Agatha's College plummets to his death from a tower and a production of a "bad quarto" of Hamlet points to a suspect. My French Whore Near the end of WWI, a man impersonates a German spy when he is captured, and falls in love with the prostitute he is provided. Death Under Snowdon First U. Two Little Girls in Blue A mother searches for her kidnapped daughter, led by clues given to her by the missing girl's twin sister.
The Color of a Dog Running Away Lucas, a musician and translator in Barcelona, is kidnapped with his girlfriend by a religious cult. You Don't Love Me Yet Lucinda works at The Complain Line, sets up a clandestine meeting with a caller, and they fall in love while Lucinda spends her spare time playing in an alternative band.
Avalanche Sheriff Bo Tully 2 is investigating a missing persons case when an avalanche strands him at West Bank Lodge and the missing persons case turns into a murder investigation. The Gentle Axe In St. Petersburg, Russia in , Inspector Porfiry Petrovich, first met in Crime and Punishment, investigates the strange case of a peasant hung with an axe in his belt. Bleeding Hearts When a local football coach and hero is accused of improper behavior, China Bayles 15 follows a trail of obsession and murder. Spanish Dagger While gathering supplies for making paper in a yucca patch, China Bayles stumbles on a body, and while investigating she discovers many in her small town have secrets.
Sequence Cutting-edge geneticist Dr. Alexandra Blake puts her research on hold to catch a killer murdering women near military bases. The Game Reality TV becomes too real when a killer with a message preys on the contestants of America's number-one show. A Sweet Scent of Death The brutal death of a beautiful young girl shocks a small Mexican village and inspires an expanding wave of violence. Ottavia Butler track down a secret brotherhood trying to collect the fragments of the True Cross for themselves. White Shadow Thriller based on the true story of the death of retired criminal kingpin Charlie Wall and those who benefitted from it.
The Dying Game Former beauty queens are being found murdered with a single rose beside their bodies, and detective Lindsay McCallister has seen this signature before. Collusion Non-fiction; investigation by two of Europe's leading journalists into how international spy agencies crafted the stories behind the war on terror. Fear No Evil A renegade FBI agent must find a serial killer who is murdering women live on the internet before his next victim dies. Shell Game Taylor and her husband Alan are devastated when the company they have invested everything in disappears, and they are determined to track down the mastermind of the fraud.
The Fugitive A man is on the run from a corrupt judicial system and a phony murder charge, hiding in the French underworld and running to a Mexico besieged by guerrilla warfare. Beneath the Snow When a brilliant research scientist disappears during a snowstorm in Lake Eagle, Alaska, her estranged sister comes from England to help the search.
Tango for a Torturer Former Argentine revolutionary Aldo Bianchi travels to Cuba and learns that his nemesis, military torturer Alberto Rios, is living there, and he hunts him down. The Hard Way Jack Reacher is hired by Edward Lane who runs a highly illegal soldier-for-hire operation, to rescue his kidnapped family. Laced Newlyweds Regan and Jack Reilly go to Ireland to research their genealogy and are faced with frightening information about some of their forefathers. I Heard That Song Before year old landscaper Kay Lansing must find answers when her husband comes under a cloud of suspicion about his former wife's death and the murder of another young woman.
Consigned to Death Josie Prescott leaves her high-paying job at a New York auction house to set up her own antiques business in New Hampshire and becomes the prime suspect in a local murder. Promise Me Entertainment agent Myron Bolitar keeps a well-intentioned promise to a teenage girl, and when she turns up missing he is the last person who saw her, and he races to find her. Green Eye Rosa Thorn comes to Cambridge to film a TV series and see her son, and becomes embroiled in the mystery of a rapist and a potentially lethal case of jealousy.
At Risk A state investigator and his D. Cold Pursuit Chief Superintendent Frances Harman puts her retirement plans on hold to help investigate a series of minor assaults in the Kent area, and the crimes escalate in seriousness. Life Sentence Chief Superintendent Frances Harman, already overloaded and a few months from retirement, is assigned the two-year old case of a woman who was beaten into a coma and now is near death. The Muskateer's Seamstress Aramis's lover, a Spanish noblewoman and friend of the Queen, has been murdered and he has been accused of the crime, and now it is up to the Muskateers 2 to clear his name; PBO.
The Alpine Recluse Small-town newspaper editor Emma Lord investigates when the home of newlyweds burns down and the husband dies in the fire. The Alpine Scandal The Alpine Advocate receives an obituary sent by the subject himself, and Emma Lord tries to track down the author, only to find him bludgeoned to death behind his home. The Serbian Dane Iranian mullahs have issued a four-million-dollar fatwa for an internationally acclaimed writer, who travels to Denmark to speak, and the Serbian Dane signs up for her murder. What Goes Around When a high-priced call girl is found murdered outside an exclusive men's club, the other members of her self-help group are determined to find the killer.
The Citadel Captain Jim Vaughn 2 leads his band of rogues in a suicidal mission as the fate of the world lies in the hands of this capable but erratic crew; PBO. The Big Bamboo Hilarious and outrageous serial killer Serge Storms 8 goes to Hollywood to mingle with the stars while causing his usual murder and mayhem. Cat in a Quicksilver Caper L. Nefertiti: The Book of the Dead In ancient Egypt, a savvy detective is secretly assigned to find Nefertiti, who has gone missing on the eve of a great celebration.
The Bookwoman's Last Fling Cliff Janeway 5 accepts an invitation from a legendary horse trainer to look at some rare books in Idaho, discovers a collection worth millions, and when the man is murdered, Janeway investigates. Cue the Easter Bunny While donning an Easter Bunny costume to get a little extra cash, PI Grace Smith 5 is hired by a woman to find out who has been threatening her son.
Under the Knife Non-fiction; story of a man who posed as a plastic surgeon and killed a patient, then fled to Costa Rica before his capture made front page news; PBO. Heartstopper The body of the most popular girl at Torrence High in Florida is found buried in the swamp, English teacher Sandy Crosbie helps the down-on-his-luck sheriff investigate. Jessica travels to London and when the pilot is murdered at the airport, she joins forces with her old friend Scotland Yard Inspector George Sutherland, to investigate; PBO.
Portraits and Views
Dreams and Swords Collection of mystery and science fiction short stories. Diary of a Serial Killer Maverick lawyers Terry Tallach and Zack Wilson reunite to investigate a supposedly closed year-old serial murder case. Event A secret group of the nation's most brilliant minds discovers an unspeakable threat to humanity and they must team up with an unlikely ally to save the world. God's Spy In the days following the Pope's death, a cardinal is found brutally murdered, and police inspector Paola Dicanti teams with an American priest to stop a serial killer.
Street of No Return The story of Whitey, once a crooner with a million dollar voice fallen on hard times after getting involved with a bad woman. The Ghost Orchid Novelist Ellis Brooks goes to the Bosco Estate in New York for a retreat, and gets caught up in a year old mystery as bizarre things befall her and her colleagues.
American Outrage After investigative reporter Jake Carlson loses his wife, he tries to help his adopted son find his real mother, and uncovers a ring of black market child trafficking. Cocaine Blues The first Phryne Fisher mystery: Phyrne travels from London to Australia where she becomes involved in a mystery featuring poisoned wives and cocaine smuggling rings. Urn Burial Phryne Fisher is holidaying at Cave House, a gothic mansion in the heart of Australia's mountain country, when her host receives death threats, lethal traps are set, and a maid is strangled.
The Green Mill Murder Phyrne Fisher is dancing at a Melbourne contest when a contestant slumps to the ground and Phryne, aware of how close the bullet came to her, investigates. Night of the Jaguar Jimmy Paz trilogy conclusion: When affluent Miami businessmen begin dying in gruesome fashion, the local police turn to Jimmy Paz, who finds a connection to an Indian shaman. The Book of Air and Shadows Intellectual property lawyer Jake Mishkin details a lethal conspiracy involving a cache of encoded 17th century letters that lead to a treasure men would kill for.
The Sopranos Official book about the television show, including interviews and a detailed episode guide to all six seasons. The Chinese Alchemist Antiques dealer Lara McClintoch is targeted by ruthless criminals while trying to recover an 8th-century Tang Dynasty silver box with an alchemical formula for immortality etched inside the lid. A Dead Question Two weeks away from giving birth, DI Honey Laird is assigned to investigate her next-door neighbor, a seemingly perfect doctor with a secret.
Generation Lost A down and almost out photographer goes to interview a reclusive photographer and stumbles on a decades-old mystery still claiming victims and has one final shot at redemption. Definitely Dead Southern Vampire series 6; supernaturally gifted cocktail waitress Sookie Stackhouse goes to New Orleans to deal with the legacy of her own family and a host of dangerous characters.
Dead Days of Summer A mysterious and brutal killer has framed Max Darling and it's up to Annie 17 to find her missing husband and clear his name. Set Sail for Murder When retired newspaper reporter Henrietta O'Dwyer Collins investigates murder on a Baltic cruise, she discovers the flame of love never dies. King of Lies Attorney Jackson Workman Pickens's humdrum life is changed forever when his father, who disappeared a year earlier, is found dead and he and his sister are the prime suspects; Edgar nominee Best 1st Novel.
The Refuge Maxie McNabb 3 goes to Hawaii to help her friend Karen pack up her house, and overhears Karen making a suspicious phone call that indicates she may be in danger. The Tooth of Time Maxie McNabb 2 , Winnebago-driving, pistol-packing sixty-something with her dachshund Stretch sets out to turn one on-edge New Mexico town back into a peaceful pueblo.
Poisoned Pins Reprint: Claire Malloy. Blood Fever YA; Young James Bond takes a school trip to Sardinia and investigates when his cousin's house is ransacked and important pieces of art work are stolen. Simon Serrailler join forces to investigate a series of disappearances in a quiet cathedral town. Alibi Man Former narcotics detective Elena Estes finds the body of a coworker, and she finds ties to a group of wealthy Palm Beach bad boys who provide each other alibis for crimes. Ark Angel YA; Alex Rider survives a sniper's bullet, and while in the hospital, saves the son of the richest man in the world from eco-terrorists.
False Intentions Dublin rookie detectives Sarah Kenny and John Quigly look for the missing daughter of a notorious criminal, who may be sacrificing his own daughter to stay atop the drug world. Sticky Fingers After a near-death with a snake, Tess Camillo is fearful when another lesbian is murdered with a snake, and investigates. Absolute Fear Novel of madness, deceit, and twisted revenge that reveals the terrifying secrets of the long-shuttered mental institution that was home to unspeakable evil in the book Shiver.
Dead and Buried Deputy Chief Constable Bob Kinner has four crimes to solve, including a murder in the secret corridors of power where even the Prime Minister is not safe. One Night Stand L. Public defender Myra Cross takes on the murder case of Napoleon T. Booker aka Little Dog Nine, and gets more than she bargained for.
The Priest of Evil Detective Sergeant Timo Harjunpaa of the Helsinki Violent Crimes Unit discovers the madman behind a series of subway station murders is a fanatical priest and he faces his most terrifying case yet. A Death in Belmont Examines the fatal collision of three lives during the infamous Boston Strangler serial murder case. Gone Alex Delaware is pitted against a serial killer targeting Hollywood starlets.
The Prada Paradox Mega-star Devi Taylor finds herself in a deadly game and must find answers to much more than movie trivia as she seeks the identity of her opponent. The Midnight Choir In Dublin, police face a world where small-time criminals have become millionaires and the old rules no longer apply. What's a Ghoul to Do? Ghost hunter M. Holliday is hired by handsome Dr. Steven Sable to contact the ghost of his grandfather to find out the truth behind his death, and runs into other ghosts; PBO. Arsene Lupin, Gentleman Thief Classic collection featuring the witty confidence man and burglar who steals from the rich and sometimes gives to the poor.
Through a Glass Darkly Commissario Guido Brunetti investigates the murder of a night watchman whose body is found by the blazing furnace of a glass factory with a copy of Dante's Inferno in his hand. Death Squad While working for a new client, Tyneside solicitor Eric Ward becomes entangled in a murder case with connections stretching as far as Germany and the Stasi, and even the IRA.
Night Visits Dr. Harriet Lamont suspects her threatening patient is a killer and she may be the next victim. Meeting Point Irish crime scene investigator is attracted to John Rock, but he brings up memories of a ten-year old murder, and she realizes he is the man she always suspected of the crime. Second Sight Reprint: Spy Paul Christopher 7 , is called out of retirement when agents are being kidnapped and destroyed by a diabolical drug. The Tears of Autumn Reprint; secret agent Paul Christopher has a destructive theory as to who killed Kennedy, and continues to investigate even though he was ordered to stop.
Mortal Coil Matthew Moriarty has hit rock bottom, and when he accepts an offer to track down a missing friend, things get even worse. Corpse Suzette A renowned plastic surgeon goes missing from a local spa and it's up to P. Savannah Reid to stitch up a killer who cuts to the bone. Lone Creek Hugh Davoren, hand on the Pettyjohn Ranch in Montana, discovers two buried horses, and finds that everyone involved with the ranch has secrets they want to keep buried.
The Marriage Game Failed CIA agents Sam and her best friend Slick team up with three other ex-wives of the same cad, and end up hired by a suspicious and covert law enforcement agency seeking CIA dropouts. The Killing Jar Kerrie-Ann lives in gritty urban Nottingham with a junkie for a mother, and even as she dreams of a better life she becomes entangles in the cycles of violence that rules there. Killing Hitler Non-fiction; a look at the many assassination plots against Hitler.
Liza Marantz and her partner Major Sam Taggert investigate the deaths of two female colleagues who were involved with Allied commanders. Somewhere in the City Collection of Muller's best short fiction of the last 20 years. Edenville Owls YA: year old Bobby senses something evil in the air, and he and a group of basketball players in need of a leader will have to help each other on and off the court. Maximum Ride: School's Out - Forever Bird-kid Max 2 and her flock fly south to find their parents, but an FBI agent has learned of their existence and they are forced to face the nightmare of going to school.
The 5th Horseman The Women's Murder Club hunts for a merciless killer amongst the esteemed medical staff of a prestigious hospital whose staff will stop at nothing to save its reputation. Executioner Rebel Force Paramilitary adventure. Stony Man Starfire Paramilitary adventure. We Shall Not Sleep The guns finally fall silent in , and the Realey's finally learn the identity of the man who murdered their parents, and return to a changed Britain.
Tomb of the Golden Bird Eminent Egyptologist Radcliffe Emerson and his wife Amelia Peabody are close to finding the tomb of King Tut, but kidnappers, lies, and an old family nemesis stand in the way. The Session: A Novella in Dialogue Detectives Smith and Smith track a murder victim's stolen organs and are led to an insane asylum that they may never leave, written entirely in dialogue. Angelica A Roshamon-like story told in four parts from four points of view, of a young girl, her mother, and her father who may be trying to kill her.
Secrets on Saturday Lois Meade 6 investigates when a stranger comes to her English village and claims to have inherited the home of an elderly resident who has disappeared; PBO. Scandals, Vandals, and da Vincis The unique histories of nearly 30 works of art. The Invisible Detective: Shadow Beast YA; Arthur Drake reads a case of the Invisible Detective involving a missing cat and a bank robbery while continuing to try to discover his identity.
Tutu Deadly Ballet instructor Jenny Partridge investigates when the obnoxious mother of her most-talented pupil is poisoned by cookie dough she bought at a fund-raiser for her school; PBO. Sullivan's Evidence Serial rapist Carl Holden is out of jail and Carolyn Sullivan 3 is his probation officer, and when a murder with his signature occurs, Sullivan must prove his guilt.
Staying Home is a Killer Ellie Avery 2 investigates when another military wife is found dead, an apparent suicide, and finds connections to Middle Eastern artifacts and black marketeers. A Coin for the Ferryman In Roman Britain, AD , just as his master is about to set him free, Junio joins his mentor Libertus to solve the mystery of a body hastily concealed in a shallow grave. Too Late to Say Goodbye Non-fiction; two beautiful successful women whose murders were made to look like suicides.
The Shooter Reprint; when solid evidence emerges that at least two American POW's are still being held and tortured in Laos, two former marine sergeants turned assassins are sent in to find the camp and rescue the prisoners. Cripple Creek Burned-out Memphis cop Turner 2 returns to the city to investigate when a mobster springs a confederate from a local jail.
Crime and Clutter The Friday Afternoon Club 2 forces Mary Alice to clear out her missing father's clutter, and discover a mystery in the midst of his 60's memorabilia. Sovereign In , Matthew Shardlake 3 investigates the murder of a local glazier while awaiting the arrival of King Henry VIII, and a cache of papers he finds puts him in danger.
Anatomy of Fear Police sketch artist Nate Rodriguez tracks a serial killer who leaves drawings at the crime scene depicting his next murder in gory detail. A Simple Story In a small Sicilian village, an inexperienced policeman finds a retired diplomat murdered, and the case turns into an intricate tale of corruption involving the Mafia. The Good Husband of Zebra Drive Precious Ramotswe 8 has a new round of adventures while her husbands plans to do something nice for their adopted daughter hits some snags.
New Orleans Noir Collection of new stories. Zig Zag A young physics professor has a terrible secret she discovered while on a research team studying String Theory, and now, years later, members of the team are dying mysteriously. Hunted: Fake ID Chastity and her mother have been on the run all her life, and when her mom disappears she has six days to find her or be put in a foster home. Ice Blue A priceless relic ignites a global power struggle and an international operative is told that everyone is expendable. Hello, Stranger After Sally Adler 4 helps a student who was brutally beaten but refuses to call the police, that student's estranged father turns up murdered and Sally investigates.
The Glass Devil Swedish Detective Inspector Irene Huss 3 investigates when a school teacher and his elderly parents, a pastor and his wife, are murdered. The Torso Detective Inspector Irene Huss 2 is sent to Goteborg, Sweden, where mutilated corpses are cropping up, and things become personal when two of the victims are known to her. April in Paris In , love grows between a German soldier and a French Resistance fighter in Paris, until a bomb explodes killing several German officers and they must flee together.
Shadow of Innocence During the Newport Folk Festival, Mick and Bridget delve into a seamy world of drugs and sex as they match wits with the mob and a psychopathic killer. What's So Funny? Dortmunder and his merry band of crooks go on a treasure hunt for a highly valuable pound chess set. Unholy Grail A man takes the name of the archangel Gabriel and embarks on a quest to eliminate those named in a series of articles claiming that the descendants of Jesus exist today.
Fresh Disasters Stone Barrington embarks on his most dangerous adventure yet when he takes on a job as a lawyer for a sleazy conman and gets embroiled in the New York Mafia. A Treasury of Regret During the French Revolution, a young serving girl is accused of poisoning her master, and freelance Paris police investigator Aristide Ravel, who believes her innocent, looks for the real killer.
Dread Murder Someone is sending body parts of one of his fellow soldiers to Major Mearns, and with the help of Sgt. Denny, he sets out to find who has murdered their friend. Withering Heights Ellie Haskell's young cousin Ariel asks her to investigate some mysterious doings at her Gothic mansion on the Yorkshire moors. Chasers Sequel to Apaches : The machine-gun murders of innocent bystanders in a Manhattan restaurant propels the three Apaches into an investigation of a Columbian drug cartel.
April 21 at 4 pm. The Shakespeare Riots Non-fiction; a petty feud between two Shakespearean actors in and a fight that turned into a deadly riot in New York City. The Cold Moon Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs are in a race against time, literally, to catch a serial killer known as the Watchmaker, who leaves a trademark clock at the scene of each murder.
The Bobbed Hair Bandit Non-fiction; string of grocery store robberies by poor year old laundress Celia Cooney and the cultural and political ramifications. The Amazon Lily Lawrence Kingston searches for a botanist friend who has gone missing after discovering a giant water lily capable of desalinating water and has only a scrap of paper with a cryptic message to go on. American Detective Darius Fuller hires Amos Walker 19 to investigate his daughter's fiance, who he suspects of being a golddigger, and when the daughter is murdered the fiance is the suspect.
Glass Houses A serial killer is at work in Philadelphia, and a suspect has been arrested, but his lawyer believes he is innocent and asks Gregor Demarkian to look into the case. Damsels in Distress Local bookseller Claire Malloy investigates when one of the organizers of a Renaissance Fair in Farberville, Arkansas is a victim of arson and murder.
Jigsaw A killer calling himself Thanatos, the Greek God of Death, is murdering friends of entertainment critic Carroll Quint, and he investigates. Brendan Wolf Brendan Wolf, a young gay man, finds a long-lost brother and is drawn into a robbery scheme of an anti-abortion charity, which goes wrong, leaving Brendan in deep trouble.
The Western Limit of the World Harold Snow is aboard a ship he thinks will sink, with a toxic cargo he thinks will kill him, manned by an untrustworthy crew, and a single coveted woman. Space Wars A rogue Russian scientist destroys military surveillance satellites, blinding the US and allowing Iran to launch a nuclear device against Europe. Smoked When an aging bomb-maker's work is used to take down a plane with innocent women and children aboard, he takes revenge on the mob boss, and goes on the run with 2. Thistle and Twigg Two little old ladies, Mrs. Thistle and Mrs. The thing was undoubtedly the work of an intimate friend of the Great Lexicographer, but, though there were mannerisms of style and thought which suggested Mr Boswell, I did not feel able to claim his authorship with any confidence.
It might be the production of one or other of the Wartons, or of Sir Robert Chambers, or of some Oxford friend of Johnson whose name has not come down to us. Mr Derwent at my request explored the records of his firm, which extended back for the better part of a century, but could find no evidence that it had ever done business for any member of the family of Auchinleck. Nevertheless I incline to attribute the thing to Mr Boswell, for he alone of Johnson's circle was likely to have the eager interest in Scotland which the manuscript reveals, and the dates do not conflict with what we know of his movements.
Here, at all events, is the text of it:. In the last week of June in the year Johnson was in Oxford, and I had the honour to accompany him one afternoon to the village of Elsfield, some four miles from the city, on a visit to Mr Francis Wise, one of the fellows of Trinity College and Radcliffe's librarian. As I have already mentioned, there were certain episodes in the past life of my illustrious friend as to which I knew nothing, and certain views, nay, I venture to say prejudices, in his mind, for the origin of which I was at a loss to account.
In particular I could never receive from him any narrative of his life during the years and , the years of our last civil war, during which his literary career seems to have been almost totally suspended. When I endeavoured to probe the matter, he answered me with some asperity, so that I feared to embarrass him with further questions. I was also puzzled to explain to my own mind the reason for his attitude towards Scotland and the Scotch nation, which afforded him matter for constant sarcasms and frequent explosions of wrath.
As the world knows, he had a lively interest in the primitive life of the Highlands, and an apparent affection for those parts, but towards the rest of Scotland he maintained a demeanour so critical as to be liable to the reproach of harshness. These prejudices, cherished so habitually that they could not be attributed to mere fits of spleen, surprised me in a man of such pre-eminent justice and wisdom, and I was driven to think that some early incident in his career must have given them birth; but my curiosity remained unsatisfied, for when I interrogated him, I was met with a sullen silence, if we were alone, and, if company were present, a tempestuous ridicule which covered me with blushes.
On this occasion at Elsfield that happened which whetted my curiosity, but the riddle remained unread till at this late stage of my life, when my revered Master has long been dead, fortune has given the key into my hand. Mr Francis Wise dwelt in a small ancient manor of Lord North's, situated on the summit of a hill with a great prospect over the Cherwell valley and beyond it to the Cotswold uplands. We walked thither, and spent the hour before dinner very pleasantly in a fine library, admiring our host's collection of antiquities and turning the pages of a noble folio wherein he had catalogued the coins in the Bodleian collection.
Johnson was in a cheerful humour, the exercise of walking had purified his blood, and at dinner he ate heartily of veal sweetbreads, and drank three or four glasses of Madeira wine. I remember that he commended especially a great ham. Foreigners love it little, Jews and infidels abhor it. When the meal was over we walked in the garden, which was curiously beautified with flowering bushes and lawns adorned with statues and fountains.
We assembled for tea in an arbour, constructed after the fashion of a Roman temple, on the edge of a clear pool. Beyond the water there was a sharp declivity, which had been utilised to make a cascade from the pool's overflow. This descended to a stone tank like an ancient bath, and on each side of the small ravine lines of beeches had been planted. Through the avenue of the trees there was a long vista of meadows in the valley below, extending to the wooded eminence of the Duke of Marlborough's palace of Blenheim, and beyond to the Cotswold hills.
The sun was declining over these hills, and, since the arbour looked to the west, the pool and the cascade were dappled with gold, and pleasant beams escaped through the shade to our refuge. Johnson was regaled with tea, while Mr Wise and I discussed a fresh bottle of wine. It was now that my eminent friend's demeanour, which had been most genial during dinner, suffered a sudden change. The servant who waited upon us was an honest Oxfordshire rustic with an open countenance and a merry eye.
To my surprise I observed Johnson regarding him with extreme disfavour. Mr Wise mentioned his name, and that he was of a family in the village. After that my friend's brow remained cloudy, and he stirred restlessly in his chair, as if eager to be gone. Our host talked of the antiquities in the neighbourhood, notably of the White Horse in Berkshire and of a similar primitive relic in Buckinghamshire, but he could elicit no response, though the subject was one to which I knew Johnson's interest to be deeply pledged. He remained with his chin sunk on his breast, and his eyes moody as if occupied with painful memories.
I made anxious inquiries as to his health, but he waved me aside. Once he raised his head, and remained for some time staring across the valley at the declining sun. Mr Wise repeated names--Woodstock, Ditchley, Enstone. The words seemed to add to Johnson's depression. Sir, among these hills, which I now regard, were spent some of the bitterest moments of my life. He said no more, and I durst not question him, nor did I ever succeed at any later date in drawing him back to the subject.
I have a strong recollection of the discomfort of that occasion, for Johnson relapsed into glumness and presently we rose to leave. Mr Wise, who loved talking and displayed his treasures with the zest of the owner of a raree-show, would have us visit, before going, a Roman altar which, he said, had lately been unearthed on his estate. Johnson viewed it peevishly, and pointed out certain letters in the inscription which seemed fresher than the rest. Mr Wise confessed that he had himself re-cut these letters, in conformity, as he believed, with the purpose of the original.
This threw Johnson into a transport of wrath. Johnson strode at such a pace that I could scarcely keep abreast of him, and I would fain have done as he did on an earlier occasion, and cried Sufflamina. The incident which I have recorded has always remained vivid in my memory, but I despaired of unravelling the puzzle, and believed that the clue was buried for ever in the grave of the illustrious dead. But, by what I prefer to call Providence rather than Chance, certain papers have lately come into my possession, which enable me to clear up the mystery of that summer evening, to add a new chapter to the life of one of the greatest of mankind, and to portray my dear and revered friend in a part which cannot fail to heighten our conception of the sterling worth of his character.
Thus far the quarto pages. Their author--Mr Boswell or some other--no doubt intended to explain how he received the further papers, and to cast them into some publishable form. Neither task was performed. The rest of the manuscript, as I have said, was orderly enough, but no editorial care had been given it. I have discovered nothing further about Alastair Maclean save what the narrative records, and my research among the archives of Oxfordshire families has not enabled me to add much to the history of the other figures.
But I have put such materials as I had into the form of a tale, which seems of sufficient interest to present to the world. I could wish that Mr Boswell had lived to perform the task, for I am confident that he would have made a better job of it. The road which had begun as a rutted cart-track sank presently to a grassy footpath among scrub oaks, and as the boughs whipped his face the young man cried out impatiently and pulled up his horse to consider.
He was on a journey where secrecy was not less vital than speed, and he was finding the two incompatible. That morning he had avoided Banbury and the high road which followed the crown of Cotswold to the young streams of Thames, for that way lay Beaufort's country, and at such a time there would be jealous tongues to question passengers. For the same reason he had left the main Oxford road on his right, since the channel between Oxford and the North might well be troublesome, even for a respectable traveller who called himself Mr Andrew Watson, and was ready with a legend of a sea-coal business in Newcastle.
But his circumspection seemed to have taken him too far on an easterly course into a land of tangled forests. He pulled out his chart of the journey and studied it with puzzled eyes. My Lord Cornbury's house could not be twenty miles distant, but what if the twenty miles were pathless? An October gale was tossing the boughs and whirling the dead bracken, and a cold rain was beginning.
Ill weather was nothing to one nourished among Hebridean north-westers, but he cursed a land in which there were no landmarks. A hill-top, a glimpse of sea or loch, even a stone on a ridge, were things a man could steer by, but what was he to do in this unfeatured woodland? These soft south-country folk stuck to their roads, and the roads were forbidden him. A little further and the track died away in a thicket of hazels.
He drove his horse through the scrub and came out on a glade, where the ground sloped steeply to a jungle of willows, beyond which he had a glimpse through the drizzle of a grey-green fen. Clearly that was not his direction, and he turned sharply to the right along the edge of the declivity. Once more he was in the covert, and his ill-temper grew with every briar that whipped his face. Suddenly he halted, for he heard the sound of speech.
It came from just in front of him--a voice speaking loud and angry, and now and then a squeal like a scared animal's. An affair between some forester and a poaching hind, he concluded, and would fain have turned aside. But the thicket on each hand was impenetrable, and, moreover, he earnestly desired advice about the road. He was hesitating in his mind, when the cries broke out again, so sharp with pain that instinctively he pushed forward.
The undergrowth blocked his horse, so he dismounted and, with a hand fending his eyes, made a halter of the bridle and dragged the animal after him. He came out into a little dell down which a path ran, and confronted two human beings. They did not see him, being intent on their own business. One was a burly fellow in a bottle-green coat, a red waistcoat and corduroy small clothes, from whose gap-toothed mouth issued volleys of abuse.
In his clutches was a slim boy in his early teens, a dark sallow slip of a lad, clad in nothing but a shirt and short leather breeches. The man had laid his gun on the ground, and had his knee in the small of the child's back, while he was viciously twisting one arm so that his victim cried like a rabbit in the grip of a weasel. The barbarity of it undid the traveller's discretion. The man turned his face, saw a figure which he recognised as a gentleman, and took his knee from the boy's back, though he still kept a clutch on his arm.
Sir Edward 'e says, 'Tom,' 'e says, 'if 'ee finds a poacher in the New Woods 'ee knows what to do with 'im without troubling me'; and I reckon I does know. Them moor-men is the worst varmints in the country, and the youngest is the black-heartedest, like foxes. The grip had relaxed and the boy gave a twist which freed him. Instantly he dived into the scrub. The keeper made a bound after him, thought better of it and stood sullenly regarding the traveller. But the young man, disliking his looks, was in no mood for almsgiving, and forgot the need of discretion.
Also he came from a land where coin of the realm was scarce. But show me the way out of this infernal wood and you shall have a shilling for your pains. At first the keeper seemed disposed to obey, for he turned and made a sign for the traveller to follow. But he swung round again, and, resting the gun which he had picked up in the crook of his arm, he looked the young man over with a dawning insolence in his eyes.
He was beginning to see a more profitable turn in the business. The horseman was soberly but reputably dressed, and his beast was good, but what did he in this outlandish place? Where might 'ee be a-making for? The man whistled. I'd rather ha' heerd 'ee was going to Hell. And where might 'ee come from last, sir? The keeper whistled again. But I've heard tell of folks that fought shy of turnpikes. The keeper did not move. I reckon 'ee mun come up with me to Sir Edward, sir. He says to me only this morning--''Ee watch the Forest, Tom, and if 'ee finds any that can't give good account of themselves, 'ee fetch them up to me, and it'll maybe mean a golden guinea in your pocket.
There's soldiers at Islip bridge-end asking questions of all as is journeying west, and there's questions Sir Edward is going to ask of a gentleman as travels from Banbury to Charlbury by the edges of Otmoor. The servility had gone from the man's voice, and in its place were insolence and greed. A guinea might have placated him, but the traveller was not accustomed to bribe.
A hot flush had darkened his face, and his eyes were bright. The man had raised his gun, but before he could bring the barrel forward he was looking at a pistol held in a very steady hand. He was no coward, but he had little love for needless risks, when he could find a better way. He turned and ran up the steep path at a surprising pace for one of his build, and as he ran he blew shrilly on a whistle. The traveller left alone in the dell bit his lips with vexation. He had made a pretty mess of a journey which above all things should have been inconspicuous, and had raised a hue and cry after him on the domain of some arrogant Whig.
He heard the keeper's steps and the note of his whistle grow fainter; he seemed to be crying to others and answers came back faintly. In a few minutes he would be in a brawl with lackeys. In that jungle there was no way of escape for a mounted man, so he must needs stand and fight. It was the slim boy whom his intervention had saved from a beating. The lad darted from his cover and seized the horse's bridle. Speaking no word, he made signs to the other to follow, and the traveller, glad of any port in a storm, complied.
They slithered at a great pace down the steep bank to the thicket of willows, which proved to be the brink of a deep ditch. A little way along it they crossed by a ford of hurdles, where the water was not over a man's riding boots. They were now in a morass, which they threaded by a track which showed dimly among the reeds, and, as the whistling and cries were still audible behind them, they did not relax their pace. But after two more deep runnels had been passed, and a mere thick with water-lilies crossed by a chain of hard tussocks like stepping-stones, the guide seemed to consider the danger gone.
He slowed down, laughing, and cocked snooks in the direction of the pursuit. Then he signed to the traveller to remount his horse, but when the latter would have questioned him, he shook his head and put a finger on his lips. He was either dumb, or a miracle of prudence. The young man found himself in a great green fenland, but the falling night and the rain limited his view to a narrow circle. There was a constant crying of snipe and plover around him, and the noise of wild fowl rose like the croaking of frogs in the Campagna. Acres of rank pasture were threaded with lagoons where the brown water winked and bubbled above fathomless mud.
The traveller sniffed the air with a sense of something foreign and menacing. The honest bitter smell of peat-bogs he loved, but the odour of this marsh was heavy and sweet and rotten. As his horse's hooves squelched in the sodden herbage he shivered a little and glanced suspiciously at his guide.
Where was this gipsy halfling leading him? It looked as if he had found an ill-boding sanctuary. With every yard that he advanced into the dank green wilderness his oppression increased. The laden air, the mist, the clamour of wild birds, the knowledge that his horse was no advantage since a step aside would set it wallowing to the girths, all combined to make the place a prison-house, hateful to one on an urgent mission.
Suddenly he was above the fen on a hard causeway, where hooves made a solid echo. His spirits recovered, for he recognised Roman work, and a Roman road did not end in sloughs. On one side, below the level of the causeway, was a jungle of blackthorn and elder, and a whiff of wood-smoke reached his nostrils. The guide halted and three times gave a call like that of a nesting redshank. It was answered, and from an alley in the scrub a man appeared. He was a roughly dressed countryman, wearing huge leathern boots muddied to the knee. Apparently the guide was not wholly dumb, for he spoke to him in an odd voice that croaked from the back of his throat, and the man nodded and bent his brows.
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Then he lifted his eyes and solemnly regarded the horseman for the space of some seconds. The boy made signs for him to dismount, and led off the horse, while the man beckoned him to follow into the tunnel in the scrub. In less than fifty yards he found himself in a clearing where a knuckle of gravel made a patch of hard ground.
In the centre stood a small ancient obelisk, like an overgrown milestone. A big fire of logs and brushwood was burning, and round it sat half a dozen men, engaged in cooking. They turned slow eyes on the newcomer, and made room for him in their circle. He cotched Zerry and was a-basting him when this gentleman rides up. Then he turns on the gentleman, and, being feared o' him as man to man, goes whistling for Red Tosspot and Brother Mark. So Zerry brings the gentleman into the Moor, and here he be.
I tell him he's kindly welcome, and snug enough with us moor-men, though the King's soldiers was sitting in all the Seven Towns. There was a laugh at this, and the new-comer, cheered by the blaze and the smell of food, made suitable reply. He had not quite understood their slow burring speech, nor did they altogether follow his words, for he spoke English in the formal clipped fashion of one to whom it was an acquired tongue. But the goodwill on both sides was manifest, and food was pressed on him--wild duck roasted on stakes, hunks of brown bread, and beer out of leather jacks.
The men had been fowling, for great heaps of mallard and teal and widgeon were piled beyond the fire. The traveller ate heartily, for he had had no meal since breakfast, and as he ate, he studied his companions in the firelight. They were rough-looking fellows, dressed pretty much alike in frieze and leather, and they had the sallowish skin and yellow-tinged eyes which he remembered to have seen among dwellers in the Ravenna marshes.
But they were no gipsies or outlaws, but had the assured and forthright air of men with some stake in the land. Excellent were their manners, for the presence of a stranger in no way incommoded them; they attended to his wants, and with easy good-breeding talked their own talk. Understanding little of that talk, he occupied himself in observing their faces and gestures with the interest of a traveller in a new country.
These folk were at once slower and speedier than his own kind--more deliberate in speech and movement, but quicker to show emotion in their open countenances. He speculated on their merits as soldiers, for against such as these he and his friends must presently fight.
They was saying down at Noke that Long Giles was seen last week at Banbury fair and the Spayniard was travelling the Lunnon road. All dressed up he were like a fine gentleman, and at Wheatley Green Man he was snuffing out o' Squire Norreys' box. What Mas'r Midwinter wants us to know I reckon he'll tell us open and neighbourly.
Think you he'll make music the night? After that happen he'll gie us a tune. The speaker had looked over his shoulder, and the traveller, following his glance, became aware that close on the edge of the thicket a small tent was pitched. The night had fallen thick and moonless, but the firelight, wavering in the wind, showed it as a grey patch against the gloom of the covert.
As the conversation droned on, that patch held his eyes like a magnet. There was a man there, someone with the strange name of Midwinter, someone whom these moor-men held in reverence. The young man had the appetite of his race for mysteries, and his errand had keyed him to a mood of eager inquiry. He looked at the blur which was the tent as a terrier watches a badger's earth.
The talk round the fire had grown boisterous, for someone had told a tale which woke deep rumbling laughter. Suddenly it was hushed, for the thin high note of a violin cleft the air like an arrow. The sound was muffled by the tent-cloth, but none the less it dominated and filled that lonely place. The traveller had a receptive ear for music and had heard many varieties in his recent wanderings, from the operas of Rome and Paris to gypsy dances in wild glens of Apennine and Pyrenees. But this fiddling was a new experience, for it obeyed no law, but jigged and wailed and chuckled like a gale in an old house.
It seemed to be a symphony of the noises of the moor, where unearthly birds sang duets with winds from the back of beyond. It stirred him strangely. His own bagpipes could bring tears to his eyes with memory of things dear and familiar; but this quickened his blood, like a voice from a far world. The group by the fire listened stolidly with their heads sunk, but the young man kept his eyes on the tent.
Presently the music ceased, and from the flap a figure emerged with the fiddle in its hand. The others rose to their feet, and remained standing till the musician had taken a seat at the other side of the fire from the traveller. The young man by craning his neck could see the new figure clear in the glow of the embers. He made out a short man of an immense breadth of shoulder, whose long arms must have reached well below his knees.
He had a large square face, tanned to the colour of bark, and of a most surprising ugliness, for his nose was broken in the middle, and one cheek and the corner of one eye were puckered with an old scar. Chin and lips were shaven, and the wide mouth showed white regular teeth. His garments seemed to be of leather like the others, but he wore a cravat, and his hair, though unpowdered, was neatly tied. A merchant of Newcastle, sir, journeying Bristol-wards on a matter of business.
The fiddler laughed. Among friends you will doubtless tell another tale. For how comes a merchant of the North country to be so far from a high road? Shall I read the riddle, sir? He took up his violin and played very low and sweetly a Border lilt called "The Waukin' o' the Fauld. The latter tried again, this time the tune called "Colin's Cattle," which was made by the fairies and was hummed everywhere north of Forth.
Bright eyes read the young man's face. For a moment he seemed to consider, and then drew from his instrument a slow dirge, with the rain in it and the west wind and the surge of forlorn seas. It was that lament which in all the country from Mull to Moidart is the begetter of long thoughts. He played it like a master, making his fiddle weep and brood and exult in turn, and he ended with a fantastic variation so bitter with pain that the young man, hearing his ancestral melody in this foreign land, cried out in amazement.
The musician lowered his violin, smiling. Now I know you. You have nothing to fear among the moor-men of the Seven Towns. Take your ease, Alastair Maclean, among friends. I have no possession but my name, and no calling but that of philosopher. Naked I came from the earth, and naked I will return to it. The men by the fire shivered, and one spoke. Them words makes my innards cold. Christ ha' mercy on such as we! The young man found his apprehensions yielding place to a lively curiosity. From this madman, whoever he might be, he ran no risk of betrayal.
The thought flashed over his mind that here was one who might further the cause he served. There are no secrets among us who camp by Jacob's Stone. It is a thousand years and more since it felt their flame, but it has always been a trysting place. We Christian men have forsworn Apollo, but maybe he still lingers, and the savour of our little cooking fires may please him. I am one that takes no chances with the old gods. Here there is safety for the honest law-breaker, and confidence for the friend, for we are reverent souls.
How does it go? The man laughed. From the Channel to the Tyne they call us the Spoonbills, and on Cumbrian moors they know us as the Bog-blitters. But our titles are as many as the by-names of Jupiter. Up in your country I have heard that men talk of us as the Left-Handed. He spoke the last word in Gaelic-- ciotach --and the young man at the sound of his own tongue almost leapt to his feet,. The man shook his head.
For our true name is that I have sung to you. We are the Naked Men. For an instant Alastair felt his soul clouded by an eeriness which his bustling life had not known since as a little boy he had wandered alone into the corries of Sgurr Dubh. The moonless night was black about him, and it had fallen silent except for the sputter of logs. He seemed cut off from all things familiar by infinite miles of midnight, and in the heart of the darkness was this madman who knew all things and made a mock of knowledge.
The situation so far transcended his experience that his orderly world seemed to melt into shadows. The tangible bounds of life dislimned and he looked into outer space. But the fiddler dispelled the atmosphere of awe, for he pulled out a pipe and filled and lit it. A share of my tent is at your service. These moor-men are hardened to it, but if you press the ground this October night you will most surely get a touch of the moor-evil, and that is ill to cure save by a week's drinking of Oddington Well. So by your grace we will leave our honest friends to their talk of latimer and autumn markets.
Accompanied by deep-voiced "Good-nights" Alistair followed the fiddler to the tent, which proved to be larger and more pretentious than it had appeared from the fire. Midwinter lit a small lamp which he fastened to the pole, and closed the flap. The traveller's mails had been laid on the floor, and two couches had been made up of skins of fox and deer and badger heaped on dry rushes. It was a kind of spiced brandy which Alastair had drunk in Southern France, and it ran through his blood like a mild and kindly fire, driving out the fatigue of the day but disposing to a pleasant drowsiness.
He removed his boots and coat and cravat, loosened the points of his breeches, replaced his wig with a kerchief, and flung himself gratefully on the couch. Meantime the other had stripped almost to the buff, revealing a mighty chest furred like a pelt. Alastair noted that the underclothes which remained were of silk; he noticed, too, that the man had long fine hands at the end of his brawny arms, and that his skin, where the weather had not burned it, was as delicately white as a lady's. Midwinter finished his pipe, sitting hunched among the furs, with his eyes fixed steadily on the young man.
There was a mesmerism in those eyes which postponed sleep, and drove Alastair to speak. Besides, the lilt sung by the fire still hummed in his ears. Suffice it to say that I knew of your coming, and that long before Banbury you entered the orbit of my knowledge. Nay, sir, I can tell you also your errand, and I warn you that you will fail. You are about to beat at a barred and bolted door.
Consider, sir. You come from the North to bid a great man risk his all on a wild hazard. What can you, who have all your days been an adventurer, know of the dragging weight of an ordered life and broad lands and a noble house? The rich man of old turned away sorrowful from Christ because he had great possessions! Think you that the rich man nowadays will be inclined to follow your boyish piping? But I would remind you that loyalty and religion have many meanings, and self-interest is a skilled interpreter. You have for a moment conquered Scotland, but you will not hold it, for it is written in nature that Highlands will never for long control Lowlands.
England you have not touched and will never move. The great men have too much to lose and the plain folk are careless about the whole quarrel. They know nothing of your young Prince except that he is half foreigner and whole Papist, and has for his army a mob of breechless mountainers. You can win only by enlisting Old England, and Old England has forgotten you.
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But to clinch victory you must persuade the grandees of this realm, and in that I think you will fail. You are Johnnie Armstrong and the King. Call me Ulysses, who has seen all the world's cities and men, and has at length returned to Ithaca. I am a dweller in Old England. It has seen priest turn to presbyter and presbyter to parson and has only smiled. It is the land of the edge of moorlands and the rims of forests and the twilight before dawn, and strange knowledge still dwells in it. Lords and Parliament-men bustle about, but the dust of their coaches stops at the roadside hedges, and they do not see the quiet eyes watching them at the fords.
Those eyes are their masters, young sir. I am gentle born, as you guess, and have been in my day scholar and soldier, but now my companions are the moor-men and the purley-men and the hill-shepherds and the raggle-taggle gypsies. And I am wholly content, for my calling is philosophy.
I stand aside in life, and strike no blows and make no bargain, but I learn that which is hid from others. Great God, man, have you no cause or leader to fight for? Have you no honest ambition to fulfil before you vanish into the dark? You and I are at opposite poles of mind. You are drunken with youth and ardent to strike a blow for a dozen loves. You value life, but you will surrender it joyfully for a whimsy of honour.
You travel with a huge baggage of ambitions and loyalties. For me, I make it my business to travel light, caring nothing for King or party or church. As I told you, I and my like are the Naked Men. When Alastair awoke he found his boots cleaned from the mud of yesterday, and his coat well brushed and folded. The moor-men had gone off to their fowling, and the two were alone in the clearing, on which had closed down a dense October fog. They breakfasted off a flagon of beer and a broiled wild-duck, which Midwinter cooked on a little fire.
He had resumed his coarse leather garments, and looked like some giant gnome as he squatted at his task. But daytime had taken from him the odd glamour of the past night. He now seemed only a thick-set countryman--a horse-doctor or a small yeoman. The boy Zerry appeared with the horse, which had been skilfully groomed, and Midwinter led the young man to the Roman causeway.
Keep the bells of Woodeaton that we call the Flageolets on your left hand--they will be ringing for St Luke's morn. Presently you will come to the Stratford road, which will bring you to Enstone and the fringe of Wychwood forest. You will be at Cornbury long before the dinner-hour. You will not be advised by me but will go your own proud road. God prosper you, young sir. But if it so be that you should lose your fine baggage and need a helper, then I have this word for you.
Find an ale-house which, whatever its sign, has an open eye painted beneath it, or a cross-roads with a tuft of broom tied to the signpost. Whistle there the catch I taught you last night, and maybe the Naked Men will come to your aid. By midday Alastair, riding at leisure, had crossed the first downs of Cotswold and dropped upon the little town of Charlbury, drowsing by Evenlode in a warm October noon. He had left the fog of morning behind in the Cherwell valley, the gale of the previous day had died, and the second summer of St Luke lay soft on the country-side.
In the benign weather the events of the night before seemed a fantastic dream. No mystery could lurk in this land of hedgerows and fat pastures; and the figure of Midwinter grew as absurd in his recollection as the trolls that trouble an indifferent sleeper. But a vague irritation remained. The fellow had preached a cowardly apathy towards all that a gentleman held dear. In the rebound the young man's ardour flamed high; he would carve with his sword and his wits a road to power, and make a surly world acknowledge him.
Unselfish aims likewise filled his mind--a throne for his Prince, power for Clan Gillian, pride for his land, and for his friends riches and love. In Charlbury he selected his inn, the Wheatsheaf, had his horse fed and rubbed down, drank a tankard of ale, rid himself of the dust of the roads, and deposited his baggage.
A decorous and inconspicuous figure, in his chocolate coat and green velvet waistcoat with a plain dark hat of three cocks, the servants of the inn were at once civil and incurious. He questioned the landlord about the Forest of Wychwood, as if his errand lay with one of the rangers, and was given a medley of information in a speech which had the slurred "s's" and the burred "r's" of Gloucestershire. He assumed that his guest's business lay with Mr Leveson-Gower, and Alastair did not undeceive him, but asked casually where lay Cornbury.
The landlord took him by the arm, and pointed beyond the stream to the tree-clad hills. You passes the gate on your way to Rangers' Lodge. His Lordship be in residence, and entertains high quality. His lady sister, the Scotch Duchess, arrived two days back, and there's been post-chaises and coaches going to and fro all week. Alastair remounted his horse in some disquiet, for a houseful of great folks seemed to make but a poor setting for urgent and secret conclaves.
By a stone bridge he crossed the Evenlode which foamed in spate, the first free-running stream he had seen since he left the North, and passed through massive iron gates between white lodges built in Charles the Second's day. He found himself in an avenue of chestnuts and young limes, flanked by the boles of great beeches, which stretched magnificently up the slopes of a hill. In the centre was a gravelled road for coaches, but on either side lay broad belts of turf strewn with nuts and fallen leaves. His assurance began to fail, for he remembered Midwinter's words on the Moor.
The place was a vast embattled fortress of ease, and how would a messenger fare here who brought a summons to hazard all? In his own country a gentleman's house was a bare stone tower, looking out on moor or sea, with a huddle of hovels round the door. To such dwellings men sat loose, as to a tent in a campaign. But the ordered amenities of such a mansion as this--the decent town at the gates richer than a city of Scotland, the acres of policies that warded the house from the vulgar eye, the secular trees, the air of long-descended peace--struck a chill to his hopes.
What did a kestrel in the home of peacocks? At the summit of the hill the road passed beneath an archway into a courtyard; but here masons were at work and Alastair turned to the left, in doubt about the proper entrance. Fifty yards brought him in sight of a corner of the house and into a pleasance bright with late flowers, from which a park fell away into a shallow vale. There in front of him was a group of people walking on the stone of the terrace. He was observed, and from the party a gentleman came forward, while the others turned their backs and continued their stroll.
The gentleman was in the thirties, a slim figure a little bent in the shoulders, wearing his own hair, which was of a rich brown, and dressed very plainly in a country suit of green. He advanced with friendly peering eyes, and Alastair, who had dismounted, recognised the master of the house from a miniature he had seen in M. The other bowed, smiling, and his short-sighted eyes looked past the young man, and appraised his horse.
Lord Cornbury took the letter, and, walking a few paces to a clump of trees, read it carefully twice. He turned to Alastair with a face in which embarrassment strove with his natural kindliness. Show me how I can serve you. Your baggage is at the inn? It shall be brought here at once, for I would not forgive myself if one recommended to me by so old a friend slept at a public hostelry.
The young man bowed. I come not from France, but from the North. For example, Korea cher- ishes masked plays, musical genres, and skills like knot making, brass smelting, and pot glazing, supporting master performers and craftsmen. Japans Living Cultural Treasures enact similar roles in a culture that admires ancient forms and skills but shuns old buildings save for sacred shrines asfumkusai—so old they stink.
And peoples who build or make little meant to long endure find Western conservation zeal bizarre. Emphasis on original materials in UNESCO's canonical Venice Charter of is said to "leave other cultures and traditions ill at ease, [for] they place more emphasis on spiritual values, on authenticity of thought, than on material symbols.
Mao's orders to demolish most of China s ancient monuments proved easy to carry out, for few historic structures had survived the dynastic iconoclasm of past millennia. Revering ancestral memory and calligraphy, the Chinese hold the pasts purely physical traces in small regard; indeed, old works must perish so that new ones can take their place. Memory of art, not its physical persistence, suffuses Chinese consciousness and spurs new creations. The "capacity for metamorphosis and adaptation" over three and a half millennia, Pierre Ryckmans suggests, "may well derive from the fact that this tradition never let itself be trapped into set forms, static objects and things, where it would have run the risk of paralysis and death.
Sentiments linked with sites override tangible concerns elsewhere, too. In western North Carolina a folklorist found many old family homesteads empty and neglected, but often used for family reunions; what mattered was "the memory of the experiences within and the meanings attached to the homeplace,. Inheriting no more than a soup pot and a roasting pan, a woman finds her vital Thanksgiving legacy in recipes and in an "appetite for togetherness.
Preserv- ing old houses is a serious threat to working-class or ethnic neighbor- hoods that risk being gentrified. Heritage to them is more likely to mean folkways faiths, foods, forms of music and dance than fabric, performance more than product. Until Americas National Trust en- larged its sphere of concern, it made little headway among minorities who gave priority to intangible folkways. Copying Japan and Korea, the U. National Endowment for the Arts awards annual heritage fellowships; recipients include a blues guitarist, a cowboy balladeer, a basket weaver, a step dancer, a luthier, a quiltmaker, and a blacksmith.
A publican, a thatcher, a cheese-monger, and an umbrella- handle maker figure among Country Life magazine's monthly "living na- tional treasures. To sustain a legacy of stones, those who dwell among them also need stewardship.
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The poor and the powerless market any antiquities they can unearth; millions of Guatemalans, Mex- icans, Peruvians, Italians, Lebanese, and others eke out meager liveli- hoods by selling off ancestral pasts. Why should the indigent not hawk their heritage to feed their families? Indeed, how can they view it as their heritage at all?
A local leader about to loot the pre-Incan Lord of Sipan s newfound gravesite was per- suadedfirstto view it, then asked if he dared "steal from the ancestors" and "sack his father s sacred tomb. But such local veneration is rarely evoked; prehistorians in Peru still require armed police. Mayan de- scendants in Yucatan were told that in plundering pre-Columbian sites they were destroying their legacy; they were unrepentant. Such dispossessions are legion.
Westernized Javanese sundered from indigenous roots under Dutch rule felt like exiles in their own land; "liv- ing in a hotel owned by others, we seek neither to improve nor equip it as we do not feel that it is ours. Near Syracuse, the faceless, limb- less stumps of a dozen statues of the goddess Cybele, hacked to pieces by a peasant tired of tourists trampling his onions, attest "the danger presented by a people that feels that its past doesn't belong to it. Expert tomb robbers in Sicily and Tuscany feel fully justified in smuggling their heritage to Swiss dealers.
Tuscan tomb robbers claim communion with and sanctions from Etruscan forebears who tell them when and where to dig, while leaving certain sacred tombs inviolate. The skills of tombaroli specialists are passed on within particular families, but they share proceeds with the whole community.
Children in French Africa were taught to revere "our ances- tors, the Gauls. Third World efforts to regain attributes or forge emblems of tradition are mocked as imitative and obsolete, an opera-bouffe parad- ing offlagsand folk costumes, not authentic heritage. But to secure the past to our present lives, we must feel that its legacies have become our very own. The signal value of heritage possession was the point made by soldier-scholar-mythmaker Yigael Yadin to Israeli army recruits sworn in at the Dead Sea fortress of Masada: When Napoleon stood among his troops next to the pyramids of Egypt, he declared: "Four thousand years of history look down upon you.
But we have a stake in what others care for, too. It could not just be The Past. It had to be someone's past. Just as impending civil war impelled the 17th- century antiquary Thomas Dugdale to record England's imperiled ec- clesiastical monuments, so did the menace of the Second World War mobilize the art historian Kenneth Clark's colleagues to record the na- tional legacy.
When J. Morgan bought a staircase from Burgos s Casa de Miranda, the outraged Spanish were told to be glad Americans had prodded them into heritage pride. Their whereabouts were long unknown, their very absence unremarked. But in widespread dismay greeted the news that this "purest national heritage of priceless importance" might be sold abroad.
A Brunei prince rescued the crowns for Britain. Sneers at a lack of heritage impel efforts to retrieve or re-create it. Voltaire's slur that "German is a language for horses and servants" spurred Herders quest for "the ancient German soul" in tribal lore. Gibbon s taunt about debased Athenians "incapable of admiring the ge- nius of their predecessors" kindled philhellene pride in the classical legacy.
Lord Durham's dismissal of French Canadians as "a people with no history, and no literature" catalyzed Quebecois militancy. Groombridge villagers decried the breakup of their estate as the loss of "part of the feudal system. Pig fanciers note with alarm the decline of stewardship. The aristocracy itself feels endangered: "We are now down to 25 breeding dukes," warned the Duke of Buccleigh in In World Wildlife Fund appeals every species of bird is on the brink, every mam- mal all but doomed.
So scarce was the bald eagle, Americas national bird, that corporations launched a costly and successful s drive to restock eaglets. To save shrinking rain forests, conservers cry havoc over acreage felled and species lost. As developers ravage and robbers ransack prehistoric sites, the world s material legacy shrinks as fast as the rain forest. So does its cerebral pat- rimony.
Nine-tenths of the world s six thousand existing languages are thought soon to succumb to global media forces. Such fears are not chimerical; many dwindling legacies do seem destined to die out. But as shown in Chapter 10, alarmism is part and parcel of the heritage mind- set. Attrition is usually exaggerated. The bulldozers are coming. Historic buildings are falling. The best of our past is being sacrified," warned Americas National Trust in ; similar pleas were common in Britons fear their patrimony is fast diminishing— yet theirs is per- haps the world's best protected national legacy.
Distressed by the drain of treasures to Japan and the Getty, they forget the flux was ever thus. To expunge the obsolete and restore it as her- itage are, like disease and its treatment, conjoined processes less discor- dant than symbiotic. When a nuclear accident destroys Britain, in David Ely's tale, a massive campaign restores the whole peopled island, "every stick and stone, every blade of grass, every hedge and bush, every man- sion, palace, hut and hovel.
Insects, too, and even vermin. Every- thing. It might be useful "to vaporize and then restore one nation every generation. That would ease the population pressure and provide a harmless outlet for human energy both at the same time. The Nazis gutted Old Warsaw to obliterate an icon of Polish identity that postwar Poles speed- ily rebuilt as a symbol of communal care. The world s greatest tech- nocrats combined a genius for annihilation with an instinct to preserve: the inventor of dynamite, long the globe's most destructive agency, is now best recalled for the Nobel Peace Prize; Henry Ford and John D.
Rockefeller, whose juggernauts doomed older modes of life, became exemplary collectors and custodians of the heritage their oil and engines outdated, as Ford's Old Dearborn and Rockefeller's Colonial Williams- burg bear witness. Heritage that affronts new orthodoxies is jettisoned in turn. The heroic Soviet statues recently blasted or carted away are just the latest victims of cycles of veneration and iconoclasm, chronic from the Hit- tites to Hitler. Each time it is history, the country's true past, which is conveniently being obliterated. And usually by the same people! Devotees wear down old floors, abrade ancient stones, erode prehistoric trackways.
Banning hobnail boots and stiletto heels merely retards inevitable decay. Since breath is lethal to the cave paintings, legacies like Lascaux are closed to public view; to see Leonardo s Last Supper visitors today must first be decontaminated. To prevent heritage being ravished by admirers proves all but impos- sible. Eco-friendly tourism swamps the fragile sites it was designed to safeguard. To protect Galapagos tortoises and birds, an annual ceiling of twelve thousand visitors was set two decades ago; this "ultimate envi- ronmental experience" now disastrously lures five times that many.
In Donald Hall s "Scenic View," each snapshot eats up scenery: Every year the mountains get paler and more distant— trees less green, rock piles disappearing— as emulsion from a billion Kodaks sucks color out. In fifteen years, Monadnock and Kearsarge, the Green Mountains and the White will turn invisible, all tint removed, atom by atom to albums in Medford and Greenwich, while over the valleys the still intractable granite rears with unseeable peaks fatal to airplanes. A superstore in Dorchester, Eng- land, is festooned with Edwardian views of the bustling city center the new shop signally destroyed.
The best intentions prove lethal; the more heritage is appreciated, the more it decays or turns to dross. Ending military hostilities may actually heighten the risk to prized legacies. During Lebanon's civil war, Druze forces saved the year-old Cedars of Lebanon from being chopped down for firewood. Peace left them more precarious, at the mercy of tourists who trampled new shoots and took cuttings from the ancient trees.
Stonehenge, Britain's heritage archetype and a major global site, typ- ifies such dilemmas. First a fearsome pagan relic, Stonehenge has been as- cribed to Satan, to Phoenicians, and to Druids, among others. Demon- ized by the medieval Church, fount of Tudor sovereign claims, and icon of Welsh nationalism, Stonehenge has served and suffered for myriad purposes.
Locals took stones for fencing and building and rented tools to visitors to chip off bits of sarsen— one antiquary grumbled at being "Obliged with a Hammer to labour hard three Quarters of an Hour to get but one Ounce and a half. A decades joint stewardship has spawned a self-confessed national disgrace. Safe from religious zealots, farmers, and souvenir hunters, Stonehenge now suffers ceaseless custodial folly.
Access is through a dank concrete tunnel; barbed wire intermittently festoons the stones; car parks and lavatories, a cramped gift shop, and a dingy cafe's Sarsen Sandwiches degrade the ambience. Stone- henge is sacred to modern Druids and hippies, celebrants at the solstice rituals since the s. The few Druids posed little threat, but their dawn vigils lumped them with a motley crew of New Age cultists, commune nostalgists, ley-line mystics, and drug addicts. To farmers' mingled dismay and profit, thousands camped in nearby fields, got stoned and laid, and left behind condoms, needles, and excrement.
To make Stonehenge seemly for paying tourists, its custodians in banned solstice visits and set Wiltshire police on would-be intruders. Over three summers convoys and encampments for miles around were broken up, heads smashed, hippies jailed. The sole solstice celebrants were police, who ensured no one else got in. Weirder than Druids, cops in spiked helmets stared up at their ceremonial helicopter, circling over the sarsens to spy out subver- sion.
Meanwhile English Heritage pledged a purified Stonehenge as honeypot and sanctuary. But making it over from "national disgrace" to "eighth wonder of the world" fell foul of the Transport Ministry, Wilt- shire county, archaeologists, the disabled, and six million in cars whom a proposed tunnel would deprive of prized views from the road. But Stonehenge s woes are not unique; they reflect confusion over heritage goals and means common to many famous sites.
Popularity equally degrades Mont-Saint-Michel. Bandits drawn by the antiquities market machine-gun their way into Angkor Wat, ill pro- tected even when floodlit and wTired like a concentration camp; tourists must evade land mines planted to halt plunder. Hyping Cycladic fig- urines led to looting thousands of graves and a flood of fakes from the Dodecanese. Florence s Uffizi Gallery and Roman sites were bombed by terrorists who, custodians wryly noted, seemed uniquely appreciative of Italy's heritage. A million and a half ritual and cultural objects from five hundred American museums will go back to Indian tribes under the Native Amer- ican Graves and Repatriation Act of Half of them will be reburied, exposed to the elements, or destroyed for purposes of purification, as happened with bones and grave goods repatriated to Australian Abo- rigines after Some argue that such returns will deprive indigenes' own better-educated in other words, Westernized descendants of an invaluable legacy.
One archaeologist predicts that "Aboriginal people may come to acknowledge the good fortune that European collectors preserved fragments of their cultural heritage. Aborigines who have schooled themselves to accept loss remark that "white people don't know what to remember and what to forget, what to let go of and what to preserve. Why can't you just let it go? The thought of deliberately letting knowledge perish was as sac- rilegious to me as the thought of keeping ones ancestors on a museum shelf was sacrilegious to the Indians in the audience. They can be resolved, I suggest in Chapter 10, only by understanding what heritage means to myriad claimants, whose desires differ with culture, time, and circumstance.
The past feels more accessible, more controversial, and more vulnerable than ever before. Heritage appetites outpace heritage growth. Aware- ness of its fragility endears what we inherit, but our very embrace dooms it; we kill what we love. Ever more popular, heritage becomes ever more perishable. When possession and stewardship are contested, as discussed in Chapter 10, risks to heritage are heightened.
What heritage means for us as individuals and as members of families, and how our personal concerns link with national and ethnic legacies, is shown in Chapters 2 and 3. How heritage needs reshape old and invent new pasts, spurning historical fact, occupies Chapters 4 through 7. Along with the national legacy cited in Chapter 1, Heritage Canada offers an evocative personal inventory: Memories. Lineal linkage justifies holding on to possessions; to keep all we gain may seem selfish, but to keep what we inherit is a family duty, binding us in a chain of caretakers.
An heirloom is, as the word suggests, a de- vice for interweaving generations. Nowadays heirlooms smack of things folkloric or outworn—Penelope's plaiting and unraveling, an obsolete tool, an ornament that was once an amulet. They may seem mere frills or encumbrances. Yet we continue to treasure and transmit things and thoughts handed down to us, tokens of times remembered and of lives linked with ours.
Material bequests are commonly likened to offspring. We bequeath and inherit more than goods. Personal legacies of love and duty remain crucial to being born, growing up, parenting, and aging. And the fundaments of collective heritage derive from family af- fections, habits, and obligations. This chapter reviews what legatees and legators seek from each other, why legacy aims change, and how per- sonal bequests link—or conflict— with public endowment. But their bequests are only a fraction of a larger legacy of teachings, precepts, and habits drummed into or emulated by us since infancy.
These hopes, fears, and customs reach us throughout life. They come not only from progenitors but from myriad mentors and models. When Isaac denied Esau the birthright due him as firstborn son, loss of the blessing was more grievous than that of lands and chattels. The main worth of what we inherit is social or psychic. The heir in Compton-Burnett's A Heritage and Its History looks forward not to wealth or grandeur but only to his rightful place in the family lineage.
It must go from children to grandchildren, right down the line. It was long com- mon to pass on family callings by apprenticeship. Skills transmitted from parents to children bound rural clothworkers in early industrial England in a trans-generation trust. Rugged individualists take pride in owing nothing to family or soci- ety, habit or tradition. But we are all in debt to legacies. It was sure very nice that I could ride now. But listen here, didn't my uncle Al hold me up sometimes?
And wasn't it my parents who bought the train- ing wheels? Didn't other children try to show me what to do? Uh huh. So why did I want to say, now, "all by myself"? Chattels and clothing, books and bibelots benefit heirs beyond their ongoing use. More than mementos in attic and album, they connect us with childhood, mend missing linkages, revivify bygone life. The bric- a-brac atop the poet Seamus Heaney's dresser is "not just inert rubbish but dormant energies"; a previous era "was vestigially alive in them, [bringing] you out of yourself and close to yourself all at once.
Lineages of master and apprentice, teacher and pupil, transmit lega- cies of skill and insight. Violinists trace mentors back to Mozart, analysts their own analysts back to Freud. Locke's precept held special appeal for Americans, who revered the childless Washington as the Father of His Country. Having severed their bonds with autocratic English monarchs, they made patriarchs of New World pioneers, revering the Plymouth colonists not just as Pilgrims but as Pilgrim Fathers.
A huge hunger for roots fueled Alex Haley's legendary search for his African antecedents. It is noteworthy that black Americans, deprived by bondage of an- cestral annals, inaugurated popular quests since diffused the world over. Tracing African progenitors supplied a self-respect long denied by servi- tude. Hence heritage pride in Africans as "biologically, genetically, and historically the mother and father of all the disciplines, all the sciences," became crucial to much black self-esteem. History is typically hyped to justify grandiloquent legacy claims: unlike the flotsam and jetsam from Europe, conjectures a black historian, many enslaved Africans were aris- tocrats, Americas "only royal immigrants.
By now a majority of black Americans may have the blue blood of African royalty and aristocracy in their veins. American Mayflower Descendants trace ancestral roots "to establish a unique and respectable personality. The common focus of parentage is intensely genetic; the orphan's search for true parents is a central childhood myth.
Adoptees are pitied as am- putees, condemned to search forever for their lost selves. Known genesis is held crucial for self-knowledge. There, there is my father! Finding natural parents can truly save one's life; those ignorant of family ills may succumb to hered- itary ills. Dread of a hidden genetic defect stops some adoptees from be- coming parents. I lived with my parents too long, who knows what evil I carry within me? It mustn't be handed down. Loving adoptive parents do not annul needs for lineage links. Who were my parents? Why didn't they want me? I used to feel I came from the moon.
As stigma of race and illegitimacy dwindle, so do constraints on finding genetic parents. Sources of donor insemination are still withheld lest genetic fathers be dunned for child support or "birth" fathers be shamed as infertile. But even this is apt to yield to offspring who demand to know their "roots"—roots apt to be automatically equated with biological lineage. Parental flaws seldom negate these benefits. Realizing that her belat- edly revealed father, the philosopher A. Ayer, was a selfish egoist did not detract from his daughter thereby becoming more securely herself.
Germaine Greer s hunt for her father brought both grief and gratitude; unearthing his unending deceptions augmented Greer s insight into her childhood.
Aban- doned when three, John Earl found his dad by a fluke in an Illinois homeless mission seventeen years later in At first John wanted to punish his father: "I liked you better before I knew you were my dad. A friend of mine long out of touch with his father felt humiliated when his mother died and he could not certify if she was or was not a widow. Chagrin provoked a hunt for the facts; he found his father had died a few years before. Elated by his act of retrieval, he went on to trace ear- lier forebears through parish records. Locating great-grandparents, he himself palpably changed.
Each discovery filled him out, augmented his stature. Regaining an ancestral legacy enlarged his sense of himself. Triggered by traumas of loss and grief, such searches often encourage the amateur genealogist to feel in possession of an identity, "knowing exactly who I am and where I came from.
Finding "lost" forebears and kinsfolk earned her amplitude, confidence, and status vis-a-vis her English family and colleagues. Uprooted from and taught to disdain tribal ways, Sally Mor- gans mixed-race grandmother and mother lived in semiseclusion lest their ancestry shame their "white" offspring. Only when Sally coaxed them into vivid remembrance did the older women reembrace their Aboriginal legacy. Another child of mixed parentage, made a state ward at the age of four and imbued with white values, was returned to her Aboriginal community five years later.
Horrific predicaments confront children of Argentine "disappeareds," adopted and raised by the very men who tortured and killed their parents. In the last few years genetic markers have revealed kinship links. Bent on reclaiming their "disappeared" children's off- spring, the "Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo" have won suits to re- unite fifty grandchildren with their "real" heritage. More arduous and more bonding are the tasks of imparting family and group heritage over many years of childhood.
As life spans lengthen long past child rearing, handing on skills and customs beyond the realm of immediate kin occupies us more and more. In times past, having many children signaled power, prosperity, and fealty; some still view off- spring as a group resource, a communal legacy. Even where they are more burden than benefit, children are still craved. Some who yield to such yearning are at a loss to explain it. When a fertility doctor in Vir- ginia who had impregnated scores, if not hundreds, of women with his own sperm was asked why he had done it, all he said was "I know I'm healthy.
Adoption advocate Elizabeth Bartholet dismisses this urge as futile. You do not in fact live on just because your egg or sperm has contributed to another life. Eagerness to pass on genes peaks when risk to life is imminent, as eve-of-battle pregnancies attest. To sire posthumous children strikes some as selfish and irresponsible, but the practice gains public accep- tance; Gulf War combatants and death-row prisoners in America froze sperm to perpetuate their lineage and console widows and grandpar- ents.
To inherit sperm and eggs is seen more and more as a conjugal right, a compensation for untimely widowhood. A writer wonders why hospital mix-ups of newborn babies are so traumatic: Does it really matter which baby you take home? We feel that it does; throughout history there's been little difference that mattered more. Why would my attitude to the child change if I knew this particular configuration of cells wasn't "mine"?
But there is nothing innate about such a tie; as anthropologists have shown, father- hood in every society is socially defined, and basing fatherhood on bio- logical links may be of no import or rejected as spurious. Pregnancy and parturition tend to bond women with offspring, who may store fetal memories. From girlhood on, many envisage their future babies, and after giving birth they dote on recognizable features.
Family legacies best resonate through a lineage, a child's look or temper held to resemble this or that forebear. The babies frantically sought at IVF in vitro fertilization clin- ics are genetic offspring of at least one parent. As with yeast saved to bake new bread, suggests Jerome Bruner, "you need a piece of the past to make the present.
Claims that inheritance is inborn and innate mirror the organic mystique of collective heritage see Chapter 3 and widespread endorsement of racial and genetic determinism Chapter 9. Yet many are incensed to get less patrimony than they feel they deserve, so legacies are in chronic dispute. Disgruntled heirs make be- quests a byword for discord. They see their inheritance frittered away by undue liberality to a second family or some megalomaniac cause, or too lavish a lifestyle.
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The father in Fleetwoods Relative Duties , who consumes his heirs' whole estate in "Gaming, Drinking, Riot, Luxury, and sinful Pleasures,"25 has modern counterparts in the heiress Pamela Harriman and building magnate Peter Palumbo. How on earth, won- dered Lord Palumbo s older children in , did he spend two millions of their trust fund on wine—bathing in it, perhaps?
No longer are legacy squabbles confined to the rich or the landed. Families that once had "nothing but granny s silver-boat to bicker about" now have the same problems as the old elite, notes a journalist: "dilemmas about death duties, gifts, and the rival claims of ageing chil- dren, second spouses, and illegitimate offspring. A six-year feud over model locomotives took two sons to the High Court in Inheritance can impoverish as well as enrich heirs. Like the bankrupt sons of Robert Maxwell, many endure unwanted legacies— the "damnable heritage" of Roman bequests whose debts exceeded their as- sets.
Entire societies can be crippled by forebears' unwise undertakings. Tobacco growers' debts in colonial Virginia, regretted Thomas Jefferson, "had become hereditary from father to son for many generations. Stewards of family legacies find that living among ancestral echoes para- lyzes present action. Lois Roget, heir to a seventh-generation Canadian farmhouse crammed with family memorabilia, is a case in point.
She feels it her curatorial duty to protect, display, and hand on this legacy intact, eschewing new fur- nishings that would not blend in. At family gatherings she hands around objects from ancestral childhoods, hoping to bind her grandchildren to the same stewardship. But her offspring resist caretaking that would con- strain them beyond their mother's lifetime. Like the heirs in Hawthorne's House of the Seven Gables, they prefer to forgo inherited goods and begin anew with a blank slate in places unburdened by history. A writer is glad not to inherit "half- moroccoed rubbish I shall never read" or a rosewood spinet he cannot play.
Nor is he stuck with "this grandfather's gigantic bureau bookcase, or that aunt's vast and melancholy study of cart-horses approaching Utrecht. The gout of Dickens' Sir Leicester Dedlock had "come down, through the illustrious line, like the plate, or the pictures, or the place in Lin- colnshire. With their estates, the Earls of Bristol accrue by heredity or example two centuries of cru- elty, vanity, debauchery, and drug addiction. Heirs of Admiral Byng, court-martialed for losing Minorca in , feel so haunted by his legacy of cowardice that they are regularly driven to acts of foolhardy courage.
Nightmares about weaknesses transmitted from convict ances- tors led Australians well into the s to prove fitness through forti- tude, even self-sacrifice, in sports and warfare. In vain do we rue the dark skins, long noses, or bandy legs, the propen- sity to obesity or heart disease left us by progenitors.
Nor can humanity as a whole quicken the glacial pace of mutation that lumbers us with Pleistocene-model, fat-craving bodies. Quite to the contrary, demographic trends make parental legacies ever more onerous. Old age lengthened by medical science encumbers dwindling numbers of active earners and caregivers. The ratio of those over 85 to the middle-aged has tripled since and will triple again by One hears grim forecasts of year-olds looked after by year-old children. The senescent prospect makes one envy the Eskimo, reputed to deposit granny on an ice floe before she is decrepit to ensure that she gets reborn in good shape in the next world.
Expectant heirs may fret at parental endurance like Dickens' Jonas Chuzzlewit, who impatiently viewed "his parent as a certain amount of personal estate, which had no right whatever to be going at large, but ought to be secured in. That testators live so long shifts the sense of what is due to whom. Eight often adults in a British survey "really don't want to inherit anything. She wished her mother would spend it on a cleaner "so I don't feel obliged to go round after work and help her wash the kitchen floor.
When Alex Haley's estate was auctioned off in , the dispersal of his literary legacy dismayed African-American scholars. But only thus, as he explained, could Haley's brother and ex- ecutor settle all the debts, "rid himself of Alex s world, and move on with his own life. As in Mon- taigne's day, donors "exploit their wills as sticks and carrots to punish or reward every little action of those who may claim an interest in the inheritance. Some refuse legacies to avoid the "grisly blackmail [of] time spent with people you don't like in the greedy hope of one day getting your hands on artefacts you do.
Some are crippled by self-doubt: could they ever have made it on their own? Others are wea- ried by the weight or soured by the habit of long stewardship; still others fear being imprisoned by outworn expectations. A heritage of family fame is of dubious worth, above all when it is commandeered by out- siders. Offspring resent sharing a legacy with acolytes and followers or feel betrayed when their childhood becomes public property. Milne's son Christopher; "he had filched from me my good name and left me with nothing but the empty fame of being his son.
At first we follow parents' footsteps and yearn to match their feats, but soon we are torn between submission and selfhood, reverence and rebellion. While youngsters copy parents as a matter of course, adolescents reject them as stigmas of dependency. Even in maturity we never wholly out- grow the need to slough off things and thoughts made by others and hence beyond our control. To banish such burdens, some scant parental influence, others renounce it. Only in midlife do we begin to see that we willy-nilly recapitulate our parents.
Instead of his fathers selfhood having "vanished into the grave with him," a memoirist "had incorporated and re-created" it. The inheritor is forced to recognize himself also as usurper. Eliot; and perhaps the most important thing we know is them. We are loath to give up what cost much to create or acquire, is long enmeshed with our lives, and may requite mortality. It is hard to slough off even the outworn. Before being bundled off to the Salvation Army, old clothes may have to be divested of personal bonds by being boxed away for a year or two in closet or cellar.
One of the hardest possessions to part with is our own children, who are parental property emotionally if not economically. Children in me- dieval and early-modern Europe were explicitly owned, and often hired out or sold, by fathers who held authority even over grown offspring.
Children owed manifold debts to parents, but parents few to children beyond ensuring rites of passage such as baptism. Many words for children denoted inferiors, just as slaves, servants, and subject peoples were called "boy" or "girl. Like slaveowners, family autocrats enjoyed control over offspring wholly at their mercy: Louis XIV fa- vored his bastard sons, whose obedience could be relied upon because they were illegitimate. It became customary to endow monastic orders with offspring whom parents could not or chose not to rear themselves. While some came with dowries or be- quests for upkeep, many were cast on the cloister like unwanted kittens.
Bequeathing children under the guise of piety was often frankly self- serving, like a son given to the Benedictines "so that he may implore the mercy of God for me and his mother and all his relatives. In the Dickens novel, Dombey's son, "the little image by inher- itance," is his father s alter ego. Light candles before the image of your daughter, and love itself might be restored to its first purity!