Posted by steph on .
Can some one explain this passage
I do not understand it
it is by hazlitt
it is called "on the want of money"
There are two classes of people that I have observed who are not so distinct as might be imagined - those who cannot keep their own money in their hands, and those who cannot keep their hands from other people's. The first are always in want of money, though they do not know what they do with it. They muddle it away, without method or object, and without having anything to shew for it. They have not, for instance, a fine house, but they hire two houses at a time; they have not a hot-house in their garden, but a shrubbery within doors; they do not gamble, but they purchase a library, and dispose of it when they move house. A princely benefactor provides them with lodgings, where, for a time, you are sure to find them at home: and they furnish them in a handsome style for those who are to come after them. With all this sieve-like economy, they can only afford a leg of mutton and a single bottle of wine, and are glad to get a lift in a common stage; whereas with a little management and the same disbursements, they might entertain a round of company and drive a smart tilbury. But they set no value upon money, and throw it away on any object or in any manner that first presents itself, merely to have it off their hands, so that you wonder what has become of it. The second class above spoken of not only make away with what belongs to themselves, but you cannot keep any thing you have from their rapacious grasp. If you refuse to lend them what you want, they insist that you must: if you let them have anything to take charge of for a time (a print or a bust) they swear that you have given it to them, and that they have too great a regard for the donor ever to part with it. You express surprise at their having run so largely in debt; but where is the singularity while others continue to lend? And how is this to be helped, when the manner of these sturdy beggars amounts to dragooning you out of your money, and they will not go away without your purse, any more than if they came with a pistol in their hand? If a person has no delicacy, he has you in his power, for you necessarily feel some towards him; and since he will take no denial, you must comply with his peremptory demands, or send for a constable, which out of respect for his character you will not do. These persons are also poor - light come, light go - and the bubble bursts at last. Yet if they had employed the same time and pains in any laudable art or study that they have in raising a surreptitious livelihood, they would have been respectable, if not rich. It is their facility in borrowing money that has ruined them. No one will set heartily to work, who has the face to enter a strange house, ask the master of it for a considerable loan, on some plausible and pompous pretext, and walk off with it in his pocket. You might as well suspect a highwayman of addicting himself to hard study in the intervals of his profession.
There is only one other class of persons I can thing of, in connexion with the subject of this Essay - those who are always in want of money from the want of spirit to make use of it. Such persons are perhaps more to be pitied than all the rest. They live in want, in the midst of plenty -- dare not touch what belongs to them, are afraid to say that their soul is their own, have their wealth locked up from them by fear and meanness as effectually as by bolts and bars, scarcely allow themselves a coat to their backs or a morsel to eat, are in dread of coming to the parish all their lives, and are not sorry when they die, to think that they shall no longer be an expense to themselves - according to the old epigram:
"Here lies Father Clarges,
Who died to save charges!"
"Hazlitt lived the tedious reality of the hack writer’s straitened circumstances. He vividly describes ‘that uncertain precarious mode of existence’ in which money is either wanting or spent, so familiar to those ‘who write for bread and are paid by the sheet’. Every freelancer knows well that ‘intermediate state of difficulty and suspense between the last guinea or shilling and the next that we have the good luck to encounter’, that gap so full of ‘anxieties, misgivings, mortifications, meannesses, and deplorable embarrassments of every description’. Such mortifications characterised life on Grub-street for the early modern freelancer."
The part of the essay you included seems pretty straightforward. (I hope you don't have to read the whole thing!) He's basically complaining about his lot in life -- not much money, but when he gets a little, he doesn't spend it intelligently.