Pity the Poor Lawyers (Katie’s Pick of Punch 4)

Pick of Punch is a series of selected quotes from old Punch magazines, chosen by guest blogger and Punch enthusiast Katie Marriott.


The Old Bailey, from the Illustrated London News, 1843


If a cat have nine lives, how many has a lawyer?

That is not a riddle, reader, although you may think it reads like one.  On the contrary, indeed it is a question of grave import, and to those whom it concerns it is confessedly no joke.  The reason why we ask it is to help to solve the problem as to how much longer the lawyers will continue to exist: a problem which, according to a high legal authority, appears to have alarmingly disturbed the legal mind.  At the meeting of the Law Association held last week, the chairman spoke most piteously on this distressing subject, and described in touching terms the lowness of the ebb to which, financially regarded, the profession was reduced.  He said that fees were so cut down, that the lawyers, as a body, were thoroughly cut up; and the only means by which they might continue to exist was by ekeing out the scanty and quite insufficient pittance which remained of their small savings ere they were so oppressed.

Said the Chairman, Mr Beaumont,-

“I admit that it is wonderful, all things considered, yet somehow or other, chiefly through the practice of great abstinence, we still exist.”

So, according to this orator, a lawyer is in fact a marvel of vitality; and may, without untruth in this respect, be likened to a cat.  There is moreover this yet further similarity between them, namely, that both creatures are gifted with remarkable tenacity of claw, and keep firm hold of whatever may come within their clutch.  When, therefore, we are told that lawyers are distressed, we do not feel quite unmixed pity for their plight.  Protest as they may, that they have nothing left to live upon, we believe that they have still some mice left in their larders, to whom, for all that Mr Beaumont may talk about their “abstinence,” we are convinced, when they feel hungry, they still pay their devours.

This pick of Punch appeared in the 5th November 1859 edition.


About Windows into History

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