It may be set down as a generally correct axiom, (with some few exceptions, perhaps, such as accidents, and the deceptions and cruelties of those whom we injudiciously select for friends and confidants, from our want of discernment), that life is much what we make it, and so is the world.
AH me! Am I really a rich man, or am I not? That is the question. I am sure I don’t feel rich; and yet, here I am written down among the “wealthy citizens” as being worth seventy thousand dollars! How the estimate was made, or who furnished the data, is all a mystery to me. I am sure I wasn’t aware of the fact before. “Seventy thousand dollars!” That sounds comfortable, doesn’t it? Seventy thousand dollars!—But where is it? Ah! There is the rub! How true it is that people always know more about you than you do yourself.
Before this unfortunate book came out ("The Wealthy Citizens of Philadelphia"), I was jogging on very quietly. Nobody seemed to be aware of the fact that I was a rich man, and I had no suspicion of the thing myself. But, strange to tell, I awoke one morning and found myself worth seventy thousand dollars! I shall never forget that day. Men who had passed me in the street with a quiet, familiar nod, now bowed with a low salaam, or lifted their hats deferentially, as I encountered them on the pave.
“What’s the meaning of all this?” thought I. “I haven’t stood up to be shot at, nor sinned against innocence and virtue. I haven’t been to Paris. I don’t wear moustaches. What has given me this importance?”
And, musing thus, I pursued my way in quest of money to help me out with some pretty heavy payments. After succeeding, though with some difficulty in obtaining what I wanted, I returned to my store about twelve o’clock. I found a mercantile acquaintance awaiting me, who, without many preliminaries, thus stated his business:
“I want,” said he, with great coolness, “to get a loan of six or seven thousand dollars; and I don’t know of any one to whom I can apply with more freedom and hope of success than yourself. I think I can satisfy you, fully, in regard to security.
“My dear sir,” replied I, “if you only wanted six or seven hundred dollars, instead of six or seven thousand dollars, I could not accommodate you. I have just come in from a borrowing expedition myself.”
I was struck with the sudden change in the man’s countenance. He was not only disappointed, but offended. He did not believe my statement. In his eyes, I had merely resorted to a subterfuge, or, rather, told a lie, because I did not wish to let him have my money. Bowing with cold formality, he turned away and left my place of business. His manner to me has been reserved ever since.
On the afternoon of that day, I was sitting in the back part of my store musing on some, matter of business, when I saw a couple of ladies enter. They spoke to one of my clerks, and he directed them back to where I was taking things comfortably in an old arm-chair.