First came across this in the library of the Nigerian Law School as a student there. The poet and publisher, Tade Ipadeola, also a student at that time brought this letter published in a book, the title of which I have long forgotten, to my attention. Years later, I sought the picture of James E. Agate on the web.
JAMES EVERSHED AGATE (1877-1947)
Dined last night with an old manchester friend and he vouches for the authenticity of this letter from a native of Lagos to the owners of the vessel which he was helping to load:
My statement to you about my speech to my lawyer when he came to demand as per legal orders the sum of 50 pounds for my poor damaged body by falling in company's lighter while doing my honest due on account of which I might have gone to heaven that day. Praise the Lord I did not go.
But, Sir, when you said to my legal adviser:
1st that I was drunken
2nd that cause of drunkeness was stealing gin from lighter.
Well, Sir, those two speeches, 1st and 2nd proved that you are a son of the father of lies i.e. Devil because said gin had been freely drunk at 8am prompt. I fell headlong into lighter at 11am prompt.
AT 11am gin had passed through body, so cause of top-heaviness had finished. Therefore you are the very first born of the father of lies, to wit the Devil.
Because 2nd charge of stealing gin is libel. Beware Sir,do not take away my poor character beside thousand pounds are often lost legal by libel, as legals cost plenty money.
Now Sir, for God's sake try and sign for 50 pounds for damage to poor frame of mortality as follows:
Fell down in lighter on tons of metal
One head splitten
One nose useless (very grave)
One shoulder broken (blood extracted)
One arm bent (blood ditto)
One thick leg dashed (ditto ditto)
One private member damaged (slightly bent)
One leg half broken (blood freely)
General conditions (breakings, dashings-all blood freely etc)
Now Sir, this hurts are cheap at 50 pounds...I will come for book re 50 pounds to morning, meantime may God watch and protect your slumbers tonight so as to keep you safe till morning and I get my 50 pounds