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This unattractive portrait of Henry Clerval's father relies on common prejudices of British society in the early nineteenth century. Trade was looked down upon as narrowing the mind and depraving the soul. One can sense the disparagement as Johnson offers two definitions for "trader" in his 1755 Dictionary:

1.One engaged in merchandise or commerce.
2.One long used in the methods of money getting; a practitioner.

The same tone insinuates itself into cognate definitions: Trade

1.Traffick; commerce; exchange of goods for other goods, or for money.
2.Occupation; particular employment whether manual or mercantile, distinguished from the liberal arts or learned professions.
3. Instruments of any occupation.
4. Any employment not manual; habitual exercise.

To trade

1. To traffick; to deal; to hold commerce.
2. To act merely for money.
3. Having a trade wind.