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in those relations and transactions in life where less confidence is reposed, and a greater degree of caution can be exercised.
Upon their honorable feelings is based the reliance with which their promises are regarded; and the respectable merchant looks upon the dishonor of his note as the public dishonor of his name, and will make the heaviest pecuniary sacrifices eagerly, and with the utmost cheerfulness, to preserve his reputation untarnished, and his word religiously sacred. It is true, that within the last few years, many individuals have embarked in mercantile pursuits, and, regardless of the legitimate objects of their profession, have madly rushed into the wildest speculations which the frenzy of modern times has created ; and, criminally indifferent as to the end of their career, have finally plunged their trusting and unsuspecting creditors into utter ruin, and themselves into the most irretrievable bankruptcy ; but such in. stances, when compared with the vast numbers composing the mercantile portion of community, are rare and insignificant, and afford a dangerous criterion by which to estimate the character of American merchants. Al. though the commercial embarrassments under which they have for some time labored, were seldom, if ever paralleled, yet the noble sacrifices and persevering exertions they have made to preserve their engagements in. violable, are eminently calculated to exalt their character for integrity and honesty, and cannot fail to increase that confidence in their uprightness to which they have ever been strongly entitled.
But, notwithstanding the high opinion we entertain of the merchants of our own land, we do not claim for them a more exalted standard of cha. racter than we are willing to accord in many instances to those of other nations, and particularly to those of England. The history of that country presents to our view thousands upon whom we look with feelings of as deep satisfaction and heartfelt pride, as we experience for the mercantile portion of our own citizens; and in presenting the brief biography of an English merchant of the last century, distinguished as well for the promi. nent and noble station he occupied in public life, as for the still more honorable career he pursued after his prospects had been blighted and destroyed by the unforeseen disasters to which the property of those engaged in commercial pursuits is ever exposed, we feel confident that the great proportion of merchants in the United States, while they cannot but admire his integrity and liberality, will be ever ready to imitate his disinterested and ennobling actions.
Stephen Theodore Jansen was descended from an English family of high respectability, and after receiving an education eminently calculated to qualify him for mercantile pursuits, and devoting the usual period of time in a counting-house to the acquisition of such a knowledge of business as would enable him to engage with safety and profit in extended commer. cial transactions, he established himself as a merchant in London. Al. though possessed of an enterprising and adventurous spirit, it was ever tem. pered and restrained by a judgment cool, calculating, and profound; and his extended commercial operations being wisely and promptly undertaken, and managed with the utmost sagacity and prudence, were seldom unsuc. cessful. Fortune invariably favored him, and in the middle of the seventeenth century, he was one of the most prominent and wealthy merchants in the British metropolis. Commercial pursuits were at this period deemed highly honorable, and those engaged in them were not unfrequently chosen to offices of dignity and trust. The reputation which Mr. Jansen had ac
quired, not only as a distinguished merchant, but as a man of rare and solid attainments, a warm friend of the people, and an able advocate of their true interests, was a sure passport to political eminence; and he was accordingly nominated as a candidate to represent the city of London in parliament.
Being at that period engaged in a vast and lucrative trade, requiring his active exertions and unremitted attention, he saw that his pecuniary in. terests would be likely to suffer severely if he should neglect them to serve his country in the legislative halls of the nation; but, casting aside all personal considerations, and regarding only his duty to his sovereign and his fellow.citizens, he suffered his name to be used, and was elected to the house of commons by an overwhelming majority.
The manner in which he discharged the responsible duties of his trust in the station to which he had been chosen, more than satisfied the high ex. pectations of his friends, and fully met the anticipations of those through whose influence his election had been effected. His parliamentary career was distinguished for independence, undeviating honesty, and the most la. borious industry. His devotion to the public good kept him aloof from the slavish trammels of party, and caused the most violent partisans to admire and respect him. The patriotism by which he was actuated made him spurn and trample upon every selfish or mercenary consideration, and se. cured the unbounded love and confidence of his constituents; while the perseverance and untiring zeal with which he advocated any measure cal. culated to promote the general welfare of the nation, all combined to render him one of the most useful legislators in parliament. While he was thus earning for himself a high and honorable reputation as a public man, his business was necessarily neglected, and consequently languished. The same good fortune no longer smiled upon the adventures that were under. taken for his benefit; and where sure and rich profits were anticipated, heavy losses frequently resulted; and when the term for which he was elected had expired, his affairs, although not seriously involved, were in an unpromising condition, and his prospects gloomy and discouraging.
Could he have been permitted to direct his undivided attention and sole exertions to the profitable re-establishment of his business, his embarrassments would have been speedily removed, and prosperity would again have gleamed upon him ; but this was denied him, for so popular had he become, and so highly were his public services prized, that upon leaving his seat in parliament he was chosen lord mayor of London. This distinguished honor, unexpected as unsought for, was borne by the truly noble merchant with the unassuming dignity which is ever the true element of real greatness
Liberal, open-hearted, and generous, and ready to bestow his gold upon the needy, without exercising the mean and narrow caution of first ascer taining that they were really deserving ; kind and affable to those whoin fortune had placed beneath him; courteous and conciliating in his intercourse with men who were his equals in society; and dignified, yet respectful, in his demeanor towards those whose rank and station were more lofty than his own; he daily won new and flattering popularity, and con tinually furnished the most convincing proofs of his eminent qualifications and fitness to discharge the duties of his important office, in a manner at once just, energetic, and honorable. His entertainments, without being magnificent, were both rich and costly ; and his guests were chosen for their true worth and high respectability of character, instead of being in
vited on account of the wealth they possessed, or the proud titles with which they were invested. His riches were at all times lavished with a liberal hand, and the many distresses he relieved, and the misery he promptly and charitably alleviated, afford ample proofs that his generosity was not misapplied.
While he was thus expending immense sums that the respectability and dignity of his high office should be maintained, and continually extending assistance to those unfortunate men around whom adversity had cast the gloom of repeated disappointments, his mercantile interests were almost wholly neglected, and the declining state of his affairs began to assume a serious aspect. The perfect system he had adopted for the management of his business at the commencement of his commercial career, and upon the foundation of which his entire success and prosperity had been built, was departed from almost as soon as the cares and anxieties of public life were thrown around him; and when his official duties had become so pressing and arduous as to render it no longer possible for him to exercise even a partial control and direction over his affairs, their embarrassment and final derangement was the speedy consequence.
Overwhelmed with the labors of his office, and deeply immersed in the study of the difficult and important subjects with which it was intimately associated, the unfortunate situation in which he was placed was hardly apparent until he had become inextricably involved in many mercantile and monetary transactions of the most injudicious and even ruinous character; and after he was fully apprized of the disheartening state of his affairs, and saw the urgent necessity that existed for prompt and untiring exertions on his part for the preservation of his credit and the prevention of utter ruin, he found it impossible to bestow upon his affairs the care and attention which their situation so urgently demanded.
His determination to perform his public services with unabated integrity and zeal, to the sacrifice of private interests and personal advantage, caused him, until the expiration of his mayoralty, to suffer his business to accumu. late embarrassments ; and when, at length, the termination of his official duties enabled him personally to assume the control of his long-decayed interests, he found it impossible to bring them back to a sound and healthy condition ; and after struggling along for nearly year after his mayoralty, with his prospects daily growing more dark and gloomy, endeavoring by every exertion in his power to escape the fate of final bankruptcy, every hope was at last crushed by his failure, which took place in the early part of the year
1765. No sooner had this occurred than his creditors assembled, and after bearing the highest testimony to the distinguished services and spotless honesty of their unfortunate debtor, they voluntarily discharged him from every demand upon which he was in any manner liable.
Every farthing of his property he distributed among them, without even reserving the sum they desired him to retain ; and although by their gen. erosity he was fully exonerated from all legal claims, he was still resolved upon effecting, if possible, the full and complete payment of every debt he had contracted, and for the future satisfaction of which he deemed himself morally and equitably bound.
The opportunity soon arrived for carrying this disinterested resolve into execution. Immediately after his failure, an annuity of six hundred pounds was settled upon him for life, by several of his friends, out of which he
paid annually four hundred and eighty pounds among his creditors. Con. duct so truly noble excited universal admiration, and was richly rewarded.
The citizens of London, as a mark of their favor and approbation, unanimously bestowed upon him the lucrative and honorable office of city chamberlain. Being entirely free from all mercantile engagements, with his mind relieved from the heavy load of anxiety and care which had so long preyed upon it, he entered upon the duties of his trust with alacrity and zeal, and discharged them with the same accuracy and ability for which, in his former responsible stations, he had shown himself so distin. guished. A large portion of his income was set apart for the payment of his creditors, and the personal expenses he was obliged to incur were reduced within the compass of the most prudent economy. All the luxuries to which he had been accustomed were resolutely dispensed with, and many articles which by some would have been considered necessary for the promotion of their happiness and comfort, were no longer purchased by him. In truth, he looked upon every guinea he received as the property of his creditors; and measured by his strict sense of morality and justice, every shilling unnecessarily expended fell little short of robbery. The fees that were paid to him, in his official capacity, amounted in the aggre. gate to a handsome sum, and as nearly all of it was paid to his creditors, the magnitude of his liabilities was rapidly decreasing.
Within a short period after his election, his brother, Sir Abraham Jan. sen, a man of large fortune, died, and by his will settled an annuity upon him, of five hundred pounds per annum.
Not satisfied with the appropriation he was enabled to make for the payment of his debts from the receipts of his office, he immediately sold the whole of this annuity, and gave the full amount it brought to his credi. tors. In this manner was a large proportion of their demands against him discharged, and his high integrity and purity of principle nobly vindicated. As the liabilities under which he had labored dwindled into in. significance, his gifts were again generously showered upon the unfortunate and needy, and those who, in his former prosperity, had been the recipi. ents of his bounty, were again gladdened by the pecuniary assistance he was once more enabled to bestow upon them. The truly honorable course he had so long pursued could not terminate in gloom, nor end in misfortune.
From the time of his first entrance upon the theatre of life, whether we examine his commercial or political career, his character had been clear and unsullied, and his every act stamped by the most unimpeachable integrity.
Dark disappointments and heavy losses had not altered his disposition, or changed his feelings. The adversity under which he had suffered, instead of engendering selfishness, had but made him feel the necessities of others the more keenly, and had served to call into action a still greater proportion of his benevolent disposition.
In 1776, by the death of his brother, Sir Henry Jansen, the title of baronet devolved upon him, accompanied by an increase of fortune, by which he was soon enabled to complete the payment of his debts ; and, after discharging the last pound, and every farthing of interest, his life closed over a series of actions more gratifying to a noble mind than any other retrospect which the pursuits and employments of men are capable of affording
ART. VII.-THE LAW OF SALVAGE.
The following opinion of the Hon. William Marvin, United States Judge at Key West, has been handed us for publication in the Magazine by our friend William W. Campbell, Esq., of this city. It contains a general view of the law of salvage, and we think will be found very interesting to all our mercantile readers. Judge Marvin, though comparatively a young man, is, we understand, an excellent judge ; and the opinion which we publish, shows him to have bestowed much attention to the law of salvage. He is a native of the state of New York, and removed to Florida several years since.
This is a suit, instituted by John Walter, on his own behalf, and on the behalf of fifty-five others associated with him, against the ship Mont. gomery and cargo, claiming salvage for services rendered them upon the high seas.
The material facts of the case are briefly these. The ship Montgomery, of Portsmouth, Grace, master, bound on a voyage from Mobile to Havre, in France, on the 30th of January last, ran ashore upon that part of the Florida reef known as Carysford's reef. The master carried out his an. chors, set his sails aback, and used all the means in his power to get his ship off the reef without discharging any of his cargo.
While he was making these efforts, the present libellants, who are licensed wreckers on the coast, offered him their assistance, which he declined, under the im. pression that he would succeed without assistance in the extricating his ship from her dangerous situation. He continued his exertions during that day, the ensuing night, and a part of the following day, but to no purpose. The ship still remained hard and fast upon the rocks. The master, having now become satisfied that his ship could not be gotten off without lightening, ac. cepted the assistance of the wreckers. They lightened the ship by transhipping aboard their vessels two hundred bales of cotton; and, in about ten hours, succeeded in getting the ship afloat, and safely moored in. side of the reef. They then got her under way, and navigating her through an intricate and winding channel into the gulf, brought her to this port. Her situation on the reef was somewhat dangerous. She had run across the outer reef, and progressed some distance through a narrow channel, surrounded by rocks and shoals. Yet these did not so far protect her from the waves as to prevent her thumping and grinding heavily upon the bot. tom. She suffered considerable injury. Her keel was badly split; upper deck started; several beams were broken, and she was otherwise much strained and injured.
The first question to be considered in this case is, what is a reasonable salvage, under the circumstances, to be decreed the libellants for their ser. vices ? Our law has fixed no standard by which to measure compensa. tion to salvors. It is left to the discretion of the judge; not, indeed, to an arbitrary and capricious, but to a sound and reasonable discretion, to be exercised
a careful consideration of all the circumstances; and upon consulting, as far as they are applicable, the decrees and opinions of other judges in analogous cases. Before, therefore, I enter upon the particular consideration of this question, it will be expedient to review briefly some of VOL III.NO. II.