Page images
PDF
EPUB

country. In the plenitude of Christian good. nature, he had become security to the extent of £1000, for the good conduct of a worthless relative, whose only chance of reform appeared to be in accepting a situation of some pecuniary trust, which his friends had procured for him. I never knew a case in which such good offices worked out the object for which they were intended; and so it happened here: the rascal became possessed of a considerable sum, far exceeding the penalty of the bond, and absconded. My client was immediately required to indemnify the employers. He was conscious of no defense, and utterly destitute of all means of satisfying the demand, except by mortgaging his living. His self-reproaches, for forgetting what was due to his wife and infant family, in entering into such a bond, not unmingled with painful misgivings whether he had acted honestly even toward his opponents, in giving an indemnity that he found he could not satisfy, were enough to touch a miser's heart. I offered my assistance: but here again the good man hesitated, because “he could not pay me." I re-assured him on this point, by declining payment, on the principle that professional aid

was all I had it in my power to give in too many cases where I ought to be more libera!, and therefore I made a compromise with my conscience at times, by sacrificing six-andeightpence, and debiting charity with the amount. He smiled at my quaint morality in book-keeping, and allowed me to investigate his case; the rather, because there was too much reason to fear that my trouble would only extend to a little negotiation for indul. gence. I was too much interested in his case to be niggardly in my exertions, and by dint of close inquiry, I learned that the money which the man had embezzled, was private money, not belonging to his employers collectively, but cntrusted to his charge by one of them on his separate account. I had extreme difficulty in obtaining evidence of this; but eventually I succeeded, and defeated the claim, or rather compromised it on terms of abandoning all costs. They amounted to nearly a hundred pounds. Meanwhile, my reverend friend became exposed to further difficulty, by having the young family of a brother thrown upon his hands, by that brother's premature decease. Could a solicitor, under such circumstances, call on him for costs? or ought he to have withheld his aid? I cannot answer these questions for others; but I know many of my profession who would have followed the same course as myself. Many similar instances could be given; but I have said enough on the subject. I will only add, that it is prudent to relinquish costs altogether, or to charge the usual and reasonable fees. ' I never once knew a client that gave one credit for a compromise.

CHAPTER VIII.

"Quo virtus, quo ferat error?” — HOR.

-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. Jobuson, 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: I'll call again to-morrow.” The twitch returns; 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, and asked their business,

« PreviousContinue »