The Percy Anecdotes:
Teach me to soothe the helpless orphan's grief,
With timely aid the widow's woes assuage
To misery's moving cries to yield relief
And be the sure resource of drooping age.' ANON.
George the Fourth
Pliny the Younger
Importance of Doing Quickly
Wladimir the Great
John of Gaunt's Benefaction
The Chevalier Bayard
Economical Charity in Humble Life
Example for Physicians
Prince of Conti
Frederic the Great
Citizen of the World
Benevolent Societies in Italy
Brotherhoods of Madrid
A late Duke of Northumberland
Good Curate of Lanebourg
Joseph the Second
Monks of St. Bernard
The Rustat Benefactions
Restoration of Rhodes
Force of Habit
Fortunate Widow and Family
British Prisoners in Spain
George the First
Heroism of Compassion
Prince Leopold of Brunswick
Duke of Nivernois
The Captive's Friend
Countess of Warwick
Duchess of Queensberry
The Czar Alexis
The Patriarch Nicon
St. Vincent De Paul
Isle of Man
John, Duke of Bedford
Doing Good in Secret
The Emperor Alexander of Russia
How to Spend a Saturday Evening
George the Third
A Good Hit in the Dark
Henry the Fourth
Lorraine, the Beneficent
The Ternick of Antwerp
Sir George Saville
Sir Robert Walpole
The late Queen Charlotte
Duke of Lorraine
Effects of Misery
Being a Russell
Respect for Goodness
Berkeley the Son
Four Great Men
A Letter of Recommendation
Howard, and Joseph II
Louis the Sixteenth
CLAUDE BERNARD, or the 'Poor Priest,' as he was called, after a youth of great gaiety, grew disgusted with the world, and devoted himself wholly to religion, and comforting the poor and unfortunate. With incredible fervour he assisted them by his charities and exhortations, stooping and humbling himself to do the meanest of services on their account. He constantly refused to accept of preferments,though many were offered to him by the court, and when Cardinal Richelieu at length absolutely insisted on his asking him for something, he made this whimsical answer: 'Sir, aftermuch study, I have at last found out a favour to ask from you. When I attend any sufferers to the gibbet, to assist them in their last moments, we are carried with so bad a bottom that we are every moment in danger of falling to the ground. Be pleased, therefore, sir, to order that some better boards may be put to the cart.' Richelieu laughed heartily, and immediately gave orders that the cart should be thoroughly repaired. His patience in solicitation was such as no circumstances, however offensive, could subdue. One day he presented a petition in favour of an unfortunate person, to a nobleman in place, who, being of a hasty temper, flew into a violent passion, and said many injurious things of the person for whom the priest interested himself. Bernard, however, still persisted in his request, and the nobleman was at last so irritated that he have him a box on the ear. Bernard immediately fell at his feet, and presenting the other, said, 'Give me a blow on this also, my lord, and grant me my petition.' The noble man was so affected by this humility, that he granted his request.
George the Fourth.
NEARLY forty years ago, his present majesty, then Prince of Wales, was so exceedingly urgent to have eight hundred pounds to an hour on such a day, and in so unusual a manner, that the gentleman who furnished the supply had some curiosity to know for what purpose it was obtained. On enquiry, he was informed that the moment the money arrived, the prince drew on a pair of boots; pulled off his coat and waistcoat; slipped on a plain morning frock, without a star; and turning his hair to the crown of his head, put on a slouched hat, and thus walked out. This intelligence raised still greater curiosity; and with some trouble, the gentleman discovered the object of the prince's mysterious visit. An officer of the army had just arrived from America, with a wife and six children, in such low circumstances, that to satisfy some clamorous creditor, he was on the point of selling his commission, to the utter ruin of his family. The prince by accident overheard an account of the case. To prevent a worthy soldier suffering, he procured the money, and that no mistake might happen carried it himself. On asking at an obscure lodging-house in a court near Covent Garden, for the lodger, he was shown up to his room, and there found the family in the greatest distress. Shocked at the sight, he not only presented the money, but told the officer to apply to Colonel Lake, living in - street, and give some account of himself in future; saying which he departed, without the family knowing to whom they were obliged.
In 1789, when the calamitous situation of his late majesty had created a sort of temporary interregnum, the Prince of Wales ordered that the poor of Westminster should be paid the annual donation at Christmas, out of his own purse, when those who had undertaken to manage the king's affairs had peremptorily refused to pay it.
In 1812, a young woman of the name of Frances Sage was under sentence of death in Newgate. A benevolent Israelite, whose compassion had been deeply excited by an enquiry into the circumstances of her crime, resolved on writing a letter to the late lamented Princess Charlotte, to supplicate her intercession for the unfortunate criminal. The letter was such as did equal honour to his head and heart. It was in these terms:
'MAY IT PLEASE YOUR ROYAL HIGHNESS,
'To give a few moments' attention to the most humble advocate that ever volunteered in the cause of an afflicted family. And as I seek for no reward except the hallowed consolation of success, let your indulgence be proportional to my zeal:
'The interest which the public prints have taken in the fate of Frances Sage, a young English woman, now under sentence of death in Newgate, induced me yesterday to visit a dwelling which her crime had made desolate, and at least to pour the healing balm of condolence upon the wounds of her distracted friends.
'A finished picture of the scene I witnessed must not agonize your royal bosom. Everything proclaimed distress and desolation; one tear was forced from her parents' eyes only to make room for another, and they looked as if, at that moment, they had experienced a most melancholy confiscation of all their family honours.
'I found that the same breeze on which your welcome voice first floated on the ears of a joyful people, was burthened with the cries of this unhappy girl, for she is just your age. That the innocence of her youth had been assailed by the artifices of an accomplished villain, who had deserted her at the moment of her utmost need; that she had never before been guilty of a crime, except when she submitted to the wiles of her seducer; that an ignominious death awaited her; that no effort was making for her safety, and that she was enveloped in contrition.
'Smooth and sudden is the descent from virtue: when the despoiler of her honour had induced the first step towards degradation it was easy for him to coerce a second, but there is an elasticity in the human mind which enables it to rebound, even after a fall more desperate than hers. In such an effort, Oh! royal lady, assist her, and let the harsh gratings of her prison hinge be drowned in the glad tidings of your father's mercy. The eloquence of a Trojan monarch gained, in a hostile camp, the body of his devoted Hector; and the force of royal advocacy was evinced at the memorable siege of Calais, when an enraged and stern king had firmly set his heart upon the execution of St. Pierre. Where then is the difficulty to be apprehended, when an only daughter, and a nation's hope, asks from a generous prince and an indulgent father, the life of a fallen but repenting woman? I have known the exquisite luxury of saving life, and announcing pardon; and I beseech you to lay such holy consolation to your heart, by raising your powerful voice in the advocacy of human frailty, snatch her not only from untimely death, but also from the contagion which surrounds her, from the infectious aggregation of the vices of a prison, where precept and example are rivals in the cultivation of depravity.
'I humbly ask it for her parents, because it will heal their bleeding hearts; and for her seabeaten brother, for it will strengthen his arm against the enemies of your house; I solicit it for the empire, because she is a reclaimed subject; I ask it for the honour of that throne which you are destined to adorn; and I implore it for the sake of that God whose favourite attribute is mercy.
'Grant then this humble prayer, illustrious favourite of my prince, and may the "divinity which hedges thrones," may "He who wears the crown immortally," bless you with long, long life, and end it happy. 'JOSEPH.'
Along with this letter, the generous writer transmitted the following petition from the wretched girl herself:
'To His Royal Highness the Prince Regent,
&c., &c., &c.,
'The most humble Petition of Frances Sage,
'That, at an age when judgment was imperfect, and seduction strong, she was drawn from her father's house by the artifices of a villain.
'That degraded by her crime in the estimation of her family, when the hour of repentance came no friendly door invited her return.
'That her dependence on her seducer was increased, while his attentions to her abated; and that in a distracted hour she purchased the continuance of his protection by a breach of the law.
'That her life must be forfeited for her crime, unless that contrition which she hopes has appeased her God, may obtain for her the compassion of her prince. And that she is not now more solicitous for life, than her prayers shall ever be devout for the generous author of her pardon.
'London, Nov. 15, 1812, FRANCES SAGE.
Her Royal Highness was moved by the pathetic energy of these appeals. She made enquiry into the circumstances of the girl's case, and finding that they had been fairly and honestly represented, she did not hesitate to intercede with her royal father in her behalf, and had the happiness not to plead in vain. The life of the criminal was saved, and the worthy 'Joseph' had once more the exquisite luxury of saving life, and announcing pardon.'
Pliny the Younger.
Pliny the Younger, who was one of the greatest orators of his age, did not make his profession an object of gain, like the rest of the Roman orators, but refused fees from the rich, as well as from the poorest of his clients: and declared that he cheerfully employed himself for the protection of innocence, the relief of the indigent, and the detection of vice. He was the friend of the poor, and the patron of learning. He contributed largely towards the expenses which attended the education of his countrymen and liberally spent part of his estate for the advancement of literature, and for the instruction of those whom poverty otherwise deprived of a public education. He made his preceptor, Quintilian, and the poet Martial, the objects of his benevolence. When the daughter of the former was married, Pliny wrote to the father with the greatest condescension; and observing that he was rich in the possession of learning, though poor in the goods of fortune, he begged of him to accept, as a dowry for his beloved daughter, 50,000 sesterces. 'I would not,' continued he, 'be so moderate, were I not assured from your modesty and disinterestedness, that the smallness of the present will render it acceptable.'
Pliny hearing that one of his intimate friends was involved in debt, and much embarrassed, immediately took the management of his affairs into his own hands, satisfied every claim, and became the sole creditor. When his friend died, his daughter, Calvina, would have given up her father's effects; but Pliny not only forgave her all that her father owed him, but even added a considerable sum to her fortune, when she was married.
Importance of Doing Quickly.
The benevolent Dr. Wilson once discovered a clergyman at Bath, who he was informed was sick, poor, and had a numerous family. In the evening he gave a friend fifty pounds, requesting he would deliver it in the most delicate manner, and as from an unknown person. The friend replied, 'I will wait upon him early in the morning.' 'You will oblige me by calling directly. Think, sir, of what importance a good night's rest may be to that poor man.'
It was said of Pisistratus the Athenian, that he was generous without profusion, and beneficent without ostentation. He had always a servant near him with a bag of silver coin; and when he saw a man look sickly, or heard that any one had died poor, he comforted the one with money, and buried the other at his own expense. If he perceived people melancholy, and on inquiring the cause found that it was poverty, he furnished them with sufficient to get bread, but not to live idly.
Wladimir the Great.
Wladimir the Great having embraced Christianity, was the first to introduce it generally into Russia. The mildness of its precepts softened his manners, and in some degree effaced the excesses of his youth; he was accessible to the wants of the unfortunate, and bestowed benefactions on his poor subjects. Those who were able to repair to the palace, participated in his munificence under his own eye, and were fed abundantly in tents prepared for them; carriages were employed to convey assistance to the sick in their own dwellings.
After his conversion, Wladimir, who had been hurried into many crimes by the ardour of his passions, became anxious to expiate his errors, and hesitated to punish criminals capitally. The bishops represented to him, that it was no less his duty to repress vice, than to recompense virtue: the sovereign felt the justice of this observation; nevertheless, it was with great reluctance that he could be prevailed on to allow malefactors to be executed, and several times he exclaimed 'Who am I, that I should condemn men to death?'
The Duke of Guise, who commanded the Catholic armies in France against the Hugonots, when at Rouen, narrowly escaped being killed by a soldier, who was put under arrest and carried before the duke. The soldier confessed his crime, and when asked what had influenced him in his desperate attempt, replied, 'I had determined to kill you, that I might deliver religion from one of its most powerful adversaries.' 'If your religion,' replied the duke, 'teaches you to assassinate one who never injured you, mine, agreeably to the principles of the Gospel, commands me to pardon you. Go and judge which of the two religions is the most perfect.'
It was one of the maxims of Fontenelle, that 'we ought to part with our superfluities, in order to administer to the necessities of others;' and of the delicacy of his friendship, as well as the benevolence of his disposition, the following is a striking instance. Fontenelle having heard that the celebrated Marivaux was ill, and having just reason to fear that he, who never laid by any money, might be in want of it at such an exigence, went to him, and when they were alone, told him his suspicions. 'Perhaps,' said he, with great delicacy, 'more money may be convenient for you than you have by you. Friends should never wait to be solicited; here is a purse with a hundred louis d'ors, which you must permit me to leave at your disposal.'
'I consider them,' said Marivaux, 'as received and used: permit me now to return them with the gratitude that such a favour ought to excite.'
In the hard frost of the year 1740, the benevolent Duke of Montague went out one morning in disguise, as was his favourite practice, in order to distribute his bounty to his afflicted fellow-creatures. He descended into one of those subterraneous dwellings of which there are many in London, and accosting an old woman, inquired, 'How she lived in these hard times, and if she wanted charity?' 'No,' she replied; 'she thanked God, she was not in want; but if he had anything to bestow, there was a poor creature in the next room almost starving.' The duke visited this poor object, made a donation, and then inquired of the old woman, 'If any more of her neighbours were in want ?' She said'Her left-hand neighbour was very poor, and very honest.' 'Sure,' replied the duke 'you are very generous and disinterested; pray if it is no offense, let me know your own circumstances.' 'I owe nothing,' said the good woman, 'and am worth thirty shillings.' 'Well, but I suppose a little addition would be acceptable.' 'Yes, certainly, but I think it wrong to take what others want so much more than I do.' The duke took out five guineas, and desired her acceptance of them. The poor creature was quite overcome by this mark of generosity, and when able to express herself, exclaimed, 'Oh! sir, you are not a man, but an angel.'
Antony behaved with such lenity towards those who had been engaged for Cassius, that he wrote to the Senate, requesting them to spare the shedding of blood; and requesting this honour to be allowed to his reign, that even under the misfortunes of a rebellion none had lost their lives, except in the first heat of the tumult. 'I wish,' said he, 'that I could even recall to life many of those who have been killed; for revenge in a prince hardly ever pleases, since even when just it is considered as severe.'
John of Gaunt's Benefaction.
Adjoining the public road from Bosworth to Leicester, there was a meadow, occupied in portions by the inhabitants of the parish of Rathby; among whom it was a rule, when the grass was fit to cut, to assemble on a certain day for that purpose, by which means the mowing was performed at once. When the labour of the day was over, the remaining part was devoted to foot-ball, cudgel-playing, wrestling, and other athletic exercises; the night in music, singing, and dancing. It happened on one of these meadow-mowings, that John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, who at that period kept his court at Leicester, passed this meadow on his way to that city, and struck with the mirth and festivity which appeared to prevail among these rustics, dismounted, to inquire the cause of their merriment They informed his Grace that they had been, according to ancient custom, mowing the Ramsdale, and were, now that the labour was done, amusing themselves. John of Gaunt immediately joined them, and entered with his characteristic hilarity into the spirit of their diversions, with which he was so pleased, that before he quitted them, he told them that if they would come to Leicester on a day he appointed, he would present each of them with a ewe for their ram; also a wether, whose fleece, when sold, should annually afford them a bountiful repast.
John of Gaunt had no sooner departed, than a general consultation took place among the mowers, as to the light in which they were to consider this humorous promise; some judged, from the frolicsome manner of his joining in their sports, that it could be intended only as a joke upon them; but others, who saw no reason why such condescension should not be accompanied by a liberality equally free, determined on ascertaining the truth by repairing to the place on the day which the duke had named. Fifteen of the number accordingly set off for Leicester, and were much pleased to find his Grace punctual to his appointment; by whom they were informed that under the strict performance of articles hereafter to be named, he would give to each of them a piece of land situated in the parish of Enderby, in Leicestershire, on the banks of the river Soar, in the vicinity of an ancient burying-ground, which still retained the name of St. John's church-yard. This land, containing half an acre for each man's private use, was to be called the Boots. He also allotted another piece, to be called the Ewes, in the proportion of five yards wide and sixty long, for every person, and for their general use, he would bestow on them two acres of land to be called the Wether, also adjoining the river Soar, which, when swelled with rain, is said to 'wash the back of the Wether.' The grass of this land was to be sold at Enderby every Whit-Monday, for the purpose of defraying the expense of an annual feast, to be enjoyed by the mowers on that day. The following are the articles annexed to the possession of these munificent donations of land.
'There shall be annually elected, by a majority, two persons, as caterers, who shall on every Whit-Monday go to Leicester, to whatever inn they may prefer, where a calf's head shall be dressed for their breakfast; the bones of which, when picked clean, shall be put into a dish, and afterwards served up at the dinner. The inn-keeper is also to provide two large rich pies, for the caterers to take home to their families, that they may be partakers of some of their festivity. Likewise, there shall be provided for every person a short silk lace tagged at both ends with silver, and when so equipped, they shall all proceed to Enderby and sell the grass of the Wether to the best bidder. From thence they shall go to the meadow, and all dismounting, each person shall take a small piece of grass from the Wether, and tie it round his tagged lace; then placing the lace in his hat, all the mowers shall remount, and ride in procession to the high cross in Leicester, and there throw their lace among the populace: from thence they must proceed in the same order to St. Mary's Church, where a sermon shall be preached for the benefit of the Hospital founded by Henry Earl of Lancaster. When the service is over, a deed shall be read by the clergyman detailing the above gift, and the church stuck with flowers. Ceremony performed, they are to return to their inn to dinner, at which the bones of the calf's head are to form one of the dishes: the day to be closed in feasting and merriment.'
The second wife of the Prince who forms the principal subject of this anecdote, lies buried in the collegiate Church at Leicester, which was founded in honour of the annunciation of the Virgin Mary, by Henry Duke of Lancaster. This lady was Constance, daughter and heiress of Peter, King of Castile and Leon.
The Chevalier Bayard.
The town of Bresse having revolted against the French, was attacked, taken, and sacked, with an almost unexampled fury. The Chevalier Bayard, who was wounded at the beginning of the action, was carried to the house of a person of quality, whom he protected from the fury of the conquerors, by placing at the door two soldiers, whom he indemnified with a gift of eight hundred crowns, in lieu of the plunder they might have lost by their attendance at the door.
The impatience of Bayard to join the army without considering the state of his wound, which was by no means well, determined him to depart. The mistress of the house then threw herself at his feet, saying, 'The rights of war make you master of our lives and our possessions, and you have saved our honour. We hope, however, from your accustomed generosity, that you will not treat us with severity, and that you will be pleased to content yourself with a present more adapted to our circumstances than to our inclinations. At the same time she presented him with a small box full of ducats.
Bayard, smiling, asked her how many ducats the box contained. 'Two thousand five hundred, my lord,' answered the lady, with much emotion, 'but if these will not satisfy you, we will employ all our means to raise more.' 'No, madam,' replied the Chevalier, 'I do not want money; the care you have taken of me more than repays the services I have done you. I ask nothing but your friendship; and I conjure you to accept of mine.'
So singular an instance of generosity gave the lady more surprise than joy. She again threw herself at the feet of the Chevalier, and protested that she would never rise until he had accepted of that mark of her gratitude. 'Since you will have it so,' replied Bayard, 'I will not refuse it, but may I not have the honour to salute your amiable daughters?' The young ladies soon entered, and Bayard thanked them for their kindness in enlivening him with their company. 'I should be glad,' said he, 'to have it in my power to convince you of my gratitude; but we soldiers are seldom possessed of jewels worthy the acceptance of your sex. Your amiable mother has presented me with two thousand five hundred ducats; I make a present to each of you of one thousand, for a part of your marriage portion. The remaining five hundred I give to the poor sufferers of this town, and I beg you will take on yourselves the distribution.'
The Chevalier having at another time learnt that the great captain, Gonsalvo de Cordova, who commanded the Spaniards in the kingdom of Naples, was in expectation of receiving a considerable sum of money for the payment of his troops, resolved to intercept it. As the treasure could not reach the place of its destination, except by two narrow passes, the Chevalier and twenty of his men lay in ambuscade in one of them, and he placed Tardieu with twenty-five men in the other.
Chance happened to lead the Spaniards through the pass in which Bayard lay in ambush, when he fell upon them sword in hand. The enemy, without considering by what a small number they were attacked, were so frightened that they precipitately fled, and left the treasure behind them. The chests were carried to a neighbouring village, and on being opened, and the contents counted on a large table, the victors found themselves in possession of fifteen thousand ducats.
Tardieu arrived at this instant! and viewing the mountain of gold with greedy eyes, he said that one half of it belonged to him, as he had a share in the enterprise. 'I agree,' replied the Chevalier, who was not pleased with Tardieu's tone of voice, 'that you had a share in the enterprise; but you were not at the taking of the money. Besides, being under my orders, your right is subordinate to my pleasure.' Tardieu, forgetting what he owed to his benefactor and chief, went immediately to complain to the general.
Every one was surprised to see a friend of the Chevalier accuse him of injustice and avarice - a man whom even his enemies extolled for his justice and generosity. The matter was heard, and Tardieu was censured for his conduct. Indeed, he became himself ashamed of what he had done. ' I am more unhappy,' said he to Bayard, 'for thus proceeding against you, than I am for the loss of what I attempted to gain. How could I be unhappy in seeing you rich? Did I not know that your fortune is always an advantage to your friends, and has been so to me in particular?'
The Chevalier smiling, embraced him, and a second time counted over the ducats in his presence. Tardieu was not master of his transports on the sight of so much money. 'Ah, you enchanting pieces!' he exclaimed, 'but you are not my property! Had I but one-half of you, I should be happy all the rest of my life!' 'God forbid,' said Bayard, 'that for so small a matter I should make a gentleman unhappy! Take half the sum. With joy I voluntarily give you that, which you should never have extorted from me but by force.' The Chevalier then assembled the garrison, and distributed the other half among them.
The Spanish treasurer who was taken in company with the convoy, and in whose presence all this passed, could not but admire so much disinterestedness; but he feared that the conqueror, after having given away everything, would reserve to himself the price of his ransom, and would consequently make him pay extravagantly. Bayard, who perceived his inquietude, soon relieved his mind. 'My trade,' said he, 'as a soldier, obliged me to take you. I will not dissemble, but assure you that I am happy on the occasion, since that success has enabled me to be of service to my companions, and what I took from you belonged to your master, who is the enemy of mine. As to everything regarding yourself, I release you with joy, you are at liberty, and may depart as soon as you please.' At the same time he ordered a trumpet to attend him to the enemy's quarters.
Richard de Berry, Bishop of Durham in the reign of Edward the Third, had every week eight quarters of wheat made into bread for the poor, besides his alms-dishes, fragments of his house, and large sums of money which he bestowed on his journeys
West, Bishop of Ely in 1562, fed two hundred poor people daily at his gates, and the Lord Cromwell usually the same number.
Robert, Bishop of Winchelsea, gave every Friday and Saturday, a loaf of bread of a farthing price to every beggar that came to his door. Stowe says, the loaf was sufficient for the day. In time of dearth there were usually five thousand applicants; and in a plentiful time, not less than four thousand loaves were distributed on a day.
One of Bishop Burnet's parishioners, who was in execution for a debt, applied to him for assistance. The bishop requested to know what would serve him and reinstate him in his trade? The man named the sum. Burnet instantly called his servant to give him it. 'Sir,' said he, 'it is all we have in the house.' 'Well, give it this poor man, you do not know the pleasure there is in making a man glad.'
An ancestor of Richard Cumberland, of the same name, who was consecrated Bishop of Peterborough in 1691, was of so humane and generous a disposition that no church revenue could ever enrich him. At the end of every year he distributed to the poor whatever surplus he found upon a minute inspection of his accounts, reserving only one small deposit of twenty-five pounds, which was found at his death in his bureau, with directions to employ it for the discharge of his funeral expenses, a sum, in his modest calculation, fully sufficient to commit his body to the earth.
It is related of Bishop Hough that he always kept a thousand pounds in his house for unexpected occurrences. One day the collectors for a public charity applied to the bishop for his contribution. He immediately told his steward to give them £500. The steward made signs to his master intimating that he did not know where to get so large a sum.
'You are right,' said the benevolent bishop 'I have not given enough, give the gentlemen a thousand; you will find it in such a place,' directing him to where the money was kept.
A French Abbe, celebrated for his wit as well as his political knowledge, was much embarrassed for the sum of five hundred louis d'ors. The Abbe was high-minded, and, being constantly at Versailles, he carefully avoided everything that might lead to the discovery of his embarrassment. Some person, however, whispered the secret to the queen, the beautiful but unfortunate Marie Antoinette. On the same evening, her Majesty meeting the Abbe at the Duchesse de Polignac's, engaged him in a party at tric-trac, her favourite game, in which she contrived in a short time to lose the sum which her partner wanted; then smilingly she rose from the table, and relinquished the game, while the astonished Abbe was lost in admiration.
Mr. Carrapeit Arackell, an Armenian merchant of Prince of Wales's Island, who, during a residence of sixteen years, had acquired a handsome competency in trade, applied by letter to the superintendent of police for permission to liberate all the prisoners from the debtors' gaol at his own charge. The application was granted, and the prisoners, who were sixteen in number, not only had their debts discharged by the generous Armenian
but were entertained at his own house, and such further assistance was afforded them as their several cases required.
Economical Charity in Humble Life
Let not any individual say, 'I am of no use in the world! I have no power to do any good!' for, as one of our poets says:-
'Circles are praised, not that abound
In greatness; but th' exactly round:
Such praise they merit, who excel
Not in high state, but doing well.'
At Hoffwyl, in Switzerland, lives a poor woman, who has devoted herself to the education and support of destitute orphan children depending on the charity of the compassionate, which is her only resource. She maintains eight; five boys and three girls. The whole cost of her establishment, including herself, is less than thirty francs (say five-and-twenty shillings) per month; of which her lodging costs four francs. The expense therefore, for each individual is scarcely three halfpence per day; yet the children are in good health, remarkably lively, fresh-coloured, and well-behaved. They are comfortably clad, and very obedient. She makes the elder teach the younger; and, no doubt, she makes them serve themselves and the younger also; of necessity imposes a habit of diligence. The name of this exemplary personage is the widow Rumph; she is seventy years of age; she has been the mother of fifteen children and has been foster-mother to thirty-two others.
When Calais was besieged by Edward III. in 1347, John de Vienne, the governor, turned out of the town every individual who did not possess a sufficient supply of provisions for several months. Men, women, and children, to the amount of seventeen hundred persons advanced in mournful procession to the English camp. Edward ordered them to be received, gave them a plentiful repast, and at their departure, distributed to each two pieces of silver. We are sorry to add that five hundred more, that were turned out, did not experience similar humanity, but perished between the walls and the camp.
Example for Physicians.
Dr. Brocklesby was so assiduous in being useful to his fellow-creatures, that he was equally acceptable to the poor and the rich. When some of the former through delicacy did not apply to him, he would exclaim, 'Why am I treated thus? Why was I not sent for?'
During the siege of Paris by Henry IV. of France, the Duke de Nemours, who commanded, ordered that all useless persons should be turned out of the city. The king's council of war violently opposed giving these unhappy outcasts a safe passage, but Henry gave orders that they should pass unmolested. 'I am not astonished,' said he 'that the chiefs of the league have shown so little compassion to these poor wretches, for they are only tyrants, but I, who am their lawful king, cannot bear the recital of their calamities without being deeply touched with pity and compassion and feeling a desire to afford them relief and comfort.'
In the Lansdown Collection of the British Museum there is a MS. in the handwriting of the great Lord Burleigh, the Lord Treasurer of England in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. He calls it a meditation on the death of his lady of whom he gives the following amiable character, which, though traced with the partiality of an affectionate husband, exhibits a fine example of active beneficence.
'I ought to comfort myself,' he says, in his discourse, the orthography of which is here alone corrected, 'with the remembrance of her many virtuous and goodly actions, wherein she continued all her life, and especially in that she did of late years sundry charitable deeds, whereof she determined to have no outward knowledge while she lived; inasmuch as when I had a little understanding thereof and asked her wherein she had disposed any charitable gift, according to her often wishing that she was able to do some special act for the maintenance of learning, and relief of the poor, she would always only show herself rather desirous so to do, than ever confess any such act; as since her death is manifestly known to me, and confessed by sundry good men, whose names and ministry she secretly used; that she did charge them most strictly, that while she lived they should never declare the same to me nor to any other. And so now I have seen her earnest writings to that purpose in her own hand,
'The particulars of many of these hereafter do follow, which I do with my own handwriting recite for my comfort in the memory thereof, with assurance that God hath accepted the same in such favourable sort as findeth now the fruits thereof in heaven.
'About years since she caused exhibitions to be secretly given by the hands of the Master of St. John's in Cambridge, for the maintenance of two scholars, for a perpetuity whereof to continue:
'She did cause some lands to be purchased in the name of the Dean of Westminster, who also, in his own name, did assure the same to that college for a perpetual maintenance of the said scholars in that college. All which was done without signification of her act or charge to any manner of person, but only of the dean, and one William Walter of Wimbledon, whose advice was used for the writing of the purchase and assurance.
'She also did with the privily of the Deans of Paul's and Westminster and Mr. Adderley being free of the Haberdashers in London, give to the company of the said Haberdashers a good sum of money, whereby is provided that every two years there is lent to six poor men of certain special occupations, as smiths, carpenters, weavers, and such like, in Romford in Essex, twenty pounds a piece, in the whole one hundred and twenty pounds; and in Cheshunt and Wootham, to other six like persons, twenty marks a piece, in the whole four score pounds; which relief, by way of loan, is to continue. By the same means is provided for twenty poor people in Cheshunt, the first Sunday in every month, a mess of meat in flesh and bread, and money for drink. And likewise is provided four marks yearly for four sermons to be preached quarterly by one of the preachers of St. John's College. And these distributions have been made a long time, while she lived, by some of my servants, without giving me knowledge thereof, though indeed I had cause to think that she did sometimes bestow such kind of alms; not that I knew of any order taken for continuance thereof, for she would rather commonly use speeches with me, how she was disposed to give all that she could to some such uses, if she could devise to have the same faithfully performed after her life, whereof she always pretended many doubts. And for that she used the advice of the deans of Paul's and Westminster, and would have her actions kept secret; she forced upon them small pieces of plate to be used in their chambers, as remembrances of her good will for their pains.
'She did also, four times in the year, secretly send to all the persons in London, money to buy bread, cheese, and drink, commonly for four hundred persons; and many times more, without knowledge from whom the same came.
'She did likewise sundry times in the year send shirts, &c., to the poor people both in London and at Cheshunt.
'She also gave a sum of money to the Master of St. John's College, to procure fires in the hall of that college upon all Sundays and holidays, betwixt the Feast of All Saints and Candlemas, when there was no ordinary fires at the charge of that college.
'She also gave a sum of money towards a building for a new way at Cambridge to the common schools.
'She also provided a great number of books, whereof she gave some to the University of Cambridge, namely, the great Bible in Hebrew and four other tongues; and to the College of St. John's, a very many books in Greek, of divinity and physic, and of other sciences. The like she did to Christ Church and St. John's College in Oxford. The like she did to the College of Westminster.
'She did also yearly provide wool and flax, and did distribute it to women in Cheshunt parish, willing them to work the same into yarn, and bring it to her to see the manner of working; and, for the most part, she gave them the stuff by way of alms. Sometimes she caused the same to be wrought into cloth, and gave it to the poor, paying first for the spinning more than it was worth.
'Not long before her death she caused secretly to be bought a large quantity of wheat and rye, to be disposed amongst the poor in time of dearth, which remained unspent at her death; but the same confessed by such as provided it secretly, and therefore in conscience to be distributed according to her mind.'
The widow of a mariner who had been disabled in the wars of the Commonwealth, presented a petition to Oliver Cromwell, when Protector, in which she stated, 'that your petitioner having one only sonne, who is tractable to learn, and not having wherewith to bring him up, by reason of their present low estate, occasioned by the publique service aforesaid, humbly prayeth, that your highness would vouchsafe to present her said sonne, Randolph Beacham, to be a schollar in Sutton's hospital, called the Charterhouse.'
To this petition Oliver gave the following answer, which strongly marks his character. 'You receive from me this 28th inst. a petition of Marjeory Beacham, desiring the admission of her son into the Charterhouse. - I know the man, who was employed one day in an important secret service, which he did effectually to our great benefit, and the Commonwealth's. The petition is a brief relation of a fact, without any flattery. I have wrote under it a common reference to the commissioners, but I mean a great deal more, that it shall be done, without their debate or consideration of the matter, and so do you privately hint to * * * * *. I have not the particular shining bauble or feather in my cap, for crowds to gaze at or kneel to, but I have power and resolution for foes to tremble at; to be short, I know how to deny petitions, and whatever I think proper for outward form to refer to any officer or office, I expect that such my compliance with custom shall be also looked upon as an indication of my will and pleasure to have the thing done. See, therefore, that the boy is admitted.
'Thy true friend,
'July 28, 1656. OLIVER, P.B.'
Prince of Conti.
The Prince of Conti being highly pleased with the intrepid behaviour of a grenadier at the siege of Phillipsburgh, in 1734, threw him a purse, excusing the smallness of the sum it contained, as being too poor a reward for such courage. Next morning the grenadier went to the prince with two diamond rings, and other jewels of considerable value. 'Sir,' said he, 'the gold I found in your purse, I suppose you intended for me; but these I bring back to you,having no claim to them.' 'You have doubly deserved them by your bravery, and by your honesty,' said the prince, 'therefore they are yours.'
A very respectable gentleman, who had an aversion to cards, but did not wish to seem unfashionable in a family where he often visited, and where public days for play were set apart found, himself under the necessity of playing deep. It was his good fortune, however, generally to be successful. After some years of intimacy the master of this family took him aside one day, and imparted to him the melancholy secret that his affairs were in a most embarrassed state. The gentleman expressed his concern at his friend's distress, and entreated him not to despair.
On his return home he opened a private drawer in his bureau, in which he had nightly deposited his winnings at the card tables in his friend's house: and the next day he insisted on refunding the sum this inconsiderate man and his family had lost. It was sufficient to save his friend from instant imprisonment, and to give a turn to his affairs; but he restored it only on condition that they should never play at cards again.
The late General Scott, so celebrated for his success in gaming, was one evening playing very deep with the Count D'Artois and the Duke de Chartres, at Paris, when a petition was brought up from the widow of a French officer, stating her various misfortunes, and praying relief; a plate was handed round, and each put in one, two, or three louis d'ors; but when it was held to the general, who was going to throw for a stake of five hundred louis d'ors, he said, 'Stop a moment if you please, sir, here goes for the widow!' The throw was successful, and he instantly swept the whole into the plate, and sent it down to her.
Many years since, a Mr. Bradshaw had won about £200 at a gaming table. A gentleman standing behind him exclaimed, 'How happy should I be with that sum!' Bradshaw without looking at him, handed the purse of money over his shoulder. The stranger took it, fitted himself out for India, and in a few years acquired a large fortune. On his return to England he waited on Mr. B., to whom he made himself known, and offered restitution. Mr. B., however, declined accepting it; but he soon afterwards received from the gentleman a present of much greater value.
A similar incident to the preceding is related of the Constable de Montmorency. He was at an assembly at Montpelier, where there was very high play at basset. A poor gentleman who was behind, and saw the Constable put three thousand pistoles upon a card, said softly to one who was near him, 'Oh, what a sum! it would make me easy for life!' It happened that the Constable won; when turning quick upon the gentleman who spoke, he said, 'Sir, I made that stake for you,' and gave him the six thousand pistoles.
Casimir II., king of Poland, received a blow from a Polish gentleman, named Konarski, who had lost all he possessed while playing with the prince. Scarcely was the blow given, when, sensible of the enormity of his crime, he betook himself to flight, but was soon apprehended by the king's guards, and condemned to lose his head. Casimir, who waited for him in silence amid his courtiers, as soon as he saw him appear, said, 'I am not surprised at the conduct of this gentleman. Not being able to revenge himself on fortune, it is not to be wondered at that he has ill-treated his friend. I am the only one to blame in this affair, for I ought not by my example to encourage a pernicious practice which may be the ruin of my nobility.' Then turning to the criminal, he said, 'You, I perceive, are sorry for your fault - that is sufficient; take your money again, and let us renounce gaming for ever.
Frederic the Great.
Frederic one day seeing the colonel of one of his regiments very melancholy and pensive, said to him, 'You seem always uneasy: what is the matter with you? Come, tell me; among friends, you know, there should be no secrets.' Then, without giving him time to reply, he added, 'I know, colonel, that you owe two thousand crowns.' The colonel bowed assent. The king immediately turned towards a table that stood near him, and taking a purse of gold, gave it to the colonel, saying, 'Take that to pay your debts.' He then presented him with another purse.
A poor officer's widow, who was very infirm, having implored the assistance of Frederic, he answered her: 'I feel for your infirmities and poverty. Why did you not address yourself sooner to me? Indeed, there is no pension vacant at present, but you must be taken care of, as your husband was a brave man, whose loss I sincerely regret. I will every day retrench a dish at my table, which will make a saving of three hundred and sixty-five crowns, and that sum, you may depend upon it, shall be paid to you the first of next month, and continued till a pension shall be found for you, and I have given orders that the first which shall become vacant shall be given to you.'
A person applied to Frederic for a place, and was refused. A short time after he thus addressed the monarch in a letter: 'I am told, sire, that you refuse me the place I asked; I cannot believe it, for you owe it to me, and you would wish to be just. Make haste then to perform your duty, and clear yourself from injurious suspicions.' The king, surprised at this arrogance, sent for the man, and asked him what right he had to use such language, and upon what grounds he founded his pretensions? The man replied 'My claims, sire, are founded upon the right of not being left to perish, which is the first of all rights, and the most sacred of all claims.' The king made no reply, but granted him the place he demanded.
The king, during his Silesian reviews, had several times taken up his abode at the house of a curate, without ever having seen the master. One day, being in good humour, he sent for him. 'How do you do, curate?' said the king, on seeing him. 'Very badly!' 'Well, well! take patience, and you will be better in the next world.' 'I doubt that much, and even fear of doing worse there!' 'How so?' 'I will tell your majesty, if you will condescend to hear me. I have two daughters, three sons, and a little curacy. I thought I perceived some talents in my boys, and I find I am not deceived. I have employed all my fortune in their education: I sent them to school and universities, and those expenses have involved me in debts. My children have acquired some knowledge; but they are not yet provided for, and therefore cannot return me what I have advanced for them. The revenues of my curacy, instead of increasing have diminished; and I am becoming old, without seeing any hopes of paying my debts. Now, should I die without satisfying my creditors, your majesty knows, I shall be consigned to misery in the next world, without pity.'
'That is very hard, indeed,' said the king, 'but I will relieve you from this unhappy situation. How much do your debts amount to?' 'To eight hundred crowns.' 'I will pay them, if you can prove to me that your children are properly brought up. In that case I will take care of them, and increase your income.. But where are your daughters?' 'I always send them to town when your majesty comes here with your retinue.' 'Ah! that is acting prudently. Let them come and see me to-morrow.'
The next day the king had forgotten the curate's daughters, who presented themselves and insisted upon being introduced, in spite of the opposition of his domestics, to whom they declared that the king had sent for them. Frederic conversed with them a considerable time, sent for a milliner, bought them several trifles, and gave to each of them a small sum of money. The curate's sons were put into good situations, and the daughters well married, when the king felicitated himself with having made a poor curate happy both in this world and the next.
One of the king's old valets de chambre, who was addicted to drinking, often came intoxicated into the king's chamber. When he was absolutely incapable of doing his duty, the king would make him go out softly at a private door, telling him to go to sleep. He showed this complaisance to the poor creature, in order not to expose him to the raillery of the other domestics, and to save him the shame of being turned away. The king, the better to keep the matter secret, did not call any other servant to undress him.
A reduced officer in the service of Frederic, having served as a brave man in the seven years' war, constantly attended the king's levee every day, to solicit a pension. The king had often said to him, 'Have patience, for at present I can do nothing for you.' The officer would not be put off in that manner, but wherever he found the king, he besieged him with his demands. Frederic, tired with these importunities, forbade his being admitted to his presence. In the meantime there appeared a violent satire against the king, and Frederic, contrary to his usual forbearance, offered a reward of fifty louis d'ors to any person who would discover the author. The next day the lieutenant-colonel presented himself at the palace, and was refused entrance, but he insisted on being admitted, saying he had something of importance to communicate to the king. His name was therefore announced, and he was ordered into the king's presence. 'Have I not already told you,' exclaimed his majesty, as soon as he sew him, 'that I can do nothing for you at present?' 'I am not come to demand anything,' replied the officer; 'but your majesty has promised fifty louis d'ors to him who shall discover the author of the pamphlet just published against you. I am the author. Punish the culprit, but pay the reward to my wife, that she may procure bread for my hungry children.' The king, with great apparent indignation, said, 'You shall go to Spandau,' a fortress near Berlin, where all State culprits are imprisoned. 'Sire,' replied the colonel, 'I shall patiently submit to whatever punishment your majesty shall please to inflict on me, so that you but pay the promised reward to my wife.' The king told him that within an hour his wife should have it, and ordered him to wait a moment. Frederic then sat down, and wrote a letter; which handing to the officer he said, 'You will give this letter to the commandant of Spandau, and tell him that I forbid him to open it before dinner.' The king then ordered the lieutenant-colonel to be conducted to Spandau.
The officer having arrived there he delivered the letter and acquainted the commandant with the king's orders. They dined, and the poor officer was under the most dreadful apprehensions for what was to follow as grace to that meal. At length, however, the letter was opened, and the commandant read as follows:- 'The bearer of this letter is appointed commandant of the fortress of Spandau. His wife and children will be with him within a few hours, and bring with them fifty louis. The late commandant of Spandau will repair to Potsdam, where he will find a better place destined for him.' Judge how great was the mutual surprise of both parties!
Citizen of the World.
A sum of £5000 stands invested for the mutual benefit of two very excellent institutions in London - the Magdalen Asylum and the Foundling Hospital. It was bequeathed to them by one Omichand, a black merchant in Calcutta, who left many equally liberal donations to other charitable institutions in all parts of the world.
Benevolent Societies in Italy.
A society of gentlemen called the Buonuomini di San Martino, has been four hundred years collecting and distributing alms among the poor who are ashamed to beg. The rank of these philanthropists and their objects of relief induce the rich to contribute, and sometimes to bequeath, very considerable supplies. All bequests are turned directly into cash nothing is funded; nothing belongs to the society except the observatory where they meet. The receipts of every year are distributed within the year to hundreds who are starving under genteel appearances; decayed gentlemen, whose rank deters others from offering relief; ladies who live in garrets, and, ashamed of their poverty, steal down to mass before daylight; industrious women, whom the failure of the silk manufacture has left without any resource: such are the objects whom those Buonuomini go weekly, privately, to visit and relieve. They were a kind of benevolent spies upon the domestic miseries of Florence, and used to search for the retreats of suffering delicacy.
The Misericordia is an institution diffused over Tuscany. At Florence it consists of four hundred men chosen promiscuously from every rank. These philanthropists volunteer their service to the sick, the hurt, and the dead. On the tolling of a bell they repair to their chapel, where they conceal themselves in long black vestments which mask the whole head and then set out with a covered litter to convey the patients to the hospital of Santa Maria Nuova. There you will find the first noblemen in Florence with their aprons and ladles following the soup which is wheeled along the wards, and dealing it out to the sick as a check on the administration of the hospital. In the same lugubrious garb they convey in the evening the corpses of the day to St. Catherine's Church, where all the dead are collected for the midnight cart and sent to the common burying-ground at Trespiano. This benevolent society has never paused for the last five hundred years, nor desisted from its fatal duties during several plagues.
Brotherhoods of Madrid.
The truly laudable institution of the brotherhoods in Madrid, whose sole end is to perform offices of charity to the indigent and the afflicted, has an excellence which is not to be found in many other countries of Europe, where pathetic advertisements addressed to the feelings of the public, or recommendations which the powerful interest of patronage alone can procure, are absolutely required, to effect what is done in Madrid every day, with the utmost secrecy, and without the least ostentation.
The metropolis of Spain abounds with these brotherhoods. They are more or less numerous or active. The most eminent are the holy royal brotherhood of Our Lady of Refuge, and that of Our Lady of Hope, which count the most distinguished persons among the number of their members. The former expended, in 1798, in pious offices, the sum of 526,925 reals, and the latter 74,949. The items in their annual account consist of benefactions on visiting the sick in the hospitals; expenses of sending poor sick people to the baths, and lunatics to the hospital of Saragossa; the education of poor children; suppers for the sick in the hospital; conveyance of poor patients; masses for the repose of the dead; alms, marriages of the poor; expenses for missionaries; house-rent, and weekly allowances for indigent persons, &c. These two brotherhoods never fail affording relief to distressed objects, and even purposely go in search of them.
It was a custom with Alexander the Great to oblige the captive women whom he carried along with him to sing songs after the manner of their country. He happened among these women to perceive one who appeared in deeper affliction than the rest, and who by a modest, and at the same time a noble confusion, discovered a greater reluctance than the others to appear in public. She was of perfect beauty, which was much heightened by her bashfulness. The king soon imagined by her air and mien that she was not of vulgar birth, and inquiring of the lady, she answered that she was grand-daughter to Octius, who had not long before swayed the Persian sceptre; that she had married Hystaspes, who was related to Darius, and general of a great army. Alexander, touched with compassion when he heard the unhappy fate of a princess of the blood royal, and the sad condition to which she was reduced, not only gave her her liberty, but returned her all her possessions, and caused her husband to be sought for in order that she might be restored to him.
A late Duke of Northumberland.
After the fatal attack at Bunker's Hill in America, Earl Percy gave to the widow of every soldier in his regiment who fell in the battle an immediate benefaction of seven dollars; he paid their passage home, and ordered five guineas to be given to each of them on their landing in Britain. His humanity to the sick and wounded, whom he supplied with wine, fresh provisions, &c., and his generosity to their families during their long stay at Boston, were unparalleled. He had a large tent provided for every company at his own expense to accommodate the women, and he made it a rule to receive no other servants into his family but soldiers or their wives. Though his regiment was distinguished for its admirable discipline, yet he never suffered his men to be struck; but won them to their duty by generous treatment, by rewards, and by his own excellent example, requiring no service from the meanest sentinel which he was not ready to share with them, whether as to hardship, fatigue, or danger.
The hero of Poland once wished to send some bottles of good wine to a clergyman at Solothurn; and as he hesitated to trust them by his servant, lest he should smuggle a part, he gave the commission to a young man of the name of Zeltner, and desired him to take the horse which he himself usually rode. On his return, young Zeltner said that he never would ride his horse again, unless he gave him his purse at the same time. Kosciusko inquiring what he meant, he answered, 'As soon as a poor man on the road takes off his hat and asks charity, the horse immediately stands still, and will not stir till something is given to the petitioner; and as I had no money about me, I was obliged to feign giving something, in order to satisfy the horse.'
Good Curate of Lanebourg.
The celebrated Mrs. Miller of Batheaston, who travelled in Italy in the years 1770, 1771, gives the following interesting account of Pere Nicolas, whose purity of manners and charitable conduct, so endeared him to the inhabitants of Lanebourg, that they looked on him as their common father, and spoke of him only by the enviable title of the Good Curate of Lanebourg.
'Pere Nicolas, who is now far advanced in years, had lived for some time in the mountains of Savoy, when his sanctity of life, his charitable and moral disposition, at length reached the ears of his sovereign, who sent for him to court. The king took such a liking to him, that, upon his entreaty, he granted a perpetual exemption to the Lanebourgians from the quartering of troops, and from furnishing either men or money for the militia even in time of war. So little did Pere Nicolas consult his own interests, that he never asked anything for himself; and although he goes to court from time to time, and is always exceedingly well received by the king, he has never in any instance sought his own promotion, but employs all the interest he has to relieve his poor neighbours and parishioners from any difficulties they may be exposed to, either by the accidents of bad seasons, storms, or above all, a threatened tax, which, by his interposition, they are free from to this day. The Lanebourgians, through gratitude, immediately after the first favour the king was pleased to bestow on Pere Nicolas, presented him with the rent of the lake for seven years. By this he made a considerable sum; but, in the year 1737, he augmented his fund, and served his country at the same time, by selling cattle to the Swiss army; which cattle he bought up cheap from the Savoyards, who with difficulty could prevent their being taken from them by the, Spaniards, and were glad to get rid of them at any price.
'Pere Nicolas dedicates his money entirely to the use of the Lanebourgians and his other neighbours, as far as it can go, in lending it to them whenever they want, in small sums, particularly at the season for purchasing cattle. He never takes any interest, nor even requires payment till they can with ease return it to him, which they rarely fail to do at the ensuing season for disposing of their corn and cattle. It is scarcely credible of how much use this one man has been, by thus devoting himself and his interests to the public good.'
Joseph the Second.
The Emperor Joseph H. was generally styled the Titus of Germany; an appellation which he obtained from this general observation, that hardly a day passed over his head without being distinguished by some act or other of public munificence or private benevolence.
Joseph entertained the greatest aversion for those distinctions which tend to withhold from the most numerous portion of society advantages which ought to be common to all.
Previous to his accession to the throne, the gates of the superb promenade called the Prater were opened only to persons of distinction. Joseph wished that they should be thrown open to everybody, and caused these words to be inscribed above the entrance of the Promenade: Place of amusement; a treasure destined for everybody. The nobility immediately thronged round him, and declared that the promenade would soon be profaned and that it would no longer be fit for their enjoyment, if the vulgar were suffered to frequent it, &c.
'Gentlemen,' replied. Joseph, 'if I were determined to associate with none but my equals, I must transport myself into the vaults of the Monastery of the Capuchins, where my ancestors repose, and take up my abode with them. I love men, because they are men; I make no other distinction among them, and have no other preference for them, except that which is due to their actions. Whoever thinks well and acts honourably is entitled to my esteem. It must not be exclusively reserved for those who reckon none but princes among their ancestors.'
His majesty kept no sort of state at Vienna, but when the public acts of the empire required it, so that he frequently walked about the streets, and mixed with the populace like a private man. In one of his peregrinations through the suburbs of Vienna, he observed a crowd of persons collected round a cart loaded with fire-wood. Curious to know the cause? he questioned one of the spectators, and was informed that the Inspector of the Barrier had stopped the countryman, on suspicion of his having concealed tobacco among the wood, and insisted on his immediately unloading the cart. The countryman, who regarded this as a loss of time and a very serious labour, earnestly entreated him to permit somebody to accompany him into the city, where he could obtain satisfactory testimonies of his innocence, but the clerk would not listen to his applications, and insisted on executing the order he had received to empty the cart. The emperor, who was concealed amidst the crowd, remained for some time a tranquil witness of the dispute. He at length sent for a subaltern officer and a few soldiers from the nearest Corps-de-Garde, and ordered them to remain on the spot until the wood was entirely turned out. This being done he enjoined them, in case the peasant should be found guilty of fraud, to execute fifty lashes across his shoulders; but if he were proved to be innocent, the refractory clerk was immediately to undergo the same punishment, and to be obliged to reload the wood himself. These orders were executed. No tobacco was found, and the inspector, after having reloaded the cart of the poor countryman, who was besides indemnified for his loss of time, received the fifty lashes.
On another occasion, a boy about nine years of age accosted him thus: 'Sir, I never begged before, but my mother is dying; I must have twenty pence to get a physician; we have no twenty pence; oh! if your majesty would give us twenty pence, how happy should we be!' The emperor gave it, and asked the name and place of abode of the sick person. As soon as the boy was gone, the emperor put on a cloak belonging to one of his attendants, went to the poor woman's house, prescribed for her, comforted her, and retired. The child comes in a minute after, with his twenty pence and his doctor; the woman, surprised, said she had already had a visit, and showed the recipe; the doctor looks at it, and sees a note, with the signature of his imperial majesty, for a pension to her of fifty ducats.
Soon after his majesty's accession to the throne, an officer of his army died, leaving a wife and daughter wholly unprovided for. The poor widow drew up a memorial by way of petition to the emperor, and confided it to a person about the court, whom she thought her friend, and who promised to present it. But officiousness is seldom sincere. The courtier neglected her suit; and the poor woman had at last disposed of every article of furniture she possessed, except her bed, to which she was then confined by a fever brought on by the joint pressure of poverty and anxiety of mind.
In this forlorn situation, the daughter took a solitary walk into one of the suburbs, to be at liberty to indulge her grief alone, imploring providence to inspire her with some thought or scheme to administer to her poor mother's relief. Providence did meet her in the person of the emperor, then going one of his rounds, who observing her emotion and her tears, ordered his attendants to step aside, and coming up to her, inquires with tenderness the cause of her affliction? She had no suspicion who he was, but judging from the suite she had seen him dismiss that he must be some person of rank, replied, 'Alas! sir, what have such as you to do with the unhappy? Suffer me to pass on - your notice but humbles me the more.' 'Believe me, fair madden,' he rejoined, 'it is not curiosity, but compassion, that prompts the question. One must know before they can believe.' 'Know then,' answered she, 'that my mother lies now on her deathbed, but suffering more through grief and want than disease. We have lost my father, sir, and with him our only subsistence, which was his pay, having been enabled to bequeath us nothing but the honour of his name, for he was an officer.'
Here his majesty interrupted her. 'Why did you not set forth your case and pretensions to the emperor, to whom it gives pleasure to relieve distress?' 'We did so, sir; we drew up a memorial, and were promised to have it delivered, but are certain that it never was, because no notice has been taken of it.' 'Make out another, then,' said he, 'and bring it to this spot at the same hour to-morrow. I know the emperor, and promise to take charge of it myself. You seem to have some diffidence in me,' added he; 'so take this purse as a pledge of my sincerity, and hasten home to the relief of your afflicted mother.' Before she had time to pour forth the expression of her gratitude, the emperor was gone beyond the reach of hearing. Hastening instantly home to her mother, she related with delighted earnestness the circumstances of her adventure. The languishing invalid, however, being possessed of a quick judgment and some experience, received the account but coldly. She foresaw consequences from this rencontre, that the youthful innocence and filial piety of her daughter could have no conception of. 'My dear child,' said the widow, 'what you seem to look upon now as the earnest of good fortune may perhaps but tend to the very last degree of our wretchedness. If this money was - Oh, my child! Such is the goodness of certain people - their bounty is but the price of crime. I am not suspecting your virtue in the least, still let us die, my child, but let us die innocent. Touch not a penny of this purse.'
The next morning, at the appointed hour, the daughter repaired to the spot, with the money and the memorial in her hand. His majesty came up to her soon after, when all pale and trembling, she thus addressed him: 'There is your purse, sir, and here is our memorial. If that was given us as a snare, we return it again to you untouched; and then, as you can mean nothing with this, I shall carry it back with me unpresented.' 'My good girl,' he replied, 'your emperor lays snares for no one. Carry back both the purse and your memorial, and call at the Exchequer every quarter-day for your father's pay, which is already appointed for you during your mother's life and your own. I should perhaps,' added he, 'require his name who trifled with your distress. But, behold how kings are served,' said he, turning to his suite, 'the coldness of those who surround them to the welfare of the people, freezes the whole state to their masters, who with the utmost goodwill, and best intentions in the world, may be handed down to posterity with detestation or contempt, for want of proper means of information where or when to exert their virtues.'
Joseph travelled to Paris under the title of Count Falkenstein. M. Cotton, Professor of the Mazarine College, has published a Latin poem descriptive of this journey, in which he represents him endeavouring to conceal himself from public notice and popular applause; seeking, with unwearied assiduity, every opportunity of acquiring useful information; and instead of resorting to the proud mansions of luxury and ostentation, visiting with tears and tenderness the gloomy abodes of pale sickness and melancholy age.
At Strasburgh, Joseph visited the Military Hospitals, the one for Reduced Citizens, and the other for Foundlings. He inspected the chambers of the sick, examined their medicines and their food, and interrogated the officers of the several houses upon every article of the provisions, regulations, and expenses. On returning from these visits, he observed: 'One goes to Rome to see the production of Michael Angelo, or of Raphael. This is well enough for those who have souls only for admiration. An hospital speaks louder to those who have feeling ones. I should never enter into such places, except to officiate, if Providence had not put it into my power to relieve.'
Wherever he went, his generosity was not confined to men of distinguished merit, whom it is an honour to oblige; but his purse was always open wherever he met with a proper, though obscure, object of charity. When at Paris, going one morning into an elegant coffee-house, he asked for a dish of chocolate, he was simply dressed, and the waiters insolently refused it, under presence that it was too early. He walked out without saying a word, and went into a small coffeehouse, nick-named the One-eyed; he asked for a dish of chocolate, and the landlord answered him politely, that it would be ready in a moment. While he waited for it, as the coffeehouse was empty, he walked up and down, and was conversing on different subjects, when the daughter of the house, a very pretty girl, came down stairs: the count wished her a good day, the ordinary salutation in France, and said to her father, that it was time for her to be married. 'Alas!' replied the old man 'if I had a thousand crowns, I could marry her to a handsome young man who is fond of her; but the chocolate is ready.' The emperor having drank and paid, asked for paper, pen, and ink; the girl runs to fetch them, having no idea how they were to be employed, Count Falkenstein gave her an order on his banker for six thousand livres.
The simplicity and goodness of his character became so generally known, even in the short time he stayed in France, that at the theatre one night, when Oedipus was acted, and he was present, the following tribute of popular applause' was bestowed on him. When Jocasta speaking to her son of the journey of Laius, says:
'Ce roi, plus grand que sa fortune;
Dedaignoit, comme vous, une pompe importune;
On ne voyoit jamais marcher devant son char,
D'un battalon nombreux le fasteux rampart;
Au milieu des sujets soumis a sa puissance,
Comme il etoit sans crainte, il marchoit sans defense;
Par l'amour de son peuple il se croyoit garder:'
The whole audience burst forth in one long continued shout of applause, directed to the emperor.
Lord Brome, son of the Earl of Cornwallis, was aide-de-camp to Prince Ferdinand in the German wars, at the beginning of his late majesty's reign. He was then only ensign, but his father bought him a lieutenant-colonel's commission in General Napier's regiment, on condition of his allowing the last lieutenant-colonel, who was very old and had a large family, an annuity of £300 a year during his life. This his lordship continued to pay; and when he resigned his commission, he solicited the post for the major of the regiment, who had been many years in the service, and had a large family. When this request was granted, he declared that he would still pay the annuity to the old lieutenant-colonel out of his own private fortune.
Two young ladies of a respectable family in the west of England, were so much reduced, as to be compelled to take in needlework for their subsistence. The circumstance reaching the ear of a wealthy clergyman in the neighborhood, who had received some favour from the family, he instantly repaired to the house, and fearful of wounding their delicacy, said, 'I am informed, ladies, that you have in your apartments a most valuable picture. I see it is by the hand of a great master; and if it is not too great a favour, I entreat you to let me have it, for which I will settle an annuity of fifty pounds upon you, and it shall commence this moment.' It is unnecessary to add, that the offer was accepted.
When Mr. Cumberland, the dramatist, was on a diplomatic mission at Madrid, he was taken very ill, and was not expected to recover. In this state he was visited by the Abbe Don Patricio Curtis, an Irishman by birth but who had been above half a century settled in Spain, and preceptor to three successive Dukes of Ossuna. This excellent old man, then above eighty years of age, who was universally respected for his virtues and generous benignity of soul, lamented that Mr. Cumberland had no spiritual assistant of his own church to resort to. He then offered, if the doors of the room were secured, and he was provided with a Prayer Book, to administer the Sacrament exactly as it is ordained by the Protestant Liturgy. To this Mr. C. consented; when the venerable man read the whole of the prayers, and officiated in the most devout and impressive manner.
Monks of St. Bernard.
The following is a recent instance of those charitable offices which the pious monks of St. Bernard, from a sense of duty as well as from the locality of their establishment, are in the habit of performing. A poor soldier travelling from Siberia to the place of his nativity in Italy, set out from the village of St. Pierre in the afternoon, in the hope of reaching the monastery before nightfall; but he unfortunately missed his way, and in climbing up a precipice, he laid hold of the fragment of a rock, which separating from the mass, rolled with him to the valley below, which the poor man reached with his clothes torn, and his body sadly bruised and lacerated. Being unable to extricate himself from the snow, and night having come on, he remained in that forlorn situation till morning. The weather was uncommonly mild for the season, or he must have perished. He spent the whole of the two following days in crawling to a deserted hovel, without having anything to eat. Two of the monks of St. Bernard, on their way to the village about sunset, were warned by the barking of their dog, and descried the man at a distance, they hastened to his succour. They found him at the entrance of the hovel, where he lay as if unable to cross the threshold, and apparently in a dying state from hunger, fatigue, and loss of blood. They raised him on their shoulders, and carried him to the village, a distance of five miles, through the snow. The man was above the middle size, and robust; so that, independently of his helpless condition, it required a considerable portion of strength, as well as management, in the brethren, to reach their destination. At the village of St. Pierre, the poor traveler received every attention and assistance that his situation required.
A poor woman once sent to Mr. Beauclerc, the large paper edition of 'Caesar's Commentaries,' for which she asked ten guineas. Mr. B. gave the money; and afterwards learning that she was the widow of an officer, and in distress, he gave her twenty guineas more.
The same gentleman, on calling on one of his tradesmen, and finding him embarrassed, immediately gave him a cheque for fifteen hundred pounds, and the next day procured him as much more; which wholly relieved him from a difficulty which, though only temporary, must have ruined him.
The Abbe De Percy, some time after the commencement of the revolution in France, was obliged to fly from his living in Normandy to England. Soon after his arrival in London he was hustled in New Street, Covent Garden, and robbed of twenty guineas, which he had received but a few minutes before at Sir Robert Herrie's. With the remainder of his little property he went to Bath, where it was soon expended. In this dilemma, his countrymen there reminded him that he was related to the English Percys, and as the Duke of Northumberland was at that time there, they advised him to apply to his Grace for relief. The Abbe immediately wrote to the duke, who returned a polite answer, and requested a few days for investigation. In the meantime, his Grace wrote to Lord Harcourt, at whose house the Duc d'Harcourt resided, and inquired whether the Abbe was one of the Percys of Normandy; soon after which he transmitted to his new cousin a gold box, with a bank note enclosed in it for one thousand pounds, and a general invitation to his table, which was from that day open to him.
The character of the British Roscius has been severely aspersed, on account of his reputed parsimony, an anecdote is, however related of him by Albany Wallis, Esq., who was his intimate friend, which shows that the accusation was somewhat unjust. 'Mr. Garrick,' says this gentleman, 'was no more a fool in charity than in other matters; he knew where and how to bestow his liberality. He came to me one morning in a violent hurry, and without even his usual salutation, abruptly exclaimed, 'My dear friend, the doctor is in want, you must instantly do me a favour. Come, come, put on your hat, and without delay go to Dr. Johnson's lodgings, and present him with these bank notes, but on your life, do not mention from whom you had them.' The amount was by no means inconsiderable. In compliance with his request, I instantly waited on the doctor, and being announced, was ushered into his apartment. Having prefaced my errand with as much delicacy as possible, I presented the notes, which the doctor received with much agitation; and after a few moments wiping away the tears, he pressed my hand between his with energy, exclaiming, 'Mr. Wallis, I know from whence this comes; tell Mr. Garrick that his kindness is almost too much for me; tell him also that I shall never be able to repay this sum, much less what I have before received at his hands.' A few months after this donation the doctor died.
Earl Spencer, on the perusal of Mr. Bloomfield's 'Prometheus,' unsolicited, and indeed without any personal knowledge of the author, presented him to a valuable living in Northamptonshire.
It was a custom with Archbishop Sharpe in kis journeys generally, to have a saddle-horse attending his carriage, that in case of feeling fatigued with sitting, he might take the refreshment of a ride. In his advanced age, and a few years before his death, as he was going in this manner to his episcopal residence, and was got a mile or two in advance of his carriage, a decently-dressed good-looking young man on horseback came up to him, and with a trembling hand, and faltering tone of voice presented a pistol to his Grace's breast, demanding his money. The Archbishop, with great composure, turned round, and looking steadfastly at him, desired that he would remove that dangerous weapon, and tell him fairly his condition. 'Sir, sir,' cried the youth with great agitation, 'no words, 'tis not a time for words now, your money instantly.' 'Hear me, young man,' said the venerable prelate, 'come on with me. I, you see, am a very old man, and my life is of little consequence; yours seem far otherwise. I am Sharpe, the Archbishop of York; my carriage and servants are behind, but conceal your perturbations, and tell me who you are, and what money you want, and on the word of my character, I will not injure you, but prove a friend. Here, take this (giving trim a purse of money), and now tell me how much you want to make you independent of so dangerous and destructive a course as you are now engaged in.' 'Oh, sir,' replied the man, 'I detest the business as much as you do, I am - but - but - at home there are creditors who will not wait; fifty pounds, my lord, would indeed do what no thought or tongue besides my own can feel or express.' 'Well, sir, I take it at your word; and, upon my honour, if you will compose yourself for a day or two, and then call on me at ---, what I have now given shall be made up that sum; trust me, I will not deceive you.'
The highwayman looked at him, was silent, and went off; and, at the time appointed, actually waited on the archbishop, received the money, and assured his lordship that he hoped his words had left impressions which no inducement could ever efface. Nothing more transpired of him for a year and a half; when one morning a person knocked at his Grace's gate, and, with a peculiar earnestness of voice and countenance, desired to see him. The archbishop ordered the stranger to be introduced; he had scarcely entered the room when his countenance changed, his knees tottered, and he sunk almost breathless on the floor. On recovering, he requested an audience in private; this being granted, he said, 'My lord, you cannot have forgotten the circumstance of relieving a highwayman. God and gratitude will never suffer it to be obliterated from my mind. In me, my lord, you now behold that once most wretched of mankind; but now, by your inexpressible humanity, rendered equal, perhaps superior, to millions. Oh, my lord, 'tis you, 'tis you that have saved me body and soul, 'tis you that have saved a much-loved wife, and a little brood of children, whom I loved dearer than my own life. Here, my lord, is the fifty pounds; but never shall I find language to express what I feel, God is your witness; your deed itself is your glory; and may heaven be your present and everlasting reward.' The archbishop was refusing the money, when the gentleman added, 'My lord, I was the younger son of a wealthy man; your Grace knew him, I am sure, my name is --, my marriage alienated the affections of my father, who left me to sorrow and penury. My distresses - but your Grace already knows to what they drove me. A month since my brother died a bachelor and intestate, his fortune has become mine: and I, spared and preserved by your goodness from an ignominious death, am now the most penitent, the most grateful, and the happiest of human beings.'
Mr. Quin, the comedian, in whose dramatic corps the celebrated Mrs. Bellamy was then performing, once after the rehearsal desired to speak with her in his dressing-room. As he had always carefully avoided seeing her alone, she was not a little surprised at so unexpected an invitation. Her apprehensions made her fear that she, by some means or other, had offended the worthy man; but her fears were not of long duration; for as soon as she entered his room, he took her by the hand, and with a smile of great benignity, thus addressed her: 'My dear girl, you are vastly followed, I hear. Do not let the love of finery, or any other inducement prevail on you to commit an indiscretion. Men in general are rascals. You are young and engaging, and therefore ought to be doubly cautious. If you want anything in my power, which money can purchase, come to me, and say, "James Quin, give me such a thing," and my purse shall always be at your service.' 'The tear of gratitude,' says Mrs. B. in her Memoirs, 'stood in my eye at this noble instance of generosity; and his own glistened with that of humanity and self-approbation.'
The Rustat Benefactions.
Tobias Rustat, who was for many years Yeoman of the Robes to Charles the Second, both in his exile and after the restoration, was a benevolent man, and a munificent patron of learning; who generously feeling for youths of liberal sentiments not possessing the means to acquire a competent subsistence at the Universities, bestowed a considerable part of his fortune on young students at Oxford and Cambridge. He founded eight scholarships at Jesus College, Cambridge, for the orphans of indigent clergymen: and gave £1000 to be applied to the uses of thirteen poor fellowships at St. John's, Oxford; also a considerable sum for the augmentation of poor vicarages in Leicestershire; and an annuity to SIX widows of orthodox clergymen for ever.
The celebrated Italian singer, Farinelli, who was a great favourite with Philip the Fifth of Spain, going one day to the king's closet, to which he had at all times access, heard an officer of the guard curse him, and say to another that was in waiting, 'Honours can be heaped on such scoundrels as these, while a poor soldier like myself, after thirty years' service, remains unnoticed.' Farinelli, without seeming to hear the reproach, complained to the king that he had neglected an old servant, and procured a regiment for the person who had spoken so harshly of him in the ante-chamber. On quitting his majesty, Farinelli gave the commission to the officer, telling them that he had heard him complain of having served thirty years; but added, 'You did wrong to accuse the king of neglecting to reward your zeal.'
The Rev. Mr. L----y, who was Rector of Livermore in Suffolk, received a visit from a farmer, who came to pay some arrears for tithes, and of whom he inquired concerning his family. The farmer's wife had just given birth to her tenth child, which he told the rector, adding jocosely, 'As you have a tenth part of my other produce, sir, I suppose I must bring you my tenth child.' 'No,' replied the good pastor, 'I am a bachelor, and cannot undertake the charge of an infant; but I can do what will perhaps be much more agreeable to you.' He then returned the farmer the whole of his tithes, amounting to nearly a hundred pounds, towards the support of the child.
A poor Negro walking towards Deptford, saw by the roadside an old sailor of a different complexion, with but one arm and two wooden legs. The worthy African immediately took three halfpence and a farthing, his little all, from the side pocket of his tattered trousers, and forced them into the sailor's hand, while he wiped the tears from his eye with the corner of his blue-patched jacket, and then walked away quite happy.
Licinius having raised a numerous army, endeavoured to wrest the government out of the hands of his brother-in-law, the Emperor Constantine. His army being defeated, Licinius fled with what forces he could rally to Nicomidia, whither Constantine pursued him, and immediately invested the place, but on the second day of the siege, the emperor's sister entreated him with a flood of tears, by the tenderness he had ever shown to her, to forgive her husband, or at least to grant him his life: he yielded to her request, and the next day Licinius finding no means of making his escape, presented himself before the conqueror and throwing himself at his feet, yielded to him the purple, and the other ensigns of sovereignty. Constantine received him in a very friendly manner, entertained him at his table, and afterwards sent him to Thessalonica, assuring him that he should live unmolested as long as he raised no new disturbances.
Restoration of Rhodes.
The Island of Rhodes suffered great damage by an earthquake, two hundred and twenty four years before Christ, the walls of the city with the arsenals, and the narrow passes in the havens, where the ships of the island were laid up, were reduced to a very ruinous condition, and the famous Colossus was thrown down, and entirely destroyed. The loss occasioned by this earthquake amounted to an immense sum and the Rhodians, reduced to the utmost distress, sent deputations to all the neighbouring princes, to implore relief. An emulation worthy of praise, and almost without a parallel in history, prevailed in favour of that deplorable city; and Hiero and Gelon in Sicily, as well as Ptolemy in Egypt, peculiarly distinguished themselves on the occasion. Hiero and Gelon contributed above a hundred talents, and erected two statues in the public place, one of which represented the people of Rhodes, and the other those of Syracuse; the former were crowned by the latter, to testify, as Polybius observes, that the Syracusans thought the opportunity of relieving the Rhodians a favour and obligation to themselves. Ptolemy supplied them with three hundred talents, one hundred thousand bushels of corn, and a sufficient quantity of timber for building ten galleys of ten benches of oars, and an equal number of three benches, besides a prodigious quantity of wood for other buildings, all which munificent donations were accompanied with three thousand talents for restoring the Colossus.
Antigonus, Seleucus, Prusias, Mithridates, and all the princes, as well as cities, signalised their liberality; and even private persons emulated each other in sharing in this glorious act of humanity; and historians record, that one lady, whose name was Chryseis, furnished alone one hundred thousand bushels of corn. Rhodes, in consequence of such liberality towards it, was soon re-established in a more opulent and splendid state than before.
Force of Habit.
Previous to the reign of Joseph the Second, ignominious punishments were unknown among the Likanians and Croatians of the mountains, and it was no small difficulty to substitute them for others of a more barbarous nature. The emperor one day reviewing the Likanians in Gospich, their principal district, he said to the colonel, 'These brave fellows, I know, are beaten unmercifully; let this treatment be discontinued.' 'Sire,' replied the colonel, 'I can assure your majesty, that twenty-five strokes of a cane are nothing to a Likanian; nay, he would submit to receive them for a glass of brandy.' The emperor, who was incredulous, soon had a proof of the veracity of this statement. A soldier had been sentenced to receive one hundred strokes; the emperor arrived when he had undergone half the punishment, and remitted the rest. To his extreme mortification, the culprit immediately burst into a laugh at the extravagant clemency of his sovereign.
When the ship Hercules was wrecked on the coast of Caffraria, in 1796, a party of twenty-four of the crew, who had escaped on shore, after travelling several days, and suffering great privations, reached a farm belonging to one Jan du Pliesies, who fortunately was a settler of the best order, and what was still more important, was of a humane and generous disposition.
On hearing of their disaster, and their request for relief to thirty-six of their comrades, who had been unable to keep up with them, his countenance betrayed evident marks of sensibility. He said no time should be lost in sending to their assistance; and immediately directed two of his sons to harness eight oxen to a waggon, with injunctions to travel all night to the spot that the guides described. Twenty-three were thus rescued, who were found near a wood, and had given up all hopes of relief. The preceding day, thirteen of their companions had separated from them, and it was not then known where they had strayed, but they all got in safety too.
Du Pliesies now sent messengers to his friends, desiring their assistance in conveying the mariners to the Cape. Several immediately came, and behaved with the greatest tenderness and liberality, offering accommodation in their own houses until the crew should be sufficiently recovered for the journey, when they would take the first opportunity of conducting them thither. The benevolent du Pliesies provided the crew with a waggon, and two sets of oxen, eight in each set; two or three Hottentot drivers, and provisions to serve until they reached the next settlement. One of his sons, completely armed, also attended them, and he gave them a letter of recommendation to other settlers, which ensured them almost equal hospitality.
Captain Hauffer, a Swiss officer, who was dangerously wounded in one of the actions which took place when the French entered his unfortunate country, was left bathed in his blood on the field of battle. A French officer who happened to pass, perceived him, and observing some signs of life, assisted him, and cried out, 'Courage, my dear fellow, courage!' Hauffer at these words, like one awaking from the sleep of death, opened his eyes, and fixing them attentively on the officer, said with a feeble voice, 'Tis not courage, but strength, I want.' The Frenchman, delighted and affected by this answer gave orders immediately to have the officer's wounds dressed, and every possible care taken of him. He was in consequence carried to Wadmschwyll, and in a little time was entirely cured of his wounds.
Sir Walter Farquhar calling one day on Mr. Pitt, the premier observed him to be unusually ruffled, and inquired what was the matter? 'Why, to tell you the truth,' replied Sir Walter, 'I am extremely angry with my daughter. - She has permitted herself to form an attachment to a young gentleman, by no means qualified in point of rank or fortune to be my son-in-law.' 'Now, let me say one word in the young lady's behalf,' returned the minister. 'Is the young man you mention of a respectable family?' 'He is.' 'Is he respectable in himself?' 'He is.' 'Has he the manners and education of a gentleman?' 'He has.' 'Has he an estimable character?' 'He has.' 'Why, then, my dear Sir Walter, hesitate no longer. You and I are well acquainted with the delusions of life. Let your daughter follow her own inclinations, since they appear to be virtuous. You have had more opportunities than I have of knowing the value of affection, and ought to respect it. Let the union take place, and I will not be unmindful that I had the pleasure of recommending it.' The physician consented, the lovers were united, and the patronage of the minister soon gave old Sir Walter no cause to regret the event.
An English gentleman residing at Lyons, who seemed to be a great favourite with his companions, brought himself into sudden distress by an unlucky run at play. He was arrested while entertaining several of his countrymen at dinner. Not one of them interfered in his favour; but when he retired from the room, a valet-de-place, who had lived with him for two years, offered him a purse containing more than the debt for which he was arrested, telling him that as he had earned that money by the English, it could not be better employed than by saving a gentleman of that country from disgrace. The offer was accepted, and the English gentleman soon afterwards repaid the sum, with the addition of a handsome present.
Fortunate Widow and Family.
Some years ago, a poor clergyman of the name of Parslow died in the very act of preaching a charity sermon in Welbeck Chapel. He left a widow and eleven children behind him to lament his loss. As Mr. Parslow was a curate of the Bishop of Chichester, this worthy prelate immediately commenced a private subscription for his family. So liberal were the donations, that they not only afforded sufficient to pay off the debts of the deceased, amounting to upwards of £300, but left a surplus equal to the purchase of £6,000 of stock, which was invested in the hands of trustees, for the benefit of the unhappy widow and children. Nor was this all; most of the children were placed in more or less advantageous situations; one being equipped as a writer, and sent to India; another admitted into the Charter-house, and a third, a youth of seventeen, placed as a clerk in the Navy Office. Not long after, the late Mr. Spencer Perceval gave to the latter the appointment of Naval Officer of Barbadoes, the emoluments of which are estimated at nearly £2,000 per annum.
British Prisoners in Spain.
A British officer, who went to Portugal with Sir Arthur Wellesley, received three different wounds at the battle of Talavera; and along with many other wounded soldiers, to the number of five hundred, fell into the hands of the French, and was sent off to Madrid. On their arrival at the bridge at the entrance of the city, the escort halted for some time; and as soon as the Spaniards were apprised that they were British prisoners they came to them, and showed the most unbounded tokens of kindness. Had the guard permitted, they would have loaded them with presents; many of them ran in and put money into their hands. At Madrid they were attended in a convent by Spanish surgeons and nurses, who treated them with the utmost kindness. The inhabitants flocked round the hospital; and when they could get at any of the windows, they gave them money, bread, vegetables, and indeed every thing that could contribute to their comfort. Even after several genteel people were taken into custody by the sentries for their attentions to the prisoners, the ladies and gentlemen used frequently to send old men and women with money, which they threw in at the windows.
As the men recovered from their wounds, they were removed to prison, and allowed by the French only brown bread and water; but there the beneficence of the Spaniards followed them, and supplied them so abundantly with every kind of eatables, that the men sold their surplus bread to the French soldiers at a penny per loaf. When the prisoners were afterwards removed to Segovia, they experienced similar kindness and attention.
An English officer who was serving in Portugal, under Sir John Moore, had the misfortune to lose his wife, who left him with three beautiful children, all in a state of infancy. When thus bereft, he was under orders to march with his regiment to Spain. Divided between a sense of public and private duty, he scarcely knew what to do. He was advised to apply to Sir John Moore for leave to carry his children to England, but in this lee met with a refusal. The generous Portuguese nobleman in whose house he was billeted, saw and pitied his distress. 'Never mind, my dear friend,' said he, 'cease to grieve, unfortunate Englishman; leave your infants with me; behold my three daughters; they shall each discharge the duties of a mother to one of your infants, and I will be a father to the whole.' 'So we will, my dear father,' exclaimed the daughters; while the captain, overpowered by such an act of beneficence, hastened out of the room.
The Emperor of Morocco, Muley Yezzid, proceeding with a large army against the province of Abda, was informed that the merchants of Mogadore had supplied his rebel subject, Abdrahaman, with ammunition. Enraged at this report, he issued an order to the governor of Mogadore, charging the greater part of the European merchants with treason, and ordered their immediate decapitation. The governor suspecting that the order had been issued in a moment of irritation, humanely delayed its execution, though at the peril of his own life, in the hope that it might be countermanded, or that the result of a battle would render it unnecessary. Soon afterwards, news arrived at Mogadore that the two armies had met and fought, and that the emperor had vanquished his enemies, but was himself dangerously wounded. This induced the governor still further to delay the execution, and the day following, news came that the emperor had died of his wound. The merchants of Mogadore were thus saved from an untimely death.
Diderot was once so much reduced as to be obliged to expose his library for sale at Paris. Prince Galitzin, the Ambassador of Catherine of Russia at the Court of France, hearing of the circumstance, sent for Diderot, and requested him not to proceed in the sale, at the same time making him a handsome present. Prince Galitzin immediately acquainted his imperial mistress with Diderot's distress, when she ordered his Excellency to pay him the full value of his library, and allow him the exclusive use of it during the remainder of his life; and the more effectually to relieve his necessities, she appointed him her librarian, with a pension of fifteen hundred livres per annum.
In the retrograde movements made by the British army in Spain, after the battle of Talavera, a medical officer belonging to the 23rd Light Dragoons, was with some brother officers made prisoners at Placentia, and conducted to Madrid. While there, by the exercise of his professional skill, he rendered such service to the French wounded, that Bonaparte, upon his subsequent arrival in France, not only gave him his liberty without exchange, but presented him with a gratuity of twelve hundred francs from the public purse. The prisoners, both Spanish and English, after remaining at Madrid two months, early in October, 1809, marched for France, under a strong escort appointed to convey them to the frontiers. In passing over the Sierres de Guardarama, by St. Ildefonso, to Segovia the attention of this officer was attracted by the interesting appearance of a little boy, about six or seven years old, riding in a waggon, apparently under the care of a Spanish woman, who appeared to act the part of a mother to him. Observing that there was something in the child's countenance and complexion which indicated that he was a native of a more northern climate than Spain, he asked a few questions in Spanish, and to his surprise was answered in the same language; but, upon further inquiry, it appeared that he was under the protection of the French officer commanding the escort: that he was the orphan child of a Serjeant M'Cullen, of the 42nd Regiment (Highlanders), who fell in the battle of Corunna; and that the mother, in the retreat from Salamanca upon Lugo, had died upon the road, through excessive privations and fatigue, when the poor child fell into the hands of the enemy's advanced guard, fortunately commanded by this humane officer. Upon learning this story, which was fully corroborated on every hand, the British prisoners unanimously petitioned the French officer to give up the child to them, as its more natural protectors, that they might forward it to England, where its forlorn case would claim for it an asylum from some humane institution. The French officer, however, refused to part with the boy, but promised to take care of him and use him well, and the English, in their own destitute situation as prisoners of war, had of course for the present no alternative but to submit. On their arriving at Tolosa, in the Pyrenees, an order met them, which directed that the English prisoners should be marched into France, but the Spanish conducted to the fortress of Pampeluna; and the French officer who had taken the child under his protection, being ordered upon the latter duty, the British officers with much regret parted from the little orphan. Not long after, a Captain H***, of the 23rd light dragoons, on passing through Tolosa, found the child in the most forlorn condition, forsaken by both his foster-father and mother. The former, it appears, had found a difficulty in conveying his prisoners to Pampeluna, as ordered, from the enterprising spirit of the Spanish Guerillas under Espoz y Mina; and the Spanish woman, dreading their resentment for attaching herself to a Frenchman, had fled. Under such circumstances, Captain H*** had, without hesitation, brought the child with him to Paris, where he now providentially met the very officer who had been the first to identify and interest himself for it, just obtaining his passport for London: it was agreed, therefore, that the poor little boy should go to his native land with him, and Captain H*** wrote letters to the War Office, to the Duke of York, and also to the Marquess of Huntly (the colonel of the 42nd regiment), on the subject. Arriving in London with his little orphan, Mr. *** immediately left the letters at the Horse Guards and Richmond House, and that same evening received a note, intimating that the Duke of York would be happy to see him and his little protegee on the following morning at ten o'clock; accordingly they went to York House at that hour, and were very graciously received. The Duke of York condescendingly conversed with the child in German and French, both of which languages, as well as Spanish, he had learnt; the first he had acquired from his foster-father, the second from a Saxon servant, and the last from the Spanish woman. His Royal Highness was altogether so much pleased with the child, and so affected with his interesting story, that he resolved to put him into the Military Asylum, under his own patronage. He had about this time resigned the office of commander-in-chief, but with that humanity and condescension for which his Royal Highness is distinguished, be wrote a letter to Sir David Dundas, drawing his notice to the circumstance, with a view that the parties might, with the least possible delay, be furnished with the necessary certificates, and pursue their respective interests. At length nothing was wanting for the admission of the child into the school for soldiers' orphans, but a certificate from the Marquess of Huntly; when Mr. * * * and the poor little fellow, in proceeding one morning to Richmond House for this document, overtook, near the Horse Guards, a serjeant of the 42nd regiment, with a letter in his hand, addressed to the Marquess of Huntly. Under an impression that the man might give him some information which would assist him in his interview with the Marquess, Mr. * * * inquired whether he had served in the late campaign in Spain, and being answered in the affirmative, then asked if he knew his comrade, Serjeant M'Cullen, who was killed at Corunna? The man, evidently much agitated, replied that he knew no comrade of that name killed at Corunna; but begged to know why the gentleman asked this question? 'Because,' said Mr. ***, 'this is his orphan child, whom I found in Spain.' He was soon interrupted with the simple but emphatic exclamation of 'Bless your honour, sir, I am the man! it's my child!' Then turning to the child, who had still a faint recollection of his father, he was deeply affected. The feelings of each party may be better imagined than described. It afterwards proved that the unsealed letter which the soldier was carrying to the Marquess of Huntly, was from Colonel Stirling, commanding the regiment, then lying at Canterbury, informing him that Serjeant M'Cullen was not (as supposed) killed at Corunna, but wounded, and got safe off; and that he had sent the man to London, that he might personally answer any questions which might be put to him. The child was placed in the Military Asylum.
During the residence of Lord Byron at Venice the house of a shoemaker was destroyed by fire; and every article belonging to the poor man being lost, he was, with a large family, reduced to a most pitiable condition. The noble bard having ascertained the afflicting circumstances of this event, ordered a new and superior habitation to be immediately built for the sufferer, in addition to which he presented the unfortunate tradesman with a sum equal in value to the whole of his lost stock in trade and furniture.
The philanthropic Howard paid great attention to the poor cottagers on his estate at Cardington, near Bedford, he encouraged their habits of industry, visited them in sickness, and relieved their distresses. The cottages that were falling to ruins he rebuilt on a more convenient plan; and allotted to each a little flower garden in front, and a piece of ground behind for the cultivation of potatoes, still not raising the low rents at which they had previously been let. His relative, the late Samuel Whitbread, Esq., who had an estate in the same village, seeing how Mr. Howard had contributed to the relief, the welfare, and the comfort of his fellow creatures, rebuilt several cottages soon after, with the same benevolent views; so that Cardington, which was at one time only the abode of poverty and wretchedness, was converted into one of the neatest villages in the kingdom; exhibiting all the pleasing appearances of competence and content, the natural rewards of rural industry and virtue.
In the month of October, 1815, the Mary, of Glasgow, was stranded near Balbrigan, in Scotland. On the vessel filling, the unfortunate seamen lashed themselves m the shrouds and every attempt to relieve them proved ineffectual from the heavy swell and surf. Two days afterwards, Lord Gormanstown, who had been made acquainted with the shipwreck, offered two hundred guineas to six gallant fellows, if they would venture to rescue the seamen from their perilous situation They immediately pushed off in a stout boat, and at the great hazard of their own lives, brought the whole crew on shore, though almost in a lifeless state. Mr. Filgate, of Lowther Lodge, added twenty guineas to the handsome reward of his lordship.
George the First.
Mr. Rosenhagen, who was domestic steward of the Duchess of Munster, used to relate as a fact, within his personal knowledge, that when the Earl of Nithsdale made his escape out of the Tower, the night before he was to be executed, the deputy-lieutenant of the Tower, as soon as it was known, went to St. James's to acquaint the king with it, and to vindicate himself from any remissness or treachery in his conduct. His majesty was entertaining himself with a select party of the nobility, and it was with difficulty the lieutenant gained admittance; when, with some alarm and concern, he told his majesty that he had some ill news to acquaint him with. The king said directly, 'What! is the city on fire or is there a new insurrection?' He said that neither was the case, but told his majesty of Nithsdale's escape. The king most humanely replied, 'Is that all? It was the wisest thing he could do, and what I would have done in his place. And pray, Mr. Lieutenant, be not too diligent in searching after him, for I wish for no man's blood!'
Heroism of Compassion.
On the 26th May, Mr. William Tewksbury, of Deer Island, and his son, Abijah R. Tewksbury, a lad seventeen years old, were at work on the eastern part of Point Shirely, near Winthorp's Head. About four p.m. a boy came running from the Point, and informed him that a pleasure-boat had upset in a direction between Deer Island and Long Island.
Without waiting for farther information, he immediately took his son into his canoe, set a small foresail, and run through Pulling's Point Gut, towards Broad Sound. The wind was so high that, with the smallest sail, the canoe nearly buried itself under water. Having relieved her, he stood in a direction for Long Island, nearly half a mile, without discovering any indication of the object of his search.
He then observed his wife and children on the beach of Deer Island, running towards Sound Point. This induced him to keep on the same course, and in a short time he discovered the heads of several men in the water; and as they rose and fell on the sea, he was impressed with the belief that there were more than twenty buffeting the waves, and contending against death. Being perfectly aware of the little burthen and very slight construction of his canoe, which was one of the smallest class, the wind blowing a violent gale, his apprehensions for his son's and his own safety had almost caused him to desist from the extreme peril of exposing his frail bark to be seized on by men agonised to despair in the last struggles for life. He, however, prepared for the event, took in his sail, rowed among the drowning men, with a fixed determination to save some, or perish in the attempt. By an exertion of skill, to be equalled only by an aboriginal chief in the management of a canoe, he succeeded in getting seven persons on board; and was attempting to save the eighth, when his son exclaimed, 'Father, the canoe is sinking - we shall all perish!' This exclamation calling his mind from the purpose on which it was bent, exposed to him his most perilous situation. Six inches of water in a canoe, nine in number on board, the upper part of her gunwale but three inches above water, the wind high, a heavy sea running and constantly washing on board, and nearly a mile from the nearest land. That nine might even have a chance of being saved, he was obliged to leave one unfortunate man hanging on the stern of the jolly belonging to the pleasure-boat.
Of the men saved, one was so little exhausted that he could assist in baling; another could sit up; and the others lay motionless and apparently lifeless, on the bottom of the canoe. There not being room to row, Mr. T. had no alternative but to paddle before the wind, and was but able to reach the extremity of Sound Point. The instant she struck, she filled with water from the violence of the sea. Exertions were still necessary to save the five helpless men in the bottom of the canoe. In giving her assistance at this time, Mrs. Tewksbury was much injured by the convulsive grasp of one of the men, apparently in the agonies of death. They were all conveyed to Mr. T.'s house, and by the application of hot blankets, tea, and medicine, they were recovered. Four did not recover, so as to be able to speak, for more than three hours. Eleven persons were in the pleasure-boat when she overset, two of whom attempted to swim to the shore, and were seen by the survivors to perish thirty or forty rods from the boat. One was drowned in the cabin. After landing those saved, Mr. T. returned with all possible expedition to the relief of the man left on the jolly boat. He was gone! The distance from the place where Mr. Tewksbury and his son were at work, to the place of the accident, is one mile and a half.
The above facts being made known to the trustees of the Humane Society of New York, they voted that seventy dollars in money, and a silver medal of the value of ten dollars, with suitable inscriptions, should be presented Mr. T.; thirty-five dollars to his son; twenty dollars to Mrs. Tewksbury; and five dollars to the boy who ran with the information of the boat having been upset.
It is a fact honourable to many of the ancient states, that the care of the government was directed at an early period to exposed and deserted children. In Greece and Rome means were not only pursued to encourage the reception and education of exposed children, by assigning them as property to those who took them under their protection, but a law was also made that foundlings who were not received by private persons, should be educated at the public expense. At Thebes, to prevent child-murder and exposure, it was ordained, that parents who could not afford to bring up their children, should carry their new-born-babes to government, who committed them into the hands of such as engaged to take the best care of them for the least money. The only difference between the Theban customs and modern manners is, that the Theban children were slaves for life, whereas ours are free; for the manners of both were the same in other respects. The humane decrees of the Emperor Constantine merit particular attention; first for Italy, in 315; and second, for Africa, in 322. The governments in those countries were directed to prevent the murder, sale, or pawning of children, by supplying the parents with money to bring them up; which money was to be furnished by the public treasury or magazines, or from the emperor's privy purse, to provide food, clothing, and necessaries. This measure is thought to have been produced by the feeling manner in which Lactantius described the situation of parents to that emperor. After these decrees the children were nursed by their parents. But it seems there were at Athens as well as at Rome at a very early period public receptacles for such children.
The Emperor Justinian, by a particular law, anno 529, declared foundlings to be free, denominating them brephotrophium, from Bpezos, a child, and Tpezo, to educate, in his laws respecting them.
That orphans were provided for by the state, as well as by charitable individuals, has been proved by the discovery of an ancient document that was found in the neighbourhood of Placentia, in the year 1747. This curious relic of antiquity, which consists of a ponderous copper tablet, five feet in height and ten in breadth contains an inscription of more than six hundred lines, purporting that the Emperor Trajan had laid out a capital of 1,044,000 sesterces, on mortgage, at five per cent. interest, which was to be divided monthly among two hundred and forty-five boys and thirty-four girls, born in wedlock, and two illegitimate children, belonging to the community of Velleia. The same tablet records a bequest by one Cornelius, of a smaller amount, for a similar purpose, but it makes no allusion to an orphan-house for the reception of the children, nor of the manner in which the money was to be applied; and, indeed, the sums appear much too moderate to have been intended for their entire support. The amount of Trajan's endowment for the orphans of Velleia was nominally equal to about £84,000 sterling.
The institution of public receptacles for the reception of foundlings in latter ages, has been chiefly owing to the charitable donations of the piously disposed among private individuals.
The oldest establishment of this kind found in Germany, is one at Triers, founded in the latter part of the sixth century. Mention of it occurs in the life of a legendary saint, called St. Goar. The children so exposed here were placed in a marble couch before the church door.
In the seventh century there were similar establishments at Anjou or Angers, in France, by St. Magnebodus, subsequently called St. Mainbeuf, bishop of that place, who had several houses built for their reception.
At Venice, there is also an institution for foundlings, called Della Pieta, established in 1380, by a Franciscan, named Petruccio.
In the year 787, an arch-priest, named Datheus, erected a foundling hospital at Milan, at his own expense, on purpose to stop child murder; in this house the infants received all necessaries, till they were seven years old, when they were put out to learn some handicraft employment. It is said, that it was usual for the mothers of such children to strew salt between their clothes, which is said to intimate that the infant had not been baptised, or, perhaps, that it had not been purified by water.
In 1070, there was established at Montpelier, a religious order of the Holy Ghost, by Oliver de la Trau, the members of which called themselves hospitalarii sive spiritus: one object of their order was, generally to take care of the poor; and for such little exposed unfortunates, to provide education and other necessaries. In a short time, this order spread itself into many countries. Among other places, there was established a foundation in Rome; after confirmation by Pope Innocent III., in 1198, an elegant mansion was obtained for their establishment.
The House of Brunswick built a similar establishment at Einbeck, begun by Duke Albert, in 1274. Alms were collected for its support, and patents granted; but this house was different from all others of the same kind inasmuch as it provided for poor foreigners, as well as indigent natives; and received orphans and foundlings, of whom it took care till they grew up. An hospital, dedicated to the Holy Ghost, was built at Nuremberg by a rich citizen, named Conrad Heinz, surnamed Der Grosser and completed in 1341, for the reception of poor pregnant woman, and the maintenance and education of their children. It was a rule in this house, that the day of the birth or reception of each child, should be recorded; so that if it should ever have the ability to pay for the expenses it had incurred a standard might be afforded, to estimate the general charge.
In England, there is a splendid hospital for foundlings, which was proposed to have been established seventeen years before it actually took place, from obstacles thrown in the way of the benevolent founder, Captain Thomasgram; so that it was not founded until about the year 1739, or in the thirteenth year of King George II.
Prince Leopold of Brunswick.
In the year 1785, Prince Leopold of Brunswick, son of the reigning duke, lost his life in endeavouring to relieve the inhabitants of a village that was overflowed by the Oder which had burst its banks in several places, and carried away houses, bridges, and everything that opposed its progress. This amiable prince was standing by the side of the river when a woman threw herself at his feet, beseeching him to give orders to some persons to go and rescue her children, whom, bewildered by the sudden danger, she had left behind in the house. Some soldiers who were in the same place were also calling out for help. . The prince endeavoured to procure a flat-bottomed boat, but none could be found to venture across the river, although he offered large sums of money, and promised to share the danger. At last, moved by the cries of the unfortunate inhabitants of the suburbs, and being led by the sensibility of his disposition, he took the resolution of going to their assistance himself. Those who were about him, endeavoured to dissuade him from the hazardous enterprise, but touched to the soul by the distress of these miserable people, he nobly replied, 'What am I more than either you or they? I am a man like yourselves, and nothing ought to be attended to here but the voice of humanity.' Unshaken, therefore, in his resolution, and in spite of all entreaties, he immediately embarked with three watermen in a small boat and crossed the river; the boat did not want more than three lengths of the bank, when it struck against a tree, and in an instant they all, together with the boat, disappeared. A few minutes after, the prince rose again, and supported himself a short time by taking hold of a tree; but the violence of the current soon overwhelmed him, and he never appeared more. The boatmen, more fortunate, were all saved, and the prince alone became the victim of his humanity.
After Quin had left the stage, Ryan once requested him to repeat his performance of Falstaff, for his benefit; in answer to which the veteran actor wrote the following laconic epistle. 'Dear Ryan, I would play for you if I could; but I will not whistle for you. I have willed you a thousand pounds. If you want money, you may have it, and save my executors trouble. JAMES QUIN.'
In a similar manner, this benevolent actor anticipated a bequest of £100, which he had made to the author of the 'Seasons;' and by this means relieved Thomson, at a moment of the greatest exigency.
A living in Carmarthenshire, in the gift of Squire, Bishop of St. David's, becoming vacant, a nobleman wrote a letter to him strongly recommending a gentleman to the appointment, and promising his own interest and that of his friends in behalf of the bishop at all times. Before the bishop returned an answer to the nobleman, a poor curate, miserably dressed, came to the bishop's house at Aberguilly, and sent in a letter to his lordship, in which he stated that he had a wife and five children; that his income was only twelve pounds a year, and therefore they wanted the common necessaries of life; that he had no friend to recommend him, but hearing of the goodness of his lordship's heart, and his generosity, he was come to petition his lordship for the vacant living. The bishop ordered him in; gave him a dinner, which he much needed, for he had walked upwards of twenty Welsh miles; required a certificate of his good behaviour, which he produced; found him qualified for the office; and not only presented him with the living, but also gave him money to discharge the expenses of induction.
Dr. John Fothergill, whose attachment to botany was a leading feature in his character, having noticed a spot of land suitable for a garden, on the Surrey side of the Thames which was to dispose of, agreed for the price. One obstacle alone remained to make it his own. It was let to a tenant at will, whose little family subsisted on its produce, and whose misery was inevitable, had he expelled him from his fruitful soil. The moment Dr. Fothergill was made acquainted with the circumstance, he broke off the bargain, saying, that 'nothing could ever afford gratification to him which entailed misery on another;' and when he relinquished this protected Eden, he made the family a present of the intended purchase money, which enabled them to become proprietors, where they had formerly only been tenants at will.
Captain Carver, a name well known in the annals of misery, as well as by his travels in North America, was reduced by long continued want to great indigence. Disease, its natural consequence, gave him access to Dr. Fothergill, who, as often as he applied for medical relief, accompanied his prescription with a liberal donation. But Captain Carver was not an importunate solicitor. The mind not hardened by familiarity of refusal, or that has not acquired by frequent struggles the art of suppressing its emotions, possesses that diffidence which is the inseparable associate of worth. Between diffidence and want, many were the struggles of Captain Carver; but overcome, at length, by repeated acts of the doctor's generosity, a fear of becoming troublesome to his benefactor, determined him to prefer that want, rather than continue what he conceived intrusive. Death soon released him. When his fate was communicated to the doctor, he exclaimed, 'If I had known his distress, he should not thus have died.'
During the war with France, in 1780, Mr. Fox, a merchant of Falmouth, had a share in a ship, which the other owners determined to fit out as a letter of marque, very much against the wishes of Mr. Fox, who was a Quaker. The ship had the good fortune to take two French merchantmen, and the share of the prize money which fell to Mr. Fox was £1500. At the close of the war, Mr. Fox sent his son (who was soon afterwards elected physician to the Bristol Infirmary), to Pans, with the £1500, which he faithfully refunded to the owners of the vessels captured. The young gentleman, to discover the owners, was obliged to advertise for them in the Paris papers. In consequence of this advertisement, he received a letter from a small village near Nismes, in the province of Languedoc, acquainting him that a society of Quakers was established in that remote part of France, consisting of about one hundred families; that they were so much struck with this rare instance of generosity in one of their sect, that they were desirous to open a correspondence with him in England; which immediately commenced.
This society is supposed to be a remnant of the ancient Albigenses against whom several persecuting crusades were instituted in the reign of Philip the Second, towards the close of the twelfth century. They were known to have continued in the same place for upwards of a century, without maintaining a correspondence with any other society.
Duke of Nivernois.
When the Duke of Nivernois was ambassador in; England, he was going down to Lord Townshend's seat in Norfolk, on a private visit, quite in dishabille, and with only one servant, when he was obliged, from a very heavy shower of rain, to stop at a farm-house in the way. The master of the house was a clergyman, who to a poor curacy added the care of a few scholars, and gained, in all, about £80 a year, with which he had to maintain a wife and six children.
When the duke alighted, the clergyman, not knowing his rank, begged him to come in and dry himself. His Excellency accepted the offer, borrowed a pair of old worsted stockings and slippers, and otherwise warmed himself by a good fire. After some conversation, the duke observed an old chess-board hanging up; and as he was passionately fond of that game, he asked the parson whether he could play. His host answered, that he could tolerably, but found it difficult in that part of the country to find an antagonist. 'I'm your man,' says the duke. 'With all my heart,' rejoins the parson; 'and if you'll stay and take pot luck, I'll try if I can't beat you.' The day still continuing rainy, the duke accepted his offer; when the parson played so much better, that he won every game. The duke, far from fretting at this, was highly pleased to meet a man who could give him such entertainment at his favourite game.
He accordingly inquired into the state of his family affairs; and just taking a memorandum of his host's address, without discovering his title, thanked him, and left him.
Some months passed over without the clergyman thinking anything of his visitor; when one evening a footman in a laced livery rode up to the door, and presented him with the following billet:
'The Duke of Nivernois' compliments wait on the Rev. Mr.; and as a remembrancer for the good drubbing he received from him at chess, and the hospitality he showed him on a late occasion, begs that he will accept of the living of (worth £400 a year), and wait on His Grace the Duke of Newcastle on Friday next, to thank him for the same.'
It was some time before the honest parson could imagine the letter anything more than a joke, and he was actually not for going to town to wait on the premier; but his wife insisting on his making the trial, he came to London, and to his unspeakable satisfaction, found the contents of the duke's note literally true.
There are some men (observes Rochefoucault) who would not dare to appear enemies of virtue; but when they wish to persecute, they deny its existence. This was the case with the enemies of Voltaire, whose benevolent actions were all attributed to his vanity; although it was notorious, that every man in distress applied to his bounty; that he delighted in assisting the wretched in whatever situation of life they might be placed; and that in the obscurity of his retreat, he was continually performing good actions.
It is only necessary to mention the names of Sirven and Calas, to recall to the recollection of every one the active beneficence of Voltaire; nor must we omit his interference for the fifteen thousand slaves of the Monks of St. Claude, whom he contributed to render free and happy; his manufactory of watches, which was formed as an asylum for those who wished to escape the broils and persecutions at Geneva; or his rescuing from the hands of the Jesuits the estate of six gentlemen of the name of Crassi. There are several other instances of his generosity, which, though less known, are equally commendable.
A labourer, who was neither connected with nor dependent on Voltaire, had lost a law-suit at the parliament of Besancon, which entirely ruined him. In his despair, he came with his wife to implore the charity of Voltaire, who enjoyed all over France a character for liberality; and the assistance he wanted, was to have the decision set aside. Voltaire, affected by his story, took the papers of the proceedings, and delivered them to M. Christin, his steward, who, after having given them a careful perusal, was of opinion that these unhappy people had lost a good cause, and that the nullity of the proceedings left hope in an appeal. At this intelligence, Voltaire went into his study, and returned, bearing in the lap of his dressing-gown three bags of a thousand francs each. 'There,' said he to the unfortunate labourer, 'is something to compensate you for the wrongs you have suffered in a court of justice; a fresh lawsuit would be a source of fresh trouble to you; and if you are wise, you will go to law no more. If you wish to establish yourself on my property, I will take care of you.'
When Voltaire was informed of the distress of a young grand-daughter of the great Corneille, he took her into his house, and treated her with the tenderness of a father. She had passed her infancy in a small village with her mother, employed in making osier baskets, which the father sold at the market at Evreux. They were however, obliged to go to Paris, and for a long time lingered in want; until assuming the name of Corneille, they interested a company of actors, who gave them the benefit of a representation of Rodagune, which served to pay their immediate debts.
This relief was only temporary; and Voltaire was applied to in behalf of this family. He instantly adopted Mademoiselle Corneille, and while Madame Denis was occupied in giving her education, Voltaire made arrangements for her future establishment in life. In order to effect this, he wrote a commentary on the works of Corneille, which had been long wanted to facilitate their perusal for foreigners. A subscription was opened for the work, to which almost all the nobility and crowned heads of Europe lent their assistance.
The Captive's Friend.
During one of the wars in India, Major Gowdie became Tippoo's prisoner, and was confined with many other gentlemen in Bangalore, where they suffered every species of insult, hardship, and barbarity. A humane and beneficent butcher, whose business led him often to the prison saw and felt for their sufferings, for they had been stripped of their clothes and robbed of their money before they were confined. It would have cost the butcher his ears at least, and perhaps his life, had he discovered any symptoms of pity for the prisoners before his countrymen. They were allowed only one seer of rice, and a pice or halfpenny per day, for their subsistence; but the butcher contrived to relieve their necessities. Upon opening the sheeps' heads which they frequently bought of him for food, they were astonished to find pagodas in them. In passing the yard of their prison, he often gave them abusive language, and threw balls of clay or dirt at them, as if to testify his hatred or contempt but on breaking the balls, they always found that they contained a supply of money for their relief; and this did he frequently for a long time, until the prisoners were released.
In the following war, Major Gowdie was destined to attack Bangalore, and he had not long entered the breach, when he saw and recollected his friend the butcher. He ran with eagerness to embrace him, saved him from the carnage, and led him to a place of safety. The transports of the two generous souls at their meeting gave the most pleasing sensations to all who beheld them; it softened the rage of the soldiers, and made the thirst of blood give way to the soft emotions of humanity.
During the siege of Kuddalore, in 1783, the French commander, M. De Bassy, having received a reinforcement of troops from the fleet of M. De Suffrein, determined to make a sortie, which was unsuccessful. In the number of the wounded prisoners which he left in the power of the English, there was a young French serjeant, who by his interesting manner of expressing himself, and by his conduct, drew so strongly the attention of Colonel Wangenheim, who commanded the Hanoverian troops in the service of England, that he caused him to be brought to his tent, where he was treated with much kindness and care, until his cure and exchange.
Some years ago, when General Bernadotte commanded the French army in Hanover, General Wangenheim, accompanied by many officers, went to pay him a visit. When he was presented to the French general, he informed him that he had served in the Indies before Kuddalore. Bernadotte said he had served there also; 'and do you not recollect,' pursued he, 'a wounded serjeant, whom you took under your protection during the siege?' The general, after some reflection, said, 'yes, I remember that adventure. He was a young man of fine talents. I have never heard from him since. I should be delighted to hear from him.' 'That young sergeant,' replied Bernadotte, 'is the same person who now has the honour of entertaining you, who esteems himself happy to acknowledge here publicly all that he owes to you, and who will suffer no occasion to pass by of manifesting to General Wangenheim how grateful he is to him for his kindness.'
Countess of Warwick.
The celebrated Countess of Warwick always devoted a third part of her income to charitable purposes. It was to her a grateful occupation to inquire after and relieve the wants of those who were suffering within the circle of her benevolent influence. There was no description of human misery which she did not endeavour to alleviate. She sought for those who were unable to work, but ashamed to beg; and many a poor widow, deserted orphan, and fallen family pining in obscurity, were thus unexpectedly relieved; often when assured of their merit, she would suddenly advance them from the very depths of poverty, and realise hopes which had long subsided.
Foreigners who had fled to England for the exercise of their religion; young persons of promising abilities, but inefficient means; destitute ministers of various denominations; and deserving individuals whose incomes were insufficient for their support, always found in the Countess of Warwick a munificent protectress. Not only her mansion and table, but her confidence and advice, were open to all who shared the privilege of her acquaintance, and in the humblest classes of society, if any were sick or distressed, their first application was to this excellent countess. In her regard and compassion towards the indigent, a convenient house was erected, both at her residence in London and in the country, to protect them from the inclemency of the weather, when assembled for the receipt of her usual bounty. Twice in the week, bread and beef were provided for the poor of four parishes; and in her will, in addition to numerous other charities, she ordered that the same should be continued for four months after her death, and that one hundred pounds should be distributed among them.
During the residence of Count d'Artois at St. Petersburg, he received every description of attention and politeness from the sovereign he had come to visit; as Catherine was anxious to show him that peculiar benevolence which a sensible mind feels for misfortune.
Being afterwards about to return to England, the empress ordered a frigate to be fitted up in a magnificent manner for his conveyance; and the night before his departure, she sent him forty thousand roubles in money, and a case filled with watches and other jewellery. The present was accompanied with the following delicate note: 'On the eve of quitting this country, your royal highness will no doubt be desirous to make small presents to those who have attended you during your residence here, but as you know, sir, that I have prohibited all commerce and communication with France, you will seek such trifles in vain in this city; they are not to be found in all Russia, except in my cabinet. I trust, therefore, that your royal highness will accept these from your affectionate friend.'
Duchess of Queensberry.
The last Duchess of Queensberry was of an eccentric, but of a benevolent, disposition. She once sent for the celebrated Mrs. Bellamy, a few days before that fixed for her benefit; but refused to see her, because she was dressed in a silk gown, and went in a chair, but notwithstanding, she engaged almost all the boxes at the benefit; and on the morning after, presented her with two hundred and seventy guineas, a bill of considerable value, and sent her home in her own coach.
In the year 1601, and 1603, Russia experienced great scarcity, and provisions were extremely dear. The spirit of the times and the want of intelligence prevented the application of remedies suitable to the circumstance, but Boris Godounof, the Czar, in this crisis showed himself the true father of his people. He employed thousands in erecting large stone buildings, furnishing everything that was necessary, and giving them wages correspondent to the increased price of the necessaries of life; and he distributed thirty thousand roubles daily for the relief of the poor. He at the same time compelled the boyars to let him have the overplus of their magazines at half price, to give to the poor. Those who, notwithstanding his care, perished in this dreadful calamity, were interred at his own expense.
When the Empress Catherine founded the hospital for foundlings at Moscow, a person unknown sent a box containing fifty thousand roubles to the president of this establishment, accompanied with these words: 'He who takes the liberty to offer this to M. de Betski, will have completely obtained his desire, if by means of this gift, Russia shall, at some future day, have one reasonable subject, one happy man, one virtuous citizen.'
The Czar Alexis.
Alexis, Czar of Russia in the middle of the seventeenth century, was so humane, that he never subscribed his name to a sentence of death without shedding tears. 'I am not a sovereign,' said he one day to his confidential minister, 'to destroy my subjects; but, on the contrary, to preserve them, and to show mercy to all who have not been convicted of embruing their hands in the blood of their fellow-creatures.' At this moment, a favourite laid before him an order for the execution of a deserter; he wrote at the bottom, 'I grant his pardon,' and signed it with his name.
The Patriarch Nicon.
The celebrated Nicon, the Patriarch of Russia in 1652, was remarkable for his beneficence. In time of scarcity, the poor flocked in crowds to partake of his bounty; and not a day passed in which he did not distribute bread and money. He built four hospitals at Novogorod; one for the infirm, another for widows; a third for orphans; and a fourth for those who were without the means of subsistence.
St. Vincent De Paul.
The annals of the world scarcely furnish an instance of such a benefactor to humanity as St. Vincent de Paul. He was the son of a day-labourer in Gascony: and when about thirty years of age, was taken prisoner and carried to Tunis, where he continued two years a slave. Having escaped into France, he entered into holy orders, and devoted himself to the service of the unhappy persons condemned to the galleys. The reform which he effected, the decent and resigned demeanour which he produced in them, and the alleviation of their sufferings which his charitable exertions in their favour obtained, were truly surprising. On one occasion, a poor young man having for a single act of smuggling been condemned to the galleys for three years, complained to him in such moving terms of his misfortunes, and of the distress to which it would reduce his wife and infant children, that St. Vincent substituted himself in his place, and worked in the galleys eight months, chained by the leg to the oar. The fact was then discovered, and he was ransomed. This circumstance was judicially proved, and he always retained in one of his legs a soreness from the chain which he had worn.
St. Vincent de Paul established the Foundling Hospital at Paris; and by a single speech which he made for it in a moment of distress, he raised an instant subscription of forty thousand French livres. In the war of the Fronde, several thousand German soldiers, who had been seduced by great promises into the army of the Fronde, were placed in Paris and its neighbourhood, and the war proving unsuccessful to those who had engaged them, they were abandoned, and left to perish. St. Vincent stirred up such a general spirit of charity in their behalf as enabled him to provide for their immediate subsistence, and to send them back clothed and fed to their own country. The calamities of the same war were terrible in Champagne, Picardy, Lorraine, and Artois; and a year of great scarcity coming on, famine, and pestilence ensued; numbers perished of hunger, and their bodies lay unburied. Information of this scene of woe being carried to St. Vincent, he raised a subscription of twelve millions of French money, and applied it for the relief of the wretched objects. These, and a multitude of other acts of beneficence were proved on his canonization by Pope Clement XII.: and Bossuet, in his letter of solicitation, dwells on them with great eloquence.
A few days before the opening of the new school at Toula in Russia, a woman badly dressed, with two children, whose tattered garments denoted great indigence, threw herself at the feet of the governor, and offered him a paper. 'Here,' said she, sobbing, 'is the diploma of the nobility of my husband, who is dead from chagrin and misery; receive my children; the emperor is just - your heart is good; have pity on these poor orphans. I should die in peace if I were sure they would be placed in the new school.' The infants lifted their eyes in supplication to the magistrate, who was much affected with the scene; he raised the mother, and placing her by his side, embraced the children, received them as pupils of Alexander, and ordered the uniform of the institution to be given to them.
When M. Bouvant was given over by the physicians, he sent for his old friend the Abbe Blanchet, to whom he said, 'From the character I know you to have, you will always be poor; there is every appearance, my friend, that I cannot live long, and when I am dead, what will become of you?' The Abbe wished to reply, but the sick man taking advantage of his condition, ordered him to be silent, and dictated his last orders. 'My will is that you enjoy the interest of ten thousand crowns, which I have earned, for your life. Don't make any difficulties, the principal will return to my family.' M. Bouvant recovered. Some time afterwards the Abbe related this trait to the Duchess d'Aumont, who was so delighted that she urged him to tell it her again. 'Why, madam,' said the Abbe, 'what I have related is nothing to what followed, for when my poor Bouvant was recovered, I found him quite sorry that he was well.'
After the conclusion of a sanguinary engagement between the French and the Russians, under Suwarrow, in Switzerland, one of the Cossacks heard in the stillness of the night a soft moaning that seemed to rise from the immense abyss beneath the Pont de Diable. Stepping to the brink he called, but received no answer: yet the moaning continued. Without deliberation the honest Cossack began to descend from one ledge of the rock to the other, the depth of above two hundred feet, when he discovered a French officer wounded, and almost dying on the ground. The task of humanity is understood by all men in the remotest corners of the earth, without the use of words. The rude inhabitant of the Don or the Dneiper lost no time in relieving the distress even of an enemy. The sick man being too much wounded to make use of his legs, the Cossack disencumbered himself of his arms, took him upon his back and began to ascend with his burden. He had not gone far before a piece of rock, which he thought secure, giving way, he rolled down an immense distance and cut his leg very severely; but, regardless of streaming blood, he once more attempted to mount the ascent, and at length succeeded with infinite trouble in his generous purpose. The officer on duty highly commended this noble action, and took care of the wounded man, who was quartered at Hanz; and after his recovery, frequently related this incident with the strongest emotions of gratitude.
Isle of Man.
It is a proverb among the hospitable inhabitants of the Isle of Man, that 'when one poor man relieves another, God himself laughs for joy.' Poor's rates, and most other parochial rates are unknown; and there is not in the whole Island either hospital, workhouse, or house of correction, though in every parish there is at least one charity school, and often a small library. A collection is made, as in Scotland, after the morning service of every Sunday, for the relief of such poor of the parish as are thought deserving of charity. The donation is optional, but it is usual for every one to give something.
Among the moral features of the British metropolis is the multitude of institutions for the relief of the indigent and the sick in their various wants. Independently of the two hospitals supported at the public charge at Greenwich and Chelsea, London has twenty two hospitals, or asylums for the sick, lame, &c.; one hundred and seven almshouses, for the maintenance of old men and women; twenty institutions for indigent persons of various other descriptions; twenty-two dispensaries for gratuitously supplying the poor with medicine and medical aid at their own dwellings; forty-one free schools, with perpetual endowments for educating and maintaining three thousand five hundred children of both sexes; twenty other public schools for deserted and poor children; one hundred and sixty-five parish schools, supported by their respective parishes, with the aid of occasional voluntary contributions, which, on an average, clothe and educate six thousand boys and girls.
But this ample list of public charities does not include the whole account; in the City of London, belonging to its corporation, there are ninety four public companies, who distribute above £7500 in charity annually; and the metropolis has, besides, many institutions for the education or relief of those who are actually distressed, of a less public and prominent nature, but which immensely extend aid to the indigent. The sum annually expended in the metropolis in charitable purposes, independently of private relief to individuals, has been estimated at £850,000.
Most of the hospitals and asylums were founded by private munificence; of these some are endowed with perpetual revenues, and others supported by annual or occasional voluntary contributions. The almshouses were built and endowed either by private individuals or corporate bodies of tradesmen, and many of the free schools sprang from the same origin.
The administration of the public charities in the metropolis is generally good; and splendid as the buildings often are, the wards of a London hospital do not form a contrast with their exterior magnificence by any niggardly measure of the aid afforded to the unfortunate inmates. The medical assistance is the best which the profession can supply: their attendance, which is in most instances gratuitous, is ample, humane, and considerate, the rooms are cleanly, and as wholesome as care can render the dwelling of a multitude of diseased persons; and the food is of the best kind.
Such is the British metropolis. The community at large will view it as the glory of the United Kingdom; and those, if any there be, who would cast a veil over its splendour and extent, will, when they review its munificence and charity, hail with exulting pride its foundation, its grandeur, and its fame, and not suffer institutions to decline, which have been formed 'to preserve all sick persons and young children; to provide for the fatherless and widows in their affliction; to raise up the broken-hearted, and to be the friends of the desolate and oppressed.'
Dr. Moore, Archbishop of Canterbury, was in the early part of his life curate of Brackley in Northamptonshire, where at that time resided a plumber of the name of Watts, who having a comfortable independence, kept an open table every market-day for the neighbouring gentlemen and clergy. Amongst his guests on such occasions was Mr. Moore, who ceasing to be frequent in his visits, Mr. Watts inquired the cause. The reply was 'Mr. Watts, I am at this time ten pounds in your debt, which I am unable to pay, and I feel a little delicacy in intruding on your hospitable table.' Mr. Watts begged he would not give it a thought, but come as usual; adding that he had twenty pounds more at his (Mr. Moore's) service. In the course of their lives Mr. Watts fell into decay, and the poor curate became Archbishop of Canterbury. In this elevated rank he did not forget his humble friend, but made his latter days comfortable, and after his death settled an annuity on his widow, who died at the advanced age of ninety-seven, up to which time the annuity was regularly paid by his Grace's family.
A beggar asking Dr. Smollet for alms, he gave him, by mistake, a guinea. The poor fellow on perceiving it hobbled after him to return it; upon which Smollet returned it to him, with another guinea, as a reward for his honesty, exclaiming at the same time, 'What a lodging honesty has taken up with!'
Lycurgus, the Spartan reformer and legislator, through whose wise institutions the Spartan republic so long flourished, had an eye beat out in a sedition which was raised against him on account of the severity of his laws. When the tumult was appeased, the man who had given him the blow was brought to him a prisoner, in order that he might inflict upon him such punishment as he should think proper. But Lycurgus, instead of doing the fellow the least injury, took him into his family, and made him one of his disciples in the rules of virtue and good morality. Having kept him thus for about a year, he brought him publicly into the assembly of the people, and exhibited him for an example of as much virtue then as he had been before of every vice. This, says he, is the man that came under my care, proud, outrageous, and dissipated; behold, I restore him again to the community, humble, gentle, regular, and altogether fit to do the republic service.
John, Duke of Bedford.
In one of the morning excursions of John, Duke of Bedford, about the year 1765, he observed a woman at a short distance from him wringing her hands, weeping aloud, and discovering every mark of the deepest distress. Moved with sympathy, he immediately approached her, desired to dry up her tears, and tell him the cause of her sorrow, promising at the same time to do her all the service in his power. Seeing a man in a plain genteel dress looking at her with an air of benignity, and interesting himself in her sufferings, and being entirely ignorant of his rank, she communicated her story to him without reserve. 'I have,' said she, 'a large family; my husband is sick, and, being unable to pay our rent, the Duke of Bedford's steward has seized our stock, and left us nothing but the dismal prospect of unavoidable ruin; and I came out to this field to take my last sad sight of my poor cows, which are still feeding in the park there.' Deeply affected with her melancholy tale, he advised her to drive the cows home, and offered to set open the gate for that purpose.
At this proposal she started, burst again into tears, and absolutely refused to meddle with them. 'They are no longer my husband's,' said she; 'and if I drive them home I shall be looked upon as a thief; and for anything I know, I may be hanged for it!' Forcibly struck with the justice of her reasoning, and the honest simplicity of her language, he gave her some money, told her that he heartily pitied her and would take the liberty to recommend her and her family to the Duke of Bedford, whom he knew to be a good-natured sort of man, and he hoped he would do something valuable for her. Accordingly, he desired her to call next day at Woburn Abbey, and ask for John Russel, and he would introduce her to the duke, and speak to him in her behalf. The good woman having returned him many thanks, and promising to meet him at the time and place appointed, they parted.
Next day, dressed in her best clothes, the poor woman went to the abbey, and asked for John Russel; she was shown into a room, and told that Mr. Russel would be with her immediately. She had not waited long when several gentlemen richly dressed entered the room. She knew at first sight the features of him who had conversed with her the day before; and strongly impressed with the idea of his being the duke himself, she was ready to faint with surprise; but his grace walked up to her with a look of condescension and goodness, which reanimated her drooping spirits, while he assured her that she had no cause to be afflicted, but might keep herself perfectly easy. He then called his steward, ordered him to write a receipt in full, and to see everything returned that had been taken from her husband. His grace then put the receipt into her hand, and told her that he had inquired into her husband's character, and found that he was a very honest man, and had long been his tenant; and giving her thirty guineas, he desired her to go home, and rejoice with her family.
The leader of a gang of banditti in Corsica, who had long been famous for his exploits, was at length taken, and committed to the care of a soldier, from whom he contrived to escape. The soldier was condemned to death. At the place of execution, a man coming up to the commanding officer said, 'Sir, I am a stranger to you, but you shall soon know who I am. I have heard that one of your soldiers is to die for having suffered a prisoner to escape. He was not at all to blame; besides, the prisoner shall be restored to you. Behold him here! I am the man. I cannot bear that an innocent man should be punished for me, and have come to die myself: lead me to execution.' 'No!' exclaimed the French officer, who felt the sublimity of the action as he ought; 'thou shalt not die; and the soldier shall be set at liberty. Endeavour to reap the fruits of thy generosity. Thou deservest to be henceforth an honest man.'
Doing Good in Secret.
When Mr. Ross, the comedian, was compelled, from the changed appearance of his person, to relinquish the stage, he was for some time much distressed. Improvident, like most of his profession, he had made no provision for the future; and in this situation an ill-paid annuity served rather to tantalize than to relieve him. His wants, however, unavoidably disclosing themselves, he was one day surprised by an enclosure of a cheque for sixty pounds. The envelope only mentioned that it came from an old school-fellow, and the address of a banker, where he was to receive the same sum annually. This, which he afterwards found his most certain provision was continued many years, and the donor still unknown. The mystery was at length discovered, through the inadvertency of the banker's clerk; and Ross, with infinite gratitude, found his benefactor in the person of Admiral Barrington.
The Emperor Alexander of Russia.
A young woman of German extraction, waited once for the Emperor Alexander on the staircase by which he was accustomed to go down to the Parade. When the emperor appeared, she said, 'Please your majesty, I have something to say to you.' 'What is it?' demanded the monarch, and remained standing with all his attendants. 'I wish to be married, but I have no fortune; if you would graciously give me a dowry-' 'Ah, my girl,' replied the emperor, 'were I to give dowries to all the young women in Petersburgh, where do you think I should find the money?' The girl, however, by his order, received a present of fifty roubles.
On another occasion, at the very moment when the emperor had given the word of command, and the guard on the parade was just on the point of paying him the usual military honours, a fellow approached him in ragged garments, with his hair in disorder, and a look of wildness, and gave him a slap on the shoulder. The monarch, who was standing at the time with his face to the military front, turned round instantly, and beholding the wretched object before him, started back at the sight, and then inquired with a look of astonishment what he wanted.
'I have something to say to you, Alexander Paulowitz,' said the stranger, in the Russian language. 'Say on then,' said the emperor, with a smile of encouragement, clapping him on the shoulder. A long solemn pause followed; the military guard stood still; and none ventured, either by word or motion, to disturb the emperor in this singular interview. The Grand Duke Constantine alone, whose attention had been excited by this unusual stoppage, advanced somewhat nearer to his brother. The stranger then related, that he had been a captain in the Russian service, and had been present at the campaigns, both in Italy and Switzerland; but that he had been persecuted by his commanding officer, and so misrepresented to Suwarrow, that the latter had turned him out of the army, Without money and without friends, in a foreign country; he had afterwards served as a private soldier in the Russian army; and being severely wounded at Zurich, (and here he pulled his rags asunder, and showed several gun-shot wounds) he had closed his campaign in a French prison. He had now begged all the way to Petersburgh, to apply to the emperor himself for justice, and to entreat an inquiry into the reason why he had been degraded from his rank in the army. The emperor listened with great patience, and then asked in a significant tone, 'If there was no exaggeration in the story he had told?' 'Let me die under the knout,' said the officer, 'if I shall be found to have uttered one word of falsehood.' The emperor then beckoned to his brother, and charged him to conduct the stranger to the palace, while he turned round to the expecting crowd. The commanding officer who had behaved so harshly, though of a good family, and a prince in rank, was very severely reprimanded; while the brave warrior whom he had unjustly persecuted, was reinstated in his former post; and besides, had a considerable present from the emperor.
The city of Liebau, before it was incorporated with Russia, was in the receipt of an annual revenue of eleven thousand crowns for maintaining the schools and churches, and generally for the benefit of the community. On the union of Courland to the empire Liebau ceased to receive the accustomed grant, and for six years was much distressed in consequence. The Emperor Alexander, on learning the circumstance, not only restored the revenue for the future, but paid them the arrears of seventy thousand crowns.
In the year 1765, when the city and diocese of Milan were visited by the plague, which swept away incredible numbers, the conduct of Cardinal Borromaus was truly Christian and heroic. He not only continued on the spot, but he went about giving directions for accommodating the sick, and burying the dead, with a zeal and attention that were at once ardent and deliberate, minute and comprehensive; and his example stimulated others to join in the good work. He avoided no danger, and he spared no expense, nor did he content himself with establishing proper regulations in the city; but went out into all the neighbouring parishes where the contagion raged, distributing money to the poor, ordered proper accommodation for the sick, and punishing those, especially the clergy, who were remiss in their duties.
The cardinal happened once to visit the Archbishop of Sienna at his palace, when a very sumptuous entertainment was provided for him. Borromeus, who used to 'give his goods to the poor,' devoting his whole wealth to acts of beneficence, and contenting himself with bread and water, sat down at the table; where, however, he eat little, and gave sufficient intimation that he was much displeased with such ostentatious prodigality. What however was his surprise, when he saw the table again covered with a dessert, consisting of whatever was most rare, exquisite, and costly! He immediately rose hastily from his seat, and gave orders for his departure; notwihstanding the rain, and the most earnest entreaties of the archbishop. 'My lord,' said the cardinal, 'if I should tarry here to-night you would give me another such treat as that I have just seen, and the poor will then suffer another loss; great numbers of whom might have been fed with the superfluities that have been now set before us.'
The late Richard Reynolds, one of the most beneficent private individuals that ever lived, was a member of the Society of Friends, and resided in Colebrookdale. He was largely concerned in the iron works there established, and amassed a princely fortune by his industry and perseverance. As he was thus blessed by Divine Providence in his worldly estate, he looked upon himself from that moment as merely the steward of his master. He made it the business of his life, to search out and to relieve objects of charity; and was not satisfied in his own conscience, unless the whole of his income, after deducting the very moderate expenses of his family, was expended in this way. After devoting his fortune to the service of benevolence, he still thought that his round of duty was incomplete; he devoted his time likewise, he deprived himself of slumber to watch beside the bed of sickness and pain, and to administer consolation to the heart bruised by affliction. Thus, until his hand grew cold, it was constantly employed in distributing benevolence, or in wiping the tears from the eyes of anguish and of sorrow. Let us descend to particular instances of his benevolence. On one occasion, he gave five hundred guineas to one charitable purpose, and afterwards one thousand to another. This was repeated several times; so that in one year he gave twenty thousand pounds in charity. Not content with this, he purchased two estates in Monmouthshire, which he settled on trustees for the benefit of certain charities in that city. When a subscription was opened for the relief of the distresses in Germany, he enclosed a bank bill to the committee appointed for that purpose, for five hundred pounds. On another occasion, he addressed a letter to some of his friends in London, desiring them to search out proper objects of charity, and to draw on him for what sum they thought proper. They accordingly did, by two drafts, draw for the sum of twenty thousand pounds. Having gone thus far, it becomes necessary now to point out the particular character of this benevolence. These large donations were generally enclosed in blank envelopes to the persons to whom they were addressed, bearing the modest name of 'A Friend,' so anxious was he to conceal the hand that distributed so much munificence. In one of the above enumerated instances when the subscription paper was presented, he subscribed a moderate sum, to which he affixed his name; it was in a blank envelope that the bill for five hundred pounds was transmitted. He wrote on one occasion to a friend in London, requesting to know what objects of charity remained, and stating that he had not spent the whole of his income. His friend informed him of the distresses of a number of persons confined in prison for small debts; he cleared the whole of their debts; and swept this miserable mansion of all its wretched tenants. But it may be thought, that although he endeavoured to veil such munificence from the eyes of man, he deemed that he was arrogating to himself merit in the eyes of Heaven. Let facts speak for themselves. When a lady applied to him for charity in behalf of an orphan, and he had liberally contributed, 'When he is old enough,' exclaimed this lady, 'I will teach him to name and to thank his benefactor.' 'Stop,' replied this good man, 'thou art mistaken; we do not thank the clouds for rain; teach him to look higher, and to thank him who giveth both the clouds and the rain. My talent,' said he, 'is the meanest of all talents, a little sordid dust; but the man in the parable who had but one talent, was accountable; for the talent that I possess, I am accountable to the great Lord of all.' His charitable distributions amounted to two hundred thousand pounds. That his benevolence was confined to no sect or party, will be evident from the following affecting testimony of respect to his memory:
'At a general meeting of the inhabitants of Bristol, held in the Guildhall of that city, on Wednesday, the end October inst., the right worshipful the Mayor in the chair:
'It was unanimously resolved - That in consequence of the severe loss which society has sustained by the death of the venerable Richard Reynolds, and in order to perpetuate, as far as may be, the great and important benefits he has conferred upon the city of Bristol and its vicinity, and to excite others to imitate the example of the departed philanthropist, an association be formed under the designation of "Reynolds' Commemoration Society."
'That the members of the society do consist of life subscribers of ten guineas or upwards, and annual subscribers of one guinea or upwards; and that the object of this society be, to grant relief to persons in necessitous circumstances, and also occasional assistance to other benevolent institutions in or near the city, to enable them to continue or increase their usefulness, and that special regard be had to the Samaritan Society, of which Richard Reynolds was the founder.
'That the cases to be assisted and relieved, be entirely in the discretion of the committee; but it is recommended to them not to grant any relief or assistance without a careful investigation of the circumstances of each case; and that in imitation of the example of the individual whom this society is designed to commemorate, it be considered as a sacred duty of the committee, to the latest period of its existence, to be wholly uninfluenced in the distribution of its funds, by any considerations of sect or party.'
Thus lived, and thus died, in the most emphatic sense of the term, a good man; he was alarmed at the detection of his own benevolence, and blushed when he was rewarded by the approbation of his fellow-men; he shrunk from the spectacle of his own glory, satisfied that the presence of the Deity was to be found, not in the 'whirlwind of applause,' but im the still small voice of his own conscience.
How to Spend a Saturday Evening.
The late Mr. James Bundy, of Bristol, who, from humble poverty, raised himself to circumstances of great affluence, was in the regular habit, on Saturday evenings, of visiting the markets; not as an idle observer, but to do good to the poor. If he beheld a poor person at a butcher's stall inquiring the price of a piece of meat, and then turning away for want of more money, he would call him back, saying, 'What can you afford to give?' On being told how much, he would produce the additional sum, and enable the poor man to make the purchase. He would then go in quest of other persons of the same description, and assist them in like manner. It was thus Mr. Bundy spent his Saturday evenings, relieving promiscuously the wants of the poor, who, in return for his humanity and benevolence, offered up prayers and poured blessings upon him. After he had gone round distributing his bounty, he would then purchase pieces of meat for his own poor, or those indigent families whom he visited at their own homes. When he had finished this work of charity and labour of love, he would return home with a glad heart, and recount the blessings he enjoyed above others.
Blagrave, the eminent mathematician, was a man of great beneficence in private life. Having been born in the town of Reading, and spent most of his time there, he was desirous of leaving in that place some monuments of his bountiful disposition. He accordingly bequeathed a legacy to three parishes of Reading, of which Ashmole gives the following account: 'You are to note that he both devise that each churchwarden should send on Good Friday one virtuous maid that has lived five years with her master; all three maids appear at the town hall before the mayor and aldermen, and cast dice. She that throws most has to put in a purse, and she is to be attended with the other two that lost the throw. The next year come again the two maids and one more added to them. He orders in his will that each maid should have three throws before she loses it, and if she has no luck in the three years, he orders that still new faces may come and be presented. On the same Good Friday he gives eighty widows money to attend, and orders ten shillings for a good sermon; and so he wishes well to all his countrymen. It is lucky money, for I never heard but the maid that had the £10 suddenly had a good husband.'
Mr. William Law, the author of the 'Serious Call to the Unconverted,' and other popular works, was once standing at the door of a shop in London, when a person unknown to him stepped up and asked whether his name was William Law, and whether he was of Kingscliffe? On Mr. Law's answering in the affirmative, the stranger delivered to him a sealed packet, addressed, 'The Rev. William Law,' and then hastily walked away. On opening the packet, Mr. Law was astonished to find that it enclosed a bank-note for £1000. The worthy divine, having no personal occasion at the time for pecuniary assistance, looked upon this extraordinary gift as sent to him from heaven, to be employed for the good of others; and he accordingly founded with it an almshouse at Cliffe, for the reception and maintenance of two old women, either unmarried and helpless, or widows; and also a school for the instruction and clothing of fourteen girls.
In the year 1700, a man was convicted of a burglary at Gloucester assizes: but some circumstances afterwards transpired, which led to a belief that he was innocent. William Peacey, a respectable farmer at North Leach, exerted himself to procure a pardon, and for that purpose set off to London on the 13th of April, the execution of the poor man being fixed for the 16th. He arrived in town about four o'clock, and hastened to the house of Judge Wilson, who had presided on the trial. The judge was at dinner; but he was no sooner informed of the business than he quitted it, and before he heard the whole story, said he would send a respite for a month by Peacey; and that he would write by that evening's post, for fear of accidents. His lordship actually wrote three letters to this effect, which he despatched by different conveyances. The respite arrived in time, and pardon soon followed.
Before Thomas Guy had founded the hospital to which he gave his name, he had contributed £100 annually to St. Thomas's Hospital, for eleven years; and had erected the stately iron gate with the large houses on each side. Guy was seventy-six years of age when he formed the design of building his own hospital, which he just lived to see roofed in. The expense of erecting this hospital was £18,793, and he left £219,499 to endow it; being a much larger sum than had ever been dedicated to charitable uses in England by any one individual.
The beneficence of Guy was not limited to the building and endowing of this hospital, he was a greet benefactor to the town of Tamworth in Staffordshire, where his mother was born; and not only contributed towards the relief of private families in distress, but erected an almshouse in that borough for the reception of fourteen poor men and women, to whom he allowed a certain pension during his life, and at his death he bequeathed the annual sum of £125 towards their future support. To many of his relations he gave, while living, annuities of £20 a year; and to others, money to advance them in the world. At his death, he left to his poor aged relations the sum of £870 a year during their lives, and to his younger relations and executors he bequeathed £75,589. He also left a perpetual annuity of £400 to the governors of Christ's Hospital, for taking in four children annually, at the nomination of the governors; and bequeathed £1000 for discharging poor prisoners in the city of London, and in the counties of Middlesex and Surrey, by which above six hundred poor persons were set at liberty within the bills of mortality.
George the Third.
An application was once made to the benevolent compassion of George III. out of the due order, by a person who was reduced, with a large family, to extreme distress. It succeeded far beyond his hopes. He was so overpowered by the graciousness and extent of the benefaction, as, upon receiving it, to fall on his knees, and with a flood of grateful tears, to thank and bless the donor for his goodness. 'Rise,' said the condescending sovereign; 'go and thank God for having disposed my heart to relieve your necessities.'
When one of the sheriffs of London, who had announced the formation of a fund for the relief of the wives and children of prisoners, was at a levee, the king called him aside; and after stating his pleasure at the plan, gave the sheriff a bank-note of fifty pounds, desiring that it might be appropriated to the purposes of the fund, but that the name of the donor might not be suffered to transpire.
At the siege of Kalunga, in India, it was observed that the Ghoorkas exhibited a spirit of the most accomplished and generous courtesy towards their enemies. They showed no cruelty to wounded prisoners. They used no poisoned arrows; no wells of water were poisoned, no rancorous spirit of revenge animated them. They permitted the wounded and dead to lie till they were carried away, and none were stripped. Even in the midst of the warfare they had the greatest confidence in the British, frequently soliciting and obtaining medical assistance. One day while the British batteries were playing, a man was perceived advancing and waving his hand. The guns ceased, and he came into the batteries. He was a Ghoorka, whose lower jaw had been shattered by a cannon ball, and he came thus frankly to seek aid from his foe. The officer who commanded the fort immediately ordered him the best surgical assistance, and he continued in the hospital until perfectly recovered, when he was allowed to return to his corps.
Colonel Daniel, when an ensign in the English army in Spain during Queen Anne's wars, was so inveterate a gamester that he scarcely allowed himself time to rest. In the course of his service he was ordered on the recruiting duty, and at Barcelona he raised one hundred and fifty men. He still continued to gratify his darling passion for gaming with varied success, until by a run of ill-luck he was stripped of every farthing. In this distress he applied to a captain of the same regiment as himself for a loan of ten guineas, who refused it, saying, 'What! lend my money to a professed gamester? No, sir, I must be excused, for of necessity I must lose either my money or my friend.' With this taunting refusal he retired to his lodgings, and passed a few hours in great agitation, reflecting on his embarrassments, from which he did not perceive any possibility of relieving himself.
While he was endeavouring to fall upon some expedient to extricate himself, his friend, who had refused to lend him ten guineas in the morning, came to pay him a visit. After a very cool reception on the part of the colonel, his friend inquired what steps he had taken to retrieve himself from the anxiety he plainly saw he was in, and receiving an answer that convinced him of the sincerity of his remorse, he said, 'My dear Daniel, I refused you in the morning in that abrupt manner in order to bring you to a sense of the dangerous situation you were in, and to make you reflect seriously on the folly of your conduct. I heartily rejoice that it has had the desired effect, and henceforth my interest, advice, and purse are at your command.' He immediately proved the truth of his friendship by lending the colonel sufficient money to subsist himself and his recruits until he joined his regiment with them.
In the summer of 1731 as Mrs. Porter, an actress of considerable celebrity in her day, was taking the air in her one-horse chaise, she was stopped by a highwayman, who demanded her money. She had the courage to present a pistol to him, but the man assured her he was no common robber, that robbing on the highway was not to him a matter of choice, but of necessity, and in order to relieve the wants of his poor distressed family. He at the same time threw himself on her generosity, and informing her where he lived, told such a melancholy story that she gave him all the money in her purse, which was about ten guineas. The man left her, when giving a lash to the horse, the chaise was overturned, which caused the dislocation of her thigh bone. Let it, however, be remembered, to the honour of Mrs. Porter, that notwithstanding this unlucky and painful accident, she made strict inquiry after the robber, and finding that she had not been deceived, she raised among her acquaintance about sixty pounds, which she took care to send to him.
In the year 1744 Dr. Crowe, the Rector of St. Botolph, dying, by his will he left the sum of £3000 to the Bishop of London in acknowledgment of the many undeserved favours conferred on him by his lordship. The bishop understanding that the doctor had many poor relations living, sought them out, and generously gave up the whole of the money to be divided amongst them.
A Good Hit in the Dark.
Sir Walter Blackett, in a shooting excursion on a moor adjoining to Weerdale, happened to arrive at the cottage of a poor shepherd, who, though unknown to him, was his tenant. To a visitor of Sir Walter's appearance, the poor cottager brought out the best his frugal board could produce. During his stay Sir Walter inquired so whom the house belonged, 'To one of the best men in the world,' said the cottager; 'to Sir Walter Blackett, sir. No doubt you have heard of him; but these knavish stewards for these three years past have advanced my rent to almost double the value of the little tenement I occupy. I wish I could have the honour to see my worthy landlord, I would acquaint him with my ill-usage.' Sir Walter smiled, but did not discover himself. On departing, he presented the cottager's wife with a sum of money, and soon after ordered the house to be rebuilt, and a considerable abatement to be made in the rent.
Henry the Fourth.
The humane Henry the Fourth of France made the good and happiness of his people so much his peculiar care that he diminished as much as possible both the expenses of his table and his wardrobe, contenting himself with wearing a plain grey habit, with a doublet of either satin or taffeta without the least ornament. He used often to banter his courtiers on the magnificence of their apparel, 'carrying,' as he said, 'their castles and their woods upon their shoulders.'
In M. de Montaigne's elegant comparison between Henry and Caesar, he says, most truly:- 'If Caesar conquered more cities and won more battles, Henry acquired more real glory in making his people happy, after having delivered them from those tyrants who oppressed them. He joined to the talents of a warrior both moral and civil virtues, which Caesar never possessed. They were both ambitious, but the ambition of Caesar was a crime - in Henry it was a virtue.'
A learned man of great merit, whose loss Germany still deplores, wrote some years ago to a bookseller, M. Voss, of Berlin, that in order to form a new plan of life, he wanted the sum of fifteen hundred dollars. He knew well, he said, that his correspondent could not draw it out of his trade, but entreated him to procure it him for six years, though on a very high interest. The bookseller deliberated about it with a friend. A circular letter was written, in which, without naming the learned man, the rich were invited to bring this sum together. The privy counsellor Wlomer signed it, and paid himself a hundred dollars; Count Herzberg and another esteemed minister of the king did the same; almost the whole of the remainder was subscribed by Jew houses, many of which are the first banking-houses in Berlin, and very eager to seize every opportunity of showing their philanthropy. It is easily to be conceived that men who could determine to advance money to an unknown person, thought of no interest, and left it entirely to his means or integrity whether he would repay them or not. Some time afterwards a new circular announced the death of George Foster; the person assisted, adding that he had left means from which the sum lent him might be collected.
Lorraine, the Beneficent.
The King of Poland, Duke of Lorraine, who was surnamed the Beneficent, gave to the magistrates of the town of Bar six thousand crowns, to be employed in purchasing corn when it was at a low price, in order to resell it to the poor at a moderate price when it should become dear. By judicious management, not only great relief was afforded to the poor, but the sum continually augmented, and enabled the benefits of it to be extended to other parts of the province.
Although the poet Churchill led a dissolute life, yet he was nevertheless very humane, and the cry of distress never reached his ear in vain. As he was returning home from the tavern about two o'clock one morning, he was accosted in the Strand by a genteel young girl, who in a tremulous tone solicited his attention. Churchill was struck with her manner Of addressing him, and looking earnestly at her, saw her face covered with tears; he was much affected, and gave her a guinea, bidding her go home, and get something to enliven her spirits, of which she seemed to be much in need. The poor girl, unable to contain her gratitude, dropped on her knees m the street, and implored ten thousand blessings on him who had thus preserved a family from starving. 'I am, sir,' said she, 'the daughter of an officer, whose regiment being broken, he is now reduced, with a wife and five children, to the point of death for want of bread; we were brought to the very last extremity, when I, unable any longer to see my parents in such a situation, resolved on this method to procure them sustenance, but your generosity has saved us.'
Mr. Churchill desired to be conducted to this scene of horror; and finding the account given perfectly true, he not only adminstered present relief, but also procured them a very liberal subscription from his friends.
The Duc de Montmorenci, when travelling in Languedoc, perceived four peasants dining in the fields under the shade of a large tree. The duke approached them, and inquired if they were happy? Three of them replied that they were satisfied with the condition God had assigned them, and that they did not wish for anything else. The fourth frankly avowed that one thing was necessary to his happiness, or at least would contribute much towards it, the means of acquiring a small property which had long been in the family of his ancestors. 'And if thou hadst this,' said Montmorenci, 'would'st thou be content?' 'As happy as I would wish to be,' replied the peasant. The duke inquired the sum necessary, and was told two thousand francs, which he immediately gave him, rejoicing that he had made one man happy in his life.
'Let modest Allen, with ingenuous shame,
Do good by stealth, and blush to find it fame.' POPE.
It is related of this excellent man, who has been universally honoured with the epithet of good, that he once courted a young lady, whose father wanted to drive the match, as it was a very advantageous one. The young lady was, however, pre-engaged to another. When Mr. Allen knew this, he generously gave her a marriage portion of his own fortune, and made her happy with his rival.
With the foibles generally attendant upon an aspiring man, Mr. Fordyce, the banker, had many generous qualities. A young intelligent merchant, who kept cash at his bankinghouse, one morning making a small deposit, he happened to say in the shop, 'that if he could command some thousands at present there was a certain speculation to be pursued, which in all probability would turn out fortunate.' This was said carelessly, without Fordyce appearing to notice it.
A few months afterwards, when the same merchant was settling his book with the house, he was very much surprised to see the sum of £500 placed to his credit, more than he knew he possessed. Thinking it a mistake, he pointed it out to the clerk, who seeing the entry in Mr. Fordyce's handwriting, said he must have paid it to him. The merchant knew he had not, and begged to see Mr. Fordyce; who appearing, said, 'It is all right enough, for as I made £5000 by the hint you carelessly threw out, I think you fairly entitled to £500.' Mr. Fordyce did not stop here; for when some years after the merchant became embarrassed, he found a liberal friend in the conscientious banker.
The curate of a country village in Derbyshire, who supported himself, a wife, and seven children, on a small stipend of forty pounds a year, once found a purse of gold at a time when he was much distressed. His wife, who looked upon his good fortune as a gift of Providence, solicited him to consider it as his own property, and appropriate some portion of it to the relief of their more pressing wants. He refused; and after many inquiries, at length he discovered the owner of the purse, to whom he restored it, but the gentleman gave him no other reward than thanks, and inquired his name and place of residence.
Some months elapsed, when the curate received an invitation to dine with the gentleman, who after he had entertained him with friendly hospitality, gave him the presentation to a living of three hundred pounds a year, with a present of fifty pounds for his immediate necessities.
The Ternick of Antwerp.
At Antwerp there is an alms-house for poor girls, which is called the Ternick, from the name of the founder, a pious canon of Antwerp, who had the satisfaction of governing the institution he had founded for thirty-eight years. In his daily visits, he successively discovered what improvements and reformation it required. Among other regulations there is one which, at first view, appears very singular, but which is not on that account less reasonable. He thought that children employed all the day in sedentary work would need some exercise before they went to bed. He therefore directed, that after supper they should dance for half an hour; and as he wished to prevent all appearance of a ball, he prescribed that they should not dance to the sound of a violin, or any musical instrument of that kind, but to that of a flute of many barrels, commonly called a copper whistle. The mistresses, who themselves have been educated in the house, and are well acquainted with its customs, either play the flute, or dance with the young girls: the house is well directed, and contentment and health reign through it.
The benevolent Mr. Owen has introduced a similar practice into his establishment at New Lanark, where dancing forms a prominent part in the education of the young.
Didot, who brought the art of printing to a state of excellence which it had never before attained, in one of his journeys to a papermill at Anonay, met an artist, who had introduced in France an improvement in the application of cylinders. Believing that his ingenuity merited reward, Didot exerted all his interest with government; but unfortunately, when he was on the point of succeeding, the artist died, leaving two girls in the helpless state of infancy. Didot adopted the orphans, and made a liberal provision for them for life.
Sir George Saville.
Sir George Saville once happened to be on a jury in the country, when property of between two and three thousand pounds value was the subject of litigation. When the jury retired, Sir George soon found that his brethren were determined to decide the cause in such a manner as he thought not equitable. He reasoned, and remonstrated with them for several hours; but finding that all his arguments were of no avail, and that his constitution would not permit him to hold out any longer against them, he submitted to their decision. Before he went out of court, however, he made the losing party amends, by giving him a draft on his banker for the whole amount of the sum litigated.
Dr. Fothergill, who was undoubtedly a most liberal and enlightened philanthropist, was frequently imposed upon, and as frequently told of it. His constant reply was, that he would rather relieve two undeserving objects, than that one deserving person should escape his notice.
'He feeds yon alms-house; neat but void of state,
Where age and want sit smiling at the gate;
Him portioned maids, apprenticed orphans, blest
The young who labour, and the old who rest.' POPE.
The celebrated Edward Colston, who was a native of Bristol, and died in 1721, devoted his life and fortune to the noblest acts of Christian benevolence. On his monument there is recorded a list of the public charities and benefactions given and founded by him, which amount to £70,695; but his private donations were not less than his public ones; he sent at one time £3000 to relieve and discharge the debtors in Ludgate, by a private hand; and he yearly freed those confined for small debts in Whitechapel prison and the Marshalsea; he sent £1000 to relieve the poor of Whitechapel; and twice a week had a quantity of beef and broth dressed, to distribute to all the poor around him. If any sailor suffered, or was cast away in his employment his family afterwards found a sure asylum in him.
How solicitous he was of doing good, and having his charities answer the design of their institution, appears from a letter of his, dated Mortlake, 8th December, 1711, to Mr. Mason, the master of the Society of Merchants in Bristol, the trustees of his charity. 'Your letter was received by me with great satisfaction, because it informs me, that the Merchants' Hall have made choice of so deserving a gentleman for their master, by whom I cannot in the least think there will be any neglect of their affairs; so neither of want of care, in seeing my trust reposed in them religiously performed; because, thereon depends the welfare or ruin of so many boys, who may in time be made useful, as well to your city as to the nation, by their future honest endeavours; the which that they may be, is what I principally desire and recommend unto you, sir, and the whole society. - Edward Colston.'
During the scarcity of 1795, Mr. Colston, after relieving the wants of his immediate neighbourhood, sent in a cover to the London Committee, with only these words, 'To relieve the wants of the poor in the metropolis,' and without any signature, the sum of £20,000. A donation almost past belief, but established on the best authority.
When some friends urged Mr. Colston to marry, he replied, 'Every helpless widow is my wife, and her distressed orphans my children.' What adds greatly to his character as a charitable man, is, that he performed all these works of beneficence, great and splendid as they are, in his lifetime; he invested revenues for their support in the hands of trustees; he lived to see the trusts justly executed; and perceived with his own eyes the good effects of all his establishments. That his great fortune might the less embarrass him with worldly cares, he placed it out chiefly in government securities, and the estates he bought to endow his hospitals were chiefly ground-rents. And notwithstanding all these public legacies, he provided amply for all his relations and dependents, leaving more than £100,000 amongst them.
Sir Robert Walpole.
It is well known that Sir Robert Walpole, like every minister who enjoys for a long time the favour of his prince, had many enemies. In that number, the celebrated William Shippen, well~ annals of that period, was among the most conspicuous. Shippen, who secretly favoured the cause of the abdicated family, carried on a private treasonable correspondence with some of the favourers of that cause. Walpole, who was not ignorant of this circumstance, contrived matters so as to get into his hands a whole bundle of Shippen's treasonable letters. When he had obtained them, he sent for Mr. Shippen one morning, to speak with him about some particular business. Mr. Shippen, much surprised, but not in the least suspecting the true cause of the message, obeyed the summons. He was politely received by the minister, who, after the usual compliments, put the letters in his hands, asking, at the same time, if he knew the handwriting? Poor Shippen, as soon as he cast his eyes upon them, was confounded and abashed. He wished to make some kind of apology, but could only stammer out some incoherent words. Sir Robert then smiling took him by the hand. 'Be not afraid,' said he, 'Mr. Shippen, I see well enough how matters stand. I only wanted to convince you, that I am not the very wicked creature you wished to persuade the world I am. Set your mind at ease. These papers I obtained merely for my own private information. I am satisfied; and be assured, that no one else shall ever be the wiser for them.' So saying he took them from the trembling culprit, and threw them into the fire. ' It is my duty,' resumed Sir Robert, 'to serve my master with fidelity, and to protect him from all dangers that may chance to threaten him, but it is neither my inclination, nor my duty, to punish with undue severity those, who, through mistaken principles, may have been led into error. I should ever doubt how far I acted with strict impartiality, were I to deliver up to punishment the man who personally opposed me as you have done; and the world would have still more reason to doubt of it than myself. Go home, in perfect security, and be assured that on all proper occasions I will promote your interest, just as much as if no such thing had happened.'
The late Queen Charlotte.
It is difficult to conceive a more delicate compliment, or one that exhibits stronger evidence of goodness of heart, than the attentions of Queen Charlotte to Mrs. Delany. When the Duchess of Portland died, Mrs. Delany, who had been her constant friend and companion, got into a chaise to go to her own house. The duke followed her, begging to know what she would accept of belonging to his mother. Mrs. Delany recollected a bird that the duchess always fed and kept in her own room, which she desired to have, and felt towards it a strong attachment. In a few days she got a bad fever, and the bird died; but for some hours she was too ill even to recollect it. The queen had one of the same sort which she valued highly; but notwithstanding this, she took it with her own hands, and while Mrs. Delany slept, had the cage brought, and put her own bird into it, charging every one not to let it go so near Mrs. De any as that she could perceive the change, until she was sufficiently recovered to bear the loss of her kind favourite.
During a conflict at the farm of Rainerhof, in the Tyrolese war in 1809, a young woman who resided at the house, brought out a small cask of wine to encourage and refresh the peasants; and had advanced to the scene of action, regardless of the tremendous fire of the Bavarians, with the cask upon her head, when a bullet struck it, and compelled her to let it go. Undaunted by this accident, she hastened to repair the mischief, by placing her thumb to the orifice caused by the ball; and encouraged those nearest her to refresh themselves quickly, that she might not remain in her dangerous situation, and suffer for her generosity.
Marshal d'Armont having taken Crodon in Bretagne, during the league, gave orders to put every Spaniard to the sword, who was found in the garrison. Although it was announced death to disobey the orders of the general, yet an English soldier ventured to save the life of a Spaniard. He was tried for the offense before a court-martial, where he confessed the fact, and declared himself ready to suffer death, provided they would spare the life of the Spaniard. The marshal being much surprised at such conduct, asked the soldier how he came to be so much interested in the preservation of the Spaniard. 'Because, sir,' replied he, 'when I was in a similar situation he saved my life.' The marshal, highly pleased with the goodness of the soldier's heart, granted him a pardon; and what was to him an object still dearer, saved the Spaniard's life.
A Parisian paying a visit to a curate in the middle of winter, remarked that he was living in a house with naked walls, and inquired why he had not got hangings to protect him from the rigour of the cold. The good pastor showed him two little children that he had taken care of, and replied, 'I had rather clothe these poor children than my walls.'
Duke of Lorraine.
Leopold, Duke of Lorraine, was a prince distinguished for his beneficence. One of his ministers representing to him that his subjects would ruin him, he replied, 'So much the better; I shall then be the richer, since they will be happy.'
Another time, on being told that a sovereign should confer some advantages on his people while he reigned over them; 'So he ought,' said the duke, 'and I shall quit my sovereignty to-morrow, if I am not able to do good.'
A magistrate watched the moment of Leopold quitting his apartment, to ask of him a situation which he might confer on another. The duke wishing to avoid the pain of refusal, interrupted him in the midst of his compliment, and said to him, 'Be content, sir, your friend came and obtained the situation that you would now ask for him.'
One of the treasurers of Alphonsus the Great, King of Arragon, brought him ten thousand crowns in gold. A courtier, who did not think the prince so near him, said to some one, 'Behold a sum which would render me happy for the whole of my life!' 'Be it so, then,' said the king to him, and immediately presented him with the whole of the money.
There is no city in Europe where more pains have been bestowed to provide for the wants of its inhabitants than in Hamburgh. The manner in which provision is made for the poor, and the regulations respecting bankrupts, reflect the highest honour upon the people and the government. The poor are supported by voluntary contributions, and by taxes upon public amusements. In the Town Hall there are five chests, respectively inscribed with the names of the five parishes in Hamburgh; and in these the contributions are deposited. Beggars are never seen in the streets. The asylum for orphans contains from five to six hundred children, who are maintained and educated at the public expense, by voluntary contributions; and in such a manner, as to make them regret the loss they sustain when they quit the asylum to earn a livelihood for themselves.
Dr. Cullen possessed a benevolence of mind that made him ever think of the wants of others, and recollecting the difficulties that he himself had to struggle with in his younger days, he was at all times singularly attentive to their pecuniary concerns. From his general acquaintance among the students, and the friendly habits he was on with many of them, he found no difficulty in discovering those among them who were rather straitened in their circumstances, without hurting their feelings in the slightest degree. To such persons, when their habits of study admitted it, he was peculiarly attentive; they were more frequently invited to his house; they were treated with more than usual kindness and familiarity; they were conducted to his library, and encouraged by the most delicate address to borrow from it freely whatever books they had occasion for. Nor was he less delicate in the manner of supplying their wants, than attentive to discover them. He often found out some polite excuse for refusing to take payment for a first course of lectures, and never was at a loss for one to an after course. Thus he not only gave them the benefit of his own lectures, but refusing to take their money, he also enabled them to attend those of others that were necessary to complete their course of studies. A young man, without money or friends, but who wished to study medicine, applied to the doctor, and, although unrecommended, received his instructions and support in the most generous manner.
'How few, like thee, inquire the wretched out,
And court the offices of soft humanity
Like thee, reserve their raiment for the naked,
Reach out their bread to feed the crying orphan
Or mix their pitying tears with those that weep. ROWE.'
The great pattern of active goodness to whom these 'Anecdotes of Beneficence' are inscribed, was so early inspired with a desire to be of use to her fellow-creatures, that in her eighteenth year she prevailed on her father, Mr. John Gurney, of Earlham Hall, in the county of Norfolk, to convert one of the apartments of Earlham Hall into a schoolroom. Here Mrs. F. daily received four-and-twenty poor children, to whom she read and explained the Bible. She assumed the simple garb of the Quakers, and renounced all kinds of amusement. In 1800, she married Mr. Fry, who, far from opposing her benevolent labours, does everything to facilitate them, and affords her ample means of relieving the unfortunate, by annually placing at her disposal a considerable sum, which she applies entirely to the benefit of the poor. 'Mrs. Fry's life,' says Adele Du Thon, in her "Histoire de la Secte des Amis," 'is devoted to acts of virtue, and her time is almost wholly occupied in charitable missions. She makes no distinction of persons; the unfortunate are her brothers, whatever be their country or religion. Mrs. Fry is at once a physician to the body and soul; she comforts and feeds the poor, and supplies them with clothes and with bibles, and thus she explains and teaches the gospel. She even administers succour to criminals; she regards vice merely as a disease; and from the sick she never withholds assistance.'
The exertions of Mrs. F. in reclaiming the female prisoners in Newgate, from the deplorable state into which they were plunged, have been noticed in a former part of this work. (See 'Anecdotes of Humanity.') Some interesting details still remain to be added. 'I soon found,' says Mrs. F., 'that nothing could be done, or was worth attempting, for the reformation of the women, without constant employment; as it was, those who were idle, were confirmed in idleness; and those who were disposed to be industrious, lost their good habits. In short, they went there to have the work of corruption completed, and subsequent examination has discovered to me the cases of many, who before this period had come to Newgate almost innocent, and who left it depraved and profligate in the last degree.' As she had then no hopes of any provision of labour, her design was confined to about thirty children, whose miserable condition much affected her. They were almost naked, and seemed pining away for want of food, air, and exercise; but their personal sufferings was the least part of their wretchedness; what, but certain ruin, must be the consequence of education in this scene of depravity? At her second visit, she requested to be admitted alone, and was locked up with the women without any turnkey, for several hours, when she mentioned to those who had families, how grievous and deplorable she considered the situation of their offspring, and her desire to concur with them in establishing a school, the proposal was received, even by the most abandoned, with tears of joy. They said they knew too well the misery of sin, to wish to have their children brought up in it, and they were ready to do anything which she might direct; for it was horrible, even to them, to hear their infants utter oaths and filthy expressions, amongst the first words they learned to articulate. She desired them maturely to consider the plan, for that she would not undertake it without their full and steady co-operation; but that if they were determined to persevere in doing their part, she would do hers, and that the first step would be to appoint a governess. This she left entirely to them, and they were to consider who was the most proper person for that appointment.
Consideration served only to confirm their desire for the instruction of their children. At her next visit, they had selected a young woman as schoolmistress, and her conduct does credit to their discernment, for she has behaved throughout with signal propriety, and in no instance has she been known to transgress any rule. The elder women repeated their promises of entire obedience, if the trial was only made; and several of the younger ones came to her, and entreated to be admitted to the intended school, saying how thankful they should be for any chance of reformation.
Having thus obtained the consent of the females, her next object was to secure the concurrence of the governor. She went to his house, and there met both the sheriffs and the ordinary. She told them her views, which they received with the most cordial approbation; but, at the same time, unreservedly confessed their apprehensions that her labours would be fruitless. At the next interview they stated that they had thoroughly examined the prison, and were truly sorry to say, they could not find any vacant spot suitable for her purpose, and therefore feared the design must be relinquished. Conclusive as this intelligence appeared, her heart was then too deeply engaged in the work, and her judgment too entirely convinced of its importance, to allow her to resign it, while one possibility of success remained. She again requested to be admitted alone among the women, that she might see for herself; and if her search then failed, she should be content to abandon her project. She soon discovered a cell which was not used, and this cell is the present schoolroom. Upon this, she returned to the sheriffs, who told her she might take it if she liked, and try the benevolent but almost hopeless experiment.
The next day she commenced the school, in company with a young lady, who then visited a prison for the first time. The railing was crowded with half-clothed women, struggling together for the front situations with the most boisterous violence, and begging with the utmost vociferation. The young lady who accompanied Mrs. F. has said, that she felt as if she was going into a den of wild beasts, and she well recollects quite shuddering when the door closed upon her, and she was locked in with such a herd of novel and desperate companions. This day, however, the school surpassed their utmost expectations; their only pain arose from the numerous and pressing applications made by young women, who longed to be taught and employed. The narrowness of the room rendered it impossible to yield to these requests, whilst a denial seemed a sentence of destruction, excluding every hope, and almost every possibility of reformation.
These ladies, with some others, continued labouring together for some time, and the school became their regular and daily occupation, but their visits brought them so acquainted with the dissipation and gross licentiousness prevalent in the prison, arising, as they conceived, partly from want of certain regulations, but principally from want of work, that they could not but feel earnest and increasing solicitude to extend their institution, and to comprehend, within its range, the tried prisoners. This desire was confirmed by the solicitations of the women themselves who entreated that they might not be excluded. Their zeal for improvement, and their assurances of good behaviour, were powerful motives, and they tempted these ladies to project a school for the employment of the tried women, in teaching them to read and to work.
When this intention was mentioned to the friends of these ladies, it appeared at first so visionary and unpromising that it met with very slender encouragement. They were told that the certain consequence of introducing work would be that it would be stolen. That though such an experiment might be reasonable enough, if made in the country, among women who had been accustomed to hard labour; yet that it was quite destitute of hope, when tried upon those who had been so long habituated to vice and idleness. It was strongly represented that their materials were of the very worst description, that a regular London female thief, who had passed through every stage and every scene of guilt, whose every friend and connexion were accomplices and criminal associates, was of all characters the most irreclaimable.
Novelty, indeed, might for a time engage their attention, and produce a transient observance of the rules of the school; but this novelty could not last for ever, the time would come when employment would be irksome; subordination would irritate their unruly feelings; deep rooted habits, modes of thinking and of acting imbibed in their cradles, and confirmed by the whole tenor of their lives, would resume their ascendancy. Violent passions would again burst out, and the first offense that was given would annihilate the control of their powerless and self-appointed mistresses. In short, it was predicted, and by many too, whose wisdom and benevolence added weight to their opinions, that those who had set at defiance the law of the land, with all its terrors, would very speedily revolt from an authority which had nothing to enforce it, and nothing more to recommend it, than its simplicity and gentleness. That these ladies were enabled to resist the cogency of these reasons, and to embark and to persevere in so forlorn and desperate an enterprise, in despite of many a warning without and many an apprehension within, is not the least remarkable circumstance in their proceedings, but intercourse with the prisoners had inspired them with a confidence which was not easily to be shaken; and feeling that their design was intended for the good and the happiness of others they trusted that it would receive the guidance and protection of Him who often is pleased to accomplish the highest purposes by the most feeble instruments.
With these impressions they had the boldness to declare that if a committee could be found who would share the labour, and a matron who would engage never to leave the prison, day or night, they would undertake to try the experiment - that is, they would find employment for the women, procure the necessary money, till the City could be induced to relieve them from the expense, and be answerable for the safety of the property committed into the hands of the prisoners.
This committee immediately presented itself; it consisted of the wife of a clergyman and eleven members of the Society of Friends. They professed their willingness to suspend every other engagement and avocation, to devote themselves to Newgate, and, in truth, they have performed their promise. With no interval of relaxation, and with but few intermissions from the calls of other and more imperious duties, they have lived amongst the prisoners. At first every day in the week, and every hour in the day, some of them were to be found at their post, joining in the employments, or engaged in the instruction of their pupils, and even when the necessity of such close attendance was much abated, the matron states that, with only one short exception, she does not recollect the day on which some of the ladies have not visited the prison; that very often they have been with her by the time the prisoners were dressed, have spent the whole day with them, sharing her meals, or passing on without any, and have only left the school long after the close of day.
Having provided the committee, the next requisite was a matron. It so happened that a gentleman, who knew nothing of the objects in contemplation, called upon one of the committee to ask her assistance in procuring a situation for a respectable elderly woman whom he had long known. She was in every way competent to the office of matron, was willing to undertake it, and has discharged its duties with exemplary fidelity.
It became then necessary to apply to those in authority by whose patronage and agency alone the design could be accomplished. Mr. Cotton, the ordinary, and Mr. Newman, the governor, were invited to meet Mrs. Fry at her husband's house. She fully represented to them her views, the plans she proposed to adopt, and the difficulties with which she saw herself surrounded; but with these, her sense of the importance of the object and her confidence in superior direction. Mr. Cotton fairly told her that this, like many other useful and benevolent designs for the improvement of Newgate, would inevitably fail. Mr. Newman bade her not to despair: but he has since confessed that, when he came to reflect upon the subject, and especially upon the character of the prisoners, he could not see even the possibility of success. Both, however, promised their warmest co-operation.
She next had an interview with Mr. Bridges the sheriff; and having communicated to him her intentions, told him that they could not be carried into execution without the cordial support of himself and his colleague, or without the approbation of the City magistrates, from whom she asked nothing more at this time than a salary for the matron, a comfortable room for her, and one for the committee. He expressed the most kind disposition to assist her, but told her that his concurrence, or that of the City, would avail her but little; the concurrence of the women themselves was indispensable, and that it was in vain to expect that such untamed and turbulent spirits would submit to the regulations of a woman, armed with no legal authority, and unable to inflict any punishment. She replied, 'Let the experiment be tried; let the women be assembled in your presence, and if they will not consent to the strict observance of our rules, let the project be dropped.' On the following Sunday the two sheriffs, with Mr. Cotton and Mr. Newman, met the ladies at Newgate. Upwards of seventy women were collected together. One of the committee explained their views to them, she told them that the only practicable mode of accomplishing an object so interesting to her, and so important to them, was by the establishment of certain rules.
They were then asked if they were willing to abide by the rules which it might be advisable to establish; and each gave the most positive assurances of her determination to obey them in all points. Having succeeded so far, the next business was to provide employment. It struck one of the ladies that Botany Bay might be supplied with stockings, and indeed all articles of clothing, of their manufacture. She, therefore, called upon Messrs. Richard Dixon and Co., of Fenchurch Street, and candidly told them that she was desirous of depriving them of this branch of their trade, and, stating her views, begged their advice. They said at once that they would not in any way obstruct such laudable designs, and that no further trouble need be taken to provide work, for they would engage to do it.
Nothing now remained but to prepare the room, and this difficulty was obviated by the sheriffs sending their carpenters. The former laundry speedily underwent the necessary alterations: was cleaned and whitewashed, and in a very few days the ladies' committee assembled in it all the tried female prisoners. One of the ladies began by telling them the comforts derived from industry and sobriety, the pleasure and the profit of doing right, and contrasted the happiness and the peace of those who are dedicated to a course of virtue and religion with that experienced in their former life and its present consequences; and, describing their awful guilt in the sight of God, appealed to their own experience whether its wage, even here, were not utter misery and ruin. She then dwelt upon the motives which had brought the ladies into Newgate; they had left their homes and their families to mingle amongst those from whom all others fled, animated by an ardent and affectionate desire to rescue their fellow-creatures from evil, and to impart to them that knowledge which themselves, from their education and circumstances, had been so happy as to receive.
She then told them that the ladies did not come with any absolute and authoritative pretensions, that it was not intended that they should command and the prisoners obey; but that it was to be understood that all were to act in concert; that not a rule should be made or a monitor appointed without their full and unanimous concurrence. That for this purpose each of the rules should be read and put to the vote, and she invited those who might feel any disinclination to any particular freely to state their opinion. A set of rules were then read to them, and as each was proposed every hand was held up in testimony of their approbation.
In the same manner, and with the same formalities, each of the monitors was proposed, and all were unanimously approved.
When this business was concluded, one of the visitors read aloud the 15th chapter of St. Luke - the parable of the barren fig-tree seeming applicable to the state of the audience. After a period of silence, according to the custom of the Society of Friends, the monitors with their classes withdrew to their respective wards in the most orderly manner.
During the first month the ladies were anxious that the attempt should be secret, that it might meet with no interruption; at the end of that time, as the experiment had been tried, and had exceeded even their expectations, it was deemed expedient to apply to the Corporation of London. It was considered that the school would be more permanent if it were made a part of the prison system of the city than if it merely depended on individuals. In consequence, a short letter, descriptive of the progress already made, was written to the sheriffs. The next day an answer was received, proposing a meeting with the ladies at Newgate.
In compliance with this appointment, the Lord Mayor, the sheriffs, and several of the aldermen attended. The prisoners were assembled together, and it being requested that no alteration in their usual practice might take place, one of the ladies read a chapter in the Bible, and then the females proceeded to their various avocations. Their attention during the time of reading; their orderly and sober deportment; their decent dress; the absence of everything like tumult, noise, or contention; the obedience and the respect shown by them, and the cheerfulness visible in their countenances and manners, conspired to excite the astonishment and admiration of their visitors.
The magistrates, to evince the sense of their importance of the alterations which had been effected, immediately adopted the whole plan as a part of the system of Newgate, empowered the ladies to punish the refractory by short confinement, undertook part of the expense of the matron, and loaded the ladies with thanks and benedictions.
About six months after the establishment of the school for the tried side, the committee received a most urgent petition from the untried, entreating that the same might be done amongst them, and promising strict obedience. In consequence, the ladies made the same arrangement, proposed the same rules, and admitted in the same manner, as on the other side, the prisoners to participate in their benefits. The experiment has here answered, but not to the same extent. They have had difficulty in procuring a sufficiency of work; the prisoners are not so disposed to labour, flattering themselves with the prospect of speedy release; besides, they are necessarily engaged, in some degree, in preparation for their trial. The result of the observations of the ladies has been, that where the prisoners, from whatever cause, did no work, they derived little, if any, moral advantage; where they did some work, they received some benefit; and where they were fully engaged, they were really and essentially improved.
The effect wrought by the advice and admonitions of the ladies, may, perhaps, be evinced more forcibly by a single and a slight occurrence, than by any description. It was a practice of immemorial usage for convicts on the night preceding their departure for Botany Bay, to pull down and to break everything breakable within their part of the prison, and to go off shouting with the most hardened effrontery. When the period approached for a late clearance, every one connected with the prison dreaded this night of disturbance and devastation. To the surprise of the oldest turnkey, no noise was heard, not a window was intentionally broken. They took an affectionate leave of their companions, and expressed the utmost gratitude to their benefactors; the next day they entered their conveyances without any tumult; and their departure, in the tears that were shed, and the mournful decorum that was observed, resembled a funeral procession, and so orderly was their behaviour, that it was deemed unnecessary to send more than half the usual escort.
The late queen being informed of the laudable exertions of Mrs. Fry, expressed a wish to see her; and in an interview which took place, testified in the most flattering terms, the admiration which she felt for her conduct.
The grand jury of the City of London have also marked their approbation of Mrs. Fry's meritorious services, in their report to the court at the Old Bailey, on visiting Newgate the 21st of February, 1818, in the following handsome manner:
'The grand jury cannot conclude this report without expressing, in an especial manner, the peculiar gratification they experience in observing the important services rendered by Mrs. Fry and her friends, and the habits of religion, order, and industry, and cleanliness, which her humane, benevolent, and praiseworthy exertions have introduced among the female prisoners; and that, if the principles which govern her regulations were adopted towards the males as well as females, it would be the means of converting a prison into a school of reform; and instead of sending criminals back into the world (as is now too generally the case) hardened in vice and depravity, they would be restored to it repentant, and probably become useful members of society.'
The grand jury repeated the same sentiments in a letter which they wrote to Mrs. Fry herself, enclosing a donation towards the purpose of her benevolent fund.
Effects of Misery.
About 1322, an occurrence happened among the Vanedic peasants, in the duchy of Luneburg, which is at once a striking proof of the barbarity of the age and the state of misery in which the lower orders of the people were then sunk. The Countess of Mansfeldt, who was daughter to the Count of Luchow, had occasion to pay a visit to her relations. In her way through the country of Luneburg, as she was on the extremity of a wood, she heard the cries of a person who seemed to be imploring mercy. Startled at the sound, she ordered one of her domestics to inquire into the cause of these lamentations. But her humanity rendering her too impatient to wait his return, she ordered her coachman to drive to the place whence the voice issued, when, lo! to her great astonishment, she beheld a decrepit old man, with his hands tied, begging hard for mercy, and entreating a person that was digging a grave to spare his life. Struck with this moving spectacle, the countess asked the gravedigger what he meant by using such violence to the old man. The diggers not in the least alarmed by the sight of the lady and her retinue, and without seeming to imagine that he was engaged in any criminal proceeding, told the countess, with great simplicity, that the man was his own father, but now past labour, and unable to earn his bread; and that he was therefore going to commit him to the earth, from which he came, as being no longer anything but a burden upon it. The lady, shocked at a speech which she thought so unnatural, reproved the man for his inhumanity, and represented to him how contrary such an action was to the Divine law, by which we are forbid to kill any man much less our parent, whom we are bound to respect and honour. The man, looking at her earnestly said, 'What can I do, good lady? I have a house full of children, and work hard to maintain them all, yet, scarcely is my labour sufficient. I cannot take the bread out of the mouths of my little babes, and suffer them to starve, to give it to this old man, whose life is no longer of any use, either to himself or to my family.' The countess fetching a deep sigh, turned about to her attendants, 'Behold,' said she, 'the miserable condition of these poor peasants! How lamentable their case! How hard their distress, to be obliged to kill those who gave them life to prevent their own offspring from starving! Yet the opulent and the great are insensible to the misery of these poor objects; and instead of relieving their necessities, every day aggravate their distress by new exactions and oppressions.' Saying this, the generous lady drew out her purse, and giving the man a considerable sum, desired him to spare his aged father's life. The man returned thanks, but only promised to provide for him as long as the money lasted. The countess assured him that he should have a further supply when necessary; and after informing the man where he might apply for it, she proceeded on her journey.
Being a Russell
During the war in America, an English officer of the name of Russel found himself reduced to a state of extreme necessity. He had boasted among his companions that he had the honour to belong to the Bedford family; which gave them occasion, in the freedom of military conversation, to advise him to apply to his grace for some assistance. In the levity of desperation, he embraced the proposal, and drew a bill for £200 on the duke, which he enclosed in a letter to a friend in London, desiring it might be presented. When the bill was taken to the duke, his grace declared that he had no knowledge of the person who had drawn it, and on making inquiry among his family, he found that to all of them be was equally a stranger. The duke then with some asperity returned the bill to the gentleman who had brought it, and was retiring; but before he reached the door of the room he stopped, and after a moment's pause, turned round and said, 'I know nothing certainly of this person; yet his name is Russel; and perhaps he may be some unfortunate branch of my family whom necessity has driven to take this singular step; shall I, for the sake of £200, leave a gentleman and a kinsman in distress) No; give me the bill.' His grace then received the bill, and immediately ordered it to be paid.
Hugh Kelly, the author of the 'School for Wives,' and several other dramatic pieces, was ever ready to relieve distress when he saw it, to the very extent of his power. To poor authors, he was particularly liberal, constantly promoting subscriptions in their favour; and as he had a numerous and respectable acquaintance, he was in general successful. Hearing one day that a man who had abused him in the newspapers, was in much distress, and had a poem to publish by subscription, he exclaimed, 'God help him, I forgive him; but stop;' then pausing, he said, 'tell him to come and dine with me tomorrow, and I'll endeavour to do something for him.' The poor author went, and was received cordially, when Kelly gave him a guinea for his own subscription, and disposed of six copies.
In 1795, the non-commissioned officers and privates of the Royal Lancashire regiment doing duty at Dover Castle, opened a subscription, and collected £17 17s. 6d., which they applied to the noble purpose of liberating a poor old man confined for debt in the prison there.
In the same year, two gentlemen passing through Haverfordwest, called at the Castle and learning that an old man was confined there for a debt of only £8, they immediately discharged it, and gave him money to bear his expenses home.
In the year 1795, when wheaten flour was selling at Sheffield at five and sixpence per stone, a benevolent farmer in the course of two days reduced it as low as two and fourpence. The name of this individual was Hartop, a farmer and miller at Attercliffe. One market-day he carried a large quantity of flour to Sheffield, which he sold at two and fourpence per stone; this obliged all the corn and flour sellers to lower theirs to the same price. So generous an action was duly appreciated by the populace, who would have conferred on him a triumphal procession; but he declined the compliment, assuring them that he had been most amply overpaid by the pleasure he had received in being the humble instrument of making so many people happy.
The instances of successful soldiers of fortune are numerous, but it is not often that we find adventurers of this class, making their good fortune subservient to purposes of extensive good to their fellow-creatures. Sir Benjamin Thompson, Count of Rumford, is one of the most prominent of the few exceptions.
The count was a native of America, and born in the town of Rumford, in the province of Massachussets. In the American war, he commanded a regiment of dragoons, and signalized himself on different occasions in the service of the mother country. When the war terminated, Mr. Thompson solicited to be employed with his regiment in the East Indies; but the peace having occasioned the reduction of that corps, as well as that of several others, he obtained from the king permission to travel on the continent; where, stimulated as he then still was by the military passion, he hoped to find an opportunity of serving as a volunteer in the Austrian army against the Turks. 'I owe it to a beneficent Deity,' said the count on one occasion, 'that I was cured in time of that martial folly. I met at the Prince de Kaunitz's with a lady seventy years of age, and endowed with great sense and knowledge. She was the wife of General de Burghausen, and the Emperor Joseph II. often came to spend the evening with her. That excellent person formed an attachment to me; she gave me wise advice, and imparted a new turn to my ideas, by presenting to me in perspective another species of glory than that of conquering in battles.'
In 1784, Mr. Thompson entered into the Elector of Bavaria's service. The first four years of his abode at Munich, he employed in acquiring the political and statistical knowledge necessary for realising various plans, which the philanthropic spirit awakened in him by Madame Burghausen had suggested, for improving the condition of the lower orders. At last, in 1789, he had the satisfaction of being able to proceed to their accomplishment. The House of Industry of Manheim was established; the islands of Mulhau, near Manheim, which till that time had been nothing but a pestilential morass, pernicious to the health of the inhabitants, were joined together, surrounded by a mound and ditch, and transferred into a fertile garden, consecrated to the industry of the garrison; a scheme of military-police was formed, to deliver the country from the numerous gangs of vagabonds, robbers, and beggars who infested it; schools of industry for every regiment were established, to employ the wives and children of the soldiers; and finally, at the beginning of 1790, he founded that noble establishment, the House of Industry at Munich, which the count has described at length in his essays, for bettering the condition of the poor. The effect of all these measures was, that mendicity was completely abolished in Bavaria, where it has never again made its appearance.
The estimation in which the services thus rendered to Bavaria by this benevolent stranger, were held by the Elector, may be estimated by the marks of honour which his serene highness conferred upon him. He was created Count of Rumford, Knight of the orders of the white Eagle, and St. Stanislaus; and appointed chamberlain, privy councillor of state, and lieutenant-general, colonel of artillery, and commander-in-chief of the general staff in the army. The inhabitants of Munich also testified their gratitude, by erecting a splendid monument to commemorate the good he had achieved. This monument, which is situated in a beautiful public garden adjoining to the ramparts of the city, was raised without the knowledge of the count, while he was absent from Bavaria. It is a solid pile of a quadrangular form, constructed of hewn stone, about twenty feet in height; and it has two principal fronts, which are ornamented with sculpture and inscriptions. On one of these fronts there is a basso relieve of two whole length figures, representing the Genius of Plenty leading Bavaria by the hand, and strewing her path with flowers. Under this emblematical piece of sculpture, upon a broad tablet of Bavarian marble, there is an inscription in the German language, which may be thus translated:
Thankfulness increases enjoyment.
At the creative glance of Charles Theodore, Rumford, the Friend of Mankind,
With Genius, Taste and Love inspired,
Changed this once desert place
Into what thou now beholdest.'
On the opposite front of the monument there is a medallion of Count Rumford as large as the life, and reckoned a good likeness; and under the following inscription:
Who rooted out the most disgraceful of public evils, Idleness and Mendicity;
Who relieved and instructed the Poor,
And founded many Institutions
For the Education of our Youth:
Strive to equal him
In Genius and Activity,
Rev. W. Hewett.
The Rev. William Hewett, who was Rector of Baconsthorpe and Bodham in Norfolk, and who died in 1785, was a fine example of Christian benevolence. Being hospitable with economy, and charitable with prudence, he was enabled to devote half his income to offices of charity; his barns and storehouses were repositories for the industrious poor, to whom he furnished all the necessaries of life at a price considerably less than what he paid for them, and although he never have money to the idle, yet he recompensed labour, and relieved with tenderness the wants of age, sickness, and infirmity.
The gentleman who had presented him to the living, died, leaving an estate entailed on his eldest son, and three other boys so scantily provided for, that they could ill afford the expense of a learned education. Mr. Hewett knew this and taking them to the parsonage, he considered them all as part of his own family, he instructed them in the learned languages himself, and sent them to the University, to qualify them for orders, that they might in time fill those benefices which were in the gift of their elder brother. Nay, he did more; he actually resigned one of his own livings to the eldest of the three sons, as soon as he was of sufficient age to hold it; and having no nearer relatives, he considered the descendants of his patron as his heirs, and thus extended his gratitude to a second generation.
Respect for Goodness.
When, after the taking of Bouchain in 1721, the estates of the See of Cambray were exposed to the plunder of the troops, such was the respect that the Duke of Marlborough bore to the good Archbishop Fenelon, that he ordered a detachment to guard the magazines of corn at Chateau Cambresis, and gave a safe conduct for their conveyance to Cambray; and when even this protection, in consequence of the scarcity of bread, was not likely to be respected by the soldiery, he sent a corps of dragoons with waggons, to transport the grain, and escort it to the precincts of the town. Thus did the most illustrious of generals pay homage to the Christian philosopher, who honoured letters by his genius, religion by his piety, France by his renown, and human nature by his amiable virtues; and thus did he, in his conduct towards the author of 'Telemachus,' imitate Alexander at the capture of Thebes, when in the language of the sublime Milton,
'The great Emathian conqueror bid spare
The house of Pindarus, when temple and tower
Went to the ground.'
A Chinese Hong merchant, of the name of Shai-king-qua, had long known Mr. Anderson, an English trader, and had large transaction, with him. Mr. Anderson met with heavy losses, became insolvent, and at the time of his failure owed his Chinese friend upwards of eighty thousand dollars. Mr. Anderson wished to come to England, in the hope of being able to retrieve his affairs; he called on the Hong merchant, and in the utmost distress, explained his situation, his wishes, and his hopes. The Chinese listened with anxious attention, and having heard his story thus addressed him: 'My friend Anderson you have been very unfortunate; you lose all; I very sorry, you go to England; if you more fortunate there, you come back and pay; but that you no forget Chinaman friend, you take this, and when you look on this, you will remember Shai-king-qua;' in saying these words, be pulled out a valuable gold watch, and gave it to Anderson. Mr. Anderson took leave of his friend, but he did not live to retrieve his affairs, or to return to China. When the account of his death, and of the distress in which he had left his family, reached Canton the Hong merchant called on one of the gentlemen of the factory who was about to return to Europe, and addressed him in the following manner: 'Poor Mr. Anderson dead! I very sorry; he good man - he friend - and he leave two childs; they poor - they have nothing - they childs of my friend; you take this for them; tell them Chinaman friend send it;' and he put into the gentleman's hand a sum of money for Mr. Anderson's children, amounting to several hundred pounds.
When the unfortunate Queen Matilda of Denmark was a prisoner in the Castle of Cronberg, the captain of an English merchantman in the Sound hearing of her captivity, supposing that imprisonment and starvation were synonymous terms, determined to mitigate the queen's suffering, by sending her a leg of mutton and some potatoes. Mrs. Fenwick, the wife of the consul, herself conveyed the present to the queen; who being passionately fond of the English, and always affected by everything that brought them to her recollection, received the gift very graciously, and presented the honest captain with a gold chain, in token of her acknowledgment.
Mozart, walking in the suburbs of Vienna, was accosted by a mendicant of very prepossessing appearance and manner, who told his tale of woe with such effect as to interest the musician strongly in his favour; but the state of his purse not corresponding with the impulse of his humanity, he desired the applicant to follow him to a coffee-house. Here Mozart drawing some paper from his pocket, in a few minutes composed a minuet, which with a letter he gave to the distressed man, desiring him to take it to his publisher. A composition from Mozart was a bill payable at sight; and to his great surprise, the now happy mendicant was immediately presented with five double ducats.
A Mulatto slave, who had run away from his master, a planter at Maranham, became a wealthy man in the course of a few years, by the purchase of lands which were overrun with cattle. He had, on one occasion, collected in pens great numbers of oxen, which he was arranging with his herdsmen to despatch to different parts for sale, when a stranger, who came quite alone, made his appearance, and rode up and spoke to him, saying that he wished to have some private conversation with him. After a short time, they retired together; and when they were alone, the owner of the estate said, 'I thank you for not mentioning the connexion between us whilst my people were present.' It was his master, who had fallen into distressed circumstances, and had now made this visit in hopes of obtaining some trifle from him. He said he should be grateful for anything his slave chose to give him. To reclaim him, he well knew was out of the question; he was in the man's power, who might order him to be assassinated immediately. The slave, pitying the misfortunes of his old master, gave him several hundred oxen, and directed some of his men to accompany him with them to a market, saying to his herdsmen, that he had thus paid a debt of old standing, for which he had only now been called upon. A man who could act in this manner well deserved the freedom which he had resolved to obtain.
Henry the Second was one of the most beneficent of sovereigns; he knew the wants of his people, and relieved them with a liberality which renders his name immortal. The year 1176 was remarkable in France for a scarcity of provisions; and the provinces of Anjou and Maine, then under his dominion, severely felt the consequences. These he endeavoured to remove by every means in his power, and actually procured sustenance from the neighbouring states, sufficient for the support of ten thousand persons, from the commencement of April until the harvest. At other times, the corn in his granaries was always at the service of those in necessity.
Berkeley the Son.
Dr. Berkeley, son of the celebrated Bishop of Cloyne, inherited all the benevolent virtues of his father. During his residence at St. Andrew's, he distributed upwards of £200 annually to poor families, and other deserving objects in that place and neighborhood - a large sum to come from the pockets of a private clergyman, who was by no means rich in benefices! And although he has been censured with regard to his conduct to the English Episcopalians in Scotland, yet, in the work of beneficence, he knew neither sect nor party, but administered his bounty equally to Nonjurors and Episcopalians.
Four Great Men.
In a small private chapel in Bristol, there is a marble tablet, on which there is the following inscription, to the memory of four of the greatest friends of humanity that perhaps ever lived. It was written by a late worthy individual, John Birtel, on hearing of Lord Nelson's victory at Trafalgar:
'John Howard, Jonas Hanway,
John Fothergill, Richard Reynolds.
Not unto us, O Lord! but unto thy name, be the glory.
Beneath some ample, hallowed dome,
The warrior's bones are laid;
And blazon'd on the stately tomb,
His martial deeds displayed.
Beneath an humble roof we place
This monumental stone,
To names the poor shall ever bless,
And charity shall own.
To soften human woe their care,
To feel its sigh, to aid its prayer;
Their work on earth, not to destroy;
And their reward, their master's joy.'
M. Neckar once let a house at a very reasonable rate, near Coppet, to a family not very rich; then this family left it, a woman possessed of some fortune wished to hire the house at a lower rate; and for that purpose so persecuted him, that he consented. But he persuaded himself that he ought to restore to the poor family all that exceeded the latter price, which they had been paying him for many years; and he actually returned the whole surplus to them.
Queen Anne Boleyn is said to have been provided daily with a purse, the contents of which were entirely appropriated to the poor; when she casually met with proper objects, justly thinking no week well passed which did not afford her pleasure in the retrospect. Impressed with this conviction, the unfortunate queen insisted that all her attendants should employ their leisure in making clothes for the poor, which she took care to see properly distributed.
A Letter of Recommendation.
A young Neapolitan of rank having a strong passion for the military service, and despairing of an opportunity of acquiring distinction in his own country, resolved to seek employment in the Austrian army. With this view, he set out for Vienna, furnished with some letters of recommendation. On the road thither, he came to an inn in the Austrian territory, where he found himself with three strangers, with whom he desired permission to sup; and as travellers are commonly glad of having company, he was readily enough admitted. The strangers were Germans. At the table, the Neapolitan related his story, and told them what his views were. One of the strangers, after having very composedly heard him, told him he thought he was on a bad plan, for that after so long a peace, and such a prodigious number of the Austrian nobility as wanted employment, he saw little likelihood of a stranger obtaining a post in the army. The young gentleman answered, that he was determined to continue his journey; that he felt all the justness of the reasons opposed to him; that in truth, there was but little chance of his succeeding; but that it was, however, not quite impossible, that on observing his thorough good will for the service, something might be done to procure him an introduction into it. To this, he added a fair account of himself; named the respectable person by whom he was recommended; and still allowing that there was hardly any prospect of realising his hopes, he confessed he could not prevail upon himself to give them wholly up. The Austrian traveler, who had been the first to dissuade him, then said, 'Well, since nothing can put you off your project, I will give you a letter for General Lacy, that may be of use to you.' The Neapolitan pursued his journey. On his arrival at Vienna, he waited on General Lacy, and delivered him all his letters of recommendation, excepting that of the traveller, which he happened to have mislaid. The general read them, and told him he was very sorry he could not serve him, there being an absolute impossibility just then of procuring any appointment for him. The Italian had laid his account with some such answer, but did not absolutely give the point up; and, accordingly, for several days he continued to present himself at the general's levee. At length, he laid his hands upon the letter which he had mislaid, and carried it to the general, to whom he made an excuse for having forgotten it, giving him to understand, as he related in what manner he came by it, that he had not annexed to it much importance. The general opened it, appeared surprised, and after having read it, 'Do you know,' said he, 'who it was that gave you this letter?' 'No.' 'It was the Emperor himself (Joseph II.). You ask me for a lieutenant's commission, and he orders me to give you a captain's.'
Haydn, when a boy, was engaged by the organist of the Cathedral at Vienna; but when his voice broke, his master discarded him from the choir, and most inhumanly turned him into the streets, on account of a boyish trick, at seven o'clock one evening in November, with tattered clothes, and without one kreutzer in his pocket. Driven into the street at such an hour, and without any means of procuring a lodging he threw himself upon some stone steps, and passed the night in the open air. A poor, but friendly musician, of the name of Spangler, discovered him the next morning; and though he himself lodged with his wife and children in a single room, on a fifth story, he offered the outcast Haydn a corner of his garret, and a seat at his table. A miserable bed, a table, chair, and a wretched harpsichord, were all that the generous hospitality of his host could offer him, in a garret which had neither windows nor a stove; but this act of charity of the benevolent Spangler was welcome, and most readily accepted by Haydn, who soon was enabled to recompense his generous benefactor, by placing him as principal tenor in the chapel of Prince Esterhazy.
Howard, and Joseph II.
When Howard was at Vienna, he waited upon Count Kaunitz, who intimated a desire on the part of the Emperor Joseph the Second, to have an interview with the visitor of prisons. Howard informed the Count, that he was engaged to depart from Vienna next day; but upon the subject being pressed upon him, he agreed to wait on the Emperor at nine o'clock the next morning, who presented himself instantly on Mr. Howard's name being announced. They retired together into a small room, where there was neither chair nor table, and there they continued together nearly two hours; the emperor listening with great attention to the ample information which Howard was enabled to convey, respecting the state of the prisons in the German Empire, many of which he had visited. At length, Howard introduced those of the metropolis, and described the miserable situation of several prisoners, who had been confined in solitary cells for nearly three years, without being brought to trial. The emperor, struck with the relation, assured him that they should have instant justice; to which he replied, 'It is now too late; it is not in your majesty's power to do them justice, or to make a proper reparation. Solitary confinement has weakened their minds, and their faculties are so lost and deranged, as to incapacitate them from making their defence.' The prisoners, however, were liberated in less than twenty-four hours.
Dr. Glynn, who has been described by the author of 'The Pursuits of Literature,' as
'The lov'd Sapis on the banks of Cam,'
was remarkable for many acts of kindness to poor persons. He had attended a sick family in the fens near Cambridge, for a considerable time; and had never thought of any recompense for his skill and trouble, but the satisfaction of being able to do them good. One day he heard a noise upon the College staircase, and his servant presently brought him word, that the poor woman from the fens waited upon him with a magpie, of which she begged his acceptance. The doctor was at first a little discomposed at the woman's folly. Of all presents, a magpie was least acceptable to him, as he had a hundred loose things about his rooms, which the bird, if admitted, was likely to make free with. However, his good nature soon returned; he considered the woman's intention, and ordered her to be shown in. 'I am obliged to you for thinking of me, good woman,' said he, 'but you must excuse me for refusing to take your bird, as it would occasion me a great deal of trouble.' 'Pray, doctor,' answered the woman, 'do pray be pleased to have it. My husband, my son, and myself, have been long consulting together in what to show our thankfulness to you, and we could think of none better than to give you our favourite magpie. We would not part with it to any other person upon earth. We shall be sadly hurt if you refuse our present.' 'Well, well, my good woman,' said Dr. Glynn, 'if that is the case, I must have the bird; but do you, as you say you are so fond of it, take it back again, and keep it for me, and I will allow you eighteen-pence a week for the care of it.' This allowance Dr. G. punctually paid as long as the bird lived.
During the distressed state of the manufactories in 1801, Mrs. Chaplain, of Blankney in Lincolnshire, formed a patriotic institution for the encouragement of the local trade of the district. A ball was given at Lincoln for the benefit of the stuff manufactory, at which ladies were admitted gratis, on their appearing in a stuff gown and petticoat, spun, wove, and finished within the county, and producing a ticket signed by the weaver and dyer at Louth, one of which tickets was delivered with every twelve yards of stuff. The gentlemen were required to appear without silk or cotton in their dress, stockings excepted. The impulse thus given to trade, was of the most signal service in relieving distress, and at the same time promoting habits of industry.
Louis the Sixteenth.
In the year 1791, when the unfortunate Louis XVI. resolved on attempting to escape from his merciless persecutors, and when all things were arranged for his departure, a final council was held, at which the king, the queen, and several of the persons entrusted with the plan of escape, were present. When the measures were finally agreed on, the queen suddenly started and turned pale; the king, who observed the change in her countenance, eagerly inquired the cause. Her majesty said, it had just come to her recollection, that the governess who had the dauphin in her charge for the present fortnight, (there being two, who relieved each other alternately,) was a democrat, and would certainly disclose the secret of their escape, the moment she missed the dauphin from his apartment; she therefore advised, that they should delay their departure for two days, when the governess would be succeeded by one less hostile to the royal family.
On hearing this, the Duke, who was present, immediately said, 'Don't let this alarm you, or derange your plan, for I will be answerable for the silence of Madame G. the governess.' The king, who suspected how the lady's silence was to be obtained, with his characteristic goodness of heart, instantly said, 'I understand you, sir, you would sacrifice Madame G. in order to ensure my safety, and that of my family. I thank you for this proof of your attachment, but I will not have blood shed on my account; nor purchase my life, by consenting to an act that would render it more miserable. We must defer the journey till Monday.'
It was in vain that the duke declared that he could get rid of the governess without doing her any personal injury; the king would not trust to that, but peremptorily declared, that he would not go until her term of service was expired, and that she was relieved. This delay was fatal to the beneficent monarch; for the cavalry of General de Boulie, that had been stationed in the woods ready to escort the royal family, had to wait forty-eight hours before their arrival, when the horses were so worn out as to be scarcely able to make any progress.
The humanity of the king did not end here. When the royal family was stopped, the chevalier de Boulie, son of the general, rode up to the carriage, and said, that if his majesty would permit him to give the orders, his cavalry should soon clear the way for their escape. 'No,' said the king, 'I will not have these people massacred on my account.' Thus, by a double exertion of his kindness for others, did Louis XVI. suffer himself to fall into the hands of his implacable enemies, who led him to the scaffold.
The Percy Anecdotes: