Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

next, and so on. Colonel Harwood, too, by this plan, secured six months of liberty during the year; for, whilst Horne Tooke was with his uncle, he pursued his own affairs elsewhere.

As a reward for their assiduity in contributing to his amusement and comfort, Mr. Tooke invariably told them, when they met together, that they should be his joint and sole heirs; but, unfortunately, if either of them vexed him, or became cavillers, during his month of servitude, he would invariably tell him that “ he would disinherit him, and leave all his property to the other!”

He had threatened each in this manner so often, that at length, upon comparing notes, it became a moot point whether Tooke, or Harwood, or both, should inherit the riches of this testy old man. Accordingly, they laid their heads together, and agreed, that whichever should be declared heir by will, should divide equally with his friend. This ingenious mode of defeating the threats of the old gentleman, caused many a laugh between them,

But, alas! human foresight is often but of little

lied one

avail, after all! The old merchant “ day," and left neither Mr. Horne Tooke, nor his nephew, half-a-crown! He bequeathed the whole of his immense property to the son of another sister, in the city of Norwich, a person whom, it is doubtful, whether he ever saw.

Here was a disappointment, which, however, Horne Tooke submitted to with great philosophy. The name of the lucky heir was Beazely, son of an alderman of that name.* He and his father, of course, came to London to take possession, when a meeting of the relatives took place in the old gentleman's late residence. After dinner, young Beazely got up, and, to the surprise of one, said, that it was too bad for " Cousin Harwood to be cut out, and he was determined that he should have half." The father embraced his son, saying, “There's my own boy!—you ha' just done the very thing that I was a thinking o', and ye won't thrive worse for doing a good action.”

* This Beazely was the alderman alluded to in a late Number of the New Monthly Magazine, in the article PARRIANA, where Dr. Parr gives an account of the master whom he succeeded in Norwich School. This pedagogue wrote a Dictionary of the English Language, and some of his definitions were comical enough. It seems that he published his book by subscription, and Beazely having refused to expend half-a-guinea on the work, the learned lexicographer popped down his name out of revenge. The word beastly stood thus:-—“Beastly,-a corruption of BEAZELY:-any thing fut, gross, or nasty."

Colonel Harwood, accordingly, received seventy-two thousand pounds in cash, and called upon Horne Tooke with the news. The latter, who had several visitors with him, congratulated him upon his good fortune; and, after further compliments, his visitor said, “You know, Mr. Tooke, you have no positive right to any of this money, as it was obtained upon a different tack to what our joint expectations were; but”By no means," returned Tooke,

“ I have no right to it whatever ; it was the free-will gift of your cousin; and I wish you health and long life to enjoy it. Therefore, don't say another word upon the subject.”

O, but I shall,” exclaimed Harwood, " and I shall insist that you have some of the money; it is only your due, for the friendly manner in which you reconciled me with my uncle; and, although he has done us both, that is no reason why I should neglect you. Therefore, tell me candidly, now, how much will be sufficient to make you comfortable?"

“ You are very kind, Harwood,” said Tooke, "at a word then, if I had four hundred a year for myself and the girls (his natural daughters), I should be quite happy, and be enabled to leave them independent when I am gone.”

“You shall have it, Tooke," said the Colonel, writing,—“there is a check upon Coutts for eight thousand pounds.”

Tooke, of course, returned many thanks, and the friends parted mutually pleased with each other :--but, behold! when the check was presented next morning, the bearer was told that its payment had been stopped at the bank two hours before. It seems that Colonel Harwood had been wrought upon by some of his relations, or that he, himself, had repented his generosity in the course of one short night.

This treatment was worse than childish ; it was intolerable ; and, as there were several witnesses to the gift, Mr. Tooke was advised to throw the matter into a Court of Equity. This was done; and, as is the custom in all Chancery matters, the suite was so long deciding, that the plaintiff, infirm as he was, at length ordered himself to be carried into Court, on his bed, where he spoke his mind so freely to the Chancellor, that a decision was given in a few days, in his favour, of course. Among other severe things, Mr. Tooke said to Lord Eldon, that “ it appeared he (his Lordship) determined to withhold the bread from his lips until he had no teeth to chew it.”

Of the part taken by Mr. Tooke in advocating the principles of the French revolution, and a Reform in the British Parliament, and of his trial for treason, it is unnecessary here to speak; such matters pertaining to the province of history. It is sufficient to notice, that he and his companions were acquitted, to the great satisfaction of the public, and the honour of a British jury; but, to the consternation of the people in power,

« AnteriorContinuar »