Most Beautiful Last Will and Testament Excerpts Part 2

About the most beautiful last will and testament in history written for Charles Lounsbury by Williston Fish, excerpts from the will.


Item--I devise to boys jointly all the useful idle fields and commons where ball may be played, and all snow-clad hills where one may coast, and all streams and ponds where one may skate, to have and to hold the same for the period of their boyhood. And all meadows, with the clover blooms and butterflies thereof; and all woods, with their appurtenances of squirrels and whirring birds and echoes and strange noises; and all distant places which may be visited, together with the adventures there found, I do give to said boys to be theirs. And I give to said boys each his own place at the fireside at night, with all pictures that may be seen In the burning wood or coal, to enjoy without let or hindrance and without any incumbrance of cares.

Item--To lovers I devise their imaginary world, with whatever they may need, as the stars of the sky, the red, red roses by the wall, the snow of the hawthorn, the sweet strains of music, or ought else they may desire to figure to each other the lastingness and beauty of their love.

Item--To young men jointly, being joined in a brave, mad crowd, I devise and bequeath all boisterous, inspiring sports of rivalry. I give to them the disdain of weakness and undaunted confidence in their own strength. Though they are rude and rough, I leave to them alone the power of making lasting friendships and of possessing companions and to them exclusively I shall give all merry songs and brave choruses to sing, with smooth voices to troll them forth.

Item--And to those who are no longer children or youths or lovers I leave Memory, and I leave to them the volumes of the poems of Burns and Shakespeare, and of other poets, if there are others, to the end that they may live the old days over again freely and fully, without tithe or diminution; and to those who are no longer children or youths or lovers I leave, too, the knowledge of what a rare, rare world it is.


Speaking of the numerous reprintings of "A Last Will," Fish wrote good-naturedly: "Whenever a newspaper did not have at hand what it really wanted . . . it would run in this piece of mine. In return for the free use of the piece, the paper, not to be outdone in liberality, would generally correct and change it. . . . Some writers can boast that their works have been translated into all foreign languages, but when I look pathetically about for some little boast, I can only say that this one of my pieces has been translated into all the idiot tongues of English."

Although a lawyer, Williston Fish devoted 35 years of his life working as a realtor and as an executive in many railroad companies. He retired in 1923, concentrated fully on his writing career, and died in Western Springs, Ill., on December 19, 1939, at the age of 81.

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