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true source of happiness and power, and that it is lawful and just
to compass their acquisition by all means short of felony. ‘And,’
reasoned Ralph with himself, ‘if no good came of my uncle’s
money when he was alive, a great deal of good came of it after he
was dead, inasmuch as my father has got it now, and is saving it up
for me, which is a highly virtuous purpose; and, going back to the
old gentleman, good did come of it to him too, for he had the
pleasure of thinking of it all his life long, and of being envied and
courted by all his family besides.’ And Ralph always wound up
these mental soliloquies by arriving at the conclusion, that there
was nothing like money.

Not confining himself to theory, or permitting his faculties to
rust, even at that early age, in mere abstract speculations, this
promising lad commenced usurer on a limited scale at school;
putting out at good interest a small capital of slate-pencil and
marbles, and gradually extending his operations until they aspired
to the copper coinage of this realm, in which he speculated to
considerable advantage. Nor did he trouble his borrowers with
abstract calculations of figures, or references to ready-reckoners;
his simple rule of interest being all comprised in the one golden
sentence, ‘two-pence for every half-penny,’ which greatly
simplified the accounts, and which, as a familiar precept, more
easily acquired and retained in the memory than any known rule
of arithmetic, cannot be too strongly recommended to the notice of
capitalists, both large and small, and more especially of money-
brokers and bill-discounters. Indeed, to do these gentlemen
justice, many of them are to this day in the frequent habit of
adopting it, with eminent success.

In like manner, did young Ralph Nickleby avoid all those

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