AN unlucky suitor in the court of King's Bench entered an adjoining coffee-house, and vented his chagrin upon the law and the lawyers. He paced the room in rage, and left no disgraceful epithet unuttered against the profession. A young counsellor sat unobserved, in a corner-box, conning over his brief, in another cause, and was thus unseasonably interrupted. A moment's consideration sufficed to rid himself of the intruder. Rising, therefore, in an assumed rage, great as that of the losing suitor, he vociferated, "Who is he that abuses the law—ha! is it you. Sir: you, who at this very moment are more indebted to the law than any man living!" "How so," returned the astonished client, "for I have just lost a good cause." "But since you have saved your life," continued the barrister, "you have degraded the law, and were it not for the respect I have for the law, I would kill you; therefore avaunt! lest I make of you a grim spectre." The now doubly distressed suitor left the lawyer to his studies.
If, reader, we were not protected by the law, against the evil machinations of watermen and hackney-coach men, the first might drown us, and the latter break our necks, and both grossly impose upon us.
Of this description of watermen, was Holderness. He plied a few gentlemen, who went into his wherry: when seated, and as he pushed off, he asked the usual question of the men of the oar, "Up or down;" they answered, "Down," on which he swore he would not carry them. The company insisted that he should; he swayed the boat, and in a few minutes filled it, and sunk it in fourteen feet water. If a life had been lost, should not this fellow have been hanged? Though, fortunately, they escaped a watery grave, yet were they brought little better than half drowned, on shore, by a vessel passing at the time of the outrage.
The injured gentleman complained to the Waterman's Company, who dismissed them on the ground that no sculler was obliged to go farther down than Cuckold's Point, nor farther up than Vauxhall, as below or above those places there were no settled fares. They were, however, of opinion, that no waterman, plying for passengers, could demand where they would be landed, or endanger their lives. Yet they awarded no satisfaction to the party aggrieved; but thanks to the laws of the land, this "Jolly young waterman" was, at the quarter-sessions, Westminster, sentenced a year's imprisonment in Newgate.