The Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Volume 2

By Edgar Allan Poe

Page 156

hundred years before Mr. Ellison's coming of
age, there had died, in a remote province, one Mr. Seabright Ellison.
This gentleman had amassed a princely fortune, and, having no immediate
connections, conceived the whim of suffering his wealth to accumulate
for a century after his decease. Minutely and sagaciously directing the
various modes of investment, he bequeathed the aggregate amount to the
nearest of blood, bearing the name of Ellison, who should be alive at
the end of the hundred years. Many attempts had been made to set aside
this singular bequest; their ex post facto character rendered them
abortive; but the attention of a jealous government was aroused, and a
legislative act finally obtained, forbidding all similar accumulations.
This act, however, did not prevent young Ellison from entering into
possession, on his twenty-first birthday, as the heir of his ancestor
Seabright, of a fortune of four hundred and fifty millions of dollars.
(*1)

When it had become known that such was the enormous wealth inherited,
there were, of course, many speculations as to the mode of its disposal.
The magnitude and the immediate availability of the sum bewildered all
who thought on the topic. The possessor of any appreciable amount of
money might have been imagined to perform any one of a thousand things.
With riches merely surpassing those of any citizen, it would have
been easy to suppose him engaging to supreme excess in the fashionable
extravagances of his time--or busying himself with political
intrigue--or aiming at ministerial power--or purchasing increase
of nobility--or collecting large museums of virtu--or playing the
munificent patron of letters, of science, of art--or endowing, and
bestowing his name upon extensive institutions of charity. But for the
inconceivable wealth in the actual possession of the heir, these objects
and all ordinary objects were felt to afford too limited a field.
Recourse was had to figures, and these but sufficed to confound. It was
seen that, even at three per cent., the annual income of the inheritance
amounted to no less than thirteen millions and five hundred thousand
dollars; which was one million and one hundred and twenty-five thousand
per month; or thirty-six thousand nine hundred and eighty-six per day;
or one thousand five hundred and forty-one per hour; or six and twenty
dollars for every minute that flew. Thus the usual track of supposition
was thoroughly broken up. Men knew not what to imagine. There were some
who even conceived that Mr. Ellison would divest himself of at least
one-half of his fortune, as of utterly superfluous opulence--enriching
whole troops of his relatives by division of his superabundance. To the
nearest of these he

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Text Comparison with The Works of Edgar Allan Poe, The Raven Edition Table Of Contents And Index Of The Five Volumes

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THE IMP OF THE PERVERSE THE ISLAND OF THE FAY THE ASSIGNATION THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM THE PREMATURE BURIAL THE DOMAIN OF ARNHEIM LANDOR'S COTTAGE WILLIAM WILSON THE TELL-TALE HEART.
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TO FRANCES S.