This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
Occasionally some millionaire builds a mansion, which is the admiration of the town, or erects a country house, which, with its grounds, is the pride and boast of its neighborhood. In time the great man dies, becomes insolvent, goes abroad, or tires of his hobby; and then the property is put up for sale. Everybody crowds to see the dwelling, or drives out to the country bouse. The pictures, the furniture, the hot-house, or the grounds, are by turns the theme of admiration. The night of the sale arrives. The auction room is crowded. To judge from the sea of faces looking up at the crier, one might think that the competition would be enormous. But the fact is the reverse. The auctioneer expatiates long before he can obtain a single offer; the property, at first, seems about to be knocked down to the first bidder; and when, at last, other offers are made, they come almost reluctantly, and though the hammer falls amid a general cry "how cheap I" the purchaser looks as if he already half repented of his bargain.
And why? Simply because it is one thing to buy a costly bouse, but quite another thing to live in it Men, before they purchase a stately mansion, should ask themselves whether they can afford to keep it in appropriate style. A hundred thousand dollars for a dwelling makes necessary thousands of dollars for lng views of these cultivators? Why, while the Boston amateurs who have had THIRTY YEARS' experience, and place some reliance on the experience of foreign cultivators, are-enjoying the luxury of delicious pears in great profusion, the New York and Philadelphia cultivators are setting out their trees and digging them up again," etc. In July, "we can only hope that continued attention will result in a liberal supply;" and, "line specimens, though by no means abundant, are less so than formerly." Rich and fruity, isn't St! - Q furniture, thousands for dress and equipage, and thousands more for servants, parties, Newport and Saratoga. There is a fitness in things, demanded by public opinion, which requires these expenses, and to this opinion nine men out of ten sooner or later practically yield, even if they or their wives do not embark in the extravagances at once. But. usually there is no backwardness in this respect.
Fitznoodle purchases a new house, with rosewood doors, walnut staircases, stained glass windows, and before he has fairly recorded his deed, Mrs. Fitznoodle wants the walls frescoed and panelled with satin, and ten thousand other superfluities. The estimated cost of the movement is soon trebled; the annual outlay grows in proportion; and Mr. Fitznoodle is either ruined, or condemned to groan, for-ever after, over his increasing expenses.
What is true of the would-be fashionable is just as true, however, of persons with more limited means. If men worth only a hundred thousand dollars or two, ape the millionaire's style of living, so do young merchants, professional men, even clerks and mechanics, ape those richer than themselves. The weakness of wishing to live in a fine house is almost universal. The fine house, too, is relative; for that which a millionaire scorns, the young merchant thinks superb, and that which the merchant looks down on, the clerk pinches himself to obtain. It is amazing how many families live in dwellings beyond their means! The miserable shifts to which such families are driven in order to keep up appearances, are melancholy to think upon. In the end, too, the head of the family dies, having laid by nothing, and the widow and children sink into a hopeless poverty, the more poignant to them, because of the mortification attending it. It would be well if the question'was oftener asked, when moving into a better house is proposed, "Can we afford to live in it?.