« PreviousContinue »
his virtue, and perhaps his friends, to attain it, I have said to myself, This man gives too much for the Whistle.
7. When I saw another fond of popularity, constantly employing himself in political bustles, neglecting his own affairs, and ruining them by that neglect, He pays indeed, said I, too much for his Whistle.
8. If I knew a miser, who gave up every kind of comfortable living, all the pleasure of doing good to others, all the esteem of his fellow citizens, and the joys of benevolent friendship, for the sake of accumulating wealth, Poor man, said I, you do indeed pay too much for the Whistle.
9. When I meet with a man of pleasure, sacrificing every laudable improvement of the mind or of his fortune, to mere corporal sensations, and ruining his health in the pursuit ; Mistaken man, say I, you are providing pain for yourself instead of pleasure; you give too much for your Whistle.
10. If I see one fon 1 of fine clothes, fine furniture, fine houses, fine equipage, all above his fortune, for which he contracts debts, and ends his career in prison; alas! say I, he has paid dear, very dear for his Whistle.
11. In short, I conceived that great part of the miseries of mankind were brought upon them by the false estimates they had made of the value of things, and by their giving too much for their Whistles.
TRUE PATRIOTISM DISPLAYED AT THE SIEGE OF CALAIS.
IN 1347, the city of Calais in France was besieged by Edward III, king of England, and for more than a year had resisted the utmost efforts of his forces to reduce it. The English made their approaches and attacks without remission, but the citizens were as obstinate in repelling them.
2. At length famine did more for Edward than arms. After the citizens had devoured the lean carcasses of their starved cattle, and domestic animals, they fed on boiled leather and vermin. In this extremity they boldly resolved to attack the enemy's camp. The battle was long and
bloody, but the citizens who survived the slaughter were obliged again to retire within their gates, their governor having been taken prisoner.
3. On the captivity of the governor, the command devolved upon Eustace de Saint Pierre, the mayor of the city, a man of humble birth, but of exalted virtue. Eustace, seeing the necessity of an immediate capitulation, now offered to deliver the city to Edward, with all the possessions and wealth of the inhabitants, provided he would spare their lives and permit them to depart free.
4. As Edward had long since expected to ascend the throne of France, he was exasperated to the last degree against the little band whose sole valor had defeated his designs. He therefore determined to take exemplary vengeance upon them, and Sir Walter Manny was sent to inform the wretched inhabitants of his final decision.
5. Consider, replied the governor. that this is not the treatment to which brave men are entitled. If any English knight had been in my situation, Edward himself would have expected the same conduct from him. But I inform you, that if we must perish, we will not perish unrevenged, for we are not yet so reduced, but we can sell our lives at a high price to the victors.
6. Manny was struck with the justness of the sentiment, and he at last prevailed upon Edward to mitigate the sentence. The best terms, however, which he would offer them were, that six of their most respectable citizens should suffer death. They were to come to his camp, bringing the keys of the city in their hands, bareheaded and barefooted, with ropes about their necks. And on these conditions he promised to spare the lives of the remainder.
7. All that remained of the unfortunate inhabitants, were collected in a great square, expecting with anxious hearts the sentence of their conqueror. When Sir Walter had declared his message, consternation and dismay were impressed upon every countenance. To a long and dead silence, deep sighs and groans succeeded, when Eustace thus addressed the assembly.
8. My friends, we must either submit to the terms of our unfeeling conqueror, or yield up our wives and daughters, and our tender infants to a bloody and brutal soldiery,
Look about you my friends, and fix your eyes on those you wish to deliver up, the victims of your own safety. Is there any here who has not watched for you, who has not fought and bled for you ?
9. Is it your preservers then whom you would destine to destruction? You will not, you cannot do it. There is but one expedient left, a gracious, a glorious, a god-like expedient. Is there any one here to whom virtue is dearer than life? Let him offer himself as a sacrifice for the safety of his people.
10. He spoke, but an universal silence ensued. Each man looked around for an example of that virtue and magnanimity in others, which he wished to approve in himself, but had not resolution enough to put in practice. At length St. Pierre resumed, It had been base in me, my fellow-citizens to propose any suffering to others, which I should have been unwilling to undergo in my own person; but I held it ungenerous to deprive any man of the honour which might attend the first offer on so glorious an occasion.
11. I am willing to be the first to give my life for your sakes; I give it freely, I give it cheerfully. Who comes next? Your son, exclaimed a youth not yet come to maturity. Ah, my child, cried St. Pierre, I am then twice sacrificed. Thy years are few but full, my son, for the victim of virtue has fulfilled the great purpose of his being. Who next, my friends, this is the hour of heroes?
12. Your kinsman, cried John d'Aire! Your kinsman, cried James Wissant! Your kinsman, cried Peter Wissant! Ah! exclaimed Sir Walter Manny, bursting into tears, why was not I a citizen of Calais? The sixth victim was still wanting, and the number of those who pressed forward was so great, that he was supplied by lot.
13. The keys were then delivered to Sir Walter, who took the six prisoners into his custody, and ordered the gates to be opened. The English by this time were informed of what had passed in the city, and each of the soldiers prepared a portion of his own victuals to entertain the half famished inhabitants.
14. At length St. Pierre and his fellow-citizens appeared, with Sir Walter Manny, and a guard. The tents of the
English were all emptied, and the soldiers poured from all quarters to catch a sight of this little band of patriots as they passed. They bowed down to them on all sides, and murmured their applause of that virtue, which they could not but revere, even in their enemies.
15. As soon as they had reached the king, he said, Manny, are these the principal inhabitants of Calais? They are, said Manny, not only the principal men of Calais, but of France, my liege, if virtue can ennoble them. Were they delivered peaceably, said Edward? They are self-delivered, self-devoted, said Manny, and come to offer up their inestimable heads as a ransom for thousands.
16. Edward was secretly offended at the praises which Manny so liberally bestowed upon enemies, whose obstinacy had so exasperated him; but concealing his resentment, he replied, "Experience has ever shown, that lenity only serves to incite the criminal to new crimes, which severity only can effectually punish and restrain."
17. Go, said the king, to an officer, and lead these men to execution. Your rebellion, continued he, addressing himself to St. Pierre, is highly aggravated by your present presumption, and contempt of my power. We have nothing to ask of your majesty, said Eustace, save what you cannot refuse us. What is that? said Edward. Your esteem, my lord, said Eustace, and went out with his companions.
18. At this critical instant the queen arrived, with a powerful reinforcement, and Sir Walter flew to inform her majesty of the particulars respecting the six victims. She immediately repaired to the king and persuaded him with tears and arguments to save the lives of those unhappy men. Be it so, cried Edward, who was convinced of his impolicy; prevent the execution, and bring them instantly before us.
19. They came, when the queen with a. aspect and accent of mildness, thus addressed them. Natives of France, and inhabitants of Calais, you have put us to vast expense of blood and treasure; but you have, no doubt, acted up to the best of your judgment. We loose your chains, we snatch you from the scaffold, and we thank you for the lesson of humiliation you teach us.
20. You have shown us that excellence does not consist in birth or station: that virtue gives, a dignity superior to
that of kings; and that those whom the Almighty endows with sentiments like yours, are justly and eminently raised above all human distinctions. We give you freedom, and we offer to your choice the gifts and honours that Edward has to bestow.
21. Ah, my country, exclaimed St. Pierre, it is now that I tremble for you. Edward could only win your cities, but Philippa conquers hearts. Brave St. Pierre, said the queen, wherefore look you so dejected? Ah, madam, said he, when I meet with such another opportunity of dying, I shall not regret that I survived this day.
ANECDOTE OF MONTESQUIEU.
A GENTLEMAN, being at Marseilles, hired a boat with an intention of sailing for pleasure. He entered into conversation with the two young men who owned the vessel. and learned that they were not watermen by trade, but silversmiths and that when they could be spared from their usual business, they employed themselves in that way to increase their earnings.
2. On expressing his surprise at their conduct, and imputing it to an avaricious disposition; Oh! sir, said the young men, if you knew our reasons, you would ascribe it to a better motive.
3. Our father, anxious to assi his family, scraped together all he was worth; purchased a vessel for the purpose of trading to the coast of Barbary; but was unfortunately taken by a pirate, carried to Tripoli, and sold for a slave.
4. He writes word, that he is luckily fallen into the hands of a master who treats him with great humanity; but that the sum which is demanded for his ransom is so exorbitant that it will be impossible for him ever to raise it. He adds, that we must, therefore, relinquish all hope of ever seeing him again, and be contented that he has as many comforts as his situation will admit.
5. With the hopes of restoring to his family a beloved father, we are striving, by every honest mean in our power,