Last Will & Testament of Peter Porcupine
Under these terrific circumstances, it is impossible that Death should not stare me in the face: I have therefore got myself into as good a state of preparation as my sinful profession will, I am afraid, admit of; and as to my worldly affairs, I have settled them in the following Will, which I publish, in order that my dear friends, the Legatees, may, if they think themselves injured or neglected, have an opportunity of complaining before it be too late.
IN the name of Fun, Amen. I PETER PORCUPINE, Pamphleteer and News-Monger, being (as yet) sound both in body and in mind, do, this fifteenth day of April, in the Year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and ninety seven, make, declare, and publish, this my LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT, in manner, form, and substance following; to wit:
In primis, I LEAVE my body to Doctor Michael Lieb, a member of the Legislature of Pennsylvania, to be by him dissected (if he knows how to do it) in presence of the Rump of the Democratic Society. In it they will find a heart that held them in abhorrence, that never palpitated at their threats, and that, to its last beat, bade them defiance. But my chief motive for making this bequest is, that my spirit may look down with contempt on the their cannibal-like triumph over a breathless corps.
Item, To T_____ J_____son, Philosopher, I leave a curious Norway Spider, with a hundred legs and nine pair of eyes; likewise the first black cut-throat general he can catch hold of, to be flead alive, in order to determine with more certainty the real cause of the dark colour of his skin: and should the said T_____ J_____son survive Banneker the Almanack-Maker; I request he will get the brains of said Philomath carefully dissected, to satisfy the world in what respects they differ from those of a white man.
Item, To the Philosophical Society of Philadelphia, I will and bequeath a correct copy of Thornton's plan for abolishing the use of the English Language, and for introducing in its stead a republican one, the representative characters of which bear a strong resemblance to pot-hooks and hangers; and for the discovery of which plan, the said society did, in the year 1793, grant to the said language maker 500 dollars premium. —It is my earnest desire, that the copy of this valuable performance, which I hereby present, may be shown to all the travelling literati, as a proof of the ingenuity of the author and of the wisdom of the society.
Item, To my dear fellow labourer Noah Webster, "gentleman-citizen," Esq. and News-man, I will and bequeath a prognosticating barometer of curious construction and great utility, by which, at a single glance, the said Noah will be able to discern the exact state that the public mind will be in the ensuing year, and will thereby be enabled to trim by degrees and not expose himself to detection, as he now does by his sudden lee-shore tacks. I likewise bequeath to the said "gentleman citizen," six Spanish milled dollars, to be expended on a new plate of his portrait at the head of his spelling-book, that which graces it at present being so ugly that it scares the children from their lessons; but this legacy is to be paid him only upon condition that he leave out the title of 'Squire, at the bottom of said picture, which is extremely odious in an American school-book, and must inevitably tend to corrupt the political principles of the republican babies that behold it. And I do most earnestly desire, exhort and conjure the said 'Squire-news-man, to change the tittle of his paper, The Minerva, for that of The Political Centaur.
Item, To Tom the Tinker, I leave a liberty cap, a tri-colored cockade, a wheel-barrow full of oysters, and a hogshead of grog: I also leave him three blank checks on the Bank of Pennsylvania, leaving to him the task of filling them up; requesting him, however, to be rather more merciful than he has shown himself heretofore.
Item, To the editors of the Boston Chronicle, the New York Argus, and the Philadelphia Merchants' Advertiser, I will and bequeath one ounce of modesty and love of truth, to be equally divided between them. I should have been more liberal in this bequest, were I not well assured, that one ounce is more than they will ever make use of.
Item, To Franklin Bache, editor of the Aurora of Philadelphia, I will and bequeath a small bundle of French assignats, which I brought with me from the country of equality. If these should be too light in value for his pressing exigencies, I desire my executors, or any one of them, to bestow on him a second part to what he has lately received in Southwark; and as a further proof of my good will and affection, I request him to accept of a gag and a brand new pair of fetters, which if he should refuse, I will and bequeath him in lieu thereof—my malediction.
Item, To citizen M___oe, I will and bequeath my chamber looking-glass. It is a plain but exceeding true mirror: in it he will see the exact likeness of a traitor, who has bartered the honour and interest of his country to a perfidious and savage enemy.
Item, To the republican Britons, who have fled from the hands of justice in their own country, and who are a scandal, a nuisance and a disgrace to this, I bequeath hunger and nakedness, scorn and reproach; and I do hereby positively enjoin on my executors to contribute five hundred dollars towards the erection of gallowses and gibbets, for the accommodation of the said imported patriots, when the legislators of this unhappy state shall have the wisdom to countenance such useful establishments.
Item, To Tom Paine, the author of Common Sense, Rights of Man, Age of Reason, and a letter to General Washington, I bequeath a strong hempen collar, as the only legacy I can think of that is worthy of him, as well as best adapted to render his death in some measure as infamous as his life: and I do hereby direct and order my Executors to send it to him by first safe conveyance, with my compliments, and request that he woud make use of it without delay, that the national razor may not be disgraced by the head of such a monster.