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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

The Spectator and The Tatler

The Will of a Virtuoso

By Joseph Addison (1672–1719)

I, NICHOLAS GIMCRACK, being in sound health of mind, but in great weakness of body, do, by this my last will and testament, bestow my worldly goods and chattels in manner following:

Imprimis.—To my dear wife,

One box of butterflies,

One drawer of shells,

A female skeleton,

A dried cockatrice.

Item.—To my daughter Elizabeth,

My receipt for preserving dead caterpillars,

As also my preparations of winter Maydew and embryo-pickle.

Item.—To my little daughter Fanny,

Three crocodile’s eggs,

And upon the birth of her first child, if she marries with her mother’s consent,

The nest of a humming-bird.

Item.—To my eldest brother, as an acknowledgment for the lands he has vested in my son Charles, I bequeath

My last year’s collection of grasshoppers.

Item.—To his daughter Susanna, being his only child, I bequeath my

English weeds pasted on royal paper,

With my large folio of Indian cabbage.

Having fully provided for my nephew Isaac, by making over to him some years since,

A horned scarabæus,

The skin of a rattlesnake, and

The mummy of an Egyptian king,

I make no further provision for him in this my will.

My eldest son, John, having spoke disrespectfully of his little sister, whom I keep by me in spirits of wine, and in many other instances behaved himself undutifully toward me, I do disinherit, and wholly cut off from any part of this my personal estate, by giving him a single cockle-shell.

To my second son, Charles, I give and bequeath all my flowers, plants, minerals, mosses, shells, pebbles, fossils, beetles, butterflies, caterpillars, grasshoppers, and vermin, not above specified; as also all my monsters, both wet and dry; making the said Charles whole and sole executor of this my last will and testament: he paying, or causing to be paid, the aforesaid legacies within the space of six months after my decease. And I do hereby revoke all other wills whatsoever by me formerly made.