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The Last Will And Testament.–The House Of Weeping
by [?]

‘I, Van der Kabel, on this 7th day of May, 179-, being in my house at Haslau, situate in Dog-street, deliver and make known this for my last will; and without many millions of words, notwithstanding I have been both a German notary and a Dutch schoolmaster. Howsoever I may disgrace my old professions by this parsimony of words, I believe myself to be so far at home in the art and calling of a notary, that I am competent to act for myself as a testator in due form, and as a regular devisor of property.

‘It is a custom of testators to premise the moving causes of their wills. These, in my case, as in most others, are regard for my happy departure, and for the disposal of the succession to my property–which, by the way, is the object of a tender passion in various quarters. To say anything about my funeral, and all that, would be absurd and stupid. This, and what shape my remains shall take, let the eternal sun settle above, not in any gloomy winter, but in some of his most verdant springs.

‘As to those charitable foundations and memorial institutions of benevolence, about which notaries are so much occupied, in my case I appoint as follows: to three thousand of my poor townsmen of every class, I assign just the same number of florins, which sum I will that, on the anniversary of my death, they shall spend in feasting upon the town common, where they are previously to pitch their camp, unless the military camp of his Serene Highness shall be already pitched there, in preparation for the reviews; and when the gala is ended, I would have them cut up the tents into clothes. Item, to all the school-masters in our locality I bequeath one golden augustus. Item, to the Jews of this place I bequeath my pew in the high church.–As I would wish that my will should be divided into clauses, this is considered to be the first.

* * * * *


‘Amongst the important offices of a will, it is universally agreed to be one, that from amongst the presumptive and presumptuous expectants, it should name those who are, and those who are not, to succeed to the inheritance; that it should create heirs and destroy them. In conformity to this notion, I give and bequeath to Mr Glantz, the councillor for ecclesiastical affairs, as also to Mr Knoll, the exchequer officer; likewise to Mr Peter Neupeter, the court-agent; item to Mr Harprecht, director of police; furthermore to Mr Flacks, the morning lecturer; in like manner to the court-bookseller, Mr Pasvogel; and finally to Monsieur Flitte,–nothing; not so much because they have no just claims upon me–standing, as they do, in the remotest possible degree of consanguinity; nor again, because they are for the most part themselves rich enough to leave handsome inheritances; as because I am assured, indeed I have it from their own lips, that they entertain a far stronger regard for my insignificant person than for my splendid property; my body, therefore, or as large a portion of it as they can get, I bequeath to them.’

At this point seven faces, like those of the Seven Sleepers, gradually elongated into preternatural extent. The ecclesiastical councillor, a young man, but already famous throughout Germany for his sermons printed or preached, was especially aggrieved by such offensive personality; Monsieur Flitte rapped out a curse that rattled even in the ears of magistracy; the chin of Flacks the morning lecturer gravitated downwards into the dimensions of a patriarchal beard; and the town-council could distinguish an assortment of audible reproaches to the memory of Mr Kabel, such as prig, rascal, profane wretch, etc. But the Mayor motioned with his hand, and immediately the fiscal and the bookseller recomposed their features and set their faces like so many traps with springs, and triggers, at full cock, that they might catch every syllable; and then with a gravity that cost him some efforts:–