An advice column by Persuasion’s own Mary Musgrove
Recently our rector delivered an homily on the evils of money. According to the Bible (he quoted some dreary text), the love of money is wrong. He had the nerve to call money-love the root of all evil! There sat the congregation like sheep, nodding their heads as they listened. And then he added this bit of so-called wisdom:
“Money cannot buy happiness.”
Bless me, I am unable to count the times I’ve heard this tired chestnut trotted out. Commoners, with no experience of elegance and style, repeat it to comfort one another, I am convinced. Of course money buys happiness. Our rector is quite wrong.
Money makes life comfortable. Hats and coats and well-made shoes–all these are necessary to guard against the dreary English climate. This isn’t Italy! It is not as if we can skulk about in animal skins, with wooden shoes on our feet, like barbarians! And since we must wear clothing, why not wear something attractive and stylish?
Money contributes to peace in the home. It hires a French-trained chef, for instance, so that meals become delectable instead of dull. It buys better cuts of meats and expands the menu to include sweets and imported cheeses and fruit and fine wines–and hothouse flowers for the table. With full bellies, there is harmony among guests and family members alike–think of Christmastime! Peace and goodwill abound, and why? Because delicious food is plentiful! And so are presents–and who doesn’t love receiving presents? Why not live like Christmas every day?
Money nourishes one’s self-esteem. When people look their best, they are in happier spirits. Ask any wife. When she knows that her lace cap is the prettiest, and that her costly gown (made in the latest style) is lovelier than any of the others in the room, she is so much easier to live with.
“Money cannot buy health,” people will say. As you know, I am often ill and I will admit that this is somewhat true. On the other hand, money can pay for a competent and cheerful nurse, instead of the horrible widows our apothecary employs. It can also bring in a medical specialist from London. Commoners and the elderly repeat this saying because they are often ill and must remain at home. There is nothing more lowering to the spirits than having to be at home all the time. If these people had money to travel, I bet they would feel better in a hurry. I know I would.
Money buys peace of mind. Indeed, when one has plenty of money, one never has to worry or even think about it! If one does not think about something, one cannot be guilty of loving it.
But will my husband ask his father to enlarge our allowance? It’s not like Charles should become the greedy Prodigal Son by asking for his inheritance now. I am willing to wait. It’s just that the elegancies of life are so extremely expensive. And his father continues to be as healthy as ever.
I ask you, is there anything wrong with wanting to live my best life now, while I am young enough to enjoy it? To do so requires money.
Mary Elliot Musgrove
Daughter of Sir Walter Elliot, Bart.
Future Mistress of Uppercross
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Mary’s “portrait” is Afternoon Stroll by Giovanni Boldini