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CHAPTER VIII.

“Quo virtus, quo ferat error?”—HoR.

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Our doubts are traitors, And make us lose the good we oft might win By fearing to attempt.”—MEASURE FOR MEASURE. THE “timid" form a very unmanageable class of clients. I think it was Dr. Johnson, who compared plaintiff and defendant to two men ducking their heads in a bucket, and daring each other to remain longest under water; but there are some who are so shy of the immersion, that the very sight of the bucket makes them faint. They may with more justice, be compared to a dentist’s patient: a racking tooth-ache, of which he knows neither the beginning nor the end, drives him to the surgeon; but the bare mention of “extracting ” procures temporary ease—the sight of the instrument completes the cure. “I feel better already, Sir: the tooth may be serviceable still:

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I'll call again to-morrow.” The twitch re. turns; but he prefers pain to mutilation, and endures till the nerve grows callous. In like manner, I have often found clients, especially after one severe operation, submit to wrong, injury, and fraud of no trifling amount in the annual rests in their ledger, rather than avail themselves of their solicitor's aid, to establish a protecting principle in their dealings, or make an example of an habitual depredator. As my practice extended I met many characters of this class: they try one's patience to the utmost. One morning I was intent on a voluminous abstract studiously prepared, so as to envelope in mystery the title it professed to expose. I had already perused it twice to no purpose; and beginning to doubt whether my own stupidity, or the conveyancer’s knavery, was the cause of all the obscurity, I had manfully resolved on a third perusal, while the subject was fresh on my mind; when in walked Messrs. Simkin and Soft, extensive traders in Cheapside. “This is Mr. Soft, my partner, Mr. Sharpe: my own name is Simkin.” I bowed, handed them chairs, poked the fire, “You see, Mr. Sharpe,” began Simkin, “we are in an unpleasant affair; and your friends, Messrs. Wilson and Co., having recommended us to you, we wish to explain that—” “Now, my dear Simkin, you should begin at the beginning,” interrupted Soft; “Mr. Simkin should have told you, Sir, that for many years past we have carried on the business of ’’ “Excuse me, Soft: we did not begin that business till 1811; but I will take it up from the very commencement. I will begin at the beginning, as Soft says. In the year 1808, we were engaged in an adventure—” “Indeed, Simkin, you are wrong; I was not in the firm in 1808; and besides, that adventure had nothing to do with it !” “I am not going to speak about the wools, SOft.” “Well, you know best, Simkin; but unless you tell how it has all happened, I am sure MI Sharpe will not understand our case: but tell it your own way.” “Thank ye, Soft; you’re always a kind fellow. So, Mr. Sharpe, as I was saying, in the year 1808, we first became acquainted with Shycocke.”

and asked their business.

“No, indeed, Simkin : I must interrupt you there; for you are quite out. Shycocke arrived at Bristol, in the Twin Brothers, as supercargo, in June, 1809.” “I believe you're right, Soft: you always are. Yes: Shycocke arrived in 1809, with letters of credit from Puncheon, Lees, and Co.” “They were the shippers, Simkin.” “They were: do you remember the captain's name?” “I think it was Hobbs.” “Surely not: wasn’t it Dobson’’ “Hobbs or Dobbs, I’m pretty sure.” I saw no end to this, and took the liberty of edging in a word. “Pray, gentleman, has Mr. Dobbs, or Hobbs, anything to do with your present embarrassment’ ” “Embarrassment, Mr. Sharpel ” exclaimed Soft. “Did you say embarrassed ?” asked Simkin. “We are by no means embarrassed, Sir ” indignantly cried both together. “You mistake me; I thought you spoke of

some unpleasant affair.”

“Yes,” said Simkin : “and a very unpleasant affair it is: isn’t it, Soft?” “It is indeed; and one we are by no means used to—” answered the partner. “Pray, what is it, gentlemen 2° and this plain question, rather abruptly put, surprised them into a plain answer. “An attorney’s letter,” replied Simkin, in a most lugubrious tone. “It is indeed,” hysterically added Soft; “it is an attorney’s letter, begging your pardon, Mr. Sharpe.” “Well, gentlemen, there is no great harm in that: here is a score of them (pointing to my desk), and you might eat them for any harm they would do you. Let me read it.” Mr. Simkin drew out his pocket-book, with as much solemnity as I have seen a reverend antiquarian produce a venerable Hebrew manuscript, and unfolded its various clasps, with the same gravity that the said antiquarian would slowly unroll the interminable vellum from its silver rollers; while poor Soft eyed the proceeding with a fixedness of gaze, that argued intense horror of the contents. I could scarcely forbear laughing outright at the awful delibera

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