All Men, through different Paths, make at the same common thing, Money; and it is to her we owe the Politician, the Merchant, and the Lawyer; nay, to be free with you, I believe to that also we are beholden for our Spectator. I am apt to think, that could we look into our own Hearts, we should see Money ingraved in them in more lively and moving Characters than Self-Preservation; for who can reflect upon the Merchant hoisting Sail in a doubtful Pursuit of her, and all Mankind sacrificing their Quiet to her, but must perceive that the Characters of Self-Preservation (which were doubtless originally the brightest) are sullied, if not wholly defaced; and that those of Money (which at first was only valuable as a Mean to Security) are of late so brightened, that the Characters of Self-Preservation, like a less Light set by a greater, are become almost imperceptible? Thus has Money got the upper Hand of what all Mankind formerly thought most dear, viz. Security; and I wish I could say she had here put a Stop to her Victories; but, alas! common Honesty fell a Sacrifice to her. This is the Way Scholastick Men talk of the greatest Good in the World; but I, a Tradesman, shall give you another Account of this Matter in the plain Narrative of my own Life. I think it proper, in the first Place, to acquaint my Readers, that since my setting out in the World, which was in the Year 1660, I never wanted Money; having begun with an indifferent good Stock in the Tobacco-Trade, to which I was bred; and by the continual Successes, it has pleased Providence to bless my Endeavours with, am at last arrived at what they call a Plumb . To uphold my Discourse in the Manner of your Wits or Philosophers, by speaking fine things, or drawing Inferences, as they pretend, from the Nature of the Subject, I account it vain; having never found any thing in the Writings of such Men, that did not favour more of the Invention of the Brain, or what is styled Speculation, than of sound Judgment or profitable Observation. I will readily grant indeed, that there is what the Wits call Natural in their Talk; which is the utmost those curious Authors can assume to themselves, and is indeed all they endeavour at, for they are but lamentable Teachers. And, what, I pray, is Natural? That which is pleasing and easie: And what are Pleasing and Easie? Forsooth, a new Thought or Conceit dressed up in smooth quaint Language, to make you smile and wag your Head, as being what you never imagined before, and yet wonder why you had not; meer frothy Amusements! fit only for Boys or silly Women to be caught with.
'It is not my present Intention to instruct my Readers in the Methods of acquiring Riches; that may be the Work of another Essay; but to exhibit the real and solid Advantages I have found by them in my long and manifold Experience; nor yet all the Advantages of so worthy and valuable a Blessing, (for who does not know or imagine the Comforts of being warm or living at Ease? And that Power and Preheminence are their inseperable Attendants?) But only to instance the great Supports they afford us under the severest Calamities and Misfortunes; to shew that the Love of them is a special Antidote against Immorality and Vice, and that the same does likewise naturally dispose Men to Actions of Piety and Devotion: All which I can make out by my own Experience, who think my self no ways particular from the rest of Mankind, nor better nor worse by Nature than generally other Men are.
'In the Year 1665, when the Sickness was, I lost by it my Wife and two Children, which were all my Stock. Probably I might have had more, considering I was married between 4 and 5 Years; but finding her to be a teeming Woman, I was careful, as having then little above a Brace of thousand Pounds, to carry on my Trade and maintain a Family with. I loved them as usually Men do their Wives and Children, and therefore could not resist the first Impulses of Nature on so wounding a Loss; but I quickly roused my self, and found Means to alleviate, and at last conquer my Affliction, by reflecting how that she and her Children having been no great Expence to me, the best Part of her Fortune was still left; that my Charge being reduced to my self, a Journeyman, and a Maid, I might live far cheaper than before; and that being now a childless Widower, I might perhaps marry a no less deserving Woman, and with a much better Fortune than she brought, which was but Â£800. And to convince my Readers that such Considerations as these were proper and apt to produce such an Effect, I remember it was the constant Observation at that deplorable Time, when so many Hundreds were swept away daily, that the Rich ever bore the Loss of their Families and Relations far better than the Poor; the latter having little or nothing before-hand, and living from Hand to Mouth, placed the whole Comfort and Satisfaction of their Lives in their Wives and Children, and were therefore inconsolable.
'The following Year happened the Fire; at which Time, by good Providence, it was my Fortune to have converted the greatest Part of my Effects into ready Money, on the Prospect of an extraordinary Advantage which I was preparing to lay Hold on. This Calamity was very terrible and astonishing, the Fury of the Flames being such, that whole Streets, at several distant Places, were destroyed at one and the same Time, so that (as it is well known) almost all our Citizens were burnt out of what they had. But what did I then do? I did not stand gazing on the Ruins of our noble Metropolis; I did not shake my Head, wring my Hands, sigh, and shed Tears; I consider'd with my self what could this avail; I fell a plodding what Advantages might be made of the ready Cash I had, and immediately bethought my self what wonderful Pennyworths might be bought of the Goods, that were saved out of the Fire. In short, with about Â£2000 and a little Credit, I bought as much Tobacco as rais'd my Estate to the Value of Â£10000 I then looked on the Ashes of our City, and, the Misery of its late Inhabitants, as an Effect of the just Wrath and Indignation of Heaven towards a sinful and perverse People.
'After this I married again, and that Wife dying, I took another; but both proved to be idle Baggages: the first gave me a great deal of Plague and Vexation by her Extravagancies, and I became one of the Bywords of the City. I knew it would be to no manner of Purpose to go about to curb the Fancies and Inclinations of Women, which fly out the more for being restrained; but what I could I did. I watched her narrowly, and by good Luck found her in the Embraces (for which I had two Witnesses with me) of a wealthy Spark of the Court-end of the Town; of whom I recovered 15000 Pounds, which made me Amends for what she had idly squanderd, and put a Silence to all my Neighbours, taking off my Reproach by the Gain they saw I had by it. The last died about two Years after I married her, in Labour of three Children. I conjecture they were begotten by a Country Kinsman of hers, whom, at her Recommendation, I took into my Family, and gave Wages to as a Journeyman. What this Creature expended in Delicacies and high Diet with her Kinsman (as well as I could compute by the Poulterers, Fishmongers, and Grocers Bills) amounted in the said two Years to one hundred eighty six Pounds, four Shillings, and five Pence Half-penny. The fine Apparel, Bracelets, Lockets, and Treats, &c. of the other, according to the best Calculation, came in three Years and about three Quarters to Seven hundred forty four Pounds, seven Shillings and nine Pence. After this I resolv'd never to marry more, and found I had been a Gainer by my Marriages, and the Damages granted me for the Abuses of my Bed, (all Charges deducted) eight thousand three hundred Pounds within a Trifle.
'I come now to shew the good Effects of the Love of Money on the Lives of Men towards rendring them honest, sober, and religious. When I was a young Man, I had a Mind to make the best of my Wits, and over-reached a Country Chap in a Parcel of unsound Goods; to whom, upon his upbraiding, and threatning to expose me for it, I returned the Equivalent of his Loss; and upon his good Advice, wherein he clearly demonstrated the Folly of such Artifices, which can never end but in Shame, and the Ruin of all Correspondence, I never after transgressed. Can your Courtiers, who take Bribes, or your Lawyers or Physicians in their Practice, or even the Divines who intermeddle in worldly Affairs, boast of making but one Slip in their Lives, and of such a thorough and lasting Reformation? Since my coming into the World I do not remember I was ever overtaken in Drink, save nine times, one at the Christening of my first Child, thrice at our City Feasts, and five times at driving of Bargains. My Reformation I can attribute to nothing so much as the Love and Esteem of Money, for I found my self to be extravagant in my Drink, and apt to turn Projector, and make rash Bargains. As for Women, I never knew any, except my Wives: For my Reader must know, and it is what he may confide in as an excellent Recipe, That the Love of Business and Money is the greatest Mortifier of inordinate Desires imaginable, as employing the Mind continually in the careful Oversight of what one has, in the eager Quest after more, in looking after the Negligences and Deceits of Servants, in the due Entring and Stating of Accounts, in hunting after Chaps, and in the exact Knowledge of the State of Markets; which Things whoever thoroughly attends, will find enough and enough to employ his Thoughts on every Moment of the Day; So that I cannot call to Mind, that in all the Time I was a Husband, which, off and on, was about twelve Years, I ever once thought of my Wives but in Bed. And, lastly, for Religion, I have ever been a constant Churchman, both Forenoons and Afternoons on Sundays, never forgetting to be thankful for any Gain or Advantage I had had that Day; and on Saturday Nights, upon casting up my Accounts, I always was grateful for the Sum of my Week's Profits, and at Christmas for that of the whole Year. It is true, perhaps, that my Devotion has not been the most fervent; which, I think, ought to be imputed to the Evenness and Sedateness of my Temper, which never would admit of any Impetuosities of any Sort: And I can remember that in my Youth and Prime of Manhood, when my Blood ran brisker, I took greater Pleasure in Religious Exercises than at present, or many Years past, and that my Devotion sensibly declined as Age, which is dull and unwieldly, came upon me.
'I have, I hope, here proved, that the Love of Money prevents all Immorality and Vice; which if you will not allow, you must, that the Pursuit of it obliges Men to the same Kind of Life as they would follow if they were really virtuous: Which is all I have to say at present, only recommending to you, that you would think of it, and turn ready Wit into ready Money as fast as you can. I conclude,
Your Servant, Ephraim Weed.'
[Footnote 1: Â£100,000.]Translation of motto: