“Gentlemen of the Mint,” said the orator, “when I was first called, some fifty years ago, to the important office I hold, there existed across the water three places of refuge for the oppressed and persecuted debtor.”
“We know it,” cried several voices.
“It happened, gentlemen,” pursued the Master, “on a particular occasion, about the time I’ve mentioned, that the Archduke of Alsatia, the Sovereign of the Savoy, and the Satrap of Salisbury Court, met by accident at the Cross Shovels. A jolly night we made of it, as you may suppose; for four such monarchs don’t often come together. Well, while we were smoking our pipes, and quaffing our punch, Alsatia turns to me and says, ‘Mint,’ says he, ‘you’re well off here.’—’Pretty well,’ says I; ’you’re not badly off at the Friars, for that matter.’—’Oh! yes we are,’ says he.—’How so?’ says I.—’It’s all up with us,’ says he; ‘they’ve taken away our charter.’—’They can’t,’ says I.—’They have,’ says he.—’They can’t, I tell you,’ says I, in a bit of a passion; ’it’s unconstitutional.’—’Unconstitutional or not,’ says Salisbury Court and Savoy, speaking together, ’it’s true. We shall become a prey to the Philistines, and must turn honest in self-defence.’—’No fear o’ that,’ thought I.—’I see how it’ll be,’ observed Alsatia, ’everybody’ll pay his debts, and only think of such a state of things as that.’—’It’s not to be thought of,’ says I, thumping the table till every glass on it jingled; ‘and I know a way as’ll prevent it.’—’What is it, Mint?’ asked all three.—’Why, hang every bailiff that sets a foot in your territories, and you’re safe,’ says I.—’We’ll do it,’ said they, filling their glasses, and looking as fierce as King George’s grenadier guards; ‘here’s your health, Mint.’ But, gentlemen, though they talked so largely, and looked so fiercely, they did not do it; they did not hang the bailiffs; and where are they?”