Thursday, December 01, 2011

As also my Monsters, both wet and dry

[More from the second book down, a footnote from the essay ‘On Will-Making’. It is attributed to the Tatler, vol. iv. No. 216.]

The Will of a Virtuoso.
     I, Nicholas Gimcrack, being in sound Health of Mind, but in great Weakness of Body, do by my Last Will and Testament bequeath my worldly Goods and Chattels in Manner following:–
    Imprimis, To my dear Wife,
        One Box of Butterflies,
        One Drawer of Shells,
        A Female Skeleton,
        A Dried Cockatrice.
    Item, To my Daughter Elizabeth,
        My Receipt for preserving dead Caterpillars,
        As also my Preparations of Winter May-Dew, and Embrio Pickle.
    Item, to my little Daughter Fanny,
        Three Crocodiles’ Eggs.
        And upon the Birth of her first Child, if she marries with her Mother’s Consent,
        The Nest of a Humming Bird.
    Item, To my eldest Brother, as an acknowledgement for the Lands he has vested in my Son Charles, I bequeath
        My last Year’s Collection of Grasshoppers.
    Item, To his Daughter Susanna, being his only Child, I bequeath my English Weeds pasted on Royal Paper,
        With my large Folio of Indian Cabbage.
    Having fully provided for my Nephew Isaac, by making over to him some years since
        A horned Scarabæus,
        The Skin of a Rattle-Snake, and
        The Mummy of an Egyptian King,
I make no further Provision for him in this my Will.
    My eldest Son John having spoken disrespectfully of his little Sister, whom I keep by me in Spirits of Wine, and in many other Instances behaved himself undutifully towards me, I do disinherit, and wholly cut off from any Part of this my Personal Estate, by giving him a single Cockle-Shell.
    To my Second Son Charles, I give and bequeath all my Flowers, Plants, Minerals, Mosses, Shells, Pebbles, Fossils, Beetles, Butterflies, Caterpillars, Grasshoppers, and Vermin, not above specified: As also my Monsters, both wet and dry, making the said Charles whole and sole Executor of this my Last Will and Testament, he paying or causing to be paid the aforesaid Legacies within the Space of Six Months after my Decease. And I do hereby revoke all other Wills whatsoever by me formerly made.


Chris said...

Possibly the greatest thing I've ever read.

Chris said...

It's alright, isn't it? Maybe the Eighteenth Century isn't so bad after all.

Piebird said...

Genius! I like the bit about John's little sister the best...

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