The Battle of Life HTML version

Chapter 2
SNITCHEY AND CRAGGS had a snug little office on the old Battle Ground,
where they drove a snug little business, and fought a great many small pitched
battles for a great many contending parties. Though it could hardly be said of
these conflicts that they were running fights - for in truth they generally
proceeded at a snail's pace - the part the Firm had in them came so far within the
general denomination, that now they took a shot at this Plaintiff, and now aimed a
chop at that Defendant, now made a heavy charge at an estate in Chancery, and
now had some light skirmishing among an irregular body of small debtors, just as
the occasion served, and the enemy happened to present himself. The Gazette
was an important and profitable feature in some of their fields, as in fields of
greater renown; and in most of the Actions wherein they showed their
generalship, it was afterwards observed by the combatants that they had had
great difficulty in making each other out, or in knowing with any degree of
distinctness what they were about, in consequence of the vast amount of smoke
by which they were surrounded.
The offices of Messrs. Snitchey and Craggs stood convenient, with an open door
down two smooth steps, in the market-place; so that any angry farmer inclining
towards hot water, might tumble into it at once. Their special council-chamber
and hall of conference was an old back-room up-stairs, with a low dark ceiling,
which seemed to be knitting its brows gloomily in the consideration of tangled
points of law. It was furnished with some high-backed leathern chairs, garnished
with great goggle-eyed brass nails, of which, every here and there, two or three
had fallen out - or had been picked out, perhaps, by the wandering thumbs and
forefingers of bewildered clients. There was a framed print of a great judge in it,
every curl in whose dreadful wig had made a man's hair stand on end. Bales of
papers filled the dusty closets, shelves, and tables; and round the wainscot there
were tiers of boxes, padlocked and fireproof, with people's names painted
outside, which anxious visitors felt themselves, by a cruel enchantment, obliged
to spell backwards and forwards, and to make anagrams of, while they sat,
seeming to listen to Snitchey and Craggs, without comprehending one word of
what they said.
Snitchey and Craggs had each, in private life as in professional existence, a
partner of his own. Snitchey and Craggs were the best friends in the world, and
had a real confidence in one another; but Mrs. Snitchey, by a dispensation not
uncommon in the affairs of life, was on principle suspicious of Mr. Craggs; and
Mrs. Craggs was on principle suspicious of Mr. Snitchey. 'Your Snitcheys
indeed,' the latter lady would observe, sometimes, to Mr. Craggs; using that
imaginative plural as if in disparagement of an objectionable pair of pantaloons,
or other articles not possessed of a singular number; 'I don't see what you want
with your Snitcheys, for my part. You trust a great deal too much to your
Snitcheys, I think, and I hope you may never find my words come true.' While
Mrs. Snitchey would observe to Mr. Snitchey, of Craggs, 'that if ever he was led
away by man he was led away by that man, and that if ever she read a double