As the youngest of many sons, you have never had any responsibility; and yet your parents have left you with a taste for all kinds of expensive things, although, when you come to your money in a few years, you will have enough to gratify only a small part of the tastes which you have acquired. Nevertheless, the money to which you are heir, while necessitating a lower rate of expenditures than that of the household you have been brought up in, is sufficient to enable you to live under much easier circumstances than most of your neighbors.
In fact, if many of your friends started life with the income that will be yours, they would consider themselves decidedly rich, and would become, for a time at least, very much happier.
It seems to me that the Declaration of Independence has put it pat when it defines the principal object for which we strive as “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
This may seem wandering far from the question of a pony; but, if you have patience and follow me closely, you will find the old man is not too far from the point.
Now let us bear fully in mind that Life, Liberty, and Happiness are the objects which we have in view. In the tangled complications of modern existence one gets lost and bewildered, unless having very definitely in mind the objects for which we are striving. We would be like a ship drifting or sailing in a fog without a compass. We do not know whether we are attaining and accomplishing, or losing ground, unless we have definitely in mind an objective point or points with which to make comparisons of our position at different times.
I do not hesitate to write freely that we are engaged in the pursuit of happiness, even though shallow minds might take exceptions on the ground of selfishness. This is not so, as to a properly constituted mind happiness includes seeing others happy, and the greatest satisfaction comes from making them so. I will therefore let the Declaration of Independence stand for the present without amendment.
Let us begin by postulating a great degree of happiness for friend Harris, who has a dear little wife, a small house, and twenty-five hundred per year. He will have no vacations and several children; and though we see him full of happiness now, and envy his good luck and all, yet we foresee that in twenty years, even though his salary is doubled, he will have been enabled to lay by nothing, and will have a little heart-burning at the thought that he cannot give his three daughters the ball dresses and jewels they see among their boon companions.
Thompy, who has four thousand now, is not quite as happy as Harris, and complains a good deal of being poor. He is hard-working and progressive, and will doubtless double his salary; while Perry who is getting ten thousand, part as income from property and part as trustee of something or other, is the poorest man I know. He has desires, tastes, and expensive habits which would make fifteen thousand a year look small to him, and can’t get along without entertainments and personal expenses on a considerably higher plane than he can now afford.