FORDERICH the itinerant corn cutter
Transcribed by janilye 13 April 2011 from Bell?s Life in Sydney and Sporting Reviewer NSW : 1845-1860 published 30 September 1848
COURT OF REQUESTS.
In this case one FORDERICH summoned a buxom widow, by the name of Dickson, for the sum of ?1 11s. 6d., for sundry attendances and operations on one of the said lady's toes.
The Commissioner.- Let us hear the nature of the claim. Is the debt disputed ?
Mrs. Dickson.-Oh, dear me, yes. It is one of the most abominable and impudent, as ever the law heard of.
The Commissioner.-Then it must be bad indeed-(a laugh) ; but we will hear what it is,before we decide
Mrs. Dickson.-But, sir, I wish to state that the person, who has summoned me here, has committed what, I think, must be contempt of court ; though 1 know very little about law, and have no desire to know more.
The Commissioner (surprised).-A contempt of court ! What has been the nature of it?
The plaintiff, a somewhat, chubby, Dutch-formed personage, stepped forward and said he would explain.
The Commissioner.-Let us hear the lady first, Proceed Mrs Dickson.
Mrs. Dickson (holding down her head.) - He, the bad man, has sent me an order, or note, or subpoena, or whatever it is, to produce in evidence my---(the lady could not go on farther.)
The Commissioner.- Where is the paper?
Mrs. Dickson after some difficulty, and blushing red, handed it to the court.
The Commissioner as soon as he had perused it, laughed heartily. "It was," he said " a novel subpoena, for it requested the defendant to produce her left foot in court."
Plaintiff:- Yes, dat is it.
The Commissioner. - At present we have nothing to decide on, as it is not likely to be called for.
Plaintiff (earnestly.)- Oh, yes! (laughter.)
The Commissioner.- Where is the bill.
The document was handed in, and was as follows : -
Mrs, Amibil Dickson,
Dr. to Forderich, the chiropodist, just arrived from Amsterdam.
Jan. 4.-See your left foot very great bad corn, vich 1 tell you take long time it so big. 2s 2d
Jan. ?.- Put on dis cornu pressum forget him allgedur and take same
oil. 10s 6d
Jan. 7.- Der same-... 10s 6d
Jan. 8...Der fine Amstat salve, as der corn Very hard, and dis always
soften. 2s 6d
Box for him. 6d
Jan. 9.-For lost time, see you when you give back der cornu pressum, an say 1 never cure you. 5s 6d
This precious bill excited roars of laughter during its perusal. The Dutchman did not seem to understand why, and the lady was evidently annoyed at the allusion to her "left foot", which she kept right out of sight.
The Court observed that this was one of the most extraordinary claims among the many extraordinary that daily came before them. A good deal of it, however, they, as yet. could not understand. Did the defendant dispute the whole amount?
Mrs. Dickson said very energetically that she did, and if the commissioner had been put in thc cornu pressum, or whatever it was, he would justly think she ought to complain, instead of being asked for this bill-(loud laughter.)
Tho Commissioner.- What is the plaintiff's case ?
The plaintiff, in broken English, said he had been called in professionally, and should, in time, have cured der lady ; but she would not let him, and said he and his cornu pressum was an "imposture "-(a laugh),
The Commissioner-What is this cornu pres-
Plaintiff (leaning over and speaking mysteriously).-That for cure her-but. der foot so bad shape, no shape, that no cornu pressum fit-(loud laughter).
Mrs. Dickson.-Oh you good for nothing
The Commissioner.-Never mind, Mrs. Dickson, we will hear you by and by.
The plaintiff then gave a glowing description of his professional skill, and wished the court to see the shape of the lady's foot, and they would be satisfied it required much time for the completion of his engagement-(laughter).
The Commissioner observed that he would not ask ihe defendant to do anything of the sort, but as the complainant had given notice to Mrs. Dickson to produce her foot, he could perhaps give secondary evidence.
Plaintiff.- Der dieble! What that ?
One of the officers explained. to him that he might show by some other means of what particular form the lady's foot was.
Plaintiff (passionately).-How I do dat, dere is der foot-(pointing under the table) ; look for what I say-(roars of laughter).
The Court.- No, that, we shall not allow. Can you produce a witness, or a drawing, if you like?
Plaintiff - No witness. And looking at the Commissioner with the utmost astonishment - Draw der voot ? Der diable! not draw der voot - (continued laughter).
The Court - We, can assist you no further. Is that all you have to say?
Plaintiff - I vant der voot; look for der voot, mynheer, and den give me my bill.
The Commissioner declined to pry under the table, and called upon Mrs. Dickson for her defence.
Mrs. Dickson said the case on her part was a very hard one. She had unfortunalely a bad corn when she first saw the plaintiff, who, she had discovered, is an itinerant corn-cutter.
Plaintiff-Vot you say? I have my caracter in Amsterdam for chiropodist ; take care -(a laugh). , . .....
Thc Commissioner-You must not interrupt. We have heard you very patiently.
Mrs. Dickson continued, and stated that he called at her house, and spoke of so many wonderful cures he had performed, that she was induced, at the suggestion of her niece, to allow him to attempt the removal of the corn, which had caused her a great deal of pain. He was to call the next day, but then he made a vast number of difficulties, and observed how lucky it was that he had been called in, as there was great danger if the case had been placed in un skilful hands-(loud laughter),-and she was induced to let him apply what he called his cornu pressum, and she really thought, it would, have pulled not only the corn but her foot off. She had been lame ever since, and the allusion to the shape of her foot was nothing but a piece of impudence to deter her from defending this summons.
Several of the defendant's friends gave her foot a " good character," and fully.corroborated her statement, that she had been lame ever since the application of the cornu pressum (laughter).
Thc Commissioner, having consulted, said the charges on the bill were so strange that he did not see what could be allowed. Probably as Mrs. Dickson had been so foolish as to consult the plaintiff she'ought to be charged something, and the first item in the bill Would be enough. The Cornu pressum, or whatever it was, he thought it must be paid for.
Plaintiff.- Oh, my cornu pressum-(loud laughter, and cries of "silence."
Ultimately Mrs. Dixon was ordered to pay
2s. 6d. which she did.
The Commissioner- Mrs. Dickson, let me advise you to beware of the cornu pressum for the future-(a laugh)
Mrs. Dickson said she assuredly would.
The plaintiff', When the result of the decision was made known to him, burst out in a volley of abuse against all present, and running after the defendant called out, " See der voot ! seeder voot !" Mrs. Dickson, however, had a cab waiting, and public curiosity was not gratified.