Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

THE

PERCY ANECDOTES.

HUMANITY.

[ocr errors]

BEAUTY OF CLEMENCY. ALPHONSUS, King of Naples and Sicily, so celebrated in history for his clemency, was once asked why he was so favorable to all men, even to those most notoriously wicked? Because," answered he, "good men are won by justice; the bad by clemency." When some of his ministers complained to him on another occasion of his lenity, which they were pleased to say was more than became a prince: "What, then," exclaimed he, "would you have lions and tigers reign over you? Know you not that cruelty is the attribute of wild beasts-Clemency that of MAN?"

SIEGE OF CAJETA.

The City of Cajeta having rebelled against Alphonsus, was invested by that monarch with a powerful army. Being sorely distressed for want of provisions, the citizens put forth all their old men, women, and children, and shut the gates upon them. The king's ministers advised his majesty not to permit them to pass, but to force them back into the city; by which means he would speedily become master of it. Alphonsus, however, had too humane a disposition to hearken to counsel, the policy of which rested on driving a helpless multitude into the jaws of famine. He suffered them to pass unmolested; and when afterwards reproached with the delay which this produced in the siege, he feelingly said, "I had rather be the preserver of one innocent person, than be the master of a hundred Cajetas."

Alphonsus was not without the reward which such noble clemency merited. The citizens were so affected by it, that repenting of their disloyalty, they soon afterwards yielded up the city to him of their own accord.

TRIUMPH OF METELLUS. When Nertobrigia was invested by Q. Cæcilius Metellus, the Roman pro-consul, Rhetogenes, a

chief lord of the place, came out and surrendered himself to the Romans. The inhabitants, enraged at his desertion, placed his wife and children whom he had left behind, in the breach which the legionaries were to mount. The Roman general hearing of this, and finding that he could not attack the city without sacrificing them, abandoned a certain conquest, and raised the siege. No sooner was this act of humanity known through Tarraconian Spain, than the inhabitants of the revolted cities strove who should first submit to him; and thus was a whole country recovered by one humane act.

WAY TO LOSE AN EMPIRE. Cardinal Mazarine once observed to Don Louis de Haro, prime minister of Spain, that the humane and gentle conduct of the French government had prevented the troubles and revolts of that kingdom, and that the king had not lost a foot of land by them to that day; whereas, the inflexible severity of the Spaniards was the occasion that the subjects of that monarchy, whereever they threw off the mask, never returned to their obedience but by the force of arms, as sufficiently appears in the example of the Hollanders, who are in the peaceable possession of many pro vinces that not many years ago were the patri mony of the King of Spain.

CÆSAR.

"This placed Cæsar among the gods."

Mar. Aurelius. Julius Cæsar was not more eminent for his valor in overcoming his enemies, that for his humane efforts in reconciling and attaching them to his dominion. In the battle of Pharsalia he rode to and fro, calling vehemently out, "Spare,

spare the citizens ! " Nor were any killed, but such as obstinately refused to accept of life. Af ter the battle, he gave every man on his own side leave to save any of the opposite from the list of proscription; and at no long time after he issued

an edict, permitting all whom he had not yet pardoned, to return in peace to Italy, to enjoy their estates and honors. It was a common saying of Cæsar, that no music was so charming to his ears, as the requests of his friends, and the supplications of those in want of his assistance.

HUMANE DRIVER REWARDED.

A poor Macedonian soldier was one day leading before Alexander a mule laden with gold for the king's use; the beast being so tired that he was not able either to go or sustain the load, the mule-driver took it off, and carried it himself with great difficulty a considerable way. Alexander seeing him just sinking under the burden, and about to throw it on the ground, cried out, "Friend, do not be weary yet; try and carry it quite through to thy tent, for it is all thy own."

HENRY IV. OF FRANCE.

When Henry IV. of France was advised to attempt taking Paris by an assault before the King of Spain's troops arrived to succor the leaguers, he absolutely protested against the measure, on the principle of humanity. "I will not," said he, "expose the capital to the miseries and horrors which must follow such an event. I am the father of my people, and will follow the example of the true mother who presented herself before Solomon. I had much rather not have Paris, than obtain it at the expense of humanity, and by the blood and death of so many innocent persons."

Henry reduced the city to obedience without the loss of more than two or three burgesses, who were killed. "If it was in my power," said this humane monarch, "I would give fifty thousand crowns to redeem those citizens, to have the satisfaction of informing posterity, that I had subdued Paris without spilling a drop of blood."

MERCY BETTER THAN SACRIFICE.

When the Romans had ravaged the province of Azazene, and seven thousand Persians were brought prisoners to Amida, where they suffered extreme want, Acases, Bishop of Amida, assembled his clergy, and represented to them the misery of these unhappy prisoners. He observed, that as God had said, "I love mercy better than sacrifice," he would certainly be better pleased with the relief of his suffering creatures, than with being served with gold and silver in their churches. The clergy were of the same opinion. The consecrated vessels were sold; and with the proceeds, the seven thousand Persians were not only maintained during the war, but sent home at its conclusion with money in their pockets. Varenes, the Persian monarch, was so charmed with this humane action, that he invited the bishop to his capital, where he received him with the utmost reverence, and for his sake conferred many favors on the Christians

THE SPANISH ARMADA. After the dispersion and destruction of the Spanish Armada in 1588, Joan Comes de Medina, who had been general of twenty hulks, was, with about two hundred and sixty men, driven in a vessel to Anstruther in Scotland, after suffering great hunger and cold for six or seven days. Notwithstanding the object for which this fleet had been sent, and the oppressive conduct of the Spaniards to the Scottish merchants who traded with them, these men were most humanely treated. Mr. James Melvil, the minister, told the Spanish officer first sent on shore, that they would find nothing among them but Christianity and works of mercy. The Laird of Anstruther, and a great number of the neighboring gentlemen, entertained the officers; and the inhabitants gave the soldiers and mariners kail pottage and fish; the minister having addressed his flock as Elijah did the King of Israel in Samaria, "Give them bread and water."

PETER THE GREAT.

The soldiers of Peter the Great, the Czar of Muscovy, were no sooner masters of the town of Narva, than they fell to plundering and committing the most enormous barbarities. The Czar ran from place to place, to put a stop to the disorder and massacre. He even turned upon his own victorious, but ungovernable troops, and threatened them with instant death if they did not immediately desist from rapine and slaughter, and allow quarter to their vanquished foes. He actually killed with his own hands several Muscovites who did not obey his orders.

EMPRESS CATHERINE.

The Empress Catherine I. of Russia carried humanity to a degree seldom equalled in the history of nations. She had promised, that during her reign nobody should be put to death; and she kept her word. She was the first sovereign in modern times that ever showed this regard to the human species. Malefactors were now condemned to serve in the mines, and other public works; a regulation not less prudent than humane, since it renders their punishment of some service to the state. In other countries, they only know how to put a malefactor to death with the apparatus of an execution; but are not able to prevent the execution of crimes.

EMPEROR JOSEPH II.

The Emperor of Germany, Joseph II., had once a petition presented to him in behalf of a poor superannuated officer, who lived, with a family of ten children, in an indigent condition, at some distance from Vienna. The emperor inquired of several old officers whether they knew this man, and received from all of them an excellent character of him. His majesty gave no answer to the petition, but went, without any attendants, to the house of the poor officer,

whom he found at dinner, with eleven children, upon some vegetables of his own planting. "I heard you had ten children," said the emperor, "but here I see eleven." "This," replied the officer, pointing to the eleventh, "is a poor orphan I found at my door; and though I have done all I could to engage some persons, more opulent than myself, to provide for him, all my endeavors have proved in vain; I have therefore shared my small portion with him, and brought him up as my own child." The emperor admired the noble and generous humanity of this indigent man, to whom he discovered himself, and said, "I desire that all these children may be my pensioners, and that you will continue to give them examples of virtue and honor. I grant you 100 florins per annum for each of them, and 200 florins additional to your pension. Go to-morrow to my treasurer, where you will receive the first quarter's payment, with a commission of lieutenancy for your eldest son. Continue to be your children's careful tutor, and I will henceforth be their father." The old man, with all his family, threw himself at the feet of his sovereign, which he bedewed with tears of gratitude. The emperor shed tears himself, and after giving some small presents to the children, retired. When he joined his retinue, he said to Count Colloredo, "I thank God for this day's favor. He hath guided me to discover a virtuous man in obscurity."

EMPEROR FRANCIS II.

One arm of the Danube separates the city of Vienna from a large suburb, called Leopold-stadt. A thaw inundated this suburb, and the ice carried away the bridge of communication with the capital. The population of Leopold-stadt began to be in the greatest distress for want of provisions. A number of boats were collected and loaded with bread; but no one felt hardy enough to risk the passage, which was rendered extremely dangerous by large bodies of ice. Francis the Second, who was then emperor, stood at the water's edge; he begged, exhorted, threatened, and promised the highest recompenses, but all in vain; whilst on the other shore, his subjects famishing with hunger, stretched forth their hands, and supplicated relief. Their monarch's sensibility at length got the better of his prudence; he leaped singly into a boat loaded with bread, and applied himself to the oars, exclaiming, "Never shall it be said that I made no effort to save those who would risk their all for me." The example of the sovereign, sudden as electricity, inflamed the spectators, who threw themselves in crowds into the boats. They encountered the sea successfully, and gained the suburb, just when their intrepid monarch, with the tear of pity in his eye, held out the bread he had conveyed across at the risk of his life.

MEMORY TO DO GOOD.

Thomas Fuller, so celebrated for his great memory, had once occasion to attend on a Com

mittee of Sequestration sitting at Waltham in Essex. He got into conversation with them, and was much commended for his powers of memory. "T is true, gentlemen," observed Mr. Fuller," that fame has given me the report of being a memorist; and if you please, I will give you a specimen of it." The gentlemen gladly acceded to the proposal; and laying aside their business, requested Mr. F. to begin. "Gentlemen," said he, "you want a specimen of my memory, and you shall have a good one. Your worships have thought fit to sequestrate a poor but honest parson, who is my near neighbor, and commit him to prison. The unfortunate man has a large family of children; and as his circumstances are but indifferent, if you wil have the goodness to release him out of prison, I pledge myself never to forget the kindness while I live." It is said that the jest had such an influence on the committee, that they immediately restored the poor clergyman.

GEORGE BUCHANAN.

This illustrious scholar, compelled to fly from his own country by the blood-seeking animosity of a priestly cabal, whose vices he had made the theme of his satire, sought refuge and protection under Henry VIII. of England. His appeal to that monarch was couched in terms of great pathos and elegance. "Look not," said the poet, "with an unrelenting countenance upon the humble advances of a man whose soul is devoted to your service; one who, a beggar, a vagrant, and an exile, has endured every species of misfortune which a perfidious world can inflict. A savage host of inveterate enemies pursues him, and the palace of his sovereign resounds with their menaces. Over mountains covered in snow, and valleys flooded with rain, I come a fugitive to the Athenian altar of Mercy, and exhausted by calamities, cast myself at your feet." Alas! London was not the Athens the fugitive sought, nor Henry the Pericles, whose generosity was to succor him. But who can wonder, that after sacrificing to the axe that beauty on which he once reposed with delight, neither the misfortunes of greatness, nor the eloquence of genius, should have been able to make the least impression on the heart of the savage Henry ?

THE WIDOW AND BISHOP.

A poor widow, encouraged by the famed generosity of an ecclesiastic of great eminence, came into the hall of his palace with her only daughter, a beautiful girl of fifteen years of age. The good divine discerning marks of extraordinary modesty in their demeanor, engaged the widow to tell her wants freely. She, blushing and in tears, told him that she owed five crowns for rent; which her landlord threatened to force her to pay immediately, unless she would consent to the ruin of her child, who had been educated in virtue; and she entreated that the prelate would interpose his sacred authority,

till by industry she might be enabled to pay her cruel oppressor. The bishop, moved with admiration of the woman's virtue, bid her be of courage; he immediately wrote a note, and putting it into the hands of the widow, said, "Go to my steward with this paper, and he will give you five crowns to pay your rent." This poor woman, after a thousand thanks to her generous benefactor, hastened to the steward, who imme. diately presented her with fifty crowns. This she refused to accept; and the steward, unable to prevail on her to take it, agreed to return with her to his master; who, when informed of the circumstance, said, "It is true I made a mistake in writing fifty crowns, and I will rectify it." On which he wrote another note; and turning to the poor woman whose honesty had a second time brought her before him, said, "So much candor and virtue deserves a recompense: here I have ordered you five hundred crowns; what you can spare of it, lay up as a marriage portion for your daughter."

CHARLES V. OF FRANCE.

The last words of this patriotic monarch are memorable for the noble moral for kings, which they contain. "I have aimed at justice," said he to those around him; "but what king can be certain that he has always followed it? Perhaps I have done much evil of which I am ignorant. Frenchmen! who now hear me, I address myself to the Supreme Being and to you. I find that kings are happy but in this—that they have the power of doing good.”

THE BEGGING NUN.

The late Mrs. General Lascelles, when more celebrated as Miss Catley the singer, was entreated to contribute to the relief of a widow, whose husband had left her in a very distressed situation. She gave her a guinea, but desired to know the poor woman's address; and in three days called upon her with near fifty pounds, which she had in the interim collected at a masquerade in the character of a Beguine (a begging Nun).

HOW TO PRIZE GOOD FORTUNE. In the year preceding the French revolution, a servant girl in Paris had the good fortune to gain a prize of fifteen hundred pounds in the lottery. She immediately waited on the parish priest, and generously put two hundred louis d'ors into his hands, for the relief of the most indigent and industrious poor in the district; accompanying the donation with this admirable and just observation, "Fortune could only have been kind to me, in order that I might be kind to others."

PETITION OF THE HORSE.

In the days of John, King of Atri, an ancient city of Abruzzo, there was a bell put up, which

any one that had received any injury went and rang, and the king assembled the wise men chosen for the purpose, that justice might be done. It happened, that after the bell had been up a long time, the rope was worn out, and a piece of wild vine was made use of to lengthen it. Now there was a knight of Atri, who had a noble charger which was become unservicable through age, so that to avoid the expense of feeding him, he turned him loose upon the common. The horse, driven by hunger, raised his mouth to the vine to munch it, and pulling it the bell rang. The judges assembled to consider the petition of the horse, which appeared to demand justice. They decreed, that the knight whom he had served in his youth, should feed him in his old age; a sentence which the king confirmed under a heavy penalty.

RIGHTS OF HOSPITALITY.

Dr. Johnson, in his tour through North Wales, passed two days at the seat of Colonel Middleton of Gwynnagag. While he remained there, the gardener caught a hare amidst some potatoe plants, and brought it to his master, then engaged in conversation with the doctor. An order was given to carry it to the cook. As soon as Johnson heard this sentence, he begged to have the animal placed in his arms; which was no sooner done, than approaching the window, then half open, he restored the hare to her liberty, shouting after her to accelerate her speed. "What have you done?" cried the Colonel; “why, doctor, you have robbed my table of a delicacy, perhaps deprived us of a dinner." "So much the better, sir," replied the humane champion of a condemned hare; "for if your table is to be supplied at the expense of the laws of hospitality, I envy not the appetite of him who eats it. This, sir, is not a bare feræ naturæ, but one which had placed itself under your protection; and savage indced must be that man, who does not make his hearth an asylum for the confiding stranger."

BONAPARTE.

Monsieur le Compte de Polignac had been raised to honor by Bonaparte; but, from some un accountable motive, betrayed the trust his patron reposed in him. As soon as Bonaparte discovered the perfidy, he ordered Polignac to be put under arrest. Next day he was to have been tried, and in all probability would have been condemned, as his guilt was most undoubted. In the interim, Madame Polignac solicited and obtained an audience of the emperor. "I am sorry, Madame, for your sake," said he, " that your husband has been implicated in an affair which is marked throughout with such deep ingratitude." "He may not have been so guilty as your majesty supposes," said the countess. "Do you know your husband's signature?" asked the emperor, as he took a letter from his pocket, and presented it to her. Madame de Polignac hastily glanced over the letter, recognized the writing,

and fainted. As soon as she recovered, Bonaparte, offering her the letter, said, "Take it; it is the only legal evidence against your husband; there is a fire beside you." Madame de P. eagerly seized the important document, and in an instant committed it to the flames. The life of Polignac was saved; his honor it was beyond the power even of the generosity of an emperor to redeem.

LAVALETTE.

When Lavalette had been liberated from prison by his wife, and was flying with Sir Robert Wilson to the frontier, the postmaster examined his countenance, and recognized him through his disguise. A postillion was instantly sent off at full speed. M. de Lavalette urged his demand for horses. The postmaster had just quitted the house, and given orders that none should be supplied. The travellers thought themselves discovered, and saw no means of escaping, in a country with which they were unacquainted; they resolved upon defending themselves, and selling their lives dearly. The postmaster at length returned unattended; and then addressing himself to M. de Lavalette, he said, "You have the appearance of a man of honor; you are going to Brussels, where you will see M. de Lavalette; deliver him these two hundred louis d'ors, which I owe him, and which he is no doubt in want of ;" and without waiting for an answer, he threw the money into the carriage and withdrew, saying, "You will be drawn by my best horses; a postillion is gone to provide relays for the continuance of your journey."

MASSACRE OF THE HUGONOTS. When Catherine of Medicis had persuaded Charles IX. to massacre all the protestants in France, orders were sent to the governors of the different provinces, to put the Hugonots to death in their respective districts. One catholic governor, whose memory will ever be dear to humanity, had the courage to disobey the cruel mandate. "Sire," said he, in a letter to his sovereign, "I have too much respect for your majesty, not to persuade myself that the order I have received must be forged; but if, which God forbid, it should be really the order of your majesty, I have too much respect for the personal characer of my sovereign to obey it."

DUKE OF CLARENCE.

When his royal highness was on the eve of sailing for the first time as commander from Plymouth, he was accosted in the dock-yard by a poor boy, who did not know who the prince was, and who supplicated that he would give him a birth in his ship, to save him from starving. The prince being pleased with the countenance of the supplicant, told him to go on board the Pegasus, and say the captain had sent him. His highness afterwards ordered him to be completely clothed and equipped in the habit of a midshipman, and to be rated as such.

2

When the Pegasus arrived at Newfoundland, the prince met with another equally striking occasion of evincing his benevolence. He accidentally saw a poor widow, who was burthened with a family of fourteen children, with scarcely any means of supporting them. Affected by their situation, the benevolent tar, after surveying the family group, made choice of one boy, whose appearance pleased him, and treated him in the same manner as he had done the other object of his patronage.

During the whole of his royal highness' voyages abroad, these two little fortunates received from him all the attention of a parent. They always stood at the prince's back when he dined, and were never permitted to do anything in the least degree servile.

When the prince returned to Plymouth, he completed his paternal kindness, by sending both boys to school, and making every necessary provision for rearing them in a manner which might enable them to show themselves worthy of so noble a benefactor.

DUKE OF ORLEANS, REGENT.

The Duke of Orleans, on being appointed Regent of France, insisted on possessing the power of pardoning. "I have no objection," said he, "to have my hands tied from doing harm, but I will have them free to do good."

THE MAN OF ROSS.

"But all our praises why should lords engross? Rise, honest muse, and sing The Man of Ross." Pope.

Mr. John Kyrl, so celebrated by Mr. Pope for his active benevolence as the Man of Ross, was a bachelor, possessed of no more than five hundred pounds a-year.

"Blush, grandeur, blush; proud courts, withdraw your blaze!

Ye little stars, hide your diminished rays.
Behold the market place, with poor o'erspread,
The Man of Ross divides the weekly bread;
He feeds yon alms-house, neat, but void of state,
Where age and want sit smiling at the gate.
Him portion'd maids, apprentic'd orphans blest,
The young who labor, and the old who rest.
Is any sick? the Man of Ross relieves,
Prescribes, attends, the med'cine makes and gives.
Is there a variance? enter but his door,
Balked are the courts, and contest is no more "

GAINSBOROUGH.

One evening when this great genius, and worthy man, was going to the play in Bath, he was shown by a gentleman who accompanied him, a letter received from a female, a stranger to them both, whose sole stay in the world had suddenly died, without leaving her any sort of pension. She depicted her misfortune and misery in moving terms. Mr. Gainsborough appeared agitated, and instead of going to the play, went home, and sent his friend the following letter, enclosing a bank note.

"My dear Sir-I could not go to the play till I had relieved my mind, by sending the enclosed

« FöregåendeFortsätt »