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" It's a very pleasant thing, my men, to have a good estate,
With carriages to ride about, and servants all to wait; With money in your purse enough, and wine and cheer in
store, But, while you live in ease and plenty, don't forget the poor."
Song At HARVEST HOME.
On the coast of
and not far from the pretty village of
, stood, or used to stand, a country mansion remarkable for the elegance of its construction, and commanding beautiful views of the surrounding country and the adjacent sea.
Part of the estate encircling this residence consisted of about fifteen hundred acres, principally of meadow land, more picturesque, perhaps, than productive, but corresponding with the style and pretensions of the place, on which the extensive park, with its majestic oaks, stamped an aristocratic air calculated to impress on the beholder a becoming sense of the importance of the proprietor.
The owner of the estate was Mr. George Coverley, who derived it from his uncle—“ a class of persons," as the facetious apothecary of the village used to say,
especially designed by a benevolent Providence for the assistance of embarrassed heroes, distressed heroines, and unprotected orphans of both sexes.” That convenient individual, after realizing a large fortune by mercantile pursuits, had purchased the estate in his old age, with the design of passing the remainder of
his days in the dignified ease of a country gentleman—the otium cum dig., as he would jocularly observe, when caught by a visiter working with desperate energy with a spade in his kitchen garden; a practice in which he was wont to indulge, with a view of assuring himself and other people that he did actually enjoy the occupations of a country life.
The worthy old gentleman was not destined, however, long to profit by the fruits of his hard-earned fortune. When the novelty of his unaccustomed leisure had passed away, he fell into a sort of ennui and weariness of life, and after a few years' possession he died, as the apothecary averred, "of having nothing
Previous to that event, the retired merchant had made his will in a very businesslike manner; and partly from that sort of
natural instinct which prompts to the upholding of one's own kith and kin, and partly from the pride of continuing the alliance between his name and his estate, he bequeathed the whole of his property to a nephew whom he had scarcely ever seen, and for whom he had never exhibited the slightest
This fortunate gentleman, accordingly, exchanged his rank of ensign in a regiment of foot, for that of proprietor of the Coverley estate—with those mingled feelings of joy at the acquisition of a handsome property, and of that peculiar sort of regret at the death of a rich uncle, which usually accompanies the decease of such relatives on such occasions.
From professional habits he paid a willing obedience to the strict injunctions expressed in the will, “that the said George Coverley should reside on the family property, and maintain the character for charity and hospitality" which the late owner regarded as the essential characteristic of a country gentle
From some accident, however, or from some eccentricity—or from the habit, perhaps, of viewing all sorts of property in the light of goods and chattels to be dealt in without restrictions, the testator neglected to conform with the custom of landed proprietors, of entailing his estate on his nephew's heirs; an omission which, in the present instance, had consequences not less disastrous than unanticipated.
Mr. George Coverley thus became a country potentate, as he loved to repeat, “after the fashion of his forefathers;" but it was observed by a discerning public, that he carefully ab