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   Chapter 37 No.37

Philip Dru: Administrator; A Story of Tomorrow, 1920-1935 By Edward Mandell House Characters: 4381

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03


The Wise Disposition of a Fortune

In one of their confidential talks, Selwyn told Dru that he had a fortune in excess of two hundred million dollars, and that while it was his intention to amply provide for his immediate family, and for those of his friends who were in need, he desired to use the balance of his money in the best way he could devise to help his fellowmen.

He could give for this purpose, he said, two hundred million dollars or more, for he did not want to provide for his children further than to ensure their entire comfort, and to permit them to live on a scale not measurably different from what they had been accustomed.

He had never lived in the extravagant manner that was usual in men of his wealth, and his children had been taught to expect only a moderate fortune at his death. He was too wise a man not to know that one of the greatest burdens that wealth imposed, was the saving of one's children from its contaminations. He taught his sons that they were seriously handicapped by their expectations of even moderate wealth, and that unless they were alert and vigilant and of good habits, the boy who was working his own way upward would soon outstrip them. They were taught that they themselves, were the natural objects of pity and parental concern, and not their seemingly less fortunate brothers.

"Look among those whose parents have wealth and have given of it lavishly to their children," he said, "and count how few are valuable members of society or hold the respect of their fellows.

"On the other hand, look at the successful in every vocation of life, and note how many have literally dug their way to success."

The more Dru saw of Selwyn, the better he liked him, and knowing the inner man, as he then did, the more did he marvel at his career. He and Selwyn talked long and earnestly over the proper disposition of his fortune. They both knew that it was hard to give wisely and without doing more harm than good. Even in providing for his friends, Selwyn was none too sure that he was conferring benefits upon them. Most of them were useful though struggling members of society, but should competency come to them, he wondered

how many would continue as such. There was one, the learned head of a comparatively new educational institution, with great resources ultimately behind it. This man was building it on a sure and splendid foundation, in the hope that countless generations of youth would have cause to be grateful for the sagacious energy he was expending in their behalf.

He had, Selwyn knew, the wanderlust to a large degree, and the millionaire wondered whether, when this useful educator's slender income was augmented by the generous annuity he had planned to give him, he would continue his beneficent work or become a dweller in arabs' tents.

In the plenitude of his wealth and generosity, he had another in mind to share his largess. He was the orphaned son of an old and valued friend. He had helped the lad over some rough places, but had been careful not to do enough to slacken the boy's own endeavor. The young man had graduated from one of the best universities, and afterwards at a medical school that was worthy the name. He was, at the time Selwyn was planning the disposition of his wealth, about thirty years old, and was doing valuable laboratory work in one of the great research institutions. Gifted with superb health, and a keen analytical mind, he seemed to have it in him to go far in his profession, and perhaps be of untold benefit to mankind.

But Selwyn had noticed an indolent streak in the young scientist, and he wondered whether here again he was doing the fair and right thing by placing it within his power to lead a life of comparative ease and uselessness. Consequently, Selwyn moved cautiously in the matter of the distribution of his great wealth, and invoked Dru's aid. It was Dru's supernormal intellect, tireless energy, and splendid constructive ability that appealed to him, and he not only admired the Administrator above all men, but he had come to love him as a son. Dru was the only person with whom Selwyn had ever been in touch whose advice he valued above his own judgment. Therefore when the young Administrator suggested a definite plan of scientific giving, Selwyn gave it respectful attention at first, and afterwards his enthusiastic approval.

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