The Editor or Prolocutor of the Attic Chest hath made known, published and manifested your intention or design to receive and employ a Solicitor quasi Attorney, duly privileged and authorized to plead or instruct in Banco Regis, Nisi Prius, or any inferior court. And as in these cases it is usual and customary for a Candidate to announce his qualification, I shall follow custom which, saith the learned Bracton, is a law not written.
But though corporations may legally and necessarily employ a Counsellor or Pleader, I know not whether the Community of Tabby Hall can be considered in the eye of the law and according to its statutes, a real and effective corporation. For Corporation (quasi corporatio) is a body politic which requires 1st lawful authority; 2ndly proper persons; 3dly a name and place fitting thereunto; and finally, it must be an assembly whereof one is head or chief. Now it is evident that a corporation of spinsters has no lawful authority, and is of no politic utility whatsoever. Moreover, a Corporation of Spinsters cannot exercise authority, inasmuch as though a Woman may be a Sexton herself, or vote in the election of one, the law allows her no concern in any other office; (vide Strange, 1114) wisely intimating that her chief concern and pleasure is to bury her Husband: or as one of the sex expresses it “to plague a man first, and bury him afterwards.”
It may be objected also that ancient Spinsters are not fit persons to form a Corporation according to the law above cited, being, as is commonly known, of a perverse, intractable and solitary disposition. Neither can a community of such beings ever elect a chief, as it is their nature and profession to be uncontrolled, and each a sovereign of herself. Nor is the name of Tabby Hall appropriate or fitting, as Tabby is a title annexed by custom to an useful domestic animal, which a feme sole is not. And how in law or common-sense can there be a corporation of single women, or a single woman in a corporation?
But if these point should not be litigated, and if the institution of Tabby Hall should preserve its establishment, I offer my aid as its agent; for according to a maxim in law, corporations cannot sue or appear in person, but by attorney (1st Inst. B.) And I presume that like other societies, it has both a spiritual and temporal purpose. The latter is, of course, to obviate inconveniences by appropriate marriages or civil actions (alias suits) against defaulters in promises or contracts. My qualifications in aid of these affairs may be proved by reference to the files in my office or to the records of the King’s Bench; wherein I have obtained heavier damages against refractory lovers than any pleader at the bar. In nice and questionable cases I can arbitrate with such excellent ambiguity that the disputants need not be above twenty years in bringing the point to a lawful issue: and in the two chief purposes of marriage viz: safe settlements for widowhood or separation, I follow the most approved precedents and detect the neatest flaws. I am experienced in all the forms of law-proceeding; which forms are necessary, saith Hobbes, or the law would be no art. But as spinsters ought to be named generosa (see Dyer 46 & 48) I deem it needless to mention a retaining fee; and having summed up the evidence in my favor, I pray the judgement of the Court, and expect the verdict will be Non Obstante.
Middle Temple, April 1st 1813
To the Ladies, quoad Spinsters of Tabby Hall