Edmund Shorthouse.

A present to youths & young men: Printed for private circulation ..., Volume 1 online

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X. 31).



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CHAPTER XVII.



HONESTY IS THE BEST POLICY ; or THE YOUNG
GALLEY SLAVE.

;\N ancient timeLs, — and till recently, in some parts of the
I world, — Criminals were made to work vessels called
I " Galleys," propelled by long oars ; in double tiers, or
rows. Several galley slaves were chained to each
huge oar, and overseers walked to and fro along a platform
down the centre of the vessel, and, if any flagged in their
exertions, used their heavy whips most unmercifully. Crimi-
nals sentenced to the galleys were called " Galley Slaves,'*
and were often '* condemned to the galleys for life.** One
day the Viceroy of Naples — a sagacious man — when passing
through Barcelona — went on board one of the Government
Convict Galleys, where malefactors condemned for life were,
as usual, chained to the heavy oars. In passing, he inquired
of several what their offences had been. Hoping that there
was a chance of being set at liberty, they all protested their
innocence ; one '* would not have been there but for the
malice of a witness ** — another said it " was owing in his case
to the Judge being bribed " — all of them were honest, innocent
men, all had been treated unjustly ; but they certainly looked
a most ferocious set for honest and innocent men ! At length
the Duke came to a youth whose countenance pleased him ;
he had evidently incurred the dislike of the overseers, for his
back bore the marks of many cruel blows from the whips.
He asked, as before, what his crime had been. " My Lord ! **
said the young man, " I cannot deny that I was justly con-
demned. For the fact is I stole a purse of money. To be
-sure we were very poor, and our family almost starving at
the time ; nevertheless, I did steal the purse near Tarragan."
The Duke, hearing this, pretended to fly into a violent passion,
and striking the youth two or three light blows on the back
with his stick, called to the overseers to unchain him, saying,
"What! stole a purse/ Oh! you rogue! you rogue! This
will never do! What are you doing here in the company of
all these honest and innocent men ? They must not have a
rogue with them ! Here are your papers ; get out of their
company as soon as possible ! *' Weeping with delight, and
kissing the good Duke's hands, the youth was immediately
liberated, whilst the " honest and honourable men *' were left
to toil at the oars ! Thus we see that in this case honest con-
fession, and telling the truth, once more proved to be ** the
best policy.**

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1825.

" Puffing Billy."



The first Locomotive. Stockton and Darlington Railway, Sept. 27, 1825

1831.
America.



The first, very primitive train which ran in America, — Albany to
Shenectady, N.Y. (16 miles) — 1831. The Engineer was John Hampson,
att Englishraan. Fifteen passengers made the first trip, and their names
are recorded. The original picture (exact to above) is in the Connecticut
Historical Society Collection, at Hartford.



A Contrast.
1907.
A celebrated American locomotive, " 999," which has performed
some remarkable '* runs " in U.S.A.

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CHAPTER XVIII.



THE MIMIC.
" Although a poor youth, he had still the feelings of a man,'*

A YOUNG actor, celebrated, however, for his wonderful

ll talent in imitating to perfection the peculiarity of any

M person he had a few minutes* opportunity of observing,

\f was engaged by a comic author to take off the person,

manner, and pecuhar delivery, of that great and good man

Dr. . The Doctor, when a boy, had been remarkable

for his beauty, but his face had been injured, while a youth,
in nobly saving the Ufe of a little girl during a great fire in
London. His side had been partly paralysed at the same
time. He was to be introduced on the stage in a laughable
character. The Mimic accordingly dressed himself as a
country youth, and with an inimitable look of vacancy and
clownishness, — ^which would have deceived a far keener observer
than the worthy Doctor, — waited upon him for his advice for
certain pretended ailments. While waiting for his turn in the
waiting room, the Conversation of some poor people in the
room naturally turned upon the Doctor. The comedian
remarked that he " Had never seen him, but understood that
he was a singularly plain-looking man.'* '* It would be a
happy thing," said one of the company, " if every good-looking

person possessed half the goodness of Dr. .** First one,

and then another, chimed in with tales of kindness done, aiid
sickness restored, by his attention and care. One poor old
man present, with white hair, told how, when his wife and
children lay dangerously ill of fever, the Doctor was stepping

into his carriage to attend them, when Lord 's carriage

drove furiously up, and one of the footmen gave a message

that his Lordship desired to see Dr. instantly. " The

good Doctor knew," said the poor old man, with tears in his
eyes, — " that I could not give him a fee of any kind, while his
Lordship is one of the wealthiest men in London, but he instantly
said, — " Tell his Lordship that I shall be engaged for some
time, but will call upon him afterwards." ** I tell you,
gentlemen," the poor man continued, ** that my wife's life was
saved by it."

What was passing in his mind could only be guessed, for
the comedian's face, trained to perfect control, never altered ;
but the fact was that the young man would now gladly have
left with his task uncompleted. But his turn came next.

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THE MIMIC. 129

and the Mimic, as a country youth, was ushered into the
Doctor's presence. He described certain ailments, in admirable
keeping with the character he had assumed, naturally taking
long to explain them, so as to be able the more to observe
the doctor's features and manner. The Doctor heard with
concern his descriptions of the commencing S5niiptoms of
very painful diseases, and gave him advice. **No! No! my
poor boy," said the worthy Doctor, with a look of sympathy
in his plain and distorted countenance, as the actor offered him
half-a-sovereign. ** Put it up again ! You will* need all your
money and all your patience, too, with such diseases beginning
at your age ! "

The young actor could not forbear kissing the hand held
out to him, and left hastily. " Good heavens 1" he thought,
** is this the noble man I am to hold up night after night to
the derision of others ? / will not do it I Am I to hold up
the noblest man I ever met with to the senseless mockery
of crowds in a Theatre ? "

His Employer joined the Comedian with eager expectation
and begged the Mimic to attempt to depict the Doctor's expres-
sion. He did so. In a moment the delighted author had

before him a very facsimile of Dr. ,his manner, his

poor deformed face !

The author was convtdsed with laughter ; but his raptures
were soon checked when the young man told him " that
though he was only a poor youth, without other means of
support than his engagement at the Theatre, — he had still
the feelings of a man ! " " That he would far rather leave
his situation at the Theatre ! " " Nay ! " he vehemently
exclaimed, — " he should consider that God would be justified
in striking him dead upon the spot, — if he employed his
talents, night after night, in holding up one of the noblest
of His creatures, to the derision and mockery of others ! "



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CHAPTER XIX.



THE DISHONEST EMPLOYER.
The Honest Apprentice Boy.

JN the Shop of a woollen draper in Rheims, an apprentice
boy of slender appearance, and handsome, intelligent
features, stood within the counter poring over the pages
of a Volume. His name was Baptiste — Jean Baptiste
Colbert.

** What is the day of the month ? *' asked the Master of
the Establishment, looking up from his green leathern arm-
chair at the further extremity of the shop, and addressing
Baptiste.

"The 30th October, 1632,*' replied the youth.

" Right as to the day and month, but wrong as to the
year," repUed the old woollen draper, briskly. " This is
1634, ^^^ ^^^ you should know, for you are fifteen years old
this year."

** So I should, godfather, for I am fond of ciphering. But,
at the moment you spoke, I was "

'* Oh, I see ; reading as usual. I am afraid you will never
be good for business. But what book is it that interests you
so much ? "

" Why, sir, I am reading the trial of the Duke of Mont-
morency."

*' The Duke of Montmorency ? What have you to say about
him ? Here at the sign of The Golden Fleece, we do not mind
such things. All we have to do is to sell cloth."

** I know that, sir," modestly answered the youth, ** and
I will try to do my best, I am sure."

*' Well, I dare say you will, by and by. However, since
you are reading about the Duke of Montmorency, pray, tell
me what he was tried f or ? "

** You know, sir, that when Louis XIII. set out from Paris,
in 1629, notwithstanding the intense cold of Winter, he went,
in person, to assist the Duke of Nevers, and defend himself
against the claims in which the Duke of Monferrat ."

** I declare the little fellow is bom a Statesman ; it is won-
derful how he strings it all together," said the old linen draper,
looking up at the youth, whose expression of earnest thought
seemed little suited to the softness of his boyish features, and
the fair silky hair, which, as was the custom of that day, fell
in large curls on his shoulders.

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132 THE HONEST APPRENTICE BOY.

" Well, godfather," continued Baptiste, glowing with
indignation at the history he had just been reading, '* when
the young king had forced the pass of Suze, conquered the army
of the Duke of Savoy, pursued the Spaniards of Cazal, seized
upon Pignerol, and (according to the treaty made three years
before) put the Duke of Nevers in possession of the Duchy
of Mantua ; when with the title of ' The deliverer of Italy,'
he returned with the Duke of Richelieu, he found his brother
Gaston, Duke of Orleans, had revolted, with many other of
the nobles, amongst them the Duke of Montmorency, who had
stirred up Languedoc, of which he was the governor. The
Duke was, however, taken with arms in his hands at the
battle of Castenandery, and, being convicted, was beheaded
by the order of the Duke of Richelieu, at Toulouse, on the 30th
of October, 1632."

** There was probably in all that a little of the Cardinal
de Richelieu's intrigues." observed the old woollen draper,
who, as the Reader may perceive, did not altogether dislike
politics, although he appeared as if he did.

Note. — ^The Cardinal de Richelieu was prime minister of
Louis XIII., and has been considered by historians as one
of the greatest statesmen of the old French monarchy. His
successor was Mazarin ; and if, in these days of cheap
literature and novels, you have read of these characters in
Dumas' *' Three Musketeers," &c., at least follow it up by
referring to French history, for more reliable information.

" Ministers are too arbitrary, too harsh, too despotic,"
replied Baptiste, with animation ; ** and if I am ever prime
minister "

A roar of laughter from the old woollen draper, from the
apprentice, nay, even from the shop-boy, who was sweeping
in the front part of the shop, interrupted poor Baptiste, and
made the blood mount to his temples !

** There are no longer any boys ! " cried the head-porter,
Moline. ** There are no longer any boys ! "

" If — you — are — ever — prime — minister," repeated the
master of the Golden Fleece, drawling out each syllable.
** But do me the favour, sir," he added, abruptly changing
his tone, " first to be useful in your godfather's shop, and
learn to be thankful for obtaining a respectable means of
earning a livelihood ! "

** I beg your pardon, godfather, I will endeavour to do all
that is desired of me."

" Well ! well ! Lay aside your book, and take this
invoice to M. Cenani, of the firm of Cenani and Mazerani,
bankers, of Paris. Now set off to the banker's and show

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THE HONEST APPRENTICE BOY. I33

him these cloths to make hangings for a country house he
has purchased. No. i cloth is marked three crowns a yard,
No. 2 six crowns, No. 3 eight crowns, and No. 4 fifteen crowns.
It is dear enough, but it is the very finest Saxony.'*

" Shall I make any abatement ? " asked Baptiste, taking
a card of patterns, while Moline, the porter, loaded himself
with some pieces of the cloth.

" Abatement ? ** said the woollen draper. " No ! the full
price, and ready money, remember ! **

Baptiste, followed by Moline, set off to the hotel where
the banker Cenani was staying. " I wish to see M. Cenani,"
said Baptiste, to the person in attendance.

*' The first staircase on the left, Nos. 8 and 10," said the
waiter. And still followed by Moline, the youth knocked
at the door to which he was directed, and was soon ushered
into the presence of a very handsome young man in a dressing
gown of bright green damask, richly flowered with red. " I
come from M. Certain," said Baptiste, bowing, and Moline
placed the pieces of cloth on the table.

The young banker merely said, ** Let me see/' at the
same time carelessly approaching the bales ; which Moline
eagerly opened. Scarcely looking at them, he touched each
piece successively with his fingers, and put one aside. " I
like this best ; what is its price ? "

" Fifteen crowns a yard," answered Baptiste. " Moline
made a grimace which neither seller nor buyer remarked.
" Very well," said the latter ; ** it is for making hangings
for my study in the country. How many yards are there
in this piece ? "

*' Thirty yards," said Moline, looking at the mark ; '* and
if you wish me to measure it before you, sir "

** It is quite unnecessary, my friend : I may trust M. Certain.
Thirty yards, at fifteen crowns, make four hundred and fifty
crowns : here they are." And going with the same negligent
air to an open desk, he took out a handful of money, which
he gave to Baptiste. *' Do you know how to write, my friend ? "
said he.

'* Yes, sir," said the young apprentice, blushing deeply,
so mortified was he by the question.

** Well, give me a receipt."

Baptiste gave the required receipt, and took the money ;
Moline made up the other pieces of cloth : both then bowed
and retired. If Baptiste had not been at the time a little
absent, he might have remarked, when he reached the street,
that his companion was more than usually ^^<^€^ and went



134 THE HONEST APPRENTICE BOY.

SO far as to say, ** That, in his opinion, they had done a pretty
good day's work."

" Well ! '* said the Master of The Golden Fleece, as Moline
threw the cloths upon the counter, *' which have you sold ?
You have made no mistake, I hope ! '* added he, noticing
something unusual in Mohne's looks.

'* I think not,** said Baptiste, quietly.

" But I think you have ! *' said Moline, with a smile.

" Do you think so, Moline ? Do you think so ? " cried
the old woollen draper, examining the tickets. '* If you have
made a mistake, you shall go and ask M. Cenani for the surplus
money ; and if he refuse to give it, you must pay it out of your
wages. No. 3 is wanting ; No. 3 is worth eight crowns."

*' Eight crowns ! eight crowns ! " said Baptiste, astounded ;
** are you sure of that, godfather ? *'

" Perhaps you would like to make out that it was I who
made the mistake ! I tell you No. 3 was worth eight crowns,
and I am half dead with fear ! I will lay a wager that the
fellow has sold it for six," said the old woollen draper, as Moline
left them together.

'* On the contrary, godfather, stupid creature that I am,
I have sold it for fifteen ! but "

" Fifteen ! Fifteen ! " interrupted the woollen draper,
lowering his voice to a whisper, and trying to disguise the
joy which his faltering voice alone betrayed. Fifteen ! then
you are a clever boy, a good boy, Baptiste ; you will make
your way, one day ! Fifteen ! I am glad that I stood sponsor
for you ! Fifteen crowns for a piece of cloth not worth six !
Thirty yards at fifteen crowns instead of eight, — seven crowns
a yard profit ! thirty yards, two hundred and ten crowns, —
six hundred and thirty francs profit ! Oh ! happy day !

" But, godfather, would you take advantage ? " said the
honest boy, drawing back.

" Why, what does it matter to a rich banker hke M. Cenani,
so that he is satisfied ? " said the dishonest shopkeeper ;
** but, perhaf)S/ you want to go shares, to have your share
in the sale ? Well, that is fair ! Certamly ! I agree to let
you have something."

** Godfather," interrupted the boy, taking up his hat, " I
cannot agree to any such thing, — I will go to the gentleman
whom I have treated so badly, to beg of him to excuse me,
and return him the money he overpaid me ! "

And with these words Baptiste, who had, while speaking,
been gradually approaching the street door, cleared the thres-
hold with a single bound, and rushed out ! The old woollen
draper stood in amazement and wrath, at this^ unforeseen

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THE HONEST APPRENTICE BOY. 135

ocxnirrence : but we shall leave him for a moment to follow the
youth, who soon found his way back to the hotel of M. Cenani.
*' Can I see M. Cenani ? " asked the breathless Baptiste of the
valet-de-chambre, who had opened the door for him a quarter
of an hour before.

'* He is not yet gone out, but I do not think you can see
him," replied the valet ; " my master is dressing."

** I beg of you, sir, to let me see him immediately," said
Baptiste, his looks as urgent as his tones ; " it is absolutely
necessary that I should see him ! "

*' I wUl go and enquire," said the valet, struck with the
bo3^s appearance ; and he opened his master's door, without
perceiving that Baptiste had closely followed him.

** What is the matter, Comtois ? " asked the young master,
without turning his head, as, standing before a mirror, he
was giving a becoming fold to the frill of his shirt.

** It is the youth from the woollen draper's, who was here
just now, who wants to see you, sir," replied the valet.

*' He cannot see me now! " said M. Cenani. ** My sword,
Comtois."

*' Oh ! pray, sir, one word ! " said the imploring voice of
the boy.

** What brings you here ? What do you want ? I paid
you, did I not ? " said the banker, turning round angrily,
" Cannot you see that I am engaged. Go ! "

But with the fearlessness which is given by youth, and
the consciousness of doing right, Baptiste, — instead of retir-
ing, — advanced a few steps into the room. *' Sir," said he to
the young banker, whose astonishment at his boldness for a
moment overcame his anger, '* I have imposed upon you,
— unintentionally, it is true." Then taking advantage of the
surprise his words created, he stepped up to the table, and,
emptying the money out of his bag on to it, he added, " here
are four hundred and fifty crowns, the same you gave me just
now. The cloth I sold you, instead of being worth fifteen
crowns a yard, is only worth eight. Thirty yards at eight
crowns, make only two hundred and forty : I have to return
you two hundred and eight. Will you please see that this is
right ? "

** Are you quite sure there is no mistake, my boy?" said
the banker, quickly changing his tone.

'* You have the piece still, sir ! is it not marked No. 3 ? "

** It is," said the valet, going to examine it.

** The No. 3 is sold at eight crowns, sir. I assure you,"
continued the boy, " the mistake was my own ! I trust you
will pardon my rudeness in thus forcing my way m ; but I

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136 THE HONEST APPRENTICE BOY.

feared you were leaving, and should never have forgiven
myself," — and he was about to retire with a bow.

" Stay, stay a moment ! " cried Cenani, stopping Baptiste
as he was leaving the room, — '* you must have seen I was
myself no judge of cloth.'*

" I can assure you, sir, that this piece is not worth more
than eight crowns ! "

Smiling at his innocence, the young banker continued,
** And you might easily have kept this money for yourself."

'* I never thought of such a thing," said the young appren-
tice, indignantly.

" But if you had thought of it ? " again inquired the young
man.

" It is quite impossible such a thing should have come
into my head ! I might as well have carried off all that you
have here." And an ingenious smile hghted up the counten-
ance of the boy.

** Suppose I were to make you a present of it, — of this money
you have returned to me with such integrity ? "

** What right have I to it, sir ? I could not take it, sir ! "
said the youth, embarrassed.

" You are a fine fellow, a good, honest boy," said the
young banker, going towards Baptiste, and taking his hand
in both his own. " What is your name ? "

" Jean Baptiste Colbert," replied Baptiste, modestly.

** And how old are you, Baptiste ? "

" Fifteen, sir."

" Colbert, Colbert," repeated M. Cenani, as if endeavouring
to recall it to his memory ; are you related by any possibility
to the Colberts of Scotland ? "

" The Castlehills — the Scotch Barons, are the ancestors of
the Scotch and French Colberts, sir, and bear the same arms."

** Then how comes it that your father, their descendant,
the descendant of such a family, is a woollen-draper ? "

** My father is not a woollen-draper, sir ; but we are very
poor, and it is to relieve the family of the burden of support-
ing me that I became apprentice to my godfather, M. Certain."

** Ah ! Certain was the draper's name, I forgot ! " murmured
the young banker. *' Poor boy ! so much that is noble and
amiable ! "

** Your carriage is ready, sir," said the valet, who had left
the room at a sign from his master, re-appearing.

The young banker seemed to let go the boy's hand with
regret ! He would have liked to have prevailed on him to
accept the sum lying on the table, but he did not wish to call
up again a blush of shame and mortification upon that noble

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THE HONEST APPRENTICE BOY. I37

young face. The latter feeling prevailed, for he contented
himself with saying, " We shall meet again, Baptist e ; we
shall meet again ! '* And with a kind look, let him go.

Baptist e ran down the staircase of the hotel, and was turn-
ing down the street, when he was seized by the collar with a
powerful and threatening grasp ! It was that of his enraged
master ! All remonstrances from the poor boy were in vain !
M. Certain was, on the whole, not a bad man ; but he was
greedy of money, and had a hasty temper, and irritated to
the last degree at the money being returned, he abused the
boy in a frantic manner for having done so. ** Get out of
my sight, and my emplojonent ! " he concluded ; " and follow
my advice, it is the last I shall ever give you — never come
within the reach of either my arm or my tongue ! There is
my blessing for you ; take it, and good-bye to you ! *'

Baptiste had made up his mind to bear his Master's anger,
but the idea of his dismissing him had now for the first time
entered his head ! The poor lad sorrowfully bent his
steps to his father's house ! It was seven o'clock in the
evening when he reached it, and M. Colbert was seated at
supper with his wife and youngest son, a child of six years
of age, when the parlour-door opened and the youth entered !
A cry of astonishment broke from the lips of both father and
mother, alarmed by the confused and sorrowful air so unusual
in the boy.

'* What is the matter ! Why have you left the shop on
a week-day ? Is M. Certain ill ? Or are you ? What is
the matter ? "

** I have been dismissed by M. Certain ! " said the young
apprentice, as soon as the questions of both father and mother
allowed him to speak.

M. Colbert looked very grave, and Madame Colbert's anxiety
deprived her of utterance ! " What is it ? Have you done
wrong ? " asked his father.

'* I will leave it for you to decide, father/' replied Baptiste ;
" and I will relate to you all that occurred ; but I do not think
that I have done wrong, although I feel sorrow to appear
before you like this, after being dismissed ; yet, if it were to
happen again, I would act as I have done."

'* Go on, Baptiste," said his father, while his mother looked
at him encouragingly, and his little brother blew kisses at him.
He told the whole simply and candidly, without a word of
exaggeration or of reproach. Indeed, the good-natured boy
seemed to seek palliation for his godfather's conduct, which,
though hateful to his own feelings, he tried to excuse.



Online LibraryEdmund ShorthouseA present to youths & young men: Printed for private circulation ..., Volume 1 → online text (page 13 of 60)