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me wistfully, and I felt a slight pressure that de
noted affection.

" It might have been better, Jack, had we known
more of each other. But Providence made me
fatherless, and I have lived childless by my own
f olly. Thy mother was a saint, I believe ; but I
fear I learned it too late. Well, a blessing often
comes at the eleventh hour !"

As my ancestor now manifested a desire not to
be disturbed, I called the nurse, and quitted the
room, retiring to my own modest chamber, where
the packet, a large bundle of papers sealed and
directed to myself in the handwriting of the dying
man, was carefully secured under a good lock. I
did not meet my father again, but once, under cir
cumstances which admitted of intelligible com-


munion. From the time of our first interview he
gradually grew worse, his reason tottered, and,
fike the sinful cardinal of Shakspeare, " he died
and gave no sign."

Three days after my arrival, however, I was left
alone with him, and he suddenly revived from a
state approaching to stupor. It was the only time,
since the first interview, in which he had seemed
even to know me.

" Thou art come at last !" he said, in a tone that
was already sepulchral "Canst tell me, boy, why
they had golden rods to measure the city ?" his
nurse had been reading to him a chapter of the
Revelations, which had been selected by himself
" Thou seest, lad, the wall itself was of jasper, and
the city was of pure gold I shall not need money
in my new habitation ha ! it will not be wanted
there ! I am not crazed, Jack would I had loved
gold less and my kind more. The city itself is
of pure gold, and the walls of jasper precious
abode! ha! Jack, thou hearest, boy I am happy
too happy, Jack ! gold gold !"

The final words were uttered with a shout.
They were the last that ever came from the lips of
Thomas Goldencalf. The noise brought in the at
tendants, who found him dead. I ordered the room
to be cleared, as soon as the melancholy truth was
fairly established, and remained several minutes
alone with the body. The countenance was set in
death. The eyes, still open, had that revolting
glare of frenzied delight with which the spirit had
departed, and the whole face presented the dread
picture of a hopeless end. I knelt, and, though a
Protestant, prayed fervently for the soul of the
deceased. I then took my leave of the first and
the last of all my ancestors.

To this scene succeeded the usual period of out-


ward sorrow, the interment, and the betrayal of
the expectations of the survivors. I observed that
the house was much frequented by many who
rarely or never had crossed its threshold during
the life of its late owner. There was much cor
nering, much talking in an under-tone, and looking
at me, that I did not understand, and gradually
the number of regular visiters increased, until it
amounted to about twenty. Among them were
the parson of the parish, the trustees of several
notorious charities, three attorneys, four or five
well-known dealers of the stock-exchange, fore
most among whom was Sir Joseph Job, and three
of the professionally benevolent, or of those whose
sole occupation appears to be that of quickening
the latent charities of their neighbors.

The day after my ancestor was finally removed
from our sight, the house was more than usually
crowded. The secret conferences increased both
in earnestness and in frequency, and finally I was
summoned to meet these ill-timed guests in the
room which had been the sanctum sanctorum of
the late owner of the dwelling. As I entered
among twenty strange faces, wondering why I,
who had hitherto passed through life so little
heeded, should be so unseasonably importuned, Sir
Joseph Job presented himself as the spokesman
of the party.

" We have sent for you, Mr. Goldencalf," the
knight commenced, decently wiping his eyes, "be
cause we think that respect for our late much-
esteemed, most excellent, and very respectable
friend requires that we no longer neglect his final
pleasure, but that we should at once proceed to
open his will, in order that we may take prompt
measures for its execution. It would have been
more regular had we done this before he was in<


terred, for we cannot have foreseen his pleasure
concerning his venerable remains ; but it is fully
my determination to have every thing done as he
has ordered, even though we may be compelled to
disinter the body."

I am habitually quiescent, and possibly credu
lous, but nature has not denied me a proper spirit.
What Sir Joseph Job, or any one but myself,
had to do with the will of my ancestor, did not
strike me at first sight; and I took care to express
as much, in terms it was not easy to misunder

" The only child, and, indeed, the only known
relative of the deceased," I said, "I do not well
see, gentlemen, how this subject should interest,
in this lively manner, so many strangers !"

" Very spirited and proper, no doubt, sir," re
turned Sir Joseph, smiling ; " but you ought to
know, young gentleman, that if there are such
things as heirs, there are also such things as exe
cutors !"

This I did know already, and I had also some
where imbibed an opinion that the latter was com
monly the most lucrative situation.

" Have you any reason to suppose, Sir Joseph
Job, that my late father has selected you to fulfil
this trust?"

" That will be better known in the end, young
gentleman. Your late father is known to have
died rich; very rich not that he has left as much
by half a million as vulgar report will have it
but what I should term comfortably off; and it is
unreasonable to suppose that a man of his great
caution and prudence should suffer his money to
go to the heir-at-law, that heir being a youth only
in his twenty-third year, ignorant of business, not
over-gifted with experience, and having the pro-


pensities of all of his years in this ill-behaving
and extravagant age, without certain trusts and
provisions, which will leave his hard earnings, for
some time to come, under the care of men who,
like himself, know the full value of money."

"No, never! 'tis quite impossible 'tis more
than impossible!" exclaimed the by-standers, all
shaking their heads.

" And the late Mr. Goldencalf, too, intimate witn
most of the substantial names on 'Change, and
particularly with Sir Joseph Job!" added another.

Sir Joseph Job nodded his head, smiled, stroked
his chin, and stood waiting for my reply.

"Property is in danger, Sir Joseph," I said,
ironically; "but it matters not. If there is a will,
it is as much my interest to know it as it can pos
sibly be yours; and I am quite willing that a search
be made on the spot."

Sir Joseph looked daggers at me ; but, being a
man of business, he took me at my word, and, re
ceiving the keys I offered, a proper person was
immediately set to work to open the drawers. The
search was continued for four hours without suc
cess. Every private drawer was rummaged, every
paper opened, and many a curious glance was cast
at the contents of the latter, in order to get some
clue to the probable amount of the assets of the
deceased. Consternation and uneasiness very evi
dently increased among most of the spectators, as
the fruitless examination proceeded; and when the
notary ended, declaring that no will was to be
found, nor any evidence of credits, every eye was
fastened on me, as if I were suspected of stealing
that which, in the order of nature, was likely to be
my own without the necessity of crime.

" There must be a secret repository of papers
somewhere," said Sir Joseph Job, as if he sus-


pected more than he wished just then to express
" Mr. Goldencalf is largely a creditor on the pub
lic books, and yet here is not so much as scrip for
a pound !"

I left the room, and soon returned, bringing with
me the bundle that had been committed to me by
my father.

" Here, gentlemen," I said, " is a large packet of
papers that were given to me by the deceased, on
his death-bed, with his own hands. It is, as you
see, sealed with his seal, and especially addressed
to me, in his own hand-writing, and it is not vio
lent to suppose that the contents concern me only.
Still, as you take so great an interest in the affairs
of the deceased, it shall now be opened, and those
contents, so far as you can have any right to know
them, shall not be hid from you."

I thought Sir Joseph looked grave when he saw
the packet, and had examined the hand-writing of
the envelope. All, however, expressed their satis
faction that the search was now most probably
ended. I broke the seals, and exposed the contents
of the envelope. Within it, there were several smaller
packets, each sealed with the seal of the deceased,
and each addressed to me, in his own hand-writing,
like the external covering. Each of these smaller
packets, too, had a separate endorsement of its con
tents. Taking them as they lay, I read aloud the
nature of each, before I proceeded to the next
They were also numbered.

" No. 1." I commenced " Certificates of pub
lic stock held by Tho: Goldencalf, June 12th, 1815."
We were now at June 29th, of the same year. As
I laid aside this packet, I observed that the sum
endorsed on its back greatly exceeded a million,
" No 2. Certificates of Bank of England stock.'
This sum was several hundred thousands of pounds


" No. 3. South Sea Annuities." Nearly three hun
dred thousand pounds. " No. 4. Bonds and mort
gages." Four hundred and thirty thousand pounds.
" No. 5. The Bond of Sir Joseph Job, for sixty-
three thousand pounds."

I laid down the paper, and involuntarily exclaim
ed, " Property is in danger !* Sir Joseph turned
pale, but he beckoned to me to proceed, saying,
" We shall soon come to the \rill, sir."

" No. 6. " I hesitated ; for it was an assign
ment to myself, which, from its very nature, I per
ceived was an abortive attempt to escape the pay
ment of the legacy duty.

" Well, sir, No. 6. ?" inquired Sir Joseph, with
tremulous exultation.

"Is an instrument affecting myself, and with
which you have no concern, sir."

" We shall see, sir we shall see, sir if you re
fuse to exhibit the paper, there are laws to compel

" To do what, Sir Joseph Job? To exhibit to
my father's debtors, papers that are exclusively
addressed to me, and which can affect me only ?
But here is the paper, gentlemen, that you so much
desire to see. ' No. 7. The Last Will and Testa
ment of Tho: Goldencalf, dated June 17th, 1816.' "
(He died June the 24th, of the same year.)

"Ah! the precious instrument!" exclaimed Sir
Joseph Job, eagerly extending his hand, as if ex
pecting to receive the will.

" This paper, as you perceive, gentlemen," I said,
holding it up in a manner that all present might see
it, " is especially addressed to myself, and it shall
not quit my hands until I learn that some other has
a better right to it"

I confess my heart failed me as I broke the seals,
for I had seen but little of my father, and I knew


that he had been a man of very peculiar opinions,
as well as habits. The will was all in his own hand
writing, and it was very short. Summoning cou
rage, I read it aloud, in the following words :

" In the name of God, Amen : I, Tho: Golden-
calf, of the parish of Bow, in the city of London,
do publish and declare this instrument to be my
last Will and Testament :

" That is to say; I bequeath to my only child and
much beloved son, John Goldencalf, all my real
estate in the parish of Bow, and city of London,
aforesaid, to be held in fee-simple, by him, his heirs,
and assigns, for ever.

" I bequeath to my said only child and much be
loved son, John Goldencalf, all my personal proper
ty, of every sort and description whatever, of which
I may die possessed, including bonds and mort
gages, public debt, bank stock, notes of hand, goods
and chattels, and all others of my effects, to him,
his heirs, or assigns.

" I nominate and appoint my said much beloved
son, John Goldencalf, to be the sole executor of
this my last will and testament, counselling him not
to confide in any of those who may profess to have
been my friends ; and particularly to turn a deaf
ear to all the pretensions and solicitations of Sir
Joseph Job, Knight. In witness whereof," &c. &c.

The will was duly executed, and it was witness
ed by the nurse, his confidential clerk, and the

" Property is in danger, Sir Joseph !" I dryly re
marked, as I gathered together the papers, in order
to secure them.

" This will may be set aside, gentlemen !" criea
the Knight, in a fury. " It contains a libel !"

" And for whose benefit, Sir Joseph ?" J quietly


inquired. " With or without the will, my title to
my father's assets would seem to be equally valid. '

This was so evidently true, that the more pru
dent retired in silence ; and even Sir Joseph, after
a short delay, during which he appeared to be
strangely agitated, withdrew. The next week, his
failure was announced, in consequence of some
extravagant risks on 'Change, and eventually I re
ceived but three shillings and four-pence in the
pound, for my bond of sixty-three thousand.

When the money was paid, I could not help ex
claiming, mentally, " Property is in danger !"

The following morning, Sir Joseph Job balanced
his account with the world, by cutting his throat.


About the social-stake system, the dangers of concentration,
and other moral and immoral curiosities.

THE affairs of my father were almost as easy of
settlement as those of a pauper. In twenty-four
hours I was completely master of them, and found
myself, if not the very richest, certainly one of the
richest subjects of Europe. I say subjects, for
sovereigns frequently have a way of appropriating
the effects of others, that would render a preten
sion to rivalry ridiculous. Debts there were none ;
and if there had been, ready money was not want
ing : the balance in cash in my favor at the bank
amounted of itself to a fortune.

The reader may now suppose that I was perfectly

happy. Without a solitary claim on either my

time or my estate, I was in the enjoyment of an

income that materially exceeded the revenues o f



many reigning princes. I had not an expensive nor
a vicious habit of any sort. Of houses, horses,
hounds, packs, and menials, there were none to vex
or perplex me. In every particular save one, I was
completely my own master. That one was the
near, dear, cherished sentiment that rendered Anna
in my eyes an angel, (and truly she was little
short of it in those of other people,) and made her
the polar star to which every wish pointed. How
gladly would I have paid half a million, just then,
to be the grandson of a baronet, with precedency
from the seventeenth century !

There was, however, another and a present
cause for uneasiness, that gave me even more con
cern than the fact that my family reached the dark
ages with so much embarrassing facility. In wit
nessing the dying agony of my ancestor, I had
got a dread lesson on the vanity, the hopeless
character, the dangers and the delusions of wealth,
that time can never eradicate. The history of its
accumulation was ever present to mar the pleasure
of its possession. I do not mean that I suspected
what, by the world's convention, is deemed dis
honesty of that there had been no necessity but
simply that the heartless and estranged existence,
the waste of energies, the blunted charities, and
the isolated and distrustful habits of my father,
appeared to me to be but poorly requited by the
joyless ownership of his millions. I would have
given largely to be directed in such a way as,
while escaping the wastefulness of the shoals of
Scylla, I might in my own case steer clear of the
miserly rocks of Charybdis.

When I drove from between the smoky lines of
the London houses, into the green fields, and amid
the blossoming hedges, this earth looked beautiful,
and as if it were made to be loved. I saw in ii


the workmanship of a divine and a beneficent
Creator, and it was not difficult to persuade my
self that he who dwelt in the confusion of a town,
in order to transfer gold from the pocket of his
neighbor to his own, had mistaken the objects
of his being. My poor ancestor, who had nevei
quitted London, stood before me with his dying
regrets; and my first resolution was, to live in
open communion with my kind. So intense,
indeed, did my anxiety to execute this purpose
become, that it might have led even to frenzy, had
not a fortunate circumstance interposed to save
me from so dire a calamity.

The coach in which I had taken passage, (for I
purposely avoided the parade and trouble of a
post-chaise and servants,) passed through a mar
ket town of known loyalty, on the eve of a con
tested election. This appeal to the intelligence
and patriotism of the constituency, had occurred
in consequence of the late incumbent having taken
office. The new minister, for he was a member
of the cabinet, had just ended his canvass, and he
was about to address his fellow-subjects, from a
window of the tavern in which he lodged. Fa
tigued, but ready to seek mental relief by any
means, I threw myself from the coach, secured a
room, and made one of the multitude.

The favorite candidate occupied a large balco
ny, surrounded by his principal friends, among
whom it was delightful to see Earls, Lords John,
Baronets, dignitaries of the church, tradesmen of
influence in the borough, and even a mechanic or
two, all squeezed together in the agreeable amal
gamation of political affinity. ' Here then,' thought
I, * is an example of the heavenly cnarities ! The
candidate, himself the son and heir of a peer, feels
that he is truly of the same flesh and blood as his


constituents; how amiably he smiles! how bland
are his manners ! and with what cordiality does
he shake hands with the greasiest and the worst!
There must be a corrective to human pride, a
stimulus to the charities, a never-ending lesson of
benevolence in this part of our excellent system,
and I will look farther into it.' The candidate-
appeared, and his harangue commenced.

Memory would fail me, were I to attempt re
cording the precise language of the orator, but his
opinions and precepts are so deeply graven on my
recollection, that L do not fear misrepresenting
them. He commenced with a very proper and an
eloquent eulogium on the constitution, which he
fearlessly pronounced to be, in its way, the very
perfection of human reason ; in proof of which
he adduced the well-ascertained fact, that it had
always been known, throughout the vicissitudes and
trials of so many centuries, to accommodate itself
to circumstances, abhorring change. " Yes, my
friends," he exclaimed, in a burst of patriotic and
constitutional fervor " whether under the roses,
or the lilies the Tudors, the Stuarts, or the illus
trious house of Brunswick, this glorious structure
has resisted the storms of faction, has been able to
receive under its sheltering roof the most opposite
elements of domestic strife, aflbrding protection,
warmth, ay, and food and raiment" (here the ora
tor happily laid his hand on the shoulder of a
butcher, who wore a frieze over-coat that made
him look not unlike a stall-fed beast) " yes, food
and raiment, victuals and drink, to the meanest
subject in the realm. Nor is this all; it is a con
stitution peculiarly English : and who is there so
base, so vile, so untrue to himself, to his fathers,
to his descendants, as to turn his back on a con
stitution that is thoroughly and inherently Eng-


tish a constitution that he has inherited from his
ancestors, and which, by every obligation, both
human and divine, he is bound to transmit un
changed to posterity ;" here the orator, who con
tinued to speak, however, was deafened by shouts
of applause, and that part of the subject might
very fairly be considered as definitively settled.

From the constitution as a whole, the candidate
next proceeded to extol the particular feature of
it, that was known as the borough of Householder.
According to his account of this portion of the
government, its dwellers were animated by the
noblest spirit of independence, the most rooted de
termination to uphold the ministry, of which he
was the least worthy member, and were distin
guished by what, in an ecstasy of political elo
quence, he happily termed the most freeborn
understanding of its rights and privileges. This
loyal and judicious borough had never been known
to waste its favors on those who had not a stake
in the community. It understood that fundamental
principle of good government, which lays down
the axiom, that none were to be trusted but those
who had a visible and an extended interest in the
country ; for without these pledges of honesty and
independence, what had the elector to expect but
bribery and corruption a traffic in his dearest
rights, and a bargaining that might destroy the
glorious institutions under which he dwelt. This
part of the harangue was listened to in respectful
silence, and shortly after the orator concluded ;
when the electors dispersed with, no doubt, a bet
ter opinion of themselves and the constitution,
than it had probably been their good fortune to
entertain since the previous election.

Accident placed me, at dinner, (the house being
crowded,) at the same table with an attorney who


had been very active the whole morning, among
the householders, and who, I soon learned from
himself, was the especial agent of the owner of
the independent borough in question. He told me
that he had come down with the expectation of
disposing of the whole property to Lord Pledge,
the ministerial candidate named; but the means
had not been forthcoming, as he had been led to
hope, and the bargain was unluckily off, at the
very moment when it was of the utmost import
ance to know to whom the independent electors
rightfully belonged.

" His Lordship, however," continued the attor
ney, winking, "has done what is handsome; and
there can be no more doubt of his election, than
there would be of yours, did you happen to own
the borough."

" And is the property now open for sale T" I

" Certainly my principal can hold out no long
er. The price is settled, and I have his power ot
attorney to make the preliminary bargain. 'Tis
a thousand pities that the public mind should be
left in this undecided state on the eve of an elec

" Then, sir, I will be the purchaser."

My companion looked at me with astonishment
and doubt. He had transacted too much business
of this nature, however, not to feel his way be
fore he was either off or on.

" The price of the estate is three hundred and
twenty-five thousand pounds, sir, and the rental
is only six !"

" Be it so. My name is Goldencalf : by accom
panying me to town, you shall receive the money."

" Goldencalf! What, sir, the only son and heir
of the late Thomas Goldencalf, of Cheapside ?"


*The same. My father has not been dead a

" Pardon me, sir convince me of your identity
we must be particular in matters of this sort
and you shall have possession of the property in
season to secure your own election, or that of any
of your friends. I will return Lord Pledge his
small advances, and another time he will know
better than to fail of keeping his promises. What
is a borough good for, if a nobleman's word is not
sacred 1 You will find the electors, in particular,
every way worthy of your favor. They are as
frank, loyal, and straight-forward a constituency,
as any in England. No skulking behind the ballot
for them ! and, in all respects, they are fearless
Englishmen, who will do what they say, and say
whatever their landlord shall please to require of

As I had sundry letters and other documents
about me, nothing was easier than to convince the
attorney of my identity. He called for pen and
ink ; drew out of his pocket the contract that had
been prepared for Lord Pledge ; gave it to me to
read ; filled the blanks ; and affixing his name, call
ed the waiters as witnesses, and presented me the
paper with a promptitude and respect that I found
really delightful. So much, thought I, for having
given pledges to society by the purchase of a bo
rough. I drew on my bankers for three hundred
and twenty-five thousand pounds, and arose from
table, virtually, the owner of the estate of House

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