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PinkMonkey.com Digital Library - PinkMonkey.com-David Copperfield by Charles Dickens


professional business? He replied, that a good case of a disputed
will, where there was a neat little estate of thirty or forty
thousand pounds, was, perhaps, the best of all. In such a case, he
said, not only were there very pretty pickings, in the way of
arguments at every stage of the proceedings, and mountains upon
mountains of evidence on interrogatory and counter-interrogatory
(to say nothing of an appeal lying, first to the Delegates, and
then to the Lords), but, the costs being pretty sure to come out of
the estate at last, both sides went at it in a lively and spirited
manner, and expense was no consideration. Then, he launched into
a general eulogium on the Commons. What was to be particularly
admired (he said) in the Commons, was its compactness. It was the
most conveniently organized place in the world. It was the
complete idea of snugness. It lay in a nutshell. For example: You
brought a divorce case, or a restitution case, into the Consistory.
Very good. You tried it in the Consistory. You made a quiet
little round game of it, among a family group, and you played it
out at leisure. Suppose you were not satisfied with the
Consistory, what did you do then? Why, you went into the Arches.
What was the Arches? The same court, in the same room, with the
same bar, and the same practitioners, but another judge, for there
the Consistory judge could plead any court-day as an advocate.
Well, you played your round game out again. Still you were not
satisfied. Very good. What did you do then? Why, you went to the
Delegates. Who were the Delegates? Why, the Ecclesiastical
Delegates were the advocates without any business, who had looked
on at the round game when it was playing in both courts, and had
seen the cards shuffled, and cut, and played, and had talked to all
the players about it, and now came fresh, as judges, to settle the
matter to the satisfaction of everybody! Discontented people might
talk of corruption in the Commons, closeness in the Commons, and
the necessity of reforming the Commons, said Mr. Spenlow solemnly,
in conclusion; but when the price of wheat per bushel had been
highest, the Commons had been busiest; and a man might lay his hand
upon his heart, and say this to the whole world, - 'Touch the
Commons, and down comes the country!'

I listened to all this with attention; and though, I must say, I
had my doubts whether the country was quite as much obliged to the
Commons as Mr. Spenlow made out, I respectfully deferred to his
opinion. That about the price of wheat per bushel, I modestly felt
was too much for my strength, and quite settled the question. I
have never, to this hour, got the better of that bushel of wheat.

It has reappeared to annihilate me, all through my life, in
connexion with all kinds of subjects. I don't know now, exactly,
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PinkMonkey.com Digital Library - PinkMonkey.com-David Copperfield by Charles Dickens



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