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pocket-handkerchiefs from the pedestrians in Broadway; or for the purpose of entering the kitchens of the inhabitants of this city, or any other city, and under pretence of begging a morsel of bread, to steal their spoons; and that I, A. T. Jones, should participate in the profits of those robberies would it not be in vain, when I made my appearance in a criminal court, (after having been chained to a gang of disreputable persons (?) who had been incarcerated for alleged assaults and batteries, and for illegal voting, of which they were not guilty, and dragged five or six times through the public streets,) to whine out a plea, that I did not steal the pocket-handkerchiefs; that I did not steal the spoons? I think that the Judge would instruct the jury, that the law held the receiver as bad as the thief. If I were guilty of any dishonorable acts, as a member of my firm, if my partners did not kick me out of it, I should have such a contemptible opinion of them, I would dissolve the concern myself, and would not associate with such men “under any circumstances."
How is it about this “Marine Court,” that has such high-minded constables attached to it, that it is just as easy for them to act as “Sheriffs,” without process, as with it; and where important suits can be decided in “no time ?" I don't know anything about it personally, but I have been told that there are “professional gentlemen," who practice a great deal in it, that are termed “Sailor Lawyers.” As I never saw, to my knowledge, a “ limb of the law" clad in a short jacket, wide trowsers, and a tarpaulin hat, I will take it for granted that the following is a pretty good description of them, which I clipped from the “Sunday Times." (I apologize to the author for taking this liberty) :
[Written for the Sunday Times.)
PORTRAITS OF THE BAR.
BY AN EX-COURT-CLERK.
THE SAILOR LAWYER.
There he goes, pell-mell, down Dover-street, with a Marine Court constable at his heels, in hot pursuit of a captain, who is just about to sail, and may now be casting off from the pier. His crispy and shiny hair is all soaked with perspiration, although it is a February day. His little black eyes sparkle with anticipated gain, and being a small, slender man, his frame trembles with agitation. An hour before, a sailor strayed into his office, to institute a suit for back wages. Rapidly and adroitly our subject got from him a description of his life and adventures, within the statute of limitations. He heard of a beating on a last voyage, which “Jack” had either forgotten, or believed he deserved. “Poor fellow !" cries our subject; “you say there were no witnesses but your friend Tom Bowline—where is he?” “Down in Water-street.” “Then we'll arrest the captain.” “Why, he is going to sail in an hour or so." “Here, sign this paper.” The paper is signed. He rushes to the Marine Court-tips a wink to a constable—and away they go, as we now see them, to the foot of Dover-street.
It is useless to follow them. The errand will result, like fifty other errands of the same kind in the same hands. If the captain is timid, he will pay some twenty or thirty dollars to get rid of it, or perhaps the consignees of the ship, rather than have her detained, will. If he is disposed to fight it, he will be dragged on shore -the ship delayed--and, after all, he will have to pay something, or at least employ a lawyer; and he reasons very justly—“This is a swindle, I know; but ten dollars to the swindler will hush it all up."
The sailor lawyer is a man who robs, thieves, forges, falsely pretends, and conspires, without at all coming near the provisions of the criminal code. He is a legalized plunderer—a shark covered with the scales of justice! He has read a treatise on admiralty. His library consists of one or two works on shipping and the duties of seamen—the “Kedge Anchor”—a few reports of a marine nature-an interest table and a printed bill of costs. An old figurehead and a model of a ship, with a chunk of tar, are interspersed about his office, to give it a nautical look. He has cunning and tact of a low order, and he wishes everything to corroborate what he says a dozen times a day to the “flies" of sailors who come into his spidery web—“ I am the sailor's friend." He has taught his clock to tick the same saying. No wonder he gulls the sailors, and, in the shape of fees and costs, picks their pockets of their wages with his right hand, whilst his left as often dips into those of shippers, consignees, and captains, for hush money. The sailor lawyer knows how to sell his client with the most composed face in the world.
Very many shippers, consignees and ship-owners, (to their shame be it said, for the black-mail system could be broken up if they combined to do so, and sacrificed present freedom from trouble to the general content of the whole fraternity,) retain the sailor lawyer by the year. Of course he will never sell them, UNLESS the sailor outbids them. At most, he has but to sell the sailor!
The sailor lawyer generally keeps one or two runners in pay. They slime through sailor boarding-houses—they forage on the docks, and piers, and wharves, and slips—they line the harbor each seeking for sailors whose wages are unpaid, or who have suits for assault, imprisonment, etc. They worm themselves into Jack's confidence, and get from him the story of his wrongs—carry him to their employer's office and finally share the profits! The
sailor lawyer furnishes the legal cunning and the skill, (!) and they furnish clients, and, what is more important, witnesses.
The amount of perjury committed in admiralty cases is enormous, as every one familiar with its courts must be aware. Much of it is apparent-a great deal hidden; and very seldom can it be contradicted.
The sailor lawyer is abhorred by his professional associates, whilst they are compelled to tolerate him, because respectable shippers comfort, aid, and abet him. He is snubbed by judges, and fawned upon by constables. He generally amasses a fortune ; but who shall picture his secret hours or his death-bed ?
Mr. Sedgwick, the Assistant District Attorney, with whom I have necessarily come in contact in these matters, is a very gentlemanly and polite young man, for whom I entertain feelings of the utmost respect. Any young man occupying his position, should be careful to avoid, as far as possible, any participation in the immoralities—personal, professional, and technical—that daily surround him in the Criminal Court with which he is at present connected ; and which I hope, for his sake, he will get away from as fast as possible—for “evil communication corrupteth good manners."
If a young lawyer who possesses the gentlemanly feelings (which I am sure Mr. Sedgwick does) has the moral courage to take honor and truth for his foundation, and will never condescend to avail himself of the technicalities of the law, (and thereby be the advocate of injustice and wrong-doing,) he will secure for himself that which money cannot buy—self-respect; and feeling conscious of possessing that, he can always command respect from others. Such a man, I feel confident, would never be in want of clients; and he would command a position and influence before all of the legal tribunals, that is not at present enjoyed by a great portion of the “profession.” My young friend Aaron Pennington Whitehead, who has just commenced business in the legal profession in this city, I take to be a gentleman of this kind. He obtained bonds
men for me among his personal friends, in New Jersey, on the replevin papers that I was obliged to perfect in that State, when we were looking for the horse there. He has done me many other favors and acts of kindness, which will ever remain in my grateful remembrance, and which it gives me pleasure to record in this place.
H. L. Clinton, Esq., made public false representations of me to the jury, at the trial of Carlin, and made an impertinent and uncalled-for allusion to me during his argument (?) on the motion in“arrest of judgment,” as before stated. If Mr. Whiting was “ spurred on by the majestic presence of his client, Mr. Jones,” reasoning by “ analogy" (which seems to be a favorite way with Mr. Clinton), Mr. Whiting's position upon that occasion was a more honorable one than that of Mr. Clinton, only a few days before, when he was “spurred on by the majestic presence of his client," Sprague, whom Clinton was endeavoring to keep from being hung, he (Sprague) being charged merely with killing a woman, by shooting her with a pistol! I do not find fault with him for defending “poor Carlin” to the best of his professional ability ; but I“hurl back upon him, with indignation, and with truthfulness, the lie” that he publicly uttered in his opening to the jury, when he said that I had “entered into some collusion with this Mr. Shute, by which I got the horse.” All of his arguments (?) and speeches in this matter, in my opinion, are but a long-winded, long-drawn, technical, and absurd mess of nothings, and, as Mr. Whiting said, were “weak, puerile, and ridiculous.” They appeared to me to be just such arguments (?) as would be resorted to by a “ Dentist of the Profession."
Mr. Stoughton endeavored to place me in a false light before the public, and was insulting to me on the trial, by making personal allusions to me, and asking me impertinent questions. At one time, also, alluding to me as a “man of gallantry," &c., and endeavoring to make me appear before the public in a ridiculous and dishonorable light, in reference to my connection with the prosecution of Carlin. Upon the trial, he asked, “Who is Mr. Jones? A