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A young woman of German extraction" waited for the present emperor Alexander of Russia, on the stairs by which he was accustomed to go down to the parade. When the monarchi appeared, she met him on the steps with these words in her mouth" Please your majesty, I have something to say to you.” 6 What is it?" demanded the emperor, and remained standing with all his attendants. “ I wished to be marrried; but I have no fortune; if you would graciously give me a dowry—"
Ah, my girl, (answered the monarch) were I to give dowries to all the young women in Petersburgh, who wish to be married, where do you think I should find money?". The girl, however, by his order, received a present of fifty rubles.
On another occasion, at the very moment when the emperor had given the word of command, and the guard on the parade was just on the point of paying him the usual military honours, a fellow approached him with ragged garments, with his hair in disorder, and a look of wildness, and gave him a slap on the shoulder. The monarch, who was standing at that time with his face opposite to. the military front, turned round immediately, and, beholding the ragamuffin, started at the sight, and then asked him with a look of astonishment, what he wanted. “I bave something to say to you, Alexander Paulowitz," auswered the stranger, in the Russian language. Say on then," said the emperor, with a smile of encouragement, and laying his hands upon the vagabond's shoulders. A long solemn pause followed; the military guard stood still; and nobody ventured by word or mo
tion to disturb the emperor in this singular interview. The grand duke Constantine alone, whose attention had been excited by this unusual stoppage, advanced somewhat nearer to his brother. The stranger now related, that he had been a captain in the Russian service, and had been present in the campaigns both in Italy and Switzerland; but that he had been persecuted by his commanding officer, and so misrepresented to Suwarrow, that the latter had turned hiin out of the army. Without money and without friends, in a foreign country, he had afterwards served as a private soldier in the Russian army; and being much wounded and mangled at Zurich (and he here pulled his rags asunder, and showed several gun-shot wounds) he had closed his campaign in a French prison. He had now begged all the way to Petersburgh, to apply to the emperor bimself for justice, and to beg him to inquire into the reason of such a shameful degradation from his post. The emperor heard him to the end with patience; and then asked, in a significant tone,
« if there was no exaggeration in the story he had told?” “ Let me die under the knout (said the officer) if I shall be found to have uttered one word of falsehood !" The emperor then beckoned to his brother, and charged him to conduct the stranger to the palace, while he turned about to the expecting crowd. The commanding officer, who had behaved so shamefully, though of a good family, and a prince in rank, was reprimanded very severely; while the brave warrior, whom he had unjustly persecuted,
was reinstated in his former post, and had besides a considerable present from the emperor.
M. Mag. o. 15, p. 239.
A certain stargazer, with his telescope, was once viewing the moon, and describing her seas, her mountains and her territories. Says a clown to his companion, Let him spy what he pleases; we are as near to the moon, as he and all his brethren.
When the orators of the Athenian Lyceum were in a deep debate upon the choice of a proper person to succeed the late Mr Fox as member for Westminster, after every one had proposed a different person, and, from this variety of opinion, it was at last gravely determined that they should wait in a body upon the dying patriot to be informed of his own wishes upon the subject, an impudent fellow got up, and requested, before they set out, a moment's attention, as the proposition he should have the honour to make would probably save them the trouble of their journey. Among the variety of gentlemen that had been named, they, by some strange oversight, had passed over a person, to whom he conceived no one present could have the least objection; and he was confident, that as soon as he should name him, they would agree unanimously that he was at least the fittest representative of the persons then assembled; he would, therefore, beg leave to propose Mr PIDCOCK, keeper of the wild beasts at Exeter Change. This was a wicked attempt to throw a
slur upon their meeting ; but their gravity was not to be deranged by a thing so unknown in their assembly as wit; so they debated very orderly the qualifications of Mr Pidcock, and came at length to an unanimous vote, that he would be a very fit person to represent them, that they should therefore subseribe sixpence a head towards raising a fund to defray the expences of the election, and that the president should express the thanks of the assembly to the honorable speaker, who had put Mr Pidcock in nomination. Satirist 0. %, p. 36.
I tremble at feeling myself under the necessity of contradicting that celebrated natural historian compte de Buffon; yet I must take the liberty to do it. He says, A beaver has a scaly tail, because he eats tish;' I wonder much that monsieur Buffon had not one himself for the same reason; for I am sure that he has eaten a great deal more fish than all the beavers in the world put together. Beavers will neither eat fish nor any other animal food; but live upon the leaves and bark of such trees and shrubs as have not a resinous juice, and the roots of the water-lilly. I have known them eat black spruce; and they will sometimes cut down silver-tir; but I believe that is only to build with, when other trees are scarce.
Cartwright's Nat. Hist. of the Beaver.
BIAS was one day asked, What it was that fattered men most?“ It is hope," he replied. What it was that pleased them most? -"Gain. What it was,
which was most difficult to bear? A re
verse of fortune.”
He used to say, that a man who could not suffer the misfortunes which befel him, was, indeed, very unfortunate.
Fenelon's Life of Bias, o. 1, p. 130. A tar having got into the pit of Drury-lane theatre, recognized one of his mess-mates aloft amongst the gods.
“ Pray, Jack, cried he, what did it cost you to get into that d-n'd snug birth?" On being informed that he gave only a shilling: “ D-me, this is fine business! I gave five shillings to get stowed into this here hold.” Budget of Wit.
A young American having broken an appointment with Dr Franklin, came to him the following day, and made a very handsome apology for his absence: He was proceeding, when the doctor stopped him with, “ My good boy, say no more, you have said too much already; for the man who is good at making an excuse, is seldom good at any thing else.
Anecdotes of D. F.
STERNE, in addition to many other fascinating talents, had the happy knack of telling old stories with such a mixture of wit and originality as to make them pass for his own. Almost every body knows the anecdote which he relates in his Sentimental Journey, to illustrate this lesson, that the grand art of pleasing in conversation consists in hearing much and speaking little. But he took the hint from the following anecdote of Racine, which the Sentimental Traveller whipped up in his. own manner, and applied to himself.