Friday, January 30, 2009

Lawyer's Humor, Circa 1875

Here is an exchange from the late, lamented era in which legal information circulated in books. It was published in the American Bar Association Journal in 1923.
Omaha, Nebr, September 13, 1875.

To Hon. E. Wakeley.
Dear Judge: I hold your receipt for Abbott’s Nat. Digest which was taken by you some four months ago. If you have no further use for the book I should like it. I often wish to consult it, but still if you are not through reading it I can get along without it.

Yours truly,

Omaha, Nebr, September 14, 1875.

Dear Ambrose:
I herewith comply (under protest) with your untimely request that I should return your book.

You remark that you have held my receipt for it some four months. This is probably true. But if you will read the statute of limitations of Nebraska you will observe that it does not bar a claim under any written instrument until the lapse of five years, leaving you about four years and eight months still, to claim your book.
Why this precipitancy?

You will permit me, as a searcher after full knowledge, respectfully to inquire if you can refer me to any respectable authority requiring the borrower of a law book to return it within four months. You remark that you often wish to consult the book. I highly commend that resolution. You would certainly find it beneficial to occasionally read some law; and if you should become accustomed to it, you would find it comparatively easy, only don’t overdo it at first.

The only thing that I object to in that paragraph is an implication that I would not allow you to consult that book at my office. This is unjust. I have never refused the owner of a book that privilege, even when it has occasioned inconvenience to myself. In conclusion, permit me to suggest that, if you really cannot afford to keep law books for other practitioners to use, it would be a philanthropic thing for you to sell them to some one who can.

Gratefully yours,