Page images

acquittance which is easily won by the favorable introduction of a young professional man to the circles of rank and wealth.

I had still next to nothing to do, when accident brought me to the acquaintance of a lady of high birth and considerable property, but whose affairs were deeply, though not irretrievably involved. The peculiar introduction which I had to her, though the object of it was expressly to offer my professional services, compelled me, as I thought, to offer them gratuitously. They were accepted with an avidity that ought to have made me distrustful of their value being appreciated: but I had undertaken no trifling duty; there were bailiffs to baffle, duns to tranquilize, annuitants to awe, friends to coax, and, in a word, the devil to pay. How I ever got through it, I cannot tell, but I did clear the road; and finally, by cutting down one claim, compromising another, and setting at defiance two or three score, till they willingly took a shilling in the pound, I succeeded in extricating my “honorable” client, and comfortably left her to make the best shift she could on some twelve hundred a-year. asked for my costs, nor ever asked her for them,

I was


though they would have been no trifle; but a year or two after I casually met her in the park, where certainly I had no business to be. She was walking with a female relative.

“ Good morning, Mrs. Leighton: it is a lovely day.”

The glass to the eye, and a distant courtesy.

“I wonder that the park is so deserted in this weather."

A second courtesy, partaking rather of the bow. If I have too much good-nature, I certainly seldom want assurance; and that is a kind of compensation-balance-a good set-off, As my brethren would say. “Laura, my dear, I fear the carriage will

” and so saying, my “honorable” client was meditating an escapade closely bordering on the cut direct. I resolved this should not succeed.

“ Apropos of the carriage, Mrs. Leighton, had you any more trouble with that rascally coach-maker, Stiffspring ?”

“Oh, my dear Mr. Sharpe, I declare I didn't know you! don't mention the fellow's name; you quite distress me,—the horrid creature! but I can't stop to talk now, for the wind is

miss us;'

very cold, (it was a sultry day in July !) I shal! see you soon,” and so saying, she directly turned back, assuring “ Laura” that the carriage must have gone the other way. . I pursued my own; and never have seen her since, though I hear she is again in the same quagmire in which I first found her: and there she may remain for me.


"Non nostrum inter vos tartas componere lites."-ECL. III.

It was my destiny, for a long time, to fall in with most unmanageable clients. I have no doubt that every solicitor who has to make his own connexion, as it is called, meets with the same adventures, more or less; but I cannot help thinking that I have had more than my fair share. There are two classes of clients that I have always found especially fickle and difficult to please; and yet in the first instance, they are always the most confiding and apparently the most docile. Docility is a great point in a client: some attorneys will laud ductility as a better virtue, and very near akin to it; I will not dispute this, when the client has the other properties of gold; but by docility, I mean something between ductility, pliability, and capability: whereas clients of the

classes I am about to mention have very seldom any of either of these good qualities after their first or second interview.

Whatever wears a petticoat, whether ladies or clergymen, is an absolute nuisance in an attorney's office. I have given a specimen of both, but not exactly in the character to which I now allude.

One day when I was meditating gravely on the past, and speculating anxiously on the future, each foot on the hob, and leaning back in my office chair, which began now to exhibit a little of the professional dignity of fading morocco, a portly gentleman, with a rosy face that confessed to a daily bottle of port for at least forty summers, was announced as “the Venerable the Archdeacon Tithestraw.” I rose, and bowed, and offered him the professional throne on which I had been myself seated, not, I protest, from any obsequious deference, though I own to certain pleasurable anticipations of an éxchequer suit, but simply because my mind misgave me as to the sufficiency of any other chair in the room, adequate to his safe reception, in point of strength and capacity.

“ You are a Cambridge man, Mr. Sharpe?”

« PreviousContinue »