Publisher's Toast

One evening during the Napoleonic wars, the English poet Thomas Campbell caused a stir at a literary dinner by proposing a toast -- to Napoleon Bonaparte. Waiting for the din to subside, Campbell raised his voice and continued:

"Gentlemen, you must not mistake me. I admit that the French emperor is a tyrant. I admit that he is a monster. I admit that he is the sworn foe of our nation, and, if you will, of the whole human race... But, gentlemen, we must be just to our enemy. We must not forget that he once shot a bookseller, Johann Palm of Nuremberg!"

The audience, consisting largely of fellow authors, broke into spontaneous applause.

[Among J. M. Barrie's favorite anecdotes was the tale of a certain author who was executed for having murdered his publisher. Reportedly, the author said goodbye to the minister and reporters from the scaffold before turning to a group of publishers in the front row. "Gentlemen," he declared, "I'll see you later!"]

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