The famous Duval, librarian to the Emperor Francis the First,
often used to reply to questions that were put to him, "I do not know." An
ignoramus one day said to him, "But the emperor pays you for _knowing_."
"The emperor," he replied, "pays me for what I know; if he were to pay me
for what I am ignorant of, all the treasures of his empire would not be
Bautru, a celebrated French wit,
being in Spain, went to visit the famous
library of the Escurial, where he found a very ignorant librarian. The King
of Spain asked him his opinion of it. "It is an admirable one, indeed,"
said he; "but your majesty should give the man who has the care of it the
administration of your finances."--"Wherefore?" asked the king. "Because,"
replied Bautru, "the man never touches the treasure that is confided to
At the siege of one of the strong towns in Flanders, during the wars of
Louis XIV., it was necessary to reconnoitre the point of attack. The danger
was great, and a hundred louis were promised to any one who would undertake
it. Several of the bravest of the soldiers appeared indifferent to the
offer, when a young man stepped forward to undertake the task; he left the
detachment, and remained absent a long time; he was thought killed. While
the officers were deploring his fate, he returned, and gained their
admiration no less by the precision than the _sang froid_ of his recital.
The hundred louis were immediately presented to him. "_Vous vous moquez de
moi, mon general_," was his reply; "_va-t-on la pour de l'argent_."--[You
are jesting with me, general; one does not perform such actions for money.]
Colonel Hawker, who commanded the 14th Light Dragoons in most of the
serious engagements in the Peninsula, having formerly lost an arm in
action, was attended by an orderly man, who held a guiding rein to the
bridle of the colonel's charger; this attendant being slain by his side,
just as the enemy's cavalry had broken the line of the 14th, by a heavy
charge of superior numbers, great slaughter ensued on both sides, when a
French officer immediately opposed to Colonel Hawker, lifted up his sabre,
and was in the act of cutting him down, but observing the loss of his arm,
he instantly dropped the point on the colonel's shoulder, and, bending his
head, passed on. A truly noble adversary!