Project Gutenberg's The Confessions of Artemas Quibble, by Arthur Train
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Title: The Confessions of Artemas Quibble
Author: Arthur Train
Release Date: January 26, 2007 [EBook #20451]
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THE CONFESSIONS OF ARTEMAS QUIBBLE
BEING THE INGENUOUS AND UNVARNISHED HISTORY OF ARTEMAS QUIBBLE, ESQUIRE, ONE-TIME PRACTITIONER IN THE NEW YORK CRIMINAL COURTS, TOGETHER WITH AN ACCOUNT OF THE DIVERS WILES, TRICKS, SOPHISTRIES, TECHNICALITIES, AND SUNDRY ARTIFICES OF HIMSELF AND OTHERS OF THE FRATERNITY, COMMONLY YCLEPT "SHYSTERS" OR "SHYSTER LAWYERS," AS EDITED BY ARTHUR TRAIN FORMERLY ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY NEW YORK COUNTY
NEW YORK CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS 1922
COPYRIGHT, 1911, BY CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
PRINTED AT THE SCRIBNER PRESS NEW YORK, U.S.A.
THE CONFESSIONS OF ARTEMAS QUIBBLE
I was born in the town in Lynn, Massachusetts, upon the twenty- second day of February, in the year 1855. Unlike most writers of similar memoirs, I shall cast no aspersions upon the indigent by stating that my parents were poor but honest. They were poor and honest, as indeed, so far as I have been able to ascertain, have been all the Quibbles since the founder of the family came over on the good ship Susan and Ellen in 1635, and, after marrying a lady's maid who had been his fellow passenger, settled in the township of Weston, built a mill, and divided his time equally between selling rum to the Indians and rearing a numerous progeny.
My father, the Reverend Ezra Quibble, was, to be sure, poor enough. The salary that he received as pastor of his church was meagre to the degree of necessitating my wearing his over-worn and discarded clerical vestments, which to some extent may account for my otherwise inexplicable distaste for things ecclesiastical. My mother was poor, after wedlock, owing to the eccentricity of a parent who was so inexorably opposed to religion that he cut her off with a shilling upon her marriage to my father. Before this she had had and done what she chose, as was fitting for a daughter of a substantial citizen who had made a fortune in shoe leather.
I remember that one of my first experiments upon taking up the study of law was to investigate by grandfather's will in the probate office, with a view to determining whether or not, in his fury against the church, he had violated any of the canons of the law in regard to perpetuities or restraints upon alienation; or whether in his enthusiasm for the Society for the Propagation of Free Thinking, which he had established and intended to perpetuate, he had not been guilty of some technical slip or blunder that would enable me to seize upon its endowment for my own benefit. But the will, alas! had been drawn by that most careful of draughtsmen, old Tuckerman Toddleham, of 14 Barristers' Hall, Boston, and was as solid as the granite blocks of the court-house and as impregnable of legal attack as the Constitution.
We lived in a frame house, painted a disconsolate yellow. It abutted close upon the sidewalk and permitted the passer-by to view the family as we sat at meat or enjoyed the moderate delights of social intercourse with our neighbors, most of whom were likewise parishioners of my father.
My early instruction was received in the public schools of my native town, supplemented by tortured hours at home with "Greenleaf's Mental Arithmetic" and an exhaustive study of the major and minor prophets. The former stood me in good stead, but the latter I fear had small effect. At any rate, the impression made upon me bore little fruit, and after three years of them I found myself in about the same frame of mind as the Oxford student who, on being asked at his examination to distinguish between the major and minor prophets, wrote in answer: "God forbid that I should discriminate between such holy men!"
But for all that I was naturally of a studious and even scholarly disposition, and much preferred browsing among the miscellaneous books piled in a corner of the attic to playing the rough-and-tumble games in which my school-mates indulged.
My father was a stern, black-bearded man of the ante-bellum type, such as you may see in any old volume of daguerreotypes, and entirely unblessed with a sense of humor. I can even now recall with a sinking of the heart the manner in which, if I abjured my food, he would grasp me firmly by the back of the neck and force my nose toward the plate of Indian mush—which was the family staple at supper—with the command, "Eat, boy!" Sometimes he was kind to a degree which, by a yawning of the imagination, might be regarded as affectionate, but this was only from a sense of religious duty. At such times I was prone to distrust him even more than at others. He believed in a personal devil with horns, a tail, and, I suspect, red tights; and up to the age of ten I shared implicitly in this belief. The day began and ended with family prayers of a particularly long-drawn-out and dolorous character.
My mother, on the other hand, was a pale young woman of an undecided turn of mind with a distinct taste for the lighter pleasures that she was never allowed to gratify. I think she secretly longed for the freedom that had been hers under the broader roof of her father's stately mansion on High Street. But she had, I suspect, neither the courage nor the force of mind to raise an issue, and from sheer inertia remained faithful to the life that she had elected.
My grandfather never had anything to do with either of them and did not, so far as I am aware, know me by sight, which may account for the fact that when he died he bequeathed a moderate sum in trust, "the proceeds to be devoted to the support and maintenance of the child of my daughter Sarah, at some suitable educational institution where he may be removed from the influences of his father."
Thus it was that at the age of nine I was sent away from home and began an independent career at the boarding-school kept by the Reverend Mr. Quirk, at Methuen, Massachusetts. Here I remained for seven years, in the course of which both my parents died, victims of typhoid. I was cast upon the world utterly alone, save for the rather uncompromising and saturnine regard in which I was held by old Mr. Toddleham, my trustee. This antique gentleman inhabited a musty little office, the only furniture in which consisted of a worn red carpet, a large engraving of the Hon. Jeremiah Mason, and a table covered with green baize. I recall also a little bronze horse which he used as a paper weight. He had a shrewd wrinkled