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in which he approaches the standard of taste in vogue among the Eskimo, to whom the bird that enjoys a diet of fish or sea-lice forms flesh that most rejoices the palate of the squat gourmet of the Arctic.
Allied to the curlew are the whimbrels, both the common and the Eskimo. The latter is a very rare visitor ; but the former breeds in the Orkneys and Shetlands, and twice a year passes over these islands in migration. So regular is the date of its appearance that it is, as is well known, locally called the Maybird. A fact that I have never seen recorded is the occurrence of very large flocks in the Channel Islands, where it may be met on both autumn and spring migration. They suffer little at the hands of the fowler, in which they are more fortunate than the Eskimo curlew, which used to visit Labrador in vast flocks so regularly that their appearance was counted upon by both settlers and Eskimo. Nowadays the Eskimo curlew is practically unknown in Labrador. They are supposed to have been poisoned on their passage through the Southern States.
But to return to the true curlew, although he is more essentially, perhaps, than any other bird a denizen of the wild, yet sometimes he may be seen near the centres of civilisation. In the evening, flocks often fly by Ravelston Dykes over Edinburgh, and we may believe that Alan Breck heard them as he waited for David Balfour at Rest-and-be-Thankful, that spot which is nowadays the Mecca of the Writer to the Signet's Sunday constitutional. The curlew is not out of place there, nor out of the picture which includes the high Corstorphine Woods, as well as from another vantage-point, that view which drew out the word-picture : 'I saw all the country fall away before me down to the sea, and in the midst of this descent, on a long ridge, the City of Edinburgh smoking like a kiln .... and ships moving or lying anchored in the Firth.'
But the curlew occasionally appears in other places, at the heart of populous cities where one would scarcely expect to see him, or on wharf-surrounded expanses of black mud in the shadow of giant houses of merchandise. Once, near Glasgow, a single bird rose from a pool of slime in the vicinity of a huge gasometer-he rose and headed away for the Clyde ; let him reach it and pass over the tossing water, flying above giant liners until, far away, his sharp eyes discern the Kyles of Bute.
H. HESKETH PRICHARD.
THE POOR MAN'S LAWYER.
ALTHOUGH the species of social work which forms the subject of this paper has recently been brought before the public by the Cavendish and Agenda Clubs, the expression ‘Poor Man's Lawyer' is not perhaps sufficiently well known to make an explanation of its meaning superfluous. “Poor Man's Lawyer,' or, by abbreviation, *P.M.L.', is the title claimed by a number of social workers equipped with more or less legal knowledge and training who endeavour to furnish free advice and assistance on matters connected with law to deserving applicants too poor to provide it for themselves.
The P.M.L. is, as a rule, a duly qualified barrister or solicitor who devotes one or more evenings in the week, after his work is finished, to endeavouring to perform this task at one of the various Social Settlements in the poorer parts of London. By preference he is gregarious and loves to sit as a committee. The advantages of plurality are obvious ; responsibility lies less heavy on the shoulders of several than of one, and a division of labour greatly reduces the often considerable task of correspondence and legal research entailed. But the supply of jurisconsults is seldom equal to providing a committee. Where there are four P.M.L.s at a particular Settlement, each prepared to give one night a week, it is obviously better that the poor man should be able to consult an individual on four nights a week than a committee on only one, in spite of the advantages of the latter.
That part of the P.M.L.'s work which is most pleasant and most easy to perform efficiently consists in advising pure and simple, and it is satisfactory to be able to record that this class of work is increasing in volume. It is becoming more and more common, for instance, for a workman who has met with an accident to consult the P.M.L. as to what are his exact rights under the Workman's Compensation Act, 1906, and whether he would get more by proceeding under that Act or under the Employers' Liability Act or at Common Law.!
' It is hardly necessary to say that he is almost invariably persuaded to have nothing to do with the two last-named remedies, if the Workman's Compensation Act is applicable, as it is obviously more to his advantage to get the regular weekly payment during the total period of disablement which that Act gives him than to obtain under the Employers' Liability Act or at Common Law at lump sum which he may be tempted to squander immediately.
Often, too, the member of a Friendly Society or Trade Union, or the contributor to a pension fund, comes with a copy of rules for interpretation; or a 'party who takes in lodgers' wants to know the best method of getting rid of them if undesirable ; or the purchaser of a midwifery practice asks how she can exercise her rights of restraining competition by her predecessor under the purchaseagreement.
Where hostilities have already begun, the work is not so simple or pleasant. A first attempt is made to obtain what the client demands by a more or less friendly letter to his opponent expressing a hope that he will help us to avoid litigation and a thorough readiness to hear his side of the case, but stating clearly that proceedings will be promptly commenced if the matter cannot otherwise be satisfactorily arranged. It is remarkable how often this initial letter has the desired effect. There is a certain magic in the note-paper on which it is written, stamped as it is with the address of a Settlement well known in the district as a solid, powerful, and beneficent institution; and the memory of cases won in the past has given weight to the name of Poor Man's Lawyer. Sometimes the opponent may have only been deferring payment till he can see that the claimant means business ; the P.M.L.'s letter shows him that he does. Sometimes he may be only waiting till he can satisfy himself of the claimant's bona fides, or understand what is the true nature of the claim. For the uneducated, however genuine their cause of action may be, frequently approach their opponent with such an ostentation of cunning, caution, and unwillingness to accept thirteen pence for a shilling, that they would arouse suspicion in the breast of a two-months-old lamb; frequently they are so incapable of expressing themselves intelligibly that their opponent is unable to make head or tail either of what is being demanded of him or of the right by which the demand is made. The P.M.L.'s letter enlightens him on these points and so often obtains what his client wants without more ado.
Where the initial demand fails, further correspondence of a sterner nature is entered upon; and finally, if that fails too, proceedings are begun. This done, the client is encouraged to litigate in person wherever possible, and the ready courtesy and sympathy of most of the County Court Judges often renders this method successful. But where the case entails argument on a point of law, or contains some other inherent difficulty, or where the abnormal stupidity of the client prevents him from conducting it himself even VOL. XXXV.-NO. 200, N.S.
with the Judge's assistance, a resort is made to any funds from charitable sources which may be available and legal aid is provided at the smallest possible cost. If, as but too often happens, no money is obtainable, the case has reluctantly to be abandoned. I need hardly say that before taking any steps at all the P.M.L. satisfies himself that his client is in the right. Even where he can render no aid of a strictly legal description he can often perform a useful function by giving a sympathetic hearing and practical advice to those who wish to consult him, without unduly encroaching upon the ground of the parish clergyman.
Perhaps the best way of explaining the nature of the work accomplished will be to give a short account of a P.M.L. evening. The jurisconsult, his diurnal labour or leisure ended, hurries East and hastily sets himself to devour the hybrid meal which forms a characteristic and apparently inevitable feature of all Social Settlements. After a few minutes' energetic eating, the aged and somewhat dingy janitor, whose face and functions alike have earned for him the name of Cerberus, calls us from the feast by announcing the arrival of a client.
Hastily gulping down the last drops of cocoa in our cup, with our mouth still full of stewed prunes and bread and butter, we rush into the reformed scullery which serves us as a legal dispensary. There stands a table laden with pens and paper, Stone’s ‘Justice’s
, Manual,' Beven on Workman's Compensation, The Annual County Court Practice,' Shirley's 'Leading Cases, etc., etc. On one side is the jurisconsult's own seat, and facing it across the table, in another chair, sits, mouthing, an old woman in a great state of malevolent excitement. Her face suggests Ayesha after the horrible transformation, and her hands recall those of the more elderly of Mr. Arthur Rackham's hobgoblins.
She plunges at once in medias res : 'It's them girls. It's all along o' them cheeking me so. They ought to be ashamed of themselves.' 'Slander, or possibly assault,' one thinks ; but laborious cross-examination discloses that the proposed cause of action is of quite another nature. "Them girls' are her nieces, the daughters of a deceased brother who had been a publican at Norwood. He had always told her that a Mr. Hozier of Ropely Farm, near which they spent their childhood, had told him that he would leave in his will £3000 to be divided between brother and sister. She is sure that her brother must have got the money and kept it all for himself. She had not cared for it before, but now that her nieces are so inso
lent, she will get the money out of them and have them put in prison for keeping it. When Mr. Hozier died she knows not, nor where Ropely Farm is situated except that she thinks it is somewhere south of London. It is always pleasant to be reminded of George Eliot, but that is not the purpose for which we have come East; so we cast as much cold water as we civilly can on Ayesha's hopes both of wealth and vengeance, and finally get rid of her by promising to find out anything we can about Mr. Hozier's will. Subsequent inquiries reveal the fact that without doubt neither she nor her brother was ever entitled to a penny under that document.
Next, please !' shouts Cerberus, and in steps a neat and pretty little seamstress. In the tailor's shop in which she was formerly employed an enterprising spirit among her fellow-workers has organised what was called a One Pound Club.' The scheme was that each girl should weekly pay one shilling to the organiser as treasurer and that each week one girl (to be selected by lot before the commencement of the payments) should have the right to draw out a sovereign. Thus the girl who drew No. 1 would draw out £1 after paying only one shilling, but would have to make nineteen successive payments afterwards ; while the girl who drew No. 20 would go on paying her weekly shilling until after twenty weeks she would be allowed to draw her 208. out again ; a savings-bank with a pleasing element of uncertainty added to it. Unfortunately, after eight weeks' payment a strike ensued and scattered the girls far and wide. The treasurer took with her the funds and though she acknowledged her obligation to repay the money paid in, refused to do so on the somewhat irrelevant ground of poverty. Two fulminating letters from the P.M.L. brought the money back in instalments.
Next come two Workman's Compensation cases. In the one a boy employed as scullion in a cheap restaurant had cut his hand on the broken handle of a potato-peeling machine and the wound had festered. The employers refused compensation on the ground that the boy knew the handle was broken and that by the use of care he could have avoided the injury. A letter pointing out that this, even if true, is immaterial under the Act, soon brings them to their senses. In the other, an elderly and comparatively refined Irishwoman, who for some mysterious reason had sunk to be maid-of-all-work in a Jewish restaurant in Whitechapel, upon injuring her knee had been dismissed and refused compensation on the ground of the alleged casual nature of her employment. Here