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|True Riches||T.S. Arthur|
|Page 3 of 4||
"In business circles such men are by no means scarce."
"I am aware of it."
"And it is unhesitatingly affirmed by many whom I know, that, as the world now is, no really honest man can trade successfully."
"That is more than I am ready to admit."
"The sharpest and shrewdest get on the best."
"Because it is easier to be sharp and shrewd than to be intelligent, persevering, industrious, patient, and self-denying. The eagerness to get rich fast is the bane of trade. I am quite ready to admit that no man can get rich at railroad speed, and not violate the law of doing as you would be done by."
"Doing as you would be done by! O dear!" said the friend; "you certainly don't mean to bring that law down into the actual life of the world?"
"It would be a happier world for all of us if this law were universally obeyed."
"That may be. But, where all are selfish, how is it possible to act from an unselfish principle?"
"Do you approve of stealing?" said Claire, with some abruptness.
"Of course not," was the half-indignant answer.
"I need not have asked the question, for I now remember to have seen the fact noticed in one of our papers, that an unfaithful domestic in your family had been handed over to the police."
"True. She was a thief. We found in her trunk a number of valuable articles that she had stolen from us."
"And you did right. You owed this summary justice as well to the purloiner as to the public. Now, there are many ways of stealing, besides this direct mode. If I deprive you of your property with design, I steal from you. Isn't that clear?"
"And I am, to use plain words, a thief. Well, now take this easily to be understood case. I have a lot of goods to sell, and you wish to purchase them. In the trade I manage to get from you, through direct misrepresentation, or in a tacit advantage of your ignorance, more than the goods are really worth. Do I not cheat you?"
"And having purposely deprived you of a portion of your money, am I not a thief?"
"In all that goes to make up the morality of the case, you are."
"The truth, unquestionably. Need I proceed further? By your own admission, every businessman who takes undue advantage of another in dealing, steals."
"Pretty close cutting, that, friend Claire. It wouldn't do to talk that right out at all times and in all places."
"I rather think it would make some people feel bad; and others regard themselves as insulted."
"I can believe so. But we are only talking this between ourselves. And now I come back to my rather abrupt question--Do you approve of stealing? No, you say, as a matter of course. And yet, you but just now were inclined to justify sharp dealing, on the ground that all were sharpers--quoting the saying of some, that no honest man could trade successfully in the present time. For the direct stealing of a few articles of trifling value, you hand a poor, ignorant domestic over to the police, yet feel no righteous indignation against the better-taught man of business, who daily robs his customers in some one form or another."
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