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It has been well said by a late writer on the subject of accounts, that "in a man's intercourse with the world, there is scarcely a duty more important, both to himself and the persons with whom he comes in contact, than is the practice of accounts."*
Although, however, the utility and importance of book-keeping be universally acknowledged, there is not that attention paid to the subject which its importance demands.
Many a person whose name appears in the Gazette, as a bankrupt or an insolvent debtor, might, no doubt, avoid that catastrophe, by keeping a constant eye on the state of his affairs, by means of well-kept books of account. Indeed, when such an unhappy event as bankruptcy takes place, “bad book-keeping" is, in some instances, made a reason for withholding the certificate of conformity for a lengthened period.
When, however, due attention is given to well-kept accounts, that which is at first felt to be only a duty, or a task, becomes, at length, a source of much
* A Practical Treatise on Accounts, fc., by Isaac Preston Cory, Esq. Pickering, 1839.
pleasure. A good accountant derives great gratification from the management and superintendence of well-kept accounts, just as an able mathematician experiences delight from a ready knowledge and able use of the demonstrations of Euclid. Indeed, it has lately been suggested that book-keeping (by double entry) should be included in a course of mathematics. Whilst, however, a knowledge of accounts is necessary to all who are occupied in business, the solution of geometrical problems is seldom required in the affairs of practical life.
Solicitors, generally speaking, are (at all events on commencing business) but indifferently acquainted with a knowledge of accounts. When, however, it is considered how much is required of them in that respect, with reference to the arrangement of the affairs and management of estates entrusted to their care, it may at once be perceived how necessary it is that they should be possessed of sufficient skill in accounts.
The mode in which some (I am afraid I may say many) Solicitors keep, or rather neglect to keep, their accounts, would be almost incredible, were we not acquainted with the facts. Some scarcely keep any account books at all. Others depend upon casual loose memoranda, made from time to time, of business transacted. [In a recent case, of which I was cognizant, a person with whom I was acquainted, paid (in a pending matter,) to a Solicitor in London, in considerable practice, (amongst other sums), a sum of £100, in cash, without taking a receipt. When the