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The American Gentleman Of Leisure

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ltiíl)ipii ftrjn. Did the reader ever see a lost dog in a great city ? Not a dog recently lost, f uil of wild anxiety and restless pain and bewilderment, but one who has given up the search tor a niaster in despair, aud becorae consciously a vagabond 't If so, he has seen au animal that has lost his self-respect, traveled iii the gutters.sliuking along byfences, making acquaintauue with dirty boys, becoming a thorough coward, and losing every admirable characteristic of a dog. A cat is a cat even in vagaboudage ; bat a dog that does not balong to somebody is as hopeless a specimen of deinoralization asean be foundin the superior race among which he soight in vain for his master. We know hini at ürst sight, and he kuows that we know him. The loss of his place in the world, nul the loss of his objeuts of loyalty, per sonal and official, have taken the sigmficauce out of his lite and the spirit out of him. He has become a dog of leisure. We do not know how it may be in trausAtlantic countries. lt is quite possible that in Constantinople, where dogs are plenty and masters comparatively scarce, the canine vagabunds keep each other in countenauce. There is a sort of self respect among human thieves, if only onough of them get together. Where beggars are plenty, there are sometimes genera ted a sort of professional am bition and a semblance, at least, of professional pride and honor. Liquor-dealers form a society, publish a newspaper, cali themBelves " Wine Merchants," and make themselves believe that they are respectable. Stock-gamblers in Wall street, by sheer force of numbers in combination, make a business semi respectable which never added a dollar of wealth to the country aud never wili, and which constantly places the business interests of the country in jeopardy. So it is possible that in Constantinople lost dogs niaintain their selï-respeot, by oonirounity of feeliug and a consciousuess that they are neither exceptional nor ecceniric. A dogs sense of vagabondage woud seem therefore, to depend much upon his atuiosphere and oircumstances. In New York Le loses himself with his home ; in Constantinople he joius a comuiunity. The American man of leisure is a sort of lost dog. The people are so busy, they have so long associated personal importante with action and useiulness, that it is all a man's life is worth to drop out of active employment. If a Vanderbilt sliould quietly release his hold of the vast railroad interests now in his hands, an d should never more show his face in Wall street, he wonld practically shrink to a nonentity. If a Stewart should retire to enjoy his piled-up millious in the quie repose of his palace, he would cease to be an object of interest to anybody. It is undemably true that there is nobody in America who has so hard a time as the man of leisure. The Dian who has nothing to do, and nobody to help hini do nothiug, may properly be counted among the untortunate classes, without regare to the amount of wealth he possesses. - This is, doubtless, the reason why so many who retire from a life of profitable labor come back, after a few months or yeavs to their old haunts and old pursuits. They see that the moment that they count themselves out of active life they are uounted by their old atquaintances out of the world. They become mere loafers and hangers on ; and a certain sense of vagabondage depressesthem The climate is stimulating, time hangs heavy on their hands, business is exciting, business associations are congenia and attractive : and so they go back to their industries, never to leave them ugain tul sickness or death or old age remuvet them trom the theater of their efforts. IIn Europe we know that the case is widely different. The number of men who live upou their estates, - estates either wou by trade or inherited iroin rich ancestors, - is very iarge, whilethose who have small, fixed incomes, which they never undertake to increase, is larger stil]. The Englishman of leisure who cannot live at home on his income gues to the Continent, and seeks a place where his limited number of pounds per anitvn will give him genteel lodgings, with a life of iele leisure. In such a place he íiuds uthers 111 pieiitj wliu aic na iUlc o lic and whohave come there for the same reason that brings him. He finds it quite respectable to do nothing, audknows that hit, cummand of the meaus that give him leisure is the subject of envy on the pari ot the inhabituuts. He eats, sleeps reads, visits, writes letters, and kills time without any loss of self-respect, and without feeling the slightest attraction for busier life. Indeed, the trartesmeu who are active around him are looked for down upon as social iníeriors, on account of the tact that they are under the necessity of work. Work is not a gentee] thing to do, unless it be done in an office or profession. Shop-keeping and labor of the hands are accounted vulgar. It seems impossible to conclude that the man of leisure can ever hold a desirable position where labor holds its legitímate position. We wish the Americun could have more leisure than he has. It would, in mauy respects, be well for society that men who have property enough and ten times more than enougn, should retire from active life to make plaoe for others rather than go on accumulating gigantic fortunes which become curses to their owners and the couimdnity. After all if idleness eau ouly beuiade respectable and desirable by rnakiug labor vulgar, we trust that the American gentleman of leisure will be as rare in the future as he has been in the past. "We are giad, on the wholfc, that every American deerns it essential to belong to somebody, tobblong to somethiug, to susttiin some active relation to srime industry, or enteiprisc, or charity, to be counted in at some point among the useful forces of society. He is the better and the happier tor it, and he helps to sustainthe honor and self-respect of all those with whom labor isa constant necessity.


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Michigan Argus