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


although it had been quickened by the infusion of new blood, and by
the display which Mr. Spenlow made, still it was not established on
a sufficiently strong basis to bear, without being shaken, such a
blow as the sudden loss of its active manager. It fell off very
much. Mr. jorkins, notwithstanding his reputation in the firm, was
an easy-going, incapable sort of man, whose reputation out of doors
was not calculated to back it up. I was turned over to him now,
and when I saw him take his snuff and let the business go, I
regretted my aunt's thousand pounds more than ever.

But this was not the worst of it. There were a number of
hangers-on and outsiders about the Commons, who, without being
proctors themselves, dabbled in common-form business, and got it
done by real proctors, who lent their names in consideration of a
share in the spoil; - and there were a good many of these too. As
our house now wanted business on any terms, we joined this noble
band; and threw out lures to the hangers-on and outsiders, to bring
their business to us. Marriage licences and small probates were
what we all looked for, and what paid us best; and the competition
for these ran very high indeed. Kidnappers and inveiglers were
planted in all the avenues of entrance to the Commons, with
instructions to do their utmost to cut off all persons in mourning,
and all gentlemen with anything bashful in their appearance, and
entice them to the offices in which their respective employers were
interested; which instructions were so well observed, that I
myself, before I was known by sight, was twice hustled into the
premises of our principal opponent. The conflicting interests of
these touting gentlemen being of a nature to irritate their
feelings, personal collisions took place; and the Commons was even
scandalized by our principal inveigler (who had formerly been in
the wine trade, and afterwards in the sworn brokery line) walking
about for some days with a black eye. Any one of these scouts used
to think nothing of politely assisting an old lady in black out of
a vehicle, killing any proctor whom she inquired for, representing
his employer as the lawful successor and representative of that
proctor, and bearing the old lady off (sometimes greatly affected)
to his employer's office. Many captives were brought to me in this
way. As to marriage licences, the competition rose to such a
pitch, that a shy gentleman in want of one, had nothing to do but
submit himself to the first inveigler, or be fought for, and become
the prey of the strongest. One of our clerks, who was an outsider,
used, in the height of this contest, to sit with his hat on, that
he might be ready to rush out and swear before a surrogate any
victim who was brought in. The system of inveigling continues, I
believe, to this day. The last time I was in the Commons, a civil
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PinkMonkey.com Digital Library - PinkMonkey.com-David Copperfield by Charles Dickens



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