A PRINCELY MERCHANT
 MANY years ago a slender lad of seventeen left his home in
Massachusetts and went to Georgetown, District of
Columbia, to clerk in his uncle's store. No one who
saw him then would have guessed that he would ever
become one of the world's famous men. Yet his pleasant
manners and his quiet ways made him the favorite of all
who knew him.
"I do believe that Fortune is in love with my nephew
George," said the uncle. "Why, he seems to turn
everything to good account, and whatever he touches
But Fortune, even if she were in love with him, had not
endowed him with wealth and fine opportunities to begin
with. His school days had ended in his eleventh year,
and since then he had been making his own way. For
four years he had swept floors, washed windows, and
carried packages for a grocer in his native town of
Danvers. Then he had gone out to seek a larger
 elsewhere. And at length we find him in his uncle's
store selling broadcloth and silk, and very soon
managing the whole business.
He seemed to have a natural insight into the proper
methods of conducting any commercial enterprise. He
knew what goods would be most in demand at a given
time; he knew when to buy and when to sell. He was
honest in all his dealings, and polite and
accommodating to every one, whether young or old, rich
or poor. To his customers he was always considerate,
never trying to persuade them to buy what they did not
Of course, other merchants soon learned of George
Peabody's engaging ways and his wonderful aptitude for
business. Elisha Riggs offered to form a partnership
"I will supply the capital," he said, "and you may
conduct the business. If there are any profits, we
will share them equally."
"But I am only a boy, Mr. Riggs," said young Peabody.
"I am not quite nineteen."
"You are the man for the business," answered Mr. Riggs.
Accordingly the firm of Riggs & Peabody was
Wholesale drapers, they called themselves, and their
business prospered from the start. With such a manager
as George Peabody, there could be no such word as fail.
The next year they removed to Baltimore, and soon
afterward they established branch houses in
Philadelphia and New York.
In 1826 Mr. Riggs retired, and George Peabody, at the
age of thirty-one, found himself the senior partner in
a very large and profitable business. The management
of his affairs now called him often to London, and he
soon saw that much time could be saved and many
inconveniences avoided by establishing his headquarters
there. In 1837, therefore, he took up his abode in
England. He soon withdrew from the firm of Peabody,
Riggs & Co., and established himself in London as a
banker and commission agent.
He was paving the way for the performance of many
In 1852, when a ship was being fitted out is New York
to visit the Arctic seas in search of Sir John
Franklin, Mr. Peabody gave ten thousand dollars to
defray the expenses of the voyage. In the following
year he made a large gift of his native town
 for the purpose of founding there an institute and a
library for the benefit of the people. From that time
till the day of his death, he was always giving,
giving. The list of his benefactions is very long.
He gave a million dollars to found and endow an
institution for science in Baltimore. To many colleges
and libraries in this country he gave various sums
ranging from five thousand to half a million dollars.
To the Southern Educational Fund he gave two-and-a-half
million dollars to be used for the education of the
poor in the South. And to the city of London he gave
two-and-a-half million dollars for the erection of
dwelling houses for poor workingmen. For this last
gift the Queen sent him her thanks, and declared it to
be "a noble act of more than princely munificence."
In recognition of his good deeds, the people attempted
in various ways to express their gratitude. The
corporation of London granted him the Freedom of the
City, an honor seldom conferred, except upon the
greatest of men. Arrangements were also made for the
erection of his statue in a public place. He received
all honors with much modesty; and when as a mark of
esteem he was
 asked to be the guest of honor at a reception or a
public meeting, he gently declined. Only once did he
appear in public in London, and that was at the close
of an exhibition by the working-classes in 1866.
When seventy-one years of age he made preparations to
pay a visit to his native land. Learning of this, the
Queen proposed to honor him by making him a baronet,
but he declined. She offered to make him a Knight of
the Order of the Bath, but he declined that honor also,
feeling that as an American he could not accept any
title of nobility. Then the question was asked him,
"Since you will not receive these honors, is there not
some gift that the Queen may bestow in order to express
her esteem and gratitude?"
He pondered a moment, and then answered, "Yes, there is
one gift which I would gratefully receive and
appreciate. It is a letter from the Queen of England,
which I may carry across the Atlantic and deposit there
as a memorial from one of her most faithful admirers."
A few days later this letter was received. He carried
it to American and deposited it with a portrait of the
Queen in the Peabody Institute at Danvers.
 When George Peabody died in 1869, the people of two
continents mourned for him. His works live after him,
and the good which they do increases with each passing
year. Generation after generation will profit by his
beneficence, and his name will long be remembered as
that of one who loved his fellow-men.
Some will say that without great natural aptitude and
many advantages, no one can achieve the success of
George Peabody. Listen to what he himself said at the
dedication of the Peabody Institute at Danvers;—
"There is not a youth within the sound of my voice
whose early opportunities and advantages are not very
much better than mine were. I have achieved nothing
that is impossible to the most humble boy among you.
Steadfast and undeviating truth, fearless and
straightforward integrity, and an honor unsullied by an
unworthy word or action make their possessor greater
than worldly success."