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ART. 12-AN HONEST LAWYER'S FEE.
It is now five years since the widow Stiles called on me one morning before breakfast, and asked me to recommend her to some lawyer, as she thought her old friend Stubbs was less correct than he might be. I asked her to step into the parlor and went myself to my breakfast and my wife, whose advice I always ask on such points. We had known Mrs. Jared Stiles many years; her husband was a great land owner in a goodly town of this western country, and with a disinterested love, that deserved some better aim, ever impressed it on his help-mate, as the first rule of life, to get all she could, and keep all she got. He died, and Mrs. Stiles became more and more religious and alms-giving, but also more and more fond of wealth, and sensible of the admirable advice, which her husband had given her.
I stated the facts to my wife, and waited her opinion. “Well, William,” said she, after drinking a cup of coffee upon my story, “I fear the old lady has some money getting claim in view; you know she has of late given all her affections to getting more wealth. I would therefore recommend her to the most honest and conscientious lawyer in town, and not to the most acute and thorough one. She relies on your judgment; use it, not for her seeming, but her real good.”
I counted my legal acquaintance over twice before I hit on one answering to the terms “ honest and conscientious,” in the sense in which I knew Ellen used them: at length I found him, and taking my hat, walked with the widow to his office.
We found Mr. Sawyer at his desk; he rose, and gave us chairs and waited Mrs. Stiles' statement. But before I go on to this point, let me say a few words of this phenomenon; this man with his head under his left arm, close to his heart,—this honest lawyer, in the broadest, highest sense of that term. He was a man of thirty-five; he had studied law because he liked the study, and began the practice because he had to get a living; and now he continued in the profession, in spite of bad clients, and bad opponents, and bad courts—because he thought he had done, and might yet do much good by his labors; not alone by saving the innocent and needy from the strong and cruel, but by preventing strife, putting a stop to half knavish practices, and dissuading men and women from unjust suits, and passion-rousing quarrels. Mr. Sawyer thought it not only proper for him to refuse acting for those, whose claims he thought dishonest, but he counted it also as a duty and privi
lege, nay as mere christian charity, to strive to persuade them to forego such claims. He sought fame, and extensive practice as means whereby to exert a moral influence over the community; he thought a lawyer bound to serve, not his client only, but God and country; and looked on him, who for gain would prosecute a suit which he thought unfair, as a traitor to his country, and his religion, in act, whatever he might be in intention. In short, as Bill Blunt once said, “Sawyer was such a hanged fool, as to think it an attorney's business to help the parson make men good christians.”
And now we shall let Mrs. Stiles state her business. It seems that her husband had sold and conveyed several lots, which her father had left in trust for her, and in such a form that she, meaning to release her fee in the lots, had, in terms, released merely right of dower:-- these lots she understood she could get back.
Did you receive the money for them ?” said Mr. Sawyer. Certainly, sir.” “Was it a fair, full price for the land ?” “ It was all we asked, sir." “ Did you sign the deed willingly?”
“Of course, sir; you don't think Jared would have driv me,
do “ Did you mean to convey a full title in fee, Mrs. Stiles ? "
“ Beyond doubt; but as we did'nt, they tell me the land never passed.”
Suppose, Mrs. Stiles, the money had been paid before you had drawn the deed, should you have thought it honest, after getting the money, to refuse to give the deed?"
Why, lawyer, that would have been thieving, right down.” “Well, Mrs. Stiles, you have not yet given the deed; shall I draw one for you to sign?”
Why, bless your soul, squire Sawyer, that's the deed you have got in your hand.”
“Mrs. Stiles, if you had given the man, when he paid you money for the lots, a sheet of blank paper, and he had not looked at it, would that have been a deed ?”
6 Of course not.”
Well, this is not such a title any more than a sheet of blank paper: you have therefore, received the money but have not yet given the deed. Shall I draw a quit-claim deed for you to sign ?”
Mrs. Stiles looked at me, and looked at the window, and looked at the lawyer, and withal, looked very much puzzled, and somewhat ashamed. At last she said, “ But don't the law say the land's mine, squire ?”
• We can't tell that,” said Mr. Sawyer, "till the case is tried. First, let us get things straight, and have the bargain complete, and then, if you please, we'll go to law about it.”
The widow was fairly caught in the corner. At length, with a gasp, she asked how much he would charge for a quitclaim deed; this charge the attorney told her the other party would pay willingly, he had no doubt, and taking down a blank, proceeded to fill it. Before we left, the bargain was complete, the deed signed, witnessed and acknowledged.
“ And pray," said the widow, as we walked home, “what sort of a lawyer do you call this man? I verily believe he cheated me out of all them lots: I've a great mind to go back and tear that deed all to flinders.”
I assured her that not only was it too late, but that she had done the proper thing under the circumstances; and advised her, in future, to employ no one but Mr. Sawyer. Much to my surprise she took my advice, and that gentleman was thenceforth her solicitor and counsellor.
Last week the widow Stiles died ; leaving me her executor. After the funeral we opened her will, and found it, to our astonishment, in her own hand-writing.
“ Know ye all,” it began, “ that whereas I'm going to give something to my attorney, I write this myself ;-that is, I Jane, relict of Jared Stiles, being of sound body and mind ; know all men, that, whereas, said attorney, to wit, videlicet, James Sawyer, of this said town that I'm of, namely the town of Jackson, whereas, I say, first led me to see the folly of giving my old age to the heaping up of filthy lucre, and caused me to turn aside from a course that was, as I have since seen, wholly wrong, for which may he be blessed in this life and forever. Therefore, know ye, that as a small token of respect and love, for said attorney, to wit, namely, James Sawyer, who has of late been unfortunate and much distressed in worldly matters, I do hereby by these presents, give, bequeath, will, leave, transfer, make over, and pass unto aforesaid Sawyer, every cent I've got in the world; goods, chattels, lands, money, books, dress and jewels, for his and his heirs' good ; leaving it with him to give to my several friends, such
articles as are marked with their names. Witness my hand and seal, Nov. 20th, 1836.
JANE STILES." Knowing as I did, Mr. Sawyer's troubles in these hard times, I shook his hand most joyfully.
“It is a fee, my friend,” said he, “ that I must thank you for."
“She must leave $50,000," I replied.
“I was thinking,” answered he,“ not of the money, but the change of life and heart; that is the fee I prize."
J. H. P.
ART. 13.—TO A LADY ABOUT TO LEAVE THE WEST.
As, when Elijah rose, of old,
Upon the chariot of the wind,
He left an aching void behind ;
Fond hearts, beneath thy native sky,
And closed, as if in death, that eye.
But ah ! the prophet's robe of power,
That fell on him who dared to wait, Assuaged the anguish of the hour,
And left the world, not desolate.
And thou too, gifted from above
With magic that has ever bound us, Oh! leave thy magic mantle, Love,
And bid its broad folds still surround us.
J. H. P.
TO THE SAME.
There is a faith in Eastern lands,
That, when true friends are torn apart, Those angels that are here below,
To guard them through this world of woe, Do walk together still; and so
Heart communes still with heart.
In that belief I would believe;
Upon that holy faith would lean, And thus, still bow before thy shrine,
Still gaze upon thy light divine, And my spirit learn
thine, Though mountains rise between.
J. H. P.
Art. 14.--STATISTICS OF THE WEST, AT THE CLOSE OF THE
YEAR 1836_BY JAMES HALL: Cincinnati-published by J. A. James & Co., 1836.
This book, according to the preface, is a collection of articles from magazines and reviews. Four chapters, comprising about a seventh of the volume, is a picturesque and interesting account of prairies, first published in the Illinois Monthly Magazine. There is a chapter about the Ohio river, and another about the Mississippi. All this is very well, in its way, but we should like to ask what right Judge Hall has to call this book Statistics of the West? We consider the title a deliberate imposition upon the public, for the purpose of giving the work a sale; an imposition which ought to be exposed; an imposition which Judge Hall ought never to have committed or connived at. Judge Hall, in the preface, ridicules New Englanders on the ground of the ridiculous story of wooden nutmegs; but how is the book before us better than a wooden nutmeg or horn gunflint? In a work on the Statistics of the West we expect to find detailed accounts of the present state of population, commerce, manufactures, literature, arts and sciences. It ought to be a book of reference on geographical, political, economical and scientific matters. Is it said that in the fluctuating state of things among us, such a work would be impossible? This plea, if true, only aggravates the offence. The author has, in this case, professed to have done what he knew to be an impossibility. But such a work is not an impossibility, though no doubt it would require much more labor than the one before us. It could not have been made by marking extracts in a bundle of old magazines and sending them to the printer.
There is another feature in this transaction, however, which gives a graver character to this book-making fraud, and which justifies us in calling it a deliberate imposition upon the public. The title of “Statistics of the West” might have been carelessly adopted without sufficient reflection on the fact that the contents did not correspond to it. But the addition "at the close of the year 1836,” defining and particularizing its character, could not have been thus thoughtlessly chosen. It evi. dently intends to convey the distinct idea that the present condition of the West is given. What shall be said then, when we find, by looking at the principal tables in the book, that they are all two or three years old, most of them published before and in the hands of the public, and that as far as can