The duke of Ossuna, viceroy of Naples, once visited the galleys, and passing through the prisoners, he asked several of them what their offences were. All of them excused themselves upon various pretences; one said he was put in out of malice, another by bribery of the judge; but all of them declared they were punished unjustly. The duke came at last to a little black man, whom he questioned as to what he was there for. "My lord," said he, "I cannot deny but I am justly put in here; for I wanted money, and my family was starving, so I robbed a passenger near Tarragona of his purse." The duke, on hearing this, gave him a blow on the shoulder with his stick, saying, "You rogue, what are you doing here among so many honest, innocent men? Get you out of their company." The poor fellow was then set at liberty, while the rest were left to tug at the oar.
Many years ago, when stagecoaches were not unfrequently attacked by highwaymen, a party was once travelling on a lonely road, when one of the gentlemen mentioned to the company that he had ten guineas with him, which he was afraid of losing. Upon this an elderly lady who sat next to him, advised him to take his money from his pocket, and slip it into his boot, which he did. Not long after the coach was attacked, when a highwayman rode up to the window, on the lady's side, and demanded her money; upon which she immediately whispered to him that if he would examine that gentleman's boot, he would find ten guineas. The man took the hint, and the
gentleman was obliged to submit patiently; but when the robber had gone, he loaded his fellow-traveller with abuse, declaring her to be in confederacy with the highwayman. She replied that certainly appearances were against her; but if the company in the stage would sup at her house the following evening, she would explain a conduct which appeared so mysterious. After a debate among themselves, they consented to go the next evening according to her invitation. They were ushered into a magnificent room, where an elegant supper was served, after which, the lady taking a pocket-book from her pocket, showed that it contained various notes to the amount of several hundred pounds, and addressing herself to the gentleman who had been robbed: "I thought, sir," said she, "it was better to lose ten guineas, than all this valuable property, which I had about me last night; and I have now the pleasure of returning what you so kindly lent me."
The late Dr. Lettsom says, "I have been so happy as to reform two highwaymen who had robbed me; and from this I think that few of our fellow-creatures are so hardened, as to be impenetrable to repentance. One of these men has since been twice in the Gazette promotions, as a military officer. The other married, and became a respectable farmer in Surrey."
A similar story is told by the celebrated Rowland Hill. He was attacked by a highwayman, whom he succeeded in convincing of the evil of his way of life, and who afterwards became a most faithful servant to him. The secret was never revealed by Mr. Hill until the death of the servant.