« PreviousContinue »
which came to him by the death of the Baron de Montigni, his brother; and the estate of the Abbé de Barnay, granted him by the king.
Languet did not confine his beneficence and his zeal to the establishment he had formed, but extended his charity to the poor of every sort. Never man took more pains than he did in procuring donations and legacies, which he distributed with admirable prudence and discretion. He inquired, with
care, if the legacies which were left him were to the disadvantage of the poor relations of the testator; in that case he restored to them not only the legacy, but often gave them a large sum of his own, to enable them to settle in life. Madame de Camois, as illustrious for the benevolence of her disposition as for her rank in life, having left him, by her last will, a legacy of more than six hundred thousand livres, he only took thirty thousand livres for the poor, and returned the remaining sum to her relations.
It is said, from good authority, that he disbursed nearly a million of livres in charities every year. Always willing to serve mankind, he gave liberally, and often before any application was made to him. When there was a general dearth in 1725, in order to relieve the poor, he sold his household goods, his pictures, and some scarce and curious pieces of furniture, which he had procured with difficulty. From that time he had no tapestry, and but a mean serge bed, which Madame de Camois had lent him, having sold before, for the poor, all the presents she had made him at different periods. His charity, however, was not confined to his own parish; at the time that the plague raged at Marseilles, he sent large sums into Provence to assist the distressed.
Languet did not confine his views to relieve the
most wretched part of the community, but whatever concerned the glory and welfare of his country was the object of his care: he interested himself with great zeal in the promotion of arts and com
In times of public calamity, he was indefatigable in allaying the evil; his countrymen have more than once, beheld him with astonishment in the midst of conflagrations, directing the succours with wonderful prudence and ability.
In the concerns of life he understood well the different dispositions of men, and knew how to employ every one according to his talent or capacity. În the most intricate and perplexed affairs, he decided with surprising sagacity and judgment, displaying talents which would have fitted him for the first places in the state; and he would have been raised according to his merit, if he had possessed any other ambition than to be the father of the unfortunate. He refused the bishopric of Couserans, and that of Poictiers, and several others which were offered him by Louis XIV. and Louis XV. under the ministry of the Duke of Orleans and Cardina! de Fleury. In the year 1748 he resigned his vicarage to M. L'Abbé du Lau, but continued to preach every Sunday, according to his custom, in his own parish-church; as also to support La Maison de l'Enfant Jésus, until his death, which happened October 11, 1750.
His piety and continued application to works of beneficence, did not hinder him from being lively and cheerful; he had a fine genius, which shewed itself by the agreeable repartees and sensible remarks that he made in conversation.
Ton oeil, chez aucun peuple, au palais d'aucun roi, N'a rien vu d'aussi rare et d'aussi grand que toi. Delille. JOHN HOWARD was one of the small class of men who have perpetuated their names by the good they have done to their fellow-creatures. born about 1727, at Hackney, where his father lived, after having retired from business with a handsome fortune. It appears that more care was taken to secure his morals and religious principles, than to instruct him in literature. Indeed, any progress he might have been making in learning was suspended by a circumstance which took place at his father's death, which was, the binding him apprentice to a wholesale grocer in the city of London. So irksome was this situation to him, that, as he approached manhood, he bought out his time, and indulged his curiosity in a tour to France and Italy. After his return, he fell into a weakly state of health, which, with his attachment to reading, and the study of nature, induced him to withdraw into the country. It is a proof of some singularity in his disposition, that he was induced, from a motive of gratitude, to marry the person
, with whom he lodged, who had carefully attended him, though she was sickly and twice his age, and honestly remonstrated against the inequality of such an union. He passed three years with her in conjugal harmony, and, upon her death in 1757, set out upon another tour to the continent. His leading object was, in this journey, to view the ruins of Lisbon, lately desolated by a dreadful earthquake; his intention was, however, prevented, by the capture of the vessel in which he was embarked, and his visit was paid to France in the capacity of prisoner-of-war.
The sufferings which he underwent, and was witness to, on this occasion, made an impression upon
his mind that probably was a principal cause of the philanthropical exertions which afterwards employed so great a portion of his life. Their immediate effect was to induce him, upon his liberation, to lay the state of his fellow prisoners before the commissioners of the sick and wounded seamen, who received his information with thanks. In 1758, he made a suitable alliance with the eldest daughter of Sergeant Leeds, of Croxton, in Cambridgeshire.
then settled at his estate at Cardington, near Bedford; but he soon after purchased a seat in the New Forest, in Hampshire, where he resided three or four years, at the end of which, he returned to Cardington, which he made his fixed abode, and began to put in practice those schemes for the good of his poor neighbours and tenants, in which he ever took peculiar delight. He built upon his estate a number of very neat and comfortable cottages, to each of which he annexed a little ground for a garden. These he peopled with sober and industrious tenants, over whose welfare he watched with the vigilance of a parent. He established schools, where both sexes were gratuitously taught what would be most useful in their condition of life. He also distributed much money in private charity to the indigent, and promoted various plans for the public benefit, beyond his own immediate vicinity. His own family was distinguished for order and regularity, and he was exemplary in attention to religious duties, without any of the bigotry of party. One of his principal amusements was horticulture, in which he excelled. He was also fond of philosophical experiments and observations, and communicated to the Royal Society, of which he was a member, some very judicious remarks.
Continuation. In 1765, his domestic happiness was irreparably injured by the death of his beloved wife. The education of his son, and his usual benevolent occupations, continued to employ him till the year 1773, in which he served the office of High-sheriff for the county of Bedford. That conscientious regard to his duty, by which he was always actuated, would not permit him to pass over slightly any of the functions of this office, and the superintendence of the prisons seemed to him one of the most important. Finding many abuses prevail, which he did not know how to remedy, he determined to obtain all possible information on the subject; and, with this view, began by visiting most of the county-gaols in England. On a second journey, he extended his researches into town-gaols and houses of correction; diligently did he pursue his object, that he was enabled, in March 1774, to lay before the House of Commons a large mass of information, for which he received their public thanks.
He had now entered upon a new field of philanthropic exertions, in which he discerned that much good was to be done; and, with that steady ardour of temper which always led him to carry to the utmosi perfection every scheme which he adopted, he resolved to devote his time and fortune to the improvement of this important part of civil policy. He accordingly, in 1775 and 1776, made two tours on the Continent; and, during their intervals, travelled into Scotland and Ireland,