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Thomas Guy

This  gentleman was bred a bookseller, and began trade in the city of London, with no more than two hundred pounds. By his industry and uncommon frugality, but more particularly by purchasing seamen's tickets in Queen Anne's wars, and by speculations in the South Sea stock, in the memorable year 1720, he amassed an immense fortune.

In proof of his penurious disposition, it is recorded of him that he invariably dined alone, and a soiled proof sheet, or an old newspaper, was his common substitute for a table-cloth. One winter evening, as he was sitting in his room, meditating over a handful of half-lighted embers confined within the narrow precincts of a brick stove, and without any candle, a person, who came to inquire for him, was introduced, and, after the first compliments were passed and the guest requested to take a seat, Mr. Guy lighted a farthing candle which lay on the table by him, and desired to know the purport of the gentleman's visit.

The stranger was the famous Vulture Hopkins, characterized by Pope in his satires. "I have been told," said Hopkins, "that you, sir, are better versed in the prudent and necessary art of saving than any man now living, and I therefore wait upon you for a lesson of frugality; an art in which I used to think I excelled, but I have been told by all who know you, that you are greatly my superior." "And is that all you are come about?" said Guy; "why, then, we can talk this matter over in the dark." So saying, he extinguished his new-lighted farthing candle. Struck with this instance of economy, Hopkins acknowledged that he was convinced of Guy's superior thrift, and took his leave.

The penuriousness of this singular man seemed, however, to have for its object the indulgence of a systematic benevolence. He was the founder of a celebrated institution called Guy's Hospital, which cost him nearly 100,000 dollars, and, at his death, he endowed it with a fund amounting to a million of dollars. Nor were his benefactions confined to this institution. He made provision for his poor relations, founded a hospital at Tamworth, and made various donations for benevolent and charitable objects. He died in 1724, at the age of 81 years, having never been married.