John Scarborough, owner of a large landed property in Hertfordshire, resented the restrictions of the law of entail. He accordingly devised a scheme whereby he was able by a double marriage, one before and one after the birth of his eldest son, to declare him legitimate or not, as the future might make desirable.
This eldest son, Mountjoy, was a weak, easily led wastrel who developed into an inveterate gambler, and so encumbered the estate with postobits that at his father’s death it would have gone to the moneylenders. The father, who valued his estate above his honor then declared Mountjoy illegitimate, producing the certificate of the second marriage in proof. The post-obits now being valueless he quietly bought them up, once again making the estate unencumbered.
Augustus, the second son, finding himself an heir, soon enraged his father by exhibiting an unseemly haste to enter into his inheritance. To punish him, John made a new will, giving Mountjoy all his property except that covered by the entail, and leaving Augustus only the skeleton of the estate, with no money to maintain it. Not satisfied in thus dashing his younger son’s hopes, he then produced the first marriage certificate, making Mountloy heir under the entail. At his father’s death, Mountjoy, again in funds, departed for Monte Carlo, and the assumption is that the estate would once again fall into the hands of the Jews.
"...a novel of property ...cynical and, for its period, daring, shows his [Trollope's] power of sustained and dexterous raillery." - Sadlier