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rarely, a little homicide. They are excellent customers, always paying before-hand. There are others, again, who entertain such a hearty contempt for the law, that they generally contrive to evade it by compromising any unpleasant affair, taking especial care, however, not to lay themselves open to an indictment for a conspiracy, or for compounding a felony. For example, a jeweller's shop is stripped by the hand of some adept in the art of "conveyancing." Of course, there arises a hue-and-cry; for watches are gone that never went before. The gentleman who has the "swag" calls upon his legal adviser, and cautiously hints to him that, for a certain consideration, he thinks he could promise the restoration of the "missing" property.
The professional immediately seeks the sufferer, and, "under the rose," informs him, that he has an intimation from an anonymous quarter, that, for a sum (probably naming double the amount proposed by the party in possession), the property shall be restored.
"It is certainly an exorbitant demand, a cruel sacrifice; but, if not acceded to, the articles will most probably be broken up, and sold for their weight," &c.
The loser flounders about irresolutely for awhile, but the legal gentleman feels he has hooked his fish, and he plays with him (as a Waltonian would with a jack) till exhausted, and then skilfully lands him!
There are few such men, and yet, how heartily are they despised for the friendly facilities they offer! How ungrateful is man!
BRIEF THE EIGHTH.
NOTWITHSTANDING the sneers and innuendoes of the press, we are of opinion that there is much more real justice dispensed by the summary decisions of the magistrates at the police-offices, than in the higher courts of law or equity. The charges are generally of a petty description, although sometimes peculiarly interesting, and frequently humorous. We extract the following
from our note-book :
Mrs. Selina Bross, a widow, who let lodgings to single gentlemen in the salubrious vicinity of Somers' Town, appeared before the sitting magistrate to prefer a charge against Mr. Horatio Stanley, an inmate of her establishment, for that he, in a state of intoxication, had created a disturbance, or, as she elegantly phrased it, "kicked up a row," to the great alarm and annoyance of all the "respectabler" inhabitants of the "rents ;" and, moreover, had threatened to "spifflicate" her when she attempted to remonstrate with him upon the "indullicateness" of his conduct, and had "shook his clinched fist in her face, and made use on the most horridest epifats t'ords her.”
Now, the complainant was a tall, stout, florid woman of forty, or "thereabouts," bold as an Amazon, and certainly appeared not likely to feel the loss of her "natural protector;" while Mr. Horatio Stanley was a delicate youth, with an expressive countenance, his face shorn of beard and whiskers, and supported by
a rather decayed stock.
His dress, of seedy black, appeared like a suit that had not prospered!
He held a shocking bad hat in his left hand, which was encased in a black kid glove, appearing, from various fractures therein, very like network. It was, indeed, a matchless glove, for it had not its fellow; by reason whereof the defendant had thrust his dexter hand in the breast of his buttoned-up coat.
"Well, Mr. Stanley, what have you to say to this charge?" demanded the magistrate.
"That, like all the charges of my landlady, it is exorbitant and exaggerated," replied the delinquent. "That I might have been a little elevated, is probable; but that I was low, or vulgar, I deny; I am naturally of too poetical a temperament to descend to the language of Billingsgate. All this rancour, your worship, arises from a spirit of revenge, engendered by disappointment. I acknowledge I owe her six weeks' rent. ''Tis true, 'tis pity, and pity 'tis 'tis true;'
'This is the head and front of my offending.'
The greedy character of these lodging-house keepers is notorious.
'Put money in thy purse,'
and you shall win of them a most favourable report; but, when you are by stress of circumstances rendered pennyless, this report is straightway changed to a formidable discharge and volley of abuse. But this is not all; this lady is not one of those who " never
told their love"; no, your worship, she has made advances to me, which
"Which you have not repaid?" said the magis
"Not in the coin she wished, your worship," resumed Mr. Stanley; "for I honestly confessed to her that when I committed matrimony, it would not be with a second-hand wife."
"A second-hand wife ?" said his worship.
"Yes, a widow," replied the defendant; "and my rejection has acted like rennet on the milk of her human kindness, and curdled it for ever!-and lo! she who was late so 'sweet upon me,' is now all gall and bitterness. I pity her; but
'The course of true love never did run smooth."
"Pray, Mr. Horatio Stanley," interrupted the magistrate, "what are you ?"
"I have the honour to be of the theatrical profession, my line is the highest walk of tragedy, although I sometimes undertake the walking-gentleman in genteel comedy."
"At what theatre are you at present engaged?"
"At the Royal Slum, Camden Town, where overflowing houses are nightly entertained at the small charge of threepence!"
"Indeed!" cried the astonished magistrate. "And are you aware, sir, that you are liable to be taken up as a vagabond, for performing at an unlicensed establishment of that kind? These places are most dangerous in their immoral tendency."
"Immoral!" exclaimed Mr. Stanley.
"I do as
sure your worship our worthy manager is the most exemplary of men; he never allows an oath to be uttered on the boards, even by a common cut-throat; and, as for the audience, they are picked-yes, picked. He stands at the door himself to take the money; and, if any one, even with an immoral or suspicious look, presents herself, his notions of propriety overcome the natural desire of gain, and he nobly refuses the coppers! Without wishing to draw any invidious comparison, I do assure you there is not a theatre in the great metropolis conducted so admirably, both before and behind the curtain, as the Royal Slum. Why a young lady, fresh from boarding school, might come there alone, and learn something."
Very likely," said the magistrate drily; "but, to the charge perhaps Mrs. Bross will be induced to withdraw it if you will pay her demand; or, if she persists, I must fine or commit you, in default of payment."
This declaration of his worship's had a visible effect upon the nervous system of the actor; and, casting up his eyes to the dingy ceiling of the court, with a profound sigh, and then looking imploringly at his landlady, he adroitly changed his battery.
"Willingly would I disburse," replied the hero of the sock and buskin; "but my will is greater than my power.
'Who steals my purse steals trash.'
Next week, however, I take a 'ticket-night,' when I