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It may be interesting to add, in fact,
that the Social Oysters considered it impossible
that MR. BOOLEY could, by any means,
throw off the present communication, without
availing himself of that established form of
address.

     Highbury Barn, Monday Evening.

LAW AT A LOW PRICE.

Low, narrow, dark, and frowning are the
thresholds of our Inns of Court. If there is
one of these entrances of which I have
more dread than another, it is that leading
out of Holborn to Gray's Inn. I never
remember to have met a cheerful face at it,
until the other morning, when I encountered
Mr. Ficker, attorney-at-law. In a few
minutes we found ourselves arm in arm, and
straining our voices to the utmost amid the
noise of passing vehicles. Mr. Ficker stretched
himself on tiptoe in a frantic effort to inform
me that he was going to a County Court.
'But perhaps you have not heard of these
places?'

I assured Mr. Ficker that the parliamentary
discussions concerning them had made me
very anxious to see how justice was administered
in these establishments for low-priced
Law. 'I am going to one now,' but he
impressively added, 'you must understand, that
professionally I do not approve of their working.
There can be no doubt that they seriously
prejudice the regular course of law. Comparing
the three quarters preceding with three quarters
subsequent to the establishment of these
Courts, there was a decrease of nearly 10,000
writs issued by the Court of Queen's Bench
alone, or of nearly 12,500 on the year.'

We soon arrived at the County Court. It
is a plain, substantial-looking building, wholly
without pretension, but at the same time not
devoid of some little architectural elegance of
exterior. We entered, by a gateway far less
austere than that of Gray's Inn, a long, well-
lighted passage, on either side of which were
offices connected with the Court. One of
these was the Summons Office, and I observed
on the wall a 'Table of Fees,' and as I saw
Mr. Ficker consulting it with a view to his
own business, I asked him his opinion of the
charges.

'Why,' said he, 'the scale of fees is too large
for the client and too small for the lawyer.
But suitors object less to the amount than to
the intricacies and perplexities of the Table.
In some districts the expense of recovering a
sum of money is one-third more than it is in
others; though in both the same scale of fees
is in operation. This arises from the variety
of interpretations which different judges and
officers put upon the charges.'

Passing out of the Summons Office, we
entered a large hall, placarded with lists of
trials for the ensuing week. There were more
than one hundred of them set down for trial
on nearly every day.

'I am glad,' I said, 'to think that this is
not all additional litigation. I presume these
are the thousands of causes a-year withdrawn
from the superior Courts?'

'The skeletons of them,' said Mr. Ficker,
with a sigh. 'There were some pickings out
of the old processes; but I am afraid that
there is nothing but the bone here.'

'I see here,' said I, pointing to one of the
lists, 'a single plaintiff entered, as proceeding
against six-and-twenty defendants in
succession.'

'Ah,' said Mr. Ficker, rubbing his hands, 'a
knowing fellow that; quite awake to the
business of these Courts. A cheap and easy
way, Sir, of recovering old debts. I don't
know who the fellow isa tailor very likely
but no doubt you will find his name in
the list in this way once every half year.
If his Midsummer and Christmas bills are
not punctually paid, it is far cheaper to
come here and get a summons served, than to
send all over London to collect the accounts,
with the chance of not finding the customer at
home. And this is one way, you see, in which
we solicitors are defrauded. No doubt, this
fellow formerly employed an attorney to write
letters for him, requesting payment of the
amount of his bill, and 6s. 8d. for the cost of
the application. Now, instead of going to an
attorney, he comes here and gets the summons
served for 2s. A knowing hand that,—a knowing
hand.'

'But,' I said, 'surely no respectable tradesman——'

'Respectable,' said Mr. Ficker, 'I said nothing,
about respectability. This sort of thing is
very common among a certain class of
tradespeople, especially puffing tailors and boot-
makers. Such people rely less on regular
than on chance custom, and therefore they care
less about proceeding against those who deal
with them.'

'But,' said I, 'this is a decided abuse of
the power of the Court. Such fellows ought
to be exposed.'

'Phoo, phoo,' said Mr. Ficker; 'they are,
probably, soon known here, and then, if the
judge does his duty, they get bare justice,
and nothing more. I am not sure, indeed,
that sometimes their appearance here may
not injure rather than be of advantage to
them; for the barrister may fix a distant
date for payment of a debt which the tradesman,
by a little civility, might have obtained
from his customer a good deal sooner.'

'The Court ' I found to be a lofty room,
somewhat larger and handsomer than the
apartment in which the Hogarths are hung
up in the National Gallery. One half was
separated from the other by a low partition,
on the outer side of which stood a
miscellaneous crowd of persons who appeared to be
waiting their turn to be called forward. Though
the appearance of the Court was new and handsome,
everything was plain and simple.

I was much struck by the appearance and

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