The Percy Anecdotes:
'Be just, and fear not
Let all the ends thou aim'st at, be thy country's,
Thy GODS, and truth's; then, if thou fall'st, 0 Cromwell,
Thou fall'st a blessed martyr.' -SHAKSPEARE.
Justice and Expediency
Making Money of State Secrets
Public Duty and Private Friendship
The Sidonian Brothers
Brutus and Cassius
Pedro the First
Repentance and Restitution
Honesty in Humble Life
James II. and the University of Oxford
An Example for Bungling Lawyers
The Duke of Newcastle
Lucky Lottery Ticket
Peter the Great
Frederick the Great
Francis the First
Honourable Surrender Rewarded
English Honour and Italian Finesse
A Lesson in Diplomacy
Sir Thomas More
Spoliation of Corinth
Earl of Hillsborough
The Lost Half-Guinea
Fate of Strafford
Roman Idea of Treachery
A Judge above Resentment
Principles in High Life
The Speaker Cornwall
Duke Of Wharton and the Earl of Stair
A Poor Man above all Reward
The Old Bookcase
Pardon Refused to Royal Blood|
Bankrupt Family made Happy
Prayers of the Guilty
Marquess of Winchester
Peter the Great
Respect due to Opposition
The Duke of Grafton
William Pitt An Exemplary Administration
William Penn, and the Indians
Marquess de Bouille
A Turkish Partner
The Emperor Probus
Tai and Cherik, the Damon and Pythias of Arabian History
Count de Grammont
Duke of Richmond
Duc de Harcourt
Sir Hector Munro
Marshal the Duke of Berwick
The Ship-Money Decision
East India Influence
Admissibility of Lying
Way to avoid Bankruptcy
The Gunpowder Harvest
Ninon de L'Enclos
Raising the Price of Bread
Sir Charles Knowles
Fate of Perfidy
Prince Frederick of Wales
Magnanimous Heir at Law
Edict of Constantine the Great
Marquess of Wellesley
The Sultan Sandjar
Peter the Great
Charles the Fifth's Secretary
The Old French Regime
Matilda, Queen of Denmark
Faithful Clerk Rewarded
Value of a Generous Loan
Prince Jacob Dolgoroucki
Earl of Charlemont
The Tempted Barber
Henry the Fourth
Good Rule in Retrenching
Humanity and Integrity
Debasing the Coin
Sir John Fineux
The Marquess of Hastings
Earl of Liverpool
WE are informed by Xenophon, that one of the causes both of the great corruption of manners among the Persians, and of the destruction of their empire, was the want of public faith. Of old, says he, 'the king, and those who governed under him, thought it an indispensable duty to keep their word, and inviolably to observe all treaties into which they entered; and it was by this sound policy they gained the absolute confidence both of their own subjects, and all their neighbours and allies. Even Cyrus the Younger, in whose time the Persians had greatly declined in character, made it a maxim never to commit a breach of faith on any pretence whatever.
Such sentiments as these, so noble and so worthy of persons born for government, did not last long. A false prudence, and a spurious artificial policy, soon succeeded in their place. 'Instead of honour, probity, and true merit,' says Xenophon, 'being the qualities cherished and distinguished at court, the chief offices began to be filled by persons who made the humour or caprice of their sovereign, their only rule of action; who held that falsehood and deceit, perfidiousness and perjury, if boldly put in practice, were the shortest and surest expedients of bringing about his enterprises and designs; who looked upon a scrupulous adherence in a prince to his word, and to the engagements into which he has entered, as an effect of pusillanimity, incapacity, and want of understanding; who thought, in short, that a man is unqualified for government, if he does not prefer reasons and considerations of state, to the exact observation of treaties, though concluded in ever so solemn and sacred a manner.'
'The Asiatic nations,' continues Xenophon, 'soon imitated their princes in double dealing and treachery; gave themselves up to violence, injustice, impiety; and ended by throwing off all respect for authority, either human or divine.'
'Kings, says Plutarch, very justly, 'when any revolution happens in their dominions, are apt to complain bitterly of the unfaithfulness and disloyalty of their subjects; too often forgetting that it was themselves who set the first examples of treachery, by showing no regard to justice and fidelity in their administration of the public affairs, and sacrificing them on all occasions to their own particular interests.'
Justice and Expediency.
Themistocles having conceived the design of transferring the government of Greece from the hands of the Lacedemonians, into those of the Athenians, kept his thoughts continually fixed on this great project. Being at no time very nice or scrupulous in the choice of his measures, he thought anything which could tend to the accomplishment of the end he had in view, just and lawful. In an assembly of the people one day, he accordingly intimated that he had a very important design to propose, but he could not communicate it to the people at large, because the greatest secrecy was necessary to its success; he therefore desired that they would appoint a person to whom he might explain himself on the subject. Aristides was unanimously pitched upon by the assembly, who referred themselves entirely to his opinion of the affair. Themistocles taking him aside, told him that the design he had conceived, was to burn the fleet belonging to the rest of the Grecian states which then lay in a neighbouring port, when Athens would assuredly become mistress of all Greece. Aristides returned to the assembly, and declared to them, that nothing could be more advantageous to the commonwealth, than the project of Themistocles; but that, at the same time, nothing in the world could be more unfair. Without enquiring farther, the assembly unanimously declared, that since such was the case, Themistocles should wholly abandon his project.
'I do not know,' says honest Rollin, 'whether all history can afford us a fact more worthy of admiration than this. It is not a company of philosophers, to whom it costs nothing to establish fine maxims and sublime actions of morality in the schools, who determine on this occasion, that the consideration of profit and advantage ought never to prevail in preference to what is honest and just. It is an entire people, who are highly interested in the proposal made to them, who are convinced that it is of the greatest importance to the welfare of the state, and who, however, reject it with unanimous consent, and without a moment's hesitation, and that for this only reason, that it is contrary to justice.'
Making Money of State Secrets.
When Solon undertook the arduous task of reforming the political condition of the Athenians, he resolved, among other things, to put an end to the slavery and oppression of a number of poor citizens, who, overwhelmed with debt, had sold themselves as slaves to their richer neighbours. He accordingly framed a law, declaring all debtors discharged and acquitted of their debts. When he first determined on this edict, he foresaw that to many it would be extremely offensive; and he was at great pains, therefore, to draw it up in as plausible and conciliatory terms as possible. When completed, he submitted it confidentially to some particular friends, whom he used to consult on all important occasions; and from them it met with the most decided approval. More interested, however, than faithful, these friends took care, before the law was published, to borrow large sums of money from their rich acquaintance, and to lay it out in the purchase of land, knowing that the forthcoming edict would relieve them from all necessity of payment. When the law accordingly made its appearance, and it was seen how Solon's particular friends had benefited by their privity to the measure, he was himself suspected of a corrupt connivance at their gains, and loud and general was the indignation expressed against him, though he was, in fact, perfectly innocent of all participation in the fraud. A striking example, that it is not enough for a man in office to be disinterested and upright himself; all that surround and approach him, ought to be so too; wife, relations, friends, secretaries, and servants. The faults of others are charged to his account; all the wrongs that are committed through his negligence, are imputed to him, and not unjustly, because it is his business, and one of the principal designs of his being put into such a trust, to prevent such corruptions and abuses.
When the government of Greece was transferred from the Spartans to the Athepians, it was deemed proper, under the new government, to lodge the common treasure in the island of Delos, to fix new regulations with regard to the public money, and to impose a tax on each city and state exactly proportioned to its population and wealth. The great difficulty was to find a person of sufficient virtue and integrity to discharge faithfully an employment so confidential, and the due administration of which so nearly concerned the public welfare.
All the confederate states cast their eyes on Aristides, and they unanimously invested him with full power to levy a tax of his own fixing on each of them, such was their confidence in his wisdom and justice. The citizens had no cause to regret their choice, for he presided over the treasury with the fidelity and disinterestedness of a man who looks upon it as a capital crime to embezzle the smallest portion of another's possessions; whose care and zeal is like that of the father of a family in the management of his own estate; and with the caution and integrity of a man who considers the public money as sacred. In short, he succeeded in what is equally difficult and extraordinary, in acquiring the love of all in an office to escape odium in which Seneca deems no slight eulogy.
While Aristides was treasurer-general of the republic he felt himself under the necessity of exposing the peculations of some of his predecessors, and these afterwards, when his own account came to be passed, raised a faction against him, accused him of having embezzled the public treasure, and prevailed so far as to have him condemned and fined. But the principal inhabitants and the most virtuous part of the citizens rising up against so unjust a sentence, not only the judgment was reversed and the fine remitted, but he was elected treasurer again for the year ensuing, Aristides then seemed to repent of his former administration, and by showing himself more tractable and indulgent towards others, he found out the secret of pleasing all that plundered the commonwealth, for, as he neither reproved them nor narrowly inspected their accounts, all these plunderers, grown fat with spoil and rapine, now extolled Aristides to the skies.
The same persons who had before moved his degradation now made interest with the people to have him continued a third year in the treasurership, but when the time of election came, and just as they were on the point of unanimously re-electing Aristides, he rose up, and thus warmly reproved the Athenians: 'What!' said he, 'when I managed your treasure with all the fidelity and diligence an honest man is capable of, I met with the most cruel treatment, and the most mortifying returns; and now that I have abandoned it to the mercy of these robbers of the republic, I am an admirable man, and the best of citizens! I cannot help declaring to you that I am more ashamed of the honour you do me this day than I was of the condemnation you passed against me this time twelve months; and with grief I find that it is more glorious with us to be complaisant to knaves than to save the treasures of the republic.' By this declaration he silenced the public plunderers, and gained the esteem of all good men.
The conduct of Aristides on particular and trying occasions was consonant with his general character. After the battle of Marathon he was the only general to take care of the spoil and the prisoners. Gold and silver were scattered about in abundance in the enemy's (the Persian) camp. All the tents, as well as galleys, that were taken were full of rich clothes and costly furniture, and treasure of all kinds, to an immense value. Here Aristides had the finest opportunity in the world to have enriched himself with almost an impossibility of being discovered. But he not only took nothing himself but prevented, to the utmost of his power, every body else from meddling with the spoil.
The strongest proof, however, of the justice and integrity of Aristides is, that notwithstanding he had possessed the highest employments in the republic, and had the absolute disposal of its treasures, yet he died so poor as not to leave money enough to defray the expenses of his funeral.
Public Duty and Private Friendship.
When Cleon came into the administration of public affairs at Athens, he assembled all his friends, and declared to them, that from that moment, he renounced their friendship, lest it should prove an obstacle to him in the discharge of his duty, and induce him to act with partiality and injustice. As Plutarch, however, very fairly observes, it was not his friends, but his passions, which he ought to have renounced. An anecdote is told of a patriot of modern times, the great Washington, which exhibits in a much finer light, the distinction between public duty and private friendship. During his administration as President of the United States, a gentleman, the friend and the companion of the general, throughout the whole course of the revolutionary war, applied for a lucrative and very responsible office. The gentleman was at all times welcome to Washington's table: he had been, to a certain degree, necessary to the domestic repose of a man, who had for seven years fought the battles of his country, and who had now undertaken the task of wielding her political energies. At all times, and in all places, Washington regarded his revolutionary associates with an eye of evident partiality and kindness. He was a jovial, pleasant, and unobtrusive companion. In applying for the office, it was accordingly in the full confidence of success; and his friends already cheered him on the prospect of his arrival at competency and ease. The opponent of this gentleman, was known to be decidedly hostile to the politics of Washington; he had even made himself conspicuous amongst the ranks of opposition. He had, however, the temerity to stand as a candidate for the office to which the friend and the favourite of Washington aspired.
He had nothing to urge in favour of his pretensions, but strong integrity, promptitude, and fidelity in business, and every quality which, if called into exercise, would render service to the state. Every one considered the application of this man hopeless; no glittering testimonial of merit had he to present to the eye of Washington; he was known to be his political enemy; he was opposed by a favourite of the general's; and yet, with such fearful odds, he dared to stand candidate. What was the result? The enemy of Washington was appointed to the office, and his table companion was left destitute and dejected. A mutual friend, who interested himself in the affair, ventured to remonstrate with the president on the injustice of his appointment. 'My friend,' said he, 'I receive with a cordial welcome; he is welcome to my house, and welcome to my heart; but, with all his good qualities, he is not a man of business. His opponent is, with all his political hostility to me, a man of business; my private feelings have nothing to do in this case. I am not George Washington, but President of the United States; as George Washington, I would do this man any kindness in my power; but as President of the United States, I can do nothing.'
So great was the disinclination of the great Pericles to the receiving of gifts, so utter his contempt for riches, that though he was the means of raising Athens to be the richest and most flourishing of all the Grecian states, though his power had surpassed that of many tyrants and kings, though he had long disposed in the most absolute manner of the treasures of Greece, he did not add a single drachm to the estate which he inherited from his father. In this we may discern the source, the true cause, of the supreme authority with which he ruled that fickle republic. The submission yielded to him was the just and deserved fruit of his integrity and perfect disinterestedness.
Pure as was his conduct in this respect, however, it did not escape the envenomed shafts of faction. He was audaciously charged with embezzling the public money during his administration, and a decree was procured by which he was ordained to give in immediately his accounts. Although Pericles had no real cause to fear the strictest scrutiny into his conduct, he could not but be under some apprehensions for the decision of the people, when he reflected on their great levity and inconstancy. He prepared, however, to give obedience to the decree, and but for a hint given him by Alcibiades, then a very young man, would probably have subjected himself to the risk of a popular trial. Alcibiades, calling at his house one day, was told that he could not be spoken with, because of some affairs of great consequence in which he was then engaged. The young man inquiring what these mighty affairs might be, was answered that Pericles was preparing to give in his accounts. Alcibiades, smiling, remarked that were he in Pericles' place he would not give in any accounts. The observation being repeated to the statesman, it induced him to consider seriously, and at last to adopt, the policy thus incidentally suggested to him. In order, however, to divert the public attention from the subject, he resolved to oppose no longer, as he had done, the inclination which the people had expressed for the Peloponnesian war, but giving it every possible encouragement, turned their thoughts into a new channel, and made them forget the call they had made upon him, on a suspicion, the injustice of which was ere long abundantly manifest.
The Sidonian Brothers.
When Alexander the Great deposed Strato, the King of Sidon, he bade his favourite, Hephestion, give the crown to any of the Sidonians he should deem worthy of so exalted a station. Hephestion was at this time living at the house of two-brothers, who were young, and descended from the best family in the city. To these he offered the crown, but they declined to accept it, telling him that, according to the laws of their country, no person could ascend the throne unless he were of the blood royal.
Hephestion, pleased with such disinterestedness, requested that they would name some person of the royal family who might remember when he was king, that it was they who had placed the crown on his head. The brothers had observed that several persons, through ambition, had aspired to this distinguished rank, and to obtain it had paid servile court to Alexander's favourites. Disregarding, however, all the advantages which the power of nominating to a throne gave them, they declared that they did not know any person more worthy of the diadem, than one Abdalonimus, who was descended, though remotely, from the royal line, but who at the same time was so poor, that he was obliged to get his bread by daily labour in a garden without the city; his honesty and integrity having made him disregard many advantageous offers, and reduced him to his extreme poverty.
Hephestion trusting to their choice, the two brothers went in search of Abdalonimus with the royal garments, and found him weeding his garden. They saluted him king, and one of them addressing him, said, 'You must now change your tatters for the dress I have brought you. Put off the mean and contemptible habit in which you have grown old. Assume the garments of a prince; but when you are seated on the throne, continue to preserve the virtue which made you worthy of it. And when you shall have ascended it, and by that means become the supreme dispenser of life and death over all your citizens, be sure never to forget the condition in which, or rather for which, you were elected.'
Abdalonimus looked upon the whole as a dream, and, unable to guess the meaning of it, asked if they were not ashamed to ridicule him in that manner? But, as he made a greater resistance than suited their inclinations, they themselves washed him, and threw over his shoulders a purple robe, richly embroidered with gold; then, after repeated oaths of their being in earnest, they conducted him to the palace. The news of this was immediately spread over the whole city. Most of the inhabitants were overjoyed at it, but some murmured, especially the rich, who despising Abdalonimus's former abject state, could not forbear showing their resentment in the king's court. Alexander commanded the newly-elected prince to be sent for; and after surveying him attentively a long while, spoke thus: 'Thy air and mien do not contradict what is related of thy extraction; but I should be glad to know with what frame of mind thou didst bear thy poverty?' 'Would to the gods,' replied he, 'that I may bear this crown with equal patience. These hands have procured me all I desired; and whilst I possessed nothing, I wanted nothing.' This answer gave Alexander a high idea of Abdalonimus's virtue; so that he presented him not only with all the rich furniture which had belonged to Strato, and part of the Persian plunder, but likewise annexed one of the neighbouring provinces to his dominions.
Brutus and Cassius.
The inhabitants of Sardis having accused Lucius Pella of embezzling the public money, Brutus finding the charge proved, branded him with infamy, notwithstanding he had been formerly censor, and frequently employed by Brutus himself in offices of trust. The severity of this sentence offended Cassius, who, but a few days before, had absolved in public two of his own friends who had been guilty of the same offence, continuing them in their offices, and merely reprimanding them in private.
Cassius complained to Brutus, and in a friendly manner accused him of too much rigour and severity. Brutus, in answer, reminded him of the Ides of March, when they had put to death Caesar, who neither vexed nor oppressed mankind, but who was only the support of those who did. 'If' said this noble Roman, 'justice could be neglected under any colour of pretence, it had been better to suffer the injustice of Caesars friends, than to give impunity to our own; for then we could only have been accused of cowardice; whereas now, if we connive at the injustice of others, we make ourselves liable to the same accusation, and share with them in the guilt.'
M. Popilius Laenas, the Roman consul, being sent against the Stelliates, a people in Liguria, bordering on the river Tanarus, killed and took so many of them prisoners, that finding the forces of their nation reduced to ten thousand men, they submitted to the consul without stipulating for any terms. Popilius took away their arms, dismantled their cities, reduced them all to slavery, and sold them and their goods to the highest bidder. Such, however, was the equity of the Roman senate, that they resented this severe and cruel proceeding, and passed a decree, commanding Popilius to restore the money he had received for the sale of the Stelliates, to set them at liberty, to return them their effects, and even to purchase new arms for them. The senate concluded their decree with words which posterity ought never to forget; 'Victory is glorious, when it is confined to the subduing of an untractable enemy; but it becomes shameful when it is made use of to oppress the unfortunate.'
On the return of Gelon, general of the Syracusans, from a successful campaign against the Carthaginians, he convened an assembly of the people of Syracuse, and ordered them to come armed to it. When the assembly were met, the only person present without arms was the general himself. Having claimed their attention, he proceeded to explain every step of his conduct during the campaign, specified minutely the cases to which he had applied the several sums intrusted to him, and concluded with declaring that if they had any complaints to make against him, his person and life were at their disposal. The Syracusans, struck with so unexpected a proceeding, and still more with the censorial confidence he reposed in them, answered by acclamations of joy, praise, and gratitude; they immediately, with one consent, invested Gelon with the title and authority of king; and to preserve to the latest posterity the memory of that patriotic and upright conduct which had raised him to the supreme dignity, they erected a statue in honour of him, in which he was represented in the ordinary habit of a citizen, ungirded and unarmed.
Gelon fully justified the wisdom of the choice which the Syracusans had made of him. By his great equity and moderation, he obtained the title of Father of his People, and Patron of Liberty. The whole of royalty that he assumed, was the toils and cares of it; and he was one of the very few whom the sovereign power made the better man. He was more particularly famous for his inviolable sincerity, truth, and fidelity to his engagements. Having once occasion for money to carry on an expedition he meditated, he did not resort to such taxes and imposts, as might easily have been raised in a country so rich; for finding the Syracusans unwilling to incur the expense, he told them that he asked nothing but a loan, and that he would engage to repay it as soon as the war should be over. The money was advanced, and Gelon punctually repaid it at the time he had promised.
A very singular fate befel the statue raised by the Syracusans, in honour of this excellent prince; but it was happily such as was in every respect worthy of the motives which occasioned its erection. Above a hundred and thirty years after, when the Syracusans had sunk into slavery, and were emancipated from it by the exertions of Timoleon, their deliverer thought it advisable, in order to erase from Syracuse all traces of tyrannical government, and at the same time to aid the public treasury, to bring to public sale, the statues of their former kings and princes. He first, however, brought them to a trial, as so many living personages; and heard evidence as to their respective merits. They were all condemned unanimously, that of Gelon alone excepted, which found an eloquent advocate and defender in the warm gratitude which the Syracusans, even at that distant period, entertained for their first king, whose virtue they revered as if he had been still above.
Count Erchenbaldus de Burban, who lived at the commencement of the sixteenth century, has been compared to Lucius Junius Brutus, for his inflexible integrity and love of justice. When he was lingering in the last stage of a fatal disease, and confined to his bed, information was brought to him, that one of his edicts, disobedience to which was a capital offence, had been transgressed by his nephew. The vigour of the count was suddenly roused; and sacrificing the natural ties of consanguinity to his determined love of justice, he directed that the young man should instantly be punished with the death prescribed by law. Those who received the order, pitying the youth of the offender, and imagining that Erchenbaldus had but a few days to live, neglected this command, and merely recommended to the young man to keep himself carefully concealed from the sight of his uncle; in the mean time, they made their regular official report, and recorded the execution of the sentence. Five days had scarcely elapsed, when the nephew, imagining his uncle's anger to have subsided, ventured from his place of retirement, and somewhat unadvisedly seated himself at the count's bedside. His appearance was sufficient to discover the imposition that had been practised; but the sick man showing no immediate displeasure, made a motion to his nephew to approach him, and quietly stretched forth his arms as if to embrace him; when he found him near enough, he raised himself, and putting one arm round his neck, seized a knife with the other, which he pitilessly plunged into his breast, and thus became, in his last moments, the terrible executioner of his own sentence and condemnation on another.
When Siguard Magnusen, King of Norway, resolved without any cause to divorce his queen, and marry another woman; Bishop Magnus being informed of the day fixed for the ceremony, went to the royal palace, and demanded an audience. Sigurd suspected the bishop's business, and therefore received him with a drawn sword, in order to intimidate him: but Magnus was void of fear, and boldly represented to his majesty that he was acting in defiance of God, and in a manner that was derogatory to his own honour. He used all his eloquence, and that authority to which the bishops in those times thought themselves entitled, to induce the king to desist from so base a purpose. While he spoke, he stretched forth his head, as if to intimate that even the fear of death could not appal him in the discharge of his duty. Sigurd, who was very impetuous, was highly exasperated to find his will thus stubbornly disputed, yet he could not prevail on himself to injure the good bishop, of whose loyalty and integrity he was fully convinced. He, therefore, remained silent, but expressed his indignation in his countenance. The friends of Magnus trembled for him. 'I have no fear, my friends,' said the bishop, 'but were I to die for what I have done, I should meet my fate cheerfully. I have merely fulfilled my duty, by endeavouring to prevent an evil example.' The zeal of Magnus produced this effect, that the king felt ashamed of accomplishing his object in his own palace, and ordered the ceremony to take place where he could find a more complaisant bishop.
Mr. Denzil Hollis, afterwards Lord Hollis, was one of the commissioners employed by the parliament in the treaty of Uxbridge, while at the same time he carried on a private correspondence with the king. This fact was not long a secret, and when it transpired, Mr. Hollis was attacked in parliament by a party opposed to him; and nothing was wanted to ruin him, but a witness, whose testimony might give credit to the accusation. Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper (afterwards Lord Shaftesbury), was thought a fit man for the purpose, as he was not only acquainted with the circumstance, but they thought he would gladly embrace such a fair, and unsought for, opportunity, of ruining Mr. Hollis, who had been his enemy, on account of a family quarrel, which he had carried so far, as by power in the House, to hinder Sir Anthony from sitting in Parliament, though fairly elected.
On this presumption, Sir Anthony Cooper was summoned to the House, and being called in, was asked, whether, when he was at Oxford, he knew or had heard of Mr. Hollis's secret correspondence with the king, pending the treaty, of Uxbridge? Sir Anthony replied, that to this question he could make no answer; for, although what he had to say, would be to the exculpating of Mr. Hollis, yet whatever answer he made, would be considered as an acknowledgment that if he had known anything to the disadvantage of Mr. Hollis, he would have taken that dishonourable way of doing him an injury, and wreaking his revenge on a man that was known to be his enemy.
Sir Anthony was much pressed to give evidence against Mr. Hollis, and even threats were resorted to of sending him to the Tower, if he refused to state what he knew of the business. He still, however, persisted in remaining obstinately silent, and was ordered to withdraw. Those who had reckoned upon his subserviency, being greatly disappointed, and displeased, moved warmly for his commitment. Sir Anthony waited in the lobby unmoved, and though several of his friends coming out, endeavoured to persuade him to satisfy the House, he kept firm to his resolution. Nor did this honourable conduct go without its reward, for even among the great men of the party that opposed Mr. Hollis, there were so many who applauded his generosity, and showed that the act so much more deserved the commendation, than the censure, of that assembly, that the more angry members were ashamed to persist in the motion, and so dropped the debate. Some days after, Mr. Hollis came to Sir Anthony Cooper's house, and in terms of great acknowledgment and esteem, expressed his thanks for his late behaviour in the house, with respect to him. Sir Anthony replied, 'That he pretended not thereby to merit anything of him, or to lay any obligation on him; that what he had done, was not out of any consideration of him, but what was due to himself, and what he should equally have done, had any other man been concerned in it; and, therefore, he was perfectly as much at liberty as before to consider him as a friend or an enemy, just as he pleased.' Mr. Hollis, however, was so persuaded of the honour and integrity of Sir Anthony, that he begged they might, for the future, drop all animosities, and live in terms of friendship; to which, Sir Anthony most readily assented.
Mr. Locke was not less eminent for his incorruptible integrity than for his talents. King William pressed him to go as ambassador to one of the principal courts in Europe; but this he declined, on account of the bad state of his health. He then made him one of the lords commissioners of trade, a post which he enjoyed for many years. At length, when his health rendered a residence in the country necessary, and he could not pass the summer in London, without endangering his health, he resigned his commission to the king, disdaining to hold an employment of that importance when no longer able to discharge its efficient duties. The king entreated him to continue in office, telling him that a few weeks' attendance in town would be sufficient; but he persisted in not retaining it as a sinecure.
Mr. Locke was afterwards reproached for not having made interest for some of his friends to succeed to the office, or at least to inform them of his intended resignation of it.
'I know,' said he, in answer to one of his relations who reproached him on this subject. 'I know what you tell me very well, but that was the very reason why I would not communicate my intention to any one. I received my commission generously from the king himself, and to him I resolved to restore it, that he might have the pleasure of bestowing it on some man worthy of his bounty.'
Pedro the First.
Pedro the First, the eighth king of Portugal, distinguished his reign by a steady and impartial administration of justice, and by this conduct rendered both himself and his people happy.
An ecclesiastic, in a fit of passion, had killed a mason in his employment, for not executing some piece of work agreeable to his mind. The king dissembled his knowledge of the crime, and left it to the proper courts to take cognizance of the matter. The sentence passed on the priest was, that he should be suspended from saying mass during a year. At this slight punishment the family of the deceased were naturally highly offended.
The king caused it to be hinted to the son of the mason that he should kill the priest. He accordingly did so, and, falling into the hands of justice, was condemned to death. On this sentence being reported to the king, his majesty asked, what was the young man's trade?' The answer was, that he followed his father's. 'Then,' said the king, 'I shall commute this punishment, by restraining him from meddling with stone and mortar for one twelvemonth.'
After this affair he punished capital crimes in the clergy with death; and when they desired that his majesty would be pleased to refer causes to a higher tribunal, he calmly replied, 'This is what I mean to do, for I send them to the highest of all tribunals, to that of their Maker and mine.'
Repentance and Restitution.
In 1776, two gentlemen returning to Dublin were accosted by a genteel man, who in dress had the appearance of a clergyman, and who begged they would step with him into an adjacent public-house, as he had something of moment to communicate. They agreed, and the stranger then asked one of the gentlemen if 'he had ever possessed a gold watch, and if he recollected the name and number?' The gentleman replied that he certainly once had a watch, of which, twenty two years ago, he was robbed by five men, who also took twenty five guineas from him. The stranger produced the watch, which proved to be the same the gentleman had been robbed of, and gave it him with twenty five guineas. The gentleman then asked how he had come by these articles, as he felt assured he was only the agent in the business. The stranger desired to be excused answering that question, but said that two of the men who had robbed him were dead, the other three were in opulent circumstances. 'Happy,' said he, 'are they, who having in youth despoiled their neighbour unjustly of his property, make restitution in their riper years. This shows their principles are not entirely vitiated, and that their repentance is sincere; but thrice happy are they who need no such repentance.'
Honesty in Humble Life.
At a fair in the town of Keith, in the north of Scotland, in the year 1767, a merchant having lost his pocket-book, which contained about £100 sterling, advertised it next day, offering a reward of £20 to the finder. It was immediately brought to him by a countryman, who desired him to examine it; the owner finding it in the same state as when he lost it, paid down the reward; but the man declined accepting it, alleging that it was too much; he then offered him £15, then £io, then £5, all of which he successively refused. Being at last desired to make his own demand, he asked only five shillings to drink his health, which was most thankfully given him.
An instance of conduct extremely similar occurred at Plymouth, at the end of the late war. A British seaman, who returned from France, received £65 for his pay. In proceeding to the tap-house in Plymouth Dockyard, with his money enclosed in a bundle, he dropped it, without immediately discovering his loss. When he missed it, he sallied forth in search of it; after some inquiries, he fortunately met J. Prout, a labourer in the yard, who had found the bundle, and gladly returned it. Jack, no less generous than the other was honest, instantly proposed to Prout to accept half, then £2o, both of which he magnanimously refused. Ten pounds, next five, were tendered, but with a similar result. At length jack determined that his benefactor should have some token of his gratitude, forced a £2 note into Prout's pocket.
Traits of character like these would reflect honour on any class of society.
Dr. Franklin relates the following anecdote of Mr. Denham, an American merchant, with whom he once came a passenger to this country:- 'He had formerly,' he says, 'been in business in Bristol; had failed, in debt to a number of people, compounded, and went to America; there, by a close application to business as a merchant, he acquired a plentiful fortune in a few years. Returning to England in the ship with me, he invited his old creditors to an entertainment, at which he thanked them for the easy compensation they had favoured him with; and when they expected nothing but the treat, every man, at the first remove, found under his plate an order on a banker for the full amount of the unpaid remainder, with interest.'
In 1785, Mr. Hutchinson, a cattle-dealer, of Ayrshire, who had compounded with his creditors seven years before, summoned them all to meet him at Ayr. Not one of these had the slightest idea for what purpose they were. called together, until, a short time before they sat down to an excellent dinner which he had provided, he produced all their accounts, with the interest exactly calculated, and paid them to the utmost farthing. The creditors, out of gratitude, and in order that his family might possess a memorial of his integrity, presented him with an elegant piece of plate, bearing the following inscription:
To William Hutchinson, Drover, in Lanehead, Ayrshire.
'This cup is presented by his late creditors, as a small testimony of the high sense they entertain of his upright and honourable conduct to them, who having, from a full conviction of his great losses by trade, accepted a composition, in 1778, of ten shillings in the pound sterling, were, unexpectedly, called together at Ayr, the 2nd of February, 1785, and after receiving a handsome entertaiment, Mr. Hutchinson paid the full amount of their respective debts, with the whole interest due thereon, amounting, at that date, to £16oo.'
A third instance of the like honourable conduct was furnished by a Mr. Turner, a horse dealer at Maldon. Having sustained a succession of losses, he was compelled to call a meeting of his creditors, who, knowing his honesty, accepted of such terms as he could give them, and gave him a full discharge from all his debts. Some time afterwards he purchased two-sixteenths of a lottery ticket, one of which was drawn a prize of twenty thousand pounds, and entitled him to £125o. He no sooner received this sum than he invited his creditors to dine with him, and paid every farthing of their original demands upon him.
A French merchant, whose house was destroyed by a fire at Constantinople, having with great difficulty packed up some valuables in a trunk, and being obliged to look for his wife and children, on quitting the house, he put his trunk into the hands of the first person he met who happened to be a Turkish porter. He lost sight of the man in the confusion, and gave up all idea of recovering his property. Some months after, a Turk met him in the street, and told him that he had the trunk in his possession, with which the merchant had entrusted him on the night of the fire, and that he had long sought him in order to restore it. The trunk was then returned, without a single article being missing.
James II. and the University of Oxford.
At the death of the President of Magdalen College, Dr. Clarke, the society, who possess the right of electing their own head, were about to choose a successor, when they were commanded by the king to elect Anthony Farmer, a man who had promised to declare himself a Papist, and who was known to be of bad principles. The society, in the most respectful manner, entreated that his majesty would either allow them to proceed in their own election, or that he would, at least, nominate a more suitable person. To this entreaty no answer was returned; and when the day of election arrived, the Fellows made choice of Dr. Hough, a sincere Protestant, and a man every way qualified for the important office. Enraged at this instance of disobedience, James immediately sent down a mandate for setting aside Dr. Hough, and electing, not the person originally proposed, but Dr. Parker, one of the creatures of the court, and recently elevated to the see of Oxford. The Fellows refused to proceed to a second election, as the place of President was already legally filled up, and as the Bishop of Oxford could not be chosen without a violation of the statutes of the college. Dr. Hough himself thus boldly addressed the commissioners: 'My lords, you say your commission gives you authority to change and alter statutes, and to make new ones as you think fit; now, my lords, we have taken an oath, not only to observe our statutes (laying his hand upon the book of the statutes of the college), but to admit of no new ones, or alterations in these. This must be my behaviour here; I must admit of no alteration of them, and by the grace of God, I never will.' The king was so incensed at this fresh contempt of his orders, that he came to Oxford in person, and having commanded the Fellows of Magdalen College to attend him at Christ Church, he asked Dr. Pudsey, the senior of the Fellows that appeared before him, 'whether they did receive his letter?' They answered, 'they did.' The king replied, 'Then you have done very uncivilly by me, and undutifully.' His reproaches and threats were, however, of no avail: he could not terrify the Fellows into submission. The king then vented his resentment in these terms: 'Get you gone. Know I am your king. I will be obeyed; and I command you to be gone. Go and admit the Bishop of Oxford as president of your college. Let them that refuse it look to it; they shall feel the weight of their sovereign's displeasure!' The Fellows then fell on their knees, and offered their petition to the king; but the king said to them, 'Get you gone; I will receive nothing from you till you have obeyed me, and admitted the Bishop of Oxford.' On this, they immediately withdrew to their chapel, when Dr. Pudsey again inquired whether they would obey the king? They answered they were as ready to obey his majesty in all things that lay in their power as any of the rest of his subjects, but the electing the Bishop of Oxford being directly contrary to their statutes, and the positive oaths they had taken, it was not in their power to obey him in this matter. This determination of the Fellows being made known to the king, after several ineffectual attempts to unbend them to his will, he caused Dr. Hough to be deprived of his office, and expelled twenty-five of the Fellows. The Bishop of Oxford was then made President by the king, who soon after turned out most of the Demies, and Roman Catholics were put in their places. About a year after this tyrannical proceeding the king, finding that his throne trembled under him, restored the Fellows who had so boldly resisted his illegal authority, to their Fellowships. A short time afterwards he was deprived of his crown, and thus met with the common fate of all wicked princes who would enslave their people to gratify their own abominations.
An Example for Bungling Lawyers.
Chamillart, comptroller-general of the finances in the reign of Louis XIV., had been a celebrated pleader. He once lost a cause in which he was concerned through his excessive fondness for billiards. His client called on him the day after in extreme affliction, and told him that if he had made use of a document which had been put into his hands, but which he had neglected to examine, a verdict must have been given in his favour. Chamillart read it, and found it of decisive importance to his cause. 'You sued the defendant,' said he, 'for 20,000 livres. You have failed by my inadvertence. It is my duty to do you justice. Call on me in two days.' In the mean time Chamillart procured the money, and paid it to his client, on no other condition than that he would keep the transaction secret.
The Duke of Newcastle.
In a letter written by the Earl of Chesterfield, to Colonel (afterwards General) Irwin, he says, 'My old kinsman and contemporary, the Duke of Newcastle, is at length dead, and for the first time quiet.'
'He had the start of me at his birth by one year and two months, and, I think, we shall observe the same distance at our burial. I own I feel for his death, not because it will be my turn next, but because I knew him to be extremely good-natured, and his hands to be extremely clean, if that were possible; for after all the great offices which he held for fifty years, he died £300,000 poorer than when he first came into them - a very unministerial proceeding!'
Lucky Lottery Ticket.
That virtue is its own reward, is a maxim which experience has long ago confirmed; and it is equally certain that avarice often overleaps itself. A singular instance in support of both these acknowledged truths occurred towards the close of the last century in the British metropolis. A merchant, somewhat remarkable for absence of mind, had left his counting-house for the Bank, with a large sum of money, which he intended to deposit there; on reaching Lombard Street he found his pocket cut, and his pocket-book missing. He immediately suspected that his pocket had been picked of all his money, and returning home, mentioned the circumstance to his clerk. What, however, was his astonishment in finding that he had left the money behind, and that though his pocket-book had been taken from him, yet it contained nothing but a few papers of little consequence.
Pleased with the integrity of his clerk, who gave him the money he thought he had lost, he promised him a handsome present; but neglecting to fulfil his promise, was reminded of it. Unwilling to part with money, he gave the clerk one of two lottery tickets he had purchased. The young man would have preferred money, as he had parents far advanced in years, who depended upon him for support; he, however, was contented, and, as it afterwards proved, had cause to be so, for his ticket was drawn a prize of £2020002 which enabling him to begin business for himself, he soon rose to great eminence and wealth as a merchant.
When Louis XII. was persuaded to retain the Archduke of Austria prisoner, on the ground that he had been duped by the artifices of Ferdinand, he replied, 'I would rather, if it must be so, see myself deprived of my kingdom, the loss of which might hereafter be recovered, than forfeit my honour, which can never be restored. The advantages which my enemies obtain over me, can scarcely excite surprise, since they employ means to which I shall resort, a contempt for good faith and for honour.'
A peasant once entered the hall of justice at Florence, at the time that Alexander, Duke of Tuscany, was presiding. He stated, that he had the good fortune to find a purse of sixty ducats, and learning that it belonged to Friuli the merchant, who offered a reward of ten ducats to the finder, he restored it to him, but that he had refused the promised reward. The duke instantly ordered Friuli to be summoned into his presence, and questioned why he refused the reward? The merchant replied, 'That he conceived the peasant had paid himself, for although when he gave notice of his loss, he said this purse only contained sixty ducats, it in fact had seventy in it.' The duke inquired if this mistake was discovered before the purse was found? Friuli answered in the negative. 'Then,' said the duke, 'as I have a very high opinion of the honesty of this peasant, I am induced to believe that there is indeed a mistake in this transaction; for as the purse you lost had in it seventy ducats, and this which he found contained sixty only, it is impossible that it can be the same.' He then gave the purse to the peasant, and promised to protect him against all future claims.
Peter the Great.
In the war between Peter the Great and the Ottoman Porte, Cantemir, Hospodar of Moldavia, put himself under the protection of Russia, and used every exertion to raise an insurrection against the Grand Seignior. In this he failed, and took refuge with the Czar, who, notwithstanding his inability to fulfil the engagements into which he had entered, was favourably received. When a negociation for peace was begun, the Grand Vizier agreed to the terms proposed, on condition that Cantemir should be given up. 'No,' replied Peter, 'I would rather surrender all the country that I have conquered as far as Kiusk, than yield to his demand. Not to keep a promise when it has been once given, is to forfeit all title to confidence for ever.'
Previous to the peace of Nystadt, between Russia and Sweden, Peter the Great, who was anxious to obtain possession of Wyburgh, remitted a hundred thousand ducats to Count Ostermann, his ambassador, to be employed in obtaining the most favourable terms for Russia. Ostermann was acquainted with the poverty or the nobility, and knowing also his sovereign's love of economy, disbursed his money with such address, that for ten thousand ducats he accomplished his purpose, and returned the remaining ninety thousand to his imperial master.
When the King of France had reduced Nancy, he sent for Callot to engrave that new conquest, as he had done that of Rochelle. The engraver begged to be excused, for being a Lorrainer, he could not do anything against the honour of his prince and country. The king, instead of being displeased, confessed 'the Duke of Lorrain was happy in having such faithful and affectionate subjects.'
Frederick the Great.
A Prussian ecclesiastic, of the name of Mylius, found among his father's papers, a promissory note to a considerable amount, which the Prince Royal, afterwards Frederick the Great, had given him. He, therefore, immediately sent it to the king, with the following letter:
SIRE - Among my father's papers, I have found the enclosed note. I cannot tell whether it has been through negligence, or any other means, that it has not been cancelled. I know not, but I leave the matter to the disposal of your majesty.'
The king immediately sent for Mylius, and said, that he well remembered receiving the money from his father, and that, if there was any error, he would be the loser himself. He immediately paid the money, with interest.
Francis the First.
Chabot, a distinguished admiral in the reign of Francis I. of France, fell under the displeasure of his sovereign, who issued a commission to the Chancellor Poyet, and other judges, to bring the admiral to trial, on an indictment preferred against him by the Royal Advocate. The chancellor was a man of unlimited ambition, and hoping to please the king by condemning the admiral, seduced some of the judges by promises, and others by threats, to join him in his decision. Though nothing could be proved against the admiral, yet the chancellor and judges decreed the confiscation of his estate, dismissal from all his offices, and imprisonment.
The king learning of the artifice by which such a judgment had been obtained against the admiral, instantly restored him to his estate and his liberty, and caused the chancellor to be degraded.
When Catherine the Second ascended the throne of Russia, she solicited Count Munich to accept some marks of her favour, although she knew he had been the most formidable opponent to her accession. 'No,' said the count, 'I am an old man; I have already suffered many misfortunes; and if I purchased a few years of life, by compromising my principles, I should make but a bad exchange.'
Dr. Owen, the celebrated dissenter, though a warm opponent of the doctrines of nonresistance, and divine right, was a man of so upright, pure, and moderate a character, as to be held in the highest esteem. by those who were most opposed to him in opinion and practice. Charles the Second, and his brother, the bigoted James, both paid him particular attention. James, when Duke of York, sent for him, and entered into a long discussion with him, of the justifiableness of non-conformity. The doctor found it probably not very difficult to confute his highness in argument; but was treated with affability, and dismissed with kindness. Charles also sought an interview with the doctor, and it ended in a way which showed that while, like his brother, he could have an opinion of his own, he could be something more than civil to those who differed from him. After conversing for more than an hour with the doctor, on different topics, he gave him the strongest assurance of his friendship and protection, told him, that he should at all times have free access to his person, regretted that he had suffered injury to be done to anyone for thinking independently in matters of religion, and presented the doctor with a thousand guineas, which he requested he would distribute among those who had suffered most for 'conscience sake.'
Dr. Donne having clandestinely married the daughter of Sir George Moore, when without any appointment in the church, or visible means of maintaining a family, was treated for some time with great severity by the old gentleman. At length, through the intercession of some mutual friends, Sir George gave the doctor a bond, to pay him as a portion for his daughter, £8oo upon a specified day, or '£20 quarterly, until the sum was liquidated. The latter mode of payment, was that preferred by Sir George; but it had not continued long, when the doctor was promoted to the Deanery of St. Paul's. The next time his father-in-law waited on him with a quarter's salary instalment, the doctor thus handsomely addressed him: 'I know, Sir George, that your present condition is such as not to abound, and, I hope, mine is such as not to need it. I will therefore receive no more from you on that contract.'
When this eminent divine and poet was seized with that illness of which he expired, he gave another memorable proof of that tenderness of conscience, which had distinguished him through the whole course of his life. He was requested to renew some prebendal leases, the fines for which were considerable, and would have added largely to the fortune he had to bequeath his family. 'No, no,' said the worthy man, 'I dare not now that I am upon my sick bed, when Almighty God has made me useless to the service of the church, seek to obtain any advantages out of it.'
Whiston was a pensioner to Queen Caroline, who often admitted him to the honour of conversing with her, and paid the pension with her own hands. One day she said to him, 'Mr. Whiston, I understand you are a free speaker, and honestly tell people of their faults; no one is without faults, and I wish you would tell me of mine.' Whiston hesitated, until at length he found he could not evade an answer. 'Well,' said he, 'since your majesty insists upon it, I must obey. There are abundance of people who come out of the country every year upon business. They all naturally desire to see the king and queen, and have no other opportunity of doing it so convenintly as at the chapel royal; but these country folks, who are not used to such things, are perfectly astonished to see your majesty talking with the king, even at the time of divine service, and leave town with impressions by no means favourable to your majesty, which they report in the country.' 'I am sorry for it,' answered the queen. 'I believe there may be too much truth in what you say; but pray, Mr. Whiston, tell me of another fault.' 'No, madam,' replied he, 'let me see you mend this before I tell you of another.' Her majesty had the good sense to respect the rebuke, and to continue her friendship to her honest and faithful monitor.
Charles the Twelfth of Sweden, when he dethroned King Augustus, was advised by Count Piper to annex Poland to his dominions as a fair conquest, and to make the people Lutherans. The temptation thus presented to him of repairing his losses, enlarging his kingdom, extending his religion, and revenging himself of the Pope, made him hesitate a little. But reflecting on his declaration to the Polish malcontents, that his purpose was only to dethrone Augustus, in order to make way for a king of their own nation; 'I reject a kingdom,' said he, 'that I cannot keep without a breach of promise. On this occasion, it is more honourable to bestow a crown, than to retain it.'
In the reign of James the Second, Dr. Wallis was Dean of Waterford, and during the troubles of that unhappy country at that period, he suffered greatly in his private fortune, from his strong attachment to the Protestant faith. After peace was restored, and the Protestant religion firmly established by King William, Wallis was presented to the court of London, as a gentleman who had well merited the royal patronage. The king had before heard the story of his sufferings, and therefore immediately turning to the dean, desired him to choose any church preferment then vacant. Wallis (with all the modesty incident to men of real worth), after a due acknowledgment of the royal favour, requested the deanery of Derry. 'How!' replied the king in a transport of surprise, 'ask the deanery, when you must know the bishopric of that very place is also vacant?' 'True, my liege,' replied Wallis, 'I do know it, but could not in honesty ask so great a benefice, being conscious there are many other gentlemen who have suffered more than myself, and deserve better at your majesty's hands; I therefore presume to repeat my former request.' It is needless to add, his request was granted.
A rich merchant at Lyons, wishing to befriend a manufacturer in that city, advanced him 50,000 livres for goods which he was to furnish. The manufacturer, soon afterwards, finding that so far from being able to fulfil his engagement, he was in danger of bankruptcy, repaired immediately to the merchant, and acquainting him with the critical situation of his affairs, returned the whole sum he had received in advance. 'No,' said the generous merchant, 'you have made me your confidant, but I should consider myself as an accomplice in your bankruptcy if I were to receive this money without the knowledge of your other creditors: therefore take it back; forget that you are my creditor, and, if possible, preserve your honour and credit; but if, notwithstanding this, you are under the necessity of giving up your effects, enter me among the rest of your creditors, and let me be paid in proportion to the dividends they may receive.'
Honourable Surrender Rewarded.
The following interesting narrative was given by one who was a witness to the transaction. 'I attended the examination of Messrs. Neale, James, and Down (bankers in London). The unhappy circumstances under which these gentlemen laboured, particularly Mr. James, was affectingly striking; I acknowledge that I was not less astonished at the honesty of his conduct than I was grieved for the greatness of his misfortune. I have no intimacy whatever with Mr. James, nor am otherwise acquainted than as having for several years done business at the house; consequently I am not biassed by partiality, or influenced by any other prejudice, than that which I wish ever to indulge towards an honest man. It is generally known that Mr. Fordyce solely occasioned the failure of this house, and that the rest of the partners were unexpectedly involved and precipitated into ruin. Mr. James's property, I am told, far exceeded that of either Mr. Neale or Down, amounting to about thirty thousand pounds, all which he most cordially surrendered, The presiding commissioner observed that Mr. James had even brought several articles into the account, which he was not strictly bound to do; he had retained neither watch nor rings. His money (which from appearance could be but trifling) was tied up in a purse. After surrendering it, he discovered, upon feeling in his pockets, that he had unintentionally left a trifle behind. The mistake was undesigned, and therefore immediately corrected. Mr. James, who had already surrendered thirty thousand pounds, nobly produced the last halfpenny of his fortune. Some may smile at this as the contrivance of affectation; but all-convincing as his manner was of its resulting from motives of an opposite nature, I cannot forbear crying out in admiration, 0 matchless probity! how truly ennobling is unaffected honesty!
'The creditors generously returned the deposits the partners had made, after which the presiding commissioner informed the creditors that Mr. James had put a paper into his hand which he had desired him to read. As nearly as I can recollect, it was to the following import:- "Gentlemen, Mr. James is too deeply impressed by his situation to address you personally. The kindness you have now conferred he accepts with the sincerest gratitude; and did he appear before you only as an individual, he would cease to give you any further trouble; but the ties of nature and the affections of a father prevail with him to solicit the indulgence of your attention and assistance. A wife and seven children, all of whom are dependent upon him, reduced from a state of affluence, to that of poverty, call forth all the yearnings of a husband and of a parent. Mrs. James, upon her marriage, settled an estate of the value of £16o per annum upon Mr. James for life, with the remainder to herself and children. For the continuance of this estate for life, which will probably now not be a long one, he humbly supplicates your kindness. In doing this, he is wholly influenced by the affection which he bears to the tenderest branches of himself and wife. He ventures, gentlemen, in this address, to appeal to your feelings as men, as husbands, and as fathers. if you shall indulge this request, be assured the blessing of infants will descend upon you."
'The address was too pathetic to be read without tears, for the commissioner, to his honour be it spoken, evinced himself "a man of feeling," or to be heard without receiving the strongest testimonials of pity and commiseration. The meeting unanimously complied with the request. I acknowledge it was to me the most mixed scene of melancholy and of pleasure I had ever witnessed.'
English Honour and Italian Finesse.
In the year 1780, a young English nobleman lost to Count Palfy, in Vienna, the sum of 120,000 florins (£12,000), and gave him a bond for the sum, to be paid after the death of his father, whom he wished not to afflict by asking him to pay so large a debt for him. Count Palfy affected to admire his delicacy, but caused the bond, torn in two, to be delivered to the father. The young Englishman, however, sent the 120,000 florins, in money, to the count, immediately upon the death of his father.
A Lesson in Diplomacy.
A gentleman who had received an appointment as envoy to a foreign court, went to Lord Wentworth to take his advice as to the mode by which he might best execute his mission with credit to himself and honour to his country. 'To do honour to yourself and serve your country,' said the sagacious nobleman, 'you must at all times, and on all occasions, speak the truth, for the consequence will be that you will never be believed. By this means you will not only secure yourself against the treachery of the inquisitive, but will put all you deal with at fault in their conjectures and projects.'
Sir Thomas More.
During the time that Sir Thomas More was Lord Chancellor, a gentleman who had a suit depending before him sent him a present of two silver flagons. The chancellor immediately gave orders to his servants to fill them with the best wine in his cellar, and carry them back to the gentleman, and tell him that it gave him great pleasure to have an opportunity of obeying him; and that when the flasks were empty, he should be welcome to have them filled again.
Neither the great wealth which Seneca acquired as the preceptor of the Emperor Nero, nor the luxury and effeminacy of a court, produced any alteration in that system of life which this great philosopher had planned for himself. He continued to the last to live abstemious, correct, and above all, free from flattery and ambition. 'I had rather,' said he to Nero, 'offend you by speaking the truth than please you by lying and flattery.' When Seneca perceived that his favour was on the decline, and that his enemies were constantly reminding the emperor of the wealth which he amassed, he offered to make a full surrender of all the gifts which had ever been conferred upon him. The tyrant, however, not only declined the offer, but protested that his friendship for him remained the same. The continued machinations of his enemies were at length so successful that the emperor sent him an order to put himself to death. Seneca received the mandate with calmness and composure, and only asked to be allowed to alter his will. The officer entrusted with the execution of the sentence refused to grant such permission. Seneca, then, addressing his friends, said, that 'since he was not allowed to leave any other legacy, he requested they would preserve the example of his life, and exercise that fortitude which philosophy taught.'
Spoliation of Corinth
When L. Mummius, the Roman consul, had defeated the Corinthians under Dracus, and the whole of Achaia had submitted to his arms, the senate sent him orders to demolish utterly the city of Corinth, for there its ambassadors had received those insults which led to the war. The general obeyed his orders, but in the execution of them gave a rare example of disinterestedness and integrity. For all the brazen images, all the marble statues and pillars, all the paintings of the ablest artists, and other rich spoils with which this noble city abounded, he touched not one; nor would he allow a single relic of the glory of Corinth to be transferred to his house as a memorial of his victory over it, deeming it a far prouder boast to have subdued a great and wealthy city, and to have had all its treasures within his grasp, without adding a single denier to his own.
Paulus Emilius, in the course of his campaigns in Spain, is said to have gained two general battles, and reduced two hundred and fifty cities, and yet returned to Rome not one groat the richer for all these victories. How pure may we not expect the domestic administration of a man to have been who could behave with such integrity, when at a distance from the scrutinizing eye of his fellow citizens, and when possessed of absolute power to do as he pleased. Although he was twice consul, yet, when he died, he left scarcely enough to satisfy his wife's jointure.
Few dignitaries of the Church have shown a more scrupulous regard to the qualifications of candidates for the offices of the holy ministry, than the celebrated Bishop Grosseteste. Pope Innocent sent him a mandate to promote a nephew (or son) of his holiness to the first canonry which should be vacant in the cathedral of Lincoln, declaring that any other disposal of the canonry should be null and void, and that he would excommunicate whoever dared to disobey his injunctions. This nephew was a young Italian, who possessed not one qualification for the office, nor any other merit more substantial than that of having a pope for his uncle. The bishop felt that it would be a gross prostitution of his authority to invest such a person with the canonry, and instantly wrote to the pope, refusing compliance in the most resolute and spirited manner, and almost returning excommunication for excommunication. The pope, on receiving so unexpected an answer, angrily exclaimed, 'Who is this old dotard, deaf and absurd, that thus rashly presumes to judge of my actions? By Peter and Paul, if the goodness of my heart did not restrain me, I should so chastise him as to make him an example and a spectacle to all the world! Is not the King of England my vassal, my slave, and for a word speaking would throw him into prison and load him with disgrace?' His holiness proceeded to pronounce the excommunication of the bishop, who contented himself with appealing to the tribunal of heaven, and was suffered to remain in the quiet possession of his see.
Of a spirit equally upright, and more directly disinterested, was John Egerton, Bishop of Durham. The preferments at his disposal, he distributed with a truly pastoral care; always preferring those clergymen who were most distinguished for their learning, merit, and humility. In one instance, where he felt a strong desire to promote a particular friend of his own, he refused to indulge his inclination, from a doubt that the person was not sincere in the belief of the sentiments he professed. He had made a covenant with himself, and he kept it, that his inclinations should never interfere with his duty.
Earl of Hillsborough.
Some reluctance having been manifested, to fulfil a promise which was made of increasing the pension of Sir Francis Barnard, the intrepid governor of Massachusetts Bay, to £1000 a year, the Earl of Hillsborough threatened, if it was not kept, to resign the Colonial Department. Sir Francis, when he heard of it, hastened to the noble earl, and entreated him to remain in office; 'For,' said he, 'it would be an additional chagrin to me, that the country should lose the benefit of your service.' Lord North soon afterwards granted to Sir Francis the pension he had promised him; and afterwards, in lieu of it, appointed him one of the Commissioners of the Board of Revenue in Ireland.
The Lost Half-Guinea.
A gentleman passing through the streets of Newcastle, about twenty years ago, was called in by a shopkeeper, who acknowledged himself indebted to him to the amount of a guinea. The gentleman, much astonished, enquired how this was, as he had no recollection of the circumstance. The shopkeeper replied, that about twenty years before, as the gentleman's wife was crossing the river Tyne in a boat which he was in, she accidentally dropt half a guinea as she took out her money to pay the fare. The shopkeeper, who had a family at home literally starving, snatched up the half-guinea. He had since been prosperous in the world, and now seized the first opportunity since his good fortune, of paying the money, with interest.
Fate of Strafford.
None of all those who attached themselves to the fortunes of Charles the First, was more distinguished for talents, zeal, and fidelity, than the unfortunate Earl of Strafford. The king was not insensible of his services, and in the warmth of his gratitude, swore, that while he had power to help it, 'not a hair of his head should be touched by the Parliament.' When, at length, Strafford, by the able support which he gave to the obnoxious measures of the crown, brought upon himself the general indignation of the people; when he was impeached, condemned, and cast into prison, and when it seemed that nothing but his death could appease the popular rage, the earl sent in a letter to his royal master, in which he magnanimously requested him to forget the promise which he had made him, and to suffer his life to be taken, if by that means the public peace could be secured. Whatever impression this noble offer may have made upon Charles, and it is difficult to imagine that it could have done otherwise than awaken the strongest feelings of sympathy in the royal breast, it made none on the heartless courtiers around him, who coolly urged, that the full consent of Strafford to his own death, absolved his majesty from every scruple of conscience under which he might labour. The weak and irresolute Charles at length yielded to these importunities, and in breach of the solemn promise which he had made, not to suffer 'a hair of his head to be touched,' granted a commission to four noblemen to give their royal assent to the bill for the earl's attainder and execution.
Strafford, notwithstanding the voluntary tender of his life, which he had made in a letter to the king, was quite unprepared for so sudden and utter a dereliction by his sovereign: When Secretary Carleton waited on him with the intelligence, and mentioned that his lordship's own consent was one of the circumstances which weighed chiefly with the king, in assenting to his death; the earl, in mingled surprise and indignation, asked 'If it was indeed possible that the king had given assent to the bill?' When Carleton assured him of the truth, he exclaimed, 'Put not your trust in princes, nor in the sons of men, for in them there is no salvation.'
Can we wonder that a prince, who could thus faithlessly sacrifice the life of a devoted servant, should, in the ways of Providence, become himself the victim of outrage and violence?
Roman Idea of Treachery.
It was a noble answer which a Roman general once made to a traitor, who came and tendered him the keys of a town that he had besieged:- 'Wretch,' said he, 'know that it is not yet so bad with the Romans, that they should stoop to the baseness of taking towns by treachery.'
A Judge above Resentment.
In the latter half of the last century, the lord justice clerk of Scotland, who had a fine avenue of trees leading to his country house, though not growing on ground which he could call his own, happened to displease the proprietor, who caused all the trees to be cut down. The damage was irreparable, but his lordship, who was of a mild and amiable disposition, submitted to it in silence.
Two or three years afterwards, it happened, that this laird's whole estate was put in jeopardy by the next heir at law producing a prior will, which, though it had long lain dormant, appeared so plain and genuine, that the laird nearly gave up his right; and abandoned all hope, when he found it must be decided by the man he had so deeply injured. The strict integrity of the judge was, however, a sufficient guarantee, that justice would be impartially administered. The judge, when the cause came before him, sifted it, with indefatigable industry and zeal for public justice, when he discovered that the bill was a forgery; and thus, contrary to all expectation, the laird gained his cause. He then waited on the judge with shame and confusion, and acknowledged that he would never have recovered the suit, had it not been for his lordship, as his own counsel had given it up. 'You have nothing to thank me for,' said the judge, 'but my having taken due pains to do you justice. This was a duty I owed to myself, and I should have been unworthy of the place I occupy, if I suffered any injury done to myself, to influence me in the administration of justice.'
About the year 1772, a grocer of the name of Higgins died, and left a considerable sum to a gentleman in London, saying to him at the time that he made his will, 'I do not know that I have any relations, but should you ever by accident hear of such, give them some relief.' The gentleman, though thus left in full and undisputed possession of a large fortune, on which no person could have any legal claim, advertised for the next of kin to the deceased, and after some months were spent in enquiries, he at length discovered a few distant relatives. He called them together to dine with him, and after distributing the whole of the money, according to the different degrees of consanguinity, paid the expenses of advertising out of his own pocket.
Principles in High Life.
At the establishment of the Reformation in England, all future commerce with the See of Rome was strictly prohibited, under the penalties of high treason; and though the law on this subject had been repealed during the reign of the bloody Mary, it was re-enacted in the time of her successor, and was in full force when the Catholic James the Second came to the throne of England. James, regardless of this circumstance, invited the Pope to send an envoy to him, to renew, probably, the old relations between the court of England and the See of Rome; but when the envoy arrived, the Duke of Somerset, whose duty it was, as lard of the bed-chamber, to present him to the king, declined doing so, being advised by his lawyers, that his compliance might bring him under the penalties of the existing laws. Waiting on his majesty, he expressed his regret that he could not serve him upon this occasion, as he was assured it would be against the law. The king asked him, if he did not know that he (the king) was above the law? The duke replied, that whatever the king might be, he himself was not above the law. James was in high displeasure, and turned the duke out of all his employments.
On another occasion, James gave the duke of Norfolk the sword of state to carry before him to the Catholic chapel. When they arrived at the chapel door, the duke, halting there, stepped aside to allow the king to pass. 'My lord,' said his majesty, 'your father would have gone further.' The duke, with great readiness of wit, answered, 'Your majesty's father was the better man, and he would not have gone so far.'
The Speaker Cornwall.
The Right Honourable Charles Wolfran Cornwall, when Speaker of the House of Commons, was strongly solicited to apply to his majesty for a pardon for the notorious John Shepherd, who was related to him, and who was under sentence of death. 'No.' said Mr. Cornwall, 'I should deserve public censure if I attempted to contribute to the prolongation of the life of a man, who has so frequently been a nuisance to society, and has given so many proofs, that kindness to him would be cruelty to others. Were my own son to offend one-tenth part so often as he has done, I should think it my duty rather to solicit his punishment than his pardon.'
A young man desirous of entering into business on his own account, applied to a wholesale linendraper, to give him credit for goods to the amount of £500. Being asked for a reference as to character he mentioned Mr. B., a Quaker, who, on being applied to, gave the young man such a character, as induced the tradesman immediately to let him have the goods he wished for. After being some time in business, and by his conduct justifying the trust reposed in him, he fell into habits of dissipation, neglected his shop, and, a natural consequence, became insolvent. The injured creditor meeting Mr. B., complained that he had been deceived as to the character of the young man, by which he had lost f500. The honest Quaker replied, that he had spoken to the best of his knowledge, and had been deceived. As, however, it was on his representation the credit had been given to the insolvent, he would pay the debt; which he did immediately, by a cheque on his banker.
Duke Of Wharton and the Earl of Stair.
Among the many inconsistencies recorded of the witty and profligate Duke of Wharton, it was none of the least conspicuous, that though personally attached to the family of Hanover, he was politically devoted to the interests of the House of Stuart. As Pope has said, he was 'Traitor to the king he loved.'
An intimate friend having once expressed to the duke, great surprise at the course of his political attachments, his grace was frank enough to declare, that he had sold himself to the cause, for that he was in debt to the Pretender's banker, and until that debt was paid, he must remain a Jacobite. When at Paris, on a visit to the Pretender, his grace's winning address, and shining abilities, gained him the esteem of all the English residing there, and made him an object of political solicitation to the English ambassador, the Earl of Stair. His excellency, sincerely desirous of reclaiming the young duke from the error of his ways, embraced every opportunity of giving him useful admonitions, which were not always, however, taken in the best part. Once in particular, the ambassador extolling the merit and noble behaviour of Wharton's father, added, that he hoped he would follow so illustrious an example of fidelity to his prince, and love to his country. The young duke immediately replied, that he thanked his excellency for his good advice, and as his excellency had also had a worthy and deserving father, he hoped he would likewise copy so bright an original, and tread in his steps.' A severer sarcasm could not have been pronounced, as the ambassador's father had betrayed his master in a manner not very creditable.
A Poor Man above all Reward.
A poor man who was porter to a house in Milan, found a purse which contained two hundred crowns. He immediately advertised it, and was applied to by a gentleman, who gave sufficient proof that the purse belonged to him, and had it instantly restored. Full of gratitude at recovering his loss, the owner offered his benefactor, twenty crowns; but he positively refused to accept of any reward. The gentleman who had lost the money, seeing the porter thus positive, threw his purse on the ground, and in an angry tone exclaimed, 'I have lost nothing, nothing at all, if you thus refuse to accept of so trivial a gratuity.' The porter then consented to receive five crowns, which he immediately distributed among the poor.
The Old Bookcase.
An old and rich clergyman, who had long been the incumbent of a valuable rectory in the vale of Evesharn in Worcestershire, dying in 1784, his household furniture was sold by auction. The curate, who had performed the whole duty of the living for a salary that was very inadequate to the maintenance of his family, purchased an old oaken bookcase. When he had got it home, and was tenanting with loose scraps of paper and old sermons, those drawers which had formerly been the depository of accumulating wealth, he found a drawer which he could not return to its place; in ascertaining the cause, he discovered two bags of gold, of two hundred guineas each. Such a sum would have made the curate happy for life, for it would have purchased an annuity of double the amount of his salary; but the good man considered it not his own, and instantly went back to the Parsonage, and returned it to the administrators, who were contented with expressing their surprise at so unexpected a proof of integrity.
Pardon Refused to Royal Blood.
When a prince of the blood royal of France disgraced himself, by committing robbery and murder in the streets of Paris, Louis XV. would not grant a pardon, though eagerly solicited to do so by a deputation from the Parliament of Paris, who tried him, and suspended their sentence until the royal pleasure should be known. 'My lords and counsellors,' said the king, 'return to your chambers of justice, and promulgate your decree.' 'Consider,' said the first president, 'that the unhappy prince has your majesty's blood in his veins.' 'Yes,' said the king, 'but that blood has become impure, and justice demands that it should be let out; nor would I spare my own son for a crime, for which I should be bound to condemn the meanest of my subjects.' The prince was executed on a scaffold in the court of the Grand Chatelet, on the 12th of August, 1729.
Bankrupt Family made Happy.
A merchant of Bordeaux, who had carried on trade with equal honour and propriety, till he was turned of fifty years of age, was, by a series of unexpected and unavoidable losses, at length unable to comply with his engagements, and his wife and children, in whom he placed his principal happiness, were reduced to a state of destitution, which doubled his distress. He comforted himself and them, however, with the reflection that upon the strictest review of his own conduct, no want either of integrity or of prudence, could be imputed to him. He thought it best, therefore, to repair to Paris, in order to lay a true state of his affairs before his creditors, that being convinced of his honesty, they might be induced to pity his misfortunes, and allow him a reasonable space of time to settle his affairs. He was kindly received by some, and very civilly by all; and wrote immediately to his family, congratulating them on the prospect of a speedy and favourable adjustment of his difficulties. But all his hopes were destroyed by the cruelty of his principal creditor, who caused him to be seized and sent to a gaol. As soon as this melancholy event was known in the country, his eldest son, a youth about nineteen years of age, listening only to the dictates of filial piety, went to Paris, and threw himself at the feet of his father's obdurate creditor, to whom he painted the distress of the family in most pathetic terms, but apparently without effect. At length, in the greatest agony of mind, he said, 'Sir, since you think nothing can compensate for your loss but a victim, let your resentment devolve upon me: let me suffer instead of my father, and the miseries of prison will seem light in procuring the liberty of a parent, to console the sorrows of the distracted and dejected family that I have left behind me. Thus, sir, you will satisfy your vengeance, without sealing their irretrievable ruin.' And here his tears and sighs stopped his utterance. His father's creditor beheld him upon his knees in this condition for a full quarter of an hour. He then sternly desired him to rise and sit down; he obeyed. The gentleman then walked from one corner of the room to the other in great agitation of mind for about the same space of time. At length, throwing his arms about the young man's neck, 'I find,' said he, 'there is something more valuable than money: I have an only daughter, for whose fate I have the utmost anxiety. I am resolved to fix it. In marrying you she must be happy. Go, carry your father's discharge, ask his consent, bring him instantly hither; let us bury in the joy of this alliance the remembrance of all that has passed.'
Among the Roman ambassadors who were sent to Pyrrhus, King of Epirus, to negotiate an exchange of prisoners, was Caius Fabricius. The king being told that he was much esteemed among his countrymen, that he was a man of the greatest honour and integrity, that he preserved the character of a brave and skilful warrior, and that he was in the lowest circumstances in life, he received him more kindly than the rest of his companions; and among other favours, offered him large presents of gold and silver, desiring him to receive them from him, not from any disrespect towards him on account of his poverty, but as a pledge only of that friendship and good will that should in future exist between them. Fabricius rejected all these offers, and others more splendid that were made him; and having executed the duty assigned to him, returned to his poverty and his integrity.
It has been said of the French naval commander, Thurot, that he was strictly honest in circumstances that made the exertion of common honesty an act of the highest magnanimity. When this officer appeared on the coast of Scotland, and landed in order to supply the three vessels he had under him with provisions, he paid a liberal price for everything he wanted, and behaved with so much affability that a countryman ventured to complain to him of an officer who had taken fifty or sixty guineas from him. The officer, on being called on to vindicate himself against the charge, acknowledged the fact, but said that he had divided the money among his men. Thurot immediately ordered the officer to give his bill for the money, which he said should be stopped out of his pay, if they were so fortunate as to return to France.
On another occasion, one of Thurot's officers gave a bill upon a merchant in France, for some provisions that he had purchased. Thurot hearing of the circumstance, informed the countryman that the bill was of no value; and reprimanding the officer severely for the cheat, compelled him to give another bill on a merchant whom he knew would pay the money. What makes this act of integrity still more striking and praiseworthy, is that Thurot's men at this time were so dissatisfied as to be ready to break out into open mutiny.
When Curius Dentatus, who was thrice honoured with dignity of consul, had driven Pyrrhus out of Italy, he divided the land into equal shares amongst all his army, being about four acres each, and reserved no more for himself, saying, that 'no person ought to be a general without being contented with the share of a common soldier.'
When the Samnites, who had been vanquished by him during his consulship, offered to bribe him by large sums of money, he told them 'That he had much rather rule over rich men than be rich himself; and that he that could not be worsted in fight could not be bribed with money.' It is worthy of remark that at the time the Samnites came to bribe Dentatus, he was found by them at his little country farm, sitting by the fire, and roasting turnips.
During the publication of the 'Drapier's Letters,' Swift was particularly careful to conceal himself from being known as the author. The only persons in the secret were Robert Blakely, his butler, whom he employed as an amanuensis, and Dr. Sheridan. It happened that on the very evening before the proclamation, offering a reward Of £300 for discovering the author of these letters, was issued, Robert Blakely stopped out later than usual without his master's leave. The dean ordered the door to be locked at the accustomed hour, and shut him out. The next morning the poor fellow appeared before his master with marks of great contrition. Swift would hear no excuses, but abusing him severely, bade him strip off his livery, and quit the house instantly. 'What!' said he, 'is it because I am in your power that you dare to take these liberties with me? Get out of my house, and receive the reward of your treachery.'
Mrs. Johnson (Stella), who was at the deanery, did not interfere, but immediately despatched a messenger to Dr. Sheridan, who on his arrival, found Robert walking up and down the hall in great agitation. The doctor bade him not be uneasy, as he would try to pacify the dean so that he should continue in his place. 'That is not what vexes me,' replied Robert, 'though to be sure I should be sorry to lose so good a master; but what grieves me to the soul is that my master should have so bad an opinion of me as to suppose me capable of betraying him for any reward whatever.' When this was related to the dean, he was so struck with the honour and generosity of sentiment which it exhibited in one so humble in life, that he immediately restored him to his situation, and was not long in rewarding his fidelity.
The place of verger to the cathedral becoming vacant, Swift called Robert to him, and asked him if he had any clothes of his own that were not a livery. Robert replying in the affirmative, he desired him to take off his livery, and put them on. The poor fellow, quite astonished, begged to know what crime he had committed, that he was to be discharged. The dean bade him do as he was ordered; and when he returned in his new dress, the dean called all the other servants into the room, and told them that they were no longer to consider him as their fellowservant Robert, but as Mr. Blakely, verger of St. Patrick's Cathedral; an office which he had bestowed on him for his faithful services, and as a proof of that sure reward which honesty and fidelity would always obtain.
Sebastianus Foscarinus, some time Duke of Venice, caused to be engraved on his tomb in St. Mark's Church the following exhortation to his countrymen:- 'Hear, 0 ye Venetians! and I will tell you which is the best thing in the world;- it is to contemn and despise riches.'
George Dade, a poor parish boy of Nottinghamshire, educated through the charity of an old lady, acquitted himself so well in service, that from being a gentleman's butler he was recommended as house-steward. Here his strict honesty and attention in a place of great trust made him a great favourite with his master, and still more so with an unmarried sister, who manifested her partiality to him in a way that could not be misunderstood; at this circumstance, Dade became uneasy and scarcely knew whether to repel or encourage the lady; however, a sense of duty got the better of his inclination and ambition; he mentioned his suspicions to his master, and begged that the lady might be diverted from an individual so unworthy of her rank in life. Struck at such a generous instance of honesty and self-denial, the master removed his sister, and as a reward for Dade got him a very eligible appointment in a public office, where his talents and industry raised him rapidly, and soon afterwards he was in a situation to accept the hand of the lady without any conscious inferiority, an union to which her brother readily consented.
Prayers of the Guilty.
When Peter the Great was about five-and-twenty years of age he was seized with an inflammatory fever, which brought him to the brink of the grave. Public prayers for his recovery were made in all the churches, and the chief judge came to his Majesty, according to ancient custom, and inquired whether it would not be proper to give liberty to nine malefactors, who had been condemned for murders and highway robberies, in order that these criminals might address their prayers to Heaven for his recovery. The Czar commanded the judge to read the heads of accusation against these men. The judge obeyed, when the Czar, with a weak and faltering voice, said, 'Dost thou think that in granting pardon to those wretches, and impeding the course of justice, I should do a good action, and that God, to reward it, would prefer the prayers of murderers and wicked men that have forgotten even him? Go, I command thee, to execute the sentence pronounced on these criminals, and if anything can obtain from heaven the restoration of my health, I hope it will be this act of justice.'
Mr. Elwes, the miser, was perhaps the only person who, in modern times, got a seat in Parliament for nothing, or for eighteenpence, which was the sum, he said, it cost him to get returned for the county of Suffolk. His seat costing him so little, he never sought to make anything by it, for although he sat in the House twelve years, a more faithful or a more incorruptible representative never entere'd St. Stephen's Chapel. In the whole of his parliamentary life he never asked or received a favour, and never gave a vote but he could solemnly and conscientiously say, 'I believe I am doing what is for the best.' He voted as a man would do who felt that there were people to live after him; as one who wished to deliver, unmortgaged, to his children the public estate of government, and who felt that if he suffered himself to become a pensioner on it he thus far embarrassed his posterity, and injured the inheritance.
As a legislator, Mr. Elwes could never be said to belong to any particular party, for he had the very singular quality of not determining how to vote before he heard what was said on the subject. On this account he was not reckoned an acquisition by either side, and he was perfectly indifferent to the opinions of both.
When Mr. Elwes first took his seat, in 1742, the opposition of that time, headed by Mr. Fox, had great hopes that he would be of their party. These hopes, however, were disappointed, for Mr. Elwes immediately joined the party of Lord North, and that from a fair and honest belief that his measures were right. But Mr. Elwes never was of that decided cast of men that a minister would best approve. He would frequently dissent, and really vote, as his conscience led him. Hence many members of the opposition looked upon him as a man 'off and on,' or, as they styled him, 'a parliamentary coquette.' It is remarkable that both parties were equally fond of having him as a nominee on their contested elections; frequently he was the chairman, and he was remarkable for the patience with which he always heard the counsel.
Mr. Elwes went on in his support of Lord North and the American war till the country grew tired of this coercive measure; but the support given by Mr. Elwes was of the most disinterested kind, for no man suffered more by the continuance of the war than he did.
When Lord Shelburne came into power, Mr. Elwes was found supporting for a time his administration; but not long after this he voted with Mr. Fox against his lordship, and thus added another confirmation to the political opinion that was held of him, 'that no man or party of men could be sure of him.' Sir Edward Astley, Sir George Savile, Mr. Powis, and Mr. Marsham frequently talked to him on his whimsical versatility. But it will, undoubtedly, admit of a question in politics, how far a man thus voting on either side, as his opinion led him at the moment, be or be not a desirable man in aiding the good government of a country?
Mr. Elwes having thus voted against Lord Shelburne, gave his entire support to the celebrated coalition of Lord North and Mr. Fox. It is imagined that he thought they were the only men who, at that time, were able to govern this country.
In private life, notwithstanding his avarice, all his dealings were marked by the most inflexible integrity, and although to save a halfpenny at a turnpike gate he would ride a dozen miles out of his way, yet he would not do a dishonourable act to gain millions.
Marquess of Winchester.
A more striking contrast in the same family could scarcely be exhibited than between the first and the fifth Marquesses of Winchester. The first rose to the highest offices in the State, which he preserved in the most critical times, by being, as he acknowledged, 'a willow, not an oak;' a description which did more credit to his wit than to his discretion or integrity.
The fifth Marquess of Winchester was distinguished for his unshaken attachment to Charles I. When the rebellion was at its height, the marquess resolutely disregarded every overture that was made to him by the parliament, the leaders of which offered him almost his own terms, knowing what an influence and respectability a man of such honour and probity must give their cause. Nothing, however, could induce him to desert the unfortunate monarch; and when Basing-house, in Hampshire, the place of his residence, was three times besieged, he declared, that 'if the king had not another foot of ground in England, he would hold that spot for him to the last extremity.' Dryden, in his epitaph on the marquess, has alluded to his inflexible loyalty, in mentioning him as one;
'Who in impious times undaunted stood,
And 'midst rebellion, dar'd be just and good
Whose arms asserted, and whose suffering more
Confirmed the cause for which he fought before.'
Peter the Great.
Peter the Great having been informed that his subjects suffered much from lawsuits, owing to the avarice and dishonesty of those lawyers employed, who, while any money was to be got from their clients, delayed terminating the process, he determined to remedy the grievance. He fixed the number of lawyers, and apportioning them a sufficient salary, ordered that they should officiate for all his subjects gratis, and that whoever should be found to accept a bribe or fee, or should be dilatory in forwarding a process, should have the knout, and be condemned to perpetual banishment. Though this law may seem severe, yet it was found beneficial, and in a few years, the lawyers were as remarkable for their integrity, as they had previously been for their gross bribery and corruption.
When Admiral Haddock was dying, he called his son, and thus addressed him: 'Considering my rank in life, and public services for so many years, I shall leave you but a small fortune; but, my boy, it is honestly got, and will wear well; there are no seamen's wages or provisions, nor one single penny of dirty money in it.'
The most illustrious of the Theban generals, Epaminondas, had such an utter disregard for the things of this life, and his whole soul was so wrapped up in the pursuits of immortality, that he had but one upper garment, and that a poor one; when there was occasion to have it cleaned or mended, he was obliged, for want of another, to stay at home till it was returned from the fuller's or tailor's. At one time, he had a confidential offer made him, from the Persian king, of a large sum of gold, but refused it with disdain; and 'in my mind,' saith AElian, 'he showed himself more generous in the refusal, than the other did in the gift of it.' When he died on the field of Mantinaea, he did not leave behind him enough of worldly estate, to pay the expenses of his interment; the only thing found in his house, was a little iron spit.
When Gustavus the Third, King of Sweden, was in France, he was frequently solicited to visit Dr. Franklin, which he always declined. One of the French guards, who could use a little freedom with his majesty, begged to know why he denied himself an honour which every crowned head in Europe would be proud to embrace? 'No man', said the monarch, 'regards the doctor's scientific accomplishments more than I do; but the king, who affects to like an enthusiast for liberty, is a hypocrite. As a philosopher, I love and admire the doctor; but as a politician, I hate him; and nothing shall ever induce me to appear on terms of friendship and personal esteem, with a man whom my habits and situation oblige me to detest.'
'I knew Burnet, Bishop of Salisbury,' says Dr. King; 'he was a famous party man, and easily imposed upon by any lying spirit of his own faction; but he was a better pastor than any man who is now seated on the bishops' bench. Although he left a large family when he died, yet he left them nothing more than their mother's fortune. He always declared that he should think himself guilty of the greatest crime if he was to raise fortunes for his children out of the revenue of his bishopric.'
Madame de Sevigne has said, le monde n'a Point de longues injustices; it were better to say, there will be no injustice in the next world; for that which is committed in this, is often but too lasting in its effects. During a whole century, the Duke of Marlborough has been represented in books, both at home and abroad, as a consummate general indeed, but as being devoid of honour and principle; an intriguer, a traitor, a peculator; and so careless of human life, and of human sufferings, that for the sake of his own sordid interests, he wantonly prolonged a war, which, but for his ambition and his avarice, might many times have been brought to an end. These foul charges appear, now, to have had their origin in the envy and jealousy of the very men whom, in the course of his political life, he patronized most, and for some of whom he had exerted himself as advantageously, as disinterestedly. His enemies, when they came into power, gave these falsehoods the sanction of authority, because it was necessary to sacrifice Marlborough, before they could sacrifice the interest of their country. When Louis XIV. heard of Marlborough's removal, he added, with his own hand, in his dispatches to his Envoy at London, 'The affair of displacing the Duke of Marlborough, will do for us all we can desire;' and that he judged rightly, the disgraceful treaty of Utrecht will attest to all posterity. The calumnies which thus originated, and were thus sanctioned, have prevailed till the present times, because they have found their way from libels into history; and still worse, because they were propagated in the writings of Swift, a principal actor in the moral assassination which was planned and perpetrated by his party, against the reputation of this great man.
Marlborough's character has now been laid open to the world, by the life of his grace, which Mr. Coxe has compiled from the family records at Blenheim, and other unquestionable documents, hitherto secreted, as it were, from the public eye. And from these it appears most clearly, that never was the integrity or patriotism of any public man more unfairly aspersed.
The charge of prolonging the war, for his own benefit, meets, in particular, with the most satisfactory refutation. When the King of France, after the loss of Lisle, offered to negotiate for peace, the Marquess de Torcy, who was sent to conduct the treaty, offered Marlborough two millions of livres, if he could obtain for the House of Bourbon certain advantages, and double that sum, if he could obtain others, pledging the word and honour of the king for its payment. Marlborough refused the bribe; but such is the uncharitableness of party animosity, that he has been reproached with having only refused it. From De Torcy's account of the affair, it does appear that he returned no answer to the proposal, and changed the conversation immediately; but whenever it was resumed, by the manner in which he adhered to his instructions, he proved to the marquess, that it was as impossible to prevail over him by such base means as to beat him in the field. An expression of indignation was not called for. In making the offer, De Torcy only obeyed the commands of his sovereign, whose money had too often before been very graciously received by men of great name in England; and the English government had, through the agency of Marlborough himself, been accustomed to employ the same golden arguments with the ministers of the allied powers. The offer, therefore, was not then as it would be in these days, an insult. De Torcy acted conformably to the times when he made it and Marlborough, conformably to himself, when he received it with silent disdain, and pursued the business of their meeting with an unaltered temper.
In his administration of the war supplies, the duke was accused of peculation, because he received the same perquisites that had been always allowed to commanders-in-chief on distant expeditions for secret service money; which he had been privileged to receive, moreover, and to employ, without account, by the queens royal warrant; and which had been applied, as Marlborough said, in his defence, 'with such success, that through the blessing of God, and the bravery of the troops, we might in great measure attribute most of the advantages of the war in the Low Countries to the timely and good advice procured with the help of this money.'
Earl Poulet, while vindicating in the House of Lords the Duke of Ormondy who had succeeded Marlborough in the command of the army in the Low Countries, for taking the field with Eugene, while he was at the same tune in secret communication with Marshal Villars, and had secret orders not to fight, was pleased to say, 'that he did not resemble a certain general, who led his troops to the slaughter, to cause a great number of officers to be knocked on the head, in a battle, or against stone walls, in order to fill his pockets, by disposing of their commissions.' Marlborough heard this atrocious calumny in silence; but as soon as the house rose, he sent a message to him, by Lord Mohun, inviting him to take the air in the country. Earl Poulet could not conceal from his lady the uncomfortable emotions which this message excited, and the duel was prevented, by a verbal order from Queen Anne to Marlborough, enjoining him to proceed no farther in the affair. As has been remarked, it is a sufficient punishment for this slanderer, that he is remembered in history, for this and this only; so easily may the coarsest, meanest mind purchase for itself a perpetuity of disgrace!
Marlborough seems to have felt keenly the cruel imputations to which his conduct was exposed from party malevolence; and long before he was driven from power, he often declared that nothing but a sentiment of gratitude to the queen, and his friendship for Godolphin, prevented him from instantly retiring. 'I have had the good luck,' said he, in one of his familiar letters to his wife, 'to deserve better from all Englishmen, than to be suspected of not being in the true interest of my country, which I am in, and ever will be, without being a faction; and this principle shall govern me for the little remainder of my life; I must not think of being popular here, but I shall have the satisfaction of going to my grave with the opinion of having acted as an honest man.'
The most intimate friend of Marlborough, the greatest man of the age, was, perhaps, the next greatest, the Lord Treasurer Godolphin.
From an early period of the reign of Charles the Second, an intimate connexion had subsisted between them, which took its rise from their intercourse in public employments, and was afterwards cemented by a similarity in political principles, both being Tories and high churchmen; but without the rancour and prejudice by which all parties were then distinguished. Their union was rendered more cordial by the diversity of their talents and pursuits; Marlborough being attached to the profession of arms, and Godolphin to civil employments. In the revolution which was the test of so many public and private connexions, Godolphin acted a less prominent, and also a less doubtful, part than his noble friend. He did not forsake the interest of James, till the misguided monarch became wanting to himself; and he made a vigorous opposition to the breach of the hereditary succession, caused by the elevation of William to the throne. Still, however, he was continued in the commission of the treasury by the new monarch, such was the high opinion which he entertained of his abilities and integrity. When his friend Marlborough fell under the odium of peculation, he shared it with him. Thirty millions are said to have been missing during his treasurership; and yet, at his death, all the property which he left to his family did not exceed £12,000.
At the time that Europeans were not very numerous in India, and such individuals as could not reconcile themselves to marrying the natives, used to send a commission to England, that a female for a wife should be transmitted to them, a gentleman of property in Bengal, gave orders to his factor in England, to send him a young lady of good family, well educated, and with a tolerable share of personal charms, promising to make her his wife. The factor executed his commission to the best of his judgment; but when the lady arrived in India, by one of those accidents, which, though very frequent, cannot be accounted for, she failed in captivating the heart of her expected husband, who received her with a coldness almost bordering on aversion. The lady scarcely seemed to notice it, for she was as little inspired as the gentleman. A few interviews convinced them that they were not made for each other, and the lady prepared to embark for Europe. In taking his leave of her, the gentleman begged to entrust to her care a letter to his factor in London, who had consigned her to India. She undertook the charge, and when she arrived in town, was astonished to find that the letter to the factor enclosed another to herself, lamenting the circumstances which prevented their union, and begging her acceptance of a present of 15,000 as some compensation for the disappointment his wayward fancy had occasioned.
Numerianus was a teacher of boys in Rome, when moved with a sudden and extraordinary impulse, he abandoned his boys and his books, passed over secretly into Gaul, and there pretending that he was a senator, and commissioned by Severus, the emperor, raised an army, made war against Albinus, the enemy of Severus, and routed him in several engagements. The emperor receiving intelligence that one Numerianus was doing such wonders in his name, concluded, that though unknown to him, he must be one of the senatorial order, and wrote a letter to him as such, in which he gave him due praise for the services he had rendered him, and assured him of every support in prosecuting that career of success which he had so gloriously commenced. Numerianus, thus confirmed in his assumed command, made large additions to his forces, and went on achieving one victory after another, till he had completely subdued the enemy, and was enabled to remit to Severus, out of the spoil taken, no less than one thousand seven hundred and fifty myriads of drachms. All these things having achieved, the ex-schoolmaster returned to Rome, presented himself to the emperor, acknowledged the imposture of which he had been guilty, and instead of petitioning for any reward in wealth or honours, for the great services he had rendered, and the large sums he had brought into the public treasury, only prayed that the emperor would not think ill of what he had done. Severus, however, acted but meanly towards such romantic gallantry, and disinterestedness. He was cold in his praises, and bestowed on the victorious volunteer a pension which was just sufficient to enable him to retire into the country, and spend the rest of his life in a respectable obscurity.
Respect due to Opposition.
When Lord North, in a circle of statesmen and courtiers, was once naming the Marquess of Granby to George III. in terms of resentment, or rather of rancour, for siding with the opposition, his majesty stopped him short, with saying, 'My lord, when men of such integrity oppose the measures of government, no matter whether from reason or mistake it rather demands from administration more scrupulous enquiry into their own conduct than any animadversion on that of the opposer. From such a scrutiny only, and that must be a candid one, can the true motive of a good man's opposition, and the means of recovering him, be discovered.'
The Duke of Grafton.
Among the charges brought by Junius against the Duke of Grafton, none was afirst sight calculated to make a stronger impression to his prejudice, than that which regarded his conduct as hereditary ranger of Whittlebury Forest. It soon appeared, however, that invincible as the great writer might be, in bold invective, and elegant declamation, when he condescended to state facts, refutation was easy. 'The timber in Whittlebury Forest,' says a writer, who had held some communication on the subject with Mr. Pitt, surveyor-general of the king's woods, 'is undoubtedly vested in the crown, and the right of selling it has been repeatedly exercised. The right to the underwood is as clearly vested in the Duke of Grafton, as that of the herbage, at the proper periods in the vicinage. In the attempt alluded to by Junius, to cut down the timber, the deputy surveyor was stopped by an order from the treasury, because the felling of the timber at that time, would have destroyed all the underwood, which would of course have been great injury to private property, and would likewise have deprived the neighbourhood of the right of commonage for nine or ten years. The timber was no longer withheld from the public service than was absolutely necessary. It had been preserved for that purpose, with an attention and an integrity perhaps not equalled in any of the other royal forests. At the proper period (about nine or ten years after), the timber was felled, as each coppice came in the course of cutting, according to the rule of the practice all over England. The surveyor general's report, made in the year 1776, of the state of the enclosures in his majesty's forests, is a confirmation of the care taken by the duke, of the timber for the public service.'
Few ministers have shown greater disinterestedness in money matters, and superiority to the little things, which mere courtiers term great, than William Pitt. Soon after he became first lord of the treasury, and at a moment when his continuance in that situation was extremely questionable, he was offered, by his majesty, the clerkship of the Pells, worth £3000 a year; but respectfully declined accepting it. Having been only a short time in his majesty's service, he conceived that he had no claim upon the public, and the very peculiar circumstances in which he stood, instead of operating as an inducement to seize that opportunity of securing to himself a provision, determined him to advise that the office should be disposed of in a way that would benefit neither himself, nor any relation or friend. Colonel Barre, his political opponent, had a pension Of £3000 a year, and to save this sum to the country, Mr. Pitt got the clerkship of the Pells conferred on the colonel. Mr. Pitt was afterwards offered the garter, as a mark of his majesty's esteem; but this also he declined. The king was so much struck with these admirable traits in Mr. Pitt's character, that on a subsequent occasion, on his applying for a tellership in behalf of a friend's son, his majesty, while he granted the appointment, added in a note, that he should have been better pleased to see some arrangement in favour of Mr. Pitt himself. When Mr. Pitt at length condescended to accept of the sinecure appointment of Warden of the Cinque Ports, it was literally thrust upon him by his royal master. The moment the office became vacant by the death of the Earl of Guildford, the king sent the following letter to Mr. Pitt
'Windsor, August 6th, 1792.
Having this moment received the account of the death of the Earl of Guildford, I take the first opportunity of acquainting Mr. Pitt, that the Wardenship of the Cinque Ports is an office for which I will not receive any recommendations; having positively resolved to confer it on him, as a mark of that regard which his eminent services have deserved from me. I am so bent on this, that I shall be severely offended at any attempt to decline. I have entrusted these my intentions to the Earl of Chatham, Lord Grenville, and Mr. Dundas.'
Mr. Pitt had now been prime minister nearly nine years; he had abandoned a lucrative profession to devote himself to the public service, and he had expended the whole of his private fortune, in addition to his official, in maintaining the dignity of his station, and under all these circumstances, he conceived he did himself no dishonour by accepting with gratitude this mark of his sovereign's kindness and approbation: nor has the propriety of his conduct ever been called in question by any party or person: for he 'Who govern'd kingdoms, left no wealth behind.'
An Exemplary Administration.
Mahommed, King of Khouristan, was, like many other Eastern princes, sunk in sloth and effeminacy. Chance, which does sometimes more than prudence, had given him a good Minister, who was a sincere lover of justice, of his master, and of the country confided to his government. He made no enemies, but such as he offended by a thorough disdain of all parasites; an integrity which neither blandishments nor money could shake. A conspiracy hatched against him in the seraglio, drove him at length from the counsels of his prince. He neither offered to justify himself, nor to solicit his restoration; he simply wrote to the prince, 'That as it was always his desire to be useful, he requested of his highness to grant him some barren lands, which he promised to cultivate, and which would be sufficient for his subsistence.' Mahommed, who could not but esteem a man that had served him with fidelity, gave orders to search for some uncultivated estate in his dominions. None such, however, was to be found. All the lands were fertile; commerce and agriculture equally encouraged, furnished the inhabitants with plenty; and throughout the whole land of Khouristan, there was neither an indigent person, nor a barren territory, to be found.
The monarch, to whom this report was made, by persons who were ignorant of the inferences to be necessarily drawn from it, sent a message to the discarded vizier, stating that he had no barren lands to give him, but that he might make choice of any portion of cultivated territory which he pleased.
'I desire nothing more,' replied this great minister, ' as a recompense for all my services, than the happiness which this answer gives me. I was willing my master should know the condition in which I have left his kingdom. Nothing remains for me but to wish that my successors may follow my example.'
The king was awakened by this answer to a just sense of the value of the man whom he had inconsiderately discarded from his service, and immediately reinstated him in the chief administration of the affairs of the kingdom, to which he had been so great a benefactor.
The following extract from the will of Christopher Nicholson, Esq., of Meath, in Ireland, records an instance of integrity which it rewards.
'I give and bequeath unto Edward Newenham, of the city of Dublin, Bart., lately dismissed from his revenue employment, one bond in the penal sum of £667 7s. 4d., and one other bond in the penal sum of £1000. Both said bonds to be to and for his the said Sir Edward Newenham's own use and benefit, as my share of tribute for his faithful and splendid performance of his parliamentary trust, at the risk, and at length the loss, of his purchased livelihood, in these trying days of anarchy, oppression, and corruption.
It is related of one of the Roman emperors, that wishing to place the most worthy of his courtiers in offices of the greatest importance, he resolved on an ingenious expedient to ascertain their merits. He pretended that he would banish all those from his presence and court, who did not renounce Christianity. A considerable number, in whom the love of place was more predominant than religious integrity, renounced Christianity. The prince then promoted those who kept firm to their religion, and banished the others from his presence, saying, 'That they who were not true to their God would not be faithful to their prince.'
The Rev. Theophilus Lindsey presented the singular phenomenon of a clergyman resigning a valuable living, not for the sake of better preferment, but from motives of conscience. This gentleman was Vicar of Catterick in Yorkshire, which living he resigned on a principle of integrity, declining to officiate any longer as a minister of the church of England, because he could not conscientiously use its forms of worship. Mr. Lindsey's religious principles were Unitarian, and when he left Catterick he became a preacher amongst this class of Protestant dissenters, in their chapel in Essex Street.
A similar instance of conscientious integrity occurred in the person of Dr. Robertson of Wolverhampton, who thus explains his motives for giving up a benefice. 'In debating this matter with myself,' he says, 'besides the arguments directly to the purpose, several strong collateral considerations came in upon the positive side of the question. The straitness of my circumstances pressed me close; a numerous family, quite unprovided for, pleaded with the most pathetic and moving eloquence; and the infirmities and wants of age now coming fast upon me, were urged feelingly. But one single consideration prevailed over all these. That the Creator and Governor of the universe, whom it is my first duty to worship and adore, being the God of truth, it must be disagreeable to him to profess, subscribe, or declare in any matter relating to his worship and service, what is not believed strictly and simply to be true.'
William Penn, and the Indians.
Voltaire says, that the treaty which William Penn made with the Indians in America, is the only treaty between those people and the Christians that was not ratified by an oath, and was never infringed. Mr. Penn endeavoured to settle his new colony upon the most equitable principles, and took great pains to conciliate the good will of the natives. He appointed commissioners to treat with them, and purchased from them the land of the province, acknowledging them to be the original proprietors. As the land was of little value to the natives, he obtained his purchase at a moderate rate; but by his equitable conduct, he gave them so high an opinion of him, and by his kind and humane behaviour so ingratiated himself in their favour, that the American Indians have ever since expressed a great veneration for his memory, and styled the governor of Pennsylvania, onas, which in their language signifies a pen. At the renewal of the treaties with Sir William Keith, the governor, in 1722, the Indians, as the highest compliment they could pay him, said, 'We esteem, and love you, as if you were William Penn himself.'
The integrity of the Indians has been no less remarkable; while they have often attempted reprisals on land that had been wrested from them, they have always respected such as has been purchased from their ancestors.
When Mr. Pitt, afterwards Earl of Chatham, had determined on the dismissal of Lord Edgecumbe from the ministry, and intimated the necessity of his resignation; his lordship said it was excessively impolitic thus to turn out persons of rank, and of great parliamentary interest. 'If that is the case,' said Mr. Pitt, 'let me feel myself, and tell you that I despise your parliamentary interest, and do not want your assistance. I trust to the uprightness of my measures, for the support and confidence of my sovereign, and the favour and attachment of the people; and acting on these principles, I dare look in the face the proudest and most powerful connexions of this country.'
When, about half a century ago, there was a general outcry against the civil and military servants of the East India Company, for their extortions and peculations in India, no man came in for a larger share of the public odium than Lord Clive; and yet the history of his government is marked by many traits of singular disinterestedness and integrity. There was, undoubtedly, great laxity in the general principle on which Clive and his associates proceeded; they conceived, to use his lordship's own words, that 'the receipt of presents was not dishonourable, when made for services done to a prince, when they were not exacted from him by compulsion, when he was in a state of independence, and could do with his money what he pleased, and when they were not received to the prejudice of the company;' while an unanimous resolution of the House of Commons had declared the sound justice of the case to be, 'that all acquisitions made under the influence of a military force, or by treaty with foreign powers, of right belong to the state,' and that 'to appropriate them to a private use, is illegal.' Supposing them, however, to have been sincere in their declarations of what they conceived to be their line of duty, it must be allowed that the deviations from it, were neither many, nor any of them so flagrant, as party malignity would have had the world to believe.
Early in 1739, when Lord Clive was president of the company's affairs in Bengal, he received intelligence that the Dutch were forming a great armament at Batavia, and that it was intended for Bengal, though the Dutch and English were then at peace. In August of that same year, the arrival of a Dutch ship in the river, full of troops, brought matters to a certainty; it was soon followed by six others, having on board, in all, six hundred Europeans and, eight hundred Malays. 'I was sensible,' says Clive, 'how very critical my situation was at that time. I risked both my life and fortune, in taking upon myself to commence hostilities against a nation with whom we were at peace; but I knew the fate of Bengal, and of the company, depended upon it, and therefore I run that risk.' At this time, by much the greatest part of Lord Clive's fortune was in the hands of these very Dutch. The company's treasury was so full, in consequence of previous successes, that the governor and council had declined giving their servants any bills in their favour, payable in England: and his lordship was, therefore, under the necessity of sending his fortune home by bills upon the Dutch. These bills were made payable by instalments, one third part every year; so that he was morally certain, that if he beat the Dutch, two-thirds of the sum sent, would remain in the hands of their East India Company, when the news would reach them of their ill-success in Bengal. Most truly then might he be said to risk his fortune, as well as his life, by venturing on hostilities; and the larger that fortune may have been, the more highly ought we to esteem the spirit of integrity, which held it all as nothing, when placed in competition with the public interest. The Dutch were beaten; in twenty-four hours, Lord Clive destroyed every ship they had, and the whole of their army was either killed, wounded, or made prisoners; but happily his lordship's fortune escaped the peril to which his victory exposed it. When the bills arrived in Holland, the Dutch Company refused to accept them in the manner drawn, but offered to make prompt payment, on condition of receiving a deduction of about £15,000. Lord Clive's attorneys considering the critical situation of the two countries, thought it best to accept payment on these terms; but of this arrangement, his lordship could have no knowledge, at the time he left his fortune a prey to the Dutch resentment.
On Lord Clive's return to England, the company approved, in the most flattering manner, what he had done; and as a testimony of their esteem, presented him with a sword richly set with diamonds. Nor did their commendation and good opinion of his services terminate here; Bengal became soon after the scene of great troubles; Calcutta was taken and sacked by the Nabob Suarjah Dowlah; and the factory broken up and expelled. The company immediately sent to Lord Clive, and requested that he would go once more to India, to protect and secure their possessions: they expressed their conviction that his presence alone could restore their affairs to a prosperous situation. 'I did not then take a moment,' says Lord Clive, 'to accept the offer. I went abroad, resolving not to benefit myself one single shilling at my return: and I strictly and religiously adhered to it.'
He retook Calcutta, re-established the factory, dethroned the perfidious Nabob, and by new treaties and alliances, spread the power and influence of the company far beyond what the most sanguine minds could have anticipated.
When, in the course of these events, the decisive victory of Plassy opened the gates of Muxadabad to the English arms, his lordship had such an opportunity of enriching himself, as perhaps no man in modern times ever possessed. The city of Muxadabad is as extensive, populous, and rich, as the city of London, with this difference; that in the former, there are more individuals possessing singly immense wealth, than in the latter.
'Every one of these,' says Lord Clive, 'as well as every other man of property, made me the greatest offers; they are usual in the East, on all such occasions, and only what they expected would have been required from them; and had I accepted of these offers, I might have been in possession of millions, which the Court of Directors could not have dispossessed me of. But preferring the reputation of the English nation, the interest of the nabob, and the advantage of the company, to all pecuniary considerations, I refused all offers that were made me; not only then, but to the last hour of my continuance in the company's service in Bengal.' 'On that day,' said he, on another occasion, when under examination before the House of Commons, 'being under no kind of restraint, but that of my own conscience, I might have become too rich for a subject; but I had fixed upon that period to accomplish all my views whatever; and from that period to this hour, which is a space of near fifteen years, I have not benefited myself, directly or indirectly, the value of one shilling, the jagghire excepted.'
The jagghire here alluded to by his lordship, was a present made to him by the nabob Meer Jaffier, as a reward for the share which his lordship had in raising him to the government. The value of the jaghire is stated, in a list of presents made to the company's servants at that period, to have been worth £30,000 a year; the government, of which it may be said to have been the price, was estimated by Clive to be worth three millions and a half per annum; so that as far as the nabob at least was concerned, he had no reason to complain of the bargain. In a conversation which Mr. Sykes had with him on the subject, on the latter observing that he thought it a large reward, 'he told me,' says Mr. Sykes, 'that it was very inadequate to the services he had received from the colonel (Clive), but more especially owing to the colonel's behaviour upon the capture of Muxadabad, when the whole of the inhabitants expected to be put under contribution; that none of them had experienced a conduct of that kind; but that their persons, as well as their properties, were entirely secure to them.'
When the proceedings which took place in Parliament, made it doubtful whether his lordship would be able to retain the fortune he had amassed, it was thus nobly he gave vent to his feelings on the occasion:
'Sir, I cannot say that I either sit or rest easy, when I find by that extensive resolution, declaring the illegality of private presents, that all I have in the world is confiscated, and that no one will take my security for a shilling. These, sir, are dreadful apprehensions to remain under; and I cannot look upon myself but as a bankrupt; nothing my own, and totally unable to give any security, while these resolutions are pending. Such, sir, is the situation I am in; I have not anything left which I can call my own, except my paternal fortune Of £500 per annum, and which has been in my family for ages past, but upon this I am content to live, and perhaps I shall find more real content of mind, and happiness, than in the trembling affluence of an unsettled fortune... I have a conscious innocence within me, which tells me that my conduct is irreproachable. Frangas non flectas. They may take from me what I have; they may, as they think, make me poor, but I will be happy.'
Marquess de Bouille.
A poor man having freighted a small vessel with some goods at St. Lucie, and intending to dispose of them at St. Kitt's, hired a few sailors to navigate her. During the voyage, they formed a plot to carry the vessel to Martinique, where they expected to have the vessel and cargo given them. The Marquess de Bouille was at that time governor of Martinique, and refused to permit such a robbery to be committed, even on an enemy. He ordered the sailors to be detained as prisoners of war; and sent the vessel and owner, with a flag of truce, to Lord Hood, who was then cruising off the island, and with permission to go unmolested to the original place of destination.
A Turkish Partner.
M. de Vaubran, a French merchant, entered into partnership with Mustapha Zari, a native of Turcomania, who lived at Constantinople, and traded in silks. After they had carried on business for four years, M. de Vaubran had occasion to return home, to take possession of an estate that had been left him; he therefore desired that the accounts between them might be settled. When the balance came to be adjusted, it was discovered, that M. de Vaubran remained indebted to his partner, nine hundred sequins; for which he gave him five sealed bags, and desired him to count the money, 'No,' replied Mustapha, 'we have dealt together thus long, and I have found you an honest man; God forbid that I should mistrust my friend at our parting.'
The next day, M. de Vaubran took horse for Smyrna; and it happened, that as soon as he was gone, Mustapha had occasion to pay fifteen hundred sequins to a merchant of Holland. He took the five bags he had received from his partner, and making up the remainder, gave them to the Dutchman, saying, that he had not counted the money in those five bags, as he took them on the credit of a very worthy and honest man, who had been his partner. The suspicious Christian would not show so much generosity and confidence, for he immediately broke open the seals in the presence of Mustapha, and having counted the money, said it was all right, and was about to put it up again. Mustapha, who had a quick eye, and being well versed in counting money, perceived that there was a great deal more than nine hundred sequins; he therefore said, he must count the money himself, as he suspected there was some mistake.
The Dutchman durst not deny this privilege to a true believer under the Grand Seignior's protection, whatever he might have done in his own country. When Mustapha counted the money, he found eleven hundred and fifty sequins in the bags given him by his partner. Having settled with the Dutch merchant, he sent an express with the two hundred and fifty sequins to M. de Vaubran, who he knew was to remain some days at a town on the road about twenty leagues from Constantinople. With the money, he transmitted this letter: 'My friend, God forbid that I should detain anything beyond my right, or deal with thee as a certain Frank would have done with me; for thou knowest I took the money on thy credit, without counting it: but being to pay it away this day to a Dutch merchant, he not having the same faith, would count it; and finding these two hundred and fifty sequins over and above the sum supposed to be in the bags, yet would have smuggled them in his Dutch conscience, had not I discovered his fraud, and prevented him. I send them to thee as thy right, supposing it was some oversight: God prohibits all injustice.'
The Emperor Charles the Fifth was strongly urged to violate the warrant of safe conduct which he had given to Martin Luther, but he nobly replied, that he would not follow the example of his predecessor, Maximilian (who had not kept his promise with John Huss and Jerome of Prague), and thus do an act that would make him ashamed of looking any one in the face for the remainder of his life.
The Emperor Probus.
Of all the Caesars, none was more worthy of the name he bore, than the Emperor Probus. He was the son of a simple tribune, but by his singular uprightness and courage, acquired such early renown, that the Emperor Valerian dispensed with the laws, in order to create a tribune at the age of twenty-two. He was afterwards appointed general of the army in Egypt, against Zenobia's Lieutenants. and compelled that province to submit to the Romans. His behaviour towards the soldiers was of the most endearing description. He protected them against the oppression of their officers, was sedulous to promote their comfort by every means in his power; and whatever booty was taken from the enemy, he left it to be wholly distributed among them, reserving. only the arms and trophies. When after his ascension to the imperial dignity, on the death of the Emperor Tacitus, he returned from a successful campaign in Germany, he gave a detail of his operations to the senate, in which nothing but the greatest modesty, and most disinterested sentiments, were expressed. 'Nine kings,' said he, 'are come to prostrate themselves at our feet, or rather at yours.' Most of the cities had presented him with crowns of gold, but instead of retaining these, he requested to be allowed to consecrate them to the gods. Probus was cut off by a mutiny of his troops, in the midst of a career which. promised to revive the age of Augustus; but so general was the grief occasioned by his death, that his soldiers themselves repented bitterly of their conduct, and erected a monument to his memory, with an Inscription, testifying to posterity his many rare and splendid virtues.
Sir Walter Ralegh observes of Queen Elizabeth, 'that she would set the reason of her meanest subjects, against the authority of her greatest counsellors. By this means she raised the ordinary customs of London about fifty thousand pounds a year, without any additional impost. When Lord Burleigh, the Earl of Leicester, and Secretary Walsingham, had set themselves so much against a poor waiter of the Custom-house, called Cardwarder, as to command the Grooms of the Chamber to refuse him admission to the queen, she sent for him, and listened to his petition and advice. It was in vain that her ministers told her she disgraced them, and lessened her own dignity, by giving ear to the complaints of busy meddlers. She used to say, that if any should complain unjustly against her ministers, she knew well enough how to punish them; but if they had reason for the cormplaint they offered her, she was queen of all, the small as well as the great, and would not suffer herself to be besieged by servants, who could have no motive for wishing it, but their interest in the oppression of others.
Tai and Cherik, the Damon and Pythias of Arabian History.
A custom equally barbarous and superstitious prevailed among the Arabs previous to the introduction of Mahommedanism. They had consecrated two days of the week to two of their false divinities; on the first of these, which was considered as a day of happiness, the prince granted to all who came into his presence, whatever favour they chose to request; and on the second, which was reputed to be of a malignant aspect, all were immolated who were so imprudent as to solicit any favour, however just or reasonable, from a superstitious notion of appeasing the evil deity to whom the day was consecrated.
In the reign of Naam-ibn-Munzir, an Arab of the desert, named Tai, who had fallen from great opulence into extreme indigence, hearing the Naam's liberality much extolled, he resolved to have recourse to it. He set out on his journey, after having embraced his wife and children, and assured them he was going to seek a certain remedy for all their ills. The poor man, too much taken up with the thoughts of helping his family, took no heed of the fortunate and evil days, and unfortunately chose the latter as that on which he appeared as a suppliant before the king. Naam had no sooner seen him, than turning from him, he said, 'Wretch! what hast thou done? and why present thyself before me on so fatal a day as this? Thy life is forfeited, and it is not in my power to save thee.'
Tai, seeing his death certain, throws himself at the prince's feet, and conjures him to delay his punishment at least for a few hours. 'May I be permitted,' said he to him, 'to embrace for the last time my wife and children, and to carry them some provisions, for the want of which they are likely to perish? Thou art too equitable to involve the innocent in the fate of the guilty. I swear, by all that is sacred, that I shall return before sunset, and thou mayest then put me to death, and I shall die without murmuring.' The prince, much affected with Tai's speech, was pleased to grant him the requested delay, but it was upon a condition that almost made void the favour: he required the recurity of a sufficient person whom he might put to death, if he should fail in his word. Tai, in vain, earnestly entreats all those that surrounded the prince. Not one would dare to expose himself to so evident a danger. Then addressing himself to Cherik Benadi, the monarch's favourite, he spoke to him thus, his eyes bathed in tears: 'And thou, Cherik, whose soul is so noble and great, wilt thou be insensible of my piteous tale? Canst thou refuse to be security for me? I call to witness the gods and men, that I shall return before the setting of the sun.'
Cherik, naturally compassionate, was greatly moved by Tai's words and misfortunes. Turning to the prince, he said he did not scruple to be bound for Tai; who, without waiting for formal leave to depart, disappeared in an instant, and repaired to his wife and children.
The time limited for his return had almost expired; the sun was ready to terminate his course; yet there was no appearance of Tai. Cherik was led in chains to the place of punishment, and the executioner had already the axe uplifted to give the blow, when a man was perceived at a distance running along the plain. It was Tai himself, who was out of breath, and covered all over with sweat and dust. Horror seized him on seeing Cherik on the scaffold, ready to receive the blow of death. He flies to him, breaks his chains, and putting himself in his place, 'I die well satisfied,' said he, 'having been so happy as to come in time to deliver thee.'
This moving spectacle drew tears from all present; the king himself could not cheek his own. 'I never saw anything so extraordinary,' said he, transported with admiration. 'Thou, Tai, thou art the model of that fidelity with which one ought to keep his word; and thou, Cherik, none can equal thy great soul in generosity. I abolish, in favour of you, an odious custom which barbarity had introduced among us; my subjects may, in future, approach me at all times without fear.'
The monarch heaped benefactions upon Tai; and Cherik became dearer to him than ever.
The circumstances of this story are of a similar nature to that of Damon and Pythias, so famous in antiquity; but the action of Cherik may justly be considered as superior to that of Pythias; generosity having induced him to do for an unknown person, what friendship influenced Pythias to do in favour of Damon.
Mrs. Bendysh, the granddaughter of Oliver Cromwell, when a child of only six years of age, frequently sat between his knees when he held his cabinet councils, and that on the most important affairs. When some of the ministers objected to her being present, he said, 'there was no secret he would trust with any of them that he could not trust with that infant.' To prove that his confidence was not mistaken, he one day told her something, as in confidence, under the charge of secrecy, and then urged her mother and grandmother to extort it from her by promises, and caresses, and bribes. These failing, threatenings and severe whipping were tried to extort the secret from her, but she bore it all with the most dispassionate firmness, expressing her duty to her mother, but her still greater duty to keep her promise of secrecy to her grandfather, and not to betray the confidence reposed in her.
Count de Grammont.
Louis XIV. gave early signs of a very despotic character. Several of his courtiers were one day entertaining the young monarch, in public, with an account of the policy of the Turkish government, assuring him that the sultan had nothing to do but say the word, whatever it was, whether to take off a great man's head, or to strip him of his estate or employment; and there was a crowd of servants, called mutes, who executed his command without reply. 'Why,' said the youthful monarch, 'this is, indeed, to be a king.' The old Count de Grammont, who was present, heard with indignation these vile corrupters of youth, and with honest zeal and loyalty immediately stepped forward, and said, 'Sire, but of these same sultans, whose authority is represented as so enviable, I have known three strangled by their own mutes within my memory,' The Duke of Montausier was so pleased with this noble freedom that he forced himself through the crowd of courtiers, and openly thanked Grammont for his honest admonition.
King George the Second valued himself greatly on his royal word, nor could he ever be prevailed on to retract a promise which he had once made by all the artifices of his intriguing ministers, for favourites he had none. He could not be induced to caress the man he disliked on any grounds of policy, and he had the magnanimity to do justice to the motives of those who opposed the measures of government with the greatest vigour. He gave a remarkable instance of this on the death of Sir Watkin Williams Wynne. When the Duke of Newcastle heard of the baronet's death by a fall from his horse, he went to the king to inform him of the event. His majesty felt no satisfaction on the melancholy occasion, but nobly said, 'I am sorry for it; he was a worthy man, and an open enemy.'
Vaca de Castro, the Governor of Peru, was a man of such inflexible integrity, that though bred to the law, his steady adherence to justice, and his refusal to undertake causes that had the appearance of not being honest, prevented his having that professional business which his talents must otherwise have obtained. The Emperor Charles the Fifth, who had received convincing proofs of his merit, preferred him to the office of Governor of Peru, without consulting any of his ministers, saying he would try how probity would thrive in an Indian soil, since it was so little cherished at the Spanish bar; and it is allowed that the Spanish dominions in America never had such a governor.
Vaca de Castro established courts of justice, where causes were decided, without delay, with the strictest impartiality; and would shortly have made Peru one of the best regulated kingdoms on earth, and more profitable to the crown of Spain, than all its other dominions, had he been permitted to continue his plans of improvement. But the cabals of the ministry, who could draw no advantage from a man whose conduct needed no defence, and who was above either courting or bribing them, prevailed on the king to erect a kind of royal audience in Peru. De Castro, seeing he could no longer retain his office with honour, resigned it, and returned to Spain.
Juliana Maria, the second wife of Frederic the Fifth of Denmark, anxious to secure the crown to her own child, laid a plan for murdering the Crown Prince Christian, to whom she was stepmother. The young prince was indisposed, and Juliana, under the pretext of fondness, was frequent in her visits to him. One day she found the prince's favourite nurse preparing some gruel for her young charge, over a silver lamp. There being no other person in the room, she sent the nurse out to fetch her something, and took that opportunity of putting a quantity of mineral poison into the gruel. The nurse, who was a Norwegian, had long suspected the queen's intentions; she therefore watched her and perceived the queen put something in the gruel, and stir it up. She immediately called a domestic, of the name of Wolff, and told him to go to Count MoIckte, and give him a ring that she handed to him, and request his excellency to hasten to the apartments of the Crown Prince. She then re-entered the room, and the queen told her to take the gruel to the prince, as it was sufficiently boiled, and would, no doubt, do him good. Every limb shook with horror as the nurse took up the saucepan. 'Why don't you go with it to the prince?' said Juliana. 'Pardon me, gracious queen,' said the honest nurse 'but it is my duty to disobey you.' 'How dare you disobey my commands?' said the queen. The nurse did not reply, but as the tears streamed down her cheeks, she looked significantly at the gruel.
The queen, torn by rage and fear, at seeing her wicked plot frustrated, determined to accuse the nurse of an attempt to poison the young prince, and was actually base enough to charge her with it, in presence of Count Molckte. The truth, however, was discovered; the king, from that time, never lived with the queen, and the faithful nurse was rewarded, and continued in her office.
Duke of Richmond.
One of those underlings, who form a sort of go-between with the two political parties of the state, once endeavoured to get the patriotic Duke of Richmond to join the ministers. He insinuated that there were some vacant ribbons which his majesty had to dispose; and which the king kept in petto. 'Yes,' replied his grace, 'I think he is perfectly right; but I beg that you will inform whoever sent you on this errand, that I would not give a farthing for all the ribbons and stalls in St. George's Chapel, to be purchased on such humiliating terms, as I am already convinced will be annexed to their disposal.'
Sir Phelim O'Neil, who was one of the leaders in the Irish rebellion of 1641, while in prison, previous to his trial, was frequently solicited, by promises of a free pardon, and large rewards, to bear testimony that the king (Charles the First) had been actively instrumental in stirring up that rebellion. It was one of the arts of the factious of that period, to throw the odium of the massacre which followed the Irish rebellion, upon Charles; but whatever may have been the political sins of that unhappy prince, impartial history has not ranked this among the number. Sir Phelim declared, that he could not, in conscience, charge the king with anything of the kind. His trial was drawn out to the length of several days, that he might be worked upon in that time; but he persisted with constancy and firmness, in rejecting every offer made to him by the commissioners.
Even at the place of execution, the most splendid advantages were pressed upon him, upon the condition of falsely accusing King Charles in that point. Men saw with admiration this unfortunate chieftain, under all the terrors of death, and the strongest temptations man could be under, bravely attesting the king's innocence, and sealing the truth of his testimony with his blood.
When on the ladder, and ready to be thrown off, two marshals came riding in great haste, and cried aloud, stop a little. Having passed through the crowd of spectators and guards, one of them whispered something into the ear of Sir Phelim, who made answer in so loud a voice, as to be heard by several hundreds of the people. 'I thank the lieutenant-general for the intended mercy; but I declare, good people, before God, and his holy angels, and all of you that hear me, that I never had any commission from the king for what I have done, in levying, or in prosecuting, this war; and do heartily beg your prayers, all good Catholics and Christians! that God may be merciful unto me, and forgive me my sins.' On this the guards beat off those that stood near the place of execution, and in a few minutes Sir Phelim was no more.
Duc de Harcourt.
The Duc de Harcourt having laid before Louis XVI. an estimate of the annual expense of educating the dauphin, which amounted to :r,8oo,ooo livres, the king threw it on the table with an indignant emotion, and exclaimed, 'I am surrounded by people who seek to deceive me.' The duke became pale and trembling, though he believed the estimate was less than formerly. The king asked if the duke were sure of the exactness of the account? 'Sire, replied the duke, 'I am certain; and I can assure your majesty, that it is not possible to educate the dauphin in the manner suitable to his rank, with more economy.' The king immediately called for the accounts from 1782 to 1786, which he showed to the duke; by which it appeared, that the education of the dauphin had, during that period, been charged at the sum of five millions and a half per annum. Then turning to the duke, he thanked him for his delicacy and disinterestedness.
Sir Walter Ralegh exhibited a striking, though much to be regretted, proof of his literary integrity, in the destruction of the second volume of his 'History of the World.' This great man, when confined in the Tower, and preparing his work for the press, was standing at his window, ruminating on the office of an historian, and on the sacred regard which he ought to pay to truth, when of a sudden, his attention was directed to an uproar in the court, in which a man was run through the body with a sword.
Next day, an acquaintance of Sir Walter called upon him, a man of whose severe probity and honour Sir Walter was fully convinced; the conversation turned on the affray of the preceding day, which his friend, who had been in some degree engaged in it, related so entirely different from what Sir Walter conceived to be the fact, that had not they known each other, too well to doubt their fidelity, it might have led to a dispute. The conversation was therefore changed, and the visitor departed. As soon as he had left the room, Ralegh took up the manuscript of the second volume of his history, then just completed. 'How many falsehoods are here?' said he. 'If I cannot judge of the truth of an event that passes under my own eyes, how shall I truly narrate those which have passed thousands of years before my birth, or even those that have happened since my existence? Truth, I sacrifice to thee.' He then threw his invaluable work, the labour of years, into the fire, and saw every page of it consumed.
Sir Hector Munro.
On the English forces under Colonel Munro encamping at Benares, after the battle of Buxar, an officer brought the colonel word that a Rajah had something very particular to solicit, for which he would give the colonel four lacks of rupees. The request which the Rajah made was, that one Rajah Bulwantsing, who was Zemindar, should be displaced from the collectorship of the country. The colonel answered, 'That he had no instrucions to make alterations of any kind, and that if he had, there was no bribe could tempt him to do otherwise than should be best for the public service.' When Colonel Munro was some time after about to quit the army, to return home, Bulwantsing being informed of the obligation he was under to the colonel's public spirit and integrity, waited upon him, and as a token of his gratitude, presented him with a gift of 80,000 rupees, or £10,000.
When examined before the House of Commons in 1772, Colonel Munro declared that this was the only present he had received in the course of five years' command of the army, and that he had refused altogether, at different times, no less than £100,000 for making alterations in the officers of the government.
Marshal the Duke of Berwick.
The character which Montesquieu has drawn of this great man is a model of honour and integrity. He says, 'He scarcely obtained any favours which were not offered to him; and when his own interest was concerned, it was always necessary to push him on. No man ever gave a brighter example of the contempt we ought to have for money. There was a simplicity in all his expenses which ought to have made him very easy in his circumstances; for he indulged himself in no frivolous expense. In the governments he was appointed to, every English or Irish family that was poor, and that had any sort of connexion with any one of his house, had a sort of right to be introduced to him; and it is remarkable, that a man who knew how to maintain so much order in an army, and showed so much judgment in all his projects, should lose all these advantageous talents, when his own private interest was concerned.'
Vespasian, the emperor, was very anxious to get a law passed which he knew, from the stern integrity of Helvidius, he would be sure to oppose. He therefore sent a message to him, desiring that he would not attend the senate that day. Helvidius sent for answer, 'It is certainly in the power of the emperor to deprive me of my senatorship; but so long as I continue a member of that body, I cannot reconcile myself to neglect my duty by absenting myself from it.' 'Well,' says Vespasian, 'I am content that you shall be there, provided you will be sure not to speak in the debates that shall arise to-day.' Helvidius engaged that he would remain silent, provided his opinion was not asked. 'Nay,' said Vespasian, 'but if you are there, you must be consulted.' 'And if I be,' replied Helvidius, 'I must give my advice freely, according to what I conceive to be just and reasonable.' 'Do that at your peril,' said Vespasian, 'for be assured that if you are against what I propose, your head shall answer for it.' 'Sire,' replied Helvidius, mildly, 'did I ever tell you that I was immortal? If I consider it my duty, consistent with what I owe to the gods, and to my country, to oppose your measure, no threat of personal resentment shall influence me; and if you wreak your vengeance on my head, posterity will judge between us.'
When, in 1792, Admiral Russel was appointed to the command of the fleet that was to oppose that of France, commanded by Mons. Tourville, some of the ministers wished to prevent his, being able to attack it, and therefore sent him instructions, which he was not to open till he sailed into a certain latitude. The gallant admiral, disdaining to be sent out thus hoodwinked, hastened from Portsmouth to London, and had a private audience of the king, when he represented to his majesty the fatal consequences that must ensue, if he should meet the French fleet before he arrived at the fixed latitude. The admiral further stated that he believed treachery was intended, for he had been offered a very great bribe, if, in case the fleets met, he would avoid an engagement, or suffer a defeat; he therefore entreated that his majesty would either give him positive orders, or accept his resignation of the command. The king told him to take the offered bribe, and then, with his own hand, his majesty wrote orders to take, sink, burn, and otherwise destroy as many of the enemy as he should meet. This order being dated prior to that which the admiral had received from the Admiralty, of course superceeded it.' He hastened to his command, sailed in quest of the enemy, whom he beat in the famous battle of Cape la Hogue. On his return home, the Lords of the Admiralty called to account for his not obeying their orders; but be produced those of the king of a later date, to the surprise of those who did not know of his interview with his majesty.
George II., on his first visit to Hanover, after his accession to the throne, met with such weather on his passage to Helvoetsluys, that his majesty and the Duke of Chandos, who accompanied him, were under the necessity of being personally relieved by Mr. Rodney. The king, thinking highly of the obligation, asked what recompense he should make him? Mr. Rodney replied, 'I am no courtier, and if I were, you have no doubt sufficient claims on me; the only favour,therefore, that I have to ask, is, that you and the Duke of Chandos will stand godfather to my son, who is just born.' This request being instantly complied with, the child was baptized George Brydges. The king afterwards took the boy under his protection, sent him to the navy, and ere long the godson of George II. became the celebrated Admiral Rodney.
The Ship-Money Decision.
It is a remarkable circumstance, that to the virtue of the wife of Judge Creke, and to her disregard of all selfish considerations, in comparison with the honour and duty of her husband, we owe the immortal decision in the case of ship-money; a decision which fixed one of the bulwarks of our constitution, and was of more value than a thousand triumphs. Judge Creke had resolved to give minion for this new Claim of prerogative; but his wife told him that she hoped he would do nothing against his conscience, for "of any danger or prejudice to him or his family, and that she would be content to suffer want or any misery with him, rather than be an occasion for him to do or say anything against his judgment or conscience.' We hardly know how to estimate in an age in which judges have nothing to fear, the importance of such an exertion in support of the sacred independence and purity of the judicial character.
East India Influence.
When the state of the East India Company's affairs was brought before Parliament in 1773, and the inquiry into them followed by that celebrated Bill for the new organization of the Company, which caused the downfall of the Coalition Ministry, Colonel Barre, while he approved of investigation, thus honestly admonished ministers of the difficulties in which they would involve the most upright administration, by that multiplication of patronage proposed by the bill. 'I love you not,' said the Colonel, with the honest bluntness of a Belisarius, 'I love you not; but in this business, while you conduct yourselves with propriety, I will go with you hand in hand; but seek not power in your researches; aim not at a distribution of offices; you have already enough at your disposal; permit me to say, that you have too much to answer any good purpose; it is by this means that you carry all before you, and that we only come here to know the hour when you order your carriages to be ready! Opposition is dead; and I am left chief mourner over her bier; but let not this, I constrain you, be a motive for your grasping at more power; have no cousins, no younger brothers, no servile dependents, to quarter upon the Company. It was this which impeded our researches during the former agitation of the affairs of the Company. Of this I had a striking proof one day, as I left the House, and was passing through the lobby; I saw a member in close conversation with a man of great influence at that time in the direction. I took the first opportunity of addressing the member. "Pray" said I "what was you conversing with the director about? Was you endeavouring to get some information relative to the affair now before us?" "O! no," replied the member, "I was soliciting his interest for the provision of an unfortunate young man, a distant relation of mine, whom I am now going to send to the East Indies."'
Two very intimate friends, one a painter, the other a goldsmith, were benighted near a convent of religious Christians, where they were entertained with great humanity. As these travellers wanted money to continue their journey, the painter, who was proficient in his art, offered to work for the monastery. He soon possessed his hosts with a high opinion of his talents, and even inspired them with a confidence which they had soon too much reason to repent.
The monks having one night left the sacristy of their church open, the painter and his friend, the goldsmith, went in; and after taking out all the vessels of gold and silver which they found there, absconded with the booty, as fast as possible. Possessed of so much treasure, they determined to return to their own country. When they arrived there, fearing lest the robbery should be discovered, they put all their riches into a chest and made an agreement, that neither should take any out, without informing the other.
Soon after, the goldsmith married, and became the father of two children. To supply his expenses, which increased with his family, he appropriated the greatest part of the treasure in the chest to his own use. The painter perceived his treachery, and reproached him with it. The other absolutely denied the fact.
The painter, provoked at his perfidy, determined to punish him for it; but to be more certain of his revenge, he pretended to believe everything his associate swore. Meanwhile he applied to a huntsman, a friend of his, to procure him two young bears alive. When he had them in his possession, he ordered a wooden statue to be made, so much resembling his associate the goldsmith in that the eye was deceived in every respect, then accustomed the bears to eat out of the hands of the statue. He led them every morning into the room where he kept it; and, as soon as they saw it, they always ran and eat the victuals which were put in its hands.
The painter employed many weeks in teaching them this exercise. As soon as he saw the two bears were perfect in their parts, he invited the goldsmith and his two children to supper. The feast being prolonged to midnight, the goldsmith and his two children lay at their host's. At daybreak, the painter dexterously conveyed away the two children, and in their place, substituted the two bears.
How much was the father, on waking, surprised to find them in the room instead of his two children! He cried out dreadfully. The painter ran to him, and appeared greatly astonished. 'Alas!' said he, 'I fear you must have deserved so great a punishment as this metamorphosis from heaven, for some very extraordinary crime.' After a little reflection, however, the goldsmith was not to be deceived by what his friend said; but being convinced that he was the author of the metamorphosis, he obliged him, to appear before the Cadi, and there accused him of having stolen his children.
'My lord,' said the painter, 'it is very easy for you to know the truth, order the two bears to be brought here; and if, by their gestures and caresses, they distinguish the complainant from the rest of the company, you cannot doubt of their being really his children.'
The Cadi consented to make this trial. As soon as the two little bears, whom the painter had made to fast two days before, saw the goldsmith, they ran to him, and licked his hands. So extraordinary a sight astonished the Cadi, who was so embarrassed, that he durst not pronounce sentence.
The goldsmith, confused, returned to the painter, and on his knees confessed his treachery, conjuring him to pray to God to restore his children to their natural form. The painter, pretending to be affected with what he said, passed the night with him in prayers. He had before taken away the two bears, and in their place, conveyed the two children, whom he had hid till then. The painter conducted their father into the room where they were, and returning them to him, said, 'God has heard my feeble prayers; learn from this time to keep strictly to your engagements.'
Admissibility of Lying.
It is the opinion of many learned, and even religious, men, that in some cases it may not only be lawful, but commendable, to tell a lie; as, for instance, where it may tend to the preservation of one's own life, or that of another, when it is sought to be taken away without any just cause. The following anecdote, however, must suggest some strong doubts on this subject. It shows that where, according to common notion, a lie was the only way of saving a man's life, the safety of that life was equally well secured by telling the truth; and that there can be nothing so inexpedient in the sight of men, which God, 'in whose hands are the issues of life,' may not turn to the justification of his own wisdom and truth. In the time of the religious persecutions in Scotland, a clergyman being hotly pursued by a party of Claverhouse's soldiers, took refuge in a mill. The miller hid him behind what is called the hopper. Scarcely was he concealed, when his pursuers were at the mill door. They demanded of the miller, whether the 'psalm-singing hypocrite,' of whom they were in search, was under his roof? 'No, he is not,' said the miller. 'Thou liest,' said one of the soldiers; and with that, gave the poor man a blow on the head, which had almost knocked out his brains. The party proceeded to make a strict search about the mill; but to no purpose, for they happily overlooked the corner in which the clergyman lay concealed. On this they took their departure, and the clergyman descending from his hidingplace, began with the miller in this strain: 'Oh, Robin, why did you tell a lie? You see you have got a broken head by it. It is true I have escaped - but' - Here he was interrupted by the noise of a number of horses' roofs, and remounted instantly behind the hopper. It announced the return of the troopers, who had been informed, that notwithstanding their search, the object of it was still concealed in the mill. 'Well, said they, 'is Mr. - here now?' The miller, after hesitating a little, replied, 'Yes, yes; I shan't get my head broke again for saying he is not.' The troopers believing that he only said so to save himself from another beating, did not put themselves to the trouble of a second search, but went away abusing the miller most lustily, as a man who would swear anything.
General Brock once publicly took the sash from his waist, and placed it round the body of the Indian warrior Tecumseh. The chief received the honour with evident gratification; but was the next day seen without his sash. General Brock, fearing something had displeased the Indian, sent his interpreter for an explanation. The latter soon returned with an account that Tecumsch, not wishing to wear a mark of distinction, when an older, and, as he said, an abler, warrior than himself was present, had transferred the sash to the Wyandot chief, Round-head. Such a man was the unlettered Tecumseh, and such a man have the Indians for ever lost. He has left a son; who, when his father fell, was about seventeen years of age, and fought by his side. To this son his present majesty, in 1814, sent a present of a handsome sword, as a mark of respect for the memory of his father.
Way to avoid Bankruptcy.
In 1771, a tradesman of respectability in the city of London, finding that, through the extravagance of his wife, he was approaching to a state of bankruptcy, called together his creditors. 'Gentlemen,' said he to them, 'many of you are holders of bills, that shortly you will call upon me to discharge. They amount, collectively, to a very considerable sum. You, I doubt not, have perceived, that I have lately launched out into a shameful extravagance of living. A town and country house, and the expense of a phaeton, have so far involved me in difficulties, that I find it will be quite impossible for me punctually to answer your demands; and I shudder at the thought of bankruptcy. Give me, therefore, two years to retrieve myself; and I will immediately give up my country house, and my phaeton, and retrench the number of my servants, which I shall confine myself to a mode of living more suitable to the rank and character of a tradesman.' The creditors were so pleased with this frank and singular mark of integrity, that they not only cheerfully acceded to his proposal, but desired that he would take his own time, and not bind himself by any terms, to a deed which circumstances might prevent him from fulfilling. He renewed all his securities, for the time had fixed, and by industry and economy, not only paid the whole of his creditors, but rose once more to affluence.
The character of the Earl of Shaftesbury has been very unjustly assailed by Hume, and that upon the most fallacious evidence; later historians have, however, done justice to the memory of this great man, and vindicated his character from the aspersions cast upon it. Though Shaftesbury had many enemies, yet several of his contemporaries appreciated the honour and independence of his character. Andrew Marvell, so famous for his own political integrity, alluding to Lord Shaftesbury's defence of the Test Act, observes, 'Upon this occasion it was, that the Earl of Shaftesbury, though then Lord Chancellor of England, yet engaged so far in defence of that Act, and of the Protestant religion, that in due time it cost him his place, and was the first moving cause, of all those misadventures and obloquy which he since lies under.'
The Earl of Shaftesbury always disdained to disguise his own sentiments, in complaisance to the king or to the people. 'I do not know,' said he, in one of his speeches in the House of Lords, 'how well what I have to say, may be received; for I never study either to make my court, or to be popular. I always speak what I am commanded by the dictates of the spirit within me.'
In the high stations which he filled, his virtues, if we can give credit to the testimony of his contemporaries, were as conspicuous as his talents. His renown was extended far beyond the limits of his native country. On his advancement to the chancellorship, Mr. Croustom, a Swede of high distinction, who had been resident in England, thus congratulated his lordship: 'This preferment and dignity, my lord, was due long since to your high merits; and I do humbly assure your excellency, it is generally believed here, the interest of this, and your, nation, will flourish under the wise conduct of such a renowned chief minister of state as you are.'
Though Lord Shaftesbury was not bred to the profession of a lawyer, yet none of his decrees in chancery were ever reversed; and amidst the violence and madness of party rage, Dryden himself, in his famous political satire of 'Absalom and Ahitophel,' could not refuse to pay a tribute of praise to the moral and judicial integrity of his character:
'In Israel's court ne'er sat an Abethdin,
With more discerning eyes, and hands more clean:
Unbrib'd, unsought, the wretched to redress,
Swift of dispatch, and easy of access.'
The Emperor of Germany, Joseph II., having a vacant office, which he wished to confer on the son of Count de Palsy, intimated his intention to the father. The count thanked his imperial majesty for his kindness, but begged leave to observe, that his son already possessed a considerable fortune, and had great expectations; and he thus had no occasion for an addition to his income. The count humbly suggested whether the place might not be more acceptably conferred on some father of a family, whose slender income would render it a desirable object. The emperor still pressed the office, when the count finally addressed his sovereign, saying, 'Sire, I consent that my son should accept the appointment which you design to honour him; but I implore your majesty to permit the salary annexed to it, to be assigned to some person less fortunate in circumstances.' The emperor, sensibly affected by such an instance of true greatness of mind, consented to the count's request: the place was given to his son, and the profits appropriated to the aged father of an impoverished family.
The Gunpowder Harvest.
About a century ago, when the Missouri Indians had as yet had but little intercourse with Europeans, a traveller, or hunter, penetrated into their country, made them acquainted with fire-arms, and sold them muskets and gunpowder. They went out a hunting, and got great plenty of game, and of course many furs. Another traveller went thither some time after, with ammunition; but the Indians having still plenty on hand, he found them but little disposed to barter with him. In order to whet their appetite for his commodities, without much troubling his head about the consequences which might result to succeeding travellers, he fell upon the following odd expedient. The Indians being naturally curious, had expressed a desire to know how powder, which he called grain, was made in France. The traveller made them believe it was sown in Savannah, and that they had crops of it, as of indigo or millet in America.
The Indians were highly pleased with this information, and sowed all the gunpowder they had left; this obliged them to buy that of the Frenchman, who got a considerable quantity of beaver and otter skins, &c., in return, and afterwards went down the river to the Illinois, where M. de Tonti commanded.
The Indians went from time to time to the savannas, to see if the powder was growing; they had placed a guard there to hinder the wild beasts from spoiling the field! It was not long before they began to suspect the trick which had been played upon them; and when the season passed without any crop appearing, no doubt of the imposture remained on their minds. The Indians, however, can be deceived but once, and they always remember it. Some time afterwards, the author of the cheat, though he did not choose to pay them a second visit himself, sent a partner of his to the Missouri, with a very excellent assortment of goods. The Indians, somehow or other, found out that this Frenchman was associated with the man who had imposed upon them; but still said nothing to him of the perfidy of his friend. They gave him the public hut, which was in the middle of the village, to deposit his bales in; and there they were all ostentatiously laid out for the purpose of barter. The persons who had been foolish enough to sow gunpowder, now collected together, and entering confusedly into the Frenchman's store, each helped himself to what pleased his fancy, and in the twinkling of an eye, the whole stock disappeared. The Frenchman complained loudly of these proceedings, and went to the great chief to demand redress. The chief answered him very gravely, that he should have justice done him; but for that purpose, he must wait for the gunpowder harvest, his subjects having sown that commodity by the advice of his countryman; that he might believe, upon the word of a sovereign, after that harvest was over, he would order a general hunt, and that all the skins of the wild beasts which should be taken, should be given in return for the important secret which the other Frenchman had taught them.
The outwitted trader alleged that the ground of the Missouri was not fit for producing gunpowder, and that they ought to have known that France was the only country where it succeeds. All his reasoning, however, was useless; he returned much lighter than he went, and not a little ashamed of having been so corrected in a point of moral duty, by a people regarded as mere savages.
When Toussaint L'Ouverture was confirmed by Bonaparte, then First Consul of France, in the chief command of St. Domingo, a British force, under General Maitland, still remained in the occupation of several parts of the island. General Maitland being now persuaded that the reduction of St. Domingo was utterly hopeless, signed a treaty with Toussaint, for the evacuation of all the posts which he held. The negro chief then paid him a visit, and was received with military honours. After partaking of a grand entertainment, he was presented by General Maitland, in the name of his majesty, with a splendid service of plate, and put in possession of the Government House, which had been built and furnished by the English. General Maitland, previous to the disembarkation of his troops, returned the visit at Toussaint's camp; and such was his confidence in the integrity of his character, that he proceeded through a considerable extent of country, full of armed negroes, with only three attendants. Roume, the French commissioner, wrote a letter to Toussaint on this occasion, advising him to seize his guest, as an act of duty to the republic. On the route, General Maitland was secretly informed of Roume's treachery; but in full reliance on the honour of Toussaint, he determined to proceed. On arriving at headquarters, he was desired to wait. It was some time before Toussaint made his appearance; at length, however, he entered the room, with two open letters in his hand. 'There, general,' said he, 'before we talk together, read these; one is a letter from the French commissary; the other is my answer. I could not see you till I had written the latter, that you might be satisfied how safe you were with me and how incapable I am of baseness.'
Ninon de L'Enclos.
The celebrated Ninon de L'Enclos consulted nothing but taste in love; but this was not the case in her friendships. She knew that a mutual confidence which arises from this sentiment, and which is its greatest blessing, cannot subsist if it be not founded in the laws of honour, seldom practised in society, and she was, moreover, scrupulously tenacious of her word. M. de Gourville being a strenuous partizan of the great Conde, was banished. On the eve of his departure, he paid a visit to Mademoiselle de L'Enclos, with whom he was enamoured, and by whom he was beloved; and brought, at the same time, twenty thousand crowns in gold, which he entreated her to keep for him till his return. Being unwilling, however, to trust all his effects with one person, he went and deposited a like sum in the hands of an ecclesiastic, who was held in high veneration for his sanctity.
At the end of a few months, Ninon, as usual, transferred her affection to a new lover. The unhappy Gourville, wandering in a foreign land; learnt this melancholy news, and concluded that the twenty thousand crowns in her hands were irretrievably lost. On his return to Paris, within a year after his exile, instead of alighting at Mademoiselle de Enclos's, his first business was to wait upon the priest, with whom he judged one portion at least of his property was secure, but to his utter astonishment, the pious villain denied that he had received any such deposit. Gourville thus cruelly cheated, imagined Ninon would treat him in the same manner; he even dreaded waiting upon her, lest he should be compelled to hate and despise the object he had once most ardently loved. Ninon being informed of Gourville's return, was piqued at his silence. She sent for him, and he waited upon her. 'Sir,' said she, at the beginning of their interview, 'a great misfortune has happened to me during your absence; I have lost'--- At these words, Gourville concluded that his conjectures were but too justly grounded. 'I have lost the inclination I had for you.: but I have not lost my recollection, and here are the twenty thousand crowns with which you entrusted me; they are still in the same casket in which you yourself locked them. Take them with you; but do not persist to claim a heart which I can no longer dispose of in your favour; I have nothing more in store for you, but the most sincere friendship.'
Raising the Price of Bread.
Some years ago, the bakers of Lyons thought that they could prevail on M. Dugas, the Provost of the merchants in that city, to befriend them at the expense of the public. They waited upon him in a body, and begged leave to raise the price of bread, which could not be done without the sanction of the chief magistrate. M. Dugas told them, that he would examine their petition, and give them an early answer. The bakers retired, having first left upon the table a purse of two hundred louis d'ors.
After a few days, the bakers called upon the magistrate for answer, not in the least doubting but that the money had very effectually pleaded their cause. 'Gentlemen' said M. Dugas, 'I have weighed your reasons in the balance of justice, and I find them light. I do not think that the people ought to suffer under a pretence of the dearness of corn, which I know to be unfounded: and as to the purse of money that you left with me, I am sure that I have made such a generous and noble use of it, as you yourselves intended: I have distributed it among the poor objects of charity in our twin hospitals. As you are opulent enough to make such large donations, I cannot possibly think that you can incur any loss in your business; and I shall, therefore, continue the price of bread as it was before I received your petition.'
In March, 1761, Mr. Sumner was appointed, by the Governor and Council of Bengal, to take charge of the company's affairs in the province of Burdwan, and to make the necessary enquiries into the state of the revenues, so as to enable them to form a settlement with the Rajah for the ensuing year. While he was on his way to Burdwan, the Rajah sent agents to Calcutta, who represented that of late years, the revenues received by the Rajah for the company, had scarcely exceeded eighteen lacks of rupees, but offered to settle, for the following year, at the rate of twenty-four lacks. The governor and council thought this offer so advantageous, that they had resolved to accept it, and wrote accordingly to Mr. Sumner, desiring him to suspend his enquiry, and return to Calcutta. Mr. Sumner did return to Calcutta, but informed the governor and council, that he had seen enough in the course of his journey through Burdwan, to convince him that he could yield a much larger revenue than what the Rajah offered. A proposal was, accordingly, made in council, for the renewal of the commission to Mr. Sumner, to enquire into the fact: and such was the Rajah's dread of the result, that on the morning of the day on which it was to be discussed, an agent of his waited on Mr. Sumner, and offered him four lacks (400,000) of rupees, for his own private use and benefit, and to be paid down immediately, if he would retract, or so qualify his statements, as to leave the council at liberty to conclude the arrangement to which they were previously disposed to accede. Mr. Smith, another member of the council, was also offered two lacks of rupees, to use his influence with Mr. Sumner not to stir in the affair; nay, so much had the Rajah the gaining of this point at heart, that Mr. Smith was told there was nothing Mr. Sumner could ask, that would be considered too great for his good will. Both Mr. Sumner and Mr. Smith, however, treated the proposal as it deserved; the commission for enquiry was renewed; and after proceeding to Burdwan, Mr. Sumner returned to Calcutta, with a voluntary offer from the Rajah, to pay thirty-two lacks and a half of rupees as the year's revenue.
In the character of the Madras native army, nothing is more remarkable than the unconquerable attachment of the men to the British service. Many are the instances of it upon record, and of these none is more striking than that of Synd Ibrahim, commandant of the Tanjore cavalry, who was made prisoner by Tippoo Sultan, in 1781. The character of this distinguished officer was well known to his enemy; and the highest rank and station were offered to tempt him to enter into the employment of the state of Mysore. His steady refusal caused him to be treated with such rigour and, as his fellow prisoners (who were British officers) thought, was attended with such danger to his life, that they, from a generous feeling, contemplating his condition as a Mahometan, and a native of India, as in some essential points different from their own, recommended him to accept the offers of the sultan; but the firm allegiance of Synd Ibrahim would admit of no compromise, and he treated every overture as an insult. His virtuous resolution provoked, at last, the personal resentment of Tippoo; and when the English prisoners, in 1784, were released, Synd Ibrahim was removed to a dungeon in the mountain fortress of Couly Droog, where he terminated his existence.
Ibrahim's sister, who had left her home, in the Carnatic, to share the captivity of her brother, was subsequently wounded in the storming of Seringapatam. She, however, fortunately recovered, and the government of Fort St. George granted her a pension of fifty two pagodas and a half per month, or £250 per annum, being the full pay of a native commandant of cavalry. A tomb was also erected at the place where Synd Ibrahim died, and government endowed it with an establishment sufficient to maintain a fakeer, or priest, and to keep two lamps continually burning at the shrine of this faithful soldier.
When the physician of Pyrrhus offered to Fabricius to poison his master, the noble Roman general sent the traitor's letter to Pyrrhus, saying, 'Prince, know better for the future, how to choose both your friends and foes.' To requite such an act of generosity, Pyrrhus released all the Roman prisoners; but Fabricius would only receive them on condition that he would accept an equal number in exchange; 'for' said he, 'do not believe, Pyrrhus, that I have discovered this treachery to you out of particular regard to your person, or for the hope of advantage, but because the Romans shun base stratagems, and will not triumph but with open force.'
Sir Charles Knowles.
Admiral Knowles had permission from his late majesty to go to Russia, in order to put the navy on a respectable footing. Among the many abuses that required reformation he found some very enormous ones in the article of clothing the seamen. He represented the case to the empress, who examining his report, said, 'I see, admiral, how much I am imposed upon by those who have had the clothing of my fleet. I wish now to give you the contract, as I am sure I cannot place it in better hands, and you shall only be accountable to myself.' The admiral, with that disinterestedness which strongly marked his character, replied, 'Your majesty does me the highest honour in so signal a mark of your confidence; but the profits that would be supposed to arise from such an extensive contract, would give cause of envy, and make it be imagined I sought to point out abuses, merely in order that I might serve myself. Besides such a mark of your imperial favour to a foreigner, might create jealousies, and injure the service of your majesty.'
Yu, Emperor of China had a minister who never failed to tell him of his faults with the freedom of a friend; this was so frequent, that the emperor became displeased, and determined to rid himself of so importunate a counsellor. The queen, his mother, being informed of it, instantly presented herself to him, and wished him joy. 'Joy,' said the emperor, 'of what?' 'Why, my son,' said she 'of a circumstance that has hardly ever happened to any monarch upon earth; you are in possession of a subject, who has the courage to admonish you or your faults; and who, in that very honest quality, is the finest courtier, and the most artful flatterer: since he thus insinuates, that you have the virtue and greatness to hear it.'
Fate of Perfidy.
When Tissaphernes, finding himself superior in forces, violated the peace he had sworn to observe and commenced hostilities against Agesilaus, the latter said, 'I am very happy at this event, because Tissaphernes, by his perfidy, has engaged the gods on my side.' The result was, that Agesilaus came off triumphant, and Tissaphernes lost the battle and his life. 'How could it be otherwise?' said Agesilaus, 'it is a strange delirium' in those who are making war against heaven, to expect the stars should be favourable to their designs.'
Prince Frederick of Wales.
In 1735, a deputation from the Quakers, waited on Frederick, Prince of Wales (father of George the Third), to solicit his interest for the tithing bill. The prince replied, 'That as a friend to liberty in general, and toleration in particular, he wished that the Society of Friends might meet with support; but that as for himself, it did not become his station to influence his friends, or direct his servants, he wished to leave them entirely to their own consciences and understandings, which was a rule he had hitherto prescribed to himself, and proposed through his whole life to observe.'
Mr. Andrew Pitt, who was one of the deputation, replied in the name of the body, in the following terms; 'May it please the Prince of Wales, I am greatly affected with thy excellent notions of liberty, and am still more pleased with thy answer, than if thou hadst granted our request.'
Although the Venetian government was odious in the severity of its laws, yet their execution was strictly impartial. This was thought essential to the well-being and very existence of the state. For this, all respect for individuals, all private considerations whatever, and even every compunctious feeling of the heart, was sacrificed. To execute law with all the rigour of justice, was considered as the chief virtue of a judge. This rigid integrity in the administration of justice, has often created very distressing scenes.
In the year 1400, while Antonio Venier was Doge, his son having committed an offence, which evidently sprung from mere youthful levity, was condemned in a fine of a hundred ducats, and to be imprisoned for a certain time. While the young man was in prison, he fell sick, and petitioned to be removed to a purer air. The Doge rejected his prayer, declaring that the sentence must be executed literally, and that he could not make any exception to the general law, in favour of his own son. The youth was much esteemed, and many applications were made to the Doge, that the sentence might be mitigated, on account of the danger which threatened him; but the father was inexorable, and the son died in prison.
A similar instance occurred in the case of Carlo Zeno, who was accused by the Council of Ten, of having received a sum of money from Francis Carraro, son of the Seignior of Padua, contrary to an express law, which forbade all subjects of Venice accepting any salary, pension, or gratification, from any foreign prince or state, on any pretext whatever. This accusation was grounded on a paper, found among Carraro's accounts, when Padua was taken by the Venetians. In this paper was an article of four hundred ducats, paid to Carlo Zeno; who declared in his defence, that while he was by the senate's ermission, Governor of the Milanese, he had visited Carraro, then a prisoner in the castle of Asti; and finding him in want of 'common necessaries,' he had advanced to him the sum in question; and that this prince, on his liberation and return to Padua, had repaid the money, which was entered in the account.
Though Zeno was a man of acknowledged candour, and of the highest reputation, who had commanded the fleets and armies of the state with the most brilliant success; yet neither this, nor any other consideration, could induce the court to depart from the strict letter of the law. They owned that from Zeno's integrity, there was no reason to doubt the truth of his declaration; but the assertions of an accused person were not sufficient to efface the force of the presumptive circumstances which appeared against him. His declaration, it was said, might be convincing to those who knew him intimately, but was not legal evidence of his innocence; and they adhered to a distinguishing maxim of the court, that it is of more importance to the state to intimidate everyone from even the appearance of such a crime, than to allow a person against whom a presumption of guilt remained, to escape, however innocent he might be. Zeno, therefore, was compelled to submit to the severity of the law, which condemned him to two years' imprisonment.
The case of young Foscari, the son of the Doge of Venice, who fell a victim to the severity of the Venetian law, is well known; though the youth was innocent of the crime with which he was charged, and his father was Doge; yet such was the odious inflexibility of the Venetian court, that the father caused no relaxation of its severity to be extended to him, but only entreated him to submit to the law of his country.
Magnanimous Heir at Law.
M. Bailly, wine merchant to the Queen of France, was celebrated for his economy and industry, by which he amassed a large fortune. Being taken suddenly ill, he declared that the lady who had always been thought to be his wife, was not married to him, and that, in consequence, the two children he had by her, were not his heirs. In consequence, his wealth returned to his family; but he left, by will, an annuity of 2000 livres to the lady; and to each of his children, 1200; particularly entreating his brother, Chevalier Bailly, who was his heir, not to oppose this part of his will.
The chevalier was not less surprised at the discovery of his brother not being married, than he was shocked at such a disposal of his property. He remonstrated with his brother on the injustice of depriving them of his wealth, and assured him, that he should look upon himself as nothing but a robber, if, by the laws of succession, he took any part of the property. He entreated him to alter his resolution, and told him, that there was sufficient time before his death to repair his fault, by marrying the lady, which was a reparation he owed to her; but M. Bailly would not listen to these remonstrances.
The chevalier, however, would not give up his point, but continually urged his brother to an act of honour and justice. Madame Bailly, his mother, who could not leave her house, wrote to her dying son, supplicating him not so far to wound her delicacy, as to let a woman and her children live in dishonour, who hitherto had always been respected and esteemed; and pressed him to consider that the children were his.
M. Bailly at last yielded to the entreaties of his friends; and the archbishop was prevailed upon to grant a dispensation for the marriage, and a permission for the chevalier to divest himself of the immense wealth left him by his brother. The marriage was performed, and M. Bailly died a few days afterwards.
The other relations and legatees, who took no part in the praiseworthy action of the chevalier, disputed the validity of the marriage; but the chevalier spared neither pains nor expense to support the widow; and discovered as much zeal to deprive himself of riches, as his opponents took to possess themselves of them. A verdict was obtained for the widow and her family. The chevalier, full of joy, hastened with the result to his sister, and informed her, that her marriage was declared valid, and that she was possessed of a fortune of £150,000 sterling.
Edict of Constantine the Great.
Constantine the Great was so convinced of the necessity of integrity in the offices of state, that he issued a proclamation, offering every facility to the detection of any corrupt practices that might take place. This edict, which deserves to be engraved on the gates of all royal palaces, was as follows:
To all our subjects throughout the provinces of the Roman empire. If there be an individual, of what place, condition, or quality soever, who can fairly and substantially convict any one of our judges, generals, favourites, or courtiers, of being guilty of any injustice or corrupt practices in the discharge Of their respective trusts, let him, with all possible freedom and security, approach the throne and appeal to us. We ourselves will hear his accusations with condescension and patience; and if he make good his allegations, we shall be happy and eager to do ourselves and our people justice on the man who shall he found to have thus imposed on us by specious but deceitful counsels. And for his encouragement who shall make so useful a discovery, we will amply reward him with honours and riches. So may Divine Providence ever protect our royal person, and make us happy in the prosperity of the empire.'
Two grenadiers of the regiment of Flanders, in garrison at Ajaccio, deserted, and penetrating into the interior of Corsica, sought shelter from pursuit. Chance had brought their colonel, who had been out hunting, into the track of the two grenadiers, who seeing him, ran into a swamp, among some bushes. A shepherd had observed them, and with his finger pointed out their hiding-place. The colonel, who did not comprehend the sign he was making, asked him what he meant. The shepherd obstinately kept silence, but continued to direct him with eyes and finger to the bushes. At length the people with him went to the place so pointed out, and discovered the heads of the deserters, who were up to the neck in mud. These unfortunate men were instantly seized, carried to Ajaccio, tried by a court-martial, and condemned to be shot the next day. The sentence was executed. The shepherd, to whom the colonel had given a gratuity of four louis d'ors, could not for joy keep it secret, and divulged his adventure. The shepherd's own family heard of it, and shuddered with horror. All his relations assembled, and decided that such a monster was not fit to live, as he had dishonoured his country and family by receiving the price of the blood of two men, innocent, at least, as to him. They sought him out, seized him, and led him close under the walls of Ajaccio. There, having provided him a priest to confess him, they shot him without further ceremony, much in the same manner, and about the same time, as the French had shot their two deserters. After the execution, they put the four louis d'ors into the hands of the priest, whom they commissioned to return them to the colonel. 'Tell him,' said they, 'we should think we polluted our hands and our souls were we to keep these wages of iniquity. None of our nation will touch this money.'
In China the mandarins, by a fundamental law of the empire, are allowed to tell their monarch, in respectful but plain terms, whatever they think is wrong in his conduct; and there are many instances of their having executed this privilege at the hazard of their lives. One remarkable case of this sort occurred during the reign of one of the emperors of China, who was very obstinate and imperious, and whose conduct was directly opposed to the precepts of the great Confucius.
This had long been observed and regretted by the mandarins, when one of the wisest and most learned of that body demanded an audience, and having told his prince boldly what he conceived was wrong in his conduct, pointed out to him the bad effect it had on the public mind, and the fatal consequences likely to arise from its continuance. The emperor, fancying he possessed 'the right divine to govern wrong,' instead of listening to the sage advice of the mandarin, ordered him to be put to death for what he termed his insolent deportment. The next day another mandarin demanded an audience, made the same remonstrance as the first, and met with the same fate. The day after, a third mandarin, not intimidated by the fate of those who had preceded him, went and remonstrated with the emperor, not on those acts of cruelty of which he had been guilty, in condemning to death his bold and faithful advisers, but in neglecting to reform those abuses of which had complained. To show that he was prepared for the fate that awaited him, he ordered a funeral palanquin to follow him, and wait at the gate of the palace. In his audience with the emperor he entreated him, as he valued his crown, that he would not drive his subjects to open rebellion by his continued acts of injustice, and that his reign would be the most disgraceful of any recorded in the chronicles of China. The emperor, incensed at such bold language, ordered the mandarin to executed immediately, with all the torture that ingenuity could suggest.
The mandarins now assembled in a body, and having deliberated on the course they should pursue, came to the resolution that,' let the consequences be ever so fatal, they would not see their prince persist in a line of conduct which would terminate in the most indelible disgrace to himself, and render the fundamental principles of the government utterly useless and ineffectual. They determined, therefore, by lot, what member of their body should next go and wait upon the emperor. Each man appointed went and did his duty, several fell victims to the tyranny of the emperor, until at length his eyes were opened to the invincible loyalty and fidelity of the mandarins. Conscious of his error, he not only made a thorough reformation, but ordered magnificent monuments to be built at his expense over the bodies of those honest and intrepid mandarins who had fallen a sacrifice to his resentment, lamenting at the same time that all the power he was possessed of could make no adequate compensation for the loss of so many faithful subjects, who had gloriously preferred his honour and the welfare of their country to every other consideration.
Marquess of Wellesley.
When the present Marquess of Wellesley succeeded his father in the title of Earl of Mornington, he found that he died in debt to the amount of several thousands of pounds; and although the paternal estate was small, and he was not legally responsible for any of these debts, yet he determined to discharge the whole, which, by living a few years with the most rigid economy, he was enabled to do.
Among the creditors of the deceased earl was one who applied for the payment of £150. The young lord, upon examination, found that it had been transferred by a poor old man, to whom it was originally due, to the present possessor, for the small sum of £50. 'I will deal justly with you,' said his lordship, 'but I will do no more; here is the £50 you paid for the bond, and legal interest for the time it has been in your possession, The holder, knowing that he could not strictly claim a shilling, was content with not losing anything. But the noble lord, who thus gave an early proof of that honour and integrity which he has since so largely displayed in offices of the highest trust, did not stop here; he sought out the original holder of the bill, and finding him poor, paid him the whole sum, with a large arrear of interest.
The Sultan Sandjar.
The East has seen few princes reign so renowned for equity as the Sultan Sandjar, son of Melckchahle Selgiucides, as will appear by the following narrative.
The Sultan Sandjar, after a bloody war, in the course of which he had given the most striking proofs of valour and ability, entered the city of Zalika in triumph, followed by his victorious army, and met by his people without the walls, to testify their joy for his safe return. In the neighbourhood of this city was a cupola of prodigious height, supported by forty marble columns. As the troops marched off at the foot of this dome, the son of a poor dervise, the better to observe them pass along, was mounted upon the top of it. The sultan, passing near this building, perceived something perched upon the very extremity, and imagining it to be a large bird, had a mind, being expert with the bow, to show his dexterity to the people; he let fly an arrow with so much force that it reached the boy, and brought him, headlong to the ground, covered with blood. What was the astonishment, or, rather, what was the sorrow and despair of the prince when he beheld the shocking spectacle. He immediately quitted his horse, and throwing himself on the body of the youth, expressed the deepest grief. He sent directly for the youth's father, and taking him by the hand, conveyed him to the tent, where shutting himself up with the dervise alone, then taking a purse of gold, and laying his naked sabre upon the table by it - 'You behold in me,' said he to the dervise, 'the murderer of your son. I might vindicate myself by assuring you that I did not premeditatedly design to kill him, but my crime, by being involuntary, is not the less afflictive to you, as it loads you it with the heaviest calamity a father can suffer. You know the law; if, agreeable to the liberty it gives you, you permit me to commute for the blood of your unhappy son, there is the gold; but if resolved to enforce the utmost rigour of the law, you require blood for blood, behold my sabre, take away my life; I have taken the precaution that you may have nothing to fear in quitting my tent.' 'Ah! my lord,' cried the dervise, throwing himself at the monarch's feet, 'if you are above the rest of mankind in dignity, you surpass them yet more in equity. God forbid that I should raise a sacrilegious hand against the life and soul of his kingdom. My unfortunate son has undergone the melancholy lot written from the beginning of time in the book of destiny: your majesty is not guilty of his death. Far from receiving the price of it, I should esteem myself happy if, by the sacrifice of my own life, I could preserve that of a prince good and equitable as your majesty.' 'Your disinterestedness,' answered the sultan, in astonishment, 'merits reward, and I appoint you governor of the city of Zalika. Men who surpass others in noble sentiment are born to command them.'
In the negotiations between the courts of England and Spain, King James the First, then at Theobalds, was one day much vexed at missing some important papers which he had received, relative to the marriage of his son to the Spanish princess. On recollection, he was persuaded that he had given them to the care of his old servant, Gib, a Scotsman, who was one of the gentlemen of the bedchamber. Gib, on being called, declared humbly and firmly that no such papers had ever been given to his care; which so enraged the king, that he kicked him as he bent down before him. 'Sir,' exclaimed Gib, instantly rising, 'I have served you from my youth, and you never found me unfaithful; I have not deserved this from you, nor can I live longer with you since my honesty is disputed. Fare ye well, sir, and I will never see your face more.' Poor Gib instantly set off to town. No sooner was the circumstance known in the palace than the papers were brought to the king by Endymion Porter, to whom he had given them. His Majesty then asked for Gib, and being told that he was gone, ordered his servants to post after him and bring him back, vowing that he would not sleep until he had seen him, and made some reparation for the wrong he had been guilty of in suspecting so faithful a servant. When Gib entered the royal apartment the king ran to embrace him, then, kneeling down, begged his pardon, nor would he rise from this humble posture till he had compelled the deeply wounded but now astonished servant to pronounce the word of absolution.
In all the offices which Cicero filled, he was guided by a principle of the strictest honour, whether it was as governor, as judge, or as a pleader. In the office of praetor, it fell to his lot to act as judge upon actions of extortion and rapine, brought against governors of provinces; and in this office he acquired great reputation for integrity, by condemning L. Macer, a Roman of praetorian dignity. At the expiration of his praetorship, Cicero declined accepting any foreign province, which was the usual reward of that magistracy, and the chief advantage to which the praetors generally looked in accepting the office.
When Cicero was afterwards induced to accept the government of Cilicia, he formed the noble resolution of practising, in his provincial command, those admirable rules which he had previously drawn up for others, and from an employment to which he seems to have been totally averse, of gaining new glory, by leaving his administration as a model of justice and integrity to all succeeding proconsuls. In a letter to his friend Atticus, he thus describes his government;
'I perceive that my moderation and disinterestedness give you pleasure; but how would it be enhanced, had you been here in person? Many cities had the whole of their debts cancelled; many were greatly relieved; while all of them being judged by their own laws, and in their own forms, recovered their spirits by thus recovering their constitution. I have given those cities a power of keeping themselves free of debt, or making their debts very easy, by two ways: the one, that during my whole government, I have not put them to, and I speak without a figure, one farthing expense: I repeat it, not to a single farthing. It is incredible how many cities have discharged their debts from this single circumstance. The other way was, that they were greatly plundered by those among the natives, who, for ten years past, had been their magistrates, and who did not scruple to acknowledge the fact; and, therefore, to prevent a public censure, with their own hands returned the money to the public. By these means, the subjects, without any difficulty, have paid to our farmers the revenue of all the land-tax for this term (of which, till then, they paid nothing) and their arrears of the last.'
If all the governors of the Roman provinces could, with equal truth, have given a similar account of their administrations, how many millions of human beings would have been rendered happy? The conduct of Cicero in this instance, as well as in many others, proves that he delighted in acts of justice.
Cato bore evidence to his integrity as a governor; when Cicero, who was no general, made some successful movements against the Parthians, and gained advantages over the inhabitants of Mount Amanus, he returned home with the laurelled lictors; his friends claiming the honour of a triumph, and soliciting a decree of thanksgiving. When the question for this decree was discussed in the senate, Cato rose, and expressed his opinion that the military achievements of the commander little deserved notice; but that his disinterested conduct as a governor was such, that if triumph were decreed to virtues as well as to victories, he merited a thousand.
Of this fine compliment, bestowed by so great a man, Cicero was informed, and felt highly proud of it. In one of his letters to Atticus, speaking of Cato's opposing the decree of thanksgiving, he says, 'the man who opposed that measure, did me more honour than triumphs can bestow.'
No transaction in the benevolent and public spirited life of Thomas Hollis, Esq., reflects greater lustre on his character than a letter he wrote from Naples, in the year 1751, to his steward, in answer to one he had received from him, stating that a living in his gift was likely to become vacant. This letter exhibits an example of honour and disinterestedness in the discharge of a most important trust, that unfortunately is of rare occurrence.
Several persons had applied to Mr. Hollis to dispose of the next presentation to this benefice; but his answer was. 'I never had the least intention of that kind, nor have I now, it being one of the last ways I should think of for making money.' In the letter to his steward, he states, that he will give the living to the individual who shall appear to him to possess the greatest number of those qualities which become a clergyman and a man; and that as the benefice was a sufficient, and even handsome, provision for a clergyman, he would not confer it on a person who held another living, nor permit him to retain it, if he accepted of any other benefice. When the living became vacant, Mr. Hollis assuring himself that he had met with such a person, immediately presented him with the benefice.
Peter the Great.
In the year 1718, Peter the Great assembled a grand council, in order to state to them a new project of internal government. When they were met, he first reminded them of the duty of all monarchs to protect their people from foreign assaults; to preserve peace, order, and quiet, at home; and to execute justice alike against the prince, the peer, and the peasant; he added, that he then found it necessary to turn his attention towards repressing and correcting the abuses of power and authority of some of his governors of the provinces, and of the lieutenants under them, who he found had been guilty of oppression and peculation, and had enriched themselves at the expense of his people - a people, whose contributions and sacrifices had, for eighteen years, merited every attention, and now called for him to defend them, against all such bloodsuckers.
The emperor then announced that he had established a tribunal of justice, for the enquiry into, and the redressing of, all abuses; and that he had appointed as president the most honest of his counsellors.
Among those brought before this new council or chamber of justice, were Princes Menzikof and Dolgoroucki, the grand admiral and other minor offenders. The court in its enquiries spared neither rank nor influence, and brought before its bar Baron Schafiroff, the vice-chancellor, the favourite of the emperor, and his prime minister. The baron was convicted on several charges; one of which was for raising the rates of postage, and keeping the advance for himself; and another for giving his brother a lucrative situation, unknown to the emperor or senate.
The baron was condemned to death. When the day of execution came, the people were summoned, by sound of trumpet; he was led to the public place, and his sentence read to him; but when his head was laid on the block, and the axe raised over him, a herald proclaimed the mercy of the emperor, in changing the sentence of death, for perpetual banishment to Siberia, with the confiscation of all his property. This severity had, however, a good effect, in rendering the administration less corrupt.
Charles the Fifth's Secretary.
Eraso, the secretary to the Emperor Charles V., was one of the most able statesmen of his time, and a man of the strictest honour and integrity. When the emperor introduced him to his son, Philip II., the day after he had resigned the crown to him, he said, 'The present I make you now, my son, is greater than that I made you yesterday.' Such an acknowledgment from a sovereign, who had experienced his services, and whose abilities to judge of them cannot be disputed, though the highest compliment any minister could receive, was no more than justice to his merits.
The Old French Regime.
One of the greatest abuses of the French Government, previous to the Revolution, was to be found in the administration of justice, which, from the reign of Louis XII., was really bought and sold. When the sale of an office took place, the purchaser petitioned the crown for a grant of it; and when that grant was signed, he paid, besides the price which the vendor was to receive for it, a sum of money into the royal treasury. The amount of that sum varied from one thousand to two thousand French crowns.
A worse feature in the French administration of justice was the epices, or presents made by the parties in a cause to the judges before whom it was tried. To secure the judges the proportion which the suitors, were to contribute towards the expense of Justice, it was provided, by an ordinance of St. Louis, that, at the commencement of a suit, each party should deposit in court the amount of one-tenth part of the property in dispute; that the tenth deposited by the unsuccessful party should be paid over to the judges on their passing sentence; and that the tenth of the successful party should then be returned to him. This was varied by subsequent ordinances: insensibly it became a custom for the successful party to wait on the judges, after sentence was passed, and, as an acknowledgment of their attention to the cause, to present them with a box of sweetmeats, which were then called epices, or spices.
By degrees this custom became a legal perquisite of the judges; and it was converted into a present of money, and required by the judges before the cause came to a hearing: Non deliberetur donec solventur species, say some of the ancient registers of the Parliaments of France. The practice was afterwards abolished; the amount of the epices was regulated; and, in many cases, the taking of them was absolutely forbidden. Speaking generally, they were not payable till final judgment; and, if the matter were not heard in court, but referred to a judge for him to hear and report to the court upon it, he was entitled to the whole of the epices, and the other judges were entitled to no part of them. Those among the magistrates who were most punctual and diligent in their attendance in court, and the discharge of their duty, had most causes referred to them, and were therefore richest in epices.
Matilda, Queen of Denmark.
The unfortunate Matilda, Queen of Denmark, during her banishment, had but one friend that faithfully adhered to her: this was a running footman of the name of Alexander Stuart. Having always been much in her confidence, he was suspected of knowing all her secrets, and every attempt was made by her enemies to wrest them from him, either by bribes or intimidation, but nothing would induce him to breathe one word against his amiable, though persecuted mistress. When she was banished to Cronenberg, Stuart accompanied her, and continued his faithful services, until one day, making extraordinary exertions to obtain some intelligence for the queen respecting her children, he was seized with a putrid fever. The queen, who esteemed him on account of his fidelity and attachment, insisted on seeing him, when she caught the infection, and died a few days after her faithful servant had breathed his last.
During the fatal contests between Marius and Sylla at Rome, Atticus, who was much esteemed by both parties, removed to Athens, with the greatest part of his fortune, to prevent their taking offence at his conduct. There he lived so circumspectly that he soon became a favourite with the Athenians; and he often, upon extraordinary emergencies, redeemed their public credit with his private fortune. When the Athenians were reduced to the necessity of borrowing money, and could not obtain it on reasonable terms, he assisted them on moderate interest, and was constantly paid at the time agreed on.
The best traditions respecting Machiavel represent him as a good and honest man; and the world, in calling him wicked, appears to have entirely mistaken the design of his writings; so much so, that the proverbs, as cunning as Old Nick, and as wicked as Old Nick, were originally meant of Nicholas Machiavel, though afterwards applied to a different personage, certainly. It would not, however, be difficult to prove that Machiavel was neither cunning nor wicked; on the contrary, he is said to have been weak and ignorant as to private affairs. His 'Prince,' which has been so severely condemned as recommending tyranny, had for its object quite the reverse. 'A despotic prince,' says he, 'to secure himself, must kill such and such people;' he must so, and therefore no people would suffer such a prince. This is the natural consequence, and not that Machiavel seriously advises princes to be wicked.
Machiavel was impeached as an accomplice in the conspiracy against the family of the Medicis, and was put to the torture; but he made no confession, which was rather attributed to his innocence than his fortitude, and he was afterwards appointed to confidential offices in the republic.
Mr. Forbes, who passed nearly twenty years in India, says, that 'the character of the English in India is an honour to their country.' That his own was is pretty evident, from the highly flattering address which the inhabitants of Dhubay presented to him on the morning of his final departure. 'Dhubay,' says this address, 'famed among the cities of the East, was happy when this English sirdar presided in their durbar; his disposition towards the inhabitants was with the best consideration. He afforded shelter to all, whether they were rich or poor; he delivered them from trouble, and restored them to comfort. All castes who looked up to him obtained redress, without distinction, and without price. When he took the poor by the hand he made him rich; under his protection the people were happy, and reposed on the bed of ease. When he superintended the garden, each gardener performed his duty; rills of water flowed to every flower, and all the trees in the garden flourished. So equal was his justice, that the tiger and the kid might drink at the same fountain; and often did he redeem the kid from the tiger's mouth. Under his administration, the rich dared not oppress the poor, for his eyes were open to the great and small.
'In this country we have not known any government so upright as that of the English. Alas! if our protector forsakes us, we shall be disconsolate as a widow; we shall mourn the loss of a father, and weep as for the death of a mother! ALLA! in thy mercy, continue him to us.'
Baron de Mizelandwitz was a member of the Swedish senate, which was deprived of all power by Gustavus the Third in the revolution which changed Sweden into an absolute monarchy. Though possessed of an estate worth £10,000 a year, he abandoned it with his country, saying, 'I will suffer the most wretched exile abroad, rather than remain a slave where I have a right to freedom.' He then took up his residence in Hamburg, where he lived in great poverty, lodging in a miserable apartment, and not rich enough to keep a servant. The king wrote to him in the most flattering terms, inviting his return to his estates and honours: but the baron never answered his letters. The king then sent him remittance, to enable him to live more comfortably; but he sternly refused it, saying, 'I will rather die than receive a dollar at the hands of one who has enslaved my country.'
Alexander Severus, the Roman emperor, would never suffer any office of trust or power to be sold, remarking that he who bought would also sell. It was one of the maxims of this monarch that the majesty of the empire was to be supported by virtue, and not by the ostentatious display of wealth or power.
When Darius, the first of that name, was on his death bed, his son Artaxerxes enquired of him by what policy he had governed the kingdon for nineteen years, as he wished to follow his example. 'My son,' said Darius, 'be assured, that if my reign has been blessed with greater success and peace than those of my predecessors, it is because, in all things, I have honoured the gods, and done justice to every man.'
When the present Earl Spencer was a boy, he called at an inn at St. Albans, where he frequently stopped; and observing that the landlord looked unusually dejected, enquired the cause. The landlord, after some hesitation, stated that his affairs had become embarrassed, and that his creditors were so severe, that he would be compelled to shut up his house. 'Why,' said the young gentleman, 'how much money will relieve you from all difficulties?' The landlord said, not less than a thousand pounds; and if he could borrow that sum, he did not doubt of his being able, in a short time, to repay it. Young Spencer, said nothing, but ordering his horses, posted off to London, and going instantly to his guardian, told him he wanted £1000. The guardian naturally enquired for what purpose so large a sum was to be applied; and was answered, that it was for no purpose of extravagance, but, on the contrary, to serve a deserving man. The guardian refused to advance the money; when the youth hastened to one of his relations; a consultation was held, and it was agreed to advance the money, and trust to his discretion.
He immediately carried it to the distressed landlord, whose business was now conducted with fresh vigour; and in a very few years, when his lordship returned from his travels, and stopped at the same inn, he found his host in a more flourishing condition, and knowing of his expected arrival, had the £1000 ready to return him, with gratitude for having not only saved him from ruin, but raised him to prosperity. The noble lord very generously begged him to keep it as a marriage portion for his daughter.
A French bishop owed his saddler 10,000 livres, of which the poor man was not able to obtain a single sous; but was at length turned out of the palace by the servants, when he went to ask for the debt. The saddler, who was ruined for want of his money, was obliged to leave Paris, in order to avoid a gaol; previous to doing this, he called on a relation of his, who was the king's valet-de-chambre, to take his leave of him. In stating his distressed situation, he spoke so loud, that the king, the amiable Louis XVI., who was in the adjoining apartment, called out to ask the cause. The valet made the best apology he could, at the same time hinting the cause of his friend's distress. The king examined the saddler, and immediately paid the bill, taking a receipt for the money.
A few days afterwards, the bishop appeared. at court. 'I come, sire', said he, 'to pay my duty to your majesty.' 'There is another duty,' said the king: 'you must first pay, the duty of honesty.' Then calling for the saddler's receipt, he ordered him to send the money within two hours, giving him, at the same time, a severe reprimand.
A poet of the name of Delah, attracted by the fame of Ograi Chan's munificence, undertook a journey on foot from the remotest part of Tartary, to the prince's court in China, to implore his assistance to discharge a debt of five hundred balisches, which he was unable to pay. The generous prince treated him with great kindness, and finding him a man of extraordinary merit, gave him a thousand balisches. His chief minister remonstrated against such an act of prodigality; and said, 'the poet is unworthy of it, for he has presumed to write a satire against me, since his coming hither, because I was unwilling to allow him access with so impertinent a petition.' 'For which reason,' said the prince, 'you shall present him with another thousand balisches, out of your own private purse, that he may go back and tell his countrymen, that there is a monarch in this part of the world, who will not permit the resentments of his minister to be the measure of his bounty.'
A lady of the name of Elliot, to whom Mr. Arthur Murphy, the dramatic writer, had once been attracted, possessed at her death, property to the amount of f8000. Without at all considering her relations, some of whom were necessitous, she left the whole to Mr. Murphy, and made him sole executor to her will. He accordingly took upon him the administration of her affairs, superintended her funeral, discharged every claim, and then without the smallest reserve in his own favour, sought out her relations, and generously surrendered to them the residue of the property.
Faithful Clerk Rewarded.
A merchant in Glasgow, took a young man into nominal partnership, allowing him only the salary of a clerk. After a faithful service of seven years, he one day called his clerk, saying, 'I find my affairs have prospered so much under your management, and I have had so many proofs of your fidelity and honesty, that I am determined to suffer your merits to remain no longer unrewarded. I, therefore, shall give you one-fourth of the profits of my business for the last seven years, which will make a little bank of your own; and I shall make you a real partner, being fully persuaded that your good sense, honesty, and abilities, will make a proper use of my friendship.'
A Chinese, justly irritated at the oppressions of the Government, gained access to the emperor, with his complaints. 'I come,' said he, 'to present myself to the punishment to which similar remonstrances have brought six hundred of my fellow creatures; and I give you notice to prepare for new executions, since China possesses ten thousand patriots, who, for the same cause, will follow each other, to ask the same reward.'
The emperor was not proof against such intrepid virtue; he granted the Chinese the reward that pleased him best, the punishment of the guilty, and the suppression of the obnoxious impost.
Value of a Generous Loan.
Mr. Wood, a free merchant of Decca, going to Calcutta, fell in with a poor native wood-cutter, who, in the course of conversation, said, that if he had but fifty rupees, he would make a comfortable settlement on those tracts of uncultivated and marshy woods, which the Ganges overflows. Mr. Wood lent him the fifty rupees; and after remaining some time at Calcutta, he set out on his return to Decca. He saw the effect of his bounty, in an advanced settlement on a small eminence, which pleased him so much, that he lent him fifty rupees more. In his next journey, he beheld the rapid progress of the settlement, and the wood-cutter offered to pay half the small but generous loan. Mr. Wood refused to receive it, but lent him one hundred rupees more. Eighteen months after the commencement of the settlement, the industrious wood-cutter was at the head of five populous villages, and a spacious tract of fine land under cultivation. He now repaid the whole of the money he had borrowed, and tendered the interest, but the latter Mr. Wood declined to accept.
Mr. Abraham Newland, who was upwards of fifty years in the Bank of England, and rose from the office of junior clerk, to that of cashier, in this immense establishment, was so regular and attentive in his habits, and so anxious to watch over the interests of the great charge entrusted to his care, that he resided constantly in a suite of apartments in the Bank, near his own office. And it is remarkable, that during a period of nearly forty years, he was never a single day absent from the Bank, except during a week's illness. Though rich, he was not avaricious; and when a sum of money was wanted for rebuilding the Church of St. Peter le Poor, in Broad Street, he instantly advanced the money to the parish, at the usual interest, although he had the means of employing his money to much better advantage.
In the valley of Praborgne, in the Valois, which is only nine leagues in length, there resided, previous to the revolution, a virtuous society of people, who lived like our first parents, free and equal. Not having the use of letters, all their contracts were made by means of little pieces of notched wood, like bakers' tallies. They were of the strictest probity, and had no locks or bolts to their doors, and yet thievery was unkown among them. Honesty was there a common virtue.
Chevalier de Courten had a large demand on the inhabitants of Praborgne, for land which his father had sold them; but when the old gentleman died, there was no other evidence of the debt, than the notched wood; this bond was, however, acknowledged by the debtors, and punctually discharged; for although a number of peasants had joined in the purchase, yet not one denied this wooden covenant.
Prince Jacob Dolgoroucki.
When Peter the Great began the canal of Ladoga, he ordered the landholders of Novogorod and Petersburg, to send their peasants to work at it, and signed an imperial ukase to that effect, in full senate.
Prince Jacob Dolgoroucki, one of the principal senators, was absent when this ukase was registered, but he attended the next day, when the senate was proceeding to its Publication: he enquired what new law had been passed during his absence, and was shown the register, ordering the peasants of Novogorod and Petersburg to dig the canal of Ladoga. 'No,' said he, 'this is not possible; representation must be made to the emperor, or these provinces which have already suffered so much, will be ruined without resource.' He then, urged by patriotic zeal for the poor peasants, was on the point of tearing the imperial decree, but was told that the emperor had signed it. 'The emperor,' said he, knows not its import, or its injustice, or he would do with it as I now do,' tearing it to pieces. The senate were much alarmed, and asked if he was aware of the consequences which threatened him? 'Yes,' said he, 'and will answer for it before God, the emperor, and my country,'
At this moment the emperor entered the senate, and surprised at the exclamations he had heard, and at seeing the whole senate standing, he enquired the cause. The Attorney-General trembled, while he told him, that the ordinance he had signed the day before, had been torn to pieces by Dolgoroucki. Peter asked what had induced him thus to oppose his authority? 'My zeal for your honour, and the good of your subjects,' answered the intrepid senator. 'Do not be angry, Peter Alexiowitz,' said Dolgoroucki, respectfully, but frankly, 'I have too much confidence in your wisdom, to think you wish, like Charles of Sweden, to desolate your country. Your ordinance is inconsiderate; and you have not reflected on the situation of the two governments it regards. Do you not know that they have suffered more in the war than all the provinces of your empire together; and many of their inhabitants have perished? and are you acquainted with the present miserable state of the people? What is there to hinder you from taking a small number of men from each province, to dig this canal, which is certainly necessary? The other provinces are more populous than the two in question, and can easily furnish you with labourers, or at least without suffering the same difficulties as the provinces of Novogorod and Petersburg.'
The Czar listened patiently to this remonstrance, and turning to his senators, said, 'And was there not one of my senators honest enough to tell me this?' then turning to Dolgoroucki, said, 'You are right; the ukase shall be suspended.'
Earl of Charlemont.
When this patriotic nobleman, then Viscount Charlemont, was offered an earldom as a reward for his zeal and talents in suppressing the rebellion in 1763, he hesitated for some days whether or not he should accept it, and then would only receive the honour, on the condition that the advancement of his rank was in no way to influence his parliamentary conduct. His lordship soon proved his sincerity in the condition on which he accepted the earldom, for while his patent was passing through the offices, he voted against the address of thanks for the treaty of peace, then recently concluded, and afterwards entered his protest against it in the Lords' Journals.
When Marshal Fabert, a celebrated general in the reign of Louis XIV., was applied to by Cardinal Mazarine to serve him as a spy in the army, he replied, 'A great minister like your eminence, ought to have all sorts of persons in your service; some to serve you by their valour, and others by their subtlety and address; permit me to appear in the first class.'
Notwithstanding the system of plunder which the civil wars of France had introduced among the soldiery, Fabert preserved the most rigid discipline in the troops that were in garrison in his government of Sedan. The inhabitants of this place were frequently, though unavailingly, anxious to prevail on him to receive some mark of their gratitude, which he always refused. The marshal being once obliged to take a journey to the court, the grateful citizens seized that opportunity of offering to their governor's lady, a beautiful hanging of tapestry, which they had procured from Flanders. This present was very acceptable to Madame de Fabert; but she refused it, under the apprehension that her accepting of it, might displease her husband. Some time after his return, Fabert understood that this noble piece of furniture was to be sold, and that no person would give the price which it had cost the citizens. Unwilling that they should lose by a purchase what was intended to evince their gratitude to him, the generous marshal sent the money that had been disbursed, both for the purchase of the tapestry, and the expense of its carriage. Two days afterwards, Fabert caused it to be re-sold, and ordered the produce to be employed on the fortifications.
When Dr. Seeker was Archbishop of Canterbury, a living in Kent, which was in the metropolitan's gift, fell vacant. The curate, who had been employed nearly twenty years under the last incumbent, proceeded to Lambeth Palace, with testimonials from some of the principal inhabitants, stating the time of his servitude, that he had a wife and five children, whom he had respectably maintained on a very limited stipend, and that his character and behaviour had endeared him to his parishioners, who now entreated his lordship that he might be continued in the curacy. The good archbishop received the poor parson with great affability, and appointed him to call again in a fortnight, during which term his grace made every inquiry into the validity of the testimonials, and found everything to his entire satisfaction. In the meantime, a person who had been on terms of intimacy with Dr. Secker, while pastor of a dissenting congregation, came to request that he might have the living. The archbishop said he certainly had not disposed of it; but in case he should confer it upon him, he must beg that the curate, who had been there for a great number of years, might be continued with the next incumbent. The applicant told his grace, that he was sorry he could not agree to such a proposition, because having no doubt of his grace's appointment to the living, he had that very morning engaged with a clergyman to fill the cure. 'How, sir,' says Dr. Secker, 'have you then disposed of the curacy, before you was inducted to the living? Well, I assure you, for your word's sake, you shall not be disappointed;' he then appointed him to call on the very day that the curate was ordered to attend.
When the parties were all met, the archbishop told the curate that he had not interest enough to procure his request. 'But, sir,' said he, 'I have made full inquiry into your character, and although I cannot get the curacy for you, yet the living is at your service.' Then turning to his friend, he said, 'And now, sir, perhaps I may have interest enough with this incumbent, to prevail on his accepting of a curate of your appointing.'
It is said of Dr. Johnson, that he was so accustomed to say always the truth, that he never condescended to give an equivocal answer to any question. A lady of his acquaintance once asked the doctor how it happened that he was never invited to dine at the table of the great? 'I do not know any cause,' said Johnson, 'unless it is that lords and ladies do not always like to hear the truth, which, thank God, I am in the habit of speaking.'
The Tempted Barber.
A short time previous to the French Revolution a peruquier attending a banker in Paris had dressed his hair, and was proceeding to shave him, when he suddenly quitted the room in great haste, and apparent embarrassment. After waiting some time, the gentleman sent to the house of the hair-dresser, to inquire why he had left him without finishing his dressing. The poor fellow was with much difficulty induced to go back, when at last he consented; and was interrogated as to the cause of his quitting the room so suddenly: 'Why, sir,' said the poor fellow, much agitated, 'the sight of those rouleaus of louis d'ors on your table, and the recollection of my starving family, so affected me, that I was strongly tempted to murder you; but I thank God that I had resolution to quit the room instantly, or I fear I should have committed the horrid crime.' The banker, sensible of the danger he had escaped, inquired into the circumstances of the peruquier's family, and finding them embarrassed, settled an annuity on him of 1000 livres.
Henry the Fourth.
Henry IV. of France, in one of his speeches to his parliament, exhibited his own sincerity and integrity, and a fine model for future kings: 'As I have not,' said he, 'imitated the kings, my predecessors, by intermeddling with the late elections; and interposing my authority to procure such men as would be directed by my wishes, whether good or bad; but have entirely left the nomination of deputies to those who are concerned; so I shall not prescribe any rules, forms, or limitations, to be observed in your assembly; but leave you to a full liberty of giving your opinions, votes, and suffrages, in all your deliberations; and shall only desire that the restitution of good order in the kingdom, the ancient glory and splendour of the crown, the peace and tranquillity of the public, and the relief of all my people, may be the chief object of your care. And though my grey hairs and long experience, together with the toils and dangers I have gone through to save the state from ruin, might deserve some exceptions; yet I am contented to submit to the general rule, being firmly persuaded that there is no mark more, certain of the decay and desolation of kingdoms, than when kings despise the laws, and think they may dispense with them; when they confer their favours and gratifications, as well as the public honours, offices, benefices, and dignities, for any other reasons, regards, or considerations, than those of integrity, courage, understanding, and fidelity.'
Good Rule in Retrenching.
Elizabeth of Bavaria, the widow of Monsieur the brother of Louis XIV., gave up the whole of her jewels to her son, the Duke of Orleans, when he was Regent, and in want of money. 'Without this sacrifice,' says she, in one of her letters, 'I should not have enough to keep my household, which is numerous and expensive. I thought it more rational and more humane not to deprive so many people of their daily necessary subsistence than to adorn my old and ugly figure with diamonds.'
Humanity and Integrity.
The cashier to a country bank, in the north of England, was a man of the strictest integrity, but of a remarkably humane disposition. It is customary with the country bankers to exchange every fortnight such of each other's notes as they may have taken in that time ' and the cashier or a confidential clerk generally makes the transfer. In the winter Of 1799 several robberies were committed in this part of England; and the cashier to whom we have alluded was requested by the proprietors to carry a brace of pistols for his protection; he consented, but stated, at the same time, that he would rather suffer himself to be robbed than discharge one of his pistols, as he did not consider any circumstance but the actual danger of his own life would justify him in taking that of another person. In the course of one of his journeys a highwayman stopped him, and demanded his money; the conscientious cashier first gave all his own money that he possessed; his watch was next demanded, and he gave it. The robber then demanded the bags; these the cashier refused to give up, and struggled hard to preserve them, but the highwayman carried them off, and a brace of loaded pistols in the holsters. When he got home he did not relate his loss, until he had procured the money, which was upwards of a thousand pounds, to replace it; he then stated the circumstance to the bankers, concluding, 'But, gentlemen, you shall not suffer by my humanity, or timidity, as you perhaps may term it, as I have here the money to make up for all I have lost, with the exception of the pair of pistols, for the proper use of which you know I never promised to be answerable.' The bankers were so delighted with this noble instance of integrity, that they refused to take the money, but afterwards employed a less scrupulous, though not more conscientious, messenger.
Debasing the Coin.
King Theodoric being advised by his courtiers to debase the coin of the realm, answered, that nothing which bore his image should ever countenance a falsehood.
Sir John Fineux.
In the reign of Henry VII. Sir John Fineux, the patriot, opposed the tax of the tenthpenny, and stoutly observed on this occasion, 'Before we pay anything, let us see whether we have anything we can call our own to pay.' Morton, both Cardinal and Chancellor, was against the preferment of this lion-hearted lawyer - he being, in the words of the biographer, 'an encouragement to the factious (whose hydra heads grow the faster by being taken off by preferment, and not by the axe); but the wiser king thought that so able a patriot would be an useful courtier, and that he who could do so well at the bar, might do more at the bench.' He accordingly was made a judge, and knighted, after which, we learn that no one was so firm to the prince's prerotive.
Soon after the accession of Charles IV. to the crown of Spain, complaints were made of numerous and extensive frauds in the management or misapplication of the funds appropriated for the maintenance of the principal hospital in Madrid, with a charge of confederacy between the contractors who had furnished the hospital with provisions, necessaries, &c., and some of the governors. A nobleman, who had a principal share in the direction, had influence at a board of the directors to cause these just complaints to be declared false and frivolous. The king, however, caused the strictest scrutiny to be made into the charge; the result of it was, that the accusation was fully proved. The contractors were fined and discharged, and the nobleman sentenced to forfeit the whole of his personal estate to the crown, while his real estate was given to the next heir. and he was banished the kingdom.
Ryley, the artist, had amassed considerable money by his profession. He used to make designs for book prints, and made several drawings of monuments for Mr. Bacon, the sculptor. Hearing that Mr. Bacon was once pressed for a sum of money, although not applied to, he immediately tendered him two hundred guineas. Mr. Bacon blamed him for keeping so much cash in his house; and afterwards, having observed him to appear anxious and melancholy, he spoke to him about arranging his affairs, and, as he knew he had considerable property, he urged him to make his will. Ryley replied that he did not know how, on which Mr. Bacon proposed to write it for him. This offer was accepted. After naming a few legacies to relations, he appointed Bacon his executor and residuary legatee. Bacon, however, positively refused this, insisting that his property should go entirely to his own relations, or, at least, that nothing should come to himself. The event of Ryley's death proved that the property thus honourably refused was very considerable.
The Highlanders are as remarkable for their integrity as for their hospitality, and a stranger may travel through their country without being insulted. On these coasts shipwrecks are frequent; and in all cases when this happens every effort is not only made to save the mariners, but their property is secured and preserved with a degree of care that reflects the highest honour upon the natives.
During the American war, a ship from Liverpool, which had received considerable damage at sea, put into the harbour of Loch Tarbet, in Harris. As the master found it was not safe to put to sea without considerable repairs, which could not there be executed, he deemed it necessary to leave the ship and cargo, and proceed to Liverpool to receive instructions from the owners. All the hands went with him, except one, who was prevailed on to stay in the ship, to take care of her cargo; there she lay for several days, under the care of this single man, without susteaining the smallest loss, either by violence or pilfering.
In the winter Of 1785, a vessel, navigated by Danish seamen, who were strangers to the coast, having touched on a rock, west of Icolmkil, they were afraid of sinking, and took to their boat; they made for the island, leaving their vessel, with sails set, to drive with the wind and tide. Some of the natives seeing the vessel rolling, without being under proper management, put off to the ship, and finding no person on board, took possession of her, and carried her safe into Loch Scridan in Mull. The mariners seeing their vessel safely moored, went and claimed her, and without hesitation or dispute, obtained full possession, without any salvage or other charge being made for taking care of the vessel. The ship and cargo were then entrusted to the farmer of the land adjoining to the port she lay in, who, for a very trifling consideration, insured the whole cargo to the owners, and delivered it over to their order several months afterwards, entirely complete, and in good order.
About the same time, two large American vessels went ashore, on the island of Islay, one of which contained on board £1000 in specie. As these vessels were not under management, because of the great sickness and lassitude of the crews, the cargoes were taken out, and placed along the shore, in the best way they could; the vessels were then got off, and when the articles of the two cargoes were collected together, nothing was missing, except a barrel of tar, which had dropped overboard.
A more singular instance of Hebridean honesty, occurred in the case of a vessel from Ireland laden with linen yarn, which was stranded in Islay. The weather becoming calm, the cargo was got out; but as it was drenched in salt water, it became necessary to have the whole well washed in fresh water, to take out the salt. This was done in the river that was close by, and the yarn was spread abroad for many days, along extensive grounds, to dry. Several hundred persons were employed in this work for many weeks, every one of whom had linen yarn at home, so that the prospect of embezzlement without detection was very great; as a discovery, in these circumstances, would be extremely difficult; yet when the whole was collected together, to the utter astonishment of the master and seamen, a very few hanks only of the yarn were wanting.
The Marquess of Hastings.
Although the Marquess of Hastings was always fond of the public service, it was never for the sake of private gain; on the contrary, his sacrifices to the public interest often injured his fortune. When in the early period of the French revolution, he had a nominal command of English troops and, French emigrants at Southampton, his private expenditure exceeded £3o,ooo; yet such was his delicacy and disinterestedness, that he would not accept either pay, emolument, or even patronage.
In the government of India, to which the Marquess of Hastings has since been appointed, the same zeal for the public service, and the same disregard of all personal advantages, has distinguished his government; as a proof of this, it is only necessary to state, that he relinquished, for the public good, the sum of about £100, 000, to which he was entitled as prize money during one of his successful military campaigns in India.
Earl of Liverpool.
It was the candid remark of one of the greatest opponents of the distinguished nobleman to whom these Anecdotes of Integrity are dedicated, that of all the statesmen who have filled the Premiership of England, no one has maintained that station by less of the usual arts of statesmanship, than his lordship. Deception, evasion, finesse, artifice, are all equally strangers to Lord Liverpool's manner of acting; a circumstance the more remarkable, considering that it is avowedly through court favour that his lordship's family has risen to its present eminence; his course is, in all cases, that which is the most straight-forward; and his language as uniformly that which no one can misunderstand, or plausibly misinterpret. He seems to decide and act invariably as his best judgment impels him; and to allow no consideration of what may be lost or gained to certain political interests, by softening a refusal, or qualifying an opinion, to interfere with the distinct and clear expressions of what he feels to be his duty. He is as slow to encourage a fallacious hope, as to escape a hostile threat; while the one with amenity he extinguishes, the other he calmly defies. A baronet, who promises to attain a high rank among the girouettes of his age, once solicited from his lordship the privilege of nominating to an office of some importance, hinting, at the same time, how necessary it was, at that particular juncture, to strengthen the hands of government. His lordship coolly answered, that had the baronet recommended to him any person as worthy of filling the office, his recommendation would have had every attention paid to it; but that he was greatly mistaken, if he thought the government was to be supported by entrusting the nomination of its officers to speculating politicians, or needy adventurers. The baronet, in his hours of conviviality, protests, that he could forgive the refusal; but the manner of it, he never will.
The Percy Anecdotes: