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I. CORRESPONDENCE RESPECTING GIFT OF MR. PEABODY TO THE LONDON Poor. II. MAKING
MONEY AND KEEPING IT. III. DECAY OF IRELAND. IV. NARROW ESCAPE FROM BANKRUPTCY. V. A PLAGUE OF ANTS. VI. BOTANICAL GARDEN OF MAURITIUS. VII. AMERICAN ARMY RIFLES. VIII. SALE OF COINS IN NEW YORK.
MUNIFICENCE OF AN AMERICAN BANKER IN ENGLAND, The following correspondence needs no explanation. Our readers will find a biography, together with an engraving of Mr. PEABODY, in the Merchants' Magazine, vol. 36, pages 401 and 428. This last great act of his, is only what inight be expected from one known to be actuated during his whole life by the noblest generosity and purest principle:
London, March 12, 1862, Gentlemen : In reference to the intention which it is the object of this letter to communicate, I am desirous to explain that from a comparative early period of my commercial life I had resolved in my own mind that, should my labors be blessed with success, I would devote a portion of the property thus acquired, to promote the intellectual, moral, and physical welfare and comfort of my fellowmen, wherever, from circumstances or location, their claims upon me would be the strongest.
A kind Providence has continued me in prosperity, and consequently, in furtherance of my resolution, I, in the year 1852, founded an institute and library, for the benefit of the people of the place of my birth, in the town of Danvers, in the State of Massachusetts, the result of which bas proved in every respect most beneficial to the locality and gratifying to myself.
After an absence of 20 years I visited my native land in 1857, and founded, in the city of Baltimore, in the State of Maryland, (where more than 20 years of my busin life had been passed,) an institute upon a much more extended scale, devoted to science and the arts, with a free library, coinciding with the character of the institution. The cornerstone was laid in 1858, and the building is now completed, but its dedication has been postponed in consequence of the unhappy sectional differences at present prevailing in the United States.
It is now 25 years since I commenced my residence and business in London as a stranger; but I did not long teel myself a stranger, or in a strange land, for in all my commercial and social intercourse with my British friends during that long period, I have constantly received courtesy, kindness, and confidence. Under a sense of gratitude for these blessings of a kind Providence, encouraged by early associations, and stimulated by my views as well of duty as of inclination to follow the path which I had heretofore marked out for my guidance, I have been prompted for several years past repeatedly to state to some of my confidential friends my
intention at no distant period, if my life was spared, to make a dona. tion for the benefit of the poor of London. Among those friends are
three of the number to whom I have now the honor to address this let. ter. To my particular friend, C. M. Lampson, Esq., I first mentioned the subject five years ago. My next conversations in relation to it were held about three years since with my esteemed friend Sir James EsERSON Tennent, and with my partner, J. S. MORGAN, Esq., I also availed myself of opportunities to consult the Right Rev. Bishop M'Ilvain, of Ohio, and with all these gentlemen I have since freely conversed upon the subject in a way to confirm that original intention.
My object being to ameliorate the condition of the poor and needs of this great metropolis, and to promote their comfort and bappiness, I take pleasure in apprising you that I have determined to transfer to you the sum of £150,000, which now stands available for this purpose on the books of Messrs. GEORGE PEABODY & Co., as you will see by the accompanying correspondence.
In committing to you in full confidence in your judgment the administration of this fund, I cannot but feel grateful to you for the onerous duties you have so cheerfully undertaken to perform, and I sincerely hope and trust that the benevolent feelings that have prompted a devotion of so much of your valuable time, will be appreciated not only by the present but future generations of the people of London.
I have few instructions to give or conditions to impose, but there are some fundamental principles for which it is my solemn injunction that those intrusted with its application shall never, under any circumstances, depart.
First and foremost among them, is the limitation of its uses absolutely and exclusively to such purposes as may be calculated directly to ameliorate the condition and augment the comforts of the poor who, either by birth or established residence, form a recognized portion of the population of London.
Secondly, it is my intention that now and for all time, there shall be a rigid exclusion from the management of this fund of any influences calculated to impart to it a character either sectarian as regards religion, or exclusive in relation to local or party politics.
Thirdly, in conformity with the foregoing conditions, it is my wish and intention that the sole qualifications for a participation in the benefits of this fund, shall be an ascertained and continued condition of life such as brings the individual within the description (in the ordinary sense of the word) of the poor of London, combined with moral character and good conduct as a member of society. It must therefore be held to be a viola. tion of my intentions if any duly qualified and deserving claimant were to be excluded either on the grounds of religious belief or of political bias.
Without, in the remotest degree, desiring to limit your discretion in the selection of the most suitable means of giving effect to these objects
, I may be permitted to throw out for your consideration, among the other projects which will necessarily occupy your attention, whether it may not be found conducive to the conditions specified above for their ultimate realization, and least likely to present difficulties on the grounds I have pointed out for avoidance, to apply the fund, or a portion of it, in the construction of such improved dwellings for the poor as may combine in the utmost possible degree the essentials of healthfulness, comfort, social enjoyment, and economy.
Preparatory to due provision being made for the formal declaration of
the trust, and for its future management and appropriation, the sum of £150,000 will be at once transferred into your names and placed at your disposal, for which purpose I reserve to myself full power and authority ; but, as a portion of the money may probably not be required for some time to come to meet the legitimate purposes contemplated, I would suggest, that as early as possible after the organization of the trust, £100,000 should be invested for the time being, in your names, in consols or East India stock, thus adding to the capital by means of the accruing interest; and the stock so purchased can be gradually sold out as the money is wanted for the object designated. Meantime, pending the preparation of a formal trust deed, you shall be under no responsibility whatever in respect of the fund, or its investment or disposition.
With these preliminary stipulations, I commit the fund to your management, and to that of such other persons as by a majority of your voices you may elect, giving you the power either to add to your number, (which I think should not at any time exceed nine,) or to supply casual vacanies occurring in your body. It is my further desire, that the United States Minister in London for the time being, should always, in virtue of the office, be a member of the trust, unless in the event of bis signifying bis inability to act in discharge of the duties. I have the honor to be, gentlemen, yours very faithfully,
James EMERSON TENNENT, K.C.S., L.L.C., &c., London.
London, March 15, 1862. Sir: We have to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 12th instant, apprising us of your munificent appropriation of the sum of £150,000 towards ameliorating the condition of the poor of London, and intimating your wish that we should act in the capacity of trustees for the application of this fund.
Whether we consider the purity of the motive, the magnitude of the gift, or the discrimination displayed in selecting the purposes to which it is to be applied, we cannot but feel that it is for the nation to appreciate, rather than for a few individuals to express their gratitude for an act of beneficence which has few (if any) parallels in modern times.
For ourselves, we are deeply conscious of the honor implied by the confidence you have reposed in us as the administrators and guardians of your bounty, and it only remains for us to assure you of the satisfaction with which we shall accept this trust, and the zeal with which we shall address ourselves to the discharge of its duties, so soon as its precise nature is sufficiently defined, and the arrangements for its administration satisfactorily organized. Ever faithfully yours,
CHARLES FRANCIS ADAMS.
J. S. MORGAN.
MAKING MONEY AND KEEPING IT. What a painful contrast the life of the late Mr. Duncan DUNBAR of London, presents, when compared with the sympathizing generosity of Mr. Peabody here noticed. The munificent appropriation made to the London poor, can be imitated of course but by few, yet there are none who do not frequently have the opportunity and ability to relieve suffering. Still we would not approve of all that the world calls liberality. We can, for instance, see no merit in the donations of a man who cannot promptly pay his debts. This being charitable with, and obtaining a reputation for generosity on other peoples' money, is a kind of liberality of which there is too much in the world already. But true generosity is ennobling, and always must inspire admiration, while on the other hand, a man of wealth who steels his soul against the wants of suffering humanity, must be despised while living, and dishonored when dead. The following potice, taken from a London journal, shows that such is the world's estimate of man who makes money simply to keep it:
“ The shipping and mercantile interests wera deeply shocked to learn of the sudden decease of Mr. Duncan Dunbar, the well-known shipowner and merchant. His death took place this morning just before leaving home for business, at the moment when bis servant was helping him on with his coat. Mr. Dunbar was the owner of fifty-two vessels, chiefly of a large size, and his property of every description is roughly calculated at upwards of £2,000,000 sterling. (He started in life without means, being the son of a poor wood-chopper.) He was a merchant as well as a ship-owner, a speculator on the stock exchange as well as in foreign and colonial produce; a director in several public joint-stock companies; a man firm and severe, just and honorable, paying to the utmost farthing and exacting the same. With all his wealth he is not known to have contributed to charitable objects. Where money was to be made he was foremost, but while he made much he lost much. In one article of rice alone he, some few years ago, lost £100,000, and the market for that produce has never been the same as it used to be since he went into it. He was induced to embark in the speculation in expectation of the Crimean war lasting for years. Under this impression he purchased no less than twenty fine large teak built ships at Rangoon, and chartered the whole on his own account, with the rice referred to. Before their arrival the war was over; rice, which previously was selling at very high prices, at once fell in value, and continued to do so, the stock on hand was greatly in excess of the demand, it became unsaleable, and the loss was extensive. Mr. Dunbar's investments in various joint-stock companies were so large that the prospect of his shares being ibrown upon the market, has to-day depressed several, particularly the marine insurance companies. With abundant means and influence at command for doing good, he leaves behind him no lasting or grateful memorial of his name, occupation, or character. Making money and keeping it was his occupation. He beaped up riches which he neither enjoyed bimself, nor allowed to others, and knows not who shall scatter them. In a few words, he was a man of great wealth but no heart, and his epitaph might be written, 'He was born; he lived; he died; he was buried.""
This large fortune will fall into the hands of a few nieces, and London
will be all the richer for the mean man's death. Only a few days before his death he is reported to have said to a lady who called to enlist bis sympathies in a benevolent cause, that “it was against his principles ever to give anything in charity.” When called upon to give an account of his stewardship, what a pitiful balance-sheet will be be compelled to present. Countless blessings on the one side, on the other the sordid mind that grasped them and restrained them from fulfilling the purpose for which they wero sent.
DECAY OF IRELAND,
In addition to the decrease of population in Ireland, shown by the table given in the last number of the MERCHANTS' MAGAZINE, the decaying industry of that country is only too plainly illustrated in certain other statistics which have just been published. In 1861 there was a decrease on green crops of 36,974 acres; a decrease in cereal crops of 15,701 acres ; a decrease in meadow and clover of 47,969 acres. There has been an increase in flax of 19,271 acres, leaving the total decrease in the extent of land under crops 81,373 acres. In the year 1861, as compared with 1860, there has been a decrease in the number of horses of 5,993, in cattle of 138,316, in pigs of 173,096. Sheep have increased by 1,893, but, estimating the entire loss on live stock at a very moderate valuation, the sum is set down in the government tables as £1,161,315.
NARROW ESCAPE FROM BANKRUPTCY,
The Home Journal says: “ About ten years ago, a merchant of this city had in his employment a young man who robbed him of several thousand dollars. It being impossible to recover the money, he was allowed to go unpunished upon his promise to return the amount stolen if ever he were able to do so. He was not heard of until the other day, when a stranger entered the counting house of his former employer. • You do not remember me,' he said. "No,' was the reply. 'Did you not have once in your service a young man by the name of Thomas ?'. Yes.' * What became of him?' 'He left me about ten years ago, and I bave never heard from him since.' Why did he leave you ?' 'No matter. It is a long time ago.? • Was he an honest youth ?''I think he was naturally, but he got into bad company, who misled him.' 'Had you confidence in him ?' * The most implicit; and I cannot, somehow, belp having confidence in him still, and believe he will one day return and pay the money he owes me.' 'Here it is, principal and interest, every cent of it in current money, and I have come to pay it, and implore your forgiveness for an early crime.' Who are you?' said the merchant. Thomas,' he replied, ' who robbed you so many years ago, and who has been fortunate enough in his traffic abroad, to honestly obtain the means of returning to you the sum he had fraudulently abstracted from you.' This fact derives additional interest from the circumstance that, had it not been for the receipt of this money, the merchant, who was on the eve of bankruptcy, must have failed in the course of a few weeks."