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could find one, but engaged a first floor over a shop, bought a desk and half-a-dozen chairs second-hand, incarcerated the first stray lad I could catch, in a dark cell eight feet by six, tied up old precedents with new tape, and then painted my name gorgeously on the door posts with all the dignity of “Mr. Sharpe, Solicitor,” at full length. Such was my self-complacency at the independence of my novel position, that I believe I rung my hand-bell for my clerk half a score of times in the course of an hour, merely for the pleasure of having it answered; though there was charity in the act, for without this stimulus to attention, he would inevitably have gone to sleep for lack of better employment. “Well,” I thought to myself, “here I am at last, and there's an end to Blackstone and Tidd, and Barton’s Precedents, and all that for the present; and as to leases, and settlements, and wills, they are bad enough to be sure, in any view of the case, but at all events I shall draw them to pay myself, and that is something.” And thus comforting myself for the plague of prospective labor, I eyed the grave red-lettered
e calf-skin, resumed the newspaper, read every advertisement, and finally gaped out of the window in vain speculation of finding a client in some passer by. How long this interesting state of indolent expectation might have continued, had I waited for clients to come to me, I cannot say, but after a week or two I began to find it as ennuyant as it was profitless, and resolved, as nobody seemed willing to find me out, to try my luck in finding out them. It was very clear that my extraordinary merits were still unknown, and an attorney, though he ought certainly to “blush unseen,” if he blushes at all, cannot by any means afford to waste his sweetness on the desert air. Hence I changed my plan; left word with my clerk that if any body called I was “gone to the Temple,” and sallied forth on a Paul Pry expedition among all my friends and acquaintances; but I verily believe that the demon of ill-luck, if there is such a deity in heathen mythology, presided over my first essays. Not a soul had called on me for three weeks, except two or three idle lads to see “how I got on,” when, while engaged on one of my marauding expeditions, a certain noble lord of very large property, hitherto unprovided with a solicitor, and to whom I had been favorably mentioned by a common relative, drove up to my door, and called to instruct me to file an information against the trustees of an important charity. “Gone to the Temple” was as unintelligible to his noble ears as if my clerk had reported me “gone to the devil; ” perhaps, in his opinion the expressions were synonymous, as in truth, I have often considered them myself: however this may be, I never saw any more of his lordship, or heard another syllable of his instructions, (except that another solicitor had filed the information,) though on three successive mornings I left my card at his mansion in Grosvenor Square; at no cost of time, for I had nothing else to do, but at an immense expense of coachhire, omnibuses not then being in fashion. It is all for the best: I have since seen and heard much of his lordship; he is a worthy man, but his notions, however becoming his high rank, would never have agreed with my temper at that early time of day; and had we quarrelled, I should have lost clients in his connexion that I have still retained, and value far more highly.
This was a bad beginning, but I made the
best of it, as has been my rule through life; a wealthy client of noble rank is a prize to any man, but to a beginner at the age of four-andtwenty, the loss of him is a serious affair; so I complained to my friends of my bad fortune, wondered how anybody, noble or plebeian, could be so unreasonable as to expect to find a man of business always at home without making an appointment, and a few days after was solaced by a call from a gentleman that I had long known, who wished for my advice on a case where he clearly had not a leg to stand on; and so I told him. “But must I lose the money, Sharpe?” “I am afraid so.” “Then you think there is nothing in it?” “I won’t go so far as that, but I think you are wrong.” “Umph! a pretty joke to let this villain rob me in this way! I thought you would get me out of it; but you say you are not certain. I should like to ask Mr. Scarlett.” Lord Abinger at that time ruled the day. I suggested the opinion of a junior counsel, as more easily attainable, and the opinion was taken. It confirmed mine, but my client was
who brought the action, and succeeding by Scarlett's aid, against law and reason, swamped my credit; for though the plaintiff has been my friend, and a kind one too, for more than twenty years, he has never again been my client from that day to this. I met him a few days after the trial, and our conversation was rather amusing. “Well, Wright, you have gained the day!” “Yes, to be sure: but little thanks to you.” “I admit it; for I still think you were all wrong.” “Ay; but wiser folks thought me all right.” “Scarlett never thought so, whatever the jury might.” “But Scarlett did think so, and said so.” “Oh yes! he told the jury so of course, and they were fools enough to believe him; but did he tell you so, at your consultation ?” “He said nothing at the consultation he never once asked me to sit down; but he cocked his eye at the attorney, nodded to the other counsel, poked the fire, and I saw at once it was all right. I paid two guineas or more for that cock of the eye; but it don’t matter for that, so long as that rascal can’t rob me and