FEW men have ever risen from humble, even obscure beginnings, to a station of vast importance, both for wealth and power, for personal aggrandizement and influence over the fate of the world, with so little of genius as Neckar; and it is a grateful refreshment to the mind of the historian, weary with contemplating successful vice or great resources expended in committing great crimes, to dwell upon one example of more ordinary merits recompensed by all the gifts of fortune, and stern virtue, unsustained by brilliant capacity, conferring upon its possessor supreme power and far-resounding fame.
The clerk in a Paris banking-house, though of a respectable and indeed ancient Genevan family, he became early in life, by the successful pursuit of commerce, one of the richest men in France. The student of letters for his amusement, and without anything like genius in the sciences or the belles lettres, he lived to be the centre of all literary society in the most refined capital of Europe, to which he was a stranger by his birth. The trader first, then the envoy of the smallest state in Europe -- a state rather known among other powers as the butt of their gibes than the companion of their councils -- he rose to be chief minister of the greatest among them; and the young adventurer from Geneva, by his errors, or by his patriotism, as men may
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Publication information: Book title: Historical Sketches of Statesmen Who Flourished in the Time of George III. Volume: 2. Contributors: Lord Henry Brougham - Author. Publisher: C. Knight. Place of publication: London. Publication year: 1839. Page number: 199.
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