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Posted Feb 02 2013 4:02am
But this was not the worst of it. There were a Pandora Jewelry shop 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 able-bodied person in a white apron pounced 
out upon me from a doorway, and whispering the word ‘Marriagelicence’ in my ear, was with great difficulty prevented from taking 
me up in his arms and lifting me into a proctor’s. From this 
digression, let me proceed to Dover. 
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