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4:50 note with the other! My hare-hearted client was a liberal one, however, though oddtempered: he pressed on me a fee of the same amount, and because I peremptorily declined it, quarrelled with me for a year ! I cared little for this, knowing that his good sense would eventually bring him round; as it did; when he honestly told me that he had taken the next dilemma in which he found himself, to our mutual friend, Mr. Lowestoff, because I was “too proud to be paid for my trouble!”
Some men show their timidity in a far more reprehensible form, and instead of honestly trusting the attorney whom they affect to consult, are laying traps for him, to measure his skill or his integrity. I was often exposed to this low-minded cunning in my earlier days, though now that I feel firmly seated in my chair of state, I should be sorely tempted to kick such fellows out of my office. On the whole, I incline to recommend this as the wisest course to pursue at all times, however scantily filled our attendance-books may be. A trader in a very extensive business called on me on one occasion, telling me that he wished me to pre
pare a new agreement with one of his commis
sion-travelers, and he produced the old one, as my instructions. He was not an habitual client, but one of those sneaking fellows that if they meet you by accident, always have a legal point on which to catechize you, without the fear of fees before their eyes. They pin you up in the corner of a drawing-room, or edge in their chair next to yours at the dinner-table, to tell a long cock-and-bull story about a stray parcel; or sometimes they cross you in the street, seize you by the button, and incarcerate you in the doorway of a pastry-cook, till they have run through the pedigree of their great grandmothers, as preliminary to a “just tell me what you think” of their right to a lapsed legacy of fifty pounds, “supposed to have been left by the fourth cousin of an uncle’s aunt, who died six months ago.” My client belonged to this class.
“If you see no objection to this agreement, Mr. Sharpe, I want a new one on the same model; as you see the time here mentioned is expired.”
“I see no objection to it (hastily glancing it over): it is somewhat vaguely expressed, but if you have understood each other so long, it is best not to alter it.”
“It’s all right then, in point of law 7 °
“Yes: except that it is unstamped; but that is of little consequence: when do you want the new draft? Before I prepare it, it would be better to see your traveller on the subject.”
“Oh, he is out of town, and I am in no hurry! If you will just sign your name to this old agreement, as being free from any legal objection, that will satisfy him, and save trouble.”
I thought the request an odd one; but having had frequent experience of the paltry economy of the man, I concluded that his only object was to save expense, by inducing his traveller to abide by my opinion, without the formal discussion and settling of a new instrument. I therefore wrote on the agreement a sort of certificate, that I saw no legal objection to the agreement, and he took it away with him. The next day explained the whole transaction. Two attorneys called on me, nearly at the same time. We were all well acquainted. Mr. Stubbs entered first.
“On my word, Sharpe, I am much obliged to you.”
“What’s the matter?”
“For telling Mr. Crewkman that I am a consummate fool.” “Telling him you are a fool! I told him no such thing: what have you to do with Crewkman?” and before the question could be answered, in rushed Mr. IIobbs. “Sharpe, I’ve a crow to pick with you ! Stubbs, glad you are here; I am sure you’ll not countenance such dirty practicel ” “Hoity-toity, my good friends ! what ails you both ** “You are a pretty fellow to ask, after trying to cheat my poor client out of his cause and his senses also l’’ “What, is Crewkman your client, too?” “My client! no indeed: nor did I dream that he was yours, till yesterday.” “Then he is your client, Sharpe ’’’ said Stubbs. “Well, I am ready enough to hand over his papers, as soon as you get the order: but I must say it is shabby work to rob one of his clients by such low artifice as this.” I was all amazement. “Let us talk without prejudice, gentlemen, and we shall understand each other: at present, it is clear we are all in the dark.”
The certificate signed by me, the day before, was produced by Stubbs. I admitted it to be mine, and explained the circumstances under which I gave it. It seems that Crewkman and his traveller were involved in litigation, on this very agreement: the one contended that it amounted to a partnership, and claimed an . account of profits: Crewkman denied the partnership. Stubbs had advised him that he was wrong, and recommended a compromise. Distrusting Stubbs, he had come to ask my opinion, without ever calling my attention to the real point at issue. He took the opinion to Stubbs to challenge him with ignorance; and then to his traveller, to impress on him the hopelessness of his suit, and work him into a compromise. I do not now recollect how the matter terminated.
I have often known this underhanded dealing practiced by men who think themselves wiser than their solicitors; and in most cases, they bring their own punishment, in getting conflicting advice, by submitting one state of facts to one attorney, and another to another; unconscious themselves of the importance of
minute accuracy, they report these contradic.