Not his finest moment, perhaps, but bribery was a way of life in the eighteenth century. What we call corruption, eighteenth-century politicians, magistrates, and average citizens called everyday business.
Your average politician would be expected to bring wads of cash and trinkets to any political rally. Bail money was paid directly into magistrates' pockets. Military officers had to purchase commissions, paying anywhere up to several thousand pounds. (When Darcy pays off Wickham at the end of Pride & Prejudice, part of the pay-off includes a better commission than the one Wickham purchased with his inheritance, something the profligate Wickham can't afford on his own.)
Imagine if the next time you went to an interview, you were expected to bring along your checkbook as well; you'd pay a little money to the interviewer, a little to the head of human resources, and a great deal of money to the company. These wouldn't be bribes; they would be "fees." (Oh, wait, I think I just describe unions.)
|The British officers on the hills watched the slaughter|
|but couldn't stop it.|