ARTHUR'S SUCCESSFUL MERCHANT. * Mn. Armin intimates that we have biographies
of all sorts of classes except men of business as men of business, though they are the proper object of study for young traders. The purpose of his book is to supply this want : and he has not chosen his hero badly. Samuel Budgett of Bristol was undoubtedly a remarkable man. Born (A.D. 1794) in humble circumstances, commencing life as a sort of drudge to a general dealer or more properly to a chandler's shop, and entering on his own career in a similar trade as partner with his brother, Samuel Budgett formed one of the most extensive whole- sale businesses at Bristol, gave and spent bountifully, and died rich. This was done by an " innatus amor " for "trading." Mo- zart was not more of a born genius for music than Sam Budgett for turning a penny and making the most of the operation. The first coin of this description he ever had he earned by picking up a cast horse-shoe ; carrying it three miles and selling it to a black- smith. At school, a prospect of regular profits broke upon him. "He found that for a halfpenny he got only six marbles but for a penny fourteen : by buying a pennyworth and selling to his comrades two different halfpennyworths, he earned two marbles, honestly." He drove a similar trade in sweet staff, and was led by success to larger speculations out of schooL A " transaction " with a donkey (probably diseased) not only paid him one hundred
• The Successful Merchant: Sketches of the Life of Mr. Samuel Budgett, late of Hingswood Hill. By William Arthur, A.M., Author of " A Mission to the Mysore," an. Published by Hamilton, Adams, and Co.
per cent, but read him a lesson on the use and value of security, which never left him. Budgett himself narrates the oircumstadce late in life.
" I was one day coming from Leigh, when about twelve years of age, and saw a man walking along with an old donkey and a young one. I asked the price of the young one. He said, two-and-sixpence. I tried to see if he would take less ; but finding he would not, got a cord, put it found his neck, paid the two-and-sixpence, took it home, and kept it a few days ; then sold it to a Mrs. Ellis for five shillings; but she said she had no money, but would pay in the course of the week. I objected to leave it without security. But here a difficulty arose, as she had no security to offer, but a pair of new stays which had just cost ten shillings. 'Oh !' said I, there is nothing like that, because it is easily carried.' So on receiving them, I carried them all
through the village in my hand, and said, Mother, here's a pair of stays : I have sold the donkey ; Mrs. Ellis will call and pay five shillings ; be sure
and not let her have the stays without the money.' The donkey, however, unfortunately died ; and she wished to have the stays returned without the money ; but in vain' as I believed the death was occasioned by want of proper treatment ; and by that I learnt 'A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.'" In after years' when he began to feel his way in wholesale trade, a modified ghost of the dead donkey or the lady's stays was ever before him. Monthly payments, to the day, were his terms, from which he never deviated. He might, when he thought there was distress, send a parting present of stock just to enable his customer to rub on till he could get into somebody else's books ; but the ac- count was closed with Samuel Budgett. No applications however ''tent, no prospects of business however tempting, ever induced
to swerve from his rule. A portion of his success was no doubt traceable to this firmness. He had his capital always well in hand to buy, and he was to a great extent freed from that source of loss "bad debts."
This firmness was shown in other things. From a forcible but rather forced sketch of Budgett in his business, with which Mr. Arthur opens his book, the reader sees "the successful merchant" would have his full pennyworth for his penny out of men as well as merchandise, in the form of hard work steadiness, punctuality,
zeal, and good fortune ; for, like the elder work, Samuel Bud- gett misliked an unlucky man. "Tact, push, and principle," was
's motto ; and he not only pushed himself, but every one about him. His great excellency, however, was as a buyer; and; ac- cording to his admiring though discriminating biographer, he must have been "a dead hand at a bargain."
"In business he was keen—deliberately, consistently, methodically keen. He would buy as scarcely any other man could buy ; he would sell as scarcely. any other man could sell. He was an athlete on the arena of trade, and re- joiced to bear off the prize. He was a soldier on the battle-field of bargains, and conquered he would not be. MB power over the minds of others was im- mense, his insight into their character piercing, his address in managing his own ease masterly, and, above all, his purpose so inflexible that no regard to delicacy or to appearances would for a moment beguile him from his object. He would accomplish a first-rate transaction, be the difficulty what it might. That secured, his word was as gold, and generosity was welcome to make any demand on his gains. But in the act of dealing he would beat the aptist tradesmen in the trade. To those who only met him in the market this fea- ture of his character gave an unfavourable impression. They frequently found themselves pressed and conquered, and naturally felt sore. To those who knew all the excellence and liberality which lay beneath this hard mer- cantile exterior, it appeared the peculiarity and the defect of an uncommonly worthy man, yet still a defect and a peculiarity. "Mr. Budgett justified, to his own mind, this habit of keen trading. His natural inclination led him to it."
This does not present an amiable character ; and, notwithstand- ing his alleged charities, kindnesses, and religions goodnesses, the impression left on the mind of the reader is hardly of the favour- able cast. There is too much of the wisdom of the serpent, and not of a very high-bred serpent either. There is too chapel-like a display in his religion; his subscriptions have too much the stamp of his business bargains. His closing scene (he died last spring) reeaLs in its strongly-developed peculiarities the pictures of the early Methodists by the wits of the last century. He would get into heaven, as he got on in life by dint of pushing. Budgett of Bristol was not, however, a munkworm or a mere accumulator. Get he would, but he would spend and give freely. When his first savings swelled to a few shillings, he laid it all out in the purchase of Wesley's Hymns—his parents being Wesleyans ; be- fore he was fifteen he had saved thirty pounds all which he gave to his parents, whose humble fortunes were declining; his brother, under whom he first went out, had treated him harshly, but when he had got into difficulties through some speculation, Samuel pre- sented him all he had saved from his salary—a hundred pounds. In later life, he gave largely (though with some oddity, perhaps vulgarity, in the manner) in private benefactions and to public charities or institutions; and though he lived plainly he kept up a large hospitality. We do not know that Mr. Arthur has quite carried out his object of presenting a commercial biography for young commer- cial men ; the lessons of success from energy, pertinacity, firmness, and a determination to succeed, are of a more general application : but he has produced a clever volume, possessing both character and interest. Mr. Arthur is of the platform school, with its strained force, its obvious artifices of arrangement and manner, its diffuseness of topic as well as of style. This diffuseness is car- ried to such a length that not one half of the biography is bio- gra hical ; every incident serves for a commentary longer than itself to impress the lesson it contains. But Mr. Arthur is a master of his implement. The plan has been well considered ; the digressions do not interfere with its unity, and they are well done in themselves. Travel in India and other countries has given him a larger range and a juster appreciation than generally distinguish the Nonconformist orator. He sees clearly and marks fairly the worldly and moral defects of his hero : if he is room-
ciled to the pushing management which Mr. Budgett carried into
jJjnthropy, and conceives the obtrusive spirit that characterized Lis spirituafities as matter of gratulation, why, use doth breed a habit in a man. His moral remarks on society are in general sound and judicious; arguing thought and observation. The fol- lowing passage on the self-indulgence and effeminate habits of our middle classes touches one of the cankers of society. He is speaking of the simple habits of Budgett. "Many horses as he gave away, he never drove a pair, because he thought it would be too much display. Much as he loved beauty and rural scenes, he did not buy a mansion in some of the enchanting localities within a drive of Bristol; but tried, in the act of feeding the labourers of the place, to make Kingswood beautiful. Temperance in all things, without extremes, either in house, dress, or both, was his taste ; and temperance in all these he impressed on his domestic circle. It would have been easy for him to have had nothing to spare when the poor called ; but he chose rather to have nothing to spare when extravagant luxuries called. His style was far below that assumed by many merchants of half his means, yet without any prim fashion of peculiarity. "Among the mercantile class, luxury is a devouring evil ; it swallows down the virtues wholesale. For their means they are far more addicted to it than the 'higher classes ' ; their houses are enlarged and decorated with the most pretentious rivalry one of the other, their tables testify against all moderation, (eschewing of course drunkenness,) they make haste to march to the music of carriage-wheels, to feast their eyes on plush and livery but- tons. The rage to make vast fortunes arises as much from the rage for dis- play as from the cold desire to accumulate ; and style is pushed up to such a height that soon a man must have an immense revenue to keep pace even with the lower circles of respectable life. This is all bad, comes of badness, and leads to badness. Yet, alas, the men we call by emphasis 'good' do little as a class to cure it ; the religious merchant or manufacturer of wealth is generally a very splendid gentleman. Even men whose personal carriage, whose heart, life, and likings are meek and lowly, allow their establishments to slide up into the splendours. This habit is enervating our youths, ren- dering family happiness dependent on superfluities, straining health and principles in a race for dashing style, setting up splendour on the legitimate throne of moderation, and icing over domestic piety with candied incrusta- tions. Unless it is put down, where are we to look for a race of men who can do without a dinner now and then for a work of charity, or spend years in frugal habitudes and benevolent hardship ? The homes of' the comfortable classes are mortally unfavourable to the formation of self-denying, heroic men. Among the poor, early hardship fits for subsequent privation. Among the older families, ancestral traditions, military or naval associates, early familiarity with historic enterprise, tend to make a youth spurn dependence on the indulgences which surround him. The one class gives us hardy sol- diers, the other heroic officers ; but the comfortable class have neither hard- ship nor family tradition to kindle heroism in their youth, and the whole course of their modern progress is towards a generation of creatures depend- ent upon every sort of luxury, and energetic only to win the gold which will buy it. The continuance of peace, removing from our eyes the examples of self-devotion which war, detestable as it is, constantly presents, renders it all the more incumbent on us to protest against habits which would turn this hardy Northern island into a nursery of soft gentlemen who will whine and mope if they have only a warm house, with a fire, a gentlemen, a joint, and a cup of tea."