Historical Reprints History Curiosities and Law of Wills

Curiosities and Law of Wills

Curiosities and  Law of Wills
Catalog # SKU3596
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 1.00 lbs
Author Name John Proffatt
ISBN 10: 0000000000
ISBN 13: 0000000000000


The Curiosities and
Law of Wills

John Proffatt, LL.B.

The making of a last will and testament is one of the most solemn acts of a man's life. Few are so frivolous and indifferent as not to realize the importance of an act which is to live after them, and survive long after the hand that traced it has mingled with its kindred dust. They feel that, however regardless people have been of their sayings and doings, however trivial and unimportant have been their acts in the eyes of others, a certain attention, respect, and weight will be given to so deliberate and serious an act as a man's will.

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The memory of the jars and ills of domestic life has so embittered a man's mind, that if the strife was unequal during his lifetime, he hopes to turn the scale in his favor when dying, and in his will have a last word, and in this way cut off his spouse from her inalienable prescriptive right of having the last word. A man, then, has been known to call his wife "jealous, disaffectionate, reproachful, and censorious." And again, a wife's faults and shortcomings have been published to the world, and children must be mortified to know that in the public documents of the country allusion is conspicuously made to the failings of their mother, as when a husband perpetuates his wife's "unprovoked, unjustifiable fits of passion, violence, and cruelty."

The following words are used by an individual who died in London in June, 1791, in reference to his wife: "Seeing that I have had the misfortune to be married to the aforesaid Elizabeth, who ever since our union has tormented me in every possible way; that not content with making game of all my remonstrances, she has done all she could to render my life miserable; that Heaven seems to have sent her into the world solely to drive me out of it; that the strength of Samson, the genius of Homer, the prudence of Augustus, the skill of Pyrrhus, the patience of Job, the philosophy of Socrates, the subtlety of Hannibal, the vigilance of Hermogenes, would not suffice to subdue the perversity of her character; that no power on earth can change her, seeing we have lived apart during the last eight years, and that the only result has been the ruin of my son, whom she has corrupted and estranged from me. Weighing maturely and seriously all these circumstances, I have bequeathed, and I bequeath to my said wife, Elizabeth, the sum of one shilling, to be paid unto her within six months after my decease."

Happily, the ills and strifes of conjugal life are not the most frequently remembered incidents of a man's life; its felicities, its joys and tender experiences, the fidelity and devotion of a true partner, are often most vividly and fondly cherished at death, and touchingly alluded to in a man's last will. In this manner, Sharon Turner, the eminent author of the "History of the Anglo-Saxons," and other works, who died in London in 1847, at the age of seventy-nine, and whose will was proved in that year, delights to speak of his wife's affection, and is particularly solicitous that she should not suffer in her personal appearance by the unskillfulness of the persons who had taken her portrait. Speaking of his wife, who was dead, he says: "It is my comfort to have remembered that I have passed with her nearly forty-nine years of unabated affection and connubial happiness, and yet she is still living, as I earnestly hope and believe, under her Saviour's care, in a superior state of being.... None of the portraits of my beloved wife give any adequate representation of her beautiful face, nor of the sweet, and intellectual, and attractive appearance of her living features, and general countenance, and character."

Too often testators place all the obstacles they can in the way of their widows marrying again, as will appear more fully in another part of this work. The following instance is one of the few exceptions, and it contains, besides, the most graceful tribute to a wife's character, as given in a will, that we know of. Mr. Granville Harcourt, whose will was proved in March, 1862, thus speaks of his wife: "The unspeakable interest with which I constantly regard Lady Waldegrave's future fate induces me to advise her earnestly to unite herself again with some one who may deserve to enjoy the blessing of her society during the many years of her possible survival after my life. I am grateful to Providence for the great happiness I enjoy in her singular affection; and I pray and confidently hope she may long continue to possess the same esteem and friendship of those who are intimate with her, and can appreciate her admirable qualities, and the respect of all with whom, in any relation of life, she is connected."

184 pages - 7 x 8½ softcover

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