Marshall Osório gives the corrupt horsetrader a lesson on honor

February 10, 2011

General Luís Osório, Marshall of the Army of the Empire of Brazil

During the Paraguayan War (1864-1870), General Osório was approached by a horse dealer wanting to supply the Army. Most of his horses were worthless, but he wanted the general to give him a letter of recommendation to the Commission responsible for purchasing. The general replied:

“Man, you understand the trade and know well the Government’s strict requirements. If your horses are good, why do you want a letter of referral?

“To prevent acts of injustice.”

“Well then, write what I will dictate.”

And he dictated this letter:

“The bearer of this correspondence is accompanied by a herd of horses he intends to sell to the State after they have been inspected by the commission Your Excellencies serve on most worthily. The first requirement for good cavalry is speed and this depends on the quality of the mounts. Thus, please excuse me for reminding you of two things: first of all, that the worthless animals the bearer brings with him must be rejected, and, secondly, that Your Excellencies must be most rigorous in carrying out the Government’s orders. This letter’s only purpose is to ask Your Excellencies to summarily dismiss its bearer.”

“No, General. This letter is useless to me.”

“Very well, then give it to me.”

Taking the letter, he ripped it in two; and asked:

“What did you want from me? Something unworthy? What consideration do you give to the honor of others? If you have no honor yourself, at least respect those who do.”

José Marques da Cruz, Seleta (São Paulo: Melhoramentos), 1957. ( translation.)

Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 48

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Previous post:

Next post: