Samuel Butler: The Way of All Flesh

78. CHAPTER LXXVIII (continued)

Midland stock at the end of August 1850, when I sold out Miss Pontifex's debentures, stood at 32 pounds per 100 pounds. I invested the whole of Ernest's 15,000 pounds at this price, and did not change the investment till a few months before the time of which I have been writing lately--that is to say until September 1861. I then sold at 129 pounds per share and invested in London and North-Western ordinary stock, which I was advised was more likely to rise than Midlands now were. I bought the London and North-Western stock at 93 pounds per 100 pounds, and my godson now in 1882 still holds it.

The original 15,000 pounds had increased in eleven years to over 60,000 pounds; the accumulated interest, which, of course, I had re-invested, had come to about 10,000 pounds more, so that Ernest was then worth over 70,000 pounds. At present he is worth nearly double that sum, and all as the result of leaving well alone.

Large as his property now was, it ought to be increased still further during the year and a half that remained of his minority, so that on coming of age he ought to have an income of at least 3500 pounds a year.

I wished him to understand book-keeping by double entry. I had myself as a young man been compelled to master this not very difficult art; having acquired it, I have become enamoured of it, and consider it the most necessary branch of any young man's education after reading and writing. I was determined, therefore, that Ernest should master it, and proposed that he should become my steward, book-keeper, and the manager of my hoardings, for so I called the sum which my ledger showed to have accumulated from 15,000 pounds to 70,000 pounds. I told him I was going to begin to spend the income as soon as it had amounted up to 80,000 pounds.

A few days after Ernest's discovery that he was still a bachelor, while he was still at the very beginning of the honeymoon, as it were, of his renewed unmarried life, I broached my scheme, desired him to give up his shop, and offered him 300 pounds a year for managing (so far indeed as it required any managing) his own property. This 300 pounds a year, I need hardly say, I made him charge to the estate.

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