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rency); but he agreed on the whole with a faculty friend who had once said to him, under strictest oath of secrecy, after a failure to win promotion : “ As a matter of fact, I'd do just what I am doing for a great deal less: I like it so well; but I suppose we'll have to appear dissatisfied, or they'll never raise us."
The Professor's philosophy told him that the object of a salary was comfort, content, satisfaction with life. If this were true, and if the nature of his duties also brought him comfort, content, and satisfaction with life, it seemed to him that it was only fair to calculate his whole income by adding together his salary and his satisfaction. Counting the former at $1,500, and the latter at, say, $13,500, he ascertained that his real salary amounted to $15,000—just the figure which he had often heard remarked on as appropriate for a man with five children and no very expensive tastes. He was of course aware that to count satisfaction as a part of salary (unless you happened to be the employer) was considered very sentimental and unbusiness-like, or rather that it was not considered at all; and that most men chose their occupations with eye single to the currency value of their salaries, convinced that satisfaction was something that could be bought, and bought at any time.
And so the Professor was not so very much surprized when his first commencement address, entitled The fun of working, aroused more wonderment than enthusiasm; or when his sophomores smiled with wise incredulity at the end of a little sermon like this: Young men, don't choose a calling merely because your friends are choosing it, or because your father chose it—tho his word should be worth a great deal to you
- or because you are advised to by those who have themselves adopted it; and, above all, don't choose it merely because report says that much money is to be made in it. Choose rather that which you will like to do; for the object of choosing any calling is to secure a reasonable amount of happiness by rendering a reasonable amount of service to the world. The problem is not to fit yourselves for the best paying profession, but to find out the profession for which nature has already fitted you. If you do this, life will be filled with pleasurable activity; if not, all your voyage will be bound in shallow and in miseries. Nothing can recompense a man for doing what he hates, or a community for the plague-spot of a discontented and grumbling citizen.
But the Professor wasn't disheartened, for he had the warrant of the inner man; and besides, he knew you couldn't tell a sophomore much about life. And he knew, too, that most sermons had a greater effect upon the preacher than upon the audience.
So much for the Professor's Perquisite in the way of pleasurable performance of duty. He sometimes felt ashamed to look his friends in the face. Tho they did receive larger salaries and work fewer hours, their work was really laborious. They had need of costly vacation trips to restore their spirits; while his main trouble was that he could not work more hours in the day, and his chief use for vacation the doing of more of his chosen work.
But the Professor's duty did more than minister to his mere pleasure. It brought him incredible profit. All the interest of the vast capital in his hands accrued to him. Nay, we may say rather that the Professor was joint heir with all the world to the capital itself. All that he could appropriate was his own for the term of his life; and, more than that, such was its nature that he could possess it all without in the least interfering with the rights of any other claimant. And still further, it was not only his privilege to appropriate it, but he had to appropriate it, unless he was to prove recreant to his trust; for only by possessing it himself could he help his students to possess it.
Hence it was that the Professor had already amassed a great fortune, and hence it was that year by year he grew wealthier and wealthier. He was rich in acquaintance with the world's great scenes and the world's great men. His duties called him to survey mankind from China to Peru, and he had spent years in communion with the great spirits of all time. He “carried the keys of the world's library in his pocket.” All his pleasures were made more vivid because of his familiarity with crystallized human experience in literature, all his sorrows made less keen, all his sympathies broadened, all his judgments liberalized, all his resolutions strengthened, all his aspirations heightened, all his inspirations deepened. He saw the essence of things behind their material form, and dwelt in that realm of the glorified real which men call the ideal.
Yes, some of you are saying, these things may be all right in their way, but there is nothing in them. You can't convert an aspiration into hard cash, and literature may be ever so pleasant, but you can't live on the love of it, to say nothing of supporting a growing family and contributing to the support of your Life Insurance President.
Very well, since you must be appealed to on that ground, I will go on to tell you how the Professor's love of literature really affected the size of his salary. Not that it actually increased the number of dollars he received; I only mean that it diminished his expenses—which is much the same when it comes to the question of surplus or deficit. I mean that where his friends in other occupations made a dollar satisfy one desire, he made it satisfy two.
For, besides consolation, inspiration, and joy, the Professor had another Perquisite. He had appropriated from his legacy of literature an Aladdin's lamp. It was an ancient one: Solomon had possest it, and Horace, and both had recommended it. It was the lamp of philosophy; not the kind of philosophy that lives insphered in regions mild of calm and serene air, but that mingles in the smoke and stir of this dim spot which men call earth-philosophy of life, which differs from the other about as much as religion differs from theology, or real charity from humanitarianism, or education from pedagogy, or culture from either of these latter.
The Professor knew that riches depended not so much upon outward circumstances as upon the inward attitude. He knew that there was that made himself rich, and yet had nothing. He believed the Wise Man's precept that as a man thought in his heart, so was he; that the heart must be kept with all diligence, for out of it were the issues of life. So much had Solomon inscribed on the lamp. Horace had added that it was useless to increase wealth if desire was to keep pace with acquisition; that the addition of Libya to remote Gades availed nothing to one who had not learned the secret of curbing a greedy spirit; that those who wanted much also lacked much, and that it was well with him to whom God gave with sparing hand what was enough.
The Professor was old enough, and wise enough—you need both age and wisdom if you are to understand the really great lessons of life—to appreciate the truth of these (to most men) dark sayings, and sensible enough to realize it in actual practise.
Of course he saw his friends in possession of many things which he himself could have enjoyed. They had roomier houses, larger libraries than his, kept automobiles and horses and carriages, sailed yachts, wore raiment twice dyed in Tyrian purple, maintained summer residences in distant parts of the country, always had the last novel on their tables, made long journeys to the metropolis for their drama and opera, ate every fruit out of its season and treated their dyspepsia by correspondence with high-priced quacks thousands of miles distant, employed a cook, a chambermaid, and a footman, kept a nurse for every child, never asked questions about the monthly bills, contributed heavily to rummage sales, and were not driven to bankruptcy by excessive alimony.
But the Professor saw that for him the indulgence in all or any of these things would mean thralldom, and that life would be a round of sacrifice at the shrine of the unpaid bill. And then, the real objection to that sort of life was that possession did not mean satisfaction, after all, for he had slowly learnt the lesson that the final satisfaction of wants and the realization of ideals were impossible, that life was an ascending scale of desires. Happiness depended upon what one wanted, rather than on what one had. His friend with the $50,000 house had only a few days before complained of lack of space in the identical words which the Professor himself was wont to employ when he was in the mood of complaint about his house, which was anything but a mansion, and was rented at that; and his friend's family was less numerous than his own. His neighbor with the $25 rod and reel cursed the luck in exactly the same spirit, if not in the same words (di deæque avertant), in which the Professor did, and by way of remedy invested in more tackle. The Professor went on fishing with his own unpretentious outfit; and when in moments of stress his Waltonian calm forsook him, and rod and reel went into the depths of the lake and joined the Seven Thousand of Yesterday, he consoled himself with the thought that their intrinsic value was now, even if it had not been before, a matter of indifference.
His neighbor with the canoe wanted a launch, his other neighbor who had a launch was consumed with longing for a yacht, and a third who had sailed a yacht for one season would hear of nothing but a house-boat. The Professor went on using his rowboat, turned a deaf ear to the Siren call, well knowing that his enjoyment would total as much as theirs, and more. Of what avail to go on satisfying desires, only to find that satisfaction begot other desires ?
Naught's had, all's spent,
When our desire is got without content. True, the Professor saw that if he had possest unlimited resources and no sense of moral obligation, much experience and much vivid pleasure might have been his. He could have gone from satisfaction to satisfaction, and could even have studied to create desires in order to experience the pleasure of gratifying them, as many of his countrymen did. But it was plain enough that with such a course would come also vanity and vexation of spirit, and corruption of the real fountains of happiness. No satisfaction worthy of the name would result from it. The full soul loathed an honeycomb; but to the hungry every bitter thing was sweet. Of all persons, the most to be disliked and the most to be pitied was the blasé, the burnt-out being who found nothing new under the sun, whose only way of breaking the dead monotony of existence was to roll with pleasure in a sensual sty. No, the simple life was better; as well in his own as in Juvenal's time, voluptates commendat rarior usus.