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Fox Outfoxed

In September 1784, Charles Fox accompanied his brother to Moorfields in London to witness the famed Lunardi make an ascent in a hot-air balloon. While standing in a large crowd, Fox felt a foreign hand in his pocket -- and quickly turned and grabbed the would-be pickpocket by the wrist.

"You have chosen an occupation," he angrily declared, "which will bring you to utter ruin, my friend." When the thief begged for mercy, explaining that his wife was starving and his children were ill, Fox gave him a guinea but cautioned him he mend his ways.

When, some time later, Fox discovered that his watch had disappeared, his brother explained that his "friend" had taken it. "You saw him take it, and yet you made no move to stop him!?" Fox cried, incredulous. "Well," his brother replied, "you appeared to be on such good terms with each other that I did not choose to interfere."

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