The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 12
[Q. Had there been, that you are aware of, any discontent exhibited by you towards Mr. Smythies previous to this letter?]
Q. Had there been, that you are aware of, any discontent exhibited by you towards Mr. Smythies previous to this letter? A. Yes, there had—I complained of his commencing the suit and altogether, and his conduct with reference to the articled clerk--I had not received any premium from him when we entered into partnership—I had been led to suppose that this was a copy—In May last I received a communication on the subject from Mr. Soden, through Ezra Miles—it was on the afternoon of the day upon which I gave Mr. Smythies notice of dissolution, on 15th May—before that I had no knowledge or suspicion that there had not existed an original retainer—in consequence of what I learnt from Ezra Miles, I went down to Aylesbury to seize the papers—I took a Mr. Aubertin with me—1 broke open Mr. Smythies' desk, and removed every paper of every description almost in the office—I found this retainer in his desk, and also these seven letters—five of them were tied up together with a piece of green tape, and the other two were in the corner of the drawer—in the retainer the signature "Richard" has the small "d" after "Rich," and also in the five letters, but not in the two—in consequence of my breaking open the desk, I appeared before a Magistrate—I was not taken into custody, a warrant was issued—I came down to Aylesbury, and the officer came, and Mr. Huddleston insisted on his taking me into custody, and thereupon I walked to the Magistrate—the Magistrate at once dismissed the charge—I received this letter, dated 12th May, from Mr. Smythies on 13th—it was sent to me—a draft of it was found in the drawer--(letter read—"Aylesbury, 12th May, 1849. Dear James,—I confess myself at a loss to understand the principle upon which you are acting towards me." The following passage here occurred in the draft, but was omitted in the letter: "I know it is not your nature to act unjustly to anybody, and I cannot think you would mark me out for a different course of treatment.") "I suspect you are not acquainted with the facts, I will therefore state them. Doubtless you recollect telling me to sue all the Miles' party for our costs, and that if we got only sufficient to pay agents' costs, it would be better to get clear of the matter. I proceeded to do so, and, upon looking up the evidence, I discovered that I had mislaid the retainer. Fully expecting to find it, and the wording of it being fresh in my memory, I re-wrote it, and page 339 laid the duplicate, together with the other papers, before my brother, to advise upon evidence—upon the taxation Kirk's clerk asked to see the retainer. I might have refused to show it him, for he had no right to see it; but as I had no cause for concealment, having the duplicate among the papers, I gave it to him, making no remark; he copied it, and returned it to me. Having failed to find the original, the document was left out of the brief, upon which my brother told me of the omission, and I said it was omitted purposely, I having lost the original. The circumstance was mentioned at the consultatisn, but Mr. Hill being called into Court, the consultation was adjourned. Afterwards, and after I saw you, my brother advised me to withdraw the Record. I thought we could do without the retainer, as we had other evidence, but nevertheless took his advice, and after making terms with the defendant, and getting a positive assurance from him that the suit should be continued, and the costs paid out of the first moneys realized, I withdrew the Record. You charge me with having concealed from you the fact of my having lost the retainer. Call to mind the remarks you made to me when you only suspected me of trifling, and ask yourself what I had to expect if I informed you of so careless an act as losing a retainer; and can you be surprised at my not telling you? Having no papers in the suit in the office when I took the retainer, I no doubt put it somewhere by itself, and so it was mislaid. You wish me to dissolve the partnership; be it so, I consent to sell out, and leave Aylesbury altogether You may say that having come in for nothing, I ought not to expect to sell. I reply, when you took me into partnership, you could not get any desirable person not only to purchase, but to take it as a gift. I have heard I was the last of sixty applicants; perhaps there is nothing to sell now; if so, I leave the business as I found it; but if there is anything to sell, it must be through me that it is so; and as you will not be prejudiced, you ought not to object to my reaping the full benefit of my own exertions; nor would you, I think, wish to send me into the world without giving me the chance of providing a fund to establish myself elsewhere. Of course I shall not sell to any one objectionable to yourself, I have not yet received my recalled letter.
"I am yours, &c.