[From Laughton's Reminiscences, 1916]



Some Stories about A. W. Adams.

One of our Vicar-Generals was an elderly man named Thomas Arthur Corlett, a thorough Manxman, solid, cautious, slow and self-opinionated. He was considered a sound Manx lawyer, but his knowledge had been picked up rather from practice and observation than by exhaustive reasoning. His leading characteristic was the most perfect satisfaction with himself, in every branch of knowledge, including Law, Physic, Divinity, and Pronunciation, which latter was " rate Manx." One day Mr. Adams was arguing a case before him, involving some intricate point of law. During the argument, the Vicar-General interposed with an expression of his opinion, which, though favourable to Adams's case, was outrageously in conflict with every legal principle. With the greatest gravity Adams looked profoundly impressed, and, holding a book open in his hands, observed that the Vicar-General had laid down the law "almost in the exact words of Lord Ellenborough."

" What!" eagerly exclaimed the Vicar-General (he always pronounced his " a's " like " a " in bat.)

Adams repeated," Your Worship has expressed yourself most luminously, almost in the very words of my Lord Ellenborough."

" Rade it up, Mr. Adams! Rade it up! " said the Judge; whereat Mr. Adams made an effort to look grave, whilst Lamothe, who was on the other side, burst into a perfect explosion of laughter, for he knew that Lord Ellenborough never could have uttered the legal platitudes to which the Vicar-General had given voice, and that Adams had been simply what he called " nodding" the Vicar-General. An "accident" helped Mr. Adams out of this dilemma. The book " happened " to slip out of his hand on to the floor, and when he picked it up he was unable, at once, to find the exact page again, so the business of the Court had to proceed without his having an opportunity of " Rading it up ! "

Clustering round the honoured name of Alfred Walter Adams are jokes and tales innumerable. I must place a few on record, for " Alfred Walter," as some of us used to call him, was deservedly a very great favourite amongst us lawyers; and indeed of everyone who came within the range of his personal influence; and any tale with which he is connected will, I know, be heartily and lovingly received in the Isle of Man.

Well, then, be it known, that though a good lawyer my departed friend was no sportsman; he was, in fact an extraordinarily bad shot, and yet was moderately fond of mild sport.

One winter when he lived at Springfield, he used graphically to describe his shooting experiences. He had a little bit of water in his grounds, which, during this particular winter, one solitary Jack Snipe used to frequent. Thus he spoke: "Every morning before breakfast I loaded my gun and went out to the water, and stealthily approached it. Up got the snipe! Off went my gum Away flew the snipe; and I went in to breakfast." This took place nearly every morning. " Now," he used to say in conclusion, " there is the advantage of being a bad shot! There was only one snipe that ever came into my grounds. Had I been a good hand at the gun I should have probably shot it on the first morning, and the rest of the winter would have been a blank to me; whereas, being a bad shot, I enjoyed snipe shooting every day for several months!"


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