« AnteriorContinuar »
Biopraphical memoirs and anecdotes of eminent and remarkable persons in America, or who have been connected with its settlement or history.
Original essays and disquisitions on the natural, civil, literary, or ecclesiastical history of any state, city, town or district.
As the society intend to form a library and cabinet, they will gratefully receive specimens of the various productions of the American continent and of the adjacent islands, and such animal, vegetable and mineral subjects as may be deemed worthy of preservation. Donations also of rare and useful books and pamphlets, relative to the above objects, will be thankfully accepted, and all communications duly noticed in the publications of the society.
JOHN PINT AKD, Recording Sec'y.
September 15 th, 1809.
FOR THE PORT FOLIO.
THE TABLE D'HOTE, NO. III. Seria cum jocis.
A profile of Ambition.
What, my dear reader, would you say, if you were to see one of our first merchants, worth half a million of dollars, go into the market house, and pilfer in the face of day the few cents and half cents belonging to one of the pepperpot women, which was her whole fortune, intended for carrying on her trade, and supporting her family? Would you not be struck with astonishment, and hardly believe the evidence of your eyes—or, if you did, would you not suppose that a most awful mental derangement had taken place, and destroyed the great merchant's faculties, and that he ought to be conveyed to Bedlam, there to await the return of his faculties? Doubtless. Yet circumstances of this character unceasingly occur in history, and without exciting surprise or horror, in consequence of their frequency.
When the mighty Catharine of Russia, whose territories extended across nearly half the globe, partitioned Poland, plundered Sweden, piratically seized upon the Crimea, and, at the time she was actually tottering upon the brink of the grave, swindled the poor duke of Courj
land out of the whole of his territories, what was that but the merchant stealing the cents from the pepperpot woman? What else was Prussia's seizure of Dantzic? And what else the seizure of Franche Compte and Alsace by Louis XIV? I might fill half the pages of The Port Folio,were I to narrate even a moderate portion of the occurrences of this description to be found in history.
A sack full of heads. The first enterprise by which the ferocious Suwarrow distinguished himself, was in a battle between the Russians and Turks. He darted into the enemies' ranks—stabbed a number of Janissaries—cut off their heads—filled a large sack with them, and carried it to his general, at whose feet he emptied out the contents.
** Turkish science.
Niebuhr, in his travels in Egypt, states that a Turkish merchant in Alexandria, having taken one of his instruments to look through, and perceived that the city appeared turned upside down, spread a report that he was going to overturn it. The report reached the governor, and excited alarm. The Janissary who had formerly carried his apparatus, would not any longer accompany him, for fear of being compelled to take part in his dangerous projects.
A man of refinement.
Korsakof, one of the favourites of Catharine II of Russia, having been suddenly raised from the station of a sergeant, to a level with the first nobility of the empire, was given to understand that it was necessary to his dignity to provide a library in his palace. He accordingly sent for a bookseller, whom he ordered to furnish him with a library, and showed him the room destined for the purpose. The bookseller asked him for instructions what kind of books he preferred. The man of erudition informed him that he left that part of the affair to his discretion—" Only," says he, "let me have large books at the bottom— and smaller and smaller up to the top. This is the way they stand in the empress's library." The bookseller, highly rejoiced at finding so complaisant a customer, went to his warehouse, where he selected old folio commentaries, and lectures on German jurisprudence, which had lain there musty for perhapshalf a century. These he had handsomely bound and decorated, so as to make a splendid figure, with which Korsakof was highly delighted. He paid a liberal price for the trumpery. See Tooke's Catharine, vol. ii.
Vol.. in. i i
The surgeon outwitted.
A gentle admonition for a prince—not " euaviter in modo." Potemkin, favourite and prime minister at the court of Petersburg, in discourse at his own table pronounced some witticisms, which attracted the attention of his guests, and excited merriment. Perceiving that prince Volkonsky clapped his hands, he rose up, took him by the collar, gave him several blows with his fist, saying, "what! do you applaud me as if I were a buffoon r" then turning to the Austrian general Jordis, who was also at the table, ' There, general!' said he, 'that is the way to treat this sort of scoundrels.' To such readers as may be inclined to doubt the truth and correctness of this trait of refinement and " attention to the graces," it may not be improper to state that it rests upon the very respectable authority of Tooke, author of the History of Catharine II.
It is a most extraordinary circumstance, that almost the only nation in Christendom, where religious liberty was enjoyed on its proper broad and liberal basis, during the latter part of the last century, was the most barbarous and uncivilized. During the whole of the long and very successful reign of Catharine II, which extended from 1762 to 1796, there was no instance throughout her almost boundless dominions, of a human being having suffered any pains, penalties, disqualifications, or disadvantages, on the ground of his religious opinions! Religion in Russia was, as it ought to be every where, but so frequently is not, regarded entirely as an affair between the Creator and his creatures, unless it was perverted into acts disturbing the public tranquillity. Then, as was right and proper, the civil authority interfered.
This was before the United States, by their constitution in 1787, established liberty of conscience on the glorious basis whereon it proudly rests in this country.
When Catharine was applied to by intolerant courtiers, to punish heretics and schismatics, she humorously observed, "Poor wretches, since we know that they are to suffer so much and so long in the world to come, it is but reasonable that we should endeavour by all means to make their situation here as comfortable to them as we can."
Alas! what a contrast between this glorious state of things and the miserable policy of a large portion of the rest of Europe, in which the penalties and disqualifications imposed by unjust and cruel laws on the professors of religions different from that established by law, make nearly as formidable an appearance as the criminal code itself!
A nice calculation. A single drop, of blood. When that infamous, and, for France, that fatal measure, the revocation of the edict of Nantes, and the suppression of the religion of the hugonots, was in contemplation, Louvois, the unfeeling minister of a cruel king, persuaded Louis XIV to believe that there would be so little difficulty in its execution, that it would not cost a tingle drop of blood! His opinion was believed, and his cursed advice followed. History bears witness to the folly and the wickedness of the calculation; and testifies how many rivers of blood it made flow, and what an infinity of horror and misery it produced.
Scruples of conscience. Louis XIV having given orders to the duke of Orleans to undertake an embassy to Spain, was informed that he intended to take in his suite a man whose mother was a notorious jansenist, and who was in consequence suspected of belonging to that sect. The king sent for the ambassador, and inquired if the report was true, as he could not in that case allow the person to go. The duke said he knew nothing as to the religious opinions of the mother: but that the son was so far from being a jansenist, that he was actually an atheist. Is it possible ? says the king. And may I rely upon what you say? In that case he may go with you." Mem. St. Simon, torn. iv. p. 153.
Extravagant use of cosmetics. In Spain, according to madame d'Aunoy, about the beginning of the eighteenth century, the ladies "daubed themselves so immoderately with red and white paint as to excite disgust in foreigners, who were not accustomed to the sight. They laid the rouge not only upon their cheeks, but likewise upon their hands and fingers, their foreheads and shoulders, and made themselves eyebrows, which resembled a fine thread of hair. The quantity of paint with which they besmeared the whole face, was supposed to be the reason why the Spa■ nish ladies did not kiss in saluting; as the lips of the one would have been painted, and the beauty of the other impaired."
Spectacles far ladies. At the same period, according to the same writer, no Spanish lady was full dressed without a large pair of spectacles. The more distinguished was the rank of the party, the larger were the spectacles.
Stupendous wickedness. It is probable that in the annals of the world there can hardly be found a more horrible instance of wickedness than was exhibited on the 12th of September 1776, in the town of Zurich in Switzerland. A general communion had been appointed for that day at the cathedral church there, at which many thousands were expected to participate. The wine was prepared the evening before: and a diabolical miscreant, a grave-digger, of the name of Wirtz, infused poison in it, with a view of making business for himself. Very fortunately, the taste of the wine was nauseous, and therefore after a portion of the people had communicated, the rest declined incurring any danger. The discovery, however, was made too late for many of them, who perished miserable victims of the avarice and cruelty of the monster who had recourse to such horrible means of enriching himself. He was tried, found guilty, and executed.
Humanity."The quality of mercy is not strained."
During the war between Russia and Turkey, which was terminated in 1774, by the peace of Kainardgi, the Greeks of the Morea revolted from the Turks, and joined the Russians. After peace was restored, it was actually debated in the Turkish divan, whether or not the whole Greek nation should be exterminated as a punishment for their rebellion. This barbarous measure was on the point of being carried into execution. The celebrated captain Basha prevented it from being adopted—but not by any arguments drawn from the criminality or inhumanity of the measure—but from a motive of more potent influence with the divan. "If," says he, "we massacre all the Greeks, we shall lose the capitation they pay us." This argument was irresistible, and rescued the miserable descendants of Solon, Lycurgus, Plato, Themistocles, and Miltiades from impending destruction. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blasphemous adulation. A thesis was dedicated to Louis XIV, in which that proud and arrogant monarch was absolutely compared with the Divinity. The