Eighteen Months’ Imprisonment (Illustrated)

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Eighteen Months’ Imprisonment (Illustrated)


On a dreary afternoon in November, cheerless and foggy as befitted the occasion, and accompanied by that gentle rain which we are told “falleth on the just and on the unjust,” I suddenly, though hardly unexpectedly, found myself in the hands of the law, as represented by a burly policeman in a waterproof cape and a strong Somersetshire accent. The circumstances that led up to this momentous change can be briefly described. I had gone to the office of a solicitor-one White, with whom I had had previous monetary transactions-with reference to a new loan on a bill of exchange; and it must be distinctly understood that any allusions I may make to this individual’s p. 2vocations are not to be misinterpreted, for I have the highest respect for his integrity and aptitude for business, legal or otherwise, and cannot but admire (as I’m sure every honest reader will) the horror with which any dishonest act inspired him, which, though it did not deter him from conscientiously completing the transaction as a matter of business, was equally swift in retributive justice, and condemnatory (to use his own expression) of compounding a felony. Mr. White, in short, is a money-lender, who, in addition to the advantages derivable from his legal assistance, is always prepared on undoubted security-such as a bill of sale or a promissory note-to make cash advances at the rate of 240 per cent. I am justified in quoting this as the gentleman’s rate of interest, for I paid him £5 for a loan of £45 for fourteen days, a transaction that his cheque on a Holborn bank will testify. The only marvel that suggests itself to my mind is, that a person who is so scrupulous in refusing to “compound a felony,” as he termed it when he assisted in involving me in the meshes of the law, should retain the ill-gotten and usurious sum of £5 one moment after he was aware (as he has been for a year) that it was the proceeds of a p. 3forgery. But perhaps I am wronging the worthy man; he may have subscribed i

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