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the number of days, or couples of guineas, that
would drop into the Registrar's coffers, for
picking out one particular John Smith from
the thousands of "Johns," under the letter
"J!" Since the year 1800, the index is better:
indeed it is almost as available as the old
catalogues of the British Museum, though
not quite so perfect.

All this was despair to Mr. William Wallace,
who modestly hinted that his archaeological
necessities pressed him to ask admission
to the actual depository of the wills. The
Registrar was petrified with astonishment.
His figure expanded with a burst of
indignation, which presently exploded in the
interrogative interjection, " What?" that went
off, like the sharp crack of a rifle.

What? Exhibit, to any living soul, the
dilapidative neglect, the hideous disorder, the
wilful destruction of documents, involving
the transfer of the property, personal and
landed, of seven counties; and which he, the
Registrar, obtains seven thousand pounds per
annum for preserving carefully, and arranging
diligently! Why, only last year the Archaeological
Institute of Great Britain, itself, was
peremptorily refused admission; and was it
likely that the Registrar would allow Mr.
William Wallacethe friend of a mere Bishop
to be turned loose, to browse at will upon
the waste the Registrar and his predecessors
had committed and permitted?

But what will not an enthusiastic antiquary
dare, in his loved pursuit? Mr. Wallace was
bold enough to hint that a Bishop had perhaps
some power in his dioceseeven over a
Registrar. This appeared in a degree to lull
the tempest; and after all storms there is a
calm. The Registrar reflected. There was
nothing very formidable in the applicant's
appearance; he had not the hungry look of a
legacy or pedigree huntera foolish young
fellow, perhaps, with a twist about old
manners and customs: and, in short, he may take
a look at the repositories.

Up a narrow stair, under the guidance of a
grumpy clerk, our persevering Middle Templar
wends. In a long room, over the arches of the
gateway, he sees parallel rows of shelves laden
with wills: not tied up in bundles, not
docketed, not protected in any way from dust
or spiders by the flimsiest covering. Only
the modern wills are bound up; butnot to
encroach upon the Registrar's hard earnings
the backings of the bindings are composed
of such original wills as were written on
parchment. These are regularly cut up
that is, wilfully destroyedfor bookbinding

Mr. Wallace sees, at a glance, that he may
as well try to find a lost shell on a sea-shore,
or a needle in a haystack, as attempt to
discover what he is desirous of picking out of
this documentary chaos. He looks round in
mute grief; his archaic heart is heavy; he
understands, exactly, how Rienzi felt amidst
the Ruins of Rome, or the daughters of
Jerusalem when they wept. Wherever he
turns his eyes, he sees black, barbarous Ruin.
In one corner, he observes decayed boxes filled
with rotten wills; in another, stands a basket,
containing several lumps of mediæval mortar,
and a few brick-bats of the early pointed style
the edges, possibly, of some hole in the wall
too large for even poor seven thousand a-year
to shirk the stopping of. Despite the hints
of the clerk that his time is valuable, Mr.
Wallace is contemplating these relics with the
eager gaze of an F.S.A., when he descries,
hanging over the edge of the basket, something
like an ancient seal. He scrutinises
it intenselythere is a document attached to
it. He rescues it from the rubbish.

"What can this be?" asks Mr. Wallace
with glistening eye.

"Oh!" answers the clerk, with listless
indifference, "nothing of any consequence,
I'm sure."

By this time, Mr. Wallace has found out
that this "nothing of any consequence," is
a Charter of King William the Conqueror;
the identical instrument by which the See of
Dorchester was transferred to Lincolnthat's
all! The broken seal is not of "much
consequence" either. Oh, no!

Now it happens that there is only one
impression of the great seal of the Great
Norman extant, and that is in the British
Museum, broken in half; this, being a
counterpart, supplies the entire seal! Such is
the priceless historical relic found in the
year 1850, by chance, in a lime-basket, in
the very place where it ought to have been
as zealously preserved as if it had been the
jewel of a diadem!

But, other treasuresequally of "no consequence,"
and about to be carried off by brick-
layers' labourers, to where rubbish may be
shotare dug out by Mr. William Wallace:
Item a bundle of pardons from King John to
certain barons and bishops: Item a Confession
of the Protestant Faith made on his death-
bed by Archbishop Toby Matthew, hitherto
supposed by his biographers to have died a
Catholic: Item, a contemporary poem on
the Battle of Bosworth. The Registrar's clerk
is of opinion, when these are shown to him,
that "they an't worth much," but growlingly
saves them, on remonstrance, and bundles
them into his desk; where we trust they still
remain; and whence we hope they may be
rescued by the proper authorities.

As Mr. Wallace follows his surly guide up
the stairs of the Gate-house, the rain patters
sharply against the casements, and a fusty,
damp odour emerges from the upper story.
Under a broken roof, and a ceiling being
unplastered in huge patches by time and rain,
in the top room, lieor, more correctly, rot
the wills of the Archdeaconry of Blowe; a
"Peculiar" of the diocese. The papers below
stairs are merely worm-eaten, spider-woven,
dusty, ill-arranged; but, compared with those
which Mr. Wallace now seesand smells