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ON WILLS. No. IV
Wills Of Personal Property Continued. § C. On the Form and Language of Wills. Having shown, in former papers, who may make a "Will, and with what ceremonies a Will should be made, we now come to consider the form and language of the instrument.
These are mere questions of convenience; for a Will may be drawn in any form the testator chooses: he is not bound to any particular order of arrangement, nor obliged to use any set form of words: he may express his wishes in any manner lie pleases, and the following hints are only suggestions of the best method of doing so.
A Will should begin with some such clause as the following;—" This is the last Will and Testament of me, A. B., of Chancery-lane, in the City of London, Grocer." Such an introduction is useful in remov. ing all doubt about the nature of the instrument, or the identity of the testator.
If any directions are to be given about the place or mode of burial, these generally follow immediately alter the introduction. No legal advice seems necessary on this topic.
The subject which usually comes next in order, is one which had better be omitted altogether. We mean the direction for payment of debts, and of the expenses of the Will and Funeral. This is a very superfluous clause; for the law will take good care that these debts and expenses shall be paid, and no executor is so ignorant as to need being reminded of his duty on this head. But it is worse than superfluous, as it sometimes raises doubts whether the testator did not intend his debts to be paid in a particular manner, and out of particular property; the Courts not conceiving that he would give directions about what was a matter of course, unless he had some special object in view. We recommend our readers, therefore, unless they have any special object in view, to make no mention of their debts, but leave them to be discharged in due course of law. Indeed, a Will is properly the disposition of a testator's clear property, after payment of his debts.
We now come then to this disposition of the property; and it is a point on which hardly any two wills can be alike; the modes in which property may be distributed being as numerous and various as the characters and circumstances of mankind. However, all possible modes may be reduced ,to one of these two classes :—Firstly, a Bequest of all the property to one or more persons as a whole.—Secondly, Bequests of portions of the property to several persons, followed by a bequest of the residue to one or more individuals.
When the first course is adopted, the disposition may be made in such terms as the following :—" I give and bequeath all my personal estate and effects, whatsoever and wheresoever, to C. D. for his own absolute use and benefit;" or "to C. D., E. F., and G. H., equally to be divided between them for their own absolute use and benefit respectively." The words "for his own absolute use and benefit" are not necessary, but may be useful to remove any suspicion that you intended C. D. to enjoy the property for his life only, or to hold it upon any trust. We shall speak hereafter of the mode of bequeathing property, so as'to effect either of these intentions.
It is not uncommon for a testator, when disposing of all his property, to begin by naming certain particulars, and end the catalogue by words of a general description :—As, for instance, "I bequeath to A. B. all my stock in the funds, ready money, furniture,
wine, plate, linen, china, and all other my property whatsoever." This, however, is not advisable, as it tends to raise a doubt whether, notwithstanding the general words at the end, the testator did not mean to confine his gift to property of the same nature only with the several articles mentioned. For instance, in the example we have given, it might be doubted whether the testator's leasehold property passed by the bequest.
When the second course of disposition is adopted, it is most natural to begin with bequeathing flic several legacies, or portions of property, intended to be given, and to conclude with a bequest of the residue. This will lead us to consider the nature of Legacies.
§ 7. On Legacies, and the Difference between specific and general Legacies.
Any gift by Will is properly a Legacy, but the word is usually confined to gifts by Will of a portion of the testator's property. Now all bequests by a testator of a portion of his property, are either specific bequests or general bequests. A specific bequest, or legacy, is a gift of a specified portion of the property, distinguished from the rest. A general bequest, or legacy, is a gift of something which is to be paid, or satisfied, out of the general property ot the testator, but which does not apply to one part o* the property more than to another.
For example, if I bequeath "my gold watch," "the diamond ring, which was my mother's," "tht 1000/. Consols now standing in my name," "the 50/. now owing to me from X. Y.;" these are specific bequests. On the contrary, if I bequeath " a watch worth 10/.," "a mourning ring," "a sum of 1000/, Consols," or " a legacy of 50/. sterling," these are general bequests. In the former cases, the legatee, (that is, the person to whom the bequest is made,) has a claim on a particular and specified portion of my property; in the latter cases, he has only a claim to have the gift made good in some manner out of my general property.
A specific legatee has an advantage over a general legatee in this; that, if the testator's property falls short of paying all the legacies in full, he, nevertheless, keeps the whole of his specific legacy, while all the general legacies are reduced in proportion. To compensate for this, he has a disadvantage; which is, that, if the specified portion of property bequeathed to him is lost or fails, he loses his legacy altogether, having no claim upon the general fund.
These results seem natural enough, and must generally agree pretty well with a testator's intention, when the subject of the specific bequest is a trinket, an article of furniture, a leasehold house, &c. But when the bequest is of money or stock, the law must often disappoint the wishes of testators, who, probably, neither intend their specific legatee tb have a benefit at the expense of their general legatees, nor desire that he should suffer from an accidental failure of the specified fund. In bequeathing, therefore, money or stock, care should be taken not to make the bequest specific, unless the testator expressly wishes it to be so.
In bequests of money, it is not very easy to run into any error. A bequest of money is always a general bequest, unless expressed in terms which no mau would be likely to adopt, who was not anxious that it should be specific; as a bequest of "the debt due to me from X. Y.," "the monev in my iron chest," &c.
But, in bequests of stock, there is more chance of making a blunder; for the law-reports abound in. fine distinctions as to what shall be considered a general, and what a specific legacy of stock. Ordinarily, a bequest of "my stock," or of "1000/. consols, part of my stock in that fund," is specific; while a mere bequest of " 1000/. consols" is a general legacy. But this cannot be always relied on; and, perhaps, the safest plan is one we have seen adopted in some Wills, by which a testator bequeaths to A. B. "100)/. three per cent consolidated Bank Annuities as a general, and not a specific legacy." W.
[To be continued.]
ADDRESS TO A GODCHILD.
We this week present to our readers an original paper, written by the late Mr. Coleridge about eleven days before his death, and addressed to a little child to whom he stood godfather a year or two ago. We do not remember ever to have perused a more affecting document. But our motive in requesting permission to publish this Address in the Saturday Magazine was connected with higher considerations. Mr. Coleridge had in the course of an eventful life, tried, and rejected, many of the prevailing errors of our religious sects. His deep convictions were not inherited, but obtained by patient thought, incessant labour, and fervent prayer for illumination. We here see the form of Christianity to which, on his death-bed, he set his seal. We believe there is not a sceptic in England who will venture to question the unique greatness of Mr. Coleridge's intellectual powers; and we are sure that there is no one who can, with a shadow of pretence, impeach his sincerity and entire disinterestedness.
To Adam Steinmetz K—.
My Dear Godchild,
I offer up the same fervent prayer for you now, as I did kneeling; before the altar, when you were baptized into Christ, and solemnly received as a living member of his spiritual body, the Church.
Years must pass before you will be able to read, with an understanding heart, what I now write. But I trust that the all-gracious God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of Mercies, who, by his only-begotten Son, (all mercies in one sovereign mercy!) has redeemed you from the evil ground, and willed you to be born out of darkness, but into light —out of death, but into life—out of sin, but into righteousness, even into the " Lord our Righteousness;" I trust that He will graciously hear the prayers of your dear parents, and be with you as the spirit of health and growth in body and mind!
My dear Godchild !—You received from Christ's minUtcr at the baptismal font, as your Christian name, the name of a most dear friend of your father's, and who was to me even as a son, the late Adam Steinmetz whose fervent aspiration, and everparamount aim, even from early youth, was to he a Christian in thought, word, and deed—in will, mind, and affections.
I too, your Godfather, have known what the enjoyments and advantages of this life are, and what the more refined pleasures which learning and intellectual power can bestow; and with all the experience that more than threescore years can give, I now, on the eve of my departure, declare to you, (and earnestly pray that you may hereafter live and act on the conviction,) that health is a great blessing,—competence obtained by honourable industry a great blessing,— and a great blessing it is to have kind, faithful, and loving friends and relatives; but that, the greatest of all blessings, as it is the most ennobling of all privileges, is to be indeed a Christian. But I have been
likewise, through a large portion of mv later life, a sufferer, sorely afflicted with bodily pains, languors, and manifold infirmities; and, for the last three or four years, have, with few and brief intervals, been confined to a sick-room, and, at this moment, in great weakness and heaviness, write from a sick-bed, hopeless of a recovery, yet without prospect of a speedy removal; and I, thus on the very brink of the grave, solemnly bear witness to you, that the Almighty Redeemer, most gracious in his promises to them that truly seek him, is faithful to perform what he hath promised, and has preserved, under all my pains and infirmities, the inward peace that passeth all understanding, with the supporting assurance of a reconciled God, who will not withdraw his spirit from me in the conflict, and in his own time will deliver me from the Evil One!
O, my dear Godchild! eminently blessed are those who begin early to seek, fear, and love their God, trusting wholly in the righteousness and mediation of their Lord, Redeemer, Saviour, and everlasting High Priest, Jesus Christ!
O preserve this as a legacy and bequest from your unseen godfather and friend, w
Grove, Highgate, S. T. Coleridge.
July 13, li&4.
He died on the 25th day of the same month.
THE TORTOISE, THE FROG, AND THE DUCK.
Along the fields one rainy day,
An aged Tortoise took his way:
His shell, like armour, on him leant
So heavily where'er lie went,
That those who slightly looked at him
Had said he did not stir a limb;
But though his steps were short and few,
lie had his walk, and liked it too.
Hop, skip, and jump! Now who gees thero?
"Why, as to weather," said the Frog,.
With that uprose the heartless fool,
A hungry Duck, who wished to sup,
O may I still contented bo
With what kind heaven hath given me:
And though I do not seem so blest
As others, think my lot the best.
But more than all, I will refrain,
My lips from mockery and disdain. M.
HEAD OF THE ETIUOrlAN DOAH.
The changes which we see in the forms of different animals, are referriblc to one principle, the adaptation of the parts to their proper uses. We may, in some measure, consider the head in animals as performing the office of hands. The spine and the head, while they retain their offices of protecting the brain and the spinal marrow, and are permanent in regard to them, vary in their processes or shapes, and in their relations. Pursuing this idea, we shall be able to account for the characteristic forms of the larger quadrupeds.
The principle which will guide us here, as it will, indeed, in a more universal survey of animal nature, is that the organisation varies with the condition or the circumstances in which the animals are placed, that they may feed and multiply. If we take into consideration any of the great functions on which life depends, we shall perceive that the apparatus, or the mode of action of the parts, is altered and adapted to every changing circumstance. Digestion, for example, is the same in all animals; but there is an interesting variety in the organization; and the stomach will vary in its form, and in the number of its cavities, according to the food received by the quadruped, or bird, or fish, or insect; a variation not depending upon the size or form of the animal, but adapted purely to the conversion of its particular food into nourishment. We shall find the gizzard in a fish, or in an insect, as perfect as in a fowl. So the decarbonization of the blood, is the same process in all living animals; but the mode in which respiration is performed, varies according to circumstances, and the apparatus is especially modified and adjusted to the atmosphere or to the water.
But although the organs subservient to the grand functions, the heart and blood-vessels, the lungs, the stomach, be variously adapted to the different classes of animals, they change much less than the parts by which animals are enabled to pursue their prey, or to obtain their food.
Their extremities, by which they walk, or run, or creep, or cling, must vary infinitely. And so their teeth and horns, and the position of their head and the strength of their neck, exhibit nearly as much variety as their extremities; because they, likewise, must be adapted to their different modes of obtaining food, or of combating their enemies.
When we look upon the boar's head, we comprehend something of his habits; and see what must be the direction of his strength. He feeds by digging up roots, and the instruments by which he does this, are also, those of his defence. The position of the
SKELETON OP THE WILD NOAH OP GERMANY.
tusk defends the eye in rushing through the uuderwood; and the formation of the spine, the remarkable ridge in which the back part of the scull rises, for the attachment of powerful muscles, all show the intention, that he shall drive onward with his whole weight and strength, so that he may rend with his tusks *. We now understand the reason of the shortness and inflexibility of the neck: because the power of the shoulders is directed to the head, and, -we may say, to these large tusks. A long and flexible neck would have rendered these provisions useless.
What a complete contrast, then, there is between this animal, and any of the feline tribe; a contrast of form and motion at once referrible to their spine. In the tiger or leopard, we see the perfect flexibility of the body, and a motion of the spine almost vermicular, corresponding with the teeth and jaws, and the free motion of the paws.
• The sketch is from a dried head of the Su$ Ethiopians, with part of the scull exposed. The tusks Know what a formidable animal it has been. '1 hat which rises out of the upper jaw is of great size, and we must admire the manner in which the tusk of tin lower jaw closes upon that of the upper one, so as to strengthen it near its roots. The great size and sharpness of their tusks illustrate what U offered in the text, that the main strength of the animal must be directed towards them. The ring of the back of the head will be seen to correspond with the great height and strength of the spinous processes of the back, exhibited in the figure of the wild boar of Germany.
[Abridged from Bell's Bridgewater Treatiu.\
Rare qualities may sometimes be prerogatives without being advantages; and though a needless ostentation of one's excellencies may be more glorious, a modest concealment of them is usually more safe; and an unseasonable disclosure of flashes of wit, may sometimes do a man no other service, than to direct his adversaries how they may do him a mischief. Boyle.
Ambition breaks the ties of blood, and forgets the obligations of gratitude. Sir W. Scott.
Mrs. Chapone was asked how it was she was always so early at church, " Because" said she, " it is part of my religion not to disturb the religion of others."
Sir William Gooch, governor of Williamsburg, walking along the street with a friend, returned the salute of a negro servant who was passing by; " I see," said his friend, "you condescend to take notice of a slave." "Yes" replied Sir William, "for I cannot allow even a slave to excel mo in good manners."
JOHN WILLIAM PAHKKK, WKST STRAND.
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SKETCHES OF THE«HIGHLANDS AND ISLANDS OF SCOTLAND
PART THE SECOND.
IONA; INSULAR CHURCHES.
Early on the 25th, (a.m. 1827,) wo started for Staffa and Iona. Partial gleams of sunshine illuminated the bold, rugged head-land of Ardnaraurchan, and were reflected dimly from the distant, lofty, and conical summits of the isle of Rum. The point of Calliach, in Mull, was sheathed in foam, by the waves of a wild sea, mingling their hoarse uproar with the shrill cries of innumerable sea-fowl, hovering around its summit. It is said that the poet Campbell, who resided for some time in the vicinity of this promontory, often selected it as the scene of his lofty musings, as he listened to the roar of the distant Corryvreckan, that it was the birth-place of the Exile of Erin, and of much of the Pleasures of Hone. The grouping of the numerous islands, off Mull, is extremely picturesque: Staffa, amongst them, rearing its basaltic pillars, forming a long oauseway, gradually terminating in a majestic colonnade, crowned by a green and overhanging brow. The southern front encloses the caves within its triple buttresses.
Before us, Iona reared its lonely tower from the bosom of the stormy deep. The island contains 350 inhabitants, part of whom are congregated in a village near the church. The celebrated ruins consist of a cathedral, a nunnery, and St. Oran's chapel. The cathedral is small and cruciform: the height of the tower is only 70 feet; its architecture is rude and inelegant. On the north side of the altar is the tomb of Abbot Mackinnon, who died in A.d. 1500, and is represented in a recumbent position. Of the nunnery, the remains are scanty. St. Oran's chapel contains some tombs, and is surrounded by the principal remaining monuments, unfortunately, much defaced by weather and the footsteps of visiters. In this hallowed cemetery, this conventional asylum of the dead, which religion or superstition happily respected, even amid the fury of perpetual warfare, repose, according to dubious tradition, the bones of upwards of forty Scottish, besides French, Irish, and Norwegian kings; and of many lords of the isles, bishops, abbots, and chieftains; some of whom are represented in full armour, cross-legged, with their hunting-dogs at their feet; and some, the Macdonalds, a clan of Norwegian origin, indicated by their appropriate armorial hearing, the warlike galley.
An instance of the verification of tradition, no less than of this practice of burying their fevourite animals, the companions of their sports, with the dead, was mentioned to me by the minister of Glenelg, who was present at the opening of one of two mounds, in that parish, on the shore of the Sound, opposite to Sky, supposed to contain the remains of two giants^ who could leap across the Sound, buried together with those of their hunting dogs. At some depth was found a large flat stone, covering many small bones, which proved, on examination, to be those of dogs, deposited on a bedding consisting of several layers of earth, covering a Hat black stone, resting upon a stratum of the finest gravel, resembling gold-dust, four inches in thickness; and underneath, emerged two laree bones, one of the jaw, the teeth of which were perfect, and the other of the arm. A boy, struck with the size of the jaw-bone, clapped it forthwith on the chaps of the fattest man in the parish, which it fairly encased. Awe had mingled much with the curiosity which had tempted these people to violate the sanctuary of the dead; and a thunderstorm happening, as is invariably stated to be the case on such occasions, at the moment of the sacrilegious joke, preserved the other tomb from similar profanation*.
The present mined structures of Iona were erected by then- Ronush possessors, who held them till the Reformation, at winch period they did not escape the destroying edicts of the Presbyterian synods.
The destruction of churches, and the spoliation of church property, at the period of the Reformation in Scotland, were earned to a great extent; and the Highlands and Islands have been, consequently, very inadequately supplied with
• The practice alluded to, reminds us of the superstition of the American Indian, described by the poet: r TM
"Who thinks, admitted to an equal sky,
spiritual instruction. Dr. Macculloch calculates, on the collective authority of old writers, that the Western Isles alone contained no less than 300 churches and chapels in the Romish age. Of these, many were merely cells, or occasional stations for divine service, and to many of them probably, no priest was appointed. Their erection must be attributed to the piety or the superstition of the chiefs and people, no less than to the influence of the priesthood These remnants of Romish aeal occupy the site of more ancient monuments of the apostolic piety and zeal of their founder St. Columba, who came to Britain, to preach the Gospel to the northern Picts, in the year 565. This eminent missionary held Christianity, uncorrupted by marv errors which subsequently infected it, and instituted the order of the Culdees, who maintained their ground in various parts of Scotland, against the usurpations of tho Romish See till the fourteenth century, when they were suppressed. St. Columba was superseded by St. Andrew as patron saint of Scotland, on the transfer of the primacy from Dunkeld to St. Andrew's.
Stripped of all that is fabulous or uncertain, the real history of Iona, a sanctuary erected in a dark age, on the lonely beach of a remote island, amid tribes of pirates and freebooters, must inspire a solemn and grateful recognition of the peaceful triumphs of the Gospel, and of the overruling influence of Divine Providence, in employing even the superstition of mankind in protecting and perpetuating its ascendancy, till purified by reformation, it shines forth amid surrounding gloom, in its pristine light and lustre.' In Johnson's powerful and acute understanding, the caustic shrewdness of the critic too often prevailed'over his poetical feelings; yet of his susceptibility to the poetry, no less than to the charity of that religion which he loved and venerated, as essential to the peace, the dignity, and happiness of mankind, the immortal passage which records the emotions excited in his breast, by the prospect of Iona affords unquestionable proof.
"We were now treading that illustrious island, which was once the luminary of the Caledonian regions, whence savage clans and roving barbarians derived the benefits of knowledge, and the blessings of religion. To abstract the mind from all local emotion would be impossible, if it were endeavoured, and would be foolish, if it were possible Whatever withdraws us from the power of our senses • whatever makes the past, the distant, or the future, predominate over the present, advances us in the dignity of thinking beings. Far from me, and from my friends, bo such frigid philosophy, as may conduct us, indifferent and unmoved, over any ground which has been dignified by wisdom, bravery, or virtue. That man is little to be envied, whose patriotism would not gain force upon the plains of Marathon, or whose piety would not grow warm among the ruins of Iona."
Yet it was not till the present day, that the inhabitants of Iona fully enjoyed the benefits of the Gospel. When a modem missionary, Legh Richmond, visited the island, Divine service was performed in it only four times in tho' year. Mr. Richmond repeatedly addressed these islanders: and his account of his visit to them, is one of the most interesting productions of his well-known pen. A parliamentary church has been since erected, and a minister appointed to the island.
Religion and civilization usually keep pace together. The people of Iona, almost unprovided with religious instruction since the period of the Reformation, were pointed out as in the lowest stage of improvement. It is one of the islands in which the old-fashioned hand-mill, called the quern, was last used; a pair of stones, rubbed by two persons, identical with that employed in Eastern countries, according to the Scriptural description: "Two women shall be grinding at the mill," and, doubtless, derived by the Hebrideans from their Eastern ancestors.
Legh Richmond says, when desirous of rewarding the children of the school with a public entertainment, that "the best sheep to be found in the island, was purchased for the vast sum of six-shillings. But a difficulty arose on the occasion; there was fuel to roast the creature, but tho whole domain could not sup' tor its dissection.
Id not supply the necessary apparatus