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HOME > Classical Novels > Money-making men > CHAPTER VIII. ECCENTRIC MONEY-MAKERS.
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 A CURIOUS romance adds one more instructive fact to point the moral of a miser’s life, and of “the love of money.”  For many years past an old man might have been seen carrying an old bag on his shoulders, scraping up and ends from the , and garbage from the streets.  This man’s home was in a London suburb, a wretched room filled with rubbish—old pieces of iron and , bits of string, &c.  Around the room were tin deed-boxes, which some of his friends half suspected must be of properties of more or less value.  The wretched man lived on what he chanced to pick up by the way, or what was given to him by the charitable, who thought him to be a beggar.  He used to attend one of our hospitals as an out-patient, receiving advice and medicine .  This man died in the midst of squalid wretchedness and apparent want.  His friends at once proceeded to the place in search for his money; the deed-boxes proved to be “dummies,” containing only and tapes, and for some time the search proved fruitless.  At last, however, the old chair in which he used to sit was found to contain, in the worn-out cushion, a bundle of most valuable securities, amounting to £60,000, and a will.  This will, after leaving £100 each to his executors, devised all the of his property to two institutions—one to the Royal Free Hospital, Gray’s-inn-road, in which institution he used to obtain advice and medicine gratis, as above; and the other half to the Royal National Lifeboat Association.  So that these two useful institutions will receive £30,000 each, and possibly more, as the result of this “miser’s” wealth!  Search is being made for further documents amid the heaps of rubbish that have been allowed to p. 133accumulate in the wretched man’s .  The case constitutes a sad and illustration of this fallen nature of ours, in one of its most forms of and madness.  
In the case of the Dancers, we have it recorded that their money-grubbing was prominent in three generations of the family.  The grandfather, the father, and the children, were all —the lot of them, Daniel Dancer, Esq., appears to have been the most .  He lived on the Weald of Harrow, where he had a little estate of about eighty acres of rich meadow-land, with some of the finest oak timber in the kingdom on it.  Besides, there was a good farm belonging to him, worth at that time, if properly cultivated, more than £200 a-year.  One day, coming to London to invest £2,000 in the funds, a gentleman, who met him near the Exchange, mistaking him for a beggar, put a penny in his hand—an which, it is needless to say, the beggar pocketed.  In spite of the fact that his wretched was often broken into, he made a great deal of money by his habits.  It took many weeks to explore the contents of his .  As much as £2,500 were found on the dung-heap in the cow-house; and in an old jacket, carefully tied and strongly nailed to the manger, was the sum of £500 in gold and bank-notes; £200 were found in the chimney, and an old teapot contained bank-notes to the value of £500.  Lady Tempest and Captain Holmes, his heirs, were benefited by the old miser’s to the extent of about £3,000 a-year.
Money is sometimes strangely made.  For instance, there is the case of Gully, who was M.P. for Pontefract in 1832.  “He was taken out of prison,” writes Mr. Charles Greville, “twenty-five or thirty years ago by a gentleman to fight Pierce, surnamed the Game Chicken.  He afterwards fought Belcher (I believe), and Gregson twice, and left the prize-ring with the reputation of being the best man in it.  He then took to the turf, was successful in establishing himself at Newmarket, where he kept ‘a hell,’ and began a system of of trainers, jockeys, and boys, which put the secrets of all Newmarket at his disposal, and in a few years made him rich.  At the same time he connected himself with Mr. , in the north, by betting for him; and this being at the time when Watt’s stable was very successful, he won large sums of p. 134money by his horses.  Having become rich, he in a great coal , which answered beyond his hopes, and his shares soon yielded immense profits.  His wife, who was a coarse, vulgar woman, in the meantime died, and he afterwards married the daughter of an innkeeper, who proved as gentlewoman-like as the other was the reverse, and who was very pretty besides.  He now gradually withdrew from the betting-ring as a regular blackleg, still keeping horses, and betting occasionally in large sums.  He ultimately bought an estate near Pontefract, and settled down as a gentleman of fortune.”
Of the beggarly race of misers, the most notorious was Thomas Cooke, born in the year 1726, at Clewer, a village near Windsor.  His father, an fiddler, got his living by playing in alehouses and fairs, but dying while Thomas was an infant, his grandmother, who lived near Norwich, took care of him till he was able to provide for himself, at which time he obtained employment in a manufactory where there were a number of other boys who were paid according to the work they did.  These boys always clubbed some money from their weekly for the establishment of a mess; young Cooke, however, resolved to live cheaper, and when the other boys went to dinner he to the side of a , and made his breakfast and dinner at one meal upon an halfpenny loaf, an apple, and a of water from the running stream, taken up in the brim of his hat.  With the money thus saved, he paid a youth, who was to a village schoolmaster, to instruct him in reading, writing, and arithmetic.  Arrived at years of , Cooke found employment at a Norwich as a porter.  There his sobriety and industry caused his master to make him a journeyman, and raise his wages.  Further, his master finding that he wished for an appointment as an exciseman, a situation for him near London, and he came to the capital by the Norwich with only eight shillings in his pocket; but that is of little consequence.  It is not money that makes a man succeed in life, but the want of it.  In the world, a man who begins with money generally ends by losing it.
Being appointed to a district, Cooke found there was great delay, and some expense, before he could act as an exciseman; he therefore took the situation of porter to a sugar-baker, p. 135and, in course of time, became a journeyman.  Here he did not neglect his appointment to the , but reserved sufficient time to himself to give it every necessary attention.  By attending on the superior of the district in which he was to act, and by the money he saved while in the service of the sugar-baker, Cooke was at length enabled to assume the dignity to which he had so long .  Being appointed to inspect the exciseable concerns of a paper-mill and manufactory near Tottenham, Cooke was exceedingly well pleased; for, being already in some parts of the trade from the knowledge he had acquired at Norwich, he was desirous of learning those secrets in the trade to which he was still a stranger.  During the time he was officially employed in this concern, the master of the paper-mills and manufactory died.  The widow, however, by the advice of her friends, carried on the business with the assistance of the foreman.  Cooke’s knowledge of the business, but particularly the with which he rendered his accounts to the Board of Excise, induced the to continue him in the employ.  In the meantime he took a regular and exact account of infractions of the laws, which, either from design or inadvertence, were daily committed in this paper manufactory.  Having calculated the value of the concern, and the several thousand pounds the penalties by frauds on the revenue would amount to, he seized the opportunity of informing the widow, that the penalties, if , would amount to more than double the value of all her property, and expose her to beggary and the King’s Bench.  He assured her that the frauds which had been at different times committed were only known to himself, and suddenly proposed marriage to her as the only means of insuring his .  The widow, no doubt, convinced of the truth of the statement, and seeing in Cooke a man of and of good figure, gave him a answer, but suggested the of the marriage till the time to the mourning for her first husband had expired.  Cooke agreed to this delay, having taken care to obtain her consent and promise on parchment.  At length his marriage with this lady took place, and Cooke became possessed of all her property, which was very large, and particularly of the mills at Tottenham, which were on a lease to her former husband.  On the of the lease, he p. 136applied to the for a of it; but, in consequence of a previous treaty, the were, to his great , let to another person.  He next purchased a large sugar concern in Dock, and, as he knew something of the business, flattered himself that he would he able to add rapidly to his already large fortune.  Here he carried his former habits of and to the utmost extent.
At this time his artfulness and meanness seem to have quite gained the upper hand.  One of his plans was to have his table well supplied by the of other people.  His powers were admirable.  In his latter days it was his practice, when he had marked out any one for his , to find his way, by some means or other, into the house, by pretending to fall down in a fit, or asking permission to enter and sit down, in order to prevent its coming on.  No person could well refuse admission to a man in apparent , of respectable appearance, whose well-powdered and long induced a belief that he was some decayed citizen of better days.  The host would soon learn that this was the rich Mr. Cooke, the sugar-baker, worth £100,000; and this would lead to an introduction to the family, all of whom the artful sugar-baker would pretend to admire, asking the fond mamma particularly for their names all in writing.  The parents, of course, considered that there could be but one for asking such a question, and the consequence was, as he pursued the plan with a score or two of people, that so great was the quantity of , game, vegetables, and provisions of every kind which used to be sent him, that it did not cost him in housekeeping, for himself and his domestics, more than fifteen-pence a-day on an average; but it was considered as great extravagance when the expenses of a day amounted to as much as two shillings.
! however, in spite of all his parsimony, the sugar-baking business did not pay.  At the end of twelve months he found himself the poorer.  This would never do; and in order to discover the secrets of the trade to which he had been a stranger, he was induced to invite several sugar-bakers to dine with him, and, after them with plenty of wine, he put questions to some of the younger and more unguarded of the trade, who, in a state of , made the desirable discoveries.  His wife, astonished at his being so unusually p. 137generous, expressed her about the expenses of the wine, but he told her he would suck as much of the brains—his usual phrase—of some of the fools as would amply repay him.  His wife was as much a victim as any one else.  She died of a broken heart.  After he had retired from business, Cooke went to reside in Winchester Street, Pentonville, where he cultivated his own cabbages on a plot of ground which had been originally laid out for a garden.  To get for his cabbages he would sally out on moonlight nights, with a little and a basket, and take up the horse-dung that had been dropped in the course of the day in the City Road.  He seldom passed by a pump without taking a drink.  In his daily visits to the Bank, he regaled himself at the pump near the Royal Exchange.  He was in the constant habit of pocketing the Bank paper, as he never bought anything if he could get it for nothing.
Notwithstanding Cooke’s love of money, he was fond of amusement.  It was said of Gilpin’s wife, that—
      “Though on pleasure she was ,
She had a mind.”
It seems the same could be said of Cooke.  For instance, he was very fond of going to Epsom races.  But these excursions never cost him anything, for he always took care to fasten himself upon some of those people whom he used to up with assurances of making them his heirs.  Thus he had his ride to Epsom in his friend’s gig and back to town, his bed during the time of the races, his meals, and every other accommodation at the expense of his fellow-traveller, to whom, for all this treating, he never had the generosity to offer so much as a bottle of wine in return.
Cooke died as he had lived, a in heart.  To the last he cheated everybody.  In 1811, he took to his bed, and sent for several medical men in the hope of obtaining some relief; but all knew him so well that not one would attend, except Mr. Aldridge, who resided close by.  Cooke permitted this gentleman to send some medicine.  On his last visit the old man very earnestly him to say how long he thought he might live.  Mr. Aldridge answered that he might last six days.  Cooke collected as much of his strength as he could, raised himself in his bed, and, a look of keenest indignation at the surgeon, exclaimed, p. 138“And are not you a dishonest man, a , a robber to serve me so?”  “How, sir?” asked the doctor, with surprise.  “Why, sir, you are no better than a to rob me of my gold by sending two a-day to a man that all your physic will not keep alive for above six days.  Get out of my house, and never come near me again.”  During the last days of his existence he was extremely weak, and employed his few remaining hours in arranging matters with his .  Some short time before his death, one of his executors observed to him that he had omitted to remember his two servants in his will; the one who had served him as his and nurse faithfully for of ten years; the other who used to lead him about the streets, particularly to the Exchange Pump, to
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