dark, Morton. I have had a pleasant sleep. Ods fish, I do
not think a bad man would have slept so well. The fire
burns dim, Morton: it is very cold. Cover me up; double
the counterpane over the legs, Morton. I remember once
walking in the Mall; little Sid said, 'Devereux' — it is
colder and colder, Morton; raise the blankets more over the
back; 'Devereux,' said little Sid — faith, Morton, 'tis ice
now — where art thou? — is the fire out, that I can't see thee?
Remember thine old uncle, Morton — and — and — don't
forget poor — Ponto. Bless thee, my child; bless you all! "
And my uncle died!
A GREAT CHANGE OF PROSPECTS.
I SHUT myself up in the apartments prepared for me (they
were not those I had formerly occupied), and refused all par-
ticipation in my solitude, till, after an interval of some days,
my mother came to summon me to the opening of the will.
She was more moved than I had expected. " It is a pity, "
said she, as we descended the stairs, "that Aubrey is not
here, and that we should be so unacquainted with the exa<it
place where he is likely to be that I fear the letter I sent him
may be long delayed, or, indeed, altogether miscarry."
"Is not the Abbe here?" said I, listlessly.
"Ko! " answered my mother, "to be sure not."
"He has been here," said I, greatly surprised. "I certainly
saw him on the day of my arrival."
"Impossible!" said my mother, in evident astonishment;
and seeing that, at all events, she was unacquainted with the
circumstance, I said no more.
The will was to be read in the little room where my uncle
had been accustomed to sit. I felt it as a sacrilege to his
memory to choose that spot for such an office, but I said
nothing. Gerald and my mother, the lawyer (a neighbouring
attorney, named Oswald), and myself were the only persons
present. Mr. Oswald hemmed thrice, and broke the seal.
After a preliminary, strongly characteristic of the testator,
he came to the disposition of the estates. I had never once,
since my poor uncle's death, thought upon the chances of his
will; indeed, knowing myself so entirely his favourite, I
could not, if I had thought upon them, have entertained a
doubt as to their result. What then was my astonishment
when, couched in terms of the strongest affection, the whole
bulk of the property was bequeathed to Gerald; to Aubrey
the sum of forty, to myself that of twenty thousand pounds
(a capital considerably less than the yearly income of my
uncle's princely estates), was allotted. Then followed a list
of minor bequests, — to my mother an annuity of three thou-
sand a year, with the privilege of apartments in the house
during her life ; to each of the servants legacies sufficient for
independence; to a few friends, and distant connections of
the family, tokens of the testator's remembrance, — even the
horses to his carriage, and the dogs that fed from his menials'
table, were not forgotten, but were to be set apart from
work, and maintained in indolence during their remaining
span of life. The will was concluded: I could not believe
my senses ; not a word was said as a reason for giving Gerald
I rose calmly enough. "Suffer me. Sir," said I to the law-
yer, "to satisfy my own eyes." Mr. Oswald bowed, and
placed the will in my hands. I glanced at Gerald as I took
it: his countenance betrayed, or feigned, an astonishment
equal to my own. With a jealous, searching, scrutinizing
eye, I examined the words of the bequest; I examined espe-
cially (for I suspected that the names must have been ex-
changed) the place in which my name and Gerald's occurred.
In vain: all was smooth and fair to the eye, not a vestige of
possible erasure or alteration was visible. I looked next at
the wording of the will: it was evidently my uncle's; no
one could have feigned or imitated the peculiar turn of his
expressions ; and, above all, many parts of the will (the affec-
tionate and personal parts) were in his own handwriting.
"The date," said I, "is, I perceive, of very recent period;
the will is signed by two witnesses besides yourself. Who
and where are they?"
"Robert Lister, the first signature, my clerk; he is since
"Dead! " said I; "and the other witness, George Davis?"
"Is one of Sir William's tenants, and is below. Sir, in
" Let him come up, " and a middle-sized, stout man, with a
blunt, bold, open countenance, was admitted.
*' Did jon witness this will? " said I.
"I did, your honour! "
"And this is your handwriting?" pointing to the scarcely
"Yees, your honour," said the man, scratching his head,
"I think it be; they are my ees, and G, and D, sure enough."
"And do you know the purport of the will you signed?"
"1 mean, do you know to whom Sir William — stop, Mr.
OsAvald, suffer the man to answer me — to whom Sir William
left his property?"
*']S"oa, to be sure, Sir; the will was a woundy long one, and
Maister Oswald there told me it was no use to read it over to
me, but merely to sign, as a witness to Sir William's hand-
" Enough : you may retire ; " and George Davis vanished.
"Mr. Oswald," said I, approaching the attorney, "I may
Avrong you, and if so, I am sorry for it, but I suspect there
has been foul practice in this deed. I have reason to be con-
vinced that Sir William Devereux could never have made this
devise. I give you warning, Sir, that I shall bring the busi-
ness immediately before a court of law, and that if guilty —
ay, tremble, Sir — of what I suspect, you will answer for this
deed at the foot of the gallows."
I turned to Gerald, who rose while I was yet speaking.
Before I could address him, he exclaimed, with evident and
extreme agitation, —
"You cannot, Morton, — you cannot — you dare not — in-
sinuate that I, your brother, have been base enough to forge,
or to instigate the forgery of, this will?"
Gerald's agitation made me still less doubtful of his guilt.
"The case. Sir," I answered coldly, "stands thus: my uncle
could not have made this will; it is a devise that must seem
incredible to all who knew aught of our domestic cireum-
stances. Fraud has been practised, how I know not; by
whom I do know."
" Morton, Morton : this is insufferable ; I cannot bear such
charges, even from a brother."
"Charges! — your conscience speaks, Sir, — not I; no one
benefits by this fraud but you: pardon me if I draw an
inference from a fact."
So saying, I turned on my heel, and abruptly left the apart-
ment. I ascended the stairs which led to my own : there I
found my servant preparing the paraphernalia in which that
very evening I was to attend my uncle's funeral. I gave
him, with a calm and collected voice, the necessary instruc-
tions for following me to town immediately after that event,
and then I passed on to the room where the deceased lay in
state. The room was hung with black: the gorgeous pall,
wrought with the proud heraldry of our line, lay over the
coffin ; and by the lights which made, in that old chamber, a
more brilliant, yet more ghastly, day, sat the hired watchers
of the dead.
I bade them leave me, and kneeling down beside the cofl&n,
I poured out the last expressions of my grief. I rose, and
was retiring once more to my room, when I encountered
"Morton," said he, "I own to you, I myself am astounded
by my uncle's will. I do not come to make you offers ; you
would not accept them : I do not come to vindicate myself, it is
beneath me; and we have never been as brothers, and we know
not their language : but I do come to demand you to retract
the dark and causeless suspicions you have vented against me,
and also to assure you that, if you have doubts of the authen-
ticity of the will, so far from throwing obstacles in your way,
I myself will join in the inquiries you institute and the ex-
penses of the law."
I felt some difficulty in curbing my indignation while Ger-
ald thus spoke. I saw before me the persecutor of Isora, the
fraudulent robber of my rights, and I heard this enemy speak
to me of aiding in the inquiries which were to convict him-
self of the basest, if not the blackest, of human crimes ; there
was something too in the reserved and yet insolent tone of
his voice which, reminding me as it did of our long aversion
to each other, made my very blood creep with abhorrence. I
turned away, that I might not break my oath to Isora, for I
felt strongly tempted to do so; and said in as calm an accent
as I could command, "The case will, I trust, require no
king's evidence; and, at least, I will not be beholden to the
man whom my reason condemns for any assistance in bring-
ing upon himself the ultimate condemnation of the law."
Gerald looked at me sternly. "Were you not my brother,"
said he, in a low tone, "I would, for a charge so dishonour-
ing my fair name, strike you dead at my feet."
"It is a wonderful exertion of fraternal love," I rejoined,
with a scornful laugh, but an eye flashing with passions a
thousand times more fierce than scorn, "that prevents your
adding that last favour to those you have already bestowed
Gerald, with a muttered curse, placed his hand upon his
sword; my own rapier was instantly half drawn, when, to
save us from the great guilt of mortal contest against each
other, steps were heard, and a number of the domestics
charged with melancholy duties at the approaching rite, were
seen slowly sweeping in black robes along the opposite gal-
lery. Perhaps that interruption restored both of us to our
senses, for we said, almost in the same breath, and nearly in
the same phrase, " This way of terminating strife is not for
us;" and, as Gerald spoke, he turned slowly away, descended
the staircase, and disappeared.
The funeral took place at night: a numerous procession of
the tenants and peasantry attended. My poor uncle! there
was not a dry eye for thee, but those of thine own kindred.
Tall, stately, erect in the power and majesty of his unrivalled
form, stood Gerald, already assuming the dignity and lord-
ship which, to speak frankly, so well became him; my
mother's face was turned from me, but her attitude pro-
claimed her utterly absorbed in prayer. As for myself, my
heart seemed hardened: I could not betray to the gaze of a
hundred strangers the emotions which I would have hidden
from those whom I loved the most. Wrapped in my cloak,
with arms folded on my breast, and eyes bent to the ground,
I leaned against one of the pillars of th« chapel, apart, and
But when they were about to lower the body into the vault,
a momentary weakness came over me. I made an involuntary
step forward, a single but deep groan of anguish broke from
me, and then, covering my face with my mantle, I resumed
my former attitude, and all was still. The rite was over ; in
many and broken groups the spectators passed from the
chapel: some to speculate on the future lord, some to mourn
over the late, and all to return the next morning to their
wonted business, and let the glad sun teach them to forget
the past, until for themselves the sun should be no more, and
the forgetfulness eternal.
The hour was so late that I relinquished my intention of
leaving the house that night; I ordered my horse to be in
readiness at daybreak and before I retired to rest I went to
my mother's apartments : she received me with more feeling
than she had ever testified before.
"Believe me, Morton," said she, and she kissed my fore-
head; "believe me, I can fully enter into the feelings which
you must naturally experience on an event so contrary to your
expectations. I cannot conceal from you how much I am
surprised. Certainly Sir William never gave any of us
cause to suppose that he liked either of your brothers — Ger-
ald less than Aubrey — so much as yourself; nor, poor man,
was he in other things at all addicted to conceal his opinions."
"It is true, my mother," said I; "it is true. Have you
not therefore some suspicions of the authenticity of the will? "
" Suspicions ! " cried my mother. " ]Sro ! — impossible ! —
suspicions of whom? You couM not think Gerald so base,
and who else had an interest in deception? Besides, the sig-
nature is undoubtedly Sir William's handwriting, and the
will was regularly witnessed; suspicions, Morton, — no, im-
possible ! Reflect, too, how eccentric and humoursome your
uncle always was : suspicions ! — no, impossible ! "
" Such things have been, my mother, nor are they uncom-
mon : men will hazard their souls, ay, and what to some are
more precious still, their lives too, for the vile clay we call
money. But enough of this now: the Law, — that great ar-
biter, — that eater of the oyster, and divider of its shells, —
the LaTv will decide between us, and if against me, as I sup-
pose and fear the decision will be, — why, I must be a suitor
to fortune instead of her commander. Give me your bless-
ing, my dearest mother : I cannot stay longer in this house ;
to-morrow I leave you."
And my mother did bless me, and I fell upon her neck and
clung to it. "Ah!" thought I, "this blessing is almost
worth my uncle's fortune."
I returned to my room; there I saw on the table the case
of the sword sent me by the French king, I had left it with
my uncle, on my departure to town, and it had been found
among his effects and reclaimed by me. I took out the
sword, and drew it from the scabbard. " Come, '" said I, and
I kindled with a melancholy yet a deep enthusiasm, as I
looked along the blade, "come, ray bright friend, with thee
through this labyrinth which we call the world will I carve
my way! Fairest and speediest of earth's levellers, thou
makest the path from the low valley to the steep hill, and
shapest the soldier's axe into the monarch's sceptre! The
laurel and the fasces, and the curule car, and the emperor's
purple, — what are these but thy playthings, alternately thy
scorn and thy reward! Founder of all empires, propagator
of all creeds, thou leddest the Gaul and the Goth, and the
gods of Eome and Greece crumbled upon their altars! Be-
neath thee the fires of the Gheber waved pale, and on thy
point the badge of the camel-driver blazed like a sun over the
startled East! Eternal arbiter, and unconquerable despot,
while the passions of mankind exist! Most solemn of hyp-
ocrites, — circling blood with glory as with a halo; and conse-
crating homicide and massacre with a hollow name, which
the parched throat of thy votary, in the battle and the agony,
shouteth out with its last breath! Star of all human des-
tinies! I kneel before thee, and invoke from thy bright
astrology an omen and a smile."
AX EPISODE. THE SON OF THE GREATEST MAN" WHO (OXE
OXLY excepted) EVEB ROSE TO A THRONE, BUT BY XO
MEANS OF THE GREATEST MAX (sATE OXE) WHO EVER
Before sunrise the next morning I had commenced my
return to London. I had previously intrusted to the locum
tenens of the sage Desmarais, the royal gift, and (singular
conjunction!) poor Ponto, my uncle's dog. Here let me
pause, as I shall have no other opportunity to mention him,
to record the fate of the canine bequest. He accompanied
me some years afterwards to France, and he died there in ex-
treme age. I shed tears as I saw the last relic of my poor
uncle expire, and I was not consoled even though he was
buried in the garden of the gallant Yillars, and immortalized
by an epitaph from the pen of the courtly Chaulieu.
Leaving my horse to select his own pace, I surrendered
myself to reflection upon the strange alteration that had taken
place in my fortunes. There did not, in my own mind, rest
a dwubt but that some villany had been practised with respect
to the will. My uncle's constant and unvarying favour
towards me ; the unequivocal expressions he himself from time
to time had dropped indicative of his future intentions on my
behalf; the easy and natural manner in which he had seemed
to consider, as a thing of course, my heritage and succession
to his estates; all, coupled with his own frank and kindly
character, so little disposed to raise hopes which he meant to
disappoint, might alone have been sufficient to arouse my sus-
picions at a devise so contrary to all past experience of the
testator. But when to these were linked the bold temper and
the daring intellect of my brother, joined to his personal
hatred to myself; his close intimacy with Montreuil, whom I
believed capable of the darkest designs; the sudden and evi-
dently concealed appearance of the latter on the day my uncle
died; the agitation and paleness of the attorney; the enor-
mous advantages accruing to Gerald, and to no one else, from
the terms of the devise : when these were all united into one
focus of evidence, they appeared to me to leave no doubt of
the forgery of the testament and the crime of Gerald. Nor
was there anything in my brother's bearing and manner
calculated to abate my suspicions. His agitation was real;
his surprise might have been feigned; his offer of assist-
ance in investigation was an unmeaning bravado; his con-
duct to myself testified his continued ill-will towards me,
— an ill-will which might possibly have instigated him
in the fraud scarcely less than the whispers of interest and
But while this was the natural and indelible impression on
my mind, I could not disguise from myself the extreme diffi-
culty I should experience in resisting my brother's claim.
So far as my utter want of all legal knowledge would allow
me to decide, I could perceive nothing in the will itself which
would admit of a lawyer's successful cavil: my reasons for
suspicion, so conclusive to myself, would seem nugatory to
a judge. My uncle was known as a humourist; and prove that
a man differs from others in one thing, and the world will
believe that he differs from them in a thousand. His favour
to me would be, in the popular eye, only an eccentricity, and
the unlooked-for disposition of his will only a caprice. Pos-
session, too, gave Gerald a proverbial vantage-ground, which
my whole life might be wasted in contesting; while his com-
mand of an immense wealth might, more than probably,
exhaust my spirit by delay, and my fortune by expenses.
Precious prerogative of law, to reverse the attribute of the
Almighty ! to fill the rich with good things, but to send the
poor empty away! In corruptissima republica plurimcB
leges. Legislation perplexed is synonymous with crime un-
punished, — a reflection, by the way, I should never have
made, if I had never had a law-suit: sufferers are ever
Eevolving, then, these anxious and unpleasing thoughts,
interrupted, at times, by regrets of a purer and less sellish
nature for the friend I had lost, and -wandering, at others, to
the brighter anticipations of rejoining Isora, and drinking
from her eyes my comfort for the past and my hope for the
future, I continued and concluded my day's travel.
The next day, on resuming my journey, and on feeling the
time approach that would bring me to Isora, something like
joy became the most prevalent feeling in my mind. So true
it is that misfortunes little affect us so long as we have some
ulterior object, which, by arousing hope, steals us from afflic-
tion. Alas ! the pang of a moment becomes intolerable when
we know of nothing beyond the moment which it soothes us
to anticipate! Happiness lives in the light of the future:
attack the present; she defies you! darken the future, and
you destroy her!
It was a beautiful morning: through the vapours, which
rolled slowly away beneath his beams, the sun broke glori-
ously forth; and over wood and hill, and the low plains,
which, covered with golden corn, stretched iinmediately
before me, his smile lay in stillness, but in joy. And ever
from out the brake and the scattered copse, which at fre-
quent intervals beset the road, the merry birds sent a fitful
and glad music to mingle with the sweets and freshness of
I had accomplished the greater part of my journey, and had
entered into a more wooded and garden-like description of
country, when I perceived an old man, in a kind of low chaise,
vainly endeavouring to hold in a little but spirited horse,
which had taken alarm at some object on the road, and was
running away with its driver. The age of the gentleman
and the lightness of the chaise gave me some alarm for the
safety of the driver; so, tying my own horse to a gate, lest
the sound of his hoofs might only increase the speed and fear
of the fugitive, I ran with a swift and noiseless step along
the other side of the hedge and, coming out into the road just
before the pony's head, I succeeded in arresting him, at a
rather critical spot and moment. The old gentleman very
soon recovered his alarm; and, returning me many thanks for
my interference, requested me to accompany him to his house,
which he said was two or three miles distant.
Though I had no desire to be delayed in my journey for the
mere sake of seeing an old gentleman's house, I thought my
new acquaintance's safety required me, at least, to offer to
act as his charioteer till we reached his house. To my secret
vexation at that time, though I afterwards thought the petty
inconvenience was amply repaid by a conference with a very
singular and once noted character, the offer was accepted.
Surrendering my own steed to the care of a ragged boy, who
promised to lead it with equal judgment and zeal, I entered
the little car, and, keeping a firm hand and constant eye on
the reins, brought the offending quadruped into a very
equable and sedate pace.
"Poor Bob," said the old gentleman, apostrophizing his
horse; "poor Bob, like thy betters, thou knowest the weak
hand from the strong; and when thou art not held in by
power, thou wilt chafe against love ; so that thou renewest in
my mind the remembrance of its favourite maxim, namely,
'The only preventive to rebellion is restraint!'"
"Your observation. Sir," said I, rather struck by this ad-
dress, " makes very little in favour of the more generous feel-
ings by which we ought to be actuated. It is a base mind
which always requires the bit and bridle."
"It is, Sir," answered the old gentleman; "I allow it: but,
though I have some love for human nature, I have no respect
for it; and while I pity its infirmities, I cannot but confess
"Methinks, Sir," replied I, "that you have uttered in that
short speech more sound philosophy than I have heard for
months. There is wisdom in not thinking too loftily of hu-
man clay, and benevolence in not judging it too harshly, and
something, too, of magnanimity in this moderation; for we
seldom contemn mankind till they have hurt us, and when
they have hurt us, we seldom do anything but detest them
for the injury."
" You speak shrewdly. Sir, for one so young, " returned the
old man, looking hard at me ; '' and I will be sworn you have
suffered some cares ; for we never begin to think till we are a
little afraid to hope."
I sighed as I answered, " There are some men, I fancy, to
whom constitution supplies the office of care ; who, naturally
melancholy, become easily addicted to reflection, and reflec-
tion is a soil which soon repays us for whatever trouble we
bestow upon its culture."
"True, Sir!" said my companion; and there was a pause.
The old gentleman resumed : " We are not far from my home
now (or rather my temporary residence, for my proper and
general home is at Cheshunt, in Hertfordshire) ; and, as the
day is scarcely half spent, I trust you will not object to par-
take of a hermit's fare. Nay, nay, no excuse: I assure you
that I am not a gossip in general, or a liberal dispenser of
invitations; and I think, if you refuse me now, you will
hereafter regret it."
My curiosity was rather excited by this threat; and, reflect-
ing that my horse required a short rest, I subdued my impa-
tience to return to town, and accepted the invitation. AVe
came presently to a house of moderate size, and rather an-
tique fashion. This, the old man informed me, was his pres-
ent abode. A servant, almost as old as his master, came to
the door, and, giving his arm to my host, led him, for he was
rather lame and otherwise infirm, across a small hall into a
long low apartment. I followed.
A miniature of Oliver Cromwell, placed over the chimney-
piece, forcibly arrested my attention.