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When I entered the breakfast room next morning, I felt, as I had done the evening before, a little confused and awkward at finding myself in the presence of Lord C. His lordship, I fancy, was not at all conscious of the circumstance. He maintained his habitual ease and kindness of manner, and was too fully occupied in pleasant and profitable conversation with his old and endeared friend, to take any notice of my perturbation, which soon subsided, and I only realized the presence of two intelligent and benevolent gentlemen, into whose society it was a privilege for us youngsters to be admitted, and which it was our duty and interest to improve. On speaking to my uncle, afterwards, he explained to me, huw, in the British constitution, the nobles of the land were the connecting link between the Sovereign and the Commons, adding, that he hoped I should always render “honour to whom honour is due.” I will just add, before I take leave of his lordship, that the visit proved an excellent introduction for Frank. His drawings had gained him great credit with his noble employer, and some years afterwards, when he had received instructions from an eminent land-surveyor and engineer, he was engaged as land steward on one of Lord C.'s estates; a situation which he still holds under the present lord, and is highly and deservedly respected both for his talents and character.
But I have written only what passed between Frank and myself about the expression, “I cannot afford it,” which hitherto I had considered as synonymous with, “ I have not money enough to buy it.” Its adoption by Lord C., and Frank's explanation of it, led me to perceive that it was
not to be confined to so narrow an application ; but that persons might have the means of obtaining things which they nevertheless could not with propriety afford to obtain ; and I wished to have my uncle's sentiments on the subject. I heard my uncle reproving one of his men for wasting some oats: he said he could not afford to keep a wasteful servant; and if he saw a repetition of such carelessness, he must dismiss him.
At the same time, there were two old horses in the meadow past work, yet they were liberally supplied with food as long as they lived. I heard Captain Tankerville declare that he could not afford to place his son at school, at a time when he was betting hundreds of pounds on the horses at Newmarket races. I heard Uncle Barnaby say, in reply to a request from the same gentleman, either to lend him, or be bound for a considerable sum of money, that he could not afford it. The captain pressed him again, and declared that he was a ruined man if he refused. My uncle, however, persisted in his refusal. Not long after, the captain went abroad, I did not exactly know why or wherefore; but I fancy there was something not very honourable ; and then
my uncle placed the little boy at school, gave him a good education, and put him forward in life. He also advanced money to enable Mrs. Tankerville, who was an excellent and accomplished woman, and left entirely destitute, to open an establishment for the education of a few young ladies, together with her own little girls. On each of these occasions, I gathered up a few of uncle Barnaby's observations, which were somewhat to the following effect.
“I cannot afford that any property should be
wasted. However much I possess, I may find a good use for it all ; and as I must give account for it all, it is my duty to see that it is made the best use of, and employed to do as much good as possible. Even the Almighty Creator of the world, though he is infinitely rich and bountiful, has yet made nothing to be wasted.
“ I cannot afford to buy things for which I have no need and no use, merely in compliance with the dictation of others : I know, or ought to know, my own affairs best.
“I cannot afford to follow every whimsical and expensive fashion, merely for the sake of vying with others, or lest I should be ridiculed for singularity.
“I cannot afford to bestow much property upon things which are not of real value, and permanent utility to myself or others. There ought to be some correspondence between the value of the article and the property expended upon it.
“I cannot afford expenses which would straiten my general resources, and leave me unprovided for any future contingency.
“I cannot afford that which would be inconsistent with my general scale and plan of living. I must have all of a piece.” In connexion with this remark, I remember my uncle referring to a well-drawn sketch by Goldsmith, where a plain country clergyman, of very limited income, is described as having been over-persuaded, against his own better judgment, to have a large picture painted, comprehending the whole of his family. When the picture was brought home, not merely was the good man distressed for the means of paying for it, he actually found, to his great
mortification, that he had not a sitting room in his parsonage large enough to contain it. My uncle also mentioned with great approbation, the conduct of my own dear father, who, though he had a carriage and pair of horses bequeathed to him, with a legacy that would at least have borne all their expense, said he could not afford to keep them ; that is, he could not afford to keep up a style of living in every respect suitable. It may be here remarked, that all that has been said will equally apply to the horse and gig, or drawing-room furniture, or costly apparel of the tradesman and his family, to the gown and bonnet of the maidservant, and to the buildings, the equipages, or costly paintings, of my lord or the squire.
“ I cannot afford to do that which would put it out of my power to meet the just expectations of all connected with me.
“I cannot afford to spend that upon myself, which my conscience tells me ought to be devoted, and which my first and best impulse had devoted, to the claims of benevolence or religion.
' I cannot squander property to support the idle and worthless in extravagance and vice, which ought to promote the comfort of the necessitous and deserving
“I cannot, upon any account, afford to do that which would be in any way offensive to God; for his favour is life, and his loving-kindness is better than life;' for his I am, and him I ought to serve. I am not my own, but bought with a price, and bound to glorify God in my body, and spirit, and possessions, which all are his.
“I cannot afford to squander away the means conducive to my soul's eternal interests; for 'what