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Outside, on the footway of the Rue Vivienne, Madame Caroline was surprised by the mildness of the air. It was five o'clock; the sun, setting in a soft, clear sky, was gilding the signboards of the distant boulevard houses. This springtide,[Pg 425] so charming with its renewal of youth, seemed like a caress to her whole physical being—a caress which penetrated even to her heart. She took a deep breath and felt relieved, happier already, with a sensation of invincible hope returning and growing within her. It was doubtless the beautiful death of that dreamer, giving his last breath to his chimera of justice and love, which thus moved her, for she herself had dreamt of a humanity purged of the execrable evil of money; and it was also the shriek of that other one, the exasperated bleeding tenderness of that terrible lynx, whom she had supposed to be heartless, incapable of tears. Yet no, she had not gone away under the consoling impression of so much human kindness and so much sorrow; on the contrary, she had carried despair away with her—despair at the escape of that little monster, who was galloping along the roads and sowing the ferment of rottenness from which the earth could never be freed. Why, then, should she now feel renascent gaiety filling her whole being?

On reaching the boulevard she turned to the left and slackened her pace, amid the animation of the crowd. For a moment she stopped before a little hand-cart, full of bunches of lilac and gilliflowers, whose strong perfume enveloped her with a whiff of springtide. And within her, as she resumed her walk, she felt a flood of joy arising, as from a bubbling source, which she was fain to restrain, to press back with her hands. For she had understood, and did not wish it. No, no, the frightful catastrophes were too recent; she could not be gay, she could not surrender to that flow of eternal life which uplifted her. And she tried to continue mourning; she recalled herself to despair by recapitulating all the cruel memories. What! she would laugh again, after the downfall of everything, after such a frightful mass of miseries! Did she forget that she was an accomplice? And she recalled the facts, this one, that one, that other one, in weeping over which she ought to spend all her remaining days. But between her fingers pressed upon her heart the bubbling sap was growing more impetuous, the source of life was overflowing, thrusting obstacles aside in order to course more freely,[Pg 426] throwing the flotsam against either bank, so that it might flow along clear and triumphant in the sunlight.

From that moment Madame Caroline was conquered, and had to surrender to the irresistible force of Nature's rejuvenescence. As she sometimes said with a laugh, she could not remain sad. The trial was over; she had just touched the very depths of despair, and here was hope reviving again—broken, bleeding, but as tenacious as ever, growing and spreading from minute to minute. Certainly she retained no illusions; life, like Nature, was undoubtedly unjust and ignoble. Why, then, should one be so irrational as to love it, desire it, relying—like a child to whom is promised a pleasure ever deferred—on the far-off unknown goal towards which it is ever leading us? However, when she turned into the Rue de la Chaussée-d'Antin, she no longer even reasoned; the philosopher, the savante, the woman of letters that she was, had abdicated, weary of the vain inquiry into causes; and she remained a mere human creature, whom the beautiful sky and balmy atmosphere filled with happiness, who savoured the simple enjoyment of health, of listening to the firm tread of her little feet upon the pavement. Ah! the joy of being, is there really any other? Life! Give us life—life such as it is, however abominable it may be—life with its strength and its eternal hope!

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On returning to her apartments in the Rue Saint-Lazare, which she was to leave the next day, Madame Caroline finished packing her trunks; and, on making the circuit of the workroom, which was already empty, she saw upon the walls the plans and water-colours, which she had resolved to tie up in a single roll, at the last moment. But as she stopped in turn before each sheet to remove the tacks at the corners, a dreamy mood came over her. She was once more living those far-off days which she had spent in the East, in that country which she had so dearly loved, and whose dazzling light she seemed to have retained within her; she was again living, too, those five years which she had just spent in Paris, those five years of daily crisis and mad activity, full of the monstrous hurricane of millions which had traversed and ravaged her[Pg 427] existence; and from all the ruins, still warm, she already felt a complete florescence germinating, budding in the sunlight. Although the Turkish National Bank had fallen after the collapse of the Universal, the Steam Navigation Company remained erect and prosperous. Again she beheld the enchanted coast of Beyrout, where, in the midst of huge warehouses, stood the managerial buildings, the plan of which she was just dusting. Marseilles had been brought close to Asia Minor, the Mediterranean was being conquered, nations were being drawn together, and possibly pacified. And in the Carmel gorge, that water-colour which she was taking down from the wall, did she not know, from a recent letter, that a whole people had grown up there? The village of five hundred inhabitants, at first nestling round the mine, had now become a city of several thousand souls, with roads, factories, schools, a complete civilisation, fertilising the wild, dead nook. Then there were the sketches and plans for the railway from Broussa to Beyrout, by way of Angora and Aleppo, a series of large sheets, which she rolled up one by one. Years would go by no doubt before the Taurus passes would be traversed by the iron horse; but life was already flowing in from every direction, the soil of the ancient cradle of humanity had just been sown with a new crop of men, the progress of to-morrow would sprout up there, with an extraordinary vigour of vegetation, in that marvellous climate, under the dazzling sun. And was not this the reawakening of a world, humanity enlarged and happier?

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Madame Caroline tied up the bundle of plans with some strong twine. Her brother, who was waiting for her at Rome, where both were going to begin their lives anew, had earnestly urged her to pack them carefully; and, as she tied the knots, she thought of Saccard, whom she knew to be now in Holland, again busy with a colossal enterprise—the draining of some immense marshes, the conquest of a little kingdom from the sea, by means of a complicated system of canals. He was right: money has hitherto been the dung-heap in which the humanity of the morrow has grown; money, albeit the poisoner and destroyer, becomes the ferment of all social vegetation, the[Pg 428] compost necessary for the great works which make life easier. Did she at last see clearly? Did her invincible hope come from her belief in the usefulness of effort? Above all the mud stirred up, above all the victims crushed to death, above all the abominable suffering which each forward step costs humanity, is there not an obscure, far-off goal, something superior, good, just, and final, whither we are going without knowing it, and which ever inflates our hearts with a stubborn need of life and hope?

And Madame Caroline, with her face still and ever young under its crown of snowy hair, remained gay in spite of everything, gay as though rejuvenescence came to her with each returning April of the world's old age. And at the shame-fraught recollection of her liaison with Saccard she began to think of the frightful filth with which love also has been soiled. Why then should money be blamed for all the dirt and crimes it causes? For is love less filthy—love which creates life?

I FEAR City people are very mercenary in their views and habits. It is natural that they should be so; they come into the City to make money, and that is all they are thinking of while they are there. They do not all succeed in their attempt, I know. Some are idle and improvident, and do not deserve to win in the battle of life. They are failures from their birth, and go mooning about like the immortal Micawber, expecting something to turn up, till death comes and puts an end to their expectations. Some men are unlucky, and lose by every adventure; others are born lucky, and, from no merit of their own, everything they touch turns to gold. The other day a poor costermonger was run-over in the street and killed, and it was found that he was worth several hundreds of pounds. It would be interesting to know how a costermonger could have made all that money by the sale of apples, oranges, and greens. A few weeks since I heard a distinguished judge tell an audience, consisting of school-boys, that in his own person he was an illustration of the fact that, in this happy England, any one, however destitute of rank and wealth and connections he might be, would rise to the position to which his worth entitled him; and he ended with the recommendation of the wise man of old, “In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct thy paths.” Only a month since I heard of the death of a Jew, who had commenced with selling pencils in the street, and had died worth a million of money. How was it done? Ah! that’s the question. It is not done, as a rule, by the speculators; nor is it done by the rogues who forget that honesty is the best policy. Many of the men who have succeeded, it has been remarked, have generally achieved success by the application of some very simple principle which they have established as the general rule of their proceedings.

Ricardo said that he had made his money by observing that, in general, people greatly exaggerated the importance of events. If, therefore, dealing, as he dealt, in stocks, there was reason for a small advance, he bought, because he was certain that an unreasonable advance would enable him to realise; and when stocks were falling he sold, in the conviction that alarm and panic would produce a decline not warranted by circumstances.

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Let us take another case—that of Rothschild, the third son of the Frankfort banker, who came to England with £2,000, which he soon turned into £60.000. “My success,” he said to Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton, “all turned on one maxim: I said, I can do what another man can. Another advantage I had, I was an off-hand man. I made a bargain at once. When I was settled in London, the East India Company had £800,000 worth of gold to sell. I went to the sale and bought it all. I knew the Duke of Wellington must have it. I had bought a great many of his bills at a discount. The government sent for me, and said they must have it. When they had got it, they did not know how to get it to Portugal. I undertook all that, and I sent it through France; and that was the best business I ever did.” Another rule of his was never to have anything to do with unlucky men. “I have seen,” said he, “many clever men—very clever men—who had not shoes to their feet. I never act with them. Their advice sounds very well, but fate is against them; they cannot get on themselves; and if they cannot do good to themselves, how can they do good to me?” His advice to Sir Thomas’s son was sound: “Stick to your business, young man; stick to your brewery, and you may be the great brewer of London. Be a brewer and a banker, and a merchant and a manufacturer, and you will soon be in the Gazette.” How true this is, any one who has the slightest acquaintance with City life can at once understand. The advice should be printed in gold in every counting-house in London. If it were, and were acted on as well, we should hear of fewer commercial failures.

Let me give another anecdote of the Rothschilds. It is related of Baron Nathan de Meyer, that on one occasion he gave a lady the following pithy piece of advice. Seated at the dinner-table, she informed him she had an only son, whom she was anxious to see placed well in business, and begged him to give her a hint on the subject. For a long time the baron hesitated; and at length, when urged by the lady, half good-naturedly and half worried, he turned round and said—“Well, madam, I will tell you. Selling lucifer-matches is a very good business if you have plenty of it.”

In his “Autobiographical Recollections,” Sir John Bowring thus speaks of the celebrated Morrison, the founder of the great commercial house in Fore Street:—“Morrison told me that he owed all his prosperity to the discovery that the great art of mercantile traffic was to find out sellers, rather than buyers; that if you bought cheap and satisfied yourself with only a fair profit, buyers—the best sort of buyers, those who have money to buy—would come of themselves. He said he found houses engaged, with a most expensive machinery, sending travellers about in all directions to seek orders and to effect sales; while he employed travellers to buy instead of to sell; and if they bought well, there was no fear of his effecting advantageous sales. So, uniting this theory with another, that small profits and quick returns are more profitable in the long run than long credits with great gains, he established one of the largest and most lucrative concerns that has ever existed in London, and was entitled to a name which I have often heard applied to him, ‘the Napoleon of Shopkeepers.’” Mr. James Morrison, the founder of the Fore Street warehouse, certainly deserves further record. He was a native of Hants, and born of Scotch parents. Early transplanted to the metropolis at the end of the last century, the country youth first set foot in London, unaided in search of fortune. His first employment was a very menial one in a warehouse, and procured him a bare maintenance; but his industry and trustworthiness soon secured him a partnership in the Fore Street business of the late Mr. Todd, whose daughter he married. So far it may be said that his rise was accidental; but his constant rise was no accident. His enormous wealth was the result of his own natural sagacity, perseverance, and integrity. During the long course of his devotion to trade and commerce, Mr. Morrison’s mind never stood still. Every social change in business, in demand and supply, he keenly discerned, and promptly acted on. Thus his great business at once became the first of its class. After the close of the great continental wars, and the consequent rapid increase of population and wealth, Mr. Morrison was one of the first English traders who reversed his system of management by an entire departure from the old exaction of the highest prices. His new principle was the substitution of the lowest remunerative scale of profit, and more rapid circulation of capital, and the success of the experiment speedily created his wholesale trade pre-eminence. “Small profits and quick returns” was his motto, and other houses quickly followed in his wake; but the genius which originated the movement, notwithstanding active competition, maintained its supremacy. The result was, that, in middle age, Mr. Morrison found himself in possession of an enormous fortune. At the time of his death, his English property was said to be of the value of three or four millions; and, besides, he was possessed of large investments in the United States. He was a lover of art, an advanced politician and M.P., and, to the last almost, a man of study and thought.

In our own day, as much as in earlier times, the same rule applies to City life. The linendrapers, it seems to me, are, as a rule, the most successful. Since fig-leaves went out of fashion, the ladies—God bless them!—have always supported the linendrapers and the silk-mercers. The founder of the great house of Shoolbred & Co., in Tottenham-court Road, was originally educated at the Orphan Working School—then in the City Road, but now at Haverstock Hill. The will of the late Mr. Tarn, whose shop was near the Elephant and Castle, was proved a little while since under a million. He was only about sixty years old when he died, and commenced business some thirty years ago in a little shop, being his own shopman. Mr. Meeking, whose premises in Holborn are a series of palaces, rose, I am told, from very small beginnings. A writer in a newspaper says—“Not long ago I was at a meeting where there were six men, of whom the poorest, who could scarcely write, was worth £100,000; and the richest, who never read a book of information through in his life, was making £50,000 a-year. They had all begun as working-men except one, who is an M.P., and he had commenced life as a shopman, and had made £10,000 a-year. Such are the chances for money-makers in England, where credit is easy. But then money-making is an art—like poetry, a born gift.” So says the writer: I differ from him. A tradesman who lives within his income, and who sells that for which there is a yearly increasing demand, such as beef or shoes, or butter and cheese, however stupid he may be, however dense his ignorance, cannot but prosper. He has only to shut his eyes and open his mouth, and take what Heaven will send him. With trade ability, good health, and frugality, a man cannot help making a fortune. People fail because they want to have their cake and eat it at the same time; because they like to discount their good fortune; because they prefer to enjoy from day to day rather than to accumulate capital; and, lastly, because when they have money, in their eagerness to make more, they go into some rotten company and lose all.

Once upon a time I was at a grand party at the house of a West-end swell and M.P. As I left I said to a friend, “How did Mr. — make his money?” “Why,” was the reply, “by borrowing ten shillings.” On the strength of that recipe the writer of this article borrowed twenty; but, alas! the experiment in his case did not answer.

But to return to money-making men. “The Fludyers had begun their career,” wrote Sir Samuel Romilly, “in very narrow circumstances; but by extraordinary activity, enterprise, and good fortune, they had acquired inordinate wealth, and were every day increasing it by the profits of a most extensive commerce. Sir Samuel was an alderman of the City of London, and a member of parliament. He had been created a baronet, and had served the office of Lord Mayor, in a year very memorable in the history of City honours, for it was that in which the king, upon his marriage, made a visit to the corporation and dined in Guildhall. Notwithstanding, however, the great elevation at which fortune had placed these opulent relatives beyond my father, they always maintained a very friendly intercourse with him, and professed, perhaps sincerely, a great desire to serve him. Sir Samuel, too, was my godfather.” He died of apoplexy, and Sir Thomas did not long survive him.

But instances of money-making men in the City are as plentiful as blackberries, and I merely refer to a few of them. We all have heard of Sir Peter Laurie, who had such a wonderful way of putting down suicide, and other evils. He came to London in early life, and worked, it is said, as a journeyman saddler at a house in the neighbourhood of Charing-cross, with the late Sir Richard Birnie.

The late Mr. Thomas Tegg, who, at one time, was one of the largest booksellers in the kingdom, acquired his fortune solely through the force and energy of his character as a man of business. When he first came to London, he called on Mr. Newman, a bookseller in Leadenhall Street, to ask for employment. “What can you do, young man?” “Anything you please, sir; I shall be willing to make myself generally useful.” “Then,” said Mr. Newman, “go and see if you can tie up that parcel,” pointing to a quantity of books, in a loose state, which were lying on the floor. “That,” said Mr. Tegg at a public meeting, “was the first employment I was ever engaged in as a bookseller.” And thus he made his money.

Sir John Pirie, who, in 1841, was elected Lord Mayor, on returning thanks in the Guildhall for the honour done him, said—“I little thought, forty years ago, when I came to the City of London a poor lad from the banks of the Tweed, that I should ever arrive at such a distinction.”