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but others. For others he is spelled to fill the granary!-for others, to keep it untouched! Doth he not like good fires, delicate viands, costly and esteemed wines? See him at the table of his neighbour, and behold how much he enjoys such luxuries, and guess then, too, how much he denies himself, when he puts up the cold guinea before the empty grate, for his posterity to lavish. There perhaps never was a miser that had not keener appetites for comfort and rich living than others; and therefore, to guard against such seductions, he sets himself up the barrier of a two-fold abstemiousness and self-denial; and, in the midst of hunger, cold, and bitter privation, hoards up the gold that will purchase luxuries for his children. Every miser knows that his wealth will descend to his heir; and no man ever entertained so mad an avarice as to ask, or think that his treasure should be buried with him. He gathers, and gathers, and gathers and goes out!-his earthly dust must finally be divorced from his golden dust. With these few preliminary remarks on misers in general, we proceed to give some account of one in particular, in whom we find some exceptions to the rule we have been attempting to lay down; but in whose heart, perhaps, avarice held its court in the saddest pomp, and most forlorn pride.
John Elwes, originally John or Jack Meggot, came of a real miser breed ;-his uncle, Sir Harvey Elwes, from whom he derived the great bulk of his wealth and whose name he took, on coming to the property, was "a perfect picture of human penury," and Mrs. Meggot, his mother, left nearly one hundred thousand pounds, and starved herself to death. It might have been reasonably expected, that John Elwes should have been an extravagant blood, but it was ordered, to use a gambling phrase, that there should be a run upon the colour;" and therefore, with all his mother's parsimony and in tenderness to the memory of Sir Harvey, Jack Meggot continued the full purse and the empty stomach-betraying occasional symptoms of bursting a vein,--but at length escaping all the dangerous temptations of youth, and withering into a genuine Elwes, and dying at last of extreme wealth! In one or two instances, during his youthful days, he was betrayed into heart-breaking losses of gold; but he had the satisfaction of reflecting, that he had ventured for great gains, however his ventures had failed. To the penurious, a great loss is more endurable than a trifling one; for the former is only a partial removal from the hoard which by patience can be regarnered, but the last is a check to the hoarding itself, a stop to the harvesting. A penny saved is a penny got, and there is an end of it, but it is in the act of saving, that any disappointment is to be apprehended.
"The family name of Mr. Elwes was Meggot: and as his name was John, the conjunction of Jack Meggot, made strangers sometimes imagine that his intimates were addressing him by an assumed appellation. His father was a brewer of great eminence. His dwellinghouse and offices were situated in Southwark; which borough was formerly represented in parliament by his grand-father, Sir George Meggot. Mr. Clowes is now in possession of the above premises. He purchased, during his life, the estate now in possession of the family at Marcham, in Berkshire, of the Calverts, who were in the same line. The father died while the late Mr. Elwes was only four years old; so, little of the character of Mr. Elwes is to be attributed to him; but from the mother it may be traced at once-for though she was left nearly one hundred thousand pounds by her husband-she starved herself to death!"
Of the mother, Mrs. Meggot, nothing more is known than the two facts of her wealth and her starvation. Of Sir Harvey Elwes some particulars are preserved, which we should do wrong not to hoard up in this article, out of respect to his memory. He resided at Stoke in Suffolk :—who shall say he lived there?
A partridge, a small pudding, and a potatoe dieted the baronet; and he suffered the fire in the coldest day in winter to go out, while he dined;-as" eating was quite exercise enough." When his nephew John dined with him, the latter was compelled, from the inordinate size of his appetite, to get a dinner before he dined, and thus reduce himself to the poverty of Sir Harvey's dishes. The uncle liked to see his nephew pinching his appetite, and it may be, that if he had detected a hearty meal travelling down Jack Meggot's throat, he would have disinherited him. John played the Joseph, for he had sense enough to discern, that his uncle was no Sir Oliver Surface, to admire extravagance and exclaim " Charles, you are my heir."
The nephew's outside was qualified, like his interior, to attract the uncle's favour. He used to stop at a little inn at Chelmsford, and begin to dress in character for the Miserly Masquerade. At this time, John Elwes being young in the world and its affairs, dressed like other people:-He first crept out of his every-day clothes, and then sneaked into an old coat, harassed with age-a pair of darned yet unmended worsted stockings, a pair of iron buckles, and a tattered waistcoat;— and thus habited for the courtship of avarice, this living volume of political economy rode on to visit his relative. Sir Harvey used to contemplate his appearance with delight, and would walk round the rags, gazing upon them with the eye of a Sir Giles Overreach. Down they would sit at a miserable table in an old miserable room-with a single stick, libelling a fire,—and thus seated, would rail, careful pair! at the profuseness of the age, and the extravagance of man! One glass of wine served
both of these thrifty sages, and when evening closed in, they tottered off to bed-old Old Age, and young Old Age,-chuckling over the stingy truth, that "going to bed saves candle-light." Sir Harvey loved not society:-solitude was his society, for in it was he able to chatter to his gold !-He loved not woman!-Indeed he was chastity itself. But money was his mistress! He kept his guineas!
We thought it, at first, rather unfortunate for our preliminary remarks, that in the Elwes family, misers came in a cluster;-but it is some consulation to know, that Sir Jervaise, the baronet immediately preceding Sir Harvey, was a free gentleman, who incumbered the estates as heavily as he had the power, and who, therefore, left Sir Harvey good ground for his particular kind of tillage. Sir Harvey had not more than one hundred pounds per annum, when he came to the title,— and he declared that he would never leave the paternal seat until he had entirely cleared the estate ;-and he lived to overkeep his word, to the amount of one hundred thousand pounds. He loved saving money and setting partridges. The following is a good sketch of his person.
During the partridge season, Sir Harvey and his man never missed a day, if the weather was tolerable-and his breed of dogs being remarkably good, he seldom failed in taking great quantities of game. At all times, he wore a black velvet cap much over his facea worn-out full-dressed suit of cloaths, and an old great coat, with worsted stockings drawn up over his knees. He rode a thin thoroughbred horse, and " the horse and his rider" both looked as if a gust of wind would have blown them away together."
The fact of his leading a solitary life and having great wealth soon became known, and a gang of rogues determined on robbing him. The men waited about his house until the servant came to serve the horses, whom they bound, and then entering the house, presented a pistol at Sir Harvey.
At no part of his life did Sir Harvey ever behave so well as in this transaction. When they asked for his money, he would give them no answer till they had assured him that his servant, who was a great favourite, was safe :-he then delivered them the key of a drawer, in which were fifty guineas. But they knew, too well, he had much more in the house, and again threatened his life, without he discovered where it was deposited. At length he shewed them the place, and they turned out a large drawer, where were seven and twenty hundred guineas. This they packed up in two large baskets and actually carried off. A robbery which, for QUANTITY of SPECIE, was perhaps never equalled. On quitting him, they told him they should leave a man behind, who would murder him if he moved for assistance. On which he very coolly, and with some simplicity, took out his watch
VOL. IX. PART I.
which they had not asked for, and said, ' gentlemen, I do not want to take any of you, therefore, upon my honour, I will give you twenty minutes for your escape: after that time, nothing shall prevent me from seeing how my servant does.' He was as good as his word: when the time expired, he went and untied the man; but, though some search was made by the village, the robbers were not discovered.
"When they were taken up some years afterwards for other offences, and were known to be the men who robbed Sir Harvey, he would not appear against them."
What spendthrift could have acted with the steadiness and affection of this old miser? He here rises above his gold, and stands up in all the goodness of the natural man.
Sir Harvey was given over for a consumption in his youth, and yet scraped together poor miserable days enough to make up a life-property of nearly ninety years!--such is the result of inveterate saving.
Sir Harvey had two neighbours,-baronets,--of brave name, who indulged in similar prudent habits with himself. Sir Cordwell Firebras and Sir John Barnardiston haggled with Sir Harvey Elwes over a tavern bill for a pint of wine-and some one was obliged to assist the poor in settling the dispute.
"When Sir Harvey died, the only tear that was dropped upon his grave, fell from the eye of his servant, who had long and faithfully at tended him. To that servant he bequeathed a farm of fifty pounds per annum,' to him and his heirs.'.
"In the chastity and abstinence of his life, Sir Harvey Elwes was a rival to Sir Isaac Newton-for he would have held it unpardonable to have given-even his affections. And, as he saw no lady whatever, he had but little chance of bartering them matrimonially for money.
"When he died, he lay in state, such as it was, at his seat at Stoke. Some of the tenants observed, with more humour than decency, 'that it was well Sir Harvey could not see it.'
"On his death, his fortune, which had now become immense, fell to his nephew, Mr. Meggot, who, by will, was ordered to assume the name and arms of Elwes."
It is a curious fact that Sir Harvey was never put to any expense for clothes-he walked at least in some of the habits of his ancestor-for he invariably put his hand into an old chest and took out the fine tarnished dresses, which had lain there moth-beloved, since the gallant days of gay Sir Jervaise; even Mr. Elwes clothed from the same chest:-Surely the cloth was woven in an heir-loom!
Mr. Elwes came into all the baronet's property. The mansion was as it had been in ages past:-Not a room had been painted, not a window repaired, and the beds were all in canopy and state, as of old-but now sacred only to the worm, the
mouse, and the moth. The roofs had given over all disputes with the wind and the rain, and the snow in the winter-time found a more comfortable lodging than usual.
Mr. Elwes was forty years of age when he succeeded to this wealth. He had previously passed ten or twelve years at Westminster; where, as usual in public schools, he became a good classical scholar, and knew little or nothing about writing and arithmetic. The late Lord Mansfield was his schoolfellow and friend. Young Elwes afterwards went to Geneva, and became an admirable horseman, rivalling Mr. Worsley and Sir Sidney Meadows, the then finest riders of the age. Elwes was the rough-rider to the other two.
The return of Mr. Elwes to England took place about fifteen years before he succeeded to the estate of Sir Harveyand, having a turn for play, he indulged in its dangerous pleasures, until bad fortune and irregular paymasters sickened him of the vice. Of course he never wholly overcame the passion for speculation, but his love of money did much to keep it under.
"Had Mr. Elwes received all he won, he would have been the richer by some thousands, for the mode in which he passed this part of his life but the vowels of I. O. U. were then in use, and the sums that were owed him, even by very noble names, were not liquidated. On this account he was a very great loser by play; and though he never could, or perhaps would, ascertain the sum, I know from circumstances since, that it was very considerable. The theory which he professed, that it was impossible to ask a gentleman for money,' he perfectly confirmed by the practice; and he never violated this feeling to the latest hour of his life.
"On this subject, which regards the manners of Mr. Elwes, gladly I seize an opportunity to speak of them with the praise that is their due. They were such-so gentle, so attentive, so gentlemanly, and so engaging, that rudeness could not ruffle them, nor strong ingratitude break their observance. He retained this peculiar feature of the old court to the last but he had a praise far beyond this; he had the most gallant disregard of his own person, and all care about himself, I ever witnessed in man. The instances in younger life, in the most imminent personal hazard, are innumerable: but when age had despoiled him of his activity, and might have rendered care and attention about himself natural, he knew not what they were. He wished no one to assist him—' He was as young as ever he could walk- he could ride, and he could dance; and he hoped he should not give trouble, even when he was old.' He was, at that time, seventy-five."
Major Topham relates a very curious instance of the struggle between the gambler and the miser in Mr. Elwes, which, from the extraordinary contrast it displays, is, we think, peculiarly interesting.