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A LAWYER'S LAMENTATION.
It is high time that such classes as may not have the honor of belonging to the trading community, or of residing in the mercantile world, should strike for their rights. The word 'strike' is not here used in its general acceptation, to stop working until wages may be raised, for professional men would starve, if they attempted that; but that they should associate themselves in some undertaking for common purposes, and bring their wandering tribes together, in a professional world. It makes us melancholy, to see the professional men, lawyers and clergymen, particularly, pushed aside by merchants, in all places, and upon all occasions, where and when a little money is to be had. It is very painful. The tone of the public mind cannot be sound in a community where such a preference is sustained, and the march of intellect has no chance at all. No matter how high a man's intellectual energies may have elevated him, or what weight of moral capital he may possess, if he happens to want money, he will find that in the market LL. D.' is not as useful as 'Dry Goods.' It was the remark of a very sensible writer upon this country, that we do not say that a man has an estate of some particular amount, but that he is worth that amount; making the sum the degree of his merit. Individually, as members of society, we commend virtue and piety loudly; we admire them very much; but D. D.' or 'the Rev.' will not help a note. We will take the reverend gentleman's promises for the eternal future, and think his piety sufficient collateral security; yet we cannot believe what he says about sixty days after date.' It would be amusing to see the countenance of a veteran shaver, as he read the note of the Reverend Dr. Somebody, for twenty dollars! some shaver whose only idea of the devil is, that he is the embodiment of 'Defalcation or Delay'- which latter would probably be his interpretation of D. D.' There is no commandment which says, Thou shalt discount a clergyman's note;' and in this there is sufficient assurance for the man of money that he is safe in a refusal.
Such, however, is not the philosophy of the arbiter of notes alone. Do we not, all of us, omit the performance of many good offices, which might minister to the wants or the happiness of our neighbors, because the decalogue is not staring us in the face? How many right-angled Christians are there in the world, who seem to be working their way to heaven with the square and compass; doing nothing which has been forbidden, yet deaf to those little whisperings of the heart, which tell us of kind charities not the subject of any especial command? We do not wish to be too grave; just moralized a little.
The banks of the present day have no regard whatever for professional men; they treat them with supreme contempt. A doctor who chances to have a patient in a board of directors, may succeed through the fear of a dose of arsenic, and for other reasons to be mentioned hereafter; but the application of a lawyer for accommodation, is regarded as being absolutely impertinent.
• Whose paper is this, brother director?'
'Break-down and Smash's, Sir; only ask for a hundred thousand.' 'Certainly; good paper that; let them have it. And whose note
The note of Jonathan Snubbs, attorney at law, for fifty dollars.' 'The idea of a lawyer asking us for money! He has no right to want money.'
'But, brother director, he has a wife and large family to support; though to be sure we have nothing to do with that. There is no speculation in supporting wives and children.'
There is some reason for the neglect to which clergymen are subject with banks and men of money. It is not wise to place them in danger of having their thoughts brought down from the great future, to that of sixty days after date;' and no doubt this consideration has its influence. But there is no excuse for the contempt with which banks treat lawyers. It frequently happens to them to have the money of others in their hands, and they should be armed against temptation, by a conviction that, in case of necessity, they could easily obtain accommodation; else, they are obliged to discount their own notes with their client's money; and that is vulgar. At all events, upon fair and republican principles, the lawyers should come in for a share. The merchants and brokers have too long monopolized the business of borrowing all the money, failing for hundreds of thousands, and paying nobody; it is time that professional men should do the same. A merchant may fail, and move into a larger house upon the strength of it; if a lawyer fails, he must run for his life, and if he hides in a cow-shed, it is pulled down over his head. The fact is, that there are many bad consequences growing out of this system of preference for the mercantile world; consequences which affect the tone of society, and reach the hearts of men.
If a bank director meets a merchant, they are very polite to each other indeed the director is most probably a merchant himself. Whether he is or not, they are very civil to each other; bow, ask after wife and children, and so on. Neither the merchant nor the director knows that the lawyer has wife and children; lawyer knows. Neither touches his hat to the lawyer. If the omnibus is crowded, there is plenty of room for the merchant or the director; d-1 the bit for the lawyer. And thus the poor lawyer is neglected by the merchant, and the man of money, until other classes of men follow the example, and treat him with like contempt. If he is so unfortunate as not to have any practice in his profession, some scoundrel in the shape of a directory-maker gets hold of him, and writes him down 'gentleman.' This puts the finishing stroke to him. If he feels a laudable desire to serve the public, and take care of their interests in congress, he must swear that he is not a lawyer; that he is a merchant or a mechanic; and then the people will not believe him.
The doctors of this age are in higher favor with the mercantile world, because they have sacrificed their independence, and sought refuge among the merchants from the dangerous attacks of the panacea men. They have, with a view to pleasing the merchants, increased the importation of drugs, by increasing the demand. Doctors hate panacea. They believe that the next world is peopled with evil spirits, corked up in panacea-bottles; that is to say, the bad world; and they think that the best preparation' for the better world, is a mixture of magnesia and salts, abundantly sprinkled with calomel, to be taken before going to bed. Henry's magnesia is pre
ferred. Though it seems to us, that in a money-making community, lawyers should by all means be the more popular, for the difference between a doctor and a lawyer is simply this: send for a doctor to bleed you, he will take out several ounces, and charge you five dollars; send for a lawyer, he will bleed you freely, and charge you nothing for it. Indeed it is believed by some wise men, who have been impartial observers of passing events in this country, for many years back, that there is a secret understanding between the merchants, banks, and doctors; a combination for money-making purposes. Mr. BIDDLE, in an unguarded moment, when writing to congress, developed the whole plot, by using the words 'contraction' and ' expansion,' and saying that contraction and expansion were the causes of the trouble in the money market; in other words, that there was a griping, consequent upon the extreme flatulency. The disease in the body politic is nothing less than the cholera in another shape, following, through sympathy, the cholera in the body physical. It will be remembered that the doctors introduced their cholera in '32, and the merchants and banks theirs in '34. The symptoms in both cases were precisely the same; contraction, expansion, and looking blue in the face. We do not wish to press this matter farther at present, as we believe that it will receive the especial attention of a committee of investigation, to be appointed by congress; and to them we leave it, with entire confidence as to the result.
The lawyers, of all classes in the community, very decidedly suffer the most. A clergyman may pick up a little here and there, from some good Christian, who feels disposed to make an investment for the benefit of his soul hereafter; a merchant may speculate to any extent; buy stock on time,' to the amount of hundreds of thousands; but the lawyer must have constantly before his mind's eye the unpoetical idea of cash. There are no fluctuations in the bread market, which enable him to buy on time,' eat the bread, and 'pay the difference.' It is the most interesting feature in the operation of the man who speculates largely, that he eats the bread and pays the difference in parlance of brokers and merchants.
Mercantile men are never troubled by duns: they have a very polite 'notice' sent to them by the bank, prettily printed upon a nice piece of white paper, like an invitation to dinner, that a hundred thousand dollars are due to such a bank; mark that the bank never asks them for money, but says, very respectfully, that the amount is due, and gives them three days of grace; that is to say, gives them time to think how much more they want. If a lawyer owes money, some greasy-faced fellow walks in, no matter who's there, whether you are making love, or singing 'Oft in the Stilly Night,' with his hat in his hand, and a smirk upon his hideous countenance, muttering broken sentences: Just stepped in- that little account'-and so As soon as he hears the reply 'no money'- the sweet summer-like smile vanishes, and his 'ponderous jaws' open wide enough for you to see the ruins of Pompeii mirrored anew in the melancholy reminiscences of his departed-teeth. If a merchant meets a man in the street, to whom he owes money, he treats the goose of a creditor with contempt, and walks about every where, without fear of molestation. Not so with the lawyer. His mind is too familiar with thạ
sad details of legal practice; he constantly sees the ghost of a capias staring him in the face; his hats are worn out by bowing to his creditors, and he has always a cold in his head from the exposure. The merchant goes home to his dinner with peace of mind, and eats it comfortably; is disturbed by no one; takes his glass of wine, and thinks how pleasant it is to live upon the interest of his debts; or if he happens to get tipsy, which is but seldom, resolves to pay his creditors. The lawyer hurries home, and if for once he has a good dinner, in the ecstacy of the moment, gobbles it down, becomes sick, and has an attack of dyspepsia: calls in a doctor, who by forcible entry turns the disease out of his stomach, and puts an apothecary's shop in its place; all except the 'sign,' which in most cases would be as beneficial as the contents of the shop.
The difference between the situation of the merchant and that of the lawyer, is no where more obvious, or more painful to the latter, than in affairs of the heart. There is nothing on earth for which a mother who has daughters to marry, has such an entire contempt, as lawyers. Young ladies have no objection to the pretty things that may be whispered in the ear, even by the lawyer, when mamma is not near; yet if the moon is invoked, it is of her 'silvery' beams that they most love to hear; if the sun, of his 'golden' rays. But they soon learn that poetry is not bread-and-butter; that 'a sonnet to Lucinda's eye' must be postponed for 'instalments;' that there is genuine sentiment in figuring as the heroine of a marriage settlement. And thus the difference runs through all the walks and vocations of life, until the poor lawyer is finally left to his own esteem for himself, and to his own fancies, for his happiness in this world. His esteem for himself is unfortunately in most cases not as great as it should be; for lawyers are proverbially retiring and modest; they are seldom if ever even heard to speak, unless they are pressed and paid to do so. We adopt a course which we recommend to all our brothers in the profession. We imagine that we possess all the wealth which we behold; we say to ourselves: Well! though all these fine houses are ours, we will not sell them; do n't want money, and will not trouble the tenants for the rent; it was kind in Mr. Girard to leave us that immense estate, and we will not squander it foolishly. There is Mr. John Jacob Astor; what may he be doing in Philadelphia? Came to borrow more money of us; we will lend it, and say nothing about the little sum he owes us now. Meet some fellow who has a few millions; push him next to the gutter, and cut him, though not in a way to hurt his feelings. See a beautiful carriage, drawn by a pair of dashing horses, it is ours, and we must tell the coachman not to drive so fast, lest we should be upset; if carriage is upset, it is not ours; other people will employ such careless drivers. And so we move through life happily; nay, who can be wealthier? Contentment is the greatest fortune man can possess, and in his own mind and heart is the gold which buys the purest and the most enduring happiness. The pains and anxieties, the trials and struggles, of mercantile life, the dark shades of the picture, are not seen by him who envies the outward exhibition of estate. Our complaints, whether of merchants or of others, will be found on examination to be, in most cases, the results either of uncharitable and forced conclusions from circum