leave these things to your consideration, and am,
With great sincerity, your well-wisher.
Country, to another lately returned from the East
Sir,— I was greatly pleased to hear of your arrival, but much more so that you had acquired an ample fortune. You knew me when my circumstances were not only easy, but likewise affluent : and you also know, that, at that time, I was glad of every opportunity of assisting my friends. But alas ! I am now in a quite different situation. By the loss of a ship from Jamaica, I was obliged to stop payment, and give up all to my creditors, who have generously allowed me a small annuity for my subsistence. When that fatal event took place, I retired into the country with my wife and children, and my time has since
been spent in superintending their education. The bearer, my eldest son, is just twenty, and is very desirous of going to the East Indies : but my circumstances are such, that it is not in my power to give him any assistance, nor indeed do I know in what manner to proceed in an affair of so much importance. The friendship which subsisted between us before you left England, gives me some encouragement to hope,
that your elevation to affluence and grandeur will not make any alteration in your sentiments concerning benevolence, notwithstanding the depressed situation to which I am reduced. I rather think that my present distressed circumstances will plead more powerfully in favour of the youth, than if he was supported even by the recommendation of the whole body of directors. I have given him an education perhaps beyond my circumstances, and suitable, I hope, to any situation in the mercantile world. His morals, so far as I know, are pure, and I doubt not his conduct will give satisfaction. If therefore you will be pleased, either to take him under your own protection, or instruct me in what manner to proceed, in order to promote his interest, you will thereby confer a lasting obligation on an indulgent, though afflicted parent, and it shall be acknowledged with gratitude to the latest period of my existence.--I am, Sir,
Your very humble servant.
The Answer. Dear Sir,- When I read your affecting letter, I scarce knew whether I was more grieved to hear of your distressed circumstances, or filled with shame that I had been three months in England, and never inquired for one who had not only treated me with humanity, but even assisted me in making my first voyage to the Indies.
Your house was an asylum to me when I was utterly destitute, and I shall consider myself as an object of the utmost abhorrence, if I hesitated one moment in complying with your request, relating to the amiable youth who brought me the letter. But in what light must I consider myself, were my gratitude to the best of men cou
fined to such a favour as would cost me nothing, or what I would grant to a stranger ? No, Sir, I am sensible of benefits received, and should consider myself as a mean abject wretch if I did not acknowledge them with gratitude. I have just been with your son to the directors, and he is engaged as a writer at Bengal. If the climate agrees with his constitution, there is no great fear but he will soon acquire a considerable fortune. For which purpose I have deposited, in the hands of the supercargo, five hundred pounds for his use, which you know is more than I had when I first embarked for that part of the world. But still I should consider myself as acting very partially, if, whilst I am making provision for the son, I should forget his aged parents. The ships for India don't sail till next March, so that your son will have at least three months to remain with you before he embarks. He sets off with the coach to-morrow, and I have entrusted him with something for your immediate use. I intend calling to spend a few days with you next month, and be assured that nothing in my power shall be wanting to make your life as agreeable as possible. I have not so far forgot the principles of à virtuous education, as to look with indifference on the various dispensations of Providence. How true is that saying of the wise man, “ The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong !” as human wisdom cannot discern the progress to earthly grandeur, so man's prudence is not always able to guard against calamitous events. I am therefore determined not to place my confidence in riches, but only consider myself as the steward of that all-bountiful God from whom I have received them. This is my fixed resolution, and I hope no allurement whatever shall tempt me to deviate from it.--I am, dear Sir, Your sincere friend.