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Title: A Book About Lawyers
Author: Jeaffreson, John Cordy, 1831-1901
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Book About Lawyers" ***




Author of
"A Book About Doctors,"
Etc., Etc.

Reprinted from the London Edition.

Two Volumes in One.

New York:
_Carleton, Publisher, Madison Square._
London: S. Low, Son & Co.,

Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1807, by
G.W. Carleton & Co.,
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the
Southern District of New York.

John F. Trow & Son, Printers,
205-213 East 12th St., New York.



CHAPTER                                             PAGE

      I. LADIES IN LAW COLLEGES                        7

     II. THE LAST OF THE LADIES                       13

    III. YORK HOUSE AND POWIS HOUSE                   22

     IV. LINCOLN'S INN FIELDS                         27

      V. THE OLD LAW QUARTER                          36


     VI. A LOTTERY                                    49

    VII. GOOD QUEEN BESS                              55

   VIII. REJECTED ADDRESSES                           62

     IX. "CICERO" UPON HIS TRIAL                      71

      X. BROTHERS IN TROUBLE                          75

     XI. EARLY MARRIAGES                              86


    XII. FEES TO COUNSEL                              97


    XIV. JUDICIAL CORRUPTION                         122

     XV. GIFTS AND SALES                             136

    XVI. A ROD PICKLED BY WILLIAM COLE               143

   XVII. CHIEF JUSTICE POPHAM                        149

  XVIII. JUDICIAL SALARIES                           153


    XIX. BRIGHT AND SAD                              163

    XX.  MILLINERY                                   169

    XXI. WIGS                                        171

   XXII. BANDS AND COLLARS                           182

  XXIII. BAGS AND GOWNS                              187

   XXIV. HATS                                        195


    XXV. THE PIANO IN CHAMBERS                       206

   XXVI. THE BATTLE OF THE ORGANS                    208

  XXVII. THE THICKNESS IN THE THROAT                 219


 XXVIII. ACTORS AT THE BAR                           224

   XXIX. "THE PLAY'S THE THING"                      230


   XXXI. ANTI-PRYNNE                                 243

  XXXII. AN EMPTY GRATE                              251



  XXXIV. LAWYERS AND GENTLEMEN                       265

   XXXV. LAW-FRENCH AND LAW-LATIN                    277

  XXXVI. STUDENT LIFE IN OLD TIME                    287

 XXXVII. READERS AND MOOTMEN                         298

XXXVIII. PUPILS IN CHAMBERS                          307


  XXXIX. WIT OF LAWYERS                              316

     XL. HUMOROUS STORIES                            334


   XLII. WITNESSES                                   365

  XLIII. CIRCUITEERS                                 376

   XLIV. LAWYERS AND SAINTS                          390


    XLV. LAWYERS AT THEIR OWN TABLES                 402

   XLVI. WINE                                        413

  XLVII. LAW AND LITERATURE                          423





A law-student of the present day finds it difficult to realize the
brightness and domestic decency which characterized the Inns of Court in
the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries. Under existing
circumstances, women of character and social position avoid the gardens
and terraces of Gray's Inn and the Temple.

Attended by men, or protected by circumstances that guard them from
impertinence and scandal, gentlewomen can without discomfort pass and
repass the walls of our legal colleges; but in most cases a lady enters
them under conditions that announce even to casual passers the object of
her visit. In her carriage, during the later hours of the day, a
barrister's wife may drive down the Middle Temple Lane, or through the
gate of Lincoln's Inn, and wait in King's Bench Walk or New Square,
until her husband, putting aside clients and papers, joins her for the
homeward drive. But even thus placed, sitting in her carriage and
guarded by servants, she usually prefers to fence off inquisitive eyes
by a bonnet-veil, or the blinds of her carriage-windows. On Sunday, the
wives and daughters of gentle families brighten the dingy passages of
the Temple, and the sombre courts of Lincoln's Inn: for the musical
services of the grand church and little chapel, are amongst the
religious entertainments of the town. To those choral celebrations
ladies go, just as they are accustomed to enter any metropolitan church;
and after service they can take a turn in the gardens of either Society,
without drawing upon themselves unpleasant attention. So also,
unattended by men, ladies are permitted to inspect the floral
exhibitions with which Mr. Broome, the Temple gardener, annually
entertains London sightseers.

But, save on these and a few similar occasions and conditions,
gentlewomen avoid an Inn of Court as they would a barrack-yard, unless
they have secured the special attendance of at least one member of the
society. The escort of a barrister or student, alters the case. What
barrister, young or old, cannot recall mirthful eyes that, with quick
shyness, have turned away from his momentary notice, as in answer to the
rustling of silk, or stirred by sympathetic consciousness of women's
noiseless presence, he has raised his face from a volume of reports, and
seen two or three timorous girls peering through the golden haze of a
London morning, into the library of his Inn? What man, thus drawn away
for thirty seconds from prosaic toil, has not in that half minute
remembered the faces of happy rural homes,--has not recalled old days
when his young pulses beat cordial welcome to similar intruders upon the
stillness of the Bodleian, or the tranquil seclusion of Trinity library?
What occupant of dreary chambers in the Temple, reading this page,
cannot look back to a bright day, when young, beautiful, and pure as
sanctity, Lilian, or Kate, or Olive, entered his room radiant with
smiles, delicate in attire, and musical with gleesome gossip about
country neighbors, and the life of a joyous home?

Seldom does a Templar of the present generation receive so fair and
innocent a visitor. To him the presence of a gentlewoman in his court,
is an occasion for ingenious conjecture; encountered on his staircase
she is a cause of lively astonishment. His guests are men, more or less
addicted to tobacco; his business callers are solicitors and their
clerks; in his vestibule the masculine emissaries of tradesmen may
sometimes be found--head-waiters from neighboring taverns, pot-boys from
the 'Cock' and the 'Rainbow.' A printer's devil may from time to time
knock at his door. But of women--such women as he would care to mention
to his mother and sisters--he sees literally nothing in his dusty,
ill-ordered, but not comfortless rooms. He has a laundress, one of a
class on whom contemporary satire has been rather too severe.

Feminine life of another sort lurks in the hidden places of the law
colleges, shunning the gaze of strangers by daylight; and even when it
creeps about under cover of night, trembling with a sense of its own
incurable shame. But of this sad life, the bare thought of which sends a
shivering through the frame of every man whom God has blessed with a
peaceful home and wholesome associations, nothing shall be said in this

In past time the life of law-colleges was very different in this
respect. When they ceased to be ecclesiastics, and fixed themselves in
the hospices which soon after the reception of the gowned tenants, were
styled Inns of Courts; our lawyers took unto themselves wives, who were
both fair and discreet. And having so made women flesh of their flesh
and bone of their bone, they brought them to homes within the immediate
vicinity of their collegiate walls, and sometimes within the walls
themselves. Those who would appreciate the life of the Inns in past
centuries, and indeed in times within the memory of living men, should
bear this in mind. When he was not on circuit, many a counsellor learned
in the law, found the pleasures not less than the business of his
existence within the bounds of his 'honorable society.' In the fullest
sense of the words, he took his ease in his Inn; besides being his
workshop, where clients flocked to him for advice, it was his club, his
place of pastime, and the shrine of his domestic affections. In this
generation a successful Chancery barrister, or Equity draftsman, looks
upon Lincoln's Inn merely as a place of business, where at a prodigious
rent he holds a set of rooms in which he labors over cases, and
satisfies the demands of clients and pupils. A century or two centuries
since the case was often widely different. The rising barrister brought
his bride in triumph to his 'chambers,' and in them she received the
friends who hurried to congratulate her on her new honors. In those
rooms she dispensed graceful hospitality, and watched her husband's
toils. The elder of her children first saw the light in those narrow
quarters; and frequently the lawyer, over his papers, was disturbed by
the uproar of his heir in an adjoining room.

Young wives, the mistresses of roomy houses in the western quarters of
town, shudder as they imagine the discomforts which these young wives of
other days must have endured. "What! live in chambers?" they exclaim
with astonishment and horror, recalling the smallness and cheerless
aspect of their husbands' business chambers. But past usages must not be
hastily condemned,--allowance must be made for the fact that our
ancestors set no very high price on the luxuries of elbow-room and
breathing-room. Families in opulent circumstances were wont to dwell
happily, and receive whole regiments of jovial visitors in little houses
nigh the Strand and Fleet Street, Ludgate Hill and Cheapside;--houses
hidden in narrow passages and sombre courts--houses, compared with
which the lowliest residences in a "genteel suburb" of our own time
would appear capacious mansions. Moreover, it must be borne in mind that
the married barrister, living a century since with his wife in
chambers--either within or hard-by an Inn or Court--was, at a
comparatively low rent, the occupant of far more ample quarters than
those for which a working barrister now-a-days pays a preposterous sum.
Such a man was tenant of a 'set of rooms' (several rooms, although
called 'a chamber') which, under the present system, accommodates a
small colony of industrious 'juniors' with one office and a clerk's room
attached. Married ladies, who have lived in Paris or Vienna, in the 'old
town' of Edinburgh, or Victoria Street, Westminster, need no assurance
that life 'on a flat' is not an altogether deplorable state of
existence. The young couple in chambers had six rooms at their
disposal,--a chamber for business, a parlor, not unfrequently a
drawing-room, and a trim, compact little kitchen. Sometimes they had two
'sets of rooms,' one above another; in which case the young wife could
have her bridesmaids to stay with her, or could offer a bed to a friend
from the country. Occasionally during the last fifty years of the last
century, they were so fortunate as to get possession of a small detached
house, originally built by a nervous bencher, who disliked the sound of
footsteps on the stairs outside his door. Time was when the Inns
comprised numerous detached houses, some of them snug dwellings, and
others imposing mansions, wherein great dignitaries lived with proper
ostentation. Most of them have bean pulled down, and their sites covered
with collegiate 'buildings;' but a few of them still remain, the grand
piles having long since been partitioned off into chambers, and the
little houses striking the eye as quaint, misplaced, insignificant
blocks of human habitation. Under the trees of Gray's Inn gardens may
be seen two modest tenements, each of them comprising some six or eight
rooms and a vestibule. At the present time they are occupied as offices
by legal practitioners, and many a day has passed since womanly taste
decorated their windows with flowers and muslin curtains; but a certain
venerable gentleman, to whom the writer of this page is indebted for
much information about the lawyers of the last century, can remember
when each of those cottages was inhabited by a barrister, his young
wife, and three or four lovely children. Into some such a house near
Lincoln's Inn, a young lawyer who was destined to hold the seals for
many years, and be also the father of a Lord Chancellor, married in the
year of our Lord, 1718. His name was Philip Yorke: and though he was of
humble birth, he had made such a figure in his profession that great
men's doors, were open to him. He was asked to dinner by learned judges,
and invited to balls by their ladies. In Chancery Lane, at the house of
Sir Joseph Jekyll, Master of the Rolls, he met Mrs. Lygon, a beauteous
and wealthy widow, whose father was a country squire, and whose mother
was the sister of the great Lord Somers. In fact, she was a lady of such
birth, position, and jointure, that the young lawyer--rising man though
he was--seemed a poor match for her. The lady's family thought so; and
if Sir Joseph Jekyll had not cordially supported the suitor with a
letter of recommendation, her father would have rejected him as a man
too humble in rank and fortune. Having won the lady and married her, Mr.
Philip Yorke brought her home to a 'very small house' near Lincoln's
Inn; and in that lowly dwelling, the ground-floor of which was the
barrister's office, they spent the first years of their wedded life.
What would be said of the rising barrister who, now-a-days, on his
marriage with a rich squire's rich daughter and a peer's niece, should
propose to set up his household gods in a tiny crip just outside
Lincoln's Inn gate, and to use the parlor of the 'very small house' for
professional purposes? Far from being guilty of unseemly parsimony in
this arrangement, Philip Yorke paid proper consideration to his wife's
social advantages, in taking her to a separate house. His contemporaries
amongst the junior bar would have felt no astonishment if he had fitted
up a set of chambers for his wealthy and well-descended bride. Not
merely in his day, but for long years afterward, lawyers of gentle birth
and comfortable means, who married women scarcely if at all inferior to
Mrs. Yorke in social condition, lived upon the flats of Lincoln's Inn
and the Temple.



Whatever its drawbacks, the system which encouraged the young barrister
to marry on a modest income, and make his wife 'happy in chambers,' must
have had special advantages. In their Inn the husband was near every
source of diversion for which he greatly cared, and the wife was
surrounded by the friends of either sex in whose society she took most
pleasure--friends who, like herself, 'lived in the Inn,' or in one of
the immediately adjacent streets. In 'hall' he dined and drank wine with
his professional compeers and the wits of the bar: the 'library'
supplied him not only with law books, but with poems and dramas, with
merry trifles written for the stage, and satires fresh from the Row;
'the chapel'--or if he were a Templer, 'the church'--was his habitual
place of worship, where there were sittings for his wife and children
as well as for himself; on the walks and under the shady trees of 'the
garden' he sauntered with his own, or, better still, a friend's wife,
criticising the passers, describing the new comedy, or talking over the
last ball given by a judge's lady. At times those gardens were pervaded
by the calm of collegiate seclusion, but on 'open days' they were brisk
with life. The women and children of the legal colony walked in them
daily; the ladies attired in their newest fashions, and the children
running with musical riot over lawns and paths. Nor were the grounds
mere places of resort for lawyers and their families. Taking rank
amongst the pleasant places of the metropolis, they attracted, on 'open
days,' crowds from every quarter of the town--ladies and gallants from
Soho Square and St. James's Street, from Whitehall and Westminster;
sightseers from the country and gorgeous alderwomic dowagers from
Cheapside. From the days of Elizabeth till the middle, indeed till the
close, of the eighteenth century the ornamental grounds of the four
great Inns were places of fashionable promenade, where the rank and
talent and beauty of the town assembled for display and exercise, even
as in our own time they assemble (less universally) in Hyde Park and
Kensington Gardens.

When ladies and children had withdrawn, the quietude of the gardens
lured from their chambers scholars and poets, who under murmuring
branches pondered the results of past study, or planned new works. Ben
Jonson was accustomed to saunter beneath the elms of Lincoln's Inn; and
Steele--alike on 'open' and 'close' days--used to frequent the gardens
of the same society. "I went," he writes in May, 1809, "into Lincoln's
Inn Walks, and having taking a round or two, I sat down, according to
the allowed familiarity of these places, on a bench." In the following
November he alludes to the privilege that he enjoyed of walking there
as "a favor that is indulged me by several of the benchers, who are very
intimate friends, and grown in the neighborhood."

But though on certain days, and under fixed regulations, the outside
public were admitted to the college gardens, the assemblages were always
pervaded by the tone and humor of the law. The courtiers and grand
ladies from 'the west' felt themselves the guests of the lawyers; and
the humbler folk, who by special grant had acquired the privilege of
entry, or whose decent attire and aspect satisfied the janitors of their
respectability, moved about with watchfulness and gravity, surveying the
counsellors and their ladies with admiring eyes, and extolling the
benchers whose benevolence permitted simple tradespeople to take the air
side by side with 'the quality.' In 1736, James Ralph, in his 'New
Critical Review of the Publick Buildings,' wrote about the square and
gardens of Lincoln's Inn in a manner which testifies to the respectful
gratitude of the public for the liberality which permitted all outwardly
decent persons to walk in the grounds. "I may safely add," he says,
"that no area anywhere is kept in better order, either for cleanliness
and beauty by day, or illumination by night; the fountain in the middle
is a very pretty decoration, and if it was still kept playing, as it was
some years ago, 'twould preserve its name with more propriety." In his
remarks on the chapel the guide observes, "The raising this chapel on
pillars affords a pleasing, melancholy walk underneath, and by night,
particularly, when illuminated by the lamps, it has an effect that may
be felt, but not described." Of the gardens Mr. Ralph could not speak in
high praise, for they were ill-arranged and not so carefully kept as the
square; but he observes, "they are convenient; and considering their
situation cannot be esteemed to much. There is something hospitable in
laying them open to public use; and while we share in their pleasures,
we have no title to arraign their taste."

The chief attraction of Lincoln's Inn gardens, apart from its beautiful
trees, was for many years the terrace overlooking 'the Fields,' which
was made _temp._ Car. II. at the cost of nearly £1000. Dugdale, speaking
of the recent improvements of the Inn, says, "And the last was the
enlargement of their garden, beautifying with a large tarras walk on the
west side thereof, and raising the wall higher towards Lincoln's Inne
Fields, which was done in An. 1663 (15 Car. II.), the charge thereof
amounting to a little less than a thousand pounds, by reason that the
levelling of most part of the ground, and raising the tarras, required
such great labor." A portion of this terrace, and some of the old trees,
were destroyed to make room for the new dining-hall.

The old system supplied the barrister with other sources of recreation.
Within a stone's throw of his residence was the hotel where his club had
its weekly meeting. Either in hall, or with his family, or at a tavern
near 'the courts,' it was his use, until a comparatively recent date, to
dine in the middle of the day, and work again after the meal. Courts sat
after dinner as well as before; and it was observable that counsellors
spoke far better when they were full of wine and venison than when they
stated the case in the earlier part of the day. But in the evening the
system told especially in the barrister's favor. All his many friends
lying within a small circle, he had an abundance of congenial society.
Brother-circuiteers came to his wife's drawing-room for tea and chat,
coffee and cards. There was a substantial supper at half-past eight or
nine for such guests (supper cooked in my lady's little kitchen, or
supplied by the 'Society's cook'); and the smoking dishes were
accompanied by foaming tankards of ale or porter, and followed by
superb and richly aromatic bowls of punch. On occasions when the learned
man worked hard and shut out visitors by sporting his oak, he enjoyed
privacy as unbroken and complete as that of any library in Kensington or
Tyburnia. If friends stayed away, and he wished for diversion, he could
run into the chambers of old college-chums, or with his wife's gracious
permission could spend an hour at Chatelin's or Nando's, or any other
coffeehouse in vogue with members of his profession. During festive
seasons, when the judges' and leaders' ladies gave their grand balls,
the young couple needed no carriage for visiting purposes. From Gray's
Inn to the Temple they walked--if the weather was fine. When it rained
they hailed a hackney-coach, or my lady was popped into a sedan and
carried by running bearers to the frolic of the hour.

Of course the notes of the preceding paragraphs of this chapter are but
suggestions as to the mode in which the artistic reader must call up the
life of the old lawyers. Encouraging him to realize the manners and
usages of several centuries, not of a single generation, they do not
attempt to entertain the student with details. It is needless to say
that the young couple did not use hackney-coaches in times prior to the
introduction of those serviceable vehicles, and that until sedans were
invented my lady never used them.

It is possible, indeed it is certain, that married ladies living in
chambers occasionally had for neighbors on the same staircase women whom
they regarded with abhorrence. Sometimes it happened that a dissolute
barrister introduced to his rooms a woman more beautiful than virtuous,
whom he had not married, though he called her his wife. People can no
more choose their neighbors in a house broken up into sets of chambers,
than they can choose them in the street. But the cases where ladies
were daily liable to meet an offensive neighbor on their common
staircase were comparatively rare; and when the annoyance actually
occurred, the discipline of the Inn afforded a remedy.

Uncleanness too often lurked within the camp, but it veiled its face;
and though in rare cases the error and sin of a powerful lawyer may have
been notorious, the preccant man was careful to surround himself with
such an appearance of respectability that society should easily feign
ignorance of his offence. An Elizabethan distich--familiar to all
barristers, but too rudely worded for insertion in this page--informs us
that in the sixteenth century Gray's Inn had an unenviable notoriety
amongst legal hospices for the shamelessness of its female inmates. But
the pungent lines must be regarded as a satire aimed at certain
exceptional members, rather than as a vivacious picture of the general
tone of morals in the society. Anyhow the fact that Gray's Inn[1] was
alone designated as a home for infamy--whilst the Inner Temple was
pointed to as the hospice most popular with rich men, the Middle Temple
as the society frequented by Templars of narrow means, and Lincoln's Inn
as the abode of gentlemen--is, of itself, a proof that the pervading
manners of the last three institutions were outwardly decorous. Under
the least favorable circumstances, a barrister's wife living in
chambers, within or near Lincoln's Inn, or the Temple, during Charles
II.'s reign, fared as well in this respect as she would have done had
Fortune made her a lady-in-waiting at Whitehall.

A good story is told of certain visits paid to William Murray's chambers
at No. 5, King's Bench Walk Temple, in the year 1738. Born in 1705,
Murray was still a young man when in 1738 he made his brilliant speech
in behalf of Colonel Sloper, against whom Colley Cibber's rascally son
had brought an action for _crim. con._ with his wife--the lovely actress
who was the rival of Mrs. Clive. Amongst the many clients who were drawn
to Murray by that speech, Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, was neither the
least powerful nor the least distinguished. Her grace began by sending
the rising advocate a general retainer, with a fee of a thousand
guineas; of which sum he accepted only the two-hundredth part,
explaining to the astonished duchess that "the professional fee, with a
general retainer, could neither be less nor more than five guineas." If
Murray had accepted the whole sum he would not have been overpaid for
his trouble; for her grace persecuted him with calls at most
unseasonable hours. On one occasion, returning to his chambers after
"drinking champagne with the wits," he found the duchess's carriage and
attendants on King's Bench Walk. A numerous crowd of footmen and
link-bearers surrounded the coach; and when the barrister entered his
chambers he encountered the mistress of that army of lackeys. "Young
man," exclaimed the grand lady, eying the future Lord Mansfield with a
look of warm displeasure, "if you mean to rise in the world, you must
not sup out." On a subsequent night Sarah of Marlborough called without
appointment at the same chambers, and waited till past midnight in the
hope that she would see the lawyer ere she went to bed. But Murray being
at an unusually late supper-party, did not return till her grace had
departed in an over-powering rage. "I could not make out, sir, who she
was," said Murray's clerk, describing her grace's appearance and manner,
"for she would not tell me her name; _but she swore so dreadfully that I
am sure she must be a lady of quality_."

Perhaps the Inns of Court may still shelter a few married ladies, who
either from love of old-world ways, or from stern necessity, consent to
dwell in their husbands' chambers. If such ladies can at the present
time be found, the writer of this page would look for them in Gray's
Inn--that straggling caravansary for the reception of money-lenders,
Bohemians, and eccentric gentlemen--rather than in the other three Inns
of Court, which have undoubtedly quite lost their old population of
lady-residents. But from those three hospices the last of the ladies
must have retreated at a comparatively recent date. Fifteen years since,
when the writer of this book was a beardless undergraduate, he had the
honor of knowing some married ladies, of good family and unblemished
repute, who lived with their husbands in the Middle Temple. One of those
ladies--the daughter of a country magistrate, the sister of a
distinguished classic scholar--was the wife of a common law barrister
who now holds a judicial appointment in one of our colonies. The women
of her old home circle occasionally called on this young wife: but as
they could not reach her quarters in Sycamore Court without attracting
much unpleasant observation, their visits were not frequent. Living in a
barrack of unwed men, that charming girl was surrounded by honest
fellows who would have resented as an insult to themselves an
impertinence offered to her. Still her life was abnormal, unnatural,
deleterious; it was felt by all who cared for her that she ought not to
be where she was; and when an appointment with a good income in a
healthy and thriving colony was offered to her husband, all who knew
her, and many who had never spoken to her, rejoiced at the intelligence.
At the present time, in the far distant country which looks up to her
as a personage of importance, this lady--not less exemplary as wife and
mother than brilliant as a woman of society--takes pleasure in recalling
the days when she was a prisoner in the Temple.

One of the last cases of married life in the Temple, that came before
the public notice, was that of a barrister and his wife who incurred
obloquy and punishment for their brutal conduct to a poor servant girl.
No one would thank the writer for re-publishing the details of that
nauseous illustration of the degradation to which it is possible for a
gentleman and scholar to sink. But, however revolting, the case is not
without interest for the reader who is curious about the social life of
the Temple.

The portion of the Temple in which the old-world family life of the Inns
held out the longest, is a clump of commodious houses lying between the
Middle Temple Garden and Essex Street, Strand. Having their
entrance-doors in Essex Street, these houses are, in fact, as private as
the residences of any London quarter. The noise of the Strand reaches
them, but their occupants are as secure from the impertinent gaze or
unwelcome familiarities of law-students and barristers' clerks, as they
would be if they lived at St. John's Wood. In Essex Street, on the
eastern side, the legal families maintained their ground almost till
yesterday. Fifteen years since the writer of this page used to be
invited to dinners and dances in that street--dinners and dances which
were attended by prosperous gentlefolk from the West End of the town. At
that time he often waltzed in a drawing-room, the windows of which
looked upon the spray of the fountain--at which Ruth Pinch loved to gaze
when its jet resembled a wagoner's whip. How all old and precious things
pass away! The dear old 'wagoner's whip' has been replaced by a pert,
perky squirt that will never stir the heart or brain of a future Ruth.

[1] The scandalous state of Gray's Inn at this period is shown by the
following passage in Dugdale's 'Origines:'--"In 23 Eliz. (30 Jan.) there
was an order made that no laundress, nor women called victuallers,
should thenceforth come into the gentlemen's chambers of this society,
until they were full forty years of age, and not send their
maid-servants, of what age soever, in the said gentlemen's chambers,
upon penalty, for the first offence of him that should admit of any
such, to be put out of Commons: and for the second, to be expelled the
House." The stringency and severity of this order show a determination
on the part of the authorities to cure the evil.

Chapter III.


Whilst the great body of lawyers dwelt in or hard by the Inns, the
dignitaries of the judicial bench, and the more eminent members of the
bar, had suitable palaces or mansions at greater or less distances from
the legal hostelries. The ecclesiastical Chancellors usually enjoyed
episcopal or archiepiscopal rank, and lived in the London palaces
attached to their sees or provinces. During his tenure of the seals,
Morton, Bishop of Ely, years before he succeeded to the archbishopric of
Canterbury, and received the honors of the Cardinalate, grew
strawberries in his garden on Holborn Hill, and lived in the palace
surrounded by that garden. As Archbishop of Canterbury, Chancellor
Warham maintained at Lambeth Palace the imposing state commemorated by

When Wolsey made his first progress to the Court of Chancery in
Westminster Hall, a progress already alluded to in these pages, he
started from the archiepiscopal palace, York House or Place--an official
residence sold by the cardinal to Henry VIII. some years later; and when
the same superb ecclesiastic, towards the close of his career, went on
the memorable embassy to France, he set out from his palace at
Westminster, "passing through all London over London Bridge, having
before him of gentlemen a great number, three in rank in black velvet
livery coats, and the most of them with great chains of gold about their

At later dates Gardyner, whilst he held the seals, kept his numerous
household at Winchester House in Southwark; and Williams, the last
clerical Lord Keeper, lived at the Deanery, Westminster.

The lay Chancellors also maintained costly and pompous establishments,
apart from the Inns of Court. Sir Thomas More's house stood in the
country, flanked by a garden and farm, in the cultivation of which
ground the Chancellor found one of his chief sources of amusement. In
Aldgate, Lord Chancellor Audley built his town mansion, on the site of
the Priory of the Canons of the Holy Trinity of Christ Church.
Wriothesley dwelt in Holborn at the height of his unsteady fortunes, and
at the time of his death. The infamous but singularly lucky Rich lived
in Great St. Bartholomew's, and from his mansion there wrote to the Duke
of Northumberland, imploring that messengers might be sent to him to
relieve him of the perilous trust of the Great Seal. Christopher Hatton
wrested from the see of Ely the site of Holborn, whereon he built his
magnificent palace. The reluctance with which the Bishop of Ely
surrendered the ground, and the imperious letter by which Elizabeth
compelled the prelate to comply with the wish of her favorite courtier,
form one of the humorous episodes of that queen's reign. Hatton House
rose over the soil which had yielded strawberries to Morton; and of that
house--where the dancing Chancellor received Elizabeth as a visitor, and
in which he died of "diabetes _and_ grief of mind"--the memory is
preserved by Hatton Garden, the name of the street where some of our
wealthiest jewelers and gold assayers have places of business.

Public convenience had long suggested the expediency of establishing a
permanent residence for the Chancellors of England, when either by
successive expressions of the royal will, or by the individual choice of
several successive holders of the _Clavis Regni_, a noble palace on the
northern bank of the Thames came to be regarded as the proper domicile
for the Great Seal. York House, memorable as the birthplace of Francis
Bacon, and the scene of his brightest social splendor, demands a brief
notice. Wolsey's 'York House' or Whitehall having passed from the
province of York to the crown, Nicholas Heath, Archbishop of York,
established himself in another York House on a site lying between the
Strand and the river. In this palace (formerly leased to the see of
Norwich as a bishop's Inn, and subsequently conferred on Charles Brandon
by Henry VIII.) Heath resided during his Chancellorship; and when, in
consequence of his refusal to take the oath of supremacy, Elizabeth
deprived him of his archbishopric, York House passed into the hands of
her new Lord Keeper, Sir Nicholas Bacon. On succeeding to the honors of
the Marble Chair, Hatton did not move from Holborn to the Strand; but
otherwise all the holders of the Great Seal, from Heath to Francis Bacon
inclusive, seem to have occupied York House; Heath, of course, using it
by right as Archbishop of York, and the others holding it under leases
granted by successive archbishops of the northern province. So little is
known of Bromley, apart from the course which he took towards Mary of
Scotland, that the memory of old York House gains nothing of interest
from him. Indeed it has been questioned whether he was one of its
tenants. Puckering, Egerton, and Francis Bacon certainly inhabited it in
succession. On Bacon's fall it was granted to Buckingham, whose desire
to possess the picturesque palace was one of the motives which impelled
him to blacken the great lawyer's reputation. Seized by the Long
Parliament, it was granted to Lord Fairfax. In the following generation
it passed into the hands of the second Duke of Buckingham, who sold
house and precinct for building-ground. The bad memory of the man who
thus for gold surrendered a spot of earth sacred to every scholarly
Englishman is preserved in the names of _George_ Street, _Duke_ Street,
_Villiers_ Street, _Buckingham_ Street.

The engravings commonly sold as pictures of the York House, in which
Lord Bacon kept the seals, are likenesses of the building after it was
pulled about, diminished, and modernized, and in no way whatever
represent the architecture of the original edifice. Amongst the
art-treasures of the University of Oxford, Mr. Hepworth Dixon
fortunately found a rough sketch of the real house, from which sketch
Mr. E.M. Ward drew the vignette that embellishes the title-page of 'The
Story of Lord Bacon's Life.'

After the expulsion of the Great Seal from old York House, it wandered
from house to house, manifesting, however, in its selections of London
quarters, a preference for the grand line of thoroughfare between
Charing Cross and the foot of Ludgate Hill. Escaping from the
Westminster Deanery, where Williams kept it in a box, the _Clavis Regni_
inhabited Durham House, Strand, whilst under Lord Keeper Coventry's
care. Lord Keeper Littleton, until he made his famous ride from London
to York, lived in Exeter House. Clarendon resided in Dorset House,
Salisbury Court, Fleet Street, and subsequently in Worcester House,
Strand, before he removed to the magnificent palace which aroused the
indignation of the public in St. James's Street. The greater and happier
part of his official life was passed in Worcester House. There he held
councils in his bedroom when he was laid up with gout; there King
Charles visited him familiarly, even condescending to be present to the
bedside councils; and there he was established when the Great Fire of
London caused him, in a panic, to send his most valuable furniture to
his Villa at Twickenham. Thanet House, Aldersgate Street, is the
residence with which Shaftesbury, the politician, is most generally
associated; but whilst he was Lord Chancellor he occupied Exeter House,
Strand, formerly the abode of Keeper Littleton. Lord Nottingham slept
with the seals under his pillow in Great Queen Street, Lincoln's Inn
Fields, the same street in which his successor, Lord Guildford, had the
establishment so racily described by his brother, Roger North. And Lord
Jeffreys moving westward, gave noisy dinners in Duke Street,
Westminster, where he opened a court-house that was afterwards
consecrated as a place of worship, and is still known as the Duke Street
Chapel. Says Pennant, describing the Chancellor's residence, "It is
easily known by a large flight of stone steps, which his royal master
permitted to be made into the park adjacent for the accommodation of his
lordship. These steps terminate above in a small court, on three sides
of which stands the house." The steps still remain, but their history is
unknown to many of the habitual frequenters of the chapel. After
Jefferys' fall the spacious and imposing mansion, where the
_bon-vivants_ of the bar used to drink inordinately with the wits and
buffoons of the London theatres, was occupied by Government; and there
the Lords of the Admiralty had their offices until they moved to their
quarters opposite Scotland Yard. Narcissus Luttrell's Diary contains the
following entry:--"April 23, 1690. The late Lord Chancellor's house at
Westminster is taken for the Lords of the Admiralty to keep the
Admiralty Office at."

William III., wishing to fix the holders of the Great Seal in a
permanent official home, selected Powis House (more generally known by
the name of Newcastle House), in Lincoln's Inn Fields, as a residence
for Somers and future Chancellors. The Treasury minute books preserve an
entry of September 11, 1696, directing a Privy Seal to "discharge the
process for the apprised value of the house, and to declare the king's
pleasure that the Lord Keeper or Lord Chancellor for the time being
should have and enjoy it for the accommodation of their offices." Soon
after his appointment to the seals, Somers took possession of this
mansion at the north-west corner of the Fields; and after him Lord
Keeper Sir Nathan Wright, Lord Chancellor Cowper, and Lord Chancellor
Harcourt used it as an official residence. But the arrangement was not
acceptable to the legal dignitaries. They preferred to dwell in their
private houses, from which they were not liable to be driven by a change
of ministry or a grist of popular disfavor. In the year 1711 the mansion
was therefore sold to John Holles, Duke of Newcastle, to whom it is
indebted for the name which it still bears. This large, unsightly
mansion is known to every one who lives in London, and has any knowledge
of the political and social life of the earlier Georgian courtiers and



The annals of the legal profession show that the neighborhood of
Guildhall was a favorite place of residence with the ancient lawyers,
who either held judicial offices within the circle of the Lord Mayor's
jurisdiction, or whose practice lay chiefly in the civic courts. In the
fifteenth and sixteenth centuries there was quite a colony of jurists
hard by the temple of Gogmagog and Cosineus--or Gog and Magog, as the
grotesque giants are designated by the unlearned, who know not the
history of the two famous effigies, which originally figured in an
Elizabethan pageant, stirring the wonder of the illiterate, and
reminding scholars of two mythical heroes about whom the curious reader
of this paragraph may learn further particulars by referring to Michael
Drayton's 'Polyolbion.'

In Milk Street, Cheapside, lived Sir John More, judge in the Court of
King's Bench; and in Milk street, A.D. 1480, was born Sir John's famous
son Thomas, the Chancellor, who was at the same time learned and simple,
witty and pious, notable for gentle meekness and firm resolve, abounding
with tenderness and hot with courage. Richard Rich--who beyond Scroggs
or Jeffreys deserves to be remembered as the arch-scoundrel of the legal
profession--was one of Thomas More's playmates and boon companions for
several years of their boyhood and youth. Richard's father was an
opulent mercer, and one of Sir John's near neighbors; so the youngsters
were intimate until Master Dick, exhibiting at an early age his vicious
propensities, came to be "esteemed very light of his tongue, a great
dicer and gamester, and not of any commendable fame."

On marrying his first wife Sir Thomas More settled in a house in
Bucklersbury, the City being the proper quarter for his residence, as he
was an under-sheriff of the city of London, in which character he both
sat in the Court of the Lord Mayor and Sheriffs, and presided over a
separate court on the Thursday of each week. Whilst living in
Bucklersbury he had chambers in Lincoln's Inn. On leaving Bucklersbury
he took a house in Crosby Place, from which he moved, in 1523, to
Chelsea, in which parish he built the house that was eventually pulled
down by Sir Hans Sloane in the year 1740.

A generation later, Sir Nicholas Bacon was living in Noble Street,
Foster Lane, where he had built the mansion known as Bacon House, in
which he resided till, as Lord Keeper, he took possession of York House.
Chief Justice Bramston lived, at different parts of his career, in
Whitechapel; in Philip Lane, Aldermanbury; and (after his removal from
Bosworth Court) in Warwick Lane, Sir John Bramston (the autobiographer)
married into a house in Charterhouse Yard, where his father, the Chief
Justice, resided with him for a short time.

But from an early date, and especially during the seventeenth and
eighteenth centuries, the more prosperous of the working lawyers either
lived within the walls of the Inns, or in houses lying near the law
colleges. Fleet Street, the Strand, Holborn, Chancery Lane, and the good
streets leading into those thoroughfares, contained a numerous legal
population in the times between Elizabeth's death and George III.'s
first illness. Rich benchers and Judges wishing for more commodious
quarters than they could obtain at any cost within college-walls,
erected mansions in the immediate vicinity of their Inns; and their
example was followed by less exalted and less opulent members of the bar
and judicial bench. The great Lord Strafford first saw the light in
Chancery Lane, in the house of his maternal grandfather, who was a
bencher of Lincoln's Inn. Lincoln's Inn Fields was principally built for
the accommodation of wealthy lawyers; and in Charles II.'s reign Queen
Street, Lincoln's Inn Fields was in high repute with legal magnates. Sir
Edward Coke lived alternately in chambers, and in Hatton House, Holborn,
the palace that came to him by his second marriage. John Kelyng's house
stood in Hatton Garden, and there he died in 1671. In his mansion in
Lincoln's Inn Fields, Sir Harbottle Grimston, on June 25, 1660 (shortly
before his appointment to the Mastership of the Rolls, for which place
he is said to have given Clarendon £8000), entertained Charles II. and a
grand gathering of noble company. After his marriage Francis North took
his high-born bride into chambers, which they inhabited for a short time
until a house in Chancery Lane, near Serjeants' Inn, was ready for
their use. On Nov. 15, 1666,--the year of the fire of London, in which
year Hyde had his town house in the Strand--Glyn died in his house, in
Portugal Row, Lincoln's Inn Fields. On June 15, 1691, Henry Pollexfen,
Chief Justice of Common Pleas, expired in his mansion in Lincoln's Inn
Fields. These addresses--taken from a list of legal addresses lying
before the writer--indicate with sufficient clearness the quarter of the
town in which Charles II.'s lawyers mostly resided.

Under Charles II. the population of the Inns was such that barristers
wishing to marry could not easily obtain commodious quarters within
College-walls. Dugdale observes "that all but the benchers go two to a
chamber: a bencher hath only the privilege of a chamber to himself." He
adds--"if there be any one chamber consisting of two parts, and the one
part exceeds the other in value, and he who hath the best part sells the
same, yet the purchaser shall enter into the worst part; for it is a
certain rule that the auntient in the chamber--_viz._, he who was
therein first admitted, without respect to their antiquity in the house,
hath his choice of either part." This custom of sharing chambers gave
rise to the word 'chumming,' an abbreviation of 'chambering.' Barristers
in the present time often share a chamber--_i.e._, set of rooms. In the
seventeenth century an utter-barrister found the half of a set of rooms
inconveniently narrow quarters for himself and wife. By arranging
privately with a non-resident brother of the long robe, he sometimes
obtained an entire "chamber," and had the space allotted to a bencher.
When he could not make such an arrangement, he usually moved to a house
outside the gate, but in the immediate vicinity of his inn, as soon as
his lady presented him with children, if not sooner.

Of course working, as well as idle, members of the profession were found
in other quarters. Some still lived in the City; others preferred more
fashionable districts. Roger North, brother of the Lord Keeper and son
of a peer, lived in the Piazza of Covent Garden, in the house formerly
occupied Lely the painter. To this house Sir Dudley North moved from his
costly and dark mansion in the City, and in it he shortly afterwards
died, under the hands of Dr. Radcliffe and the prosperous apothecary,
Mr. St. Amand. "He had removed," writes Roger, "from his great house in
the City, and came to that in the Piazza which Sir Peter Lely formerly
used, and I had lived in alone for divers years. We were so much
together, and my incumbrances so small, that so large a house might hold
us both." Roger was a practicing barrister and Recorder of Bristol.

During his latter years Sir John Bramston (the autobiographer) kept
house in Greek Street, Soho.

In the time of Charles II. the wealthy lawyers often maintained suburban
villas, where they enjoyed the air and pastimes of the country. When his
wife's health failed, Francis North took a villa for her at Hammersmith,
"for the advantage of better air, which he thought beneficial for her;"
and whilst his household tarried there, he never slept at his chambers
in town, "but always went home to his family, and was seldom an evening
without company agreeable to him." In his latter years, Chief Justice
Pemberton had a rural mansion in Highgate, where his death occurred on
June 10, 1699, in the 74th year of his age. A pleasant chapter might be
written on the suburban seats of our great lawyers from the Restoration
down to the present time. Lord Mansfield's 'Kenwood' is dear to all who
are curious in legal _ana_. Charles Yorke had a villa at Highgate, where
he entertained his political and personal friends. Holland, the
architect, built a villa at Dulwich for Lord Thurlow; and in consequence
of a quarrel between the Chancellor and the builder, the former took
such a dislike to the house, that after its completion he never slept a
night in it, though he often passed his holidays in a small lodge
standing in the grounds of the villa. "Lord Thurlow," asked a lady of
him, as he was leaving the Queen's Drawing-room, "when are you going
into your new house?" "Madam," answered the surly Chancellor, incensed
by her curiosity, "the Queen has asked me that impudent question, and I
would not answer her; I will not tell you." For years Loughborough and
Erskine had houses in Hampstead. "In Lord Mansfield's time," Erskine
once said to Lord Campbell, "although the King's Bench monopolized all
the common-law business, the court often rose at one or two o'clock--the
papers, special, crown, and peremptory, being cleared; and then I
refreshed myself by a drive to my villa at Hampstead." It was on
Hampstead Heath that Loughborough, meeting Erskine in the dusk, said,
"Erskine, you must not take Paine's brief;" and received the prompt
reply, "But I have been retained, and I will take it, by G-d!" Much of
that which is most pleasant in Erskine's career occurred at his
Hampstead villa. Of Lord Kenyon's weekly trips from his mansion in
Lincoln's Inn Fields to his farm-house at Richmond notice has been taken
in a previous chapter. The memory of Charles Abbott's Hendon villa is
preserved in the name, style, and title of Lord Tenterden, of Hendon, in
the county of Middlesex. Indeed, lawyers have for many generations
manifested much fondness for fresh air; the impure atmosphere of their
courts in past time apparently whetting their appetites for wholesome

Throughout the eighteenth century Lincoln's Inn Fields, an open though
disorderly spot, was a great place for the residence of legal magnates.
Somers, Nathan Wright, Cowper, Harcourt, successively inhabited Powis
House. Chief Justice Parker (subsequently Lord Chancellor Macclesfield)
lived there when he engaged Philip Yorke (then an attorney's articled
clerk, but afterwards Lord Chancellor of England) to be his son's law
tutor. On the south side of the square, Lord Chancellor Henley kept high
state in the family mansion that descended to him on the death of his
elder brother, and subsequently passed into the hands of the Surgeons,
whose modest but convenient college stands upon its site. Wedderburn and
Erskine had their mansions in Lincoln's Inn Fields, as well as their
suburban villas. And between the lawyers of the Restoration and the
judges of George III.'s reign, a large proportion of our most eminent
jurists and advocates lived in that square and the adjoining streets;
such as Queen Street on the west, Serle Street, Carey Street, Portugal
Street, Chancery Lane, on the south and south-east. The reader, let it
be observed, may not infer that this quarter was confined to legal
residents. The lawyers were the most conspicuous and influential
occupants; but they had for neighbors people of higher quality, who,
attracted to the square by its openness, or the convenience of its site,
or the proximity of the law colleges, made it their place of abode in
London. Such names as those of the Earl of Lindsey and the Earl of
Sandwich in the seventeenth, and of the Duke of Ancaster and the Duke of
Newcastle in the eighteenth century, establish the patrician character
of the quarter for many years. Moreover, from the books of popular
antiquaries, a long list might be made of wits, men of science, and
minor celebrities, who, though in no way personally connected with the
law, lived during the same period under the shadow of Lincoln's Inn.

Whilst Lincoln's Inn Fields took rank amongst the most aristocratic
quarters of the town, it was as disorderly a square as could be found in
all London. Royal suggestions, the labors of a learned committee
especially appointed by James I. to decide on a proper system of
architecture, and Inigo Jones's magnificent but abortive scheme had but
a poor result. In Queen Anne's reign, and for twenty years later, the
open space of the fields was daily crowded with beggars, mountebanks,
and noisy rabble; and it was the scene of constant uproar and frequent
riots. As soon as a nobleman's coach drew up before one of the
surrounding mansions, a mob of half-naked rascals swarmed about the
equipage, asking for alms in alternate tones of entreaty and menace.
Pugilistic encounters, and fights resembling the faction fights of an
Irish row, were of daily occurrence there; and when the rabble decided
on torturing a bull with dogs, the wretched beast was tied to a stake in
the centre of the wide area, and there baited in the presence of a
ferocious multitude, and to the diversion of fashionable ladies, who
watched the scene from their drawing-room windows. The Sacheverell
outrage was wildest in this chosen quarter of noblemen and blackguards;
and in George II.'s reign, when Sir Joseph Jekyll, the Master of the
Rolls, made himself odious to the lowest class by his Act for laying an
excise upon gin, a mob assailed him in the middle of the fields, threw
him to the ground, kicked him over and over, and savagely trampled upon
him. It was a marvel that he escaped with his life; but with
characteristic good humor, he soon made a joke of his ill-usage, saying
that until the mob made him their football he had never been master of
_all_ the _rolls_. Soon after this outbreak of popular violence, the
inhabitants enclosed the middle of the area with palisades, and turned
the enclosure into an ornamental garden. Describing the Fields in 1736,
the year in which the obnoxious Act concerning gin became law, James
Ralph says, "Several of the original houses still remain, to be a
reproach to the rest; and I wish the disadvantageous comparison had
been a warning to others to have avoided a like mistake.... But this is
not the only quarrel I have to Lincoln's Inn Fields. The area is capable
of the highest improvement, might be made a credit to the whole city,
and do honor to those who live round it; whereas at present no place can
be more contemptible or forbidding; in short, it serves only as a
nursery for beggars and thieves, and is a daily reflection on those who
suffer it to be in its abandoned condition."

During the eighteenth century, a tendency to establish themselves in the
western portion of the town was discernible amongst the great law lords.
For instance, Lord Cowper, who during his tenure of the seals resided in
Powis House, during his latter years occupied a mansion in Great George
Street, Westminster--once a most fashionable locality, but now a street
almost entirely given up to civil engineers, who have offices there, but
usually live elsewhere. In like manner, Lord Harcourt, moving westwards
from Lincoln's Inn Fields, established himself in Cavendish Square. Lord
Henley, on retiring from the family mansion in Lincoln's Inn Fields,
settled in Grosvenor Square. Lord Camden lived in Hill Street, Berkeley
Square. On being entrusted with the sole custody of the seals, Lord
Apsley (better known as Lord Chancellor Bathurst) made his first
state-progress to Westminster Hall from his house in Dean Street, Soho;
but afterwards moving farther west, he built Apsley House (familiar to
every Englishman as the late Duke of Wellington's town mansion) upon the
site of Squire Western's favorite inn--the 'Hercules' Pillars.'



Fifteen years since the writer of this page used to dine with a
conveyancer--a lawyer of an old and almost obsolete school--who had a
numerous household, and kept a hospitable table in Lincoln's Inn Fields;
but the conveyancer was almost the last of his species. The householding
legal _resident_ of the Fields, like the domestic resident of the
Temple, has become a feature of the past. Among the ordinary nocturnal
population of the square called Lincoln's Inn Fields, may be found a few
solicitors who sleep by night where they work by day, and a sprinkling
of young barristers and law students who have residential chambers in
grand houses that less than a century since were tenanted by members of
a proud and splendid aristocracy; but the gentle families have by this
time altogether disappeared from the mansions.

But long before this aristocratic secession, the lawyers took possession
of a new quarter. The great charm of Lincoln's Inn Fields had been the
freshness of the air which played over the open space. So also the
recommendation of Great Queen Street had been the purity of its rural
atmosphere. Built between 1630 and 1730, that thoroughfare--at present
hemmed in by fetid courts and narrow passages--caught the keen breezes
of Hampstead, and long maintained a character for salubrity as well as
fashion. Of those fine squares and imposing streets which lie between
High Holborn and Hampstead, not a stone had been laid when the ground
covered by the present Freemason's Tavern was one of the most desirable
sites of the metropolis. Indeed, the houses between Holborn and Great
Queen Street were not erected till the mansions on the south side of
the latter thoroughfare--built long before the northern side--had for
years commanded an unbroken view of Holborn Fields. Notwithstanding many
gloomy predictions of the evils that would necessarily follow from
over-building, London steadily increased, and enterprising architects
deprived Lincoln's Inn Fields and Great Queen Street of their rural
qualities. Crossing Holborn, the lawyers settled on a virgin plain
beyond the ugly houses which had sprung up on the north of Great Queen
Street, and on the country side of Holborn. Speedily a new quarter
arose, extending from Gray's Inn on the east to Southampton Row on the
West, and lying between Holborn and the line of Ormond Street, Red Lion
Street, Bedford Row, Great Ormond Street, Little Ormond Street, Great
James Street, and Little James Street were amongst its best
thoroughfares; in its centre was Red Lion Square, and in its
northwestern corner lay Queen's Square. Steadily enlarging its
boundaries, it comprised at later dates Guildford Street, John's Street,
Doughty Street, Mecklenburgh Square, Brunswick Square, Bloomsbury
Square, Russell Square, Bedford Square--indeed, all the region lying
between Gray's Inn Lane (on the east), Tottenham Court Road (on the
west), Holborn (on the south), and a line running along the north of the
Foundling Hospital and 'the squares.' Of course this large residential
district was more than the lawyers required for themselves. It became
and long remained a favorite quarter with merchants, physicians,[2] and
surgeons; and until a recent date it comprised the mansions of many
leading members of the aristocracy. But from its first commencement it
was so intimately associated with the legal profession that it was often
called the 'law quarter;' and the writer of this page has often heard
elderly ladies and gentlemen speak of it as the 'old law quarter.'

Although lawyers were the earliest householders in this new quarter, its
chief architect encountered at first strong opposition from a section of
the legal profession. Anxious to preserve the rural character of their
neighborhood, the gentlemen of Gray's Inn were greatly displeased with
the proposal to lay out Holborn Fields in streets and squares. Under
date June 10, 1684, Narcissus Luttrell wrote in his diary--"Dr.
Barebone, the great builder, having some time since bought the Red Lyon
Fields, near Graie's Inn walks, to build on, and having for that purpose
employed severall workmen to goe on with the same, the gentlemen of
Graie's Inn took notice of it, and, thinking it an injury to them, went
with a considerable body of 100 persons; upon which the workmen
assaulted the gentlemen, and flung bricks at them, and the gentlemen at
them again. So a sharp engagement ensued, but the gentlemen routed them
at last, and brought away one or two of the workmen to Graie's Inn; in
this skirmish one or two of the gentlemen and servants of the house were
hurt, and severall of the workmen."

James Ralph's remarks on the principal localities of this district are
interesting. "Bedford Row," he says, "is one of the most noble streets
that London has to boast of, and yet there is not one house in it which
deserves the least attention." He tells us that "Ormond Street is
another place of pleasure, and that side of it next the Fields is,
beyond question, one of the most charming situations about town." This
'place of pleasure' is now given up for the most part to hospitals and
other charitable institutions, and to lodging-houses of an inferior
sort. Passing on to Bloomsbury Square, and speaking of the Duke of
Bedford's residence, which stood on the North side of the square, he
says, "Then behind it has the advantage of most agreeable gardens, and a
view of the country, which would make a retreat from the town almost
unnecessary, besides the opportunity of exhibiting another prospect of
the building, which would enrich the landscape and challenge new
approbation." This was written in 1736. At that time the years of two
generations were appointed to pass away ere the removal of Bedford House
should make way for Lower Bedford Place, leading into Russell Square.

So late as the opening years of George III.'s reign, Queen's Square
enjoyed an unbroken prospect in the direction of Highgate and Hampstead.
'The Foreigner's Guide: or a Necessary and Instructive Companion both to
the Foreigner and Native, in their Tours through the Cities of London
and Westminster' (1763), contains the following passage:--"Queen's
Square, which is pleasantly situated at the extreme part of the town,
has a fine open view of the country, and is handsomely built, as are
likewise the neighboring streets--viz., Southampton Row, Ormond Street,
&c. In this last is Powis House, so named from the Marquis of Powis, who
built the present stately structure in the year 1713. It is now the town
residence of the Earl of Hardwicke, late Lord Chancellor. The
apartments are noble, and the whole edifice is commendable for its
situation, and the fine prospect of the country. Not far from thence is
Bloomsbury Square. This square is commendable for its situation and
largeness. On the North side is the house of the Duke of Bedford. This
building was erected from a design of Inigo Jones, and is very elegant
and spacious." From the duke's house in Bloomsbury Square and his
surrounding property, the political party, of which he was the Chief,
obtained the nickname of the Bloomsbury Gang.

Chief Justice Holt died March 5, 1710, at his house[3] in Bedford Row.
In Red Lion Square Chief Justice Raymond had the town mansion wherein he
died on April 15, 1733; twelve years after Sir John Pratt, Lord Camden's
father, died at his house in Ormond Street. On December 15, 1761, Chief
Justice Willes died at his house in Bloomsbury Square. Chagrin at
missing the seals through his own arrogance, when they had been actually
offered to him, was supposed to be a principal cause of the Chief
Justice's death. His friends represented that he died of a broken heart;
to which assertion flippant enemies responded that no man ever had a
heart after living seventy-four years. Murray for many years inhabited a
handsome house in Lincoln's Inn Fields; but his name is more generally
associated with Bloomsbury Square, where stood the house which was
sacked and burnt by the Gordon rioters. In Bloomsbury Square our
grandfathers used to lounge, watching the house of Edward Law,
subsequently Lord Ellenborough, in the hope of seeing Mrs. Law, as she
watered the flowers of her balcony. Mrs. Law's maiden name was Towry,
and, as a beauty, she remained for years the rage of London. Even at
this date there remain a few aged gentlemen whose eyes sparkle and whose
checks flush when they recall the charms of the lovely creature who
became the wife of ungainly Edward Law, after refusing him on three
separate occasions.

On becoming Lord Ellenborough and Chief Justice, Edward Law moved to a
great mansion in St. James's Square, the size of which he described to a
friend by saying: "Sir, if you let off a piece of ordnance in the hall,
the report is not heard in the bedrooms." In this house the Chief
Justice expired, on December 13, 1818. Speaking of Lord Ellenborough's
residence in St. James's Square, Lord Campbell says: "This was the first
instance of a common law judge moving to the 'West End.' Hitherto all
the common law judges had lived within a radius of half a mile from
Lincoln's Inn; but they are now spread over the Regent's Park, Hyde Park
Gardens, and Kensington Gore."

Lord Harwicke and Lord Thurlow have been more than once mentioned as
inhabitants of Ormond Street.

Eldon's residences may be noticed with advantage in this place. On
leaving Oxford and settling in London, he took a small house for himself
and Mrs. Scott in Cursitor Street, Chancery Lane. About this dwelling he
wrote to his brother Henry:--"I have got a house barely sufficient to
hold my small family, which (so great is the demand for them here) will,
in rent and taxes, cost me annually six pounds." To this house he used
to point in the days of his prosperity, and, in allusion to the poverty
which he never experienced, he would add, "There was my first perch.
Many a time have I run down from Cursitor Street to Fleet Market and
bought sixpenn'orth of sprats for our supper." After leaving Cursitor
Street, he lived in Carey Street, Lincoln's Inn Fields, where also, in
his later years, he believed himself to have endured such want of money
that he and his wife were glad to fill themselves with sprats. When he
fixed this anecdote upon Carey Street, the old Chancellor used to
represent himself as buying the sprats in Clare Market instead of Fleet
Market. After some successful years he moved his household from the
vicinity of Lincoln's Inn, and took a house in the law quarter,
selecting one of the roomy houses (No. 42) of Gower Street, where he
lived when as Attorney General he conducted the futile prosecutions of
Hardy, Horne Tooke, and Thelwall, in 1794.

On quitting Gower Street, Eldon took the house in Bedford Square, which
witnessed so many strange scenes during his tenure of the seals, and
also during his brief exclusion from office. In Bedford Square he played
the part of chivalric protector to the Princess of Wales, and chuckled
over the proof-sheets of that mysterious 'book' by the publication of
which the injured wife and the lawyer hoped to take vengeance on their
common enemy. There the Chancellor, feeling it well to protract his
flirtation with the Princess of Wales, entertained her in the June of
1808, with a grand banquet, from which Lady Eldon was compelled by
indisposition to be absent. And there, four years later, when he was
satisfied that her Royal Highness's good opinion could be of no service
to him, the crafty, self-seeking minister gave a still more splendid
dinner to the husband whose vices he had professed to abhor, whose
meanness of spirit he had declared the object of his contempt.
"However," writes Lord Campbell, with much satiric humor, describing
this alliance between the selfish voluptuary and the equally selfish
lawyer, "he was much comforted by having the honor, at the prorogation,
of entertaining at dinner his Royal Highness the Regent, with whom he
was now a special favorite, and who, enjoying the splendid hospitality
of Bedford Square, forgot that the Princess of Wales had sat in the same
room; at the same table; on the same chair; had drunk of the same wine;
out of the same cup; while the conversation had turned on her barbarous
usage, and the best means of publishing to the world _her_ wrongs and
_his_ misconduct."

Another of the Prince Regent's visits to Bedford Square is surrounded
with comic circumstances and associations. In the April of 1815, a
mastership of chancery became vacant by the death of Mr. Morris; and
forthwith the Chancellor was assailed with entreaties from every
direction for the vacant post. For two months Eldon, pursuing that
policy of which he was a consummate master, delayed to appoint; but
on June 23, he disgusted the bar and shocked the more intelligent
section of London society, by conferring the post on Jekyll, the
courtly _bon vivant_ and witty descendant of Sir Joseph Jekyll, Master
of the Rolls. Amiable, popular, and brilliant, Jekyll received the
congratulations of his numerous personal friends; but beyond the
circle of his private acquaintance the appointment created lively
dissatisfaction--dissatisfaction which was heightened rather than
diminished by the knowledge that the placeman's good fortune was
entirely due to the personal importunity of the Prince Regent, who
called at the Chancellor's house, and having forced his way into the
bedroom, to which Eldon was confined by an attack of gout, refused
to take his departure without a promise that his friend should have
the vacant place. How this royal influence was applied to the
Chancellor, is told in the 'Anecdote Book.'

Fortunately Jekyll was less incompetent for the post than his enemies
had declared, and his friends admitted. He proved a respectable master,
and held his post until age and sickness compelled him to resign it;
and then, sustained in spirits by the usual retiring pension, he
sauntered on right mirthfully into the valley of the shadow of death. On
the day after his retirement, the jocose veteran, meeting Eldon in the
street, observed:--"Yesterday, Lord Chancellor, I was your master;
to-day I am my own."

From Bedford Square, Lord Eldon, for once following the fashion, moved
to Hamilton Place, Piccadilly. With the purpose of annoying him the
'Queen's friends,' during the height of the 'Queen Caroline agitation,'
proposed to buy the house adjoining the Chancellor's residence in
Hamilton Place, and to fit it up for the habitation of that not
altogether meritorious lady. Such an arrangement would have been an
humiliating as well as exasperating insult to a lawyer who, as long as
the excitement about the poor woman lasted, would have been liable to
affront whenever he left his house or looked through the windows facing
Hamilton Place. The same mob that delighted in hallooing round whatever
house the Queen honored with her presence, would have varied their
'hurrahs' for the lady with groans for the lawyer who, after making her
wrongs the stalking-horse of his ambition, had become one of her chief
oppressors. Eldon determined to leave Hamilton Place on the day which
should see the Queen enter it; and hearing that the Lords of the
Treasury were about to assist her with money for the purchase of the
house, he wrote to Lord Liverpool, protesting against an arrangement
which would subject him to annoyance at home and to ridicule out of
doors. "I should," he wrote, "be very unwilling to state anything
offensively, but I cannot but express my confidence that Government will
not aid a project which must remove the Chancellor from his house the
next hour that it takes effect, and from his office at the same time."
This decided attitude caused the Government to withdraw their
countenance from the project; whereupon a public subscription was opened
for its accomplishment. Sufficient funds were immediately proffered; and
the owner of the mansion had verbally made terms with the patriots, when
the Chancellor, outbidding them, bought the house himself. "I had no
other means," he wrote to his daughter, "of preventing the destruction
of my present house as a place in which I could live, or which anybody
else would take. The purchase-money is large, but I have already had
such offers, that I shall not, I think, lose by it."

Russell Square--where Lord Loughborough (who knows aught of the Earl of
Rosslyn?) had his town house, after leaving Lincoln's Inn Fields, and
where Charles Abbott (Lord Tenterden) established himself on leaving the
house in Queen Square, into which he married during the summer of
1795--maintained a quasi-fashionable repute much later than the older
and therefore more interesting parts of the 'old law quarter.' Theodore
Hook's disdain for Bloomsbury is not rightly appreciated by those who
fail to bear in mind that the Russell Square of Hook's time was tenanted
by people who--though they were unknown to 'fashion,' in the sense given
to the word by men of Brummel's habit and tone--had undeniable status
amongst the aristocracy and gentry of England. With some justice the
witty writer has been charged with snobbish vulgarity because he
ridiculed humble Bloomsbury for being humble. His best defence is found
in the fact that his extravagant scorn was not directed at helpless and
altogether obscure persons so much as at an educated and well-born class
who laughed at his caricatures, and gave dinners at which he was proud
to be present. Though it fails to clear the novelist of the special
charge, this apology has a certain amount of truth; and in so far as it
palliates some of his offences against good taste and gentle feeling, by
all means let him have the full benefit of it. Criticism can afford to
be charitable to the clever, worthless man, now that no one admires or
tries to respect him. Again, it may be advanced, in Hook's behalf, that
political animosity--a less despicable, though not less hurtful passion
than love of gentility--contributed to Hook's dislike of the quarter on
the north side of Holborn. As a humorist he ridiculed, as a panderer to
fashionable prejudices he sneered at, Bloomsbury; but as a tory he
cherished a genuine antagonism to the district of town that was
associated in the public mind with the wealth and ascendency of the
house of Bedford. Anyhow, the Russell Square neighborhood--although it
was no longer fashionable, as Belgravia and Mayfair are fashionable at
the present day--remained the locality of many important families, at
the time when Mr. Theodore Hook was pleased to assume that no one above
the condition of a rich tradesman or second-rate attorney lived in it.
Of the lawyers whose names are mournfully associated with the square
itself are Sir Samuel Romilly and Sir Thomas Noon Talfourd. In 1818, the
year of his destruction by his own hand, Sir Samuel Romilly lived there;
and Talfourd had a house on the east side of the square up to the time
of his lamented death in 1854.

That Theodore Hook's ridicule of Bloomsbury greatly lessened for a time
the value of its houses there is abundant evidence. When he deluged the
district with scornful satire, his voice was a social power, to which a
considerable number of honest people paid servile respect. His clever
words were repeated; and Bloomsbury having become a popular by-word for
contempt, aristocratic families ceased to live, and were reluctant to
invest money, in its well-built mansions. But Hook only accelerated a
movement which had for years been steadily though silently making
progress. Erskine knew Red Lion Square when every house was occupied by
a lawyer of wealth and eminence, if not of titular rank; but before he
quitted the stage, barristers had relinquished the ground in favor of
opulent shopkeepers. When an ironmonger became the occupant of a house
in Red Lion Square on the removal of a distinguished counsel, Erskine
wrote the epigram--

   "This house, where once a lawyer dwelt,
     Is now a smith's,--alas!
   How rapidly the iron age
     Succeeds the age of brass."

These lines point to a minor change in the social arrangements of
London, which began with the century, and was still in progress when
Erskine had for years been mouldering in his grave. In 1823, the year of
Erskine's death, Chief Baron Richards expired in his town house, in
Great Ormond Street. In the July of the following year Baron
Wood--_i.e._, George Wood, the famous special pleader--died at his house
in Bedford Square, about seventeen months after his resignation of his
seat in the Court of Exchequer to John Hullock.

At the present time the legal fraternity has deserted Bloomsbury. The
last of the Judges to depart was Chief Baron Pollock, who sold his great
house in Queen Square at a quite recent date. With the disappearance of
this venerable and universally respected judge, the legal history of the
neighborhood may be said to have closed. Some wealthy solicitors still
live in Russell Square and the adjoining streets; a few old-fashioned
barristers still linger in Upper Bedford Place and Lower Bedford Place.
Guilford Street and Doughty Street, and the adjacent thoroughfares of
the same class, still number a sprinkling of rising juniors, literary
barristers, and fairly prosperous attorneys. Perhaps the ancient aroma
of the 'old law quarter'--Mesopotamia, us it is now disrespectfully
termed--is still strong and pleasant enough to attract a few lawyers who
cherish a sentimental fondness for the past. A survey of the Post Office
Directory creates an impression that, compared with other neighborhoods,
the district north and northeast of Bloomsbury Square still possesses
more than an average number of legal residents; but it no longer remains
the quarter of the lawyers.

There still resides in Mecklenburgh Square a learned Queen's Counsel,
for whose preservation the prayers of the neighborhood constantly
ascend. To his more scholarly and polite neighbors this gentleman is an
object of intellectual interest and anxious affection. As the last of an
extinct species, as a still animate Dodo, as a lordly Mohican who has
outlived his tribe, this isolated counselor of her Gracious Majesty is
watched by heedful eyes whenever he crosses his threshold. In the
morning, as he paces from his dwelling to chambers, his way down Doughty
Street and John Street, and through Gray's Inn Gardens, is guarded by
men anxious for his safety. Shreds of orange-peel are whisked from the
pavement on which he is about to tread; and when he crosses Holborn he
walks between those who would imperil their lives to rescue him from
danger. The gatekeeper in Doughty Street daily makes him low obeisance,
knowing the historic value and interest of his courtly presence.
Occasionally the inhabitants of Mecklenburgh Square whisper a fear that
some sad morning their Q.C. may flit away without giving them a warning.
Long may it be before the residents of the 'Old Law Quarter' shall wail
over the fulfillment of this dismal anticipation!

[2] Dr. Clench lived in Brownlow Street, Holborn; and until his death,
in 1831, John Abernethy occupied in Bedford Row the house which is still
inhabited by an eminent surgeon, who was Abernethy's favorite pupil. Of
Dr. Clench's death in January, 1691-2, Narcissus Luttrell gives the
following account: "The 5th, last night, Dr. Clench, the physician, was
strangled in a coach; two persons came to his house in Brownlow Street,
Holborn, in a coach, and pretended to carry him to a patient's in the
City; they drove backward and forward, and after some time stopt by
Leadenhall, and sent the coachman to buy a couple of fowls for supper,
who went accordingly; and in the meantime they slipt away, and the
coachman when he returned found Dr. Clench with a handkerchief tyed
about his neck, with a hard sea-coal twisted in it, and clapt against
his windpipe; he had spirits applied to him and other means, but too
late, he having been dead some time." Dr. Clench's murderer, one Mr.
Harrison, a man of gentle condition, was apprehended, tried, found
guilty, and hung in chains.

[3] Holt's country seat was Redgrave Hall, formerly the home of the
Bacons. It was on his manor of Redgrave, that Sir Nicholas Bacon
entertained Queen Elizabeth, when she remarked that her Lord Keeper's
house was too small for him, and he answered--"Your Majesty has made me
too great for my house."





"I would compare the multitude of women which are to be chosen for wives
unto a bag full of snakes, having among them a single eel; now if a man
should put his hand into this bag, he may chance to light on the eel;
but it is an hundred to one he shall be stung by a snake."

These words were often heard from the lips of that honest judge, Sir
John More, whose son Thomas stirred from brain to foot by the bright
eyes, and snowy neck, and flowing locks of _cara Elizabetha_ (the _cara
Elizabetha_ of a more recent Tom More was 'Bessie, my darling')--penned
those warm and sweetly-flowing verses which delight scholars of the
present generation, and of which the following lines are neither the
least musical nor the least characteristic:--

   "Jam subit illa dies quæ ludentem obtulit olim
     Inter virgineos te mibi prima choros.
   Lactea cum flavi decuerunt colla capilli,
     Cum gena par nivibus visa, labella rosis:
   Cum tua perstringunt oculos duo sydera nostros
     Perque oculos intrant in mea corda meos."

The goddess of love played the poet more than one droll trick. Having
approached her with musical flattery, he fled from her with fear and
abhorrence. For a time the highest and holiest of human affections was
to his darkened mind no more than a carnal appetite; and he strove to
conquer the emotions which he feared would rouse within him a riot of
impious passions. With fasting and cruel discipline he would fain have
killed the devil that agitated him, whenever he passed a pretty girl in
the street. As a lay Carthusian he wore a hair-shirt next his skin,
disciplined his bare back with scourges, slept on the cold ground or a
hard bench, and by a score other strong measures sought to preserve his
spiritual by ruining his bodily health. But nature was too powerful for
unwholesome doctrine and usage, and before he rashly took a celibatic
vow, he knelt to fair Jane Colt--and rising, kissed her on the lips.

When spiritual counsel had removed his conscientious objections to
matrimony, he could not condescend to marry for love, but must,
forsooth, choose his wife in obedience to considerations of compassion
and mercy. Loving her younger sister, he paid his addresses to Jane,
because he shrunk from the injustice of putting the junior above the
older of the two girls. "Sir Thomas having determined, by the advice and
direction of his ghostly father, to be a married man, there was at that
time a pleasant conceited gentleman of an ancient family in Essex, one
Mr. John Colt, of New Hall, that invited him into his house, being much
delighted in his company, proffering unto him the choice of any of his
daughters, who were young gentlewomen of very good carriage, good
complexions, and very religiously inclined; whose honest and sweet
conversation and virtuous education enticed Sir Thomas not a little; and
although his affection most served him to the second, for that he
thought her the fairest and best favored, yet when he thought within
himself that it would be a grief and some blemish to the eldest to have
the younger sister preferred before her, he, out of a kind of
compassion, settled his fancy upon the eldest, and soon after married
her with all his friends' good liking."

The marriage was a fair happy union, but its duration was short. After
giving birth to four children Jane died, leaving the young husband, who
had instructed her sedulously, to mourn her sincerely. That his sorrow
was poignant may be easily believed; for her death deprived him of a
docile pupil, as well as a dutiful wife.

"Virginem duxit admodum puellam," Erasmus says of his friend, "claro
genere natam, rudem adhuc utpote ruri inter parentes ac sorores semper
habitam, quo magis illi liceret illam ad suos mores fingere. Hanc et
literis instruendam curavit, et omni musices genere doctam reddidit."
Here is another insight into the considerations which brought about the
marriage. When he set out in search of a wife, he wished to capture a
simple, unsophisticated, untaught country girl, whose ignorance of the
world should incline her to rely on his superior knowledge, and the
deficiencies of whose intellectual training should leave him an ample
field for educational experiments. Seeking this he naturally turned his
steps toward the eastern countries; and in Essex he found the young
lady, who to the last learnt with intelligence and zeal the lessons
which he set her.

More's second choice of a wife was less fortunate than his first.
Wanting a woman to take care of his children and preside over his rather
numerous establishment, he made an offer to a widow, named Alice
Middleton. Plain and homely in appearance and taste, Mistress Alice
would have been invaluable to Sir Thomas as a superior domestic servant,
but his good judgment and taste deserted him when he decided to make
her a closer companion. Bustling, keen, loquacious, tart, the good dame
scolded servants and petty tradesmen with admirable effect; but even at
this distance of time the sensitive ear is pained by her sharp,
garrulous tongue, when its acerbity and virulence are turned against her
pacific and scholarly husband. A smile follows the recollection that he
endeavored to soften her manners and elevate her nature by a system of
culture similar to that by which Jane Colt, 'admodum puella,' had been
formed and raised into a polished gentlewoman. Past forty years of age,
Mistress Alice was required to educate herself anew. Erasmus assures his
readers that "though verging on old age, and not of a yielding temper,"
she was prevailed upon "to take lessons on the lute, the cithara, the
viol, the monochord, and the flute, which she daily practised to him."

It has been the fashion with biographers to speak bitterly of this poor
woman, and to pity More for his cruel fate in being united to a
termagant. No one has any compassion for her. Sir Thomas is the victim;
Mistress Alice the shrill virago. In those days, when every historic
reprobate finds an apologist, is there no one to say a word in behalf of
the Widow Middleton, whose lot in life and death seems to this writer
very pitiable? She was quick in temper, slow in brain, domineering,
awkward. To rouse sympathy for such a woman is no easy task; but if
wretchedness is a title to compassion, Mistress Alice has a right to
charity and gentle usage. It _was not_ her fault that she could not
sympathize with her grand husband, in his studies and tastes, his lofty
life and voluntary death; it _was_ her misfortune that his steps
traversed plains high above her own moral and intellectual level. By
social theory they were intimate companions; in reality, no man and
woman in all England were wider apart. From his elevation he looked
down on her with commiseration that was heightened by curiosity and
amazement; and she daily writhed under his gracious condescension and
passionless urbanity; under her own consciousness of inferiority and
consequent self-scorn. He could no more sympathize with her petty aims,
than she with the high views and ambitions; and conjugal sympathy was
far more necessary to her than to him. His studious friends and clever
children afforded him an abundance of human fellowship; his public cares
and intellectual pursuits gave him constant diversion. He stood in such
small need of her, that if some benevolent fairy had suddenly endowed
her with grace, wisdom, and understanding, the sum of his satisfaction
would not have been perceptibly altered. But apart from him she had no
sufficient enjoyments. His genuine companionship was requisite for her
happiness; but for this society nature had endowed her with no fitness.
In the case of an unhappy marriage, where the unhappiness is not caused
by actual misconduct, but is solely due to incongruity of tastes and
capacities, it is cruel to assume that the superior person of the
ill-assorted couple has the stronger claim to sympathy.

Finding his wife less tractable than he wished, More withheld his
confidence from her, taking the most important steps of his life,
without either asking for her advice, or even announcing the course
which he was about to take. His resignation of the seals was announced
to her on the day _after_ his retirement from office, and in a manner
which, notwithstanding its drollery, would greatly pain any woman of
ordinary sensibility. The day following the date of his resignation was
a holiday; and in accordance with his usage the ex-Chancellor, together
with his household, attended service in Chelsea Church. On her way to
church, Lady More returned the greetings of her friends with a
stateliness not unseemly at that ceremonious time in one who was the
lady of the Lord High Chancellor. At the conclusion of service, ere she
left her pew, the intelligence was broken to her in a jest that she had
lost her cherished dignity. "And whereas upon the holidays during his
High Chancellorship one of his gentlemen, when the service of the church
was done, ordinarily used to come to my lady his wife's pew-door, and
say unto her '_Madam, my lord is gone_,' he came into my lady his wife's
pew himself, and making a low courtesy, said unto her, 'Madam, my lord
is gone,' which she, imagining to be but one of his jests, as he used
many unto her, he sadly affirmed unto her that it was true. This was the
way he thought fittest to break the matter unto his wife, who was full
of sorrow to hear it."

Equally humorous and pathetic was that memorable interview between More
and his wife in the Tower, when she, regarding his position by the
lights with which nature had endowed her, counseled him to yield even at
that late moment to the king. "What the goodyear, Mr. More!" she cried,
bustling up to the tranquil and courageous man. "I marvel that you, who
have been hitherto always taken for a wise man, will now so play the
fool as to lie here in this close, filthy prison, and be content to be
shut up thus with mice and rats, when you might be abroad at your
liberty, with the favor and good-will both of the king and his council,
if you would but do as the bishops and best learned of his realm have
done; and, seeing you have at Chelsea a right fair house, your library,
your books, your gallery, and all other necessaries so handsome about
you, where you might, in company with me, your wife, your children, and
household, be merry, I muse what, in God's name, you mean, here thus
fondly to tarry." Having heard her out--preserving his good-humor, he
said to her, with a cheerful countenance, "I pray thee, good Mrs.
Alice, tell me one thing!" "What is it?" saith she, "Is not this house
as near heaven as my own?"

Sir Thomas More was looking towards heaven.

Mistress Alice had her eye upon the 'right fair house' at Chelsea.



Amongst the eminent men who are frequently mentioned as notorious
suitors for the personal affection of Queen Elizabeth, a conspicuous
place is awarded to Hatton, by the scandalous memoirs of his time and
the romantic traditions of later ages. Historians of the present
generation have accepted without suspicion the story that Hatton was
Elizabeth's amorous courtier, that the fanciful letters of 'Lydds' were
fervent solicitations for response to his passion; that he won her favor
and his successive promotions by timely exhibition of personal grace and
steady perseverance in flattery. Campbell speaks of the queen and her
chancellor as 'lovers;' and the view of the historian has been upheld by
novelists and dramatic writers.

The writer of this page ventures to reject a story which is not
consistent with truth, and casts a dark suspicion on her who was not
more powerful as a queen than virtuous as a woman.

For illustrations of lovers' pranks amongst the Elizabethan lawyers, the
reader must pass to two great judges, the inferior of whom was a far
greater man than Christopher Hatton. Rivals in law and politics, Bacon
and Coke were also rivals in love. Having wooed the same proud, lovely,
capricious, violent woman, the one was blessed with failure, and the
other was cursed with success.

Until a revolution in the popular estimate of Bacon was effected by Mr.
Hepworth Dixon's vindication of that great man, it was generally
believed that love was no appreciable element in his nature. Delight in
vain display occupied in his affections the place which should have been
held by devotion to womanly beauty and goodness; he had sneered at love
in an essay, and his cold heart never rebelled against the doctrine of
his clever brain; he wooed his notorious cousin for the sake of power,
and then married Alice Barnham for money. Such was the theory, the most
solid foundation of which was a humorous treatise,[4] misread and

The lady's wealth, rank, and personal attractions were in truth the only
facts countenancing the suggestion that Francis Bacon proffered suit to
his fair cousin from interested motives. Notwithstanding her defects of
temper, no one denies that she was a woman qualified by nature to rouse
the passion of man. A wit and beauty, she was mistress of the arts which
heighten the powers of feminine tact and loveliness. The daughter of Sir
Thomas Cecil, the grandchild of Lord Burleigh, she was Francis Bacon's
near relation; and though the Cecils were not inclined to help him to
fortune, he was nevertheless one of their connection, and consequently
often found himself in familiar conversation with the bright and
fascinating woman. Doubtless she played with him, persuading herself
that she merely treated him with cousinly cordiality, when she was
designedly making him her lover. The marvel was that she did not give
him her hand; that he sought it is no occasion for surprise--or for
insinuations that he coveted her wealth. Biography is by turns
mischievously communicative and vexatiously silent. That Bacon loved Sir
William Hatton's widow, and induced Essex to support his suit, and that
rejecting him she gave herself to his enemy, we know; but history tells
us nothing of the secret struggle which preceded the lady's resolution
to become the wife of an unalluring, ungracious, peevish, middle-aged
widower. She must have felt some tenderness for her cousin, whose
comeliness spoke to every eye, whose wit was extolled by every lip.
Perhaps she, like many others, had misread the essay 'Of Love,' and felt
herself bound in honor to bring the philosopher to his knees at her
feet. It is credible that from the outset of their sentimental
intercourse, she intended to win and then to flout him. But coquetry
cannot conquer the first laws of human feeling. To be a good flirt, a
woman must have nerve and a sympathetic nature; and doubtless the flirt
in this instance paid for her triumph with the smart of a lasting wound.
Is it fanciful to argue that her subsequent violence and misconduct, her
impatience of control and scandalous disrespect for her aged husband,
may have been in some part due to the sacrifice of personal inclination
which she made in accepting Coke at the entreaty of prudent and selfish
relations--and to the contrast, perpetually haunting her, between what
she was as Sir Edward's termagant partner, and what she might have been
as Francis Bacon's wife?

She consented to a marriage with Edward Coke, but was so ashamed of her
choice, that she insisted on a private celebration of their union,
although Archbishop Whitgift had recently raised his voice against the
scandal of clandestine weddings, and had actually forbidden them. In the
face of the primate's edict the ill-assorted couple were united in
wedlock, without license or publication of banns, by a country parson,
who braved the displeasure of Whitgift, in order that he might secure
the favor of a secular patron. The wedding-day was November 24, 1598,
the bridegroom's first wife having been buried on the 24th of the
previous July.[5] On learning the violation of his orders, the
archbishop was so incensed that he resolved to excommunicate the
offenders, and actually instituted for that purpose legal proceedings,
which were not dropped until bride and bridegroom humbly sued for
pardon, pleading ignorance of law in excuse of their misbehavior.

The scandalous consequences of that marriage are known to every reader
who has laughed over the more pungent and comic scenes of English
history. Whilst Lady Hatton gave masques and balls in the superb palace
which came into her possession through marriage with Sir Christopher
Hatton's nephew, Coke lived in his chambers, working at cases and
writing the books which are still carefully studied by every young man
who wishes to make himself a master of our law. In private they had
perpetual squabbles, and they quarrelled with equal virulence and
indecency before the world. The matrimonial settlement of their only and
ill-starred daughter was the occasion of an outbreak on the part of
husband and wife, that not only furnished diversion for courtiers but
agitated the council table. Of all the comic scenes connected with that
unseemly _fracas_, not the least laughable and characteristic was the
grand festival of reconciliation at Hatton House, when Lady Hatton
received the king and queen in Holborn, and expressly forbade her
husband to presume to show himself among her guests. "The expectancy of
Sir Edward's rising," says a writer of the period,[6] "is much abated by
reason of his lady's liberty,[7] who was brought in great honor to
Exeter House by my Lord of Buckingham from Sir William Craven's, whither
she had been remanded, presented by his lordship to the king, received
gracious usage, reconciled to her daughter by his Majesty, and her house
in Holborn enlightened by his presence at a dinner, where there was a
royal feast; and to make it more absolutely her own, express
commandment given by her ladyship, that neither Sir Edward Coke nor any
of his servants should be admitted."

If tradition may be credited, the law is greatly indebted to the class
of women whom it was our forefathers' barbarous wont to punish with the
ducking-stool. Had Coke been happy in his second marriage, it is assumed
that he would have spent more time in pleasure and fewer hours at his
desk, that the suitors in his court would have had less careful
decisions, and that posterity would have been favored with fewer
reports. If the inference is just, society may point to the commentary
on Littleton, and be thankful for the lady's unhappy temper and sharp
tongue. In like manner the wits of the following century maintained that
Holt's steady application to business was a consequence of domestic
misery. The lady who ruled his house in Bedford Row, is said to have
been such a virago, that the Chief Justice frequently retired to his
chambers, in order that he might place himself beyond reach of her
voice. Amongst the good stories told of Radcliffe, the Tory physician,
is the tradition of his boast, that he kept Lady Holt alive out of pure
political animosity to the Whig Chief Justice. Another eminent lawyer,
over whose troubles people have made merry in the same fashion, was
Jeffrey Gilbert, Baron of the Exchequer. At his death, October 14, 1726,
this learned judge left behind him that mass of reports, histories, and
treatises by which he is known as one of the most luminous, as well as
voluminous of legal writers. None of his works passed through the press
during his life, and when their number and value were discovered after
his departure to another world, it was whispered that they had been
composed in hours of banishment from a hearth where a _scolding wife_
made misery for all who came within the range of her querulous notes.

Disappointed in his suit to his beautiful and domineering cousin, Bacon
let some five or six years pass before he allowed his thoughts again to
turn to love, and then he wooed and waited for nearly three years more,
ere, on a bright May day, he met Alice Barnham in Marylebone Chapel, and
made her his wife in the presence of a courtly company. In the July of
1603, he wrote to Cecil:--"For this divulged and almost prostituted
title of knighthood, I could, without charge by your honor's mean, be
content to have it, both because of this late disgrace, and because I
have three new knights in my mess in Gray's Inn Commons, and because I
have found out an alderman's daughter, a handsome maiden, to my liking.
So as if your honor will find the time, I will come to the court from
Gorhambury upon any warning." This expression, 'an alderman's daughter,'
contributed greatly, if it did not give rise to, the misapprehension
that Bacon's marriage was a mercenary arrangement. In these later times
the social status of an alderman is so much beneath the rank of a
distinguished member of the bar, that a successful queen's counsel, who
should make an offer to the daughter of a City magistrate, would be
regarded as bent upon a decidedly unambitious match; and if in a
significant tone he spoke of the lady as 'an alderman's daughter' his
words might be reasonably construed as a hint that her fortune atoned
for her want of rank. But it never occurred to Bacon's contemporaries to
put such a construction on the announcement. Far from using the words in
an apologetic manner, the lover meant them to express concisely that
Alice Barnham was a lady of suitable condition to bear a title as well
as to become his bride. Cecil regarded them merely as an assurance that
his relative meditated a suitable and even advantageous alliance, just
as any statesman of the present day would read an announcement that a
kinsman, making his way in the law-courts, intended to marry 'an
admiral's daughter' or a 'bishop's daughter.' That it was the reverse of
a mercenary marriage, Mr. Hepworth Dixon has indisputably proved in his
eighth chapter of 'The Story of Lord Bacon's Life,' where he contrasts
Lady Bacon's modest fortune with her husband's personal acquisitions and

[4] To readers who have no sense of humor and irony, the essay 'Of Love'
unquestionably gives countenance to the theory that Francis Bacon was
cold and passionless in all that concerned woman. Of the many strange
constructions put upon this essay, not the least amusing and perverse is
that which would make it a piece of adroit flattery to Elizabeth, who
never permitted love "to check with business," though she is represented
to have used it as a diversion in idle moments. If Sir Thomas More's
'Utopia' had been published a quarter of a century after 1518 (the date
of its appearance), a similar construction would have been put on the
passage, which urges that lovers should not be bound by an indissoluble
tie of wedlock, until mutual inspection has satisfied each of the
contracting parties that the other does not labor under any grave
personal defect. If it were possible to regard the passage containing
this proposal as an interpolation in the original romance, it might then
be regarded as an attempt to palliate Henry VIII.'s conduct to Anne of

[5] When due allowance has been made for the difference between the
usages of the sixteenth century and the present time, decency was
signally violated by this marriage, which followed so soon upon Mrs.
Coke's death, and still sooner upon the death of Lady Hatton's famous
grandfather, at whose funeral the lawyer made the first overtures for
her hand. Mrs. Coke died June 27, 1598, and was buried at Huntingfield,
co. Suffolk, July 24, 1598. Lord Burleigh expired on August 4, of the
same year. Coke's first marriage was not unhappy; and on the death of
his wife by that union, he wrote in his note-book:--"Most beloved and
most excellent wife, she well and happily lived, and, as a true handmaid
of the Lord, fell asleep in the Lord, and now lives and reigns in
heaven." In after years he often wished most cordially that he could say
_as much_ for his second wife.

[6] Strafford's Letters and Despatches, I. 5.

[7] Lady Hatton never used her second husband's name either before or
after his knighthood. A good case, touching the customary right of a
married lady to bear the name, and take her title from the rank of a
former husband, is that of Sir Dudley North, Charles II.'s notorious
sheriff of London. The son of an English peer, he married Lady Gunning,
the widow of a wealthy civic knight, and daughter of Sir Robert Cann, "a
morose old merchant of Bristol"--the same magistrate whom Judge
Jeffreys, in terms not less just than emphatic, upbraided for his
connection with, or to speak moderately, his connivance at, the Bristol
kidnappers. It might be thought that the merchant's daughter, on her
marriage with a peer's son, would be well content to relinquish the
title of Lady Gunning; but Roger North tells us that his brother Dudley
accepted knighthood, in order that he might avoid giving offence to the
city, and also, in order that his wife might be called Lady North, and
not Lady Gunning.--_Vide Life of the Hon. Sir Dudley North._ After Sir
Thomas Wilde (subsequently Lord Truro), married Augusta Emma d'Este, the
daughter of the duke of Sussex and Lady Augusta Murray, that lady, of
whose legitimacy Sir Thomas had vainly endeavored to convince the House
of Lords, retained her maiden surname. In society she was generally
known as the Princess d'Este, and the bilious satirists of the Inns of
Court used to speak of Sir Thomas as 'the Prince.' It was said that one
of Wilde's familiar associates, soon after the lawyer's marriage, called
at his house and asked if the Princess d'Este was at home. "No, sir,"
replied the servant, "the Princess d'Este is not at home, but the Prince
is!" That this malicious story obtained a wide currency is not
wonderful; that it is a truthful anecdote the writer of this book would
not like to pledge his credit. The case of Sir John Campbell and Lady
Strathedon, was a notable instance of a lawyer and his wife bearing
different names. Raised to the peerage, with the title of Baroness
Stratheden, the first Lord Abinger's eldest daughter was indebted to her
husband for an honor that made him her social inferior. Many readers
will remember a droll story of a misapprehension caused by her
ladyship's title. During an official journey, Sir John Campbell and
Baroness Stratheden slept at lodgings which he had frequently occupied
as a circuiteer. On the morning after his arrival, the landlady obtained
a special interview with Campbell, and in the baroness's absence thus
addressed him, with mingled indignation and respectfulness:--"Sir John
Campbell, I am a lone widow, and live by my good name. It is not in my
humble place to be too curious about the ladies brought to my lodgings
by counsellors and judges. It is not in me to make remarks if a
counsellor's lady changes the color of her eyes, and her complexion
every assizes. But, Sir John, a gentleman ought not to bring a lady to a
lone widow's lodgings, unless so long as he 'okkipies' the apartments he
makes all honorable professions that the lady is his wife, and as such
gives her the use of his name."



No lawyer of the Second Charles's time surpassed Francis North in love
of money, or was more firmly resolved not to marry, without due and
substantial consideration.

His first proposal was for the daughter of a Gray's Inn money-lender.
Usury was not a less contemptible vocation in the seventeenth century
than it is at the present time; and most young barristers of gentle
descent and fair prospects would have preferred any lot to the
degradation of marriage with the child of the most fortunate usurer in
Charles II.'s London. But the Hon. Francis North was placed comfortably
_beneath_ the prejudices of his order and time of life. He was of noble
birth, but quite ready to marry into a plebeian family; he was young,
but loved money more than aught else. So his hearing was quickened and
his blood beat merrily when, one fine morning, "there came to him a
recommendation of a lady, who was an only daughter of an old usurer in
Gray's Inn, supposed to be a good fortune in present, for her father was
rich; but, after his death, to become worth, nobody could tell what."
One would like to know how that 'recommendation of a lady' reached the
lawyer's chambers; above all, who sent it?

"His lordship," continues Roger North, "got a sight of the lady, and did
not dislike her; thereupon he made the old man a visit, and a proposal
of himself to marry his daughter." By all means let this ingenuous,
high-spirited Templar have a fair judgment. He would not have sold
himself to just any woman. He required a _maximum_ of wealth with a
_minimum_ of personal repulsiveness. He therefore 'took a sight of the
lady' (it does not appear that he talked with her) before he committed
himself irrevocably by a proposal. The _sight_ having been taken, as he
did not dislike her (mind, he did not positively like her) he made the
old man a visit. Loving money, and believing in it, this 'old man'
wished to secure as much of it as possible for his only child; and
therefore looking keenly at the youthful admirer of a usurer's heiress,
"asked him what estate his father intended to settle upon him for
present maintenance, jointure, and provision for children." Mildly and
not unjustly Roger calls this "an inauspicious question." It was so
inauspicious that Mr. Francis North abruptly terminated the discussion
by wishing the usurer good-morning. So ended Love Affair No. 1.

Having lost his dear companion, Mr. Edward Palmer, son of the powerful
Sir Geoffry Palmer, Mr. Francis North soon regarded his friend's wife
with tender longing. It was only natural that he should desire to
mitigate his sorrow for the dead by possession of the woman who was
"left a flourishing widow, and very rich." But the lady knew her worth,
as well she might, for "never was lady more closely besieged with
wooers: she had no less than five younger sons sat down before her at
one time, and she kept them well in hand, as they say, giving no
definite answers to any of one of them." Small respect did Mistress
Edward Palmer show her late husband's most intimate friend. For weeks
she tortured the wretched, knavish fellow with coquettish tricks, and
having rendered him miserable in many ways, made him ludicrous by
jilting him. "He was held at the long saw above a month, doing his duty
as well as he might, and that was but clumsily; for he neither dressed
nor danced, when his rivals were adroit at both, and the lady used to
shuffle her favors amongst them affectedly, and on purpose to mortify
his lordship, and at the same time be as civil to him, with like purpose
to mortify them." Poor Mr. Francis! Well may his brother write
indignantly, "It was very grievous to him--that had his thoughts upon
his clients' concerns, which came in thick upon him--to be held in a
course of bo-peep play with a crafty widow." At length, "after a
clancular proceeding," this crafty widow, by marrying "a jolly knight of
a good estate," set her victims free; and Mr. Francis was at liberty to
look elsewhere for a lapful of money.

Roger North tells the story of the third affair so concisely and pithily
that his exact words must be put before the reader:--"Another
proposition came to his lordship," writes the fraternal biographer,
giving Francis North credit for the title he subsequently won, although
at the time under consideration he was plain _Mister_ North, on the keen
look-out for the place of Solicitor General, "by a city broker, from Sir
John Lawrence, who had many daughters, and those reputed beauties; and
the fortune was to be £6000. His lordship went and dined with the
alderman, and liked the lady, who (as the way is) was dressed out for a
muster. And coming to treat, the portion shrank to £5000, and upon that
his lordship parted, and was not gone far before Mr. Broker (following)
came to him, and said Sir John would give £500 more at the birth of the
first child; but that would not do, for his lordship hated such
screwing. Not long after this dispute, his lordship was made the King's
Solicitor General, and then the broker came again, with news that Sir
John would give £10,000. 'No,' his lordship said, 'after such usage he
would not proceed if he might have £20,000.'" The intervention of the
broker in this negotiation is delightfully suggestive. More should have
been said about him--his name, address, and terms for doing business.
Was he paid for his services on all that he could save from a certain
sum beyond which his employer would not advance a single gold-piece for
the disposal of his child? Were there, in olden time, men who avowed
themselves 'Heart and Jointure Brokers, Agents for Lovers of both Sexes,
Contractors of Mutual Attachments, Wholesale and Retail Dealers in
Reciprocal Affection, and General Referees, Respondents, and Insurers in
all Sentimental Affairs, Clandestine or otherwise?'

After these mischances Francis North made an eligible match under
somewhat singular circumstances. As co-heiresses of Thomas, Earl of
Down, three sisters, the Ladies Pope, claimed under certain settlements
large estates of inheritance, to which Lady Elizabeth Lee set up a
counter claim. North, acting as Lady Elizabeth Lee's counsel, effected a
compromise which secured half the property in dispute to his client, and
diminished by one-half the fortunes to which each of the three suitors
on the other side had maintained their right. Having thus reduced the
estate of Lady Frances Pope to a fortune estimated at about £14,000, the
lawyer proposed for her hand, and was accepted. After his marriage,
alluding to his exertions in behalf of Lady Elizabeth Lee's very
disputable claim, he used to say that "he had been counsel against
himself;" but Roger North frankly admits that "if this question had not
come to such a composition, which diminished the ladies' fortunes, his
brother had never compassed his match."

It was not without reluctance that the Countess of Downs consented to
the union of her daughter with the lawyer who had half ruined her, and
who (though he was Solicitor General and in fine practice) could settle
only £5000 upon the lady. "I well remember," observes Roger, "the good
countess had some qualms, and complained that she knew not how she could
justify what she had done (meaning the marrying her daughters with no
better settlement)." To these qualms Francis North, with lawyer-like
coolness, answered--"Madam, if you meet with any question about that,
_say_ that your daughter has £1000 per annum jointure."

The marriage was celebrated in Wroxton Church; and after bountiful
rejoicings with certain loyalist families of Oxfordshire, the happy
couple went up to London and lived in chambers until they moved into a
house in Chancery Lane.

It may surprise some readers of this book to learn that George Jeffreys,
the odious judge of the Bloody Circuit, was a successful gallant. Tall,
well-shaped, and endowed by nature with a pleasant countenance and
agreeable features, Jeffreys was one of the most fascinating men of his
time. A wit and a _bon-vivant_, he could hit the humor of the roystering
cavaliers who surrounded the 'merry monarch;' a man of gallantry and
polite accomplishments, he was acceptable to women of society. The same
tongue that bullied from the bench, when witnesses were perverse or
counsel unruly, could flatter with such melodious affectation of
sincerity, that he was known as a most delightful companion. As a
musical connoisseur he spoke with authority; as a teller of good stories
he had no equal in town. Even those who detested him did not venture to
deny that in the discharge of his judicial offices he could at his
pleasure assume a dignity and urbane composure that well became the seat
of justice. In short, his talents and graces were so various and
effective, that he would have risen to the bench, even if he had labored
under the disadvantages of pure morality and amiable temper.

Women declared him irresistible. At court he had the ear of Nell Gwyn
and the Duchess of Portsmouth--the Protestant favorite and the Catholic
mistress; and before he attained the privilege of entering Whitehall--at
a time when his creditors were urgent, and his best clients were the
inferior attorneys of the city courts--he was loved by virtuous girls.
He was still poor, unknown, and struggling with difficulties, when he
induced an heiress to accept his suit,--the daughter of a rural squire
whose wine the barrister had drunk upon circuit. This young lady was
wooed under circumstances of peculiar difficulty; and she promised to
elope with him if her father refused to receive him as a son-in-law.
Ill-luck befell the scheme; and whilst young Jeffreys was waiting in
the Temple for the letter which should decide his movements, an
intimation reached him that elopement was impossible and union
forbidden. The bearer of this bad news was a young lady--the child of a
poor clergyman--who had been the confidential friend and paid companion
of the squire's daughter.

The case was hard for Jeffreys, cruel for the fair messenger. He had
lost an advantageous match, she had lost her daily bread. Furious with
her for having acted as the _confidante_ of the clandestine lovers, the
squire had turned this poor girl out of his house; and she had come to
London to seek for employment as well as to report the disaster.

Jeffreys saw her overpowered with trouble and shame--penniless in the
great city, and disgraced by expulsion from her patron's roof. Seeing
that her abject plight was the consequence of amiable readiness to serve
him, Jeffreys pitied and consoled her. Most young men would have soothed
their consciences and dried the running tears with a gift of money or a
letter recommending the outcast to a new employer. As she was pretty, a
libertine would have tried to seduce her. In Jeffreys, compassion roused
a still finer sentiment: he loved the poor girl and married her. On May
23, 1667, Sarah Neesham was married to George Jeffreys of the Inner
Temple; and her father, in proof of his complete forgiveness of her
_escapade_, gave her a fortune of £300--a sum which the poor clergyman
could not well afford to bestow on the newly married couple.

Having outlived Sarah Neesham, Jeffreys married again--taking for his
second wife a widow whose father was Sir Thomas Bludworth, ex-Lord Mayor
of London. Whether rumor treated her unjustly it is impossible to say at
this distance of time; but if reliance may be put on many broad stories
current about the lady, her conduct was by no means free from fault. She
was reputed to entertain many lovers. Jeffreys would have created less
scandal if, instead of taking her to his home, he had imitated the pious
Sir Matthew Hale, who married his maid-servant, and on being twitted by
the world with the lowliness of his choice, silenced his censors with a

Amongst the love affairs of seventeenth-century lawyers place must be
made for mention of the second wife whom Chief Justice Bramston brought
home from Ireland, where she had outlived two husbands (the Bishop of
Clogher and Sir John Brereton), before she gave her hand to the judge
who had loved her in his boyhood. "When I see her," says the Chief
Justice's son, who describes the expedition to Dublin, and the return to
London, "I confess I wondered at my father's love. She was low, fatt,
red-faced; her dress, too, was a hat and ruff, which tho' she never
changed to death. But my father, I believe, seeing me change
countenance, told me it was not beautie, but virtue, he courted. I
believe she had been handsome in her youth; she had a delicate, fine
hand, white and plump, and indeed proved a good wife and mother-in-law,
too." On her journey to Charles I.'s London, this elderly bride, in her
antiquated attire, rode from Holyhead to Beaumaris on a pillion behind
her step-son. "As she rode over the sandes," records her step-son,
"behind mee, and pulling off her gloves, her wedding ringe fell off, and
sunk instantly. She caused her man to alight; she sate still behind me,
and kept her eye on the place, and directed her man, but he not guessing
well, she leaped off, saying she would not stir without her ringe, it
being the most unfortunate thinge that could befall any one to lose the
wedding-ringe--made the man thrust his hand into the sands (the nature
of which is not to bear any weight but passing), he pulled up sand, but
not the ringe. She made him strip his arme and put it deeper into the
sand, and pulled up the ringe; and this done, he and shee, and all that
stood still, were sunk almost to the knees, but we were all pleased that
the ringe was found."

In the legal circle of Charles the Second's London, Lady King was
notable as a virago whose shrill tongue disturbed her husband's peace of
mind by day, and broke his rest at night. Earning a larger income than
any other barrister of his time, he had little leisure for domestic
society; but the few hours which he could have spent with his wife and
children, he usually preferred to spend in a tavern, beyond the reach of
his lady's sharp querulousness. "All his misfortune," says Roger North,
"lay at home, in perverse consort, who always, after his day-labor done,
entertained him with all the chagrin and peevishness imaginable; so that
he went home as to his prison, or worse; and when the time came, rather
than go home, he chose commonly to get a friend to go and sit in a free
chat at the tavern, over a single bottle, till twelve or one at night,
and then to work again at five in the morning. His fatigue in business,
which, as I said, was more than ordinary to him, and his no comfort, or
rather, discomfort at home, and taking his refreshment by excising his
sleep, soon pulled him down; so that, after a short illness, he died."
On his death-bed, however, he forgave the weeping woman, who, more
through physical irritability than wicked design, had caused him so much
undeserved discomfort; and by his last will and testament he made
liberal provision for her wants. Having made his will, "he said, I am
glad it is done," runs the memoir of Sir John King, written by his
father, "and after took leave of his wife, who was full of tears; seeing
it is the will of God, let us part quietly in friendship, with
submissiveness to his will, as we came together in friendship by His



A complete history of the loves of lawyers would notice many scandalous
intrigues and disreputable alliances, and would comprise a good deal of
literature for which the student would vainly look in the works of our
best authors. From the days of Wolsey, whose amours were notorious, and
whose illegitimate son became Dean of Wells, down to the present time of
brighter though not unimpeachable morality, the domestic lives of our
eminent judges and advocates have too frequently invited satire and
justified regret. In the eighteenth century judges, without any loss of
_caste_ or popular regard, openly maintained establishments that in
these more decorous and actually better days would cover their keepers
with obloquy. Attention could be directed to more than one legal family
in which the descent must be traced through a succession of illegitimate
births. Not only did eminent lawyers live openly with women who were not
their wives, and with children whom the law declined to recognize as
their offspring; but these women and children moved in good society,
apparently indifferent to shame that brought upon them but few
inconveniences. In Great Ormond Street, where a mistress and several
illegitimate children formed his family circle, Lord Thurlow was visited
by bishops and deans; and it is said that in 1806, when Sir James
Mansfield, Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, was invited to the
woolsack and the peerage, he was induced to decline the offer more by
consideration for his illegitimate children than by fears for the
stability of the new administration.

Speaking of Lord Thurlow's undisguised intercourse with Mrs. Hervey,
Lord Campbell says, "When I first knew the profession, it would not
have been endured that any one in a judicial situation should have had
such a domestic establishment as Thurlow's; but a majority of judges had
married their mistresses. The understanding then was that a man elevated
to the bench, if he had a mistress, must either marry her or put her
away. For many years there has been no necessity for such an
alternative." Either Lord Campbell had not the keen appetite for
professional gossip, with which he is ordinarily credited, or his
conscience must have pricked him when he wrote, "For many years there
has been no necessity for such an alternative." To show how far his
lordship erred through want of information or defect of candor is not
the duty of this page; but without making any statement that can wound
private feeling, the present writer may observe that 'the
understanding,' to which Lord Campbell draws attention, has affected the
fortune of ladies within the present generation.

That the bright and high-minded Somers was the debauchee that Mrs.
Manley and Mr. Cooksey would have us believe him is incredible. It is
doubtful if Mackey in his 'Sketch of Leading Characters at the English
Court' had sufficient reasons for clouding his sunny picture of the
statesman with the assertion that he was "something of a libertine." But
there are occasions when prudence counsels us to pay attention to

Having raised himself to the office of Solicitor General, Somers, like
Francis Bacon, found an alderman's daughter to his liking; and having
formed a sincere attachment for her, he made his wishes known to her
father. Miss Anne Bawdon's father was a wealthy merchant, styled Sir
John Bawdon--a man proud of his civic station and riches, and thinking
lightly of lawyers and law. When Somers stated his property and
projects, the rental of his small landed estate and the buoyancy of his
professional income, the opulent knight by no means approved the
prospect offered to his child. The lawyer might die in the course of
twelve months; in which case the Worcestershire estate would be still a
small estate, and the professional income would cease. In twelve mouths
Mr. Solicitor might be proved a scoundrel, for at heart all lawyers were
arrant rogues; in which case matters would be still worse. Having
regarded the question from these two points of view, Sir John Bawdon
gave Somers his dismissal and married Miss Anne to a rich Turkey
merchant. Three years later, when Somers had risen to the woolsack, and
it was clear that the rich Turkey merchant would never be anything
grander than a rich Turkey merchant, Sir John saw that he had made a
serious blunder, for which his child certainly could not thank him. A
goodly list might be made of cases where papas have erred and repented
in Sir John Bawdon's fashion. Sir John Lawrence would have made his
daughter a Lord Keeper's lady and a peeress, if he and his broker had
dealt more liberally with Francis North. Had it not been for Sir Joseph
Jekyll's counsel, Mr. Cocks, the Worcestershire squire, would have
rejected Philip Yorke as an ineligible suitor, in which case _plain_
Mrs. Lygon would never have been Lady Hardwicke, and worked her
husband's twenty purses of state upon curtains and hangings of crimson
velvet. And, if he were so inclined, this writer could point to a
learned judge, who in his days of 'stuff' and 'guinea fees' was deemed
an ineligible match for a country apothecary's pretty daughter. The
country doctor being able to give his daughter £20,000, turned away
disdainfully from the unknown 'junior,' who five years later was leading
his circuit, and quickly rose to the high office which he still fills to
the satisfaction of his country.

Disappointed in his pursuit of Anne Bawdon, Somers never again made any
woman an offer of marriage; but scandalous gossip accused him of immoral
intercourse with his housekeeper. This woman's name was Blount; and
while she resided with the Chancellor, fame whispered that her husband
was still living. Not only was Somers charged with open adultery, but it
was averred that for the sake of peace he had imprisoned in a madhouse
his mistress's lawful husband, who was originally a Worcester tradesman.
The chief authority for this startling imputation is Mrs. Manley, who
was encouraged, if not actually paid, by Swift to lampoon his political
adversaries. In her 'New Atalantis'--the 'Cicero' of which scandalous
work was understood by its readers to signify 'Lord Somers,'--this
shameless woman entertained quid-nuncs and women of fashion by putting
this abominable story in written words, the coarseness of which accorded
with the repulsiveness of the accusation.

At a time when honest writers on current politics were punished with
fine and imprisonment, the pillory and the whip, statesmen and
ecclesiastics were not ashamed to keep such libellers as Mrs. Manley in
their pay. That the reader may fully appreciate the change which time
has wrought in the tone of political literature, let him contrast the
virulence and malignity of this unpleasant passage from the New
Atalantis, with the tone which recently characterized the public
discussion of the case which is generally known by the name of 'The
Edmunds Scandal.'

Notwithstanding her notorious disregard of truth, it is scarcely
credible that Mrs. Manley's scurrilous charge was in no way countenanced
by facts. At the close of the seventeenth century to keep a mistress was
scarcely regarded as an offence against good morals; and living in
accordance with the fashion of the time, it is probable that Somers did
that which Lord Thurlow, after an interval of a century, was able to do
without rousing public disapproval. Had his private life been spotless,
he would doubtless have taken legal steps to silence his traducer; and
unsustained by a knowledge that he dared not court inquiry into his
domestic arrangements, Mrs. Manley would have used her pen with greater
caution. But all persons competent to form an opinion on the case have
agreed that the more revolting charges of the indictment were the
baseless fictions of a malicious and unclean mind.



In the 'Philosophical Dictionary,' Voltaire, laboring under
misapprehension or carried away by perverse humor, made the following
strange announcement:--"Il est public en Angleterre, et on voudroit le
nier en vain, que le Chancelier Cowper épousa deux femmes, qui vécurent
ensemble dans sa maison avec une concorde singulière qui fit honneur à
tous trois. Plusieurs curieux ont encore le petit livre que ce
Chancelier composa en faveur de la Polygamie." Tickled by the
extravagant credulity or grotesque malice of this declaration, an
English wit, improving upon the published words, represented the
Frenchman as maintaining that the custodian of the Great Seal of England
was called the _Lord Keeper_, because, by English law, he was permitted
to keep as many wives as he pleased.

The reader's amusement will not be diminished by a brief statement of
the facts to which we are indebted for Voltaire's assertions.

William Cowper, the first earl of his line, began life with a reputation
for dissipated tastes and habits, and by unpleasant experience he
learned how difficult it is to get rid of a bad name. The son of a
Hertfordshire baronet, he was still a law student when he formed a
reprehensible connexion with an unmarried lady of that county--Miss (or,
as she was called by the fashion of the day Mistress) Elizabeth Culling,
of Hertingfordbury Park. But little is known of this woman. Her age is
an affair of uncertainty, and all the minor circumstances of her
intrigue with young William Cowper are open to doubt and conjecture; but
the few known facts justify the inference that she neither merited nor
found much pity in her disgrace, and that William erred through boyish
indiscretion rather than from vicious propensity. She bore him two
children, and he neither married her nor was required by public opinion
to marry her. The respectability of their connexions gave the affair a
peculiar interest, and afforded countenance to many groundless reports.
By her friends it was intimated that the boy had not triumphed over the
lady's virtue until he had made her a promise of marriage; and some
persons even went so far as to assert that they were privately married.
It is not unlikely that at one time the boy intended to make her his
wife as soon as he should be independent of his father, and free to
please himself. Beyond question, however, is it that they were never
united in wedlock, and that Will Cowper joined the Home Circuit with the
tenacious fame of a scapegrace and _roué_.

That he was for any long period a man of dissolute morals is improbable;
for he was only twenty-four years of age when he was called to the bar,
and before his call he had married (after a year's wooing) a virtuous
and exemplary young lady, with whom he lived happily for more than
twenty years. A merchant's child, whose face was her fortune--Judith,
the daughter of Sir Robert Booth, is extolled by biographers for
reclaiming her young husband from a life of levity and culpable
pleasure. That he loved her sincerely from the date of their imprudent
marriage till the date of her death, which occurred just about six
months before his elevation to the woolsack, there is abundant evidence.

Judith died April 2, 1705, and in the September of the following year
the Lord Keeper married Mary Clavering, the beautiful and virtuous lady
of the bedchamber to Caroline Wilhelmina Dorothea, Princess of Wales.
This lady was the Countess Cowper whose diary was published by Mr.
Murray in the spring of 1864; and in every relation of life she was as
good and noble a creature as her predecessor in William Cowper's
affection. Of the loving terms on which she lived with her lord,
conclusive testimony is found in their published letters and her diary.
Frequently separated by his professional avocations and her duties of
attendance upon the Princess of Wales, they maintained, during the
periods of personal severance, a close and tender intercourse by written
words; and at all other times, in sickness not less than in health, they
were a fondly united couple. One pathetic entry in the countess's diary
speaks eloquently of their nuptial tenderness and devotion:--"April 7th,
1716. After dinner we went to Sir Godfrey Kneller's to see a picture of
my lord, which he is drawing, and is the best that was ever done for
him; it is for my drawing-room, and in the same posture that he watched
me so many weeks in my great illness."

Lord Cowper's second marriage was solemnized with a secrecy for which
his biographers are unable to account. The event took place September,
1706, about two months before his father's death, but it was not
announced till the end of February, 1707, at which time Luttrell entered
in his diary, "The Lord Keeper, who not long since was privately married
to Mrs. Clavering of the bishoprick of Durham, brought her home this
day." Mr. Foss, in his 'Judges of England,' suggests that the
concealment of the union "may not improbably be explained by the Lord
Keeper's desire not to disturb the last days of his father, who might
perhaps have been disappointed that the selection had not fallen on some
other lady to whom he had wished his son to be united." But this
conjecture, notwithstanding its probability, is only a conjecture.
Unless they had grave reasons for their conduct, the Lord Keeper and his
lady had better have joined hands in the presence of the world, for the
mystery of their private wedding nettled public curiosity, and gave new
life to an old slander.

Cowper's boyish _escapade_ was not forgotten by the malicious. No sooner
had he become conspicuous in his profession and in politics, than the
story of his intercourse with Miss Culling was told in coffee-rooms with
all the exaggerations that prurient fancy could devise or enmity
dictate. The old tale of a secret marriage--or, still worse, of a mock
marriage--was caught from the lips of some Hertford scandal-monger, and
conveyed to the taverns and drawing-rooms of London. In taking Sir
Robert Booth's daughter to Church, he was said to have committed bigamy.
Even while he was in the House of Commons he was known by the name of
'Will Bigamy;' and that _sobriquet_ clung to him ever afterwards. Twenty
years of wholesome domestic intercourse with his first wife did not free
him from the abominable imputation, and his marriage with Miss Clavering
revived the calumny in a new form. Fools were found to believe that he
had married her during Judith Booth's life and that their union had been
concealed for several years instead of a few months. The affair with
Miss Culling was for a time forgotten, and the charge preferred against
the keeper of the queen's conscience was bigamy of a much more recent

In various forms this ridiculous accusation enlivens the squibs of the
pamphleteers of Queen Anne's reign. In the 'New Atalantis' Mrs. Manley
certified that the fair victim was first persuaded by his lordship's
sophistries to regard polygamy as accordant with moral law. Having thus
poisoned her understanding, he gratified her with a form of marriage, in
which his brother Spencer, in clerical disguise, acted the part of a
priest. It was even suggested that the bride in this mock marriage was
the lawyer's ward. Never squeamish about the truth, when he could gain a
point by falsehood, Swift endorsed the spiteful fabrication, and in the
_Examiner_, pointing at Lord Cowper, wrote--"This gentleman, knowing
that marriage fees were a considerable perquisite to the clergy, found
out a way of improving them cent. per cent. for the benefit of the
Church. His invention was to marry a second wife while the first was
alive; convincing her of the lawfulness by such arguments as he did not
doubt would make others follow the same example. _These he had drawn up
in writing with intention to publish for the general good, and it is
hoped he may now have leisure to finish them._" It is possible that the
words in italics were the cause of Voltaire's astounding statement:
"Plusieurs curieux ont encore le petit livre que ce Chancelier composa
en faveur de la Polygamie." On this point Lord Campbell, confidently
advancing an opinion which can scarcely command unanimous assent, says,
"The fable of the '_Treatise_' is evidently taken from the panegyric on
'a plurality of wives,' which Mrs. Manley puts into the mouth of Lord
Cowper, in a speech supposed to be addressed by Hernando to Lousia." But
whether Voltaire accepted the 'New Atalantis,' or the _Examiner_, as an
authority for the statements of his very laughable passage, it is
scarcely credible that he believed himself to be penning the truth. The
most reasonable explanation of the matter appears to be, that tickled
by Swift's venomous lines, the sarcastic Frenchman in malice and gaiety
adopted them, and added to their piquancy by the assurance that the
Chancellor's book was not only published, but was preserved by
connoisseurs as a literary curiosity.

Like his elder brother, the Chancellor, Spencer Cowper married at an
early age, lived to wed a second wife, and was accused of immorality
that was foreign to his nature. The offence with which the younger
Cowper was charged, created so wide and profound a sensation, and gave
rise to such a memorable trial, that the reader will like to glance at
the facts of the case.

Born in 1669, Spencer Cowper was scarcely of age when he was called to
the bar, and made Comptroller of the Bridge House Estate. The office,
which was in the gift of the corporation of London, provided him with a
good income, together with a residence in the Bridge House, St. Olave's,
Southwark, and brought him in contact with men who were able to bring
him briefs or recommend him to attorneys. For several years the
boy-barrister was thought a singularly lucky fellow. His hospitable
house was brightened by a young and lovely wife (Pennington, the
daughter of John Goodeve), and he was so much respected in his locality
that he was made a justice of the peace. In his profession he was
equally fortunate: his voice was often heard at Westminster and on the
Home Circuit, the same circuit where his brother William practised and
his family interest lay. He found many clients.

Envy is the shadow of success; and the Cowpers were watched by men who
longed to ruin them. From the day when they armed and rode forth to
welcome the Prince of Orange, the lads had been notably fortunate.
Notwithstanding his reputation for immorality William Cowper had sprung
into lucrative practice, and in 1695 was returned to Parliament as
representative for Hartford, the other seat for the borough being filled
by his father, Sir William Cowper.

In spite of their comeliness and complaisant manners, the lightness of
their wit and the _prestige_ of their success, Hertford heard murmurs
that the young Cowpers were _too_ lucky by half, and that the Cowper
interest was dangerously powerful in the borough. It was averred that
the Cowpers were making unfair capital out of liberal professions: and
when the Hertford Whigs sent the father and son to the House of Commons,
the vanquished party cursed in a breath the Dutch usurper and his
obsequious followers.

It was resolved to damage the Cowpers:--by fair means or foul, to render
them odious in their native town.

Ere long the malcontents found a good cry.

Scarcely less odious to the Hertford Tories than the Cowpers themselves
was an influential Quaker of the town, named Stout, who actively
supported the Cowper interest. A man of wealth and good repute, this
follower of George Fox exerted himself enthusiastically in the election
contest of 1695: and in acknowledgment of his services the Cowpers
honored him with their personal friendship. Sir William Cowper asked him
to dine at Hertford Castle--the baronet's country residence; Sir
William's sons made calls on his wife and daughter. Of course these
attentions from Cowpers to 'the Shaker' were offensive to the Tory
magnates of the place: and they vented their indignation in whispers,
that the young men never entered Stout's house without kissing his
pretty daughter.

While these rumors were still young, Mr. Stout died leaving considerable
property to his widow, and to his only child--the beauteous Sarah; and
after his death the intercourse between the two families became yet more
close and cordial. The lawyers advised the two ladies about the
management of their property: and the baronet gave them invitations to
his London House in Hatton Garden, as well as to Hertford Castle. The
friendship had disastrous consequences. Both the brothers were very
fascinating men--men, moreover, who not only excelled in the art of
pleasing, but who also habitually exercised it. From custom,
inclination, policy, they were very kind to the mother and daughter;
probably paying the latter many compliments which they would never have
uttered had they been single men. Coming from an unmarried man the
speech is often significant of love, which on the lips of a husband is
but the language of courtesy. But, unfortunately, Miss ('Mistress' is
her style in the report of a famous trial) Sarah Stout fell madly in
love with Spencer Cowper notwithstanding the impossibility of marriage.

Not only did she conceive a dangerous fondness for him, but she openly
expressed it--by speech and letters. She visited him in the Temple, and
persecuted him with her embarrassing devotion whenever he came to
Hertford. It was a trying position for a young man not thirty years of
age, with a wife to whom he was devotedly attached, and a family whose
political influence in his native town might be hurt by publication of
the girl's folly. Taking his elder brother into his confidence, he asked
what course he ought to pursue. To withdraw totally and abruptly from
the two ladies, would be cruel to the daughter, insulting to the mother;
moreover, it would give rise to unpleasant suspicions and prejudicial
gossip in the borough. It was decided that Spencer must repress the
girl's advances--must see her loss frequently--and, by a reserved and
frigid manner, must compel her to assume an appearance of womanly
discretion. But the plan failed.

At the opening of the year 1699 she invited him to take up his quarters
in her mother's house, when he came to Hertford at the next Spring
Assizes. This invitation he declined, saying that he had arranged to
take his brother's customary lodgings in the house of Mr. Barefoot, in
the Market Place, but with manly consideration he promised to call upon
her. "I am glad," Sarah wrote to him on March 5, 1699, "you have not
quite forgot there is such a person as I in being: but I am willing to
shut my eyes and not see anything that looks like unkindness in you, and
rather content myself with what excuses you are pleased to make, than be
inquisitive into what I must not know: I am sure the winter has been too
unpleasant for me to desire the continuance of it: and I wish you were
to endure the sharpness of it but for one short hour, as I have done for
many long nights and days, and then I believe it would move that rocky
heart of yours that can be so thoughtless of me as you are."

On Monday, March 13, following the date of the words just quoted,
Spencer Cowper rode into Hertford, alighted at Mrs. Stout's house, and
dined with the ladies. Having left the house after dinner, in order that
he might attend to some business, he returned in the evening and supped
with the two women. Supper over, Mrs. Stout retired for the night,
leaving her daughter and the young barrister together. No sooner had the
mother left the room, than a distressing scene ensued.

Unable to control or soothe her, Spencer gently divided the clasp of her
hands, and having freed himself from her embrace, hastened from the room
and abruptly left the house. He slept at his lodgings; and the next
morning he was horror-struck on hearing that Sarah Stout's body had been
found drowned in the mill-stream behind her old home. That catastrophe
had actually occurred. Scarcely had the young barrister reached the
Market Place, when the miserable girl threw herself into the stream from
which her lifeless body was picked on the following morning. At the
coroner's inquest which ensued, Spencer Cowper gave his evidence with
extreme caution, withholding every fact that could be injurious to
Sarah's reputation; and the jury returned a verdict that the deceased
gentlewoman had killed herself whilst in a state of insanity.

In deep dejection Spencer Cowper continued the journey of the circuit.

But the excitement of the public was not allayed by the inquest and
subsequent funeral. It was rumored that it was no case of self-murder,
but a case of murder by the barrister, who had strangled his dishonored
victim, and had then thrown her into the river. Anxious to save their
sect from the stigma of suicide the Quakers concurred with the Tories in
charging the young man with a hideous complication of crimes. The case
against Spencer was laid before Chief Justice Holt, who at first
dismissed the accusation as absurd, but was afterwards induced to commit
the suspected man for trial; and in the July of 1699 the charge actually
came before a jury at the Hertford Assizes. Four prisoners--Spencer
Cowper, two attorneys, and a law-writer--were placed in the dock on the
charge of murdering Sarah Stout.

On the present occasion there is no need to recapitulate the ridiculous
evidence and absurd misconduct of the prosecution in this trial; though
criminal lawyers who wish to know what unfairness and irregularities
were permitted in such inquiries in the seventeenth century cannot do
better than to peruse the full report of the proceedings, which may be
found in every comprehensive legal library. In this place it is enough
to say that though the accusation was not sustained by a shadow of
legal testimony, the prejudice against the prisoners, both on the part
of a certain section of the Hertford residents and the presiding judge,
Mr. Baron Hatsel, was such that the verdict for acquittal was a
disappointment to many who heard it proclaimed by the foreman of the
jury. Narcissus Luttrell, indeed, says that the verdict was "to the
satisfaction of the auditors;" but in this statement the diarist was
unquestionably wrong, so far as the promoters of the prosecution were
concerned. Instead of accepting the decision without demur, they
attempted to put the prisoners again on their trial by the obsolete
process of "appeal of murder;" but this endeavor proving abortive, the
case was disposed of, and the prisoners' minds set at rest.

The barrister who was thus tried on a capital charge, and narrowly
escaped a sentence that would have consigned him to an ignominious
death, resumed his practice in the law courts, sat in the House of
Commons and rose to be a judge in the Court of Common Pleas. It is said
that he "presided on many trials for murder; ever cautious and
mercifully inclined--remembering the great peril which he himself had

The same writer who aspersed Somers with her unchaste thoughts, and
reiterated the charge of bigamy against Lord Chancellor Cowper, did not
omit to give a false and malicious version to the incidents which had
acutely wounded the fine sensibilities of the younger Cowper. But enough
notice has been taken of the 'New Atalantis' in this chapter. To that
repulsive book we refer those readers who may wish to peruse Mrs.
Manley's account of Sarah Stout's death.

A distorted tradition of Sarah Stout's tragic end, and of Lord Cowper's
imputed bigamy, was contributed to an early number of the 'European' by
a clerical authority--the Rev. J. Hinton, Rector of Alderton, in
Northamptonshire. "Mrs. Sarah Stout," says the writer, "whose death was
charged upon Spencer Cowper, was strangled accidentally by drawing the
steenkirk too tight upon her neck, as she, with four or five young
persons, were at a game of romp upon the staircase; but it was not done
by Mr. Cowper, though one of the company. Mrs. Clavering, Lord
Chancellor Cowper's second wife, whom he married during the life of his
first, was there too; they were so confounded with the accident, that
they foolishly resolved to throw her into the water, thinking it would
pass that she had drowned herself." This charming paragraph illustrates
the vitality of scandal, and at the same time shows how ludicrously
rumor and tradition mistell stories in the face of evidence.

Spencer Cowper's second son, the Rev. John Cowper, D.D., was the father
of William Cowper, the poet.



Notwithstanding his illustrious descent, Simon Harcourt raised himself
to the woolsack by his own exertions, and was in no degree indebted to
powerful relatives for his elevation. The son of a knight, whose loyalty
to the House of Stuart had impoverished his estate, he spent his
student-days at Pembroke, Oxford, and the Inner Temple, in resolute
labor, and with few indulgences. His father could make him but a slender
allowance; and when he assumed the gown of a barrister, the future
Chancellor, like Erskine in after years, was spurred to industry by the
voices of his wife and children. Whilst he was still an undergraduate of
the university, he fell in love with Rebecca Clark, daughter of a pious
man, of whose vocation the modern peerages are ashamed. Sir Philip
Harcourt (the Chancellor's father) in spite of his loyalty quarrelled
with the Established Church, and joined the Presbyterians: and Thomas
Clark was his Presbyterian chaplain, secretary, and confidential
servant. Great was Sir Philip's wrath on learning that his boy had not
only fallen in love with Rebecca Clark, but had married her privately.
It is probable that the event lowered the worthy knight's esteem for the
Presbyterian system; but as anger could not cut the nuptial bond, the
father relented--gave the young people all the assistance he could, and
hoped that they would live long without repenting their folly. The match
turned out far better than the old knight feared. Taking his humble
bride to modest chambers, young Harcourt applied sedulously to the study
of the law; and his industry was rewarded by success, and by the
gratitude of a dutiful wife. In unbroken happiness they lived together
for a succession of years, and their union was fruitful of children.

Harcourt fared better with his love-match than Sergeant Hill with his
heiress, Miss Medlycott of Cottingham, Northamptonshire. On the morning
of his wedding the eccentric sergeant, having altogether forgotten his
most important engagement for the day, received his clients in chambers
after his usual practice, and remained busy with professional cares
until a band of devoted friends forcibly carried him to the church,
where his bride had been waiting for him more than an hour. The ceremony
having been duly performed, he hastened back to his chambers, to be
present at a consultation. Notwithstanding her sincere affection for
him, the lady proved but an indifferent wife to the black-letter lawyer.
Empowered by Act of Parliament to retain her maiden-name after
marriage, she showed her disesteem for her husband's patronymic by her
mode of exercising the privilege secured to her by special law; and many
a time the sergeant indignantly insisted that she should use his name in
her signatures. "My name is Hill, madam; my father's name was Hill,
madam; all the Hills have been named Hill, madam; Hill is a good
name--and by ----, madam, you _shall_ use it." On other matters he was
more compliant--humoring her old-maidish fancies in a most docile and
conciliating manner. Curiously neat and orderly, Mrs. Medlycott took
great pride in the faultlessness of her domestic arrangements, so far as
cleanliness and precise order were concerned. To maintain the whiteness
of the pipe-clayed steps before the front door of her Bedford Square
mansion was a chief object of her existence; and to gratify her in this
particular, Sergeant Hill use daily to leave his premises by the kitchen
steps. Having outlived the lady, Hill observed to a friend who was
condoling with him on his recent bereavement, "Ay, my poor wife is gone!
She was a good sort of woman--in _her_ way a _very_ good sort of woman.
I do honestly declare my belief that in _her_ way she had no equal.
But--but--I'll tell you something in confidence. If ever I marry again,
_I won't marry merely for money_." The learned sergeant died in his
ninety-third year without having made a second marriage.

Like Harcourt, John Scott married under circumstances that called forth
many warm expressions of censure; and like Harcourt, he, in after life,
reflected on his imprudent marriage as one of the most fortunate steps
of his earlier career. The romance of the law contains few more pleasant
episodes than the story of handsome Jack Scott's elopement with Bessie
Surtees. There is no need to tell in detail how the comely Oxford
scholar danced with the banker's daughter at the Newcastle assemblies;
how his suit was at first recognised by the girl's parents, although the
Scotts were but rich 'fitters,' whereas Aubone Surtees, Esquire, was a
banker and gentleman of honorable descent; how, on the appearance of an
aged and patrician suitor for Bessie's hand, papa and mamma told Jack
Scott not to presume on their condescension, and counseled Bessie to
throw her lover over and become the lady of Sir William Blackett; how
Bessie was faithful, and Jack was urgent; how they had secret interviews
on Tyne-side and in London, meeting clandestinely on horseback and on
foot, corresponding privately by letters and confidential messengers;
how, eventually, the lovers, to the consternation of 'good society' in
Newcastle, were made husband and wife at Blackshiels, North Britain. Who
is ignorant of the story? Does not every visitor to Newcastle pause
before an old house in Sandhill, and look up at the blue pane which
marks the window from which Bessie descended into her lover's arms?

Jack and Bessie were not punished with even that brief period of
suffering and uncertainty which conscientious novelists are accustomed,
for the sake of social morals, to assign to run-away lovers before the
merciful guardian or tender parent promises forgiveness and a liberal
allowance, paid in quarterly installments. In his old age Eldon used to
maintain that their plight was very pitiable on the third morning after
their rash union. "Our funds were exhausted: we had not a home to go to,
and we knew not whether our friends would ever speak to us again." In
this strain ran the veteran's story, which, like all other anecdotes
from the same source, must be received with caution. But even the old
peer, ever ready to exaggerate his early difficulties, had not enough
effrontery to represent that their dejection lasted more than three
days. The fathers of the bride and bridegroom soon met and came to
terms, and with the beginning of the new year Bessie Scott was living in
New Inn Hall, Oxford, whilst her husband read Vinerian Lectures, and
presided over that scholastic house. The position of Scott at this time
was very singular. He was acting as substitute for Sir Robert Chambers,
the principal of New Inn Hall and Vinerian Professor of Law, who
contrived to hold his university preferments, whilst he discharged the
duties of a judge in India. To give an honest color to this indefensible
arrangement, it was provided that the lectures read from the Vinerian
Chair should actually be written by the Professor, although they were
delivered by deputy. Scott, therefore, as the Professor's mouth-piece,
on a salary of £60 a year, with free quarters in the Principal's house,
was merely required to read a series of treatises sent to him by the
absent teacher. "The law-professor," the ex-Chancellor used to relate
with true Eldonian humor and _fancy_--"sent me the first lecture, which
I had to read immediately to the students, and which I began without
knowing a single word that was in it. It was upon the statute (4 and 5
P. and M. c. 8), 'of young men running away with maidens.' Fancy me
reading, with about 140 boys and young men all giggling at the
Professor! Such a tittering audience no one ever had." If this incident
really occurred on the occasion of his 'first reading,' the laughter
must have been inextinguishable; for, of course, Jack Scott's run-away
marriage had made much gossip in Oxford Common Rooms, and the singular
loveliness of his girlish wife (described by an eye-witness as being "so
very young as to give the impression of childhood,") stirred the heart
of every undergraduate who met her in High Street.

There is no harm done by laughter at the old Chancellor's romantic
fictions about the poverty which he and his Bessie encountered, hand in
hand, at the outset of life; for the laughter blinds no one to the
genuine affection and wholesome honesty of the young husband and wife.
One has reason to wish that marriages such as theirs were more frequent
amongst lawyers in these ostentatious days. At present the young
barrister, who marries before he has a clear fifteen hundred a year, is
charged with reckless imprudence; and unless his wife is a woman of
fortune, or he is able to settle a heavy sum of money upon her, his
anxious friends terrify him with pictures of want and sorrow stored up
for him in the future. Society will not let him live after the fashion
of 'juniors' eighty or a hundred years since. He must maintain two
establishments--his chambers for business, his house in the west-end of
town for his wife. Moreover, the lady must have a brougham and liberal
pin money, or four or five domestic servants and a drawing-room well
furnished with works of art and costly decorations. They must give state
dinners and three or four routs every season; and in all other matters
their mode of life must be, or seem to be, that of the upper ten
thousand. Either they must live in this style, or be pushed aside and
forgotten. The choice for them lies between very expensive society or
none at all--that is to say, none at all amongst the rising members of
the legal profession, and the sort of people with whom young barristers,
from prudential motives, wish to form acquaintance. Doubtless many a
fair reader of this page is already smiling at the writer's simplicity,
and is saying to herself, "Here is one of the advocates of marriage on
three hundred a year."

But this writer is not going to advocate marriage on that or any other
particular sum. From personal experience he knows what comfort a married
man may have for an outlay of three or four hundred per annum; and from
personal observation he knows what privations and ignominious poverty
are endured by unmarried men who spend twice the larger of those sums
on chamber-and-club life. He knows that there are men who shiver at the
bare thought of losing caste by marriage with a portionless girl, whilst
they are complacently leading the life which, in nine cases out of ten,
terminates in the worst form of social degradation--matrimony where the
husband blushes for his wife's early history, and dares not tell his own
children the date of his marriage certificate. If it were his pleasure
he could speak sad truths about the bachelor of modest income, who is
rich enough to keep his name on the books of two fashionable clubs, to
live in a good quarter of London, and to visit annually continental
capitals, but far too poor to think of incurring the responsibilities of
marriage. It could be demonstrated that in a great majority of instances
this wary, prudent, selfish gentleman, instead of being the social
success which many simple people believe him, is a signal and most
miserable failure; that instead of pursuing a career of various
enjoyments and keen excitements, he is a martyr to _ennui_, bored by the
monotony of an objectless existence, utterly weary of the splendid
clubs, in which he is presumed by unsophisticated admirers to find an
ample compensation for want of household comfort and domestic affection:
that as soon as he has numbered forty years, he finds the roll of his
friends and cordial acquaintances diminish, and is compelled to retire
before younger men, who snatch from his grasp the prizes of social
rivalry; and that, as each succeeding lustre passes, he finds the chain
of his secret disappointments and embarrassments more galling and heavy.

It is not a question of marriage on three hundred a year without
prospects, but a marriage on five or six hundred a year with good
expectations. In the Inns of Court there are, at the present time,
scores of clever, industrious fine-hearted gentlemen who have sure
incomes of three or four hundred pounds per annum. In Tyburnia and
Kensington there is an equal number of young gentlewomen with incomes
varying between £150 and £300 a year. These men and women see each other
at balls and dinners, in the parks and at theatres; the ladies would not
dislike to be wives, the men are longing to be husbands. But that
hideous tyrant, social opinion, bids them avoid marriage.

In Lord Eldon's time the case was otherwise. Society saw nothing
singular or reprehensible in his conduct when he brought Bessie to live
in the little house in Cursitor Street. No one sneered at the young
law-student, whose home was a little den in a dingy thoroughfare. At a
later date, the rising junior, whose wife lived over his business
chambers in Carey Street, was the object of no unkind criticism because
his domestic arrangements were inexpensive, and almost frugal. Had his
success been tardy instead of quick and decisive, and had circumstances
compelled him to live under the shadow of Lincoln's Inn wall for thirty
years on a narrow income, he would not on that account have suffered
from a single disparaging criticism. Amongst his neighbors in adjacent
streets, and within the boundaries of his Inn, he would have found
society for himself and wife, and playmates for his children. Good
fortune coming in full strong flood, he was not compelled to greatly
change his plan of existence. Even in those days, when costly
ostentation characterized aristocratic society--he was permitted to live
modestly--and lay the foundation of that great property which he
transmitted to his ennobled descendants.

When satire has done its worst with the miserly propensities of the
great lawyer and his wife, their long familiar intercourse exhibits a
wealth of fine human affection and genuine poetry which sarcasm cannot
touch. Often as he had occasion to regret Lady Eldon's peculiarities--the
stinginess which made her grudge the money paid for a fish or a basket of
fruit; the nervous repugnance to society, which greatly diminished his
popularity; and the taste for solitude and silence which marked her
painfully towards the close of her life--the Chancellor never even hinted
to her his dissatisfaction. When their eldest daughter, following her
mother's example, married without the permission of her parents, it was
suggested to Lord Eldon that her ladyship ought to take better care of
her younger daughter, Lady Frances, and entering society should play the
part of a vigilant _chaperon_. The counsel was judicious; but the
Chancellor declined to act upon it, saying,--"When she was young and
beautiful, she gave up everything for me. What she is, I have made her;
and I cannot now bring myself to compel her inclinations. Our marriage
prevented her mixing in society when it afforded her pleasure; it
appears to give pain now, and why should I interpose?" In his old age,
when she was dead, he visited his estate in Durham, but could not
find heart to cross the Tyne bridge and look at the old house from
which he took her in the bloom and tenderness of her girlhood. An
urgent invitation to visit Newcastle drew from him the reply--"I
know my fellow-townsmen complain of my not coming to see them; but
_how can I pass that bridge?_" After a pause, he added, "Poor Bessie!
if ever there was an angel on earth she was one. The only reparation
which one man can make to another for running away with his daughter,
is to be exemplary in his conduct towards her."

In pecuniary affairs not less prudent than his brother, Lord Stowell in
matters of sentiment was capable of indiscretion. In the long list of
legal loves there are not many episodes more truly ridiculous than the
story of the older Scott's second marriage. On April 10, 1813, the
decorous Sir William Scott, and Louisa Catharine, widow of John,
Marquis of Sligo, and daughter of Admiral Lord Howe, were united in the
bonds of holy wedlock, to the infinite amusement of the world of
fashion, and to the speedy humiliation of the bridegroom. So incensed
was Lord Eldon at his brother's folly, that he refused to appear at the
wedding; and certainly the Chancellor's displeasure was not without
reason, for the notorious absurdity of the affair brought ridicule on
the whole of the Scott family connexion. The happy couple met for the
first time in the Old Bailey, when Sir William Scott and Lord
Ellenborough presided at the trial of the marchioness's son, the young
Marquis of Sligo, who had incurred the anger of the law by luring into
his yacht, in Mediterranean waters, two of the king's seamen. Throughout
the hearing of that _cause célèbre_, the marchioness sat in the fetid
court of the Old Bailey, in the hope that her presence might rouse
amongst the jury or in the bench feelings favorable to her son. This
hope was disappointed. The verdict having been given against the young
peer, he was ordered to pay a fine of £5000, and undergo four months'
incarceration in Newgate, and--worse than fine and imprisonment--was
compelled to listen to a parental address from Sir William Scott on the
duties and responsibilities of men of high station. Either under the
influence of sincere admiration for the judge, or impelled by desire for
vengeance on the man who had presumed to lecture her son in a court of
justice, the marchioness wrote a few hasty words of thanks to Sir
William Scott for his salutary exhortation to her boy. She even went so
far as to say that she wished the erring marquis could always have so
wise a counsellor at his side. This communication was made upon a slip
of paper, which the writer sent to the judge by an usher of the court.
Sir William read the note as he sat on the bench, and having looked
towards the fair scribe, he received from her a glance and smile that
were fruitful of much misery to him. Within four months the courteous
Sir William Scott was tied fast to a beautiful, shrill, voluble
termagant, who exercised marvellous ingenuity in rendering him wretched
and contemptible. Reared in a stately school of old-world politeness,
the unhappy man was a model of decorum and urbanity. He took reasonable
pride in the perfection of his tone and manner; and the
marchioness--whose malice did not lack cleverness--was never more happy
than when she was gravely expostulating with him, in the presence of
numerous auditors, on his lamentable want of style, tact, and
gentlemanlike bearing. It is said that, like Coke and Holt under similar
circumstances, Sir William preferred the quietude of his chambers to the
society of an unruly wife, and that in the cellar of his Inn he sought
compensation for the indignities and sufferings which he endured at
home. Fifty years since the crusted port of the Middle Temple could
soothe the heart at night, without paining the head in the morning.





From time immemorial popular satire has been equally ready to fix the
shame of avarice upon Divinity Physic, and Law; and it cannot be denied
that in this matter the sarcasms of the multitude are often sustained by
the indisputable evidence of history. The greed of the clergy for tithes
and dues is not more widely proverbial than the doctor's thirst for
fees, or the advocate's readiness to support injustice for the sake of
gain. Of Guyllyam of Horseley, physician to Charles VI. of France,
Froissart says, "All his dayes he was one of the greatest nygardes that
ever was;" and the chronicler adds, "With this rodde lightly all
physicians are beaten." In his address to the sergeants who were called
soon after his elevation to the Marble Chair, the Lord Keeper Puckering,
directing attention to the grasping habits which too frequently
disgraced the leaders of the bar, observed: "I am to exhort you also not
to embrace multitude of causes, or to undertake more places of hearing
causes than you are well able to consider of or perform, lest thereby
you either disappoint your clients when their causes be heard, or come
unprovided, or depart when their causes be in hearing. For it is all
one not to come, as either to come unprovided, or depart before it be
ended." Notwithstanding Lingard's able defence of the Cardinal, scholars
are still generally of opinion that Beaufort--the Chancellor who lent
money on the king's crown, the bishop who sold the Pope's soldiers for a
thousand marks--is a notable instance of the union of legal covetousness
and ecclesiastical greed.

The many causes which affect the value of money in different ages create
infinite perplexity for the antiquarian who wishes to estimate the
prosperity of the bar in past times; but the few disjointed data, that
can be gathered from old records, create an impression that in the
fourteenth, fifteenth and sixteenth centuries the ordinary fees of
eminent counsel were by no means exorbitant, although fortunate
practitioners could make large incomes.

Dugdale's 'Baronage' describes with delightful quaintness William de
Beauchamp's interview with his lawyers when that noble (on the death of
John Hastings, Earl of Pembroke, _temp._ Richard II., without issue),
claimed the earl's estates under an entail, in opposition to Edward
Hastings, the earl's heir-male of the half-blood. "Beauchamp," says
Dugdale, "invited his learned counsel to his house in Paternoster Row,
in the City of London; amongst whom were Robert Charlton (then a judge),
William Pinchbek, William Branchesley, and John Catesby (all learned
lawyers); and after dinner, coming out of his chapel, in an angry mood,
threw to each of them a piece of gold, and said, 'Sirs, I desire you
forthwith to tell me whether I have any right or title to Hastings'
lordship and lands.' Whereupon Pinchbek stood up (the rest being silent,
fearing that he suspected them), and said, 'No man here nor in England
dare say that you have any right in them, except Hastings do quit his
claim therein; and should he do it, being now under age, it would be of
no validitie.'" Had Charlton, the Chief Justice of the Common Pleas,
taken gold for his opinion on a case put before him in his judicial
character, he would have violated his judicial oath. But in the earl's
house in Paternoster Row he was merely a counsellor learned in the law,
not a judge. Manifest perils attend a system which permits a judge in
his private character to give legal opinions concerning causes on which
he may be required to give judgment from the bench; but notwithstanding
those perils, there is no reason for thinking that Charlton on this
occasion either broke law or etiquette. The fair inference from the
matter is, that in the closing years of the fourteenth century judges
were permitted to give opinions for money to their private clients,
although they were forbidden to take gold or silver from any person
having "plea or process hanging before them."

In the year of our Lord 1500 the corporation of Canterbury paid for
advice regarding their civic interests 3_s._ 4_d._ to each of three
sergeants, and gave the Recorder of London 6_s._ 8_d._ as a
retaining-fee. Five years later, Mr. Serjeant Wood received a fee of
10_s._ from the Goldsmiths' Company; and it maybe fairly assumed, that
so important and wealthy a body paid the sergeant on a liberal scale. In
the sixteenth century it was, and for several generations had been,
customary for clients to provide food and drink for their counsel. Mr.
Foss gives his readers the following list of items, taken from a bill of
costs, made in the reign of Edward IV.:--

                                                      _s._  _d._
For a breakfast at Westminster spent on our counsel     1    6

To another time for boat-hire in and out, and a
  breakfast for two days                                1    6

In like manner the accountant of St. Margaret's, Westminster, entered in
the parish books, "Also, paid to Roger Fylpott, learned in the law, for
his counsel given, 3_s._ 8_d._, with 4_d._ for his dinner."

A yet more remarkable custom was that which enabled clients to hire
counsel to plead for them at certain places, for a given time, in
whatever causes their eloquence might be required. There still exists
the record of an agreement by which, in the reign of Henry VII.,
Sergeant Yaxley bound himself to attend the assizes at York, Nottingham
and Derby, and speak in court at each of those places, whenever his
client, Sir Robert Plumpton--"that perpetual and always unfortunate
litigant," as he is called by Sergeant Manning--required him to do so.
This interesting document runs thus--"This bill, indented at London the
18th day of July, the 16th yeare of the reigne of King Henry the 7th,
witnesseth that John Yaxley, Sergeant-at-Law, shall be at the next
assizes to be holden at York, Nottin., and Derb., if they be holden and
kept, and there to be of council with Sir Robert Plumpton, knight, such
assizes and actions as the said Sir Robert shall require the said John
Yaxley, for the which premises, as well as for his costs and his
labours, John Pulan, gentleman, bindeth him by thease presents to
content and pay to the said John Yaxley 40 marks sterling at the feast
of the Nativetie of our Lady next coming, or within eight days next
following, with 5 li paid aforehand, parcell of paiment of the said 40
marks. Provided alway that if the said John Yaxley have knowledg and
warning only to cum to Nottin. and Derby, then the said John Yaxley is
agread by these presents to take only xv li besides the 5 li aforesaid.
Provided alwaies that if the said John Yaxley have knowledg and warning
to take no labour in this matter, then he to reteine and hold the said 5
li resaived for his good will and labour. In witness hereof, the said
John Yaxley, serjeant, to the part of this indenture remaining with the
said John Pulan have put his seale the day and yeare above-written.
Provided also that the said Robert Plumpton shall beare the charges of
the said John Yaxley, as well at York as at Nottingham and Derby, and
also to content and pay the said money to the said John Yaxley comed to
the said assizes att Nott., Derb., and York. JOHN YAXLEY."

This remarkable agreement--made after Richard III. had vainly endeavored
to compose by arbitration the differences between Sir Robert and Sir
Robert's heir-general--certifies that Sir Robert Plumpton engaged to
provide the sergeant with suitable entertainment at the assize towns,
and also throws light upon the origin of retaining-fees. It appears from
the agreement that in olden time a retaining fee was merely part
(surrendered in advance) of a certain sum stipulated to be paid for
certain services. In principle it was identical with the payment of the
shilling, still given in rural districts, to domestic servants on an
agreement for service, and with the transfer of the queen's shilling
given to every soldier on enlistment. There is no need to mention the
classic origin of this ancient mode of giving force to a contract.

From the 'Household and Privy Purse Expenses of the Le Stranges of
Hunstanton,' published in the Archæologia, may be gleamed some
interesting particulars relating to the payment of counsel in the reign
of Henry VIII. In 1520, Mr. Cristofer Jenney received from the Le
Stranges a half-yearly fee of ten shillings; and this general retainer
was continued on the same terms till 1527, when the fee was raised from
£1 per annum to a yearly payment of £2 13_s._ 4_d._ To Mr. Knightley was
paid the sum of 8_s._ 11_d._ "for his fee, and that money yt he layde
oute for suying of Simon Holden;" and the same lawyer also received at
another time 14_s._ 3_d._ "for his fee and cost of sute for iii termes."
A fee of 6_s._ 8_d._ was paid to "Mr. Spelman, s'jeant, for his counsell
in makyng my answer in ye Duchy Cham.;" and the same serjeant received
a fee of 3_s._ 4_d._ "for his counsell in putting in of the answer."
Fees of 3_s._ 4_d._ were in like manner given "for counsell" to Mr.
Knightley and Mr. Whyte; and in 1534, Mr. Yelverton was remunerated "for
his counsell" with the unusually liberal honorarium of twenty shillings.
From the household book of the Earl of Northumberland, it appears that
order was made, in this same reign, for "every oone of my lordes
counsaill to have c's. fees, if he have it in household and not by
patent." After the earl's establishment was reduced to forty-two
persons, it still retained "one of my lordes counsaill for annswering
and riddying of causes, whenne sutors cometh to my lord." At a time when
every lord was required to administer justice to his tenants and the
inferior people of his territory, a counsellor learned in the law, was
an important and most necessary officer in a grand seigneur's retinue.

Whilst Sir Thomas More lived in Bucklersbury, he "gained, without grief,
not so little as £400 by the year." This income doubtless accrued from
the emoluments of his judicial appointment in the City, as well as from
his practice at Westminster and elsewhere. In Henry VIII.'s time it was
a very considerable income, such as was equalled by few leaders of the
bar not holding high office under the Crown.

In Elizabeth's reign, and during the time of her successor, barristers'
fees show a tendency toward increase; and the lawyers who were employed
as advocates for the Crown, or held judicial appointments, acquired
princely incomes, and in some cases amassed large fortunes. Fees of
20_s._ were more generally paid to counsel under the virgin queen, than
in the days of her father; but still half that fee was not thought too
small a sum for an opinion given by Her Majesty's Solicitor General.
Indeed, the ten-shilling fee was a very usual fee in Elizabeth's reign;
and it long continued an ordinary payment for one opinion on a case, or
for one speech in a cause of no great importance and of few
difficulties. 'A barrister is like Balaam's ass, only speaking when he
sees the angel,' was a familiar saying in the seventeenth century. In
Chancery, however, by an ordinance of the Lords Commissioners passed in
1654, to regulate the conduct of suits and the payments to masters,
counsel, and solicitors, it was arranged that on the hearing of a cause,
utter-barristers should receive £1 fees, whilst the Lord Protector's
counsel and sergeants-at-law should receive £2 fees, _i.e._, 'double

The archives of Lyme Regis show that under Elizabeth the usage was
maintained of supplying counsel with delicacies of the table, and also
of providing them with means of locomotion. Here are some items in an
old record of disbursements made by the corporation of Lyme
Regis:--"A.D. Paid for Wine carried with us to Mr. Poulett--£0 3_s._
6_d._; Wine and sugar given to Mr. Poulett, £0 3_s._ 4_d._; Horse-hire,
and for the Sergeant to ride to Mr. Walrond, of Bovey, and for a loaf of
sugar, and for conserves given there to Mr. Poppel, £1 1_s._ 0_d._; Wine
and sugar given to Judge Anderson, £0 3_s._ 4_d._ A bottle and sugar
given to Mr. Gibbs (a lawyer)."

Under Elizabeth, the allowance made to Queen's Sergeants was £26 6_s._
8_d._ for fee, reward, and robes; and £20. for his services whenever a
Queen's Sergeant travelled circuit as Justice of Assize. The fee for her
Solicitor General was £50. When Francis Bacon was created King's Counsel
to James I., an annual salary of forty pounds was assigned to him from
the royal purse; and down to William IV.'s time, King's Counsel received
a stipend of £40 a year, and an allowance for stationery. Under the last
mentioned monarch, however, the stipend and allowance were both
withdrawn; and at present the status of a Q.C. is purely an affair of
professional precedence, to which no fixed emolument is attached.

But a list of the fees, paid from the royal purse to each judge or crown
lawyer under James I., would afford no indication as to the incomes
enjoyed by the leading members of the bench and bar at that period. The
salaries paid to those officers were merely retaining fees, and their
chief remuneration consisted of a large number of smaller fees. Like the
judges of prior reigns, King James's judges were forbidden to accept
_presents_ from actual suitors; but no suitor could obtain a hearing
from any one of them, until he had paid into court certain fees, of
which the fattest was a sum of money for the judge's personal use. At
one time many persons labored under an erroneous impression, that as
judges were forbidden to accept presents from actual suitors, the honest
judge of past times had no revenue besides his specified salary and
allowance. Like the king's judges, the king's counsellors frequently
made great incomes by fees, though their nominal salaries were
invariably insignificant. At a time when Francis Bacon was James's
Attorney General, and received no more than £81 6_s._ 8_d._ for his
yearly salary, he made £6000 per annum in his profession; and of that
income--a royal income in those days--the greater portion consisted of
fees paid to him for attending to the king's business. "I shall now,"
Bacon wrote to the king, "again make oblation to your Majesty,--first of
my heart, then of my service; thirdly, of my place of Attorney, which I
think is honestly worth £6000 per annum; and fourthly, of my place in
the Star Chamber, which is worth £1600 per annum, and with the favor and
countenance of a Chancellor, much more." Coke had made a still larger
income during his tenure of the Attorney's place, the fees from his
private official practice amounting to no loss a sum than seven
thousand pounds in a single year.

At later periods of the seventeenth century barristers made large
incomes, but the fees seem to have been by no means exorbitant. Junior
barristers received very modest payments, and it would appear that
juniors received fees from eminent counsel for opinions and other
professional services. Whilst he acted as treasurer of the Middle
Temple, at an early period of his career, Whitelock received a fee from
Attorney General Noy. "Upon my carrying the bill," writes Whitelock, "to
Mr. Attorney General Noy for his signature, with that of the other
benchers, he was pleased to advise with me about a patent the king had
commanded him to draw, upon which he gave me a fee for it out of his
little purse, saying, 'Here, take those single pence,' which amounted to
eleven groats, 'and I give you more than an attorney's fee, because you
will be a better man than the Attorney General. This you will find to be
true.' After much other drollery, wherein he delighted and excelled, we
parted, abundance of company attending to speak to him all this time."
Of course the payment itself was no part of the drollery to which
Whitelock alludes, for as a gentleman he could not have taken money
proffered to him in jest, unless etiquette encouraged him to look for
it, and allowed him to accept it. The incident justifies the inference
that the services of junior counsel to senior barristers--services at
the present time termed 'devilling'--were formerly remunerated with cash

Toward the close of Charles I.'s reign--at a time when political
distractions were injuriously affecting the legal profession, especially
the staunch royalists of the long robe--Maynard, the Parliamentary
lawyer, received on one round of the Western Circuit, £700, "which,"
observes Whitelock, to whom Maynard communicated the fact, "I believe
was more than any one of our profession got before."

Concerning the incomes made by eminent counsel in Charles II.'s time,
many _data_ are preserved in diaries and memoirs. That a thousand a year
was looked upon as a good income for a flourishing practitioner of the
'merry monarch's' Chancery bar, may be gathered from a passage in
'Pepys's Diary,' where the writer records the compliments paid to him
regarding his courageous and eloquent defence of the Admiralty, before
the House of Commons, in March, 1668. Under the influence of half-a-pint
of mulled sack and a dram of brandy, the Admiralty clerk made such a
spirited and successful speech in behalf of his department, that he was
thought to have effectually silenced all grumblers against the
management of his Majesty's navy. Compliments flowed in upon the orator
from all directions. Sir William Coventry pledged his judgment that the
fame of the oration would last for ever in the Commons; silver-tongued
Sir Heneage Finch, in the blandest tones, averred that no other living
man could have made so excellent a speech; the placemen of the Admiralty
vied with each other in expressions of delight and admiration; and one
flatterer, whose name is not recorded, caused Mr. Pepys infinite
pleasure by saying that the speaker who had routed the accusers of a
government office, might easily earn a thousand a year at the Chancery

That sum, however, is insignificant when it is compared with the incomes
made by the most fortunate advocates of that period. Eminent speakers of
the Common Law Bar made between £2000 and £3500 per annum on circuit and
at Westminster, without the aid of king's business; and still larger
receipts were recorded in the fee-books of his Majesty's attorneys and
solicitors. At the Chancery bar of the second Charles, there was at
least one lawyer, who in one year made considerably more than four times
the income that was suggested to Pepys's vanity and self-complacence. At
Stanford Court, Worcestershire, is preserved a fee-book kept by Sir
Francis Winnington, Solicitor-General to the 'merry monarch,' from
December 1674 to January 13, 1679, from the entries of which record the
reader may form a tolerably correct estimate of the professional
revenues of successful lawyers at that time. In Easter Term, 1671, Sir
Francis pocketed £459; in Trinity Term £449 10s.; in Michaelmas Term
£521; and in Hilary Term 1672, £361 10s.; the income for the year being
£1791, without his earnings on the Oxford Circuit and during vacation.
In 1673, Sir Francis received £3371; in 1674, he earned £3560;[8] and in
1675--_i.e._, the first year of his tenure of the Solicitor's
office--his professional income wars £4066, of which sum £429 were
office fees. Concerning the Attorney-General's receipts about this time,
we have sufficient information from Roger North, who records that his
brother, whilst Attorney General, made nearly seven thousand pounds in
one year, from private and official business. It is noteworthy that
North, as Attorney General, made the same income which Coke realized in
the same office at the commencement of the century. But under the
Stuarts this large income of £7000--in those days a princely
revenue--was earned by work so perilous and fruitful of obloquy, that
even Sir Francis, who loved money and cared little for public esteem,
was glad to resign the post of Attorney and retire to the Pleas with
£4000 a year. That the fees of the Chancery lawyers under Charles II.
were regulated upon a liberal scale we know from Roger North, and the
record of Sir John King's success. Speaking of his brother Francis, the
biographer says: "After he, as king's counsel, came within the bar, he
began to have calls into the Court of Chancery; which he liked very
well, because the quantity of the business, _as well as the fees_, was
greater; but his home was the King's Bench, where he sat and reported
like as other practitioners." And in Sir John King's memoirs it is
recorded that in 1676 he made £4700, and that he received from £40 to
£50 a day during the last four days of his appearance in court. Dying in
1677,[9] whilst his supremacy in his own court was at its height, Sir
John King was long spoken of as a singularly successful Chancery

Of Francis North's mode of taking and storing his fees, the 'Life of
Lord Keeper Guildford' gives the following picture: "His business
increased, even while he was Solicitor, to be so much as to have
overwhelmed one less dexterous; but when he was made Attorney General,
though his gains by his office were great, they were much greater by his
practice; for that flowed in upon him like an orage, enough to overset
one that had not an extraordinary readiness in business. His skull-caps,
which he wore when he had leisure to observe his constitution, as I
touched before, were now destined to lie in a drawer to receive the
money that came in by fees. One had the gold, another the crowns and
half-crowns, and another the smaller money. When these vessels were
full, they were committed to his friend (the Hon. Roger North), who was
constantly near him, to tell out the cash, and put it into the bags
according to the contents; and so they went to his treasurers, Blanchard
and Child, goldsmiths, Temple Bar."[10] In the days of wigs, skull-caps
like those which Francis North used as receptacles for money, were very
generally worn by men of all classes and employments. On returning to
the privacy of his home, a careful citizen usually laid aside his costly
wig, and replaced it with a cheap and durable skull-cap, before he sat
down in his parlor. So also, men careful of their health often wore
skull-caps _under_ their wigs, on occasions when they were required to
endure a raw atmosphere without the protection of their beavers. In days
when the law-courts were held in the open hall of Westminster, and
lawyers practising therein, were compelled to sit or speak for hours
together, exposed to sharp currents of cold air, it was customary for
wearers of the long robe to place between their wigs and natural hair
closely-fitting caps, made of stout silk or soft leather. But more
interesting than the money-caps, are the fees which they contained. The
ringing of the gold pieces, the clink of the crowns with the
half-crowns, and the rattle of the smaller money, led back the barrister
to those happier and remote times, when the 'inferior order' of the
profession paid the superior order with 'money down;' when, the advocate
never opened his mouth till his fingers had closed upon the gold of his
trustful client; when 'credit' was unknown in transactions between
counsel and attorney;--that truly _golden_ age of the bar, when the
barrister was less suspicious of the attorney, and the attorney held
less power over the barrister.

Having profited by the liberal payments of Chancery whilst he was an
advocate, Lord Keeper Guildford destroyed one source of profit to
counsel from which Francis North, the barrister, had drawn many a capful
of money. Saith Roger, "He began to rescind all motions for speeding and
delaying the hearing of causes besides the ordinary rule of court; and
this lopped off a limb of the motion practice. I have heard Sir John
Churchill, a famous Chancery practitioner, say, that in his walk from
Lincoln's Inn down to the Temple Hall, where, in the Lord Keeper
Bridgman's time, causes and motions out of term were heard, he had taken
£28. with breviates only for motions and defences for hastening and
retarding hearings. His lordship said, that the rule of the court
allowed time enough for any one to proceed or defend; and if, for
special reasons, he should give way to orders for timing matters, it
would let in a deluge of vexatious pretenses, which, true or false,
being asserted by the counsel with equal assurance, distracted the
court and confounded the suitors."

Let due honor be rendered to one Caroline, lawyer, who was remarkable
for his liberality to clients, and carelessness of his own pecuniary
interests. From his various biographers, many pleasant stories may be
gleaned concerning Hale's freedom from base love of money. In his days,
and long afterward, professional etiquette permitted clients and counsel
to hold intercourse without the intervention of an attorney. Suitors,
therefore, frequently addressed him personally and paid for his advice
with their own hands, just as patients are still accustomed to fee their
doctors. To these personal applicants, and also to clients who
approached him by their agents, he was very liberal. "When those who
came to ask his counsel gave him a piece, he used to give back the half,
and to make ten shillings his fee in ordinary matters that did not
require much time or study." From this it may be inferred that whilst
Hale was an eminent member of the bar, twenty shillings was the usual
fee to a leading counsel, and an angel the customary honorarium to an
ordinary practitioner. As readers have already been told, the angel[11]
was a common fee in the seventeenth century; but the story of Hale's
generous usage implies that his more distinguished contemporaries were
wont to look for and accept a double fee. Moreover, the anecdote would
not be told in Hale's honor, if etiquette had fixed the double fee as
the minimum of remuneration for a superior barrister's opinion. He was
frequently employed in arbitration cases, and as an arbitrator he
steadily refused payment for his services to legal disputants, saying,
in explanation of his moderation, "In these cases I am made a judge, and
a judge ought to take no money." The misapprehension as to the nature of
an arbitrator's functions, displayed in these words, gives an
instructive insight into the mental constitution of the judge who wrote
on natural science, and at the same time exerted himself to secure the
conviction of witches. A more pleasant and commendable illustration of
his conscientiousness in pecuniary matters, is found in the steadiness
with which he refused to throw upon society the spurious coin which he
had taken from his clients. In a tone of surprise that raises a smile at
the average morality of our forefathers, Bishop Burnet tells of Hale:
"Another remarkable instance of his justice and goodness was, that when
he found ill money had been put into his hands, he would never suffer it
to be vented again; for he thought it was no excuse for him to put false
money in other people's hands, because some had put it into his. A great
heap of this he had gathered together, for many had so abused his
goodness as to mix base money among the fees that were given him." In
this particular case, the judge's virtue was its own reward. His house
being entered by burglars, this accumulation of bad money attracted the
notice of the robbers, who selected it from a variety of goods and
chattels, and carried it off under the impression that it was the
lawyer's hoarded treasure. Besides large sums expended on unusual acts
of charity, this good man habitually distributed amongst the poor a
tithe of his professional earnings.

In the seventeenth century, General Retainers were very common, and the
counsel learned in the law, were ready to accept them from persons of
low extraction and questionable repute. Indeed, no upstart deemed
himself properly equipped for a campaign at court, until he had recorded
a fictitious pedigree at the Herald's College, taken a barrister as well
as a doctor into regular employment, and hired a curate to say grace
daily at his table. In the summer of his vile triumph, Titus Oates was
attended, on public occasions, by a robed counsel and a physician.

[8] In his 'Survey of the State of England in 1685,' Macauley--giving
one of those misleading references with which his history abounds--says:
"A thousand a year was thought a large income for a barrister. Two
thousand a year was hardly to be made in the Court of King's Bench,
except by crown lawyers." Whilst making the first statement, he
doubtless remembered the passage in 'Pepys's Diary.' For the second
statement, he refers to 'Layton's Conversation with Chief Justice Hale.'
It is fair to assume that Lord Macauley had never seen Sir Francis
Winnington's fee-book.

[9] In the fourth day of his fever, he being att the Chancery Bar, he
fell so ill of the fever, that he was forced to leave the Court and come
to his chambers in the Temple, with one of his clerks, which constantly
wayted on him and carried his bags of writings for his pleadings, and
there told him that he should return to every clyent his breviat and his
fee, for he could serve them no longer, for he had done with this world,
and thence came home to his house in Salisbury Court, and took his
bed.... And there he sequestered himself to meditation between God and
his own soul, without the least regret, and quietly and patiently
contented himself with the will of God.--_Vide Memoir of Sir John King,
Knt., written by his Father._

[10] The lawyers of the seventeenth century were accustomed to make a
show of their fees to the clients who called upon them. Hudibras's
lawyer (Hud., Part iii. cant. 3) is described as sitting in state with
his books and money before him:

"To this brave man the knight repairs For counsel in his law affairs,
And found him mounted in his pew, With books and money placed for shew,
Like nest-eggs, to make clients lay, And for his false, opinion pay: To
whom the knight, with comely grace, Put off his hat to put his case,
Which he as proudly entertain'd As the other courteously strain'd; And
to assure him 'twas not that He looked for, bid him put on's hat."

Under Victoria, the needy junior is compelled, for the sake of
appearances, to furnish his shelves with law books, and cover his table
with counterfeit briefs. Under the Stuarts, he placed a bowl of spurious
money amongst the sham papers that lay upon his table.

[11] In the 'Serviens ad Legem,' Mr. Sergeant Manning raises question
concerning the antiquity of _guineas_ and half-guineas, with the
following remarks:--"Should any cavil be raised against this jocular
allusion, on the ground that guineas and half-guineas were unknown to
sergeants who flourished in the sixteenth century, the objector might be
reminded, that in antique records, instances occur in which the
'guianois d'or,' issued from the ducal mint at Bordeaux, by the
authority of the Plantagenet sovereigns of Guienne, were by the same
authority, made current among their English subjects; and it might be
suggested that those who have gone to the coast of Africa for the origin
of the modern guinea, need not have carried their researches beyond the
Bay of Biscay. _Quære_, whether the Guinea Coast itself may not owe its
name to the 'guianois d'or' for which it furnished the raw material."



Pemberton's fees for his services in behalf of the Seven Bishops show
that the most eminent counsel of his time were content with very modest
remuneration for advice and eloquence. From the bill of an attorney
employed in that famous trial, it appears that the ex-Chief Justice was
paid a retaining-fee of five guineas, and received twenty guineas with
his brief. He also pocketed three guineas for a consultation. At the
present date, thirty times the sum of these paltry payments would be
thought an inadequate compensation for such zeal, judgment, and ability
as Francis Pemberton displayed in the defence of his reverend clients.

But, though lawyers were paid thus moderately in the seventeenth
century, the complaints concerning their avarice and extortions were
loud and universal. This public discontent was due to the inordinate
exactions of judges and place-holders rather than to the conduct of
barristers and attorneys; but popular displeasure seldom cares to
discriminate between the blameless and the culpable members of an
obnoxious system, or to distinguish between the errors of ancient custom
and the qualities of those persons who are required to carry out old
rules. Hence the really honest and useful practitioners of the law
endured a full share of the obloquy caused by the misconduct of venal
justices and corrupt officials. Counsel, attorneys, and even scriveners
came in for abuse. It was averred that they conspired to pick the public
pocket; that eminent conveyancers not less than copying clerks, swelled
their emoluments by knavish tricks. They would talk for the mere purpose
of protracting litigation, injure their clients by vexations and
bootless delays, and do their work so that they might be fed for doing
it again. Draughtsmen find their clerks wrote loosely and wordily,
because they were paid by the folio. "A term," writes the quaint author
of 'Saint Hillaries Teares,' in 1642, "so like a vacation; the prime
court, the Chancery (wherein the clerks had wont to dash their clients
out of countenance with long dashes); the examiners to take the
depositions in hyperboles, and roundabout _Robinhood_ circumstances with
_saids_ and _aforesaids_, to enlarge the number of sheets." 'Hudibras'
contains, amongst other pungent satires against the usages of lawyers,
an allusion to this characteristic custom of legal draughtsmen, who
being paid by the sheet, were wont

   "To make 'twixt words and lines large gaps,
   Wide as meridians in maps;
   To squander paper and spare ink,
   Or cheat men of their words some think."

In the following century the abuses consequent on the objectionable
system of folio-payment were noticed in a parliamentary report (bearing
date November 8, 1740), which was the most important result of an
ineffectual attempt to reform the superior courts of law and to lessen
the expenses of litigation.

More is known about the professional receipts of lawyers since the
Revolution of 1688 than can be discovered concerning the incomes of
their precursors in Westminster Hall. For six years, commencing with
Michaelmas Term, 1719, Sir John Cheshire, King's Sergeant, made an
average annual income of 3241_l._ Being then sixty-three years of age,
he limited his practice to the Common Pleas, and during the next six
years made in that one court 1320_l._ per annum. Mr. Foss, to whom the
present writer is indebted for these particulars with regard to Sir John
Cheshire's receipts, adds: "The fees of counsel's clerks form a great
contrast with those that are now demanded, being only threepence on a
fee of half-a-guinea, sixpence for a guinea, and one shilling for two
guineas." Of course the increase of clerk's fees tells more in favor of
the master than the servant. At the present time the clerk of a
barrister in fairly lucrative practice costs his master nothing.
Bountifully paid by his employer's clients, he receives no salary from
the counsellor whom he serves; whereas, in old times, when his fees were
fixed at the low rate just mentioned, the clerk could not live and
maintain a family upon them, unless his master belonged to the most
successful grade of his order.

Horace Walpole tells his readers that Charles Yorke "was reported to
have received 100,000 guineas in fees;" but his fee-book shows that his
professional rise was by no means so rapid as those who knew him in his
sunniest days generally supposed. The story of his growing fortunes is
indicated in the following statement of successive incomes:--1st year of
practice at the bar, 121_l._ 2nd, 201_l._; 3rd and 4th, between 300_l._
and 400_l._ per annum; 5th, 700_l._; 6th, 800_l._; 7th, 1000_l._; 9th,
1600_l._; 10th, 2500_l._ Whilst Solicitor General he made 3400_l._ in
1757; and in the following year he earned 5000_l._ His receipts during
the last year of his tenure of the Attorney Generalship amounted to
7322_l._ The reader should observe that as Attorney General he made but
little more than Coke had realized in the same office,--a fact serving
to show how much better paid were Crown lawyers in times when they held
office like judges during the Sovereign's pleasure, than in these latter
days when they retire from place together with their political parties.

The difference between the incomes of Scotch advocates and English
barristers was far greater in the eighteenth century than at the present
time, although in our own day the receipts of several second-rate
lawyers of the Temple and Lincoln's Inn far surpass the revenues of the
most successful advocates of the Edinburgh faculty. A hundred and thirty
years since a Scotch barrister who earned 500_l._ per annum by his
profession was esteemed notably successful.

Just as Charles Yorke's fee-book shows us the pecuniary position of an
eminent English barrister in the middle of the last century, John
Scott's list of receipts displays the prosperity of a very fortunate
Crown lawyer in the next generation. Without imputing motives the
present writer, may venture to say that Lord Eldon's assertions with
regard to his earnings at the bar, and his judicial incomes, were not in
strict accordance with the evidence of his private accounts. He used to
say that his first year's earnings in his profession amounted to
half-a-guinea, but there is conclusive proof that he had a considerable
quantity of lucrative business in the same year. "When I was called to
the bar," it was his humor to say, "Bessie and I thought all our
troubles were over, business was to pour in, and we were to be rich
almost immediately. So I made a bargain with her that during the
following year all the money I should receive in the first eleven
months should be mine, and whatever I should get in the twelfth month
should be hers. That was our agreement, and how do you think it turned
out? In the twelfth month I received half-a-guinea--eighteenpence went
for charity, and Bessy got nine shillings. In the other eleven months I
got one shilling." John Scott, be it remembered, was called to the bar
on February 9, 1776, and on October 2, of the same year, William Scott
wrote to his brother Henry--"My brother Jack seems highly pleased with
his circuit business. I hope it is only the beginning of future
triumphs. All appearances speak strongly in his favor." There is no need
to call evidence to show that Eldon's success was more than respectable
from the outset of his career, and that he had not been called many
years before he was in the foremost rank of his profession. His fee-book
gives the following account of his receipts in thirteen successive
years:--1786, 6833_l._ 7_s._; 1787, 7600_l._ 7_s._; 1788, 8419_l._
14_s._; 1789, 9559_l._ 10_s._; 1790, 9684_l._ 15_s._; 1791, 10,213_l._
13_s._ 6_d._; 1792, 9080_l._ 9_s._; 1793, 10,330_l._ 1_s._ 4_d._; 1794,
11,592_l._; 1795, 11,149_l._ 15_s._ 4_d._; 1796, 12,140_l._ 15_s._
8_d._; 1797, 10,861_l._ 5_s._ 8_d_; 1798, 10,557_l._ 17_s._ During the
last six of the above-mentioned years he was Attorney General, and
during the preceding four years Solicitor General.

Although General Retainers are much less general than formerly, they are
by no means obsolete. Noblemen could be mentioned who at the present
time engage counsel with periodical payments, special fees of course
being also paid for each professional service. But the custom is dying
out, and it is probable that after the lapse of another hundred years it
will not survive save amongst the usages of ancient corporations. Notice
has already been taken of Murray's conduct when he returned nine hundred
and ninety-five out of a thousand guineas to the Duchess of
Marlborough, informing her that the professional fee with the general
retainer was neither more nor less than five guineas. The annual salary
of a Queen's Counsel in past times was in fact a fee with a general
retainer; but this periodic payment is no longer made to wearers of

In his learned work on 'The Judges of England,' Mr. Foss observes: "The
custom of retaining counsel in fee lingered in form, at least in one
ducal establishment. By a formal deed-poll between the proud Duke of
Somerset and Sir Thomas Parker, dated July 19, 1707, the duke retains
him as his 'standing counsell in ffee,' and gives and allows him 'the
yearly ffee of four markes, to be paid by my solicitor' at Michaelmas,
'to continue during my will and pleasure.'" Doubtless Mr. Foss is aware
that this custom still 'lingers in form;' but the tone of his words
justifies the opinion that he underrates the frequency with which
general retainers are still given. The 'standing counsel' of civic and
commercial companies are counsel with general retainers, and usually
their general retainers have fees attached to them.

The payments of English barristers have varied much more than the
remunerations of English physicians. Whereas medical practitioners in
every age have received a certain definite sum for each consultation,
and have been forbidden by etiquette to charge more or less than the
fixed rate, lawyers have been allowed much freedom in estimating the
worth of their labor. This difference between the usages of the two
professions is mainly due to the fact, that the amount of time and
mental effort demanded by patients at each visit or consultation is very
nearly the same in all cases, whereas the requirements of clients are
much more various. To get up the facts of a law-case may be the work of
minutes, or hours, or days, or even weeks; to observe the symptoms of a
patient, and to write a prescription, can be always accomplished within
the limits of a short morning call. In all times, however, the legal
profession has adopted certain scales of payment--that fixed the
_minimum_ of remuneration, but left the advocate free to get more, as
circumstances might encourage him to raise his demands. Of the many good
stories told of artifices by which barristers have delicately intimated
their desire for higher payment, none is better than an anecdote
recorded of Sergeant Hill. A troublesome case being laid before this
most erudite of George III.'s sergeants, he returned it with a brief
note, that he "saw more difficulty in the case than, _under all the
circumstances_, he could well solve." As the fee marked upon the case
was only a guinea, the attorney readily inferred that its smallness was
one of the circumstances which occasioned the counsel's difficulty. The
case, therefore, was returned, with a fee of two guineas. Still
dissatisfied, Sergeant Hill wrote that "he saw no reason to change his

By the etiquette of the bar no barrister is permitted to take a brief on
any circuit, save that on which he habitually practises, unless he has
received a special retainer; and no wearer of silk can be specially
retained with a less fee than three hundred guineas. Erskine's first
special retainer was in the Dean of St. Asaph's case, his first speech
in which memorable cause was delivered when he had been called to the
bar but little more than five years. From that time till his elevation
to the bench he received on an average twelve special retainers a year,
by which at the minimum of payment he made £3600 per annum. Besides
being lucrative and honorable, this special employment greatly augmented
his practice in Westminster Hall, as it brought him in personal contact
with attorneys in every part of the country, and heightened his
popularity amongst all classes of his fellow-countrymen. In 1786 he
entirely withdrew from ordinary circuit practice, and confined his
exertions in provincial courts to the causes for which he was specially
retained. No advocate since his time has received an equal number of
special retainers; and if he did not originate the custom of special
retainers,[12] he was the first English barrister who ventured to reject
all other briefs.

There is no need to recapitulate all the circumstances of Erskine's
rapid rise in his profession--a rise due to his effective brilliance and
fervor in political trial: but this chapter on lawyers' fees would be
culpably incomplete, if it failed to notice some of its pecuniary
consequences. In the eighth month after his call to the bar he thanked
Admiral Keppel for a splendid fee of one thousand pounds. A few years
later a legal gossip wrote: "Everybody says that Erskine will be
Solicitor General, and if he is, and indeed whether he is or not, he
will have had the most rapid rise that has been known at the bar. It is
four years and a half since he was called, and in that time he has
cleared £8000 or £9000, besides paying his debts--got a silk gown, and
business of at least £3000 a year--a seat in Parliament--and, over and
above, has made his brother Lord Advocate."

Merely to mention large fees without specifying the work by which they
were earned would mislead the reader. During the railway mania of 1845,
the few leaders of the parliamentary bar received prodigious fees; and
in some cases the sums were paid for very little exertion. Frequently it
happened that a lawyer took heavy fees in causes, at no stage of which
he either made a speech or read a paper in the service of his too
liberal employers. During that period of mad speculation the
committee-rooms of the two Houses were an El Dorado to certain favored
lawyers, who were alternately paid for speech and _silence_ with
reckless profusion. But the time was so exceptional, that the fees
received and the fortunes made in it by a score of lucky advocates and
solicitors cannot be fairly cited as facts illustrating the social
condition of legal practitioners. As a general rule, it may be stated
that large fortunes are not made at the bar by large fees. Our richest
lawyers have made the bulk of their wealth by accumulating sufficient
but not exorbitant payments. In most cases the large fee has not been a
very liberal remuneration for the work done. Edward Law's retainer for
the defence of Warren Hastings brought with it £500--a sum which caused
our grandfathers to raise their hands in astonishment at the nabob's
munificence; but the sum was in reality the reverse of liberal. In all,
Warren Hastings paid his leading advocate considerably less than four
thousand pounds; and if Law had not contrived to win the respect of
solicitors by his management of the defence, the case could not be said
to have paid him for his trouble. So also the eminent advocate, who in
the great case of Small _v._ Attwood received a fee of £6000, was
actually underpaid. When he made up the account of the special outlay
necessitated by that cause, and the value of business which the
burdensome case compelled him to decline, he had small reason to
congratulate himself on his remuneration.

A statement of the incomes made by chamber-barristers, and of the sums
realized by counsel in departments of the profession that do not invite
the attention of the general public, would astonish those uninformed
persons who estimate the success of a barrister by the frequency with
which his name appears in the newspaper reports of trials and suits. The
talkers of the bar enjoy more _éclat_ than the barristers who confine
themselves to chamber practice, and their labors lead to the honors of
the bench; but a young lawyer, bent only on the acquisition of wealth,
is more likely to achieve his ambition by conveyancing or
arbitration-business than by court-work. Kenyon was never a popular or
successful advocate, but he made £3000 a year by answering cases.
Charles Abbott at no time of his life could speak better than a
vestryman of average ability; but by drawing informations and
indictments, by writing opinions on cases, he made the greater part of
the eight thousand pounds which he returned as the amount of his
professional receipts in 1807. In our own time, when that popular common
law advocate, Mr. Edwin James, was omnipotent with juries, his income
never equalled the incomes of certain chamber-practitioners whose names
are utterly unknown to the general body of English society.

[12] Lord Campbell observes: "Some say that special retainers began with
Erskine; but I doubt the fact." It is strange that there should be
uncertainty as to the time when special retainers--unquestionably a
comparatively recent innovation in legal practice--came into vogue.



To a young student making his first researches beneath the surface of
English history, few facts are more painful and perplexing than the
judicial corruption which prevailed in every period of our country's
growth until quiet recent times--darkening the brightest pages of our
annals, and disfiguring some of the greatest chieftains of our race.

Where he narrates the fall and punishment of De Weyland towards the
close of the thirteenth century, Speed observes: "While the Jews by
their cruel usuries had in one way eaten up the people, the justiciars,
like another kind of Jews, had ruined them with delay in their suits,
and enriched themselves with wicked convictions." Of judicial corruption
in the reigns of Edward I. and Edward II. a vivid picture is given in a
political ballad, composed in the time of one or the other of those
monarchs. Of this poem Mr. Wright, in his 'Political Songs,' gives a
free version, a part of which runs thus:--

   "Judges there are whom gifts and favorites control,
   Content to serve the devil alone and take from him a toll;
   If nature's law forbids the judge from selling his decree,
   How dread to those who finger bribes the punishment shall be.

   "Such judges have accomplices whom frequently they send
   To get at those who claim some land, and whisper as a friend,
   ''Tis I can help you with the judge, if you would wish to plead,
   Give me but half, I'll undertake before him you'll succeed.'

   "The clerks who sit beneath the judge are open-mouthed as he,
   As if they were half-famished and gaping for a fee;
   Of those who give no money they soon pronounce the state,
   However early they attend, they shall have long to wait.

   "If comes some noble lady, in beauty and in pride,
   With golden horns upon her head, her suit he'll soon decide;
   But she who has no charms, nor friends, and is for gifts too poor,
   Her business all neglected, she's weeping shown the door.

   "But worse than all, within the court we some relators meet,
   Who take from either side at once, and both their clients cheat;
   The ushers, too, to poor men say, 'You labor here in vain,
   Unless you tip us all around, you may go back again.'

   "The sheriff's hard upon the poor who cannot pay for rest,
   Drags them about to every town, on all assizes press'd
   Compell'd to take the oath prescrib'd without objection made,
   For if they murmur and can't pay, upon their backs they're laid.

   "They enter any private house, or abbey that they choose,
   Where meat and drink and all things else are given as their dues;
   And after dinner jewels too, or this were all in vain,
   Bedels and garçons must receive, and all that form the train.

   "And next must gallant robes be sent as presents to their wives,
   Or from the manor of the host some one his cattle drives;
   While he, poor man, is sent to gaol upon some false pretence,
   And pays at last at double cost, ere he gets free from thence.

   "I can't but laugh to see their clerks, whom once I knew in need,
   When to obtain a bailiwick they may at last succeed;
   With pride in gait and countenance and with their necks erect
   They lands and houses quickly buy and pleasant rents collect.

   "Grown rich they soon the poor despise, and new-made laws display,
   Oppress their neighbors and become the wise men of their day;
   Unsparing of the least offence, when they can have their will,
   The hapless country all around with discontent they fill."

In the fourteenth century judicial corruption was so general and
flagrant, that cries came from every quarter for the punishment of
offenders. The Knights Hospitallers' Survey, made in the year 1338,
gives us revelations that confound the indiscreet admirers of feudal
manners. From that source of information it appears that regular
stipends were paid to persons "tam in curia domini regis quam
justiciariis, clericis, officiariis et aliis ministris, in diversis
curiis suis, ac etiam aliis familaribus magnatum tam pro terris
tenementis redditbus et libertatibus Hospitalis, quam Templariorum, et
maxime pro terris Templariorum manutenendis." Of pensions to the amount
of £440 mentioned in the account, £60 were paid to judges, clerks, and
minor officers of courts. Robert de Sadington, the Chief Baron, received
40 marks annually; twice a year the Knights Hospitallers presented caps
to one hundred and forty officers of the Exchequer; and they expended
200 marks _per annum_ on gifts that were distributed in law courts,
"_pro favore habendo_, et pro placitis habendis, et expensis
parliamentorum." In that age, and for centuries later, it was customary
for wealthy men and great corporations to make valuable presents to the
judges and chief servants the king's courts; but it was always presumed
that the offerings were simple expressions of respect--not tribute
rendered, "pro favore habendo."

Bent on purifying the moral atmosphere of his courts, Edward III. raised
the salaries of his judges, and imposed upon them such oaths that none
of their order could pervert justice, or even encourage venal practices,
without breaking his solemn vow[13] to the king's majesty.

From the amounts of the _royal_ fees or stipends paid to Edward III.'s
judges, it may be vaguely estimated how far they were dependent on gifts
and _court_ fees for the means of living with appropriate state. John
Knyvet, Chief Justice of the King's Bench, has £40 and 100 marks per
annum. The annual fee of Thomas de Ingleby, the solitary puisne judge
of the King's Bench at that time, was at first 40 marks; but he obtained
an additional £40 when the 'fees' were raised, and he received moreover
£20 a year as a judge of assize. The Chief of the Common Pleas, Robert
de Thrope, received £40 per annum, payable during his tenure of office,
and another annual sum of £40 payable during his life. John de Mowbray,
William de Wychingham, and William de Fyncheden, the other judges of the
Common Pleas, received 40 marks each as official salary, and £20 per
annum for their services at assizes. Mowbray's stipend was subsequently
increased by 40 marks, whilst Wychingham and Fyncheden received an
additional £40 par annum. To the Chief Baron and the other two Barons of
the Exchequer annual fees of 40 marks each were paid, the Chief Baron
receiving £20 per annum as Justice of Assize, and one of the puisne
Barons, Almaric de Shirland, getting an additional 40 marks for certain
special services. The 'Issue Roll of 44 Edward III., 1370,' also shows
that certain sergeants-at-law acted as Justices of Assize, receiving for
their service £20 per annum.

Throughout his reign Edward III. strenuously exerted himself to purge
his law courts of abuses, and to secure his subjects from evils wrought
by judicial dishonesty; and though there is reason to think that he
prosecuted his reforms, and punished offending judges with more
impulsiveness than consistency--with petulance rather than
firmness[14]--his action must have produced many beneficial results. But
it does not seem to have occurred to him that the system adopted by his
predecessors, and encouraged by the usages of his own time, was the
real source of the mischief, and that so long as judges received the
greater part of their remuneration from suitors, fees and the donations
of the public, enactments and proclamations would be comparatively
powerless to preserve the streams of justice from pollution. The
fee-system poisoned the morality of the law-courts. From the highest
judge to the lowest usher, every person connected with a court of
justice was educated to receive small sums of money for trifling
services, to be always looking out for paltry dues or gratuities, to
multiply occasions for demanding, and reasons for pocketing petty coins,
to invent devices for legitimate peculation. In time the system produced
such complications of custom, right, privilege, claim, that no one could
say definitely how much a suitor was actually bound to pay at each stage
of a suit. The fees had an equally bad influence on the public. Trained
to approach the king's judges with costly presents, to receive them on
their visits with lavish hospitality, to send them offerings at the
opening of each year, the rich and the poor learnt to look on judicial
decisions as things that were bought and sold. In many cases this
impression was not erroneous. Judges were forbidden to accept gifts from
actual suitors, or to take payments _for_ judgments after their
delivery; but on the judgment-seat they were often influenced by
recollections of the conduct of suitors who _had been_ munificent before
the commencement of proceedings, and most probably would be equally
munificent six months after delivery of a judgment favorable to their
claims. Humorous anecdotes heightened the significance of patent facts.
Throughout a shire it would be told how this suitor won a judgment by a
sumptuous feast; how that suitor bought the justice's favor with a flask
of rare wine, a horse of excellent breed, a hound of superior sagacity.

In the fifteenth century the judge whose probity did not succumb to an
excellent dinner was deemed a miracle of virtue. "A lady," writes Fuller
of Chief Justice Markham, who was dismissed from his place in 1470,
"would traverse a suit of law against the will of her husband, who was
contented to buy his quiet by giving her her will therein, though
otherwise persuaded in his judgment the cause would go against her. This
lady, dwelling in the shire town, invited the judge to dinner, and
(though thrifty enough herself) treated him with sumptuous
entertainment. Dinner being done, and the cause being called, the judge
gave it against her. And when, in passion, she vowed never to invite the
judge again, 'Nay, wife,' said he, 'vow never to invite a _just judge_
any more.'" It may be safely affirmed that no English lady of our time
ever tried to bribe Sir Alexander Cockburn or Sir Frederick Pollock with
a dinner _à la Russe_.

By his eulogy of Chief Justice Dyer, who died March 24, 1582, Whetstone
gives proof that in Elizabethan England purity was the exception rather
than the rule with judges:--

   "And when he spake he was in speeche reposde;
     His eyes did search the simple suitor's harte;
   To put by bribes his hands were ever closde,
     His processe juste, he tooke the poore man's parte.
     He ruld by lawe and listened not to arte,
   Those foes to truthe--loove, hate, and private gain,
   Which most corrupt, his conscience could not staine."

There is no reason to suppose that the custom of giving and receiving
presents was more general or extravagant in the time of Elizabeth than
in previous ages; but the fuller records of her splendid reign give
greater prominence to the usage than it obtained in the chronicles of
any earlier period of English history. On each New Year's day her
courtiers gave her costly presents--jewels, ornaments of gold or silver
workmanship, hundreds of ounces of silver-gilt plate, tapestry, laces,
satin dresses, embroidered petticoats. Not only did she accept such
costly presents from men of rank and wealth, but she graciously received
the donations of tradesmen and menials. Francis Bacon made her majesty
"a poor oblation of a garment;" Charles Smith, the dustman, threw upon
the pile of treasure "two bottes of cambric." The fashion thus
countenanced by the queen was followed in all ranks of society; all men,
from high to low, receiving presents, as expressions of affection when
they came from their equals, as declarations of respect when they came
from their social inferiors. Each of her great officers of state drew a
handsome revenue from such yearly offerings. But though the burdens and
abuses of this system were excessive under Elizabeth, they increased in
enormity and number during the reigns of the Stuarts.

That the salaries of the Elizabethan judges were small in comparison
with the sums which they received in presents and fees may be seen from
the following Table of stipends and allowances annually paid, towards
the close of the sixteenth century:--

                                                      £  _s._  _d._

The Lord Cheefe Justice of England:--
  Fee, Reward and Robes                              208   6     8
  Wyne, 2 tunnes at £5 the tunne                      10   0     0
  Allowance for being Justice of Assize               20   0     0

The Lord Cheefe Justice of the Common Pleas:--
  Fee, Reward, and Robes                             141  13     4
  Wyne, two tunnes                                     8   0     0
  Allowance as Justice of Assize                      20   0     0
  Fee for keeping the Assize in the Augmentation
  Court                                               12  10     8

Each of the three Justices in these two Courts:--
  Fee, Reward and Robes                             £123   6_s._ 8_d._
  Allowance as Justice of Assize                      20   0     0

The Lord Cheefe Baron of the Exchequer:--
  Fee                                                100   0     0
  Lyvery                                              12  17     8
  Allowance as Justice of the Assize                  20   0     0

Each of the three Barons:--
  Fee                                                 46  12     4
  Lyvery a peece                                      12  17     4
  Allowance as Justice of Assize                      20   0     0

Prior to and in the earlier part of Elizabeth's reign, the sheriffs had
been required to provide diet and lodging for judges travelling on
circuit, each sheriff being responsible for the proper entertainment of
judges within the limits of his jurisdiction. This arrangement was very
burdensome upon the class from which the sheriffs were elected, as the
official host had not only to furnish suitable lodging and cheer for the
justices themselves, but also to supply the wants of their attendants
and servants. The ostentatious and costly hospitality which law and
public opinion thus compelled or encouraged them to exercise towards
circuiteers of all ranks had seriously embarrassed a great number of
country gentlemen; and the queen was assailed with entreaties for a
reform that should free a sheriff of small estate from the necessity of
either ruining himself, or incurring a reputation for stinginess. In
consequence of these urgent representations, an order of council,
bearing date February 21, 1574, decided "the justices shall have of her
majesty several sums of money out of her coffers for their daily diet."
Hence rose the usage of 'circuit allowances.' The sheriffs, however,
were still bound to attend upon the judges, and make suitable provision
for the safe conduct of the legal functionaries from assize town to
assize town;--the sheriff of each county being required to furnish a
body-guard for the protection of the sovereign's representatives. This
responsibility lasted till the other day, when an innovation (of which
Mr. Arcedeckne, of Glevering Hall, Suffolk, was the most notorious,
though not the first champion), substituted guards of policemen, paid by
county-rates, for bands of javelin-men equipped and rewarded by the
sheriffs. In some counties the javelin-men--remote descendants of the
mail-clad knights and stalwart men-at-arms who formerly mustered at the
summons of sheriffs--still do duty with long wands and fresh rosettes;
but they are fast giving way to the wielders of short staves.

Amongst the bad consequences of the system of gratuities was the color
which it gave to idle rumors and malicious slander against the purity of
upright judges.

When Sir Thomas More fell, charges of bribery were preferred against him
before the Privy Council. A disappointed suitor, named Parnell, declared
that the Chancellor had been bribed with a gift-cup to decide in favor
of his (Parnell's) adversary. Mistress Vaughan, the successful suitor's
wife, had given Sir Thomas the cup with her own hands. The fallen
Chancellor admitting that "he had received the cup as a New Year's
Gift," Lord Wiltshire cried, with unseemly exultation, "Lo! did I not
tell you, my lords, that you would find this matter true?" It seemed
that More had pleaded guilty, for his oath did not permit him to receive
a New Year's Gift from an actual suitor. "But, my lords," continued the
accused man, with one of his characteristic smiles, "hear the other part
of my tale. After having drunk to her of wine, with which my butler had
filled the cup, and when she had pledged me, I restored it to her, and
would listen to no refusal." It is possible that Mistress Vaughan did
not act with corrupt intention, but merely in ignorance of the rule
which forbade the Chancellor to accept her present. As much cannot be
said in behalf of Mrs. Croker, who, being opposed in a suit to Lord
Arundel, sought to win Sir Thomas More's favor by presenting him with a
pair of gloves containing forty angels. With a courteous smile he
accepted the gloves, but constrained her to take back the gold. The
gentleness of this rebuff is charming; but the story does not tell more
in favor of Sir Thomas than to the disgrace of the lady and the moral
tone of the society in which she lived.

Readers should bear in mind the part which New Year's Gifts and other
customary gratuities played in the trumpery charges against Lord Bacon.
Adopting an old method of calumny, the conspirators against his fair
fame represented that the gifts made to him, in accordance with ancient
usage, were bribes. For instance Reynel's ring, presented on New Year's
day, was so construed by the accusers; and in his comment upon the
charge, Bacon, who had inadvertently accepted the gift during the
progress of a suit, observes, "This ring was received certainly
_pendente lite_, and though it were at New Year's tide, yet it was too
great a value for a New Year's Gift, though, as I take it, nothing near
the value mentioned in the articles." So also Trevor's gift was a New
Year's present, of which Bacon says, "I confess and declare that I
received at New Year's tide an hundred pounds from Sir John Trevor, and
because it came as a New Year's Gift, I neglected to inquire whether the
cause was ended or depending; but since I find that though the cause was
then dismissed to a trial at law, yet the equity is reserved, so as it
was in that kind _pendente lite_." Bacon knew that this explanation
would be read by men familiar with the history of New Year's Gifts, and
all the circumstances of the ancient usage; and it is needless to say
that no man of honor thought the less highly of Bacon at that time,
because his pure and guiltless acceptance of customary presents was by
ingenious and unscrupulous adversaries made to assume an appearance of
corrupt compliance.

How far the Chancellors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries
depended upon customary gratuities for their revenues may be seen from
the facts which show the degree of state which they were required to
maintain, and the inadequacy of the ancient fees for the maintenance of
that pomp. When Elizabeth pressed Hatton for payment of the sums which
he owed her, the Chancellor lamented his inability to liquidate her just
claims, and urged in excuse that the _ancient fees_ were very inadequate
to the expenses of the Chancellor's office. But though Elizabethan
Chancellors could not live upon their ancient fees, they kept up palaces
in town and country, fed regiments of lackeys, and surpassed the ancient
nobility in the grandeur of their equipages. Egerton--the needy and
illegitimate son of a rural knight, a lawyer who fought up from the
ranks--not only sustained the costly dignities of office, but left to
his descendants a landed estate worth £8000 per annum. Bacon's successor
in the 'marble chair,' Lord Keeper Williams, assured Buckingham that in
Egerton's time the Chancellor's lawful income was less than three
thousand per annum. "The lawful revenue of the office stands thus,"
wrote Williams, speaking from his intimate knowledge of Ellesmere's
affairs, "or not much above it at anytime:--in fines certain, £1300 per
annum, or thereabouts; in fines casual, £1250 or thereabouts; in greater
writs, £140; for impost of wine, £100--in all, £2790; and these are all
the true means of that great office." It is probable that Williams
under-stated the revenue, but it is certain that the income, apart from
gratuities, was insufficient.

The Chancellor was not more dependent on customary gratuities than the
chief of the three Common Law courts. At Westminster and on circuit,
whenever he was required to discharge his official functions, the
English judge extended his hand for the contributions of the
well-disposed. No one thought of blaming judges for their readiness to
take customary benevolences. To take gifts was a usage of the
profession, and had its parallel in the customs of every calling and
rank of life. The clergy took dues in like manner: from the earliest
days of feudal life the territorial lords had supplied their wants in
the same way; amongst merchants and yeomen, petty traders and servants,
the system existed in full force. These presents were made without any
secrecy. The aldermen of borough towns openly voted presents to the
judges; and the judges received their offerings--not as benefactions,
but as legitimate perquisites. In 1620--just a year before Lord Bacon's
fall--the municipal council of Lyme Regis left it to the "mayor's
discretion" to decide "what gratuity he will give to the Lord Chief
Baron and his men" at the next assizes. The system, it is needless to
say, had disastrous results. Empowering the chief judge of every court
to receive presents not only from the public, but from subordinate
judges, inferior officers, and the bar; and moreover empowering each
place-holder to take gratuities from persons officially or by profession
concerned in the business of the courts, it produced a complicated
machinery for extortion. By presents the chief justices bought their
places from the crown or a royal favorite; by presents the puisne
justices, registrars, counsel bought place or favor from the chief; by
presents the attorneys, sub-registrars, and outside public sought to
gain their ends with the humbler place-holders. The meanest ushers of
Westminster Hall took coins from ragged scriveners. Hence every place
was actually bought and sold, the sum being in most cases very high.
Sir James Ley offered the Duke of Buckingham £10,000 for the Attorney's
place. At the same period the Solicitor General's office was sold for
£4000. Under Charles I. matters grew still worse than they had been
under his father. When Sir Charles Cæsar consulted Laud about the worth
of the vacant Mastership of the Rolls, the archbishop frankly said,
"that as things then stood, the place was not likely to go without more
money than he thought any wise man would give for it." Disregarding this
intimation, Sir Charles paid the king £15,000 for the place, and added a
loan of £2000. Sir Thomas Richardson, at the opening of the reign, gave
£17,000 for the Chiefship of the Common Pleas. If judges needed gifts
before the days when vacant seats were put up to auction, of course they
stood all the more in need of them when they bought their promotions
with such large sums. It is not wonderful that the wearers of ermine
repaid themselves by venal practices. The sale of judicial offices was
naturally followed by the sale of judicial decisions. The judges having
submitted to the extortions of the king, the public had to endure the
extortions of the judges. Corruption on the bench produced corruption at
the bar. Counsel bought the attention and compliance of 'the court,' and
in some cases sold their influence with shameless rascality. They would
take fees to speak from one side in a cause and fees to be silent from
the other side--selling their own clients as coolly as judges sold the
suitors of their courts. Sympathizing with the public, and stung by
personal experience of legal dishonesty, the clergy sometimes denounced
from the pulpit the extortions of corrupt judges and unprincipled
barristers. The assize sermons of Charles I.'s reign were frequently
seasoned with such animadversions. At Thetford Assizes, March, 1630,
the Rev. Mr. Ramsay, in the assize-sermon, spoke indignantly of judges
who "favored causes," and of "counsellors who took fees to be silent."
In the summer of 1631, at the Bury Assizes, "one Mr. Scott made a sore
sermon in discovery of corruption in judges and others." At Norwich, the
same authority, viz., 'Sir John Rous's Diary,' informs us--"Mr. Greene
was more plaine, insomuch that Judge Harvey, in his charge, broke out
thus: 'It seems by the sermon that we are corrupt, but we know that we
can use conscience in our places as well as the best clergieman of

In his 'Life and Death of Sir Matthew Hale,' Bishop Burnet tells a good
story of the Chief's conduct with regard to a customary gift. "It is
also a custom," says the biographer, "for the Marshall of the King's
Bench to present the judges of that court with a piece of plate for a
New Year's Gift, that for the Chief Justice being larger than the rest.
This he intended to have refused, but the other judges told him it
belonged to his office, and the refusing it would be a prejudice to his
successors; so he was persuaded to take it, but he sent word to the
marshall, that instead of plate he should bring him the value of it in
money, and when he received it, he immediately sent it to the prisons
for the relief and discharge of the poor there."

[13] A portion of the oath prescribed for judges in the 'Ordinances for
Justices,' 20 Edward III., will show the reader the evils which called
for correction and the care taken to effect their cure. "Ye shall
swear," ran the injunction to which each judge was required to vow
obedience, "that well and lawfully ye shall serve our lord the king and
his people in the office of justice; ... and that ye take not by
yourself or by other, privily or apertly, gift or reward of gold or
silver, nor any other thing which may turn to your profit, unless it be
meat nor drink, and that of small value, _of any man that shall have
plea or process before you, as long as the same process shall be so
hanging, nor after for the same cause: and that ye shall take no fee as
long as ye shall be justice, nor robes of any man, great or small_, but
of the king himself: and that ye give none advice or counsel to no man,
great or small, in any case where the king is party; &c. &c. &c." The
clause forbidding the judge to receive gifts of actual suitors was a
positive recognition of his right to customary gifts rendered by persons
who had no process hanging before him. It should, moreover, be observed
that in the passage, "ye shall take no fee as long as ye shall be
justice, nor robes of any man," the word "fee" signifies "salary," and
not a single payment or gratuity. The Judge was forbidden to receive
from any man a fixed stipend (by the acceptance of which he would become
the donor's servant), or robes (the assumption of which would be open
declaration of service); but he was at liberty to accept the offerings
which the public were wont to make to men of his condition, as well as
the sums (or 'fees,' as they would be termed at the present day) due on
different processes of his court. That the word 'fee' is thus used in
the ordinance may be seen from the words "for this cause we have
increased the fees (les feez) of the same our justices, in such manner
as it ought reasonably to suffice them," by which language attention is
drawn to the increase of judicial salaries.

[14] Mr. Foss observes: "In 1350, William de Thrope, Chief Justice of
the King's Bench, was convicted on his own confession of receiving
bribes to stay justice; but though his property was forfeited to the
Crown on his condemnation, the king appears to have relented, and to
have made him second Baron of the Exchequer in May, 1352, unless I am
mistaken in supposing the latter to have been the same person."



By degrees the public ceased to make presents to the principal judges of
the kingdom; but long after the Chancellor and the three Chiefs had
taken the last offerings of general society, they continued to receive
yearly presents from the subordinate judges, placemen, and barristers
of their respective courts. Lord Cowper deserves honor for being the
holder of the seals who, by refusing to pocket these customary
donations, put an end to a very objectionable system, so far as the
Court of Chancery was concerned.

On being made Lord Keeper, he resolved to depart from the custom of his
predecessors for many generations, who on the first day of each new year
had invariably entertained at breakfast the persons from whom tribute
was looked for. Very droll were these receptions in the old time. The
repast at an end, the guests forthwith disburdened themselves of their
gold--the payers approaching the holder of the seals in order of rank,
and laying on his table purses of money, which the noble payee accepted
with his own hands. Sometimes his lordship was embarrassed by a ceremony
that required him to pick gold from the fingers of men, several of whom
he knew to be in indigent circumstances. In Charles II.'s time it was
observed that the silver-tongued Lord Nottingham on such occasions
always endeavored to hide his confusion under a succession of nervous
smiles and exclamations--"Oh, Tyrant Cuthtom!--Oh, Tyrant Cuthtom!"

It is noteworthy that in relinquishing the benefit of these exactions,
the Lord Keeper feared unfriendly criticism much more than he
anticipated public commendation. In his diary, under date December 30,
Cowper wrote:--"I acquainted my Lord Treasurer with my design to refuse
New Year's Gifts, if he had no objection against it, as spoiling, in
some measure, a place of which he had the conferring. He answered it was
not expected of me, but that I might do as my predecessors had done; but
if I refused, he thought nobody could blame me for it." Anxious about
the consequences of his innovation, the new Lord Keeper gave notice that
on January 1, 1705-6, he would receive no gifts; but notwithstanding
this proclamation, several officers of Chancery and counsellors came to
his house with tribute, and were refused admittance. "New Year's Gifts
turned back," he wrote in his diary at the close of the eventful day,
"and pray God it doth me more credit and good than hurt, by making
secret enemies _in fæce Romuli_." His fears were in a slight degree
fulfilled. The Chiefs of the three Common Law Courts were greatly
displeased with an innovation which they had no wish to adopt; and their
warm expressions of dissatisfaction induced the Lord Keeper to cover his
disinterestedness with a harmless fiction. To pacify the indignant
Chiefs and the many persons who sympathized with them, he pretended that
though he had declined intentionally the gifts of the Chancery
barristers, he had not designed to exercise the same self-denial with
regard to the gifts of Chancery officers.[15]

The common law chiefs were slow to follow in the Lord Keeper's steps,
and many years passed before the reform, effected in Chancery by
accident or design, or by a lucky combination of both, was adopted in
the other great courts. In his memoir of Lord Cowper, Campbell observes:
"His example with respect to New Year's Gifts was not speedily followed;
and it is said that till very recently the Chief Justice of the Common
Pleas invited the officers of his court to a dinner at the beginning of
the year, when each of them deposited under his plate a present in the
shape of a Bank of England note, instead of a gift of oxen roaring at
his levee, as in ruder times." There is no need to remind the reader in
this place of the many veracious and the many apocryphal stories
concerning the basket justices of Fielding's time--stories showing that
in law courts of the lowest sort applicants for justice were accustomed
to fee the judges with victuals and drink until a comparatively recent

Lucky would it have been for the first Earl of Macclesfield if the
custom of selling places in Chancery had been put an end to forever by
the Lord Keeper who abolished the custom of New Year's Gifts; but the
judge who at the sacrifice of one-fourth of his official income swept
away the pernicious usage which had from time immemorial marked the
opening of each year, saw no reason why he should purge Chancery of
another scarcely less objectionable practice. Following the steps of
their predecessors, the Chancellors Cowper, Harcourt, and Macclesfield
sold subordinate offices in their court; and whereas all previous
Chancellors had been held blameless for so doing, Lord Macclesfield was
punished with official degradation, fine, imprisonment, and obloquy.

By birth as humble[16] as any layman who before or since his time has
held the seals, Thomas Parker raised himself to the woolsack by great
talents and honorable industry. As an advocate he won the respect of
society and his profession; as a judge he ranks with the first
expositors of English law. Although for imputed corruption he was hurled
with ignominy from his high place, no one has ventured to charge him
with venality on the bench. That he was a spotless character, or that
his career was marked by grandeur of purpose, it would be difficult to
establish; but few Englishmen could at the present time be found to deny
that he was in the main an upright peer, who was not wittingly
neglectful of his duty to the country which had loaded him with wealth
and honors.

Amongst the many persons ruined by the bursting of the South Sea Bubble
were certain Masters of Chancery, who had thrown away on that wild
speculation large sums of which they were the official guardians. Lord
Macclesfield was one of the victims on whom the nation wreaked its wrath
at a crisis when universal folly had produced universal disaster. To
punish the masters for their delinquencies was not enough; greater
sacrifices than a few comparatively obscure placemen were demanded by
the suitors and wards whose money had been squandered by the fraudulent
trustees. The Lord Chancellor should be made responsible for the
Chancery defalcations. That was the will of the country. No one
pretended that Lord Macclesfield had originated the practice which
permitted Masters in Chancery to speculate with funds placed under their
care; attorneys and merchants were well aware that in the days of
Harcourt, Cowper, Wright, and Somers, it had been usual for masters to
pocket interest accruing from suitors' money; notorious also was it
that, though the Chancellor was theoretically the trustee of the money
confided to his court, the masters were its actual custodians. Had the
Chancellor known that the masters were trafficking in dangerous
investments to the probable loss of the public, duty would have required
him to examine their accounts and place all trust-moneys beyond their
reach; but until the crash came, Lord Macclesfield knew neither the
actual worthlessness of the South Sea Stock, nor the embarrassed
circumstances of the defaulting masters, nor the peril of the persons
committed to his care. The system which permitted the masters to
speculate with money not their own was execrable, but the Lord
Chancellor was not the parent of that system.

Infuriated by the national calamity, in which they were themselves great
sufferers, the Commons impeached the Chancellor, charging him with high
crimes and misdemeanors, of which the peers unanimously declared him
guilty. In this famous trial the great fact established against his
lordship was that he had sold masterships to the defaulters. It appeared
that he had not only sold the places, but had stood out for very high
prices; the inference being, that in consideration of these large sums
he had left the purchasers without the supervision usually exercised by
Chancellors over such officers, and had connived at the practices which
had been followed by ruinous results. To this it was replied, that if
the Chancellor had sold the places at higher prices than his
predecessors, he had done so because the places had become much more
valuable; that at the worst he had but sold them to the highest bidder,
after the example of his precursors; that the inference was not
supported by any direct testimony.

Very humorous was some of the evidence by which the sale of the
masterships was proved. Master Elde deposed that he bought his office
for 5000 guineas, the bargain being finally settled and fulfilled after
a personal interview with the accused lord. Master Thurston, another
purchaser at the high rate of 5000 guineas, paid his money to Lady
Macclesfield. It must be owned that these sums were very large, but
their magnitude does not fix fraudulent purpose upon the Chancellor.
That he believed himself fairly entitled to a moderate present on
appointing to a mastership is certain; that he regarded £2000 as the
gratuity which he might accept, without blushing at its publication, may
be inferred from the restitution of £3250 which he made to one of the
purchasers for £5250 at a time when he anticipated an inquiry into his
conduct; that he felt himself acting indiscreetly if not wrongfully in
pressing for such large sums is testified by the caution with which he
conferred with the purchasers and the secrecy with which he accepted
their money.

His defence before the peers admitted the sales of the places, but
maintained that the transactions were legitimate.

The defence was of no avail. When the question of guilty or not guilty
was put to the peers, each of the noble lords present answered, "Guilty,
upon my honor." Sentenced to pay a fine of £30,000, and undergo
imprisonment until the mulct was paid, the unfortunate statesman
bitterly repented the imprudence which had exposed him to the vengeance
of political adversaries and to the enmity of the vulgar. Whilst the
passions roused by the prosecution were at their height, the fallen
Chancellor was treated with much harshness by Parliament, and with
actual brutality by the mob. Ever ready to vilify lawyers, the rabble
seized on so favorable an occasion for giving expression to one of their
strongest prejudices. Amongst the crowds who followed the Earl to the
Tower with curses, voices were heard to exclaim that "Staffordshire had
produced the three greatest scoundrels of England--Jack Sheppard,
Jonathan Wilde, and Tom Parker." Jonathan Wilde was executed in
1725--the year of Lord Macclesfield's impeachment; and Jack Sheppard
died on the gallows at Tyburn, November 16, 1724.

Throughout the inquiry, and after the adverse verdict, George I.
persisted in showing favor to the disgraced Chancellor; and when the
violent emotions of the crisis had passed away it was generally admitted
by enlightened critics of public events that Lord Macclesfield had been
unfairly treated. The scape-goat of popular wrath, he suffered less for
his own faults, than for the evil results of a bad system; and at the
present time--when the silence of more than a hundred and thirty years
rests upon his tomb--Englishmen, with one voice, acknowledge the
valuable qualities that raised him to eminence, and regret the
proceedings which consigned him in his old age to humiliation and gloom.

[15] It should be observed that many persons are of opinion that the
Lord Keeper's assertion on this point was not an artifice, but a simple
statement of fact. To those who take this view, his lordship's position
seems alike ridiculous and respectable--respectable because he actually
intended to forbear from taking the barrister's money; ridiculous
because, through clumsy and inadequate arrangements, he missed the other
and not less precious gifts which he did not mean to decline. Anyhow,
the critics admit that credit is due to him for persisting in a
change--wrought in the first instance partly by honorable design and
partly by accident.

[16] The cases of John Scott, Philip Yorke, and Edward Sugden are before
the mind of the present writer, when he pens the sentence to which this
note refers. The social extraction of the English bar will be considered
in a later chapter of this work.



"A proneness to take bribes may be generated from the habit of taking
fees," said Lord Keeper Williams in his Inaugural Address, making an
ungenerous allusion to Francis Bacon, whilst he uttered a statement
which was no calumny upon King James's Bench and Bar, though it is
signally inapplicable to lawyers of the present day.

Of Williams, tradition preserves a story that illustrates the prevalence
of judicial corruption in the seventeenth century, and the jealousy with
which that Right Reverend Lord Keeper watched for attempts to tamper
with his honesty. Whilst he was taking exercise in the Great Park of
Nonsuch House, his attention was caught by a church recently erected at
the cost of a rich Chancery suitor. Having expressed satisfaction with
the church, Williams inquired of George Minors, "Has he not a suit
depending in Chancery?" and on receiving an answer in the affirmative,
observed, "he shall not fare the worse for building of churches." These
words being reported to the pious suitor, he not illogically argued that
the Keeper was a judge likely to be influenced in making his decisions
by matters distinct from the legal merits of the case put before him.
Acting on this impression, the good man forthwith sent messengers to
Nonsuch House, bearing gifts of fruits and poultry to the holder of the
seals. "Nay, carry them back," cried the judge, looking with a grim
smile from the presents to George Minors; "nay, carry them back, George,
and tell your friend that he shall not fare the better for sending of

Rich in satire directed against law and its professors, the literature
of the Commonwealth affords conclusive testimony of the low esteem in
which lawyers were held in the seventeenth century by the populace, and
shows how universal was the belief that wearers of ermine and gentlemen
of the long robe would practice any sort of fraud or extortion for the
sake of personal advantage. In the pamphlets and broadsides, in the
squibs and ballads of the period, may be found a wealth of quaint
narrative and broad invective, setting forth the rascality of judges and
attorneys, barristers and scriveners. Any literary effort to throw
contempt upon the law was sure of success. The light jesters, who made
merry with the phraseology and costumes of Westminster Hall, were only a
few degrees less welcome than the stronger and more indignant scribes
who cried aloud against the sins and sinners of the courts. When simple
folk had expended their rage in denunciations of venal eloquence and
unjust judgments, they amused themselves with laughing at the antiquated
verbiage of the rascals who sought to conceal their bad morality under
worse Latin. 'A New Modell, or the Conversion of the Infidell Terms of
the Law: For the Better promoting of misunderstanding according to
Common Sense,' is a publication consisting of a cover or fly-leaf and
two leaves, that appeared about a year before the Restoration. The wit
is not brilliant; its humor is not free from uncleanness; but its comic
renderings[17] of a hundred law terms illustrate the humor of the

More serious in aim, but not less comical in result, is William Cole's
'A Rod for the Lawyers. London, Printed in the year 1659.' The preface
of this mad treatise ends thus--"I do not altogether despair but that
before I dye I may see the Inns of Courts, or dens of Thieves, converted
into Hospitals, which were a rare piece of justice; that as they
formerly have immured those that robbed the poor of houses, so they may
at last preserve the poor themselves."

Another book touching on the same subject and belonging to the same
period, is, 'Sagrir, or Doomsday drawing nigh; With Thunder and
Lightning to Lawyers, (1653) by John Rogers.'

Violent, even for a man holding Fifth-Monarchy views, John Rogers
prefers a lengthy indictment against lawyers, for whose delinquencies
and heinous offence he admits neither apology nor palliation. In his
opinion all judges deserve the death of Arnold and Hall, whose last
moments were provided for by the hangman. The wearers of the long robe
are perjurers, thieves, enemies of mankind; their institutions are
hateful, and their usages abominable. In olden time they were less
powerful and rapacious. But prosperity soon exaggerated all their evil
qualities. Sketching the rise of the profession, the author
observes--"These men would get sometimes Parents, Friends, Brothers,
Neighbors, sometimes _others_ to be (in their absence) Agents, Factors,
or Solicitors for them at Westminster, and as yet they had no stately
houses or mansions to live in, as they have now (called Inns of Court),
but they lodged like countrymen or strangers in ordinary Inns. But
afterwards, when the interests of lawyers began to look big (as in
Edward III.'s days), they got mansions or colleges, which they called
Inns, and by the king's favor had an addition of honor, whence they were
called Inns of Court."[18]

The familiar anecdotes which are told as illustrations of Chief Justice
Hale's integrity are very ridiculous, but they serve to show that the
judges of his time were believed to be very accessible to corrupt
influences. During his tenure of the Chiefship of the Exchequer, Hale
rode the Western Circuit, and met with the loyal reception usually
accorded to judges on circuit in his day. Amongst other attentions
offered to the judges on this occasion was a present of venison from a
wealthy gentleman who was concerned in a cause that was in due course
called for hearing. No sooner was the call made than Chief Baron Hale
resolved to place his reputation for judicial honesty above suspicion,
and the following scene occurred:--

"_Lord Chief Baron._--'Is this plaintiff the gentleman of the same name
who hath sent me the venison?' _Judge's servant._--'Yes, please you, my
lord.' _Lord Chief Baron._--'Stop a bit, then. Do not yet swear the
jury. I cannot allow the trial to go on till I have paid him for his
buck!' _Plaintiff._--'I would have your lordship to know that neither
myself nor my forefathers have ever sold venison, and I have done
nothing to your lordship which we have not done to every judge that has
come this circuit for centuries bygone.' _Magistrate of the
County._--'My lord, I can confirm what the gentleman says for truth, for
twenty years back.' _Other Magistrates._--'And we, my lord, know the
same.' _Lord Chief Baron._--'That is nothing to me. The Holy Scripture
says, 'A gift perverteth the ways of judgment.' I will not suffer the
trial to go on till the venison is paid for. Let my butler count down
the full value thereof.' _Plaintiff._--'I will not disgrace myself and
my ancestors by becoming a venison butcher. From the needless dread of
_selling_ justice, your lordship _delays_ it. I withdraw my record.'"

As far as good taste and dignity were concerned, the gentleman of the
West Country was the victor in this absurd contest: on the other hand,
Hale had the venison for nothing, and was relieved of the trouble of
hearing the cause.

In the same manner Hale insisted on paying for six loaves of sugar which
the Dean and Chapter of Salisbury sent to his lodgings, in accordance
with ancient usage. Similar cases of the judge's readiness to construe
courtesies as bribes may be found in notices of trials and books of

_A propos_ of these stories of Hale's squeamishness, Lord Campbell tells
the following good anecdote of Baron Graham: "The late Baron Graham
related to me the following anecdote to show that he had more firmness
than Judge Hale:--'There was a baronet of ancient family with whom the
judges going the Western Circuit had always been accustomed to dine.
When I went that circuit I heard that a cause, in which he was
plaintiff, was coming on for trial: but the usual invitation was
received, and lest the people might suppose that judges could be
influenced by a dinner; I accepted it. The defendant, a neighboring
squire, being dreadfully alarmed by this intelligence, said to himself,
'Well, if Sir John entertains the judge hospitably, I do not see why I
should not do the same by the jury.' So he invited to dinner the whole
of the special jury summoned to try the cause. Thereupon the baronet's
courage failed him, and he withdrew the record, so that the cause was
not tried; and although I had my dinner, I escaped all suspicion of

This story puts the present writer in mind of another story which he has
heard told in various ways, the wit of it being attributed by different
narrators to two judges who have left the bench for another world, and a
Master of Chancery who is still alive. On the present occasion the
Master of Chancery shall figure as the humorist of the anecdote.

Less than twenty years since, in one of England's southern counties, two
neighboring landed proprietors differed concerning their respective
rights over some unenclosed land, and also about certain rights of
fishing in an adjacent stream. The one proprietor was the richest
baronet, the other the poorest squire of the county; and they agreed to
settle their dispute by arbitration. Our Master in Chancery, slightly
known to both gentlemen, was invited to act as arbitrator after
inspecting the localities in dispute. The invitation was accepted and
the master visited the scene of disagreement, on the understanding that
he should give up two days to the matter. It was arranged that on the
first day he should walk over the squire's estate, and hear the squire's
uncontradicted version of the case, dining at the close of the day with
both contendents at the squire's table; and that on the second day,
having walked over the baronet's estate, and heard without interruption
the other side of the story, he should give his award, sitting over wine
after dinner at the rich man's table. At the close of the first day the
squire entertained his wealthy neighbor and the arbitrator at dinner.
In accordance with the host's means, the dinner was modest but
sufficient. It consisted of three fried soles, a roast leg of mutton,
and vegetables; three pancakes, three pieces of cheese, three small
loaves of bread, ale, and a bottle of sherry. On the removal of the
viands, three magnificent apples, together with a magnum of port, were
placed on the table by way of dessert. At the close of the second day
the trio dined at the baronet's table, when it appeared that, struck by
the simplicity of the previous day's dinner, and rightly attributing the
absence of luxuries to the narrowness of the host's purse, the wealthy
disputant had resolved not to attempt to influence the umpire by giving
him a superior repast. Sitting at another table the trio dined on
exactly the same fare,--three fried soles, a roast leg of mutton, and
vegetables; three pancakes, three pieces of cheese, three small loaves
of bread, ale, and a bottle of sherry; and for dessert three magnificent
apples, together with a magnum of port. The dinner being over, the
apples devoured, and the last glass of port drunk, the arbitrator (his
eyes twinkling brightly as he spoke) introduced his award with the
following exordium:--"Gentlemen, I have with all proper attention
considered your _sole_ reasons: I have taken due notice of your _joint_
reasons, and I have come to the conclusion that your _des(s)erts_ are
about equal."

[17] Of these renderings the subjoined may be taken as favorable
specimens:--"Breve originale, original sinne; capias, a catch to a sad
tune; alias capias, another to the same (sad tune); habeas corpus, a
trooper; capias ad satisfaciend., a hangman: latitat, bo-peep; nisi
prius, first come first served; demurrer, hum and haw; scandal. magnat.,
down with the Lords."

[18] Even vacations stink in the nostrils of Mr. Rogers; for he
maintains that they are not so much periods when lawyers cease from
their odious practices, as times of repose and recreation wherein they
gain fresh vigor and daring for the commission of further outrages, and
allow their unhappy victims to acquire just enough wealth to render them
worth the trouble of despoiling.



One of the strangest cases of corruption amongst English Judges still
remains to be told on the slender authority which is the sole foundation
of the weighty accusation. In comparatively recent times there have not
been many eminent Englishmen to whom 'tradition's simple tongue' has
been more hostile than Queen Elizabeth's Lord Chief Justice, Popham. The
younger son of a gentle family, John Popham passed from Oxford to the
Middle Temple, raised himself to the honors of the ermine, secured the
admiration of illustrious contemporaries, in his latter years gained
abundant praise for wholesome severity towards footpads, and at his
death left behind him a name--which, tradition informs us, belonged to a
man who in his reckless youth, and even after his call to the bar, was a
cut-purse and highwayman. In mitigation of his conduct it is urged by
those who credit the charge, that young gentlemen of his date were so
much addicted to the lawless excitement of the road, that when he was
still a beardless stripling, an act (1 Ed. VI. c. 12, s. 14) was passed,
whereby any peer of the realm or lord of parliament, on a first
conviction for robbery, was entitled to benefit of clergy, though he
could not read. But bearing in mind the liberties which rumor is wont to
take with the names of eminent persons, the readiness the multitude
always display to attribute light morals to grave men, and the
infrequency of the cases where a dissolute youth is the prelude to a
manhood of strenuous industry and an old age of honor--the cautious
reader will require conclusive testimony before he accepts Popham's
connection with 'the road' as one of the unassailable facts of history.

The authority for this grave charge against a famous judge is John
Aubrey, the antiquary, who was born in 1627, just twenty years after
Popham's death. "For severall yeares," this collector says of the Chief
Justice, "he addicted himself but little to the studie of the lawes, but
profligate company, and was wont to take a purse with them. His wife
considered her and his condition, and at last prevailed with him to
lead another life and to stick to the studie of the lawe, which, upon
her importunity, he did, being then about thirtie yours old." As Popham
was born in 1531, he withdrew, according to this account, from the
company of gentle highwaymen about the year 1561--more than sixty years
before Aubrey's birth, and more than a hundred years before the
collector committed the scandalous story to writing. The worth of such
testimony is not great. Good stories are often fixed upon eminent men
who had no part in the transactions thereby attributed to them. If this
writer were to put into a private note-book a pleasant but unauthorized
anecdote imputing _kleptomania_ to Chief Justice Wiles (who died in
1761), and fifty years hence the note-book should be discovered in a
dirty corner of a forgotten closet and published to the world--would
readers in the twentieth century be justified in holding that Sir John
Willes was an eccentric thief?

But Aubrey tells a still stranger story concerning Popham, when he sets
forth the means by which the judge made himself lord of Littlecote Hall
in Wiltshire. The case must be given in the narrator's own words.

"Sir Richard Dayrell of Littlecot in com. Wilts. having got his lady's
waiting-woman with child, when her travell came sent a servant with a
horse for a midwife, whom he was to bring hoodwinked. She was brought,
and layd the woman; but as soon as the child was born, she saw the
knight take the child and murther it, and burn it in the fire in the
chamber. She having done her business was extraordinarily rewarded for
her paines, and went blindfold away. This horrid action did much run in
her mind, and she had a desire to discover it, but knew not where 'twas.
She considered with herself the time she was riding, and how many miles
she might have rode at that rate in that time, and that it must be some
great person's house, for the roome was twelve foot high: and she
should know the chamber if she sawe it. She went to a justice of peace,
and search was made. The very chamber found. The knight was brought to
his tryall; and, to be short, this judge had this noble house, park, and
manor, and (I think) more, for a bribe to save his life. Sir John Popham
gave sentence according to lawe, but being a great person and a
favorite, he procured a _nolle prosequi_."

This ghastly tale of crime following upon crime has been reproduced by
later writers with various exaggerations and modifications. Dramas and
novels have been founded upon it; and a volume might be made of the
ballads and songs to which it has given birth. In some versions the
corrupt judge does not even go through the form of passing sentence, but
secures an acquittal from the jury; according to one account, the
mother, instead of the infant, was put to death; according to another,
the erring woman was the murderer's daughter, instead of his wife's
waiting-woman; another writer, assuming credit as a conscientious
narrator of facts, places the crime in the eighteenth instead of the
sixteenth century, and transforms the venal judge into a clever

In a highly seasoned statement of the repulsive tradition communicated
by Lord Webb Seymour to Walter Scott, the murder is described with
hideous minuteness.

Changing the midwife into 'a Friar of orders grey,' and murdering the
mother instead of the baby, Sir Walter Scott revived the story in one of
his most popular ballads. But of all the versions of the tradition that
have come under this writer's notice, the one that departs most widely
from Aubrey's statement is given in Mr. G.L. Rede's 'Anecdotes and
Biography,' (1799).



For the last three hundred years the law has been a lucrative
profession, our great judges during that period having in many instances
left behind them large fortunes, earned at the bar or acquired from
official emoluments. The rental of Egerton's landed estates was £8,000
per annum--a royal income in the days of Elizabeth and James. Maynard
left great wealth to his grand-daughters, Lady Hobart and Mary Countess
of Stamford. Lord Mansfield's favorite investment was mortgage; and
towards the close of his life the income which he derived for moneys
lent on sound mortgages was £30,000 per annum. When Lord Kenyon had lost
his eldest son, he observed to Mr. Justice Allan Park--"How delighted
George would be to take his poor brother from the earth and restore him
to life, although he receives £250,000 by his decease." Lord Eldon is
said to have left to his descendants £500,000; and his brother, Lord
Stowell, to whom we are indebted for the phrase 'the elegant simplicity
of the Three per Cents.,' also acquired property that at the time of his
death yielded £12,000 per annum.

Lord Stowell's personalty was sworn under £230,000, and he had invested
considerable sums in land. It is noteworthy that this rich lawyer did
not learn to be contented with the moderate interest of the Three per
Cents. until he had sustained losses from bad speculations. Notable also
is it that this rich lawyer--whose notorious satisfaction with three per
cent. interest has gained for him a reputation of noble indifference to
gain--was inordinately fond of money.

These great fortunes were raised from fees taken in practice at the
bar, from judicial salaries or pensions, and from other official
gains--such as court dues, perquisites, sinecures, and allowances. Since
the Revolution of 1688 these last named irregular or fluctuating sources
of judicial income have steadily diminished, and in the present day have
come to an end. Eldon's receipts during his tenure of the seals cannot
be definitely stated, but more is known about them and his earnings at
the bar than he intended the world to discover, when he declared in
Parliament "that in no one year, since he had been made Lord Chancellor,
had he received the same amount of profit which he enjoyed while at the
bar." Whilst he was Attorney General he earned something more than
£10,000 a year; and in returns which he himself made to the House of
Commons, he admits that in 1810 he received, as Lord Chancellor, a gross
income of £22,730, from which sum, after deduction of all expenses,
there remained a net income of £17,000 per annum. He was enabled also to
enrich the members of his family with presentations to offices, and
reversions of places.

Until comparatively recent times, judges were dangerously dependent on
the king's favor; for they not only held their offices during the
pleasure of the crown, but on dismissal they could not claim a retiring
pension. In the seventeenth century, an aged judge, worn out by toil and
length of days, was deemed a notable instance of royal generosity, if he
obtained a small allowance on relinquishing his place in court. Chief
Justice Hale, on his retirement, was signally favored when Charles II.
graciously promised to continue his salary till the end of his
life--which was manifestly near its close. Under the Stuarts, the judges
who lost their places for courageous fidelity to law, were wont to
resume practice at the bar. To provide against the consequences of
ejection from office, great lawyers, before they consented to exchange
the gains of advocacy for the uncertain advantages of the woolsack, used
to stipulate for special allowance--over and above the ancient
emoluments of place. Lord Nottingham had an allowance of £4000 per
annum; and Lord Guildford, after a struggle for better times, was
constrained, at a cost of mental serenity, to accept the seals, with a
special salary of half that sum.[19]

From 1688 down to the present time, the chronicler of changes in the
legal profession, has to notice a succession of alterations in the
system and scale of judicial payments--all of the innovations having a
tendency to raise the dignity of the bench. Under William and Mary, an
allowance (still continued), was made to holders of the seal on their
appointment, for the cost of outfit and equipages. The amount of this
special aid was £2000, but fees reduced it to £1843 13_s._ Mr. Foss
observes--"The earliest existing record of this allowance, is dated June
4, 1700, when Sir Nathan Wright was made Lord Keeper, which states it to
be the same sum as had been allowed to his predecessor."

At the same period, the salary of a puisne judge was but £1000 a year--a
sum that would have been altogether insufficient for his expenses. A
considerable part of a puisne's remuneration consisted of fees,
perquisites, and presents. Amongst the customary presents to judges at
this time, may be mentioned the _white gloves_, which men convicted of
manslaughter, presented to the judges when they pleaded the king's
pardon; the _sugar loaves_, which the Warden of the Fleet annually sent
to the judges of the Common Pleas; and the almanacs yearly distributed
amongst the occupants of the bench by the Stationers' Company. From one
of these almanacs, in which Judge Rokeby kept his accounts, it appears
that in the year 1694, the casual profits of his place amounted to £694,
4_s._ 6_d._ Here is the list of his official incomes, (net) for ten
years:--in 1689, £1378, 10_s._; in 1690, £1475, 10_s._ 10_d._; in 1691,
£2063, 18_s._ 4_d._; in 1692, £1570, 1_s._ 4_d._; in 1693, £1569, 13_s._
1_d._; in 1694, £1629, 4_s._ 6_d._; in 1695, £1443, 7_s._ 6_d._; in
1696, £1478, 2_s._ 6_d._; in 1697, £1498, 11_s._ 11_d._; in 1698, £1631,
10_s._ 11_d._ The fluctuation of the amounts in this list, is worthy of
observation; as it points to one bad consequence of the system of paying
judges by fees, gratuities, and uncertain perquisites. A needy judge,
whose income in lucky years was over two thousand pounds, must have been
sadly pinched in years when he did not receive fifteen hundred.

Under the heading, "The charges of my coming into my judge's place, and
the taxes upon it the first yeare and halfe," Judge Rokeby gives the
following particulars:

"1689, May 11. To Mr. Milton, Deputy Clerk of the Crown, as per note,
for the patent and swearing privately, £21, 6_s._ 4_d._ May 30. To Mr.
English, charges of the patent at the Secretary of State's Office, as
per note, said to be a new fee, £6, 10_s._ Inrolling the patent in
Exchequer and Treasury, £2, 3_s._ 4_d._ Ju. 27. Wine given as a judge,
as per vintner's note, £23, 19_s._ Ju. 24. Cakes, given as a judge, as
per vintner's note, £5, 14_s._ 6_d._ Second-hand judge's robes, with
some new lining, £31. Charges for my part of the patent for our salarys,
to Aaron Smith, £7, 15_s._, and the dormant warrant £3.--£10,
15_s._--£101, 8_s._ 2_d._

"Taxes, £420.

"The charges of my being made a serjeant-at-law, and of removing myselfe
and family to London, and a new coach and paire of horses, and of my
knighthood (all which were within the first halfe year of my coming from
York), upon the best calculation I can make of them, were att least

Concerning the expenses attendant on his removal from the Common Pleas
to the King's Bench in 1695--a removal which had an injurious result
upon his income--the judge records: Nov. 1. To Mr. Partridge, the Crier
of King's Bench, claimed by him as a fee due to the 2 criers, £2. Nov.
12. To Mr. Ralph Hall, in full of the Clerk of the Crown's bill for my
patent, and swearing at the Lord Keeper's, and passing it through the
offices, £28, 14_s._ 2_d._ Dec. 6. To Mr. Carpenter, the Vintner, for
wine and bottles, £22, 10_s._ 6_d._ To Gwin, the Confectioner, for
cakes, £5, 3_s._ 6_d._ To Mr. Mand (his clerk), which he paid att the
Treasury, and att the pell for my patent, allowed there, £1, 15_s._ Tot.
£60, 2_s._ 8_d._ The charges for wine and cakes were consequences of a
custom which required a new judge to send biscuits and macaroons, sack
and claret, to his brethren of the bench.

In the reign of George I. the salaries of the common law judges were
raised--the pensions of the chiefs being doubled, and the _puisnes_
receiving fifteen hundred instead of a thousand pounds.

Cowper's incomes during his tenure of the seals varied between something
over seven and something under nine thousand per annum: but there is
some reason to believe that on accepting office, he stipulated for a
handsome yearly salary, in case he should be called upon to relinquish
the place. Evelyn, not a very reliable authority, but still a chronicler
worthy of notice even on questions of fact, says:--"Oct. 1705. Mr.
Cowper made Lord Keeper. Observing how uncertain greate officers are of
continuing long in their places, he would not accept it unless £2,000 a
yeare were given him in reversion when he was put out, in consideration
of his loss of practice. His predecessors, how little time soever they
had the seal, usually got £100,000, and made themselves barons." It is
doubtful whether this bargain was actually made; but long after
Cowper's time, lawyers about to mount the woolsack, insisted on having
terms that should compensate them for loss of practice. Lord
Macclesfield had a special salary of £4000 per annum, during his
occupancy of the marble chair, and obtained a grant of £12,000 from the
king;--a tellership in the Exchequer being also bestowed upon his eldest
son. Lord King obtained even better terms--a salary of £6000 per annum
from the Post Office, and £1200 from the Hanaper Office; this large
income being granted to him in consideration of the injury done to the
Chancellor's emoluments by the proceedings against Lord
Macclesfield--whereby it was declared illegal for chancellors to sell
the subordinate offices in the Court of Chancery. This arrangement--giving
the Chancellor an increased salary in _lieu_ of the sums which he could
no longer raise by sales of offices--is conclusive testimony that in
the opinion of the crown Lord Macclesfield had a right to sell the
masterships. The terms made by Lord Northington, in 1766, on
resigning the Seals and becoming President of the Council, illustrate
this custom. On quitting the marble chair, he obtained an immediate
pension of £2000 per annum; and an agreement that the annual payment
should be made £4000 per annum, as soon as he retired from the
Presidency: he also obtained a reversionary grant for two lives of the
lucrative office of Clerk of the Hanaper in Chancery.

In Lord Chancellor King's time, amongst the fees and perquisites which
he wished to regulate and reform were the supplies of stationery,
provided by the country for the great law-officers. It may be supposed
that the sum thus expended on paper, pens, and wax was an insignificant
item in the national expenditure; but such was not the case--for the
chief of the courts were accustomed to place their personal friends on
the free-list for articles of stationery. The Archbishop of Dublin, a
dignitary well able to pay for his own writing materials, wrote to Lord
King, April 10, 1733: "MY LORD,--Ever since I had the honor of being
acquainted with Lord Chancellors, I have lived in England and Ireland
upon Chancery paper, pens, and wax. I am not willing to lose an old
advantageous custom. If your Lordship hath any to spare me by my
servant, you will oblige your very humble servant,


So long as judges or subordinate officers were paid by casual
perquisites and fees, paid directly to them by suitors, a taint of
corruption lingered in the practice of our courts. Long after judges
ceased to sell injustice, they delayed justice from interested motives,
and when questions concerning their perquisites were raised, they would
sometimes strain a point, for the sake of their own private advantage.
Even Lord Ellenborough, whose fame is bright amongst the reputations of
honorable men, could not always exercise self-control when attempts were
made to lessen his customary profits, "I never," writes Lord Campbell,
"saw this feeling at all manifest itself in Lord Ellenborough except
once, when a question arose whether money paid into court was liable to
poundage. I was counsel in the case, and threw him into a furious
passion, by strenuously resisting the demand; the poundage was to go
into his own pocket--being payable to the chief clerk--an office held in
trust for him. If he was in any degree influenced by this consideration,
I make no doubt that he was wholly unconscious of it."

George III.'s reign witnessed the introduction of changes long required,
and frequently demanded in the mode and amounts of judicial payments. In
1779, puisne judges and barons received an additional £400 per annum,
and the Chief Baron an increase of £500 a year. Twenty years later,
Stat. 39, Geo. III., c. 110, gave the Master of the Rolls, £4000 a
year, the Lord Chief Baron £4000 a year, and each of the puisne judges
and barons, £3000 per annum. By the same act also, life-pensions of
£4000 per annum were secured to retiring holders of the seal, and it was
provided that after fifteen years of service, or in case of incurable
infirmity, the Chief Justice of the King's Bench could claim, on
retirement, £3000 per annum, the Master of the Rolls, Chief of Common
Pleas, and Chief Baron £2500 per annum, and each minor judge of those
courts or Baron of the coif, £2000 a year. In 1809, (49 Geo. III., c.
127) the Lord Chief Baron's annual salary was raised to £5000; whilst a
yearly stipend of £4000 was assigned to each puisne judge or baron. By
53 Geo. III., c. 153, the Chiefs and Master of the Rolls, received on
retirement an additional yearly £800, and the puisnes an additional
yearly £600. A still more important reform of George III.'s reign was
the creation of the first Vice Chancellor in March, 1813. Rank was
assigned to the new functionary next after the Master of the Rolls, and
his salary was fixed at £5000 per annum.

Until the reign of George IV. judges continued to take fees and
perquisites; but by 6 Geo. IV. c. 82, 83, 84, it was arranged that the
fees should be paid into the Exchequer, and that the undernamed great
officers of justice should receive the following salaries and pensions
on retirement:--

                                                         An. Pension
                                           An. Sal.    on retirement.

Lord Chief Justice of King's Bench        £10,000             £4000
Lord Chief Justice of Common Pleas           8000              3750
The Master of the Rolls                      7000              3750
The Vice Chancellor of England               6000              3750
The Chief Baron of the Exchequer             7000              3750
Each Puisne Baron or Judge                   5500              3500

Moreover by this Act, the second judge of the King's Bench was
entitled, as in the preceding reign, to £40 for giving charge to the
grand jury in each term, and pronouncing judgment on malefactors.

The changes with regard to judicial salaries under William IV. were
comparatively unimportant. By 2 and 3 Will. IV. c. 116, the salaries of
puisne judges and barons were reduced to £5000 a year; and by 2 and 3
Will. IV. c. 111, the Chancellor's pension, on retirement, was raised to
£5000, the additional £1000 per annum being assigned to him in
compensation of loss of patronage occasioned by the abolition of certain
offices. These were the most noticeable of William's provisions with
regard to the payment of his judges.

The present reign, which has generously given the country two new
judges, called Lord Justices, two additional Vice Chancellors, and a
swarm of paid justices, in the shape of county court judges and
stipendiary magistrates, has exercised economy with regard to judicial
salaries. The annual stipends of the two Chief Justices, fixed in 1825
at £10,000 for the Chief of the King's Bench, and £8000 for the Chief of
the Common Pleas, have been reduced, in the former case to £8000 per
annum, in the latter to £7000 per annum. The Chancellor's salary for his
services as Speaker of the House of Lords, has been made part of the
£10,000 assigned to his legal office; so that his income is no more than
ten thousand a year. The salary of the Master of the Rolls has been
reduced from £7000 to £6000 a year; the same stipend, together with a
pension on retirement of £3750, being assigned to each of the Lords
Justices. The salary of a Vice Chancellor is £5000 per annum; and after
fifteen years' service, or in case of incurable sickness, rendering him
unable to discharge the functions of his office, he can retire with a
pension of £3500.

Thurlow had no pension on retirement; but with much justice Lord
Campbell observes: "Although there was no parliamentary retired
allowance for ex-Chancellors, they were better off than at present.
Thurlow was a Teller of the Exchequer, and had given sinecures to all
his relations, for one of which his nephew now receives a commutation of
£9000 a year." Lord Loughborough was the first ex-Chancellor who
enjoyed, on retirement, a pension of £4000 per annum, under Stat. 39
Geo. III. c. 110. The next claimant for an ex-Chancellor's pension was
Eldon, on his ejection from office in 1806; and the third claimant was
Erskine, whom the possession of the pension did not preserve from the
humiliation of indigence.

Eldon's obstinate tenacity of office, was attended with one good result.
It saved the nation much money by keeping down the number of
ex-Chancellors entitled to £4000 per annum. The frequency with which
Governments have been changed during the last forty years has had a
contrary effect, producing such a strong bevy of lawyers--who are
pensioners as well as peers--that financial reformers are loudly asking
if some scheme cannot be devised for lessening the number of these
costly and comparatively useless personages. At the time when this page
is written, there are four ex-Chancellors in receipt of pensions--Lords
Brougham, St. Leonards, Cranworth, and Westbury; but death has recently
diminished the roll of Chancellors by removing Lords Truro and
Lyndhurst. Not long since the present writer read a very able, but
one-sided article in a liberal newspaper that gave the sum total spent
by the country since Lord Eldon's death in ex-Chancellors' pensions; and
in simple truth it must be admitted that the bill was a fearful subject
for contemplation.

[19] During the Commonwealth, the people, unwilling to pay their judges
liberally, decided that a thousand a year was a sufficient income for a
Lord Commissioner of the Great Seal.





From the days of the Conqueror's Chancellor, Baldrick, who is reputed to
have invented and christened the sword-belt that bears his name, lawyers
have been conspicuous amongst the best dressed men of their times. For
many generations clerical discipline restrained the members of the bar
from garments of lavish costliness and various colors, unless high rank
and personal influence placed them above the fear of censure and
punishment; but as soon as the law became a lay-profession, its
members--especially those who were still young--eagerly seized the
newest fashions of costume, and expended so much time and money on
personal decoration, that the governors of the Inns deemed it expedient
to make rules, with a view to check the inordinate love of gay apparel.

By these enactments, foppish modes of dressing the hair was
discountenanced or forbidden, not less than the use of gaudy clothes and
bright arms. Some of these regulations have a quaint air to readers of
this generation; and as indications of manners in past times, they
deserve attention.

From Dugdale's 'Origines Juridiciales,' it appears that in the earlier
part of Henry VIII.'s reign, the students and barristers of the Inns
were allowed great licence in settling for themselves minor points of
costume; but before that paternal monarch died, this freedom was
lessened. Accepting the statements of a previous chronicler, Dugdale
observes of the members of the Middle Temple under Henry--"They have no
order for their apparell; but every man may go as him listeth, so that
his apparell pretend no lightness or wantonness in the wearer; for, even
as his apparell doth shew him to be, even so he shall be esteemed among
them." But at the period when this licence was permitted in respect of
costume, the general discipline of the Inn was scandalously lax; the
very next paragraph of the 'Origines' showing that the templars forbore
to shut their gates at night, whereby "their chambers were oftentimes
robbed, and many other misdemeanors used."

But measures were taken to rectify the abuses and evil manners of the
schools. In the thirty-eighth year of Henry VIII. an order was made
"that the gentlemen of this company" (_i.e._, the Inner Temple) "should
reform themselves in their cut or disguised apparel, and not to have
long beards. And that the Treasurer of this society should confer with
the other Treasurers of Court for an uniform reformation." The
authorities of Lincoln's Inn had already bestirred themselves to reduce
the extravagances of dress and toilet which marked their younger and
more frivolous fellow-members. "And for decency in Apparel," writes
Dugdale, concerning Lincoln's Inn, "at a council held on the day of the
Nativity of St. John the Baptist, 23 Hen. VIII. it was ordered that for
a continual rule, to be thenceforth kept in this house, no gentleman,
being a fellow of this house, should wear any cut or pansid hose, or
bryches; or pansid doublet, upon pain of putting out of the house."

Ten years later the authorities of Lincoln's Inn (33 Hen. VIII.) ordered
that no member of the society "being in commons, or at his repast,
should wear a beard; and whoso did, to pay double commons or repasts in
this house during such time as he should have any beard."

By an order of 5 Maii, 1 and 2 Philip and Mary, the gentlemen of the
Inner Temple were forbidden to wear long beards, no member of the
society being permitted to wear a beard of more than three weeks'
growth. Every breach of this law was punished by the heavy fine of
twenty shillings. In 4 and 5 of Philip and Mary it was ordered that no
member of the Middle Temple "should thenceforth wear any great bryches
in their hoses, made after the Dutch, Spanish, or Almon fashion; or
lawnde upon their capps; or cut doublets, upon pain of iiis iiiid
forfaiture for the first default, and the second time to be expelled the
house." At Lincoln's Inn, "in 1 and 2 Philip and Mary, one Mr Wyde, of
this house, was (by special order made upon Ascension day) fined at five
groats, for going in his study gown in Cheapside, on a Sunday, about ten
o'clock before noon; and in Westminister Hall, in the Term time, in the
forenoon." Mr. Wyde's offence was one of remissness rather than of
excessive care for his personal appearance. With regard to beards in the
same reign Lincoln's Inn exacted that such members "as had beards should
pay 12_d._ for every meal they continued them; and every man" was
required "to be shaven upon pain of putting out of commons."

The orders made under Elizabeth with regard to the same or similar
matters are even more humorous and diverse. At the Inner Temple "it was
ordered in 36 Elizabeth (16 Junii), that if any fellow in commons, or
lying in the Louse, did wear either hat or cloak in the Temple Church,
hall, buttry, kitchen, or at the buttry-barr, dresser, or in the garden,
he should forfeit for every such offence vis viiid. And in 42 Eliz. (8
Febr.) that they go not in cloaks, hatts, bootes, and spurs into the
city, but when they ride out of the town." This order was most
displeasing to the young men of the legal academies, who were given to
swaggering amongst the brave gallants of city ordinaries, and delighted
in showing their rich attire at Paul's. The Templar of the Inner Temple
who ventured to wear arms (except his dagger) in hall committed a grave
offence, and was fined five pounds. "No fellow of this house should come
into the hall" it was enacted at the Inner Temple, 38 Eliz. (20 Dec.)
"with any weapons, except his dagger, or his knife, upon pain of
forfeiting the sum of five pounds." In old time the lawyers often
quarrelled and drew swords in hall; and the object of this regulation
doubtless was to diminish the number of scandalous affrays. The Middle
Temple, in 26 Eliz., made six prohibitory rules with regard to apparel,
enacting, "1. That no ruff should be worn. 2. Nor any White color in
doublets or hoses. 3. Nor any facing of velvet in gownes, but by such as
were of the bench. 4. That no gentleman should walk in the streets in
their cloaks, but in gownes. 5. That no hat, or long, or curled hair be
worn. 6. Nor any gown, but such as were of a sad color." Of similar
orders made at Gray's Inn, during Elizabeth's reign, the following edict
of 42 Eliz. (Feb. 11) may be taken as a specimen:--"That no gentleman of
this society do come into the hall, to any meal, with their hats, boots,
or spurs; but with their caps, decently and orderly, according to the
ancient order of this house: upon pain, for every offence, to forfeit
iiis 4d, and for the third offence expulsion. Likewise, that no
gentleman of this society do go into the city, or suburbs, or to walk in
the Fields, otherwise than in his gown, according to the ancient usage
of the gentlemen of the Inns of Court, upon penalty of iiis iiiid for
every offence; and for the third, expulsion and loss of his chamber."

At Lincoln's Inn it was enacted, "in 38 Eliz., that if any Fellow of
this House, being a commoner or repaster, should within the precinct of
this house wear any cloak, boots and spurs, or long hair, he should pay
for every offence five shillings for a fine, and also to be put out of
commons." The attempt to put down beards at Lincoln's Inn failed.
Dugdale says, in his notes on that Inn, "And in 1 Eliz. it was further
ordered, that no fellow of this house should wear any beard above a
fortnight's growth; and that whoso transgresses therein should for the
first offence forfeit 3_s._ 4d., to be paid and cast with his commons;
and for the second time 6_s_ 8d., in like manner to be paid and cast with
his commons; and the third time to be banished the house. But the
fashion at that time of wearing beards grew then so predominant, as that
the very next year following, at a council held at this house, upon the
27th of November, it was agreed and ordered, that all orders before that
time touching beards should be void and repealed." In the same year in
which the authorities of Lincoln's Inn forbade the wearing of beards,
they ordered that no fellow of their society "should wear any sword or
buckler; or cause any to be born after him into the town." This was the
first of the seven orders made in 1 Eliz. for _all_ the Inns of Court;
of which orders the sixth runs thus:--"That none should wear any velvet
upper cap, neither in the house nor city. And that none after the first
day of January then ensuing, should wear any furs, nor any manner of
silk in their apparel, otherwise than he could justifie by the stature
of apparel, made _an._ 24 H. 8, under the penalty aforesaid." In the
eighth year of the following reign it was ordained at Lincoln's Inn
"that no rapier should be worn in this house by any of the society."

Other orders made in the reign of James I., and similar enactments
passed by the Inns in still more recent periods, can be readily found on
reference to Dugdale and later writers upon the usages of lawyers.

On such matters, however, fashion is all-powerful; and however grandly
the benchers of an Inn might talk in their council-chamber, they could
not prevail on their youngsters to eschew beards when beards were the
mode, or to crop the hair of their heads when long tresses were worn by
gallants at court. Even in the time of Elizabeth--when authority was
most anxious that utter-barristers should in matters of costume maintain
that reputation for 'sadness' which is the proverbial characteristic of
apprentices of the law--counsellors of various degrees were conspicuous
throughout the town for brave attire. If we had no other evidence
bearing on the point, knowledge of human nature would make us certain
that the bar imitated Lord Chancellor Hatton's costume. At Gray's Inn,
Francis Bacon was not singular in loving rich clothes, and running into
debt for satin and velvet, jewels and brocade, lace and feathers. Even
of that contemner of frivolous men and vain pursuits, Edward Coke,
biography assures us, "The jewel of his mind was put into a fair case, a
beautiful body with comely countenance; a case which he did wipe and
keep clean, delighting in good clothes, well worn; being wont to say
that the outward neatness of our bodies might be a monitor of purity to
our souls."

The courts of James I. and his son drew some of their most splendid fops
from the multitude of young men who were enjoined by the elders of their
profession to adhere to a costume that was a compromise between the garb
of an Oxford scholar and the guise of a London 'prentice. The same was
the case with Charles II.'s London. Students and barristers outshone the
brightest idlers at Whitehall, whilst within the walls of their Inns
benchers still made a faint show of enforcing old restrictions upon
costume. At a time when every Templar in society wore hair--either
natural or artificial--long and elaborately dressed, Sir William Dugdale
wrote, "To the office of the chief butler" (_i.e._, of the Middle
Temple) "it likewise appertaineth to take the names of those that be
absent at the said solemn revells, and to present them to the bench, as
also inform the bench of such as wear hats, bootes, _long hair_, or the
like (for the which he is commonly out of the young gentlemen's favor)."



Saith Sir William Dugdale, in his chapter concerning the personal attire
of judges--"That peculiar and decent vestments have, from great
antiquity, been used in religious services, we have the authority of
God's sacred precept to Moses, '_Thou shall make holy rayments for Aaron
and his sons, that are to minister unto me, that they may be for glory
and beauty_.'" In this light and flippant age there are men irreverent
enough to smile at the habiliments which our judges wear in court, for
the glory of God and the seemly embellishment of their own natural

Like the stuff-gown of the utter-barrister, the robes of English judges
are of considerable antiquity; but antiquaries labor in vain to discover
all the facts relating to their origin and history. Mr. Foss says that
at the Stuart Restoration English judges resumed the robes worn by their
predecessors since the time of Edward I.; but though the judicial robes
of the present day bear a close resemblance to the vestments worn by
that king's judges, the costume of the bench has undergone many
variations since the twentieth year of his reign.

In the eleventh year of Richard II. a distinction was made between the
costumes of the chiefs of the King's Bench and Common Pleas and their
assistant justices; and at the same time the Chief Baron's inferiority
to the Chief Justices was marked by costume.

Henry VI.'s Chief Justice of the King's Bench, Sir John Fortescue, in
his delightful treatise 'De Laudibus Legum Angliæ,' describes the
ceremony attending the creation of a justice, and minutely sets forth
the chief items of judicial costume in the Bench and Common Pleas during
his time. "Howbeit," runs Robert Mulcaster's rendering of the 'De
Laudibus,' "the habite of his rayment, hee shall from time to time
forwarde, in some pointes change, but not in all the ensignments
thereof. For beeing serjeaunt at lawe, hee was clothed in a long robe
priestlyke, with a furred cape about his shoulders, and thereupon a
hoode with two labels such as Doctours of the Lawes use to weare in
certayne universityes, with the above described quoyfe. But being once
made a justice, in steede of his hoode, hee shall weare a cloake cloased
upon his righte shoulder, all the other ornaments of a serjeant still
remayning; sauing that a justyce shall weare no partye coloured vesture
as a serjeant may. And his cape is furred with none other than menever,
whereas the serjeant's cape is ever furred with whyte lambe."

Judicial costume varied with the fashion of the day or the whim of the
sovereign in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Subsequent
generations saw the introduction of other changes; and in the time of
Charles I. questions relating to the attire of the common law judges
were involved in so much doubt, and surrounded with so many
contradictory precedents and traditions, that the judges resolved to
simplify matters by conference and unanimous action. The result of their
deliberation was a decree, dated June 6, 1635, to which Sir John
Bramston, Chief of the King's Bench, Sir John Finch, Chief of the Common
Pleas, Sir Humphrey Davenport, Chief of the Exchequer, and all the minor
judges of the three courts, gave subscription.



The changes effected in judicial costume during the Commonwealth, like
the reformation introduced at the same period into the language of the
law, were all reversed in 1660, when Charles II.'s judges resumed the
attire and usages of their predecessors in the first Charles's reign.
When he had satisfied himself that monarchical principles were sure of
an enduring triumph, and that their victory would conduce to his own
advantage, great was young Samuel Pepys's delight at seeing the ancient
customs of the lawyers restored, one after another. In October, 1660, he
had the pleasure of seeing "the Lord Chancellor and all the judges
riding on horseback, and going to Westminster Hall, it being the first
day of term." In the February of 1663-4 his eyes were gladdened by the
revival of another old practice. "28th (Lord's Day). Up and walked to
St. Paul's," he writes, "and, by chance, it was an extraordinary day for
the Readers of Inns of the Court and all the Students to come to church,
it being an old ceremony not used these twenty-five years, upon the
first Sunday in Lent. Abundance there was of students, more than there
was room to seat but upon forms, and the church mighty full. One Hawkins
preached, an Oxford man, a good sermon upon these words, 'But the wisdom
from above is first pure, then peaceable.'" Hawkins was no doubt a
humorist, and smiled in the sleeve of his Oxford gown as he told the
law-students that _peace_ characterized the highest sort of _wisdom_.

But, notwithstanding their zeal in reviving old customs, the lawyers of
the Restoration introduced certain novelties into legal life. From Paris
they imported the wig which still remains one of the distinctive
adornments of the English barrister; and from the same centre of
civilization they introduced certain refinements of cookery, which had
been hitherto unknown in the taverns of Fleet Street and the Strand. In
the earlier part of the 'merry monarch's' reign, the eating-house most
popular with young barristers and law-students was kept by a French cook
named Chattelin, who, besides entertaining his customers with delicate
fare and choice wine, enriched our language with the word 'cutlet'--in
his day spelt costelet.

In the seventeenth century, until wigs were generally adopted, the
common law judges, like their precursors for several past generations,
wore in court velvet caps, coifs, and cornered caps. Pictures preserve
to us the appearance of justices, with their heads covered by one or two
of these articles of dress, the moustache in many instances adorning the
lip, and a well-trimmed beard giving point to the judicial chin. The
more common head-dress was the coif and coif-cap, of which it is
necessary to say a few words.

The coif was a covering for the head, made of white lawn or silk, and
common law judges wore it as a sign that they were members of the
learned brotherhood of sergeants. Speaking of the sergeants, Fortescue,
in his 'De Laudibus,' says--"Wherefore to this state and degree hath no
man beene hitherto admitted, except he hath first continued by the space
of sixteene years in the said generall studio of the law, and in token
or signe, that all justices are thus graduat, every one of them alwaies,
while he sitteth in the Kinge's Courts, weareth a white quoyfe of silke;
which is the principal and chiefe insignment of habite, wherewith
serjeants-at-lawe in their creation are decked. And neither the justice,
nor yet the serjeaunt, shall ever put off the quoyfe, no not in the
kinge's presence, though he bee in talke with his majestie's highnesse."
At times it was no easy matter to take the coif from the head; for the
white drapery was fixed to its place with strings, which in the case of
one notorious rascal were not untied without difficulty. In Henry III.'s
reign, when William de Bossy was charged in open court with corruption
and dishonesty, he claimed the benefit of clerical orders, and
endeavored to remove his coif in order that he might display his
tonsure; but before he could effect his purpose, an officer of the court
seized him by the throat and dragged him off to prison. "Voluit," says
Matthew Paris, "ligamenta coifæ suæ solvere, ut, palam monstraret se
tonsuram habere clericalem; sed non est permissus. Satelles vero eum
arripiens, non per coifæ ligamina sed per guttur eum apprehendens,
traxit ad carcerem." From which occurrence Spelman drew the untenable,
and indeed, ridiculous inference, that the coif was introduced as a
veil, beneath which ecclesiastics who wished to practice as judges or
counsel in the secular courts, might conceal the personal mark of their

The coif-cap is still worn in undiminished proportions by judges when
they pass sentence of death, and is generally known as the 'black cap.'
In old time the justice, on making ready to pronounce the awful words
which consigned a fellow-creature to a horrible death, was wont to draw
up the flat, square, dark cap, that sometimes hung at the nape of his
neck or the upper part of his shoulder. Having covered the whiteness of
his coif, and partially concealed his forehead and brows with the sable
cloth, he proceeded to utter the dread sentence with solemn composure
and firmness. At present the black cap is assumed to strike terror into
the hearts of the vulgar; formerly it was pulled over the eyes, to hide
the emotion of the judge.

Shorn of their original size, the coif and the coif-cap may still be
seen in the wigs worn by sergeants at the present day. The black blot
which marks the crown of a sergeant's wig is generally spoken of as his
coif, but this designation is erroneous. The black blot is the coif-cap;
and those who wish to see the veritable coif must take a near view of
the wig, when they will see that between the black silk and the
horsehair there lies a circular piece of white lawn, which is the
vestige of that pure raiment so reverentially mentioned by Fortescue. On
the general adoption of wigs, the sergeants, like the rest of the bar,
followed in the wake of fashion: but at first they wore their old coifs
and caps over their false hair. Finding this plan cumbersome, they
gradually diminished the size of the ancient covering, until the coif
and cap became the absurd thing which resembles a bald place covered
with court-plaster quite as much as the rest of the wig resembles human

Whilst the common law judges of the seventeenth century, before the
introduction of wigs, wore the undiminished coif and coif-cap, the Lord
Chancellor, like the Speaker of the House of Commons, wore a hat. Lord
Keeper Williams, the last clerical holder of the seals, used to wear in
the Court of Chancery a round, conical hat. Bradshaw, sitting as
president of the commissioners who tried Charles I., wore a hat instead
of the coif and cap which he donned at other times as a serjeant of law.
Kennett tells us that "Mr. Sergeant Bradshaw, the President, was afraid
of some tumult upon such new and unprecedented insolence as that of
sitting judge upon his king; and therefore, beside other defence, he had
a thick big-crowned beaver hat, lined with plated steel, to ward off
blows." It is scarcely credible that Bradshaw resorted to such means for
securing his own safety, for in the case of a tumult, a hat, however
strong, would have been an insignificant protection against popular
fury. If conspirators had resolved to take his life, they would have
tried to effect their purpose by shooting or stabbing him, not by
knocking him on the head. A steel-plated hat would have been but a poor
guard against a bludgeon, and a still poorer defence against poignard or
pistol. It is far more probable that in laying aside the ordinary
head-dress of an English common law judge, and in assuming a
high-crowned hat, the usual covering of a Speaker, Bradshaw endeavored
to mark the exceptional character of the proceeding, and to remind the
public that he acted under parliamentary sanction. Whatever the wearer's
object, England was satisfied that he had a notable purpose, and
persisted in regarding the act as significant of cowardice or of
insolence, of anxiety to keep within the lines of parliamentary
privilege or of readiness to set all law at defiance. At the time and
long after Bradshaw's death, that hat caused an abundance of discussion;
it was a problem which men tried in vain to solve, an enigma that
puzzled clever heads, a riddle that was interpreted as an insult, a
caution, a protest, a menace, a doubt. Oxford honored it with a Latin
inscription, and a place amongst the curiosities of the university, and
its memory is preserved to Englishmen of the present day in the familiar

   "Where England's monarch once uncovered sat,
   And Bradshaw bullied in a broad-brimmed hat."

Judges were by no means unanimous with regard to the adoption of wigs,
some of them obstinately refusing to disfigure themselves with false
tresses, and others displaying a foppish delight in the new decoration.
Sir Matthew Hale, who died in 1676, to the last steadily refused to
decorate himself with artificial locks. The likeness of the Chief
Justice that forms the frontispiece to Burnet's memoir of the lawyer,
represents him in his judicial robes, wearing his SS collar, and having
on his head a cap--not the coif-cap, but one of the close-fitting
skull-caps worn by judges in the seventeenth century. Such skull-caps,
it has been observed in a prior page of this work, were worn by
barristers under their wigs, and country gentlemen at home, during the
last century. Into such caps readers have seen Sir Francis North put his
fees. The portrait of Sir Cresswell Levinz (who returned to the bar on
dismissal from the bench in 1686) shows that he wore a full-bottomed wig
whilst he was a judge; whereas Sir Thomas Street, who remained a judge
till the close of James II.'s reign, wore his own hair and a coif-cap.

When Shaftesbury sat in court as Lord High Chancellor of England he wore
a hat, which Roger North is charitable enough to think might have been a
black hat. "His lordship," says the 'Examen,' "regarded censure so
little, that he did not concern himself to use a decent habit as became
a judge of his station; for he sat upon the bench in an ash-colored gown
silver-laced, and full-ribboned pantaloons displayed, without any black
at all in his garb, unless it were his hat, which, now, I cannot
positively say, though I saw him, was so."

Even so late as Queen Anne's reign, which witnessed the introduction of
three-cornered hats, a Lord Keeper wore his own hair in court instead
of a wig, until he received the sovereign's order to adopt the venerable
disguise of a full-bottomed wig. Lady Sarah Cowper recorded of her
father, 1705:--"The queen after this was persuaded to trust a Whigg
ministry, and in the year 1705, Octr., she made my father Ld. Keeper of
the Great Seal, in the 41st year of his age--'tis said the youngest Lord
Keeper that ever had been. He looked very young, and wearing his own
hair made him appear yet more so, which the queen observing, obliged him
to cut it off, telling him the world would say she had given the seals
to a boy."

The young Lord Keeper of course obeyed; and when he appeared for the
first time at court in a wig, his aspect was so grave and reverend that
the queen had to look at him twice before she recognized him. More than
half a century later, George II. experienced a similar difficulty, when
Lord Hardwicke, after the close of his long period of official service,
showed himself at court in a plain suit of black velvet, with a bag and
sword. Familiar with the appearance of the Chancellor dressed in
full-bottomed wig and robes, the king failed to detect his old friend
and servant in the elderly gentleman who, in the garb of a private
person of quality, advanced and rendered due obeisance. "Sir, it is Lord
Hardwicke," whispered a lord in waiting who stood near His Majesty's
person, and saw the cause of the cold reception given to the
ex-Chancellor. But unfortunately the king was not more familiar with the
ex-Chancellor's title than his appearance, and in a disastrous endeavor
to be affable inquired, with an affectation of interest, "How long has
your lordship been in town?" The peer's surprise and chagrin were great
until the monarch, having received further instruction from the courtly
prompter at his elbow, frankly apologized in bad English and with noisy
laughter. "Had Lord Hardwicke," says Campbell, "worn such a uniform as
that invented by George IV. for ex-Chancellors (very much like a Field
Marshal's), he could not have been mistaken for a common man."

The judges who at the first introduction of wigs refused to adopt them
were prone to express their dissatisfaction with those coxcombical
contrivances when exhibited upon the heads of counsel; and for some
years prudent juniors, anxious to win the favorable opinion of anti-wig
justices, declined to obey the growing fashion. Chief Justice Hale, a
notable sloven, conspicuous amongst common law judges for the meanness
of his attire, just as Shaftesbury was conspicuous in the Court of
Chancery for foppishness, cherished lively animosity for two sorts of
legal practitioners--attorneys who wore swords, and young Templars who
adorned themselves with periwigs. Bishop Burnet says of Hale: "He was a
great encourager of all young persons that he saw followed their books
diligently, to whom he used to give directions concerning the method of
their study, with a humanity and sweetness that wrought much on all that
came near him; and in a smiling, pleasant way he would admonish them, if
he saw anything amiss in them; particularly if they went too fine in
their clothes, he would tell them it did not become their profession. He
was not pleased to see students wear long periwigs, or attorneys go with
swords, so that such men as would not be persuaded to part with those
vanities, when they went to him laid them aside and went as plain as
they could, to avoid the reproof which they knew they might otherwise
expect." In England, however, barristers almost universally wore wigs at
the close of the seventeenth century; but north of the Tweed advocates
wore cocked hats and powdered hair so late as the middle of the
eighteenth century. When Alexander Wedderburn joined the Scotch bar in
1754, wigs had not come into vogue with the members of his profession.

Many are the good stories told of judicial wigs, and amongst the best of
them, is the anecdote which that malicious talker Samuel Rogers
delighted to tell at Edward Law's expense. "Lord Ellenborough," says the
'Table-Talk,' "was once about to go on circuit, when Lady Ellenborough
said that she should like to accompany him. He replied that he had no
objection provided she did not encumber the carriage with bandboxes,
which were his utter abhorrence. During the first day's journey Lord
Ellenborough, happening to stretch his legs, struck his foot against
something below the seat; he discovered that it was a bandbox. Up went
the window, and out went the bandbox. The coachman stopped, and the
footman, thinking that the bandbox had tumbled out of the window by some
extraordinary chance, was going to pick it up, when Lord Ellenborough
furiously called out, 'Drive on!' The bandbox, accordingly, was left by
the ditch-side. Having reached the county town where he was to officiate
as judge, Lord Ellenborough proceeded to array himself for his
appearance in the court-house. 'Now,' said he, 'where's my wig?--where
_is_ my wig?' 'My lord,' replied his attendant, 'it was thrown out of
the carriage window!'"

Changing together with fashion, barristers ceased to wear their wigs in
society as soon as the gallants and bucks of the West End began to
appear with their natural tresses in theatres and ball rooms; but the
conservative genius of the law has hitherto triumphed over the attempts
of eminent advocates to throw the wig out of Westminster Hall. When Lord
Campbell argued the great Privilege case, he obtained permission to
appear without a wig; but this concession to a counsel--who, on that
occasion, spoke for sixteen hours--was accompanied with an intimation
that "it was not to be drawn into precedent."

Less wise or less fortunate than the bar, the judges of England wore
their wigs in society after advocates of all ranks and degrees had
agreed to lay aside the professional head-gear during hours of
relaxation. Lady Eldon's good taste and care for her husband's comfort,
induced Lord Eldon, soon after his elevation to the pillow of the Common
Pleas, to beg the king's permission that he might put off his judicial
wig on leaving the courts, in which as Chief Justice he would be
required to preside. The petition did not meet with a favorable
reception. For a minute George III. hesitated; whereupon Eldon supported
his prayer by observing, with the fervor of an old-fashioned Tory, that
the lawyer's wig was a detestable innovation--unknown in the days of
James I. and Charles the Martyr, the judges of which two monarchs would
have rejected as an insult any proposal that they should assume a
head-dress fit only for madmen at masquerades or mummers at country
wakes. "What! what!" cried the king, sharply; and then, smiling
mischievously, as he suddenly saw a good answer to the plausible
argument, he added--"True, my lord, Charles the First's judges wore no
wigs, but they wore beards. You may do the same, if you like. You may
please yourself about wearing or not wearing your wig; but mind, if you
please yourself by imitating the old judges, as to the head--you must
please me by imitating them as to the chin. You may lay aside your wig;
but if you do--you must wear a beard." Had he lived in these days, when
barristers occasionally wear beards in court, and judges are not less
conspicuous than the junior bar for magnitude of nose and whisker, Eldon
would have accepted the condition. But the last year of the last
century, was the very centre and core of that time which may be called
the period of close shavers; and John Scott, the decorous and
respectable, would have endured martyrdom rather than have grown a
beard, or have allowed his whiskers to exceed the limits of mutton-chop

As Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, and subsequently as Chancellor,
Eldon wore his wig whenever he appeared in general society; but in the
privacy of his own house he gratified Lady Eldon by laying aside the
official head-gear. That this was his usage, the gossips of the
law-courts knew well; and at Carlton House, when the Prince of Wales was
most indignant with the Chancellor, who subsequently became his familiar
friend, courtiers were wont to soothe the royal rage with diverting
anecdotes of the attention which the odious lawyer lavished on the
natural hair that gave his Bessie so much delight. On one occasion, when
Eldon was firmly supporting the cause of the Princess of Wales, 'the
first gentleman of Europe' forgot common decency so far, that he made a
jeering allusion to this instance of the Chancellor's domestic
amiability. "I am not the sort of person," growled the prince with an
outbreak of peevishness, "to let my hair grow under my wig to please my
wife." With becoming dignity Eldon answered--"Your Royal Highness
condescends to be personal. I beg leave to withdraw;" and suiting his
action to his words, the Chancellor made a low bow to the angry prince,
and retired. The prince sneaked out of the position by an untruth,
instead of an apology. On the following day he caused a written
assurance to be conveyed to the Chancellor, that the offensive speech
"was nothing personal, but simply a proverb--a proverbial way of saying
a man was governed by his wife." It is needless to say that the
expression was not proverbial, but distinctly and grossly personal. Lord
Malmesbury's comment on this affair is "Very absurd of Lord Eldon; but
explained by his having literally done what the prince said." Lord
Eldon's conduct absurd! What was the prince's?



Bands came into fashion with Englishmen many years before wigs, but like
wigs they were worn in general society before they became a recognized
and distinctive feature of professional costume. Ladies of rank dyed
their hair, and wore false tresses in Elizabethan England; but their
example was not extensively followed by the men of their time--although
the courtiers of the period sometimes donned 'periwinkes,' to the
extreme disgust of the multitude, and the less stormy disapprobation of
the polite. The frequency with which bands are mentioned in Elizabethan
literature, affords conclusive evidence that they were much worn toward
the close of the sixteenth century; and it is also matter of certainty
that they were known in England at a still earlier period. Henry VIII.
had "4 shirte bands of silver with ruffes to the same, whereof one was
perled with golde;" and in 1638 Peacham observed, "King Henry VIII. was
the first that ever wore a band about his neck, and that very plain,
without lace, and about an inch or two in depth. We may see how the case
is altered, he is not a gentleman, or in the fashion, whose band of
Italian cutwork standeth him not at the least in three or four pounds;
yea, a sempster in Holborn told me there are of threescore pound price
apiece." That the fops of Charles I.'s reign were spending money on a
fashion originally set by King Henry the Bluff, was the opinion also of
Taylor the Water Poet, who in 1630 wrote--

   "Now up alofte I mount unto the ruffe,
   Which into foolish mortals pride doth puffe;
   Yet ruffes' antiquity is here but small--
   Within this eighty years not one at all;
   For the Eighth Henry (so I understand)
   Was the first king that ever wore a _band_;
   And but a _falling-band_, plaine with a hem;
   All other people knew no use of them.
   Yet imitation in small time began
   To grow, that it the kingdom overran;
   The little falling-bands encreased to ruffes,
   Ruffes (growing great) were waited on by cuffes,
   And though our frailties should awake our care,
   We make our ruffes as careless as we are."

In regarding the falling-band as the germ of the ruff, the Water-Poet
differs from those writers who, with greater appearance of reason,
maintain that the ruff was the parent of the band. Into this question
concerning origin of species, there is no occasion to enter on the
present occasion. It is enough to state that in the earlier part of the
seventeenth century bands or collars--bands stiffened and standing at
the backward part, and bands falling upon the shoulder and breast--were
articles of costume upon which men of expensive and modish habits spent
large sums.

In the days of James I., when standing bands were still the fashion, and
falling-bands had not come in, the Inns of Court men were very
particular about the stiffness, cut, and texture of their collars.
Speaking of the Inns of Court men, Sir Thomas Overbury, (who was
poisoned in 1613), says: "He laughs at every man whose band sits not
well, or that hath not a fair shoe-type, and is ashamed to be in any
man's company who wears not his cloathes well."

If portraits may be trusted, the falling-band of Charles I.'s time, bore
considerable resemblance to the falling neck-frill, which twenty years
since was very generally worn by quite little boys, and is still sometimes
seen on urchins who are about six years of age. The bands worn by the
barristers and clergy of our own time are modifications of this antique
falling-band, and like the coif cap of the modern sergeant, they bear
only a faint likeness to their originals. But though bands--longer than
those still worn by clergymen--have come to be a distinctive feature of
legal costume, the bar was slow to adopt falling-collars--regarding them
as a strange and fanciful innovation. Whitelock's personal narrative
furnishes pleasant testimony that the younger gentry of Charles I.'s
England adopted the new collar before the working lawyers.

"At the Quarter-Sessions of Oxford," says Whitelock, speaking of the
year 1635, when he was only thirty years of age, "I was put into the
chair in court, though I was in colored clothes, a sword by my side, and
a falling-band, which was unusual for lawyers in those days, and in this
garb I gave the charge to the Grand Jury. I took occasion to enlarge on
the point of jurisdiction in the temporal courts in matters
ecclesiastical, and the antiquity thereof, which I did the rather
because the spiritual men began in those days to swell higher than
ordinary, and to take it as an injury to the Church that anything
savoring of the spirituality, should be within the cognisance of
ignorant laymen. The gentlemen and freeholders seemed well pleased with
my charge, and the management of the business of the sessions; and said
they perceived one might speak as good sense in a falling-band as in a
ruff." At this time Whitelock had been about seven years at the bar; but
at the Quarter-Sessions the young Templar was playing the part of
country squire, and as his words show, he was dressed in a fashion that
directly violated professional usage.

Whitelock's speech seems to have been made shortly before the bar
accepted the falling-band as an article of dress admissible in courts of
law. Towards the close of Charles's reign, such bands were very
generally worn in Westminster Hall by the gentlemen of the long robe;
and after the Restoration, a barrister would as soon have thought of
appearing at the King's Bench without his gown as without his band.
Unlike the bar-bands of the present time--which are lappets of fine
lawn, of simple make--the bands worn by Charles II.'s lawyers were
dainty and expensive articles, such as those which Peacham exclaimed
against in the preceding reign. At that date the Templar in prosperous
circumstances had his bands made entirely of point lace, or of fine lawn
edged with point lace; and as he wore them in society as well as in
court, he was constantly requiring a fresh supply of them. Few accidents
were more likely to ruffle a Templar's equanimity than a mishap to his
band occurring through his own inadvertence or carelessness on the part
of a servant. At table the pieces of delicate lace-work were exposed to
many dangers. Continually were they stained with wine or soiled with
gravy, and the young lawyer was deemed a marvel of amiability who could
see his point lace thus defiled and abstain from swearing. "I remember,"
observes Roger North, when he is showing the perfect control in which
his brother Francis kept his temper, at his table a stupid servant spilt
a glass of red wine upon his point band and clothes. "He only wiped his
face and clothes with the napkin, and 'Here,' said he, 'take this away;'
and no more."

In 'The London Spy,' Ned Ward shows that during Queen Anne's reign legal
practitioners of the lowest sort were particular to wear bands.
Describing the pettifogger, Ward says, "He always talks with as great
assurance as if he understood what he pretends to know; and always wears
a band, in which lies his gravity and wisdom." At the same period a
brisk trade was carried on in Westminster Hall by the sempstresses who
manufactured bands and cuffs, lace ruffles, and lawn kerchiefs for the
grave counsellors and young gallants of the Inns of Court. "From
thence," says the author of 'The London Spy', "we walked down by the
sempstresses, who were very nicely digitising and pleating turnsovers
and ruffles for the young students, and coaxing them with amorous looks,
obliging cant, and inviting gestures, to give so extravagant a price for
what they buy."

From collars of lace and lawn, let us turn to collars of precious metal.

Antiquarians have unanimously rejected the fanciful legend adopted by
Dugdale concerning the SS collar, as well as many not less ingenious
interpretations of the mystic letters; and at the present time it is
almost unanimously settled that the SS collar is the old Lancastrian
badge, corresponding to the Yorkist collar of Roses and Suns, and that
the S is either the initial of the sentimental word 'Souvenez,' or, as
Mr. Beltz maintains, the initial letter of the sentimental motto,
'Souvenez-vous de moi.' In Mr. Foss's valuable work, 'The Judges of
England,' at the commencement of the seventh volume, the curious reader
may find an excellent summary of all that has been or can be said about
the origin of this piece of feudal livery, which, having at one time
been very generally assumed by all gentle and fairly prosperous
partisans of the House of Lancaster, has for many generations been the
distinctive badge of a few official persons. In the second year of Henry
IV. an ordinance forbade knights and Esquires to wear the collar, save
in the king's presence; and in the reign of Henry VIII., the privilege
of wearing the collar was taken away from simple esquires by the 'Acte
for Reformacyon of Excesse in Apparayle,' 24 Henry VIII. c. 13, which
ordained "That no man oneless he be a knight ... weare any color of
Gold, named a color of S." Gradually knights and non-official persons
relinquished the decoration; and in our own day the right to bear it is
restricted to the two Chief Justices, the Chief Baron, the
sergeant-trumpetor, and all the officers of the Heralds' College,
pursuivants excepted; "unless," adds Mr. Foss, "the Lord Mayor of London
is to be included, whose collar is somewhat similar, and is composed of
twenty-eight SS, fourteen roses, thirteen knots; and measures sixty-four



On the stages of the Caroline theatres the lawyer is found with a green
bag in his hand; the same is the case in the literature of Queen Anne's
reign; and until a comparatively recent date green bags were generally
carried in Westminster Hall and in provincial courts by the great body
of legal practitioners. From Wycherley's 'Plain Dealer,' it appears that
in the time of Charles II. angry clients were accustomed to revile their
lawyers as 'green bag-carriers.' When the litigious Widow Blackacre
upbraids the barrister who declines to argue for her, she
exclaims--"Impertinent again, and ignorant to me! Gadsboddikins! you
puny upstart in the law, to use me so, you green-bag carrier, you
murderer of unfortunate causes, the clerk's ink is scarce off of your
fingers." In the same drama, making much play with the green bag,
Wycherley indicates the Widow Blackacre's quarrelsome disposition by
decorating her with an enormous green reticule, and makes her son the
law-student, stagger about the stage in a gown, and under a heavy burden
of green bags.

So also in the time of Queen Anne, to say that a man intended to carry a
green bag, was the same as saying that he meant to adopt the law as a
profession. In Dr. Arbuthnot's 'History of John Bull,' the prevalence of
the phrase is shown by the passage, "I am told, Cousin Diego, you are
one of those that have undertaken to manage me, and that you have said
you will carry a green bag yourself, rather than we shall make an end of
our lawsuit. I'll teach them and you too to manage." It must, however,
be borne in mind that in Queen Anne's time, green bags, like white
bands, were as generally adopted by solicitors and attorneys, as by
members of the bar. In his 'character of a pettifogger' the author of
'The London Spy' observes--"His learning is commonly as little as his
honesty, and his conscience much larger than his green bag."

Some years have elapsed since green bags altogether disappeared from our
courts of law; but the exact date of their disappearance has hitherto
escaped the vigilance and research of Colonel Landman, 'Causidicus,' and
other writers who in the pages of that useful and very entertaining
publication, _Notes and Queries_, have asked for information on that
point and kindred questions. Evidence sets aside the suggestion that the
color of the lawyer's bag was changed from green to red because the
proceedings at Queen Caroline's trial rendered green bags odious to the
public, and even dangerous to their bearers; for it is a matter of
certainty that the leaders of the Chancery and Common Law bars carried
red bags at a time considerably anterior to the inquiry into the queen's

In a letter addressed to the editor of _Notes and Queries_, a writer who
signs himself 'Causidicus,' observes--"When I entered the profession
(about fifty years ago) no junior barrister presumed to carry a bag in
the Court of Chancery, unless one had been presented to him by a King's
Counsel; who, when a junior was advancing in practice, took an
opportunity of complimenting him on his increase of business, and giving
him his own bag to carry home his papers. It was then a distinction to
carry a bag, and a proof that a junior was rising in his profession. I
do not know whether the custom prevailed in other courts." From this it
appears that fifty years since the bag was an honorable distinction at
the Chancery bar, giving its bearer some such professional status as
that which is conferred by 'silk' in these days when Queen's Counsel are

The same professional usage seems to have prevailed at the Common Law
bar more than eighty years ago; for in 1780, when Edward Law joined the
Northern Circuit, and forthwith received a large number of briefs, he
was complimented by Wallace on his success, and presented with a bag.
Lord Campbell asserts that no case had ever before occurred where a
junior won the distinction of a bag during the course of his first
circuit. There is no record of the date when members of the junior bar
received permission to carry bags according to their own pleasure; it is
even matter of doubt whether the permission was ever expressly accorded
by the leaders of the profession--or whether the old restrictive usage
died a gradual and unnoticed death. The present writer, however, is
assured that at the Chancery bar, long after _all_ juniors were allowed
to carry bags, etiquette forbade them to adopt bags of the same color as
those carried by their leaders. An eminent Queen's Counsel, who is a
member of that bar, remembers that when he first donned a stuff gown,
he, like all Chancery jurors, had a purple bag--whereas the wearers of
silk at the same period, without exception, carried red bags.

Before a complete and satisfactory account can be given of the use of
bags by lawyers, as badges of honor and marks of distinction, answers
must be found for several questions which at present remain open to
discussion. So late as Queen Anne's reign, lawyers of the lowest
standing, whether advocates or attorneys, were permitted to carry
bags;--a right which the junior bar appears to have lost when Edward Law
joined the Northern Circuit. At what date between Queen Anne's day and
1780 (the year in which Lord Ellenborough made his _début_ in the
North), was this change effected? Was the change gradual or sudden? To
what cause was it due? Again, is it possible that Lord Campbell and
Causidicus wrote under a misapprehension, when they gave testimony
concerning the usages of the bar with regard to bags, at the close of
the last and the beginning of the present century? The memory of the
distinguished Queen's Counsel, to whom allusion is made in the preceding
paragraph, is quite clear that in his student days Chancery jurors were
forbidden by etiquette to carry _red_ bags, but were permitted to carry
blue bags; and he is strongly of opinion that the restriction, to which
Lord Campbell and Causidicus draw attention, did not apply at any time
to blue bags, but only concerned red bags, which, so late as thirty
years since, unquestionably were the distinguishing marks of men in
leading Chancery practice. Perhaps legal readers of this chapter will
favor the writer with further information on this not highly important,
but still not altogether uninteresting subject.

The liberality which for the last five and-twenty years has marked the
distribution of 'silk' to rising members of the bar, and the ease with
which all fairly successful advocates may obtain the rank of Queen's
Counsel, enable lawyers of the present generation to smile at a rule
which defined a man's professional position by the color of his bag,
instead of the texture of his gown; but in times when 'silk' was given
to comparatively few members of the bar, and when that distinction was
most unfairly withheld from the brightest ornaments of their profession,
if their political opinions displeased the 'party in power,' it was
natural and reasonable in the bar to institute for themselves an 'order
of merit'--to which deserving candidates could obtain admission without
reference to the prejudices of a Chancellor or the whims of a clique.

At present the sovereign's counsel learned in the law constitute a
distinct order of the profession; but until the reign of William IV.
they were merely a handful of court favorites. In most cases they were
sound lawyers in full employment; but the immediate cause of their
elevation was almost always some political consideration--and sometimes
the lucky wearer of a silk gown had won the right to put K.C. or Q.C.
after his name by base compliance with ministerial power. That our
earlier King's Counsel were not created from the purest motives or for
the most honorable purposes will be readily admitted by the reader who
reflects that 'silk gowns' are a legal species, for which the nation is
indebted to the Stuarts. For all practical purposes Francis Bacon was a
Q.C. during the reign of Queen Elizabeth. He enjoyed peculiar and
distinctive _status_ as a barrister, being consulted on legal matters by
the Queen, although he held no place that in familiar parlance would
entitle him to rank with her Crown Lawyers; and his biographers have
agreed to call him Elizabeth's counsellor learned in the law. But a Q.C.
holding his office by patent--that is to say, a Q.C. as that term is
understood at the present time--Francis Bacon never was. On the
accession, however, of James I., he received his formal appointment of
K.C., the new monarch having seen fit to recognise the lawyer's claim to
be regarded as a 'special counsel,' or 'learned counsel extraordinary.'
Another barrister of the same period who obtained the same distinction
was Sir Henry Montague, who, in a patent granted in 1608 to the two
Temples, is styled "one of our counsel learned in the law." Thus
planted, the institution of monarch's special counsel was for many
generations a tree of slow growth. Until George III.'s reign the number
of monarch's counsel, living and practising at the same time, was never
large; and throughout the long period of that king's rule the fraternity
of K.C. never assumed them agnitude and character of a professional
order. It is uncertain what was the greatest number of contemporaneous
K.C.'s during the Stuart dynasty; but there is no doubt that from the
arrival of James I. to the flight of James II. there was no period when
the K.C.'s at all approached the sergeants in name and influence. In
Rymer's 'Foedera' mention is made of four barristers who were appointed
counsellors to Charles I., one of whom, Sir John Finch, in a patent of
precedence is designated "King's Counsel;" but it is not improbable that
the royal martyr had other special counsellors whose names have not been
recorded. At different times of Charles II.'s reign, there were created
some seventeen K.C.'s, and seven times that number of sergeants. James
II. made ten K.C.'s; William and Mary appointed eleven special
counsellors; and the number of Q.C.'s appointed by Anne was ten. The
names of George I.'s learned counsel are not recorded; the list of
George II.'s K.C.'s, together with barristers holding patents of
precedence, comprise thirty names; George III. throughout his long
tenure of the crown, gave 'silk' with or without the title of K.C., to
ninety-three barristers; George IV. to twenty-six; whereas the list of
William IV.'s appointments comprised sixty-five names, and the present
queen has conferred the rank of Q.C. on about two hundred advocates--the
law-list for 1865 mentioning one hundred and thirty-seven barristers who
are Q.C.'s, or holders of patents of precedence; and only twenty-eight
sergeants-at-law, not sitting as judges in any of the supreme courts.
The diminution in the numbers of the sergeants is due partly to the loss
of their old monopoly of business in the Common Pleas, and partly--some
say chiefly--to the profuseness with which silk gowns, with Q.C. rank
attached, have been thrown to the bar since the passing of the Reform

Under the old system when 'silk' was less bountifully bestowed, eminent
barristers not only led their circuits in stuff; but, after holding
office as legal advisers to the crown and wearing silk gowns whilst they
so acted with their political friends, they sometimes resumed their
stuff gowns and places 'outside the bar,' on descending from official
eminence. When Charles York in 1763 resigned the post of Attorney
General, he returned to his old place in court without the bar, clad in
the black bombazine of an ordinary barrister, whereas during his tenure
of office he had worn silk and sat within the bar. In the same manner
when Dunning resigned the Solicitor Generalship in 1770, he reappeared
in the Court of King's Bench, attired in stuff, and took his place
without the bar; but as soon as he had made his first motion, he was
addressed by Lord Mansfield, who with characteristic courtesy informed
him that he should take precedence in that court before all members of
the bar, whatever might be their standing, with the exception of King's
Counsel, Sergeants, and the Recorder of London. On joining the Northern
Circuit in 1780, Edward Law found Wallace and Lee leading in silk, and
twenty years later he and Jemmy Park were the K.C.'s of the same
district; Of course the circuit was not without wearers of the coif, one
of its learned sergeants being Cockell, who, before Law obtained the
leading place, was known as 'the Almighty of the North;' and whose
success, achieved in spite of an almost total ignorance of legal
science, was long quoted to show that though knowledge is power, power
may be won without knowledge.

From pure dislike of the thought that younger men should follow closely
or at a distance in his steps to the highest eminences of legal success,
Lord Eldon was disgracefully stingy in bestowing honors on rising
barristers who belonged to his own party, but his injustice and
downright oppression to brilliant advocates in the Whig ranks merit the
warmest expressions of disapproval and contempt. The most notorious
sufferers from his rancorous intolerance were Henry Brougham and Mr.
Denman, who, having worn silk gowns as Queen Caroline's Attorney General
and Solicitor General, were reduced to stuff attire on that wretched
lady's death.

It is worthy of notice that in old time, when silk gowns were few, their
wearers were sometimes very young men. From the days of Francis North,
who was made K.C. before he was a barrister for seven full years'
standing, down to the days of Eldon, who obtained silk after seven
years' service in stuff, instances could be cited of the rapidity with
which lucky youngsters rose to the honors of silk, whilst hard-worked
veterans were to the last kept outside the bar. Thurlow was called to
the bar in November, 1754, and donned silk in December, 1761. Six years
had now elapsed since his call to the English bar, when Alexander
Wedderburn was entitled to put the initials K.C. after his name, and
wrote to his mother in Scotland, "I can't very well explain to you the
nature of my preferment, but it is what most people at the bar are very
desirous of, and yet most people run a hazard of losing money by it. I
can scarcely expect any advantage from it for some time equal to what I
give up; and, notwithstanding, I am extremely happy, and esteem myself
very fortunate in having obtained it." Erskine's silk was won with even
greater speed, for he was invited within the bar, but his silk gown
came to him with a patent of precedence, giving him the status without
the title of a King's Counsel.

Bar mourning is no longer a feature of legal costume in England. On the
death of Charles II. members of the bar donned gowns indicative of their
grief for the national loss, and they continued, either universally or
in a large number of cases, to wear these woful habiliments till 1697,
when Chief Justice Holt ordered all barristers practising in his court
to appear "in their proper gowns and not in mourning ones"--an order
which, according to Narcissus Luttrell, compelled the bar to spend £15
per man. From this it may be inferred that (regard being had to change
in value of money) a bar-gown at the close of the seventeenth century
cost about ten times as much as it does at the present time.



Not less famous in history than Bradshaw's broad-brimmed hat, nor less
graceful than Shaftesbury's jaunty beaver, nor less memorable than the
sailor's tarpaulin, under cover of which Jeffreys slunk into the Red
Cow, Wapping, nor less striking than the black cap still worn by Justice
in her sternest mood, nor less fanciful than the cocked hat which
covered Wedderburn's powdered hair when he daily paced the High Street
of Edinburgh with his hands in a muff--was the white hat which an
illustrious Templar invented at an early date of the eighteenth century.
Beau Brummel's original mind taught the human species to starch their
white cravats; Richard Nash, having surmounted the invidious bar of
plebeian birth and raised himself upon opposing circumstances to the
throne of Bath, produced a white hat. To which of these great men
society owes the heavier debt of gratitude thoughtful historians cannot
agree; but even envious detraction admits that they deserve high rank
amongst the benefactors of mankind. Brummel was a soldier; but Law
proudly claims as her own the parent of the pale and spotless _chapeau_.

About lawyers' cocked hats a capital volume might be written, that
should contain no better story than the one which is told of Ned
Thurlow's discomfiture in 1788, when he was playing a trickster's game
with his friends and foes. Windsor Castle just then contained three
distinct centres of public interest--the mad king in the hands of his
keepers; on the one side of the impotent monarch the Prince of Wales
waiting impatiently for the Regency; on the other side, the queen with
equal impatience longing for her husband's recovery. The prince and his
mother both had apartments in the castle, her majesty's quarters being
the place of meeting for the Tory ministers, whilst the prince's
apartments were thrown open to the select leaders of the Whig
expectants. Of course the two coteries kept jealously apart; but
Thurlow, who wished to be still Lord Chancellor, "whatever king might
reign," was in private communication with the prince's friends. With
furtive steps he passed from the queen's room (where he had a minute
before been assuring the ministers that he would be faithful to the
king's adherents), and made clandestine way to the apartment where
Sheridan and Payne were meditating on the advantages of a regency
without restriction. On leaving the prince, the wary lawyer used to
steal into the king's chamber, and seek guidance or encouragement from
the madman's restless eyes. Was the malady curable? If curable, how
long a time would elapse before the return of reason? These were the
questions which the Chancellor put to himself, as he debated whether he
should break with the Tories and go over to the Whigs. Through the
action of the patient's disease, the most delicate part of the lawyer's
occupation was gone; and having no longer a king's conscience to keep,
he did not care, by way of diversion--to keep his own.

For many days ere they received clear demonstration of the Chancellor's
deceit, the other members of the cabinet suspected that he was acting
disingenuously, and when his double-dealing was brought to their sure
knowledge, their indignation was not even qualified with surprise. The
story of his exposure is told in various ways; but all versions concur
in attributing his detection to an accident. Like the gallant of the
French court, whose clandestine intercourse with a great lady was
discovered because, in his hurried preparations for flight from her
chamber, he appropriated one of her stockings, Thurlow, according to one
account, was convicted of perfidy by the prince's hat, which he bore
under his arm on entering the closet where the ministers awaited his
coming. Another version says that Thurlow had taken his seat at the
council-table, when his hat was brought to him by a page, with an
explanation that he had left it in the prince's private room. A third,
and more probable representation of the affair, instead of laying the
scene in the council-chamber, makes the exposure occur in a more public
part of the castle. "When a council was to be held at Windsor," said the
Right Honorable Thomas Grenville, in his old age recounting the
particulars of the mishap, "to determine the course which ministers
should pursue, Thurlow had been there some time before any of his
colleagues arrived. He was to be brought back to London by one of them,
and the moment of departure being come, the Chancellor's hat was
nowhere to be found. After a fruitless search in the apartment where the
council had been held, a page came with the hat in his hand, saying
aloud, and with great _naïveté_, 'My lord, I found it in the closet of
his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales.' The other Ministers were still
in the Hall, and Thurlow's confusion corroborated the inference which
they drew." Cannot an artist be found to place upon canvas this scene,
which furnishes the student of human nature with an instructive instance

   "That combination strange--a lawyer and a blush?"

For some days Thurlow's embarrassment and chagrim were very painful. But
a change in the state of the king's health caused a renewal of the
lawyer's attachment to Tory principles and to his sovereign.

The lawyers of what may be termed the cocked hat period seldom
maintained the happy mean between too little and too great care for
personal appearance. For the most part they were either slovenly or
foppish. From the days when as a student he used to slip into Nando's in
a costume that raised the supercilious astonishment of his
contemporaries, Thurlow to the last erred on the side of neglect. Camden
roused the satire of an earlier generation by the miserable condition of
the tiewig which he wore on the bench of Chancery, and by an undignified
and provoking habit of "gartering up his stockings while counsel were
the most strenuous in their eloquence." On the other hand Joseph
Yates--the puisne judge whom Mansfield's jeers and merciless oppressions
drove from the King's Bench to the Common Pleas, where he died within
four months of his retreat--was the finest of fine gentlemen. Before he
had demonstrated his professional capacity, the habitual costliness and
delicacy of his attire roused the distrust of attorneys, and on more
than one occasion wrought him injury. An awkward, crusty, hard-featured
attorney entered the foppish barrister's chambers with a bundle of
papers, and on seeing the young man in a superb and elaborate evening
dress, is said to have inquired, "Can you say, sir, when Mr. Yates will
return?" "Return, my good sir!" answered the barrister, with an air of
surprise, "I am Mr. Yates, and it will give me the greatest pleasure to
talk with you about those papers." Having taken a deliberate survey of
the young Templar, and made a mental inventory of all the fantastic
articles of his apparel, the honest attorney gave an ominous grunt,
replaced the papers in one of the deep pockets of his long-skirted coat,
twice nodded his head with contemptuous significance, and then, without
another word--walked out of the room. It was his first visit to those
chambers, and his last. Joseph Yates lost his client, before he could
even learn his name; but in no way influenced by the occurrence he
maintained his reputation for faultless taste in dress, and when he had
raised himself to the bench, he was amongst the judges of his day all
that Revell Reynolds was amongst the London physicians of a later date.

Living in the midst of the fierce contentions which distracted Ireland
in the days of our grandfathers, John Toler, first Earl of Norbury,
would not have escaped odium and evil repute, had he been a merciful man
and a scrupulous judge; but in consequence of failings and wicked
propensities, which gave countenance to the slanders of his enemies and
at the same time earned for him the distrust and aversion of his
political coadjutors, he has found countless accusers and not a single
vindicator. Resembling George Jeffreys in temper and mental capacity, he
resembled him also in posthumous fame. A shrewd, selfish, overbearing
man, possessing wit which was exercised with equal promptitude upon
friends and foes, he alternately roused the terror and the laughter of
his audiences. At the bar and in the Irish House of Commons he was alike
notorious as jester and bully; but he was a courageous bully, and to the
last was always as ready to fight with bullets as with epigrams, and
though his humor was especially suited to the taste and passions of the
rabble, it sometimes convulsed with merriment those who were shocked by
its coarseness and brutality. Having voted for the abolition of the
Irish Parliament, the Right Honorable John Toler was prepared to justify
his conduct with hair-triggers or sarcasms. To the men who questioned
his patriotism he was wont to answer, "Name any hour before my court
opens to-morrow," but to the patriotic Irish lady who loudly charged him
in a crowded drawing-room with having sold his country, he replied, with
an affectation of cordial assent, "Certainly, madam, I have sold my
country. It was very lucky for me that I had a country to sell--I wish I
had another." On the bench he spared neither counsel nor suitors,
neither witnesses nor jurors. When Daniel O'Connell, whilst he was
conducting a cause in the Irish Court of Common Pleas, observed, "Pardon
me, my lord, I am afraid your lordship does not apprehend me;" the Chief
Justice (alluding to a scandalous and false report that O'Connell had
avoided a duel by surrendering himself to the police) retorted, "Pardon
me also; no one is more easily apprehended than Mr. O'Connell"--(a
pause--and then with emphatic slowness of utterance)--"whenever he
wishes to be apprehended." It is _said_ that when this same judge passed
sentence of death on Robert Emmett, he paused when he came to the point
where it is usual for a judge to add in conclusion, "And may the Lord
have mercy on your soul!" and regarded the brave young man with
searching eyes. For a minute there was an awful silence in the court;
the bar and the assembled crowd supposing that the Chief Justice had
paused so that a few seconds of unbroken stillness might add to the
solemnity of his last words. The disgust and indignation of the
spectators were beyond the power of language, when they saw a smile of
brutal sarcasm steal over the face of the Chief Justice as he rose from
his seat of judgment without uttering another word.

Whilst the state prosecutions were going forward, Lord Norbury appeared
on the bench in a costume that accorded ill with the gravity of his
office. The weather was intensely hot; and whilst he was at his morning
toilet the Chief Justice selected from his wardrobe the dress which was
most suited to the sultriness of the air. The garb thus selected for its
coolness was a dress which his lordship had worn at a masquerade ball,
and consisted of a green tabinet coat decorated with huge
mother-of-pearl buttons, a waistcoat of yellow relieved by black
stripes, and buff breeches. When he first entered the court, and
throughout all the earlier part of the proceedings against a party of
rebels, his judicial robes altogether concealed this grotesque attire;
but unfortunately towards the close of the sultry day's work, Lord
Norbury--oppressed by the stifling atmosphere of the court, and
forgetting all about the levity as well as the lightness of his inner
raiment--threw back his judicial robe and displayed the dress which
several persons then present had seen him wear at Lady Castlereagh's
ball. Ere the spectators recovered from their first surprise, Lord
Norbury, quite unconscious of his indecorum, had begun to pass sentence
of death on a gang of prisoners, speaking to them in a solemn voice that
contrasted painfully with the inappropriateness of his costume.

In the following bright and picturesque sentence, Dr. Dibdin gives a
life-like portrait of Erskine, whose personal vanity was only equalled
by the egotism which often gave piquancy to his orations, and never
lessened their effect:--"Cocked hats and ruffles, with satin
small-clothes and silk stockings, at this time constituted the usual
evening dress. Erskine, though a good deal shorter than his brethren,
somehow always seemed to take the lead both in pace and in discourse,
and shouts of laughter would frequently follow his dicta. Among the
surrounding promenaders, he and the one-armed Mingay seemed to be the
main objects of attraction. Towards evening, it was the fashion for the
leading counsel to promenade during the summer in the Temple Gardens,
and I usually formed one in the thronging mall of loungers and
spectators. I had analysed Blackstone, and wished to publish it under a
dedication to Mr. Erskine. Having requested the favor of an interview,
he received me graciously at breakfast before nine, attired in the smart
dress of the times, a dark green coat, scarlet waistcoat, and silk
breeches. He left his coffee, stood the whole time looking at the chart
I had cut in copper, and appeared much gratified. On leaving him, a
chariot-and-four drew up to wheel him to some provincial town on a
special retainer. He was then coining money as fast as his chariot
wheels rolled along." Erskine's advocacy was marked by that attention to
trifles which has often contributed to the success of distinguished
artists. His special retainers frequently took him to parts of the
country where he was a stranger, and required him to make eloquent
speeches in courts which his voice had never tested. It was his custom
on reaching the town where he would have to plead on the following day,
to visit the court over-night, and examine its arrangements, so that
when the time for action arrived he might address the jury from the most
favorable spot in the chamber. He was a theatrical speaker, and omitted
no pains to secure theatrical effect. It was noticed that he never
appeared within the bar until the _cause célèbre_ had been called; and
a buzz of excitement and anxious expectation testified the eagerness of
the assembled crowd to _see_, as well as to hear, the celebrated
advocate. Every article of his bar costume received his especial
consideration; artifice could be discerned in the modulations of his
voice, the expressions of his countenance, and the movements of his
entire body; but the coldest observer did not detect the artifice until
it had stirred his heart. Rumor unjustly asserted that he never uttered
an impetuous peroration which he had not frequently rehearsed in private
before a mirror. About the cut and curls of his wigs, their texture and
color, he was very particular: and the hands which he extended in
entreaty towards British juries were always cased in lemon-colored kid

Erskine was not more noticeable for the foppishness of his dress than
was Lord Kenyon for a sordid attire. Whilst he was a leading advocate
within the bar, Lord Kenyon's ordinary costume would have disgraced a
copying clerk; and during his later years, it was a question amongst
barristers whether his breeches were made of velvet or leather. The wits
maintained that when he kissed hands upon his elevation to the
Attorney's place, he went to court in a second-hand suit purchased from
Lord Stormont's _valet_. In the letter attributed to him by a clever
writer in the 'Rolliad,' he is made to say--"My income has been cruelly
estimated at seven, or, as some will have it, eight thousand pounds per
annum. I shall save myself the mortification of denying that I am rich,
and refer you to the constant habits and whole tenor of my life. The
proof to my friends is easy. My tailor's bill for the last fifteen years
is a record of the most indisputable authority. Malicious souls may
direct you, perhaps, to Lord Stormont's _valet de chambre_, and can
vouch the anecdote that on the day when I kissed hands for my
appointment to the office of Attorney General, I appeared in a laced
waistcoat that once belonged to his master. I bought the waistcoat, but
despise the insinuation; nor is this the only instance in which I am
obliged to diminish my wants and apportion them to my very limited
means. Lady K---- will be my witness that until my last appointment I
was an utter stranger to the luxury of a pocket-handkerchief." The
pocket-handkerchief which then came into his possession was supposed to
have been found in the pocket of the second-hand waistcoat; and Jekyll
always maintained that, as it was not considered in the purchase, it
remained the valet's property, and did not pass into the lawyer's
rightful possession. This was the only handkerchief which Lord Kenyon is
said to have ever possessed, and Lord Ellenborough alluded to it when,
in a conversation that turned upon the economy which the income-tax
would necessitate in all ranks of life, he observed--"Lord Kenyon, who
is not very nice, intends to meet the crisis by laying down his

Of his lordship's way of getting through seasons of catarrh without a
handkerchief, there are several stories that would scarcely please the
fastidious readers of this volume.

Of his two wigs (one considerably less worn than the other), and of his
two hats (the better of which would not have greatly disfigured an old
clothesman, whilst the worse would have been of service to a
professional scarecrow), Lord Kenyon took jealous care. The inferior wig
was always worn with the better hat, and the more dilapidated hat with
the superior wig; and it was noticed that when he appeared in court with
the shabbier wig he never removed his _chapeau_; whereas, on the days
when he sat in his more decent wig, he pushed his old cocked hat out of
sight. In the privacy of his house and in his carriage, whenever he
traveled beyond the limits of town, he used to lay aside wig and hat,
and cover his head with an old red night-cap. Concerning his great-coat,
the original blackness of which had been tempered by long usage into a
fuscous green, capital tales were fabricated. The wits could not spare
even his shoes. "Once," Dr. Didbin gravely narrated, "in the case of an
action brought for the non-fulfillment of a contract on a large scale
for shoes, the question mainly was, whether or not they were well and
soundly made, and with the best materials. A number of witnesses were
called, one of them, a first-rate character in the gentle craft, being
closely questioned, returned contradictory answers, when the Chief
Justice observed, pointing to his own shoes, which were regularly
bestridden by the broad silver buckle of the day, 'Were the shoes
anything like these?' 'No, my lord,' replied the evidence, 'they were a
good deal better and more genteeler.'" Dr. Didbin is at needless pains
to assure his readers that the shoemaker's answer was followed by
uproarious laughter.





In the Inns of Court, even more often than in the colleges of Oxford and
Cambridge, musical instruments and performances are regarded by severe
students with aversion and abhorrence. Mr. Babbage will live in peace
and charity with the organ-grinders who are continually doing him an
unfriendly turn before the industrious conveyancer on the first floor
will pray for the welfare of 'that fellow upstairs' who daily practises
the flute or cornopean from 11 A.M. to 3 P.M. The 'Wandering Minstrels'
and their achievements are often mentioned with respect in the western
drawing-rooms of London; but if the gentlemen who form that
distinguished _troupe_ of amateur performers wish to sacrifice their
present popularity and take a leading position amongst the social
nuisances of the period, they should migrate from the district which
delights to honor them to chambers in Old Square, Lincoln's Inn, and
give morning concerts every day of term time.

Working lawyers feel warmly on this subject, maintaining that no man
should be permitted to be an _amateur_-barrister and an
_amateur_-musician at the same time, and holding that law-students with
a turn for wind-instruments should, like vermin, be hunted down and
knocked on the head--without law. Strange stories might be told of the
discords and violent deeds to which music has given rise in the four
Inns. In the last century many a foolish fellow was 'put up' at ten
paces, because he refused to lay down an ophicleide; even as late as
George IV.'s time death has followed from an inordinate addiction to the
violin; and it was but the other day that the introduction of a piano
into a house in Carey Street led to the destruction of three close and
warm friendships.

So alive are lawyers to the frightful consequences of a wholesale
exhibition of melodious irritants, that a natural love of order and
desire for self-preservation has prompted them to raise numerous
obstructions to the free development of musical science in their
peculiar localities of town. In the Inns of Court and Chancery Lane
professional etiquette forbids barristers and solicitors to play upon
organs, harmoniums, pianos, violins, or other stringed instruments,
drums, trumpets, cymbals, shawms, bassoons, triangles, castanets or any
other bony devices for the production of noise, flageolets, hautboys, or
any other sort of boys--between the hours of 9 A.M. and 6 P.M. And this
rule of etiquette is supported by various special conditions introduced
into the leases by which the tenants hold much of the local house
property. Under some landlords, a tenant forfeits his lease if he
indulges in any pursuit that causes annoyance to his immediate
neighbors; under others, every occupant of a set of chambers binds
himself not to play any musical instrument therein, save between the
hours of 9 A.M. and 12 P.M.; and in more than one clump of chambers,
situated within a stone's throw from Chancery Lane, glee-singing is not
permitted at any period of the four-and-twenty hours.

That the pursuit of harmony is a dangerous pastime for young lawyers
cannot be questioned, although a long list might be given of cases where
musical barristers have gained the confidence of many clients, and
eventually raised themselves to the bench. A piano is a treacherous
companion for the student who can touch, it deftly--dangerous as an idle
friend, whose wit is ever brilliant; fascinating as a beautiful woman,
whose smile is always fresh; deceptive as the drug which seems to
invigorate, whilst in reality it is stealing away the intellectual
powers. Every persevering worker knows how large a portion of his hard
work has been done 'against the grain,' and in spite of strong
inclinations to indolence--in hours when pleasant voices could have
seduced him from duty, and any plausible excuse for indulgence would
have been promptly accepted. In the piano these pleasant voices are
constantly present, and it can always show good reason--why reluctant
industry should relax its exertions.



Sir Thomas More and Lord Bacon--the two most illustrious laymen who have
held the Great Seal of England--were notable musicians; and many
subsequent Keepers and Chancellors are scarcely less famous for love of
harmonious sounds than for judicial efficiency. Lord Keeper Guildford
was a musical amateur, and notwithstanding his low esteem of literature
condescended to write about melody. Lord Jeffreys was a good
after-dinner vocalist, and was esteemed a high authority on questions
concerning instrumental performance. Lord Camden was an operatic
composer; and Lord Thurlow studied thorough-bass, in order that he might
direct the musical exercises of his children.

In moments of depression More's favorite solace was the viol; and so
greatly did he value musical accomplishments in women, that he not only
instructed his first and girlish wife to play on various instruments,
but even prevailed on the sour Mistress Alice Middleton "to take lessons
on the lute, the cithara, the viol, the monochord, and the flute, which
she daily practised to him." But More's love of music was expressed
still more forcibly in the zeal with which he encouraged and took part
in the choral services of Chelsea Church. Throughout his residence at
Chelsea, Sir Thomas was a regular attendant at the church, and during
his tenure of the seals he not only delighted to chant the appointed
psalms, but used to don a white surplice, and take his place among the
choristers. Having invited the Duke of Norfolk to dine with him, the
Chancellor prepared himself for the enjoyment of that great peer's
society by attending divine service, and he was still occupied with his
religious exercises when his Grace of Norfolk entered the church, and to
his inexpressible astonishment saw the keeper of the king's conscience
in the flowing raiment of a chorister, and heard him give "Glory to God
in the highest!" as though he were a hired singer. "God's body! God's
body! My Lord Chancellor a parish clerk?--a parish clerk?" was the
duke's testy expostulation with the Chancellor. Whereupon More, with
gentle gravity, answered, "Nay; your grace may not think that the
king--your master and mine--will with me, for serving his Master, be
offended, and thereby account his office dishonored." Not only was it
More's custom to sing in the church choir, but he used also to bear a
cross in religious processions; and on being urged to mount horse when
he followed the rood in Rogation week round the parish boundaries, he
answered, "It beseemeth not the servant to follow his master prancing on
a cock-horse, his master going on foot." Few incidents in Sir Thomas
More's remarkable career point more forcibly to the vast difference
between the social manners of the sixteenth century and those of the
present day. If Lord Chelmsford were to recreate himself with leading
the choristers in Margaret Street, and after service were seen walking
homewards in an ecclesiastical dress, it is more than probable that
public opinion would declare him a fit companion for the lunatics of
whose interests he has been made the official guardian. Society felt
some surprise as well as gratification when Sir Roundell Palmer recently
published his 'Book of Praise;' but if the Attorney General, instead of
printing his select hymns had seen fit to exemplify their beauties with
his own voice from the stall of a church-singer, the piety of his
conduct would have scarcely reconciled Lord Palmerston to its dangerous

Amongst Elizabethan lawyers, Chief Justice Dyer was by no means singular
for his love of music, though Whetstone's lines have given exceptional
celebrity to his melodious proficiency:--

   "For publique good, when care had cloid his minde,
     The only joye, for to repose his sprights,
   Was musique sweet, which showd him well inclind;
     For he doth in musique much delight,
     A conscience hath disposed to do most right:
   The reason is, her sound within our eare,
   A sympathie of heaven we thinke we heare."

Like James Dyer, Francis Bacon found music a pleasant and salutary
pastime, when he was fatigued by the noisy contentions of legal practice
or by strenuous application to philosophic pursuits. A perfect master of
the science of melody, Lord Bacon explained its laws with a clearness
which has satisfied competent judges that he was familiar with the
practice as well as the theories of harmony; but few passages of his
works display more agreeably his personal delight and satisfaction in
musical exercise and investigation than that section of the 'Natural
History,' wherein he says, "And besides I practice as I do advise; which
is, after long inquiry of things immersed in matter, to interpose some
subject which is immateriate or less materiate; such as this of sounds:
to the end that the intellect may be rectified and become not partial."

A theorist as well as performer, the Lord Keeper Guilford enunciated his
views regarding the principles of melody in 'A Philosophical Essay of
Musick, Directed to a Friend'--a treatise that was published without the
author's name, by Martin, the printer to the Royal Society, in the year
1677, at which time the future keeper was Chief Justice of the Common
Pleas. The merits of the tract are not great; but it displays the
subtlety and whimsical quaintness of the musical lawyer, who performed
on several instruments, was very vain of a feeble voice, and used to
attribute much of his professional success to the constant study of
music that marked every period of his life. "I have heard him say,"
Roger records, "that if he had not enabled himself by these studies, and
particular his practice of music upon his bass or lyra viol (which he
used to touch lute-fashion upon his knee), to divert himself alone, he
had never been a lawyer. His mind was so airy and volatile he could not
have kept his chamber if he must needs be there, staked down purely to
the drudgery of the law, whether in study or practice; and yet upon
such a leaden proposition, so painful to brisk spirits, all the success
of the profession, regularly pursued, depends." His first acquaintance
with melodious art was made at Cambridge, where in his undergraduate
days he took lessons on the viol. At this same period he "had the
opportunity of practice so much in his grandfather's and father's
families, where the entertainment of music in full concert was solemn
and frequent, that he outdid all his teachers, and became one of the
neatest violinists of his time." Scarcely in consistence with this
declaration of the Lord Keeper's proficiency on the violin is a later
passage of the biography, where Roger says that his brother "attempted
the violin, being ambitious of the prime part in concert, but soon found
that he began such a difficult art too late." It is, however, certain
that the eminent lawyer in the busiest passages of his laborious life
found time for musical practice, and that besides his essay on music, he
contributed to his favorite art several compositions which were
performed in private concert-rooms.

Sharing in the musical tastes of his family, Roger North, the
biographer, was the _friend_ who used to touch the harpsichord that
stood at the door of the Lord Keeper's bedchamber; and when political
changes had extinguished his hopes of preferment, he found consolation
in music and literature. Retiring to his seat in Norfolk, Roger fitted
up a concert-room with instruments that roused the astonishment of
country squires, and an organ that was extolled by critical professors
for the sweetness of its tones. In that seclusion, where he lived to
extreme old age, the lettered lawyer composed the greater part of those
writings which have rendered him familiar to the present generation. Of
his 'Memoirs of Musick,' readers are not accustomed to speak so
gratefully as of his biographies; but the curious sketch which Dr.
Rimbault edited and for the first time published in 1846, is worthy of
perusal, and will maintain a place on the shelves of literary collectors
by the side of his brother's 'Essay.'

In that treatise Roger alludes to a contest which in the reigns of
Charles II. and James II. agitated the musicians of London, divided the
Templars into two hostile parties, and for a considerable time gave rise
to quarrels in every quarter of the town. All this disturbance resulted
from "a competition for an organ in the Temple church, for which the two
competitors, the best artists in Europe, Smith and Harris, were but just
not ruined." The struggle thus mentioned in the 'Memoirs of Musick' is
so comic an episode in the story of London life, and has been the
occasion of so much error amongst writers, that it claims brief
restatement in the present chapter.

In February, 1682, the Benchers of the Temples, wishing to obtain for
their church an organ of superlative excellence, invited Father Smith
and Renatus Harris to compete for the honor of supplying the instrument.
The masters of the benchers pledged themselves that "if each of these
excellent artists would set up an organ in one of the halls belonging to
either of the societies, they would have erected in their church that
which, in the greatest number of excellencies, deserved the preference."
For more than twenty years Father Smith had been the first organ-builder
in England; and the admirable qualities of his instruments testify to
his singular ability. A German artist (in his native country called
Bernard Schmidt, but in London known as Father Smith), he had
established himself in the English capital as early as the summer of
1660; and gaining the cordial patronage of Charles II., he and his two
grand-nephews soon became leaders of their craft. Father Smith built
organs for Westminster Abbey, for the Church of St. Giles-in-the-Fields,
for St. Margaret's Church, Westminster, for Durham Cathedral, and for
other sacred buildings. In St. Paul's Cathedral he placed the organ
which Wren disdainfully designated a "box of whistles;" and dying in
1708, he left his son-in-law, Christopher Schreider, to complete the
organ which still stands in the chapel of Trinity College, Cambridge.
But notwithstanding his greatness, Father Smith had rivals; his first
rival being Harris the Elder, who died in 1672, his second being Renatus
Harris, or Harris the Younger. The elder Harris never caused Smith much
discomfort; but his son, Renatus, was a very clever fellow, and a strong
party of fashionable _connoisseurs_ declared that he was greatly
superior to the German. Such was the position of these two rivals when
the benchers made their proposal, which was eagerly accepted by the
artificers, each of whom saw in it an opportunity for covering his
antagonist with humiliation.

The men went to work: and within fourteen months their instruments were
ready for competition. Smith finished work before Harris, and prevailed
on the benchers to let him place his organ in the Temple church, well
knowing that the powers of the instrument could be much more readily and
effectively displayed in the church than in either of the dining-halls.
The exact site where he fixed his organ is unknown, but the careful
author of 'A Few Notes on the Temple Organ, 1859,' is of opinion that it
was put up "on the screen between the round and oblong churches--the
position occupied by the organ until the present organ-chamber was
built, and the organ removed there during the progress of the complete
restoration of the church in the year 1843." No sooner had Harris
finished his organ, than, following Father Smith's example, he asked
leave of the benchers to erect it within the church. Harris's petition
to this effect bears date May 26, 1684; and soon afterwards the organ
was "set up in the Church on the south side of the Communion Table."

Both organs being thus stationed under the roof of the church, the
committee of benchers appointed to decide on their relative merits
declared themselves ready to listen. The trial began, but many
months--ay, some years--elapsed ere it came to an end. On either side
the credit of the manufacturer was sustained by execution of the highest
order of art. Father Smith's organ was handled alternately by Purcell
and Dr. Blow; and Draghi, the queen's organist, did his best to secure a
verdict for Renatus Harris. Of course the employment of these eminent
musicians greatly increased the number of persons who felt personal
interest in the contest. Whilst the pupils and admirers of Purcell and
Blow were loud in declaring that Smith's organ ought to win, Draghi's
friends were equally sure that the organ touched by his expert fingers
ought not to lose. Discussion soon became violent; and in every
profession, clique, coterie of the town, supporters of Smith wrangled
with supporters of Harris. Like the battle of the Gauges in our time,
the battle of the Organs was the grand topic with every class of
society, at Court and on 'Change, in coffee-houses and at ordinaries.
Again and again the organs were tested in the hearing of dense and
fashionable congregations; and as often the judicial committee was
unable to come to a decision. The hesitation of the judges put oil upon
the fire; for Smith's friends, indignant at the delay, asserted that
certain members of the committee were bound to Harris by corrupt
considerations--an accusation that was retorted by the other side with
equal warmth and want of justice.

After the squabble had been protracted through many months, Harris
created a diversion by challenging Father Smith to make additional
reed-stops within a given time. The challenge was accepted; and
forthwith the Father went to work and made Vox Humana, Cremorne, Double
Courtel, or Double Bassoon, and other stops. A day was appointed for the
renewal of the contest; but party feeling ran so high, that during the
night preceding the appointed day a party of hot-headed Harrissians
broke into the Temple Church, and cut Smith's bellows--so that on the
following morning his organ was of no more service than an old
linen-press. A row ensued; and in the ardor of debate swords were drawn.

In June, 1685, the benchers of the Middle Temple, made a written
declaration in favor of Father Smith, and urged that his organ should be
forthwith accepted. Strongly and rather discourteously worded, this
declaration gave offence to the benchers of the Inner Temple, who
regarded it as an attempt at dictation; and on June 22, 1685, they
recommended the appointment of another committee with powers to decide
the contest. Declining to adopt this suggestion, the Middle Temple
benchers reiterated their high opinion of Smith's instrument. On this
the Battle of the Organs became a squabble between the two Temples; and
the outside public, laughing over the quarrel of the lawyers, expressed
a hope that honest men would get their own since the rogues had fallen

At length, when the organ-builders had well-nigh ruined each other, and
the town had grown weary of the dispute, the Inner Temple yielded
somewhere about the beginning of 1688--at an early date of which year
Smith received a sum of money in part payment for his organ. On May 27th
of the same year, Mr. Pigott was appointed organist. After its rejection
by the Temple, Renatus Harris divided his organ into two, and having
sent the one part to the cathedral of Christ's Church, Dublin, he set up
the other part in the church of St. Andrew, Holborn. Three years after
his disappointment, Renatus Harris was tried at the Old Bailey for a
political offence, the nature of which may be seen from the following
entry in Narcissus Luttrell's Diary:--"April, 1691. The Sessions have
been at the Old Bailey, where these persons, Renatus Harris, John Watts,
William Rutland, Henry Gandy, and Thomas Tysoe, were tried at the Old
Bailey for setting up policies of insurance that Dublin would be in the
hands of some other king than their present majesties by Christmas next:
the jury found them guilty of a misdemeanor." For this offence Renatus
Harris was fined £200, and was required to give security for his good
conduct until Christmas.

An erroneous tradition assigns to Lord Jeffreys the honor of bringing
the Battle of the Organs to a conclusion, and writers improving upon
this tradition, have represented that Jeffreys acted as sole umpire
between the contendants. In his 'History of Music,' Dr. Burney, to whom
the prevalence of this false impression is mainly due, observes--"At
length the decision was left to Lord Chief Justice Jeffries, afterwards
King James the Second's pliant Chancellor, who was of that society (the
Inner Temple), and he terminated the controversy in favor of Father
Smith; so that Harris's organ was taken away without loss of reputation,
having so long pleased and puzzled better judges than Jefferies."

Careful inquirers have ascertained that Harris's organ did not go to
Wolverhampton, but to Dublin and St. Andrew's Holborn, part of it being
sent to the one, and part to the other place. It is certain that Jeffrys
was not chosen to act as umpire in 1681, for the benchers did not make
their original proposal to the rival builders until February, 1682; and
years passed between that date and the termination of the squabble. When
Burney wrote:--"At length the decision was left to Lord Chief Justice
Jefferies, _afterwards King James II.'s pliant Chancellor_," the
musician was unaware that the squabble was still at white heat whilst
Jeffreys occupied the woolsack. On his return from the Western Campaign,
Jeffreys received the seals in September, 1685, whereas the dispute
about the organs did not terminate till the opening of 1688, or at
earliest till the close of 1687. There is no authentic record in the
archives of the Temples which supports, or in any way countenances, the
story that Jeffreys made choice of Smith's instrument; but it is highly
probable that the Lord Chancellor exerted his influence with the Inner
Temple (of which society he was a member), and induced the benchers, for
the sake of peace, to yield to the wishes of the Middle Temple. It is no
less probable that his fine musical taste enabled him to see that the
Middle Temple benchers were in the right, and gave especial weight to
his words when he spoke against Harris's instrument.

Though Jeffreys delighted in music, he does not seem to have held its
professors in high esteem. In the time of Charles II. musical artists of
the humbler grades liked to be styled 'musitioners;' and on a certain
occasion, when he was sitting as Recorder for the City of London, George
Jeffreys was greatly incensed by a witness who, in a pompous voice,
called himself a musitioner. With a sneer the Recorder interposed--"A
musitioner! I thought you were a fiddler!" "I am a musitioner," the
violinist answered, stoutly. "Oh, indeed," croaked Jeffreys. "That is
very important--highly important--extremely important! And pray, Mr.
Witness, what is the difference between a musitioner and a fiddler?"
With fortunate readiness the man answered, "As much, sir, as there is
between a pair of bag-pipes and a Recorder."



The date is September, 1805, and the room before us is a drawing-room in
a pleasant house at Brighton. The hot sun is beating down on cliff and
terrace, beach and pier, on the downs behind the town and the sparkling
sea in front. The brightness of the blue sky is softened by white vapor
that here and there resembles a vast curtain of filmy gauze, but nowhere
has gathered into visible masses of hanging cloud. In the distance the
sea is murmuring audibly, and through the screened windows, together
with the drowsy hum of the languid waves, comes a light breeze that is
invigorating, notwithstanding its sensible warmth.

Besides ourselves there are but two people in the room: a gentlewoman
who has said farewell to youth, but not to feminine grade and delicacy;
and an old man, who is lying on a sofa near one of the open windows,
whilst his daughter plays passages of Handel's music on the piano-forte.

The old man wears the dress of an obsolete school of English gentlemen;
a large brown wig with three rows of curls, the lowest row resting on
the curve of his shoulders; a loose grey coat, notable for the size of
its cuffs and the bigness of its heavy buttons; ruffles at his wrists,
and frills of fine lace below his roomy cravat. These are the most
conspicuous articles of his costume, but not the most striking points of
his aspect. Over his huge, pallid, cadaverous, furrowed face there is an
air singularly expressive of exhaustion and power, of debility and
latent strength--an air that says to sensitive beholders, "This
prostrate veteran was once a giant amongst giants; his fires are dying
out; but the old magnificent courage and ability will never altogether
leave him until the beatings of his heart shall have quite ceased: touch
him with foolishness or disrespect, and his rage will be terrible."
Standing here we can see his prodigious bushy eyebrows, that are as
white as driven snow, and under them we can see the large black eyes,
beneath the angry fierceness of which hundreds of proud British peers,
assembled in their council-chamber, have trembled like so many whipped
schoolboys. There is no lustre in them now, and their habitual
expression is one of weariness and profound indifference to the world--a
look that is deeply pathetic and depressing, until some transient cause
of irritation or the words of a sprightly talker rouse him into
animation. But the most noticeable quality of his face is its look of
extreme age. Only yesterday a keen observer said of him, "Lord Thurlow
is, I believe, only seventy-four; and from his appearance I should think
him a hundred years old."

So quiet is the reclining form, that the pianist thinks her father must
be sleeping. Turning on the music-stool to get a view of his
countenance, and to satisfy herself as to his state, she makes a false
note, when, quick as the blunder, the brown wig turns upon the
pillow--the furrowed face is presented to her observation, and an
electric brightness fills the big black eyes, as the veteran, with deep
rolling tones, reproves her carelessness:--"What are you doing?--what
are you doing? I had almost forgotten the world. Play that piece again."

Twelve months more--and the lady will be playing Handel's music on that
same instrument; but the old man will not be a listener.

From Brighton, in 1805, let readers transport themselves to Canterbury
in 1776, and let them enter a barber's shop, hard by Canterbury
Cathedral. It is a primitive shop, with the red and white pole over the
door, and a modest display of wigs and puff-boxes in the window. A small
shop, but, notwithstanding its smallness, the best shop of its kind in
Canterbury; and its lean, stiff, exceedingly respectable master is a man
of good repute in the cathedral town. His hands have, ere now, powdered
the Archbishop's wig, and he is specially retained by the chief clergy
of the city and neighborhood to keep their false hair in order, and trim
the natural tresses of their children. Not only have the dignitaries of
the cathedral taken the worthy barber under their special protection,
but they have extended to his little boy Charles, a demure, prim lad,
who is at this present time a pupil in the King's School, to which
academy clerical interest gained him admission. The lad is in his
fourteenth year; and Dr. Osmund Beauvoir, the master of the school,
gives him so good a character for industry and dutiful demeanor, that
some of the cathedral ecclesiastics have resolved to make the little
fellow's fortune--by placing him in the office of a Chorister. There is
a vacant place in the cathedral choir; and the boy who is lucky enough
to receive the appointment will be provided for munificently. He will
forthwith have a maintenance, and in course of time his salary will be
£70 per annum.

During the last fortnight the barber has been in great and constant
excitement--hoping that his little boy will obtain this valuable piece
of preferment; persuading himself that the lad's thickness of voice,
concerning which the choir-master speaks with aggravating persistence,
is a matter of no real importance; fearing that the friends of another
contemporary boy, who is said by the choir-master to have an exceedingly
mellifluous voice, may defeat his paternal aspirations. The momentous
question agitates many humble homes in Canterbury; and whilst Mr.
Abbott, the barber, is encouraged to hope the best for his son, the
relatives and supporters of the contemporary boy are urging him not to
despair. Party spirit prevails on either side--Mr. Abbott's family
associates maintaining that the contemporary boy's higher notes resemble
those of a penny whistle; whilst the contemporary boy's father, with
much satire and some justice, murmurs that "old Abbott, who is the
gossip-monger of the parsons, wants to push his son into a place for
which there is a better candidate."

To-day is the eventful day when the election will be made. Even now,
whilst Abbott, the barber, is trimming a wig at his shop window, and
listening to the hopeful talk of an intimate neighbor, his son Charley
is chanting the Old Hundredth before the whole chapter. When Charley has
been put through his vocal paces, the contemporary boy is requested to
sing. Whereupon that clear-throated competitor, sustained by justifiable
self-confidence and a new-laid egg which he had sucked scarcely a minute
before he made his bow to their reverences, sings out with such richness
and compass that all the auditors recognize his great superiority.

Ere ten more minutes have passed Charley Abbot knows that he has lost
the election; and he hastens from the cathedral with quick steps.
Running into the shop he gives his father a look that tells the whole
story of--failure, and then the little fellow, unable to command his
grief, sits down upon the floor and sobs convulsively.

Failure is often the first step to eminence.

Had the boy gained the chorister's place, he would have a cathedral
servant all his days.

Having failed to get it, he returned to the King's School, went a poor
scholar to Oxford, and fought his way to honor. He became Chief Justice
of the King's Bench, and a peer of the realm. Towards the close of his
honorable career Lord Tenterden attended service in the Cathedral of
Canterbury, accompanied by Mr. Justice Richardson. When the ceremonial
was at an end the Chief Justice said to his friend--"Do you see that old
man there amongst the choristers? In him, brother Richardson, behold the
only being I ever envied: when at school in this town we were candidates
together for a chorister's place; he obtained it; and if I had gained my
wish he might have been accompanying you as Chief Justice, and pointing
me out as his old school-fellow, the singing man."





Some years since the late Sergeant Wilkins was haranguing a crowd of
enlightened electors from the hustings of a provincial borough, when a
stentorian voice exclaimed, "Go home, you rope-dancer!" Disdaining to
notice the interruption, the orator continued his speech for fifty
seconds, when the same voice again cried out, "Go home, you
rope-dancer!" A roar of laughter followed the reiteration of the insult;
and in less than two minutes thrice fifty unwashed blackguards were
roaring with all the force of their lungs, "Ah-h-h--Go home, you
rope-dancer!" Not slow to see the moaning of the words, the unabashed
lawyer, who in his life had been a dramatic actor, replied with his
accustomed readiness and effrontery. A young man unacquainted with mobs
would have descanted indignantly and with many theatrical flourishes on
the dignity and usefulness of the player's vocation; an ordinary
demagogue would have frankly admitted the discourteous impeachment, and
pleaded in mitigation that he had always acted in leading parts and for
high salaries. Sergeant Wilkins took neither of those courses, for he
knew his audience, and was aware that his connection with the stage was
an affair about which he had better say as little as possible. Instead
of appealing to their generosity, or boasting of his histrionic
eminence, he threw himself broadly on their sense of humor. Drawing
himself up to his full height, the big, burly man advanced to the marge
of the platform, and extending his right hand with an air of authority,
requested silence by the movement of his arm. The sign was instantly
obeyed; for having enjoyed their laugh, the multitude wished for the
rope-dancer's explanation. As soon as the silence was complete, he drew
back two paces, put himself in an oratorical _pose_, as though he were
about to speak, and then, disappointing the expectations of the
assembly, deliberately raised forwards and upwards the skirts of his
frock-coat. Having thus arranged his drapery he performed a slow
gyration--presenting his huge round shoulders and unwieldy legs to the
populace. When his back was turned to the crowd, he stooped and made a
low obeisance to his vacant chair, thereby giving the effect of
caricature to the outlines of his most protuberant and least honorable
part. This pantomime lasted scarcely a minute; and before the spectators
could collect themselves to resent so extraordinary an affront, the
sergeant once again faced them, and in a clear, rich, jovial tone
exclaimed, "_He_ called me a rope-dancer!--after what you have seen, do
you believe him?"

With the exception of the man who started the cry, every person in the
dense multitude was convulsed with laughter; and till the end of the
election no turbulent rascal ventured to repeat the allusion to the
sergeant's former occupation. At a moment of embarrassment, Mr.
Disraeli, in the course of one of his youthful candidatures, created a
diversion in his favor by telling a knot of unruly politicians that he
_stood on his head_. With less wit, and much less decency, but with
equal good fortune, Sergeant Wilkins took up his position on a baser
part of his frame.

The electors who respected Mr. Wilkins because he was a successful
barrister, whilst they reproached him with having been a stage-player,
were unaware how close an alliance exists between the art of the actor
and the art of the advocate. To lawyers of every grade and speciality
the histrionic faculty is a useful power; but to the advocate who wishes
to sway the minds of jurors it is a necessary endowment. Comprising
several distinct abilities, it not only enables the orator to rouse the
passions and to play on the prejudices of his hearers, but it preserves
him from the errors of judgment, tone, emphasis--in short, from manifold
blunders of indiscretion and tact by which verdicts are lost quite as
often as through defect of evidence and merit. Like the dramatic
performer, the court-speaker, especially at the common law bar, has to
assume various parts. Not only should he know the facts of his brief,
but he should thoroughly identify himself with the client for whom his
eloquence is displayed. On the theatrical stage mimetic business is cut
up into specialities, men in most cases filling the parts of men, whilst
actresses fill the parts of women; the young representing the
characteristics of youth, whilst actors with special endowments simulate
the qualities of old age; some confining themselves to light and trivial
characters, whilst others are never required to strut before the scenes
with hurried paces, or to speak in phrases that lack dignity and fine
sentiment. But the popular advocate must in turn fill every _rôle_. If
childish simplicity be his client's leading characteristic, his
intonations will express pliancy and foolish confidence; or if it is
desirable that the jury should appreciate his client's honesty of
purpose, he speaks with a voice of blunt, bluff, manly frankness.
Whatever quality the advocate may wish to represent as the client's
distinctive characteristic, it must be suggested to the jury by mimetic
artifice of the finest sort. Speaking of a famous counsel, an
enthusiastic juryman once said to this writer--"In my time I have heard
Sir Alexander in pretty nearly every part: I've heard him as an old man
and a young woman; I have heard him when he has been a ship run down at
sea, and when he has been an oil-factory in a state of conflagration;
once, when I was foreman of a jury, I saw him poison his intimate
friend, and another time he did the part of a pious bank director in a
fashion that would have skinned the eyelids of Exeter Hall: he ain't bad
as a desolate widow with nine children, of which the eldest is under
eight years of age; but if ever I have to listen to him again, I should
like to see him as a young lady of good connexions who has been seduced
by an officer of the Guards." In the days of his forensic triumphs Henry
Brougham was remarkable for the mimetic power which enabled him to
describe friend or foe by a few subtle turns of the voice. At a later
period, long after he had left the bar, in compliance with a request
that he would return thanks for the bridesmaids at a wedding breakfast,
he observed, that "doubtless he had been selected for the task in
consideration of his youth, beauty, and innocence." The laughter that
followed this sally was of the sort which in poetic phraseology is
called inextinguishable; and one of the wedding guests who heard the
joke and the laughter, assures this writer that the storm of mirthful
applause was chiefly due to the delicacy and sweetness of the
intonations by which the speaker's facile voice, with its old and once
familiar art, made the audience realize the charms of youth, beauty and
innocence--charms which, so far as the lawyer's wrinkled visage was
concerned, were conspicuous by their absence.

Eminent advocates have almost invariably possessed qualities that would
have made them successful mimics on the stage. For his mastery of
oratorical artifices Alexander Wedderburn was greatly indebted to
Sheridan, the lecturer on elocution, and to Macklin, the actor, from
both of whom he took lessons; and when he had dismissed his teachers and
become a leader of the English bar he adhered to their rules, and daily
practised before a looking-glass the facial tricks by which Macklin
taught him to simulate surprise or anger, indignation or triumph.
Erskine was a perfect master of dramatic effect, and much of his
richly-deserved success was due to the theatrical artifices with which
he played upon the passions of juries. At the conclusion of a long
oration he was accustomed to feign utter physical prostration, so that
the twelve gentlemen in the box, in their sympathy for his sufferings
and their admiration for his devotion to the interests of his client,
might be impelled by generous emotion to return a favorable verdict.
Thus when he defended Hardy, hoarseness and fatigue so overpowered him
towards the close of his speech, that during the last ten minutes he
could not speak above a whisper, and in order that his whispers might be
audible to the jury, the exhausted advocate advanced two steps nearer to
their box, and then extended his pale face to their eager eyes. The
effect of the artifice on the excited jury is said to have been great
and enduring, although they were speedily enlightened as to the real
nature of his apparent distress. No sooner had the advocate received the
first plaudits of his theatre on the determination of his harangue, than
the multitude outside the court, taking up the acclamations which were
heard within the building, expressed their feelings with such deafening
clamor, and with so many signs of riotous intention, that Erskine was
entreated to leave the court and soothe the passions of the mob with a
few words of exhortation. In compliance with this suggestion he left the
court, and forthwith addressed the dense out-door assembly in clear,
ringing tones that were audible in Ludgate Hill, at one end of the Old
Bailey, and to the billowy sea of human heads that surged round St.
Sepulchre's Church at the other extremity of the dismal thoroughfare.

At the subsequent trial of John Horne Tooke, Sir John Scott, unwilling
that Erskine should enjoy a monopoly of theatrical artifice, endeavored
to create a diversion in favor of the government by a display of those
lachrymose powers, which Byron ridiculed in the following century. "I
can endure anything but an attack on my good name," exclaimed the
Attorney General, in reply to a criticism directed against his mode of
conducting the prosecution; "my good name is the little patrimony I have
to leave to my children, and, with God's help, gentlemen of the jury, I
will leave it to them unimpaired." As he uttered these words tears
suffused the eyes which, at a later period of the lawyer's career, used
to moisten the woolsack in the House of Lords--

   "Because the Catholics would not rise,
   In spite of his prayers and his prophecies."

For a moment Horne Tooke, who persisted in regarding all the
circumstances of his perilous position as farcical, smiled at the
lawyer's outburst in silent amusement; but as soon as he saw a
sympathetic brightness in the eyes of one of the jury, the dexterous
demagogue with characteristic humor and effrontery accused Sir John
Mitford, the Solicitor General, of needless sympathy with the
sentimental disturbance of his colleague. "Do you know what Sir John
Mitford is crying about?" the prisoner inquired of the jury. "He is
thinking of the destitute condition of Sir John Scott's children, and
the _little patrimony_ they are likely to divide among them." The jury
and all present were not more tickled by the satire upon the Attorney
General than by the indignant surprise which enlivened the face of Sir
John Mitford, who was not at all prone to tears, and had certainly
manifested no pity for John Scott's forlorn condition.



Following the example set by the nobility in their castles and civic
palaces, the Inns of Court set apart certain days of the year for
feasting and revelry, and amongst the diversions with which the lawyers
recreated themselves at these periods of rejoicing, the rude
Pre-Shakespearian dramas took a prominent place. So far back as A.D.
1431, the Masters of the Lincoln's Inn Bench restricted the number of
annual revels to four--"one at the feast of All-Hallown, another at the
feast of St. Erkenwald; the third at the feast of the Purification of
our Lady; and the 4th at Midsummer." The ceremonials of these holidays
were various; but the brief and sometimes unintelligible notices of the
chroniclers give us sufficiently vivid and minute pictures of the
boisterous jollity that marked the proceedings. Miracle plays and
moralities, dancing and music, fantastic processions and mad pranks,
spurred on the hours that were not devoted to heavy meals and deep
potations. In the merriments of the different Inns there was a pleasant
diversity--with regard to the duration and details of the
entertainments: and occasionally the members of the four societies acted
with so little concert that their festivals, falling at exactly the same
time, were productive of rivalry and disappointments. Dugdale thinks
that the Christmas revels were not regularly kept in Lincoln's Inn
during the reign of Henry VIII.; and draws attention to an order made by
the benchers of that house on 27 Nov., 22 H. VIII., the record of which
runs thus:--"It is agreed that IF the two Temples do kepe Chrystemas,
then the Chrystemas to be kept here; and to know this, the Steward of
the House ys commanded to get knowledge, and to advertise my masters by
the next day at night."

But notwithstanding changes and novelties, the main features of a revel
in an Inn of Court were always much the same. Some member of the society
conspicuous for rank or wit of style, or for a combination of these
qualities, was elected King of the Revel, and until the close of the
long frolic he was despot and sole master of the position--so long as he
did not disregard a few not vexatious conditions by which, the benchers
limited his authority. He surrounded himself with a mock court, exacted
homage from barristers and students, made proclamations to his loyal
children, sat on a throne at daily banquets, and never appeared in
public without a body-guard, and a numerous company of musicians, to
protect his person and delight his ear.

The wit and accomplishments of the younger lawyers were signally
displayed in the dramatic interludes that usually enlivened these
somewhat heavy and sluggish jollifications. Not only did they write the
pieces, and put them before the audience with cunning devices for the
production of scenic effect, but they were their own actors. It was not
long before their 'moralities' were seasoned with political sentiments
and allusions to public affairs. For instance, when Wolsey was in the
fulness of his power, Sergeant Roo ventured to satirize the Cardinal in
a masque with which Gray's Inn entertained Henry VIII. and his
courtiers. Hall records that, "This plaie was so set furth with riche
and costlie apparel; with strange diuises of maskes and morrishes, that
it was highly praised of all menne saving the Cardinall, whiche imagined
that the plaie had been deuised of him, and in greate furie sent for the
said Maister Roo, and toke from hym his coife, and sent him to the
Flete, and after he sent for the yoong gentlemen that plaied in the
plaie, and them highly rebuked and threatened, and sent one of them,
called Thomas Moyle, of Kent, to the Flete; but by means of friendes
Master Roo and he wer deliuered at last." The author stoutly denied that
he intended to satirize the Cardinal; and the chronicler, believing the
sergeant's assertions, observes, "This plaie sore displeased the
Cardinal, and yet it was never meant to him." That the presentation of
plays was a usual feature of the festivals at Gray's Inn may be inferred
from the passage where Dugdale, in his notes on that society, says;--"In
4 Edw. VI. (17 Nov.), it was also ordered that henceforth there should
be no comedies called _Interludes_ in this House out of Term time, but
when the feast of the Nativity of our Lord is solemnly observed. And
that when there shall be any such comedies, then all the society at that
time in commons to bear the charge of the apparel."

Notwithstanding her anxiety for the maintenance of good discipline in
the Inns of Court, Queen Elizabeth encouraged the Societies to celebrate
their feasts with costliness and liberal hospitality, and her taste for
dramatic entertainments increased the splendor and frequency of
theatrical diversions amongst the lawyers. Christopher Hatton's name is
connected with the history of the English drama, by the acts which he
contributed to 'The Tragedie of Tancred and Gismunda, compiled by the
gentlemen of the Inner Temple, and by them presented before her
majestie;' and he was one of the chief actors in that ponderous and
extravagant mummery with which the Inner Temple kept Christmas in the
fourth year of Elizabeth's reign.

The circumstances of that festival merit special notice.

In the third year of Elizabeth's reign the Middle Temple and the Inner
Temple were at fierce war, the former society having laid claim to
Lyon's Inn, which had been long regarded as a dependency of the Inner
Temple. The two Chief Justices, Sir Robert Catlyn and Sir James Dyer,
were known to think well of the claimant's title, and the masters of the
Inner Temple bench anticipated an adverse decision, when Lord Robert
Dudley (afterwards Earl of Leicester) came to their relief with an order
from Queen Elizabeth enjoining the Middle Templars no longer to vex
their neighbors in the matter. Submission being the only course open to
them, the lawyers of the Middle Temple desisted from their claim; and
the Masters of the Inner Temple Bench expressed their great gratitude to
Lord Robert Dudley, "by ordering and enacting that no person or persons
of their society that then were, or thereafter should be, should be
retained of councell against him the said Lord Robert, or his heirs; and
that the arms of the said Lord Robert should be set up and placed in
some convenient place in their Hall as a continual monument of his
lordship's favor unto them."

Further honors were paid to this nobleman at the ensuing Christmas, when
the Inner Temple held a revel of unusual magnificence and made Lord
Robert the ruler of the riot. Whilst the holidays lasted the young
lord's title and style were "Pallaphilos, prince of Sophie High
Constable Marshal of the Knights Templars, and Patron of the Honorable
Order of Pegasus." And he kept a stately court, having for his chief
officers--Mr. Onslow (Lord Chancellor), Anthony Stapleton (Lord
Treasurer), Robert Kelway (Lord Privy Seal), John Fuller (Chief Justice
of the King's Bench), William Pole (Chief Justice of the Common Pleas),
Roger Manwood (Chief Baron of the Exchequer), Mr. Bashe (Steward of the
Household), Mr. Copley (Marshal of the Household), Mr. Paten (Chief
Butler), Christopher Hatton (Master of the Game), Messieurs Blaston,
Yorke, Penston, Jervise (Masters of the Revels), Mr. Parker (Lieutenant
of the Tower), Mr. Kendall (Carver), Mr. Martyn (Ranger of the Forests),
and Mr. Stradling (Sewer). Besides these eighteen Placemen, Pallaphilos
had many other mock officers, whose names are not recorded, and he was
attended by a body-guard of fourscore members of the Inn.

From the pages of Gerard Leigh and Dugdale, the reader can obtain a
sufficiently minute account of the pompous ceremonials and heavy
buffooneries of the season. He may learn some of the special services
and contributions which Prince Pallaphilos required of his chief
courtiers, and take note how Mr. Paten, as Chief Butler, had to provide
seven dozen silver and gilt spoons, twelve dozen silver and gilt
salt-cellars, twenty silver and gilt candlesticks, twenty fine large
table-cloths of damask and diaper, twenty dozen white napkins, three
dozen fair large towels, twenty dozen white cups and green pots, to say
nothing of carving-knives, carving table, tureens, bread, beer, ale, and
wine. The reader also may learn from those chroniclers how the company
were placed according to degrees at different tables; how the banquets
were served to the sound of drums and fifes; how the boar's head was
brought in upon a silver dish; how the gentlemen in gowns, the
trumpeters, and other musicians followed the boar's head in stately
procession; and how, by a rule somewhat at variance with modern notions
concerning old English hospitality, strangers of worth were expected to
pay in cash for their entertainment, eightpence per head being the
charge for dinner on the day of Christmas Eve, and twelve-pence being
demanded from each stranger for his dinner on the following day.

Ladies were not excluded from all the festivities; though it may be
presumed they did not share in all the riotous meals of the period. It
is certain that they were invited, together with the young law-students
from the Inns of Chancery, to see a play and a masque acted in the hall;
that seats were provided for their special accommodation in the hall
whilst the sports were going forward; and that at the close of the
dramatic performances the gallant dames and pretty girls were
entertained by Pallaphilos in the library with a suitable banquet;
whilst the mock Lord Chancellor, Mr. Onslow, presided at a feast in the
hall, which with all possible speed had been converted from theatrical
to more appropriate uses.

But though the fun was rare and the array was splendid to idle folk of
the sixteenth century, modern taste would deem such gaiety rude and
wearisome, would call the ladies' banquet a disorderly scramble, and
think the whole frolic scarce fit for schoolboys. And in many respects
those revels of olden time were indecorous, noisy, comfortless affairs.
There must have been a sad want of room and fresh air in the Inner
Temple dining-hall, when all the members of the inn, the selected
students from the subordinate Inns of Chancery, and half a hundred
ladies (to say nothing of Mr. Gerard Leigh and illustrious strangers),
had crowded into the space set apart for the audience. At the dinners
what wrangling and tumult must have arisen through squabbles for place,
and the thousand mishaps that always attend an endeavor to entertain
five hundred gentlemen at a dinner, in a room barely capacious enough
for the proper accommodation of a hundred and fifty persons. Unless this
writer greatly errs, spoons and knives were in great request, and table
linen was by no means 'fair and spotless' towards the close of the rout.

Superb, on that holyday, was the aspect of Prince Pallaphilos. Wearing a
complete suit of elaborately wrought and richly gilt armor, he bore
above his helmet a cloud of curiously dyed feathers, and held a gilt
pole-axe in his hand. By his side walked the Lieutenant of the Tower
(Mr. Parker), clad in white armor, and like Pallaphilos furnished with
feathers and a pole-axe.

On entering the hall the prince and his Lieutenant of the Tower were
preceded by sixteen trumpeters (at full blare), four drummers (at full
drum), and a company of fifers (at full whistle), and followed by four
men in white armor, bearing halberds in their hands. Thrice did this
procession march round the fire that blazed in the centre of the hall;
and when in the course of these three circuits the four halberdiers and
the musicians had trodden upon everybody's toes (their own included),
and when moreover they had blown themselves out of time and breath,
silence was proclaimed; and Prince Pallaphilos, having laid aside his
pole-axe and his naked sword and a few other trifles, took his seat at
the urgent entreaty of the mock Lord Chancellor.

But Kit Hatton's appearance and part in the proceedings were even more
outrageously ridiculous. The future Lord Chancellor of England was then
a very elegant and witty young fellow, proud of his quick humor and
handsome face, but far prouder of his exquisitely proportioned legs. No
sooner had Prince Pallaphilos taken his seat, at the Lord Chancellor's
suggestion, than Kit Hatton (as master of the game) entered the hall,
dressed in a complete suit of green velvet, and holding a green bow in
his left hand. His quiver was supplied with green arrows, and round his
neck was slung a hunting-horn. By Kit's side, arrayed in exactly the
same style, walked the Ranger of the Forests (Mr. Martyn); and having
forced their way into the crowded chamber, the two young men blew three
blasts of venery upon their horns, and then paced three times round the
fire. After thus parading the hall they paused before the Lord
Chancellor, to whom the Master of Game made three curtsies, and then on
his knees proclaimed the desire of his heart to serve the mighty Prince

Having risen from his kneeling posture Kit Hatton blew his horn, and at
the signal his huntsman entered the room, bringing with him a fox, a
cat, and ten couples of hounds. Forthwith the fox was released from the
pole to which it was bound; and when the luckless creature had crept
into a corner under one of the tables, the ten couples of hounds were
sent in pursuit. It is a fact that English gentlemen in the sixteenth
century thus amused themselves with a fox-hunt in a densely crowded
dining-room. Over tables and under tables, up the hall and down the
hall, those score hounds went at full cry after a miserable fox, which
they eventually ran into and killed in the cinder-pit, or as Dugdale
expresses it, "beneath the fire." That work achieved, the cat was turned
off, and the hounds sent after her, with much blowing of horns, much
cracking of whips, and deafening cries of excitement from the gownsmen,
who tumbled over one another in their eagerness to be in at the death.



Scarcely less out of place in the dining-hall than Kit Hatton's hounds,
was the mule fairly mounted on which the Prince Pallaphilos made his
appearance at the High Table after supper, when he notified to his
subjects in what manner they were to disport themselves till bedtime.
Thus also when the Prince of Purpoole kept his court at Gray's Inn, A.D.
1594, the prince's champion rode into the dining-hall upon the back of a
fiery charger which, like the rider, was clothed in a panoply of steel.

In costliness and riotous excess the Prince of Purpoole's revel at
Gray's Inn was not inferior to any similar festivity in the time of
Elizabeth. On the 20th of December, St. Thomas's Eve, the Prince (one
Master Henry Holmes, a Norfolk gentleman) took up his quarters in the
Great Hall of the Inn, and by the 3rd day of January the grandeur and
comicality of his proceedings had created so much talk throughout the
town that the Lord Treasurer Burghley, the Earls of Cumberland, Essex,
Shrewsbury and Westmoreland, the Lords Buckhurst, Windsor, Sheffield,
Compton, and a magnificent array of knights and ladies visited Gray's
Inn Hall on that day and saw the masque which the revellers put upon the
stage. After the masque there was a banquet, which was followed by a
ball. On the following day the prince, attended by eighty gentlemen of
Gray's Inn and the Temple (each of the eighty wearing a plume on his
head), dined in state with the Lord Mayor and aldermen of the city, at
Crosby Place. The frolic continued for many days more; the royal
Purpoole on one occasion visiting Blackwall with a splendid retinue, on
another (Twelfth Night) receiving a gallant assembly of lords, ladies,
and Knights, at his court in Gray's Inn, and on a third (Shrovetide)
visiting the queen herself at Greenwich, when Her Majesty warmly
applauded the masque set before her by the actors who were members of
the Prince's court. So delighted was Elizabeth with the entertainment,
that she graciously allowed the masquers to kiss her right hand, and
loudly extolled Gray's Inn "as an house she was much indebted to, for it
did always study for some sports to present unto her;" whilst to the
mock Prince she showed her favor, by placing in his hand the jewel (set
with seventeen diamonds and fourteen rubies) which he had won by valor
and skill in the tournament which formed part of the Shrovetide sports.

Numerous entries in the records of the inns testify to the importance
assigned by the olden lawyers to their periodic feasts; and though in
the fluctuations of public opinion with regard to the effects of
dramatic amusements, certain benchers, or even all the benchers of a
particular inn, may be found at times discountenancing the custom of
presenting masques, the revels were usually diversified and heightened
by stage plays. Not only were interludes given at the high and grand
holidays styled _Solemn Revels_, but also at the minor festivities
termed Post Revels they were usually had recourse to for amusement.
"Besides those _solemn revels_, or measures aforesaid," says Dugdale,
concerning the old usages of the 'Middle Temple,' "they had wont to be
entertained with Post Revels performed by the better sort of the young
gentlemen of the society, with galliards, corrantoes, and other dances,
or else with stage-plays; the first of these feasts being at the
beginning, and the other at the latter end of Christmas. But of late
years these Post Revels have been disused, both here and in the other
Inns of Court."

Besides producing and acting some of our best Pro-Shakespearian dramas,
the Elizabethan lawyers put upon the stage at least one of William
Shakespeare's plays. From the diary of a barrister (supposed to be John
Manningham, of the Middle Temple), it is learnt that the Middle
Templar's acted Shakespeare's 'Twelfth Night' at the Readers' feast on
Candlemas Day, 1601-2.[20]

In the following reign, the masques of the lawyers in no degree fell off
with regard to splendor. Seldom had the Thames presented a more
picturesque and exhilarating spectacle than it did on the evening of
February 20, 1612, when the gentlemen masquers of Gray's Inn and the
Temple, entered the king's royal barge at Winchester House, at seven
o'clock, and made the voyage to Whitehall, attended by hundreds of
barges and boats, each vessel being so brilliantly illuminated that the
lights reflected upon the ripples of the river, seemed to be countless.
As though the hum and huzzas of the vast multitude on the water were
insufficient to announce the approach of the dazzling pageant, guns
marked the progress of the revellers, and as they drew near the palace,
all the attendant bands of musicians played the same stirring tune with
uniform time. It is on record that the king received the amateur actors
with an excess of condescension, and was delighted with the masque which
Master Beaumont of the Inner Temple, and his friend, Master Fletcher,
had written and dedicated "to the worthy Sir Francis Bacon, his
Majesty's Solicitor-General, and the grave and learned bench of the
anciently-called houses of Grayes Inn and the Inner Temple, and the
Inner Temple and Grayes Inn." The cost of this entertainment was
defrayed by the members of the two inns--each reader paying £4, each
ancient, £2 10_s._; each barrister, £2, and each student, 20_s._

The Inner Temple and Gray's Inn having thus testified their loyalty and
dramatic taste, in the following year on Shrove-Monday night (Feb. 15,
1613), Lincoln's Inn and the Middle Temple, with no less splendor and
_éclat_, enacted at Whitehall a masque written by George Chapman. For
this entertainment, Inigo Jones designed and perfected the theatrical
decorations in a style worthy of an exhibition that formed part of the
gaieties with which the marriage of the Palsgrave with the Princess
Elizabeth was celebrated. And though the masquers went to Whitehall by
land, their progress was not less pompous than the procession which had
passed up the Thames in the February of the preceding year. Having
mustered in Chancery Lane, at the official residence of the Master of
the Rolls, the actors and their friends delighted the town with a
gallant spectacle. Mounted on richly-caparisoned and mettlesome horses,
they rode from Fleet Street up the Strand, and by Charing Cross to
Whitehall, through a tempest of enthusiasm. Every house was illuminated,
every window was crowded with faces, on every roof men stood in rows,
from every balcony bright eyes looked down upon the gay scene, and from
basement to garret, from kennel to roof-top throughout the long way,
deafening cheers testified, whilst they increased the delight of the
multitude. Such a pageant would, even in these sober days, rouse London
from her cold propriety. Having thrown aside his academic robe, each
masquer had donned a fantastic dress of silver cloth embroidered with
gold lace, gold plate, and ostrich plumes. He wore across his breast a
gold baldrick, round his neck a ruff of white feathers brightened with
pearls and silver lace, and on his head a coronal of snowy plumes.
Before each mounted masquer rode a torch-bearer, whose right hand waved
a scourge of flame, instead of a leathern thong. In a gorgeous chariot,
preceded by a long train of heralds, were exhibited the Dramatis
Personæ--Honor, Plutus, Eunomia, Phemeis, Capriccio--arrayed in their
appointed costumes; and it was rumored that the golden canopy of their
coach had been bought for an enormous sum. Two other triumphal cars
conveyed the twelve chief musicians of the kingdom, and these masters of
melody were guarded by torch-bearers, marching two deep before and
behind, and on either side of the glittering carriages. Preceding the
musicians, rode a troop of ludicrous objects, who roused the derision of
the mob, and made fat burghers laugh till tears ran down their cheeks.
They were the mock masque, each resembling an ape, each wearing a
fantastic dress that heightened the hideous absurdity of his monkey's
visage, each riding upon an ass, or small pony, and each of them
throwing shells upon the crowd by way of a largess. In the front of the
mock masque, forming the vanguard of the entire spectacle, rode fifty
gentlemen of the Inns of Court, reining high-bred horses, and followed
by their running footmen, whose liveries added to the gorgeous
magnificence of the display.

Besides the expenses which fell upon individuals taking part in the
play, or procession, this entertainment cost the two inns £1086 8_s._
11_d._ About the same time Gray's Inn, at the instigation of Attorney
General Sir Francis Bacon, performed 'The Masque of Flowers' before the
lords and ladies of the court, in the Banqueting-house, Whitehall; and
six years later Thomas Middleton's Inner Temple Masque, or Masque of
Heroes' was presented before a goodly company of grand ladies by the
Inner Templars.

[20] The propensity of lawyers for the stage, lingered amongst
barristers on Circuit, to a comparatively recent date. 'Old stagers' of
the Home and Western Circuits, can recall how the juniors of their
briefless and bagless days used to entertain the natives of Guildford
and Exeter with Shakspearian performances. The Northern Circuit also was
at one time famous for the histrionic ability of its bar, but toward the
close of the last century, the dramatic recreations of its junior
members were discountenanced by the Grand Court.



Of all the masques mentioned in the records of the Inns of Court, the
most magnificent and costly was the famous Anti-Prynne demonstration, by
which the lawyers endeavored to show their contemptuous disapproval of a
work that inveighed against the licentiousness of the stage, and
preferred a charge of wanton levity against those who encouraged
theatrical performances.

Whilst the 'Histriomastix' rendered the author ridiculous to mere men of
pleasure, it roused fierce animosities by the truth and fearless
completeness of its assertions; but to no order of society was the
famous attack on the stage more offensive than to the lawyers; and of
lawyers the members of Lincoln's Inn were the most vehement in their
displeasure. The actors writhed under the attack; the lawyers were
literally furious with rage--for whilst rating them soundly for their
love of theatrical amusements, Prynne almost contrived to make it seem
that his views were acceptable to the wisest and most reverend members
of the legal profession. Himself a barrister of Lincoln's Inn, he with
equal craft and audacity complimented the benchers of that society on
the firmness with which they had forbidden professional actors to take
part in the periodic revels of the inn, and on their inclination to
govern the society in accordance with Puritanical principles. Addressing
his "Much Honored Friends, the Right Worshipful Masters of the Bench of
the Honorable Flourishing Law Society of Lincoln's Inne," the
utter-barrister said: "For whereas other Innes of Court (I know not by
what evil custom, and worse example) admit of common actors and
interludes upon their two grand festivalls, to recreate themselves
withall, notwithstanding the statutes of our Kingdome (of which
lawyers, of all others, should be most observant), have branded all
professed stage-players for infamous rogues, and stage-playes for
unlawful pastimes, especially on Lord's-dayes and other solemn
holidayes, on which these grand dayes ever fall; yet such hath been your
pious tender care, not only of this societie's honor, but also of the
young students' good (for the advancing of whose piety and studies you
have of late erected a magnificent chapel, and since that a library),
that as you have prohibited by late publicke orders, all disorderly
Bacchanalian Grand-Christmasses (more fit for pagans than Christians;
for the deboisest roarers than grave civill students, who should be
patternes of sobriety unto others), together with all publicke dice-play
in the Hall (a most pernicious, infamous game; condemned in all ages,
all places, not onely by councels, fathers, divines, civilians,
canonists, politicians, and other Christian writers; by divers Pagan
authors of all sorts, and by Mahomet himselfe; but likewise by sundry
heathen, yea, Christian Magistrates' edicts)."

Concerning the London theatres he observes that the "two old play
houses" (_i.e._, the Fortune and the Red Bull), the "new theatre"
(_i.e._, Whitefriars play-house), and two other established theatres,
being found inadequate to the wants of the play-going public, a sixth
theatre had recently been opened. "The multitude of our London
play-haunters being so augmented now, that all the ancient Divvel's
Chappels (for so the fathers style all play-houses) being five in
number, are not sufficient to containe their troops, whence we see a
sixth now added to them, whereas even in vitious Nero his raigne there
were but three standing theatres in Pagan Rome (though far more splendid
than Christian London), and those three too many." Having thus
enumerated some of the saddest features of his age, the author of the
'Player's Scourge' again commends the piety and decorum of the
Lincoln's Inn Benchers, saying, "So likewise in imitation of the ancient
Lacedæmonians and Massilienses, or rather of primitive zealous
Christians, you have always from my first admission into your society,
and long before, excluded all common players with their ungodly
interludes, from all your solemn festivals."

If the benchers of one Inn winced under Prynne's 'expressions of
approval,' the students of all the Inns of Court were even more
displeased with the author who, in a dedicatory letter "to the right
Christian, Generous Young Gentlemen-Students of the four Innes of Court,
and especially those of Lincolne's Inne," urged them to "at last
falsifie that ignominious censure which some English writers in their
printed works have passed upon Innes of Court Students, of whom they
record:--That Innes of Court men were undone but for players, that they
are their chiefest guests and imployment, and the sole business that
makes them afternoon's men; that is one of the first things they learne
as soon as they are admitted, to see stage-playes, and take smoke at a
play-house, which they commonly make their studie; where they quickly
learne to follow all fashions, to drinke all healths, to wear favours
and good cloathes, to consort with ruffianly companions, to swear the
biggest oaths, to quarrel easily, fight desperately, quarrel
inordinately, to spend their patrimony ere it fall, to use gracefully
some gestures of apish compliment, to talk irreligiously, to dally with
a mistresse, and hunt after harlots, to prove altogether lawless in
steed of lawyers, and to forget that little learning, grace, and vertue
which they had before; so much that they grow at last past hopes of ever
doing good, either to the church, their country, their owne or others'

The storm of indignation which followed the appearance of the
'Histriomastix' was directed by the members of the Four Inns, who felt
themselves bound by honor no less than by interest, to disavow all
connexion with, or leaning towards, the unpopular author.

On the suggestion of Lincoln's Inn, the four societies combined their
forces, and at a cost of more than twenty thousand pounds, in addition
to sums spent by individuals, entertained the Court with that splendid
masque which Whitelock has described in his 'Memoirs' with elaborate
prolixity. The piece entitled 'The Triumph of Peace,' was written by
Shirley, and it was produced with a pomp and lavish expenditure that
were without precedent. The organization and guidance of the undertaking
were entrusted to a committee of eight barristers, two from each inn;
and this select body comprised men who were alike remarkable for
talents, accomplishments, and ambition, and some of whom were destined
to play strangely diverse parts in the drama of their epoch. It
comprised Edward Hyde, then in his twenty-sixth year; young Bulstrode
Whitelock, who had not yet astonished the more decorous magnates of his
country by wearing a falling-band at the Oxford Quarter Sessions; Edward
Herbert, the most unfortunate of Cavalier lawyers; John Selden, already
a middle-aged man; John Finch, born in the same year as Selden, and
already far advanced in his eager course to a not honorable notoriety.
Attorney General Noy was also of the party, but his disastrous career
was already near its close.

The committee of management had their quarters at Ely House, Holborn;
and from that historic palace the masquers started for Whitehall on the
eve of Candlemas Day, 1633-4. It was a superb procession. First marched
twenty tall footmen, blazing in liveries of scarlet cloth trimmed with
lace, each of them holding a baton in his right hand, and in his left a
flaring torch that covered his face with light, and made the steel and
silver of his sword-scabbard shine brilliantly. A company of the
marshal's men marched next with firm and even steps, clearing the way
for their master. A burst of deafening applause came from the multitude
as the marshal rode through the gateway of Ely House, and caracoled over
the Holborn way on the finest charger that the king's stables could
furnish. A perfect horseman and the handsomest man then in town, Mr.
Darrel of Lincoln's Inn, had been elected to the office of marshal in
deference to his wealth, his noble aspect, his fine nature, and his
perfect mastery of all manly sports. On either side of Mr. Darrel's
horse marched a lacquey bearing a flambeau, and the marshal's page was
in attendance with his master's cloak. An interval of some twenty paces,
and then came the marshal's body-guard, composed of one hundred mounted
gentlemen of the Inns of Court--twenty-five from each house; showing in
their faces the signs of gentle birth and honorable nurture; and with
strong hands reining mettlesome chargers that had been furnished for
their use by the greatest nobles of the land. This flood of flashing
chivalry was succeeded by an anti-masque of beggars and cripples,
mounted on the lamest and most unsightly of rat-tailed srews and
spavined ponies, and wearing dresses that threw derision on legal
vestments and decorations. Another anti-masque satirized the wild
projects of crazy speculators and inventors; and as it moved along the
spectators laughed aloud at the "fish-call, or looking-glass for fishes
in the sea, very useful for fishermen to call all kinds of fish to their
nets;" the newly-invented wind-mate for raising a breeze over becalmed
seas, the "movable hydraulic" which should give sleep to patients
suffering under fever.

Chariots and horsemen, torch-bearers and lacqueys, followed in order.
"Then came the first chariot of the grand masquers, which was not so
large as those that went before, but most curiously framed, carved, and
painted with exquisite art, and purposely for this service and occasion.
The form of it was after that of the Roman triumphant chariots. The
seats in it were made of oval form in the back end of the chariot, so
that there was no precedence in them, and the faces of all that sat in
it might be seen together. The colors of the first chariot were silver
and crimson, given by the lot to Gray's Inn: the chariot was drawn with
four horses all abreast, and they were covered to their heels all over
with cloth of tissue, of the colors of crimson and silver, huge plumes
of white and red feathers on their heads; the coachman's cap and
feather, his long coat, and his very whip and cushion of the same stuff
and color. In this chariot sat the four grand masquers of Gray's Inn,
their habits, doublets, trunk-hose, and caps of most rich cloth of
tissue, and wrought as thick with silver spangles as they could be
placed; large white stockings up to their trunk-hose, and rich sprigs in
their cap, themselves proper and beautiful young gentlemen. On each side
of the chariot were four footmen in liveries of the color of the
chariot, carrying huge flamboys in their hands, which, with the torches,
gave such a lustre to the paintings, spangles, and habits that hardly
anything could be invented to appear more glorious."

Six musicians followed the state-chariot of Gray's Inn, playing as they
went; and then came the triumphal cars of the Middle Templars, the Inner
Templars, and the Lincoln's Inn men--each car being drawn by four horses
and attended by torch-bearers, flambeau-bearers, and musicians. In shape
these four cars were alike, but they differed in the color of their
fittings. Whilst Gray's Inn used scarlet and silver, the Middle
Templars chose blue and silver decorations, and each of the other two
houses adopted a distinctive color for the housings of their horses and
the liveries of their servants. It is noteworthy that the inns (equal as
to considerations of dignity) took their places in the pageant by lot;
and that the four grand masquers of each inn were seated in their
chariot on seats so constructed that none of the four took precedence of
the others. The inns, in days when questions of precedence received much
attention, were very particular in asserting their equality, whenever
two or more of them acted in co-operation. To mark this equality, the
masque written by Beaumont and Fletcher in 1612 was described "The
Masque of the Inner Temple and Grayes Inn; Grayes Inn and the Inner
Temple:" and the dedication of the piece to Francis Bacon, reversing
this transposition, mentions "the allied houses of Grayes Inn and the
Inner Temple, and the Inner Temple and Grayes Inn," these changes being
made to point the equal rank of the two fraternities.

Through the illuminated streets this pageant marched to the sound of
trumpets and drums, cymbals and fifes, amidst the deafening acclamations
of the delighted town; and when the lawyers reached Whitehall, the king
and queen were so delighted with the spectacle, that the procession was
ordered to make the circuit of the tilt-yard for the gratification of
their Majesties, who would fain see the sight once again from the
windows of their palace. Is there need to speak of the manner in which
the masque was acted, of the music and dances, of the properties and
scenes, of the stately banquet after the play and the grand ball which
began at a still later hour, of the king's urbanity and the graciousness
of Henrietta, who "did the honor to some of the masquers to dance with
them herself, and to judge them as good dancers as she ever saw!"

Notwithstanding a few untoward broils and accidents, the entertainment
passed off so satisfactorily that 'The Triumph of Peace' was acted for a
second time in the presence of the king and queen, in the Merchant
Taylors' Hall. Other diversions of the same kind followed with scarcely
less _éclat_. At Whitehall the king himself and some of the choicest
nobles of the land turned actors, and performed a grand masque, on which
occasion the Templars were present as spectators in seats of honor.

During the Shrovetide rejoicings of 1635, Henrietta even condescended to
witness the performance of Davenant's 'Triumphs of the Prince d'Amour,'
in the hall of the Middle Temple. Laying aside the garb of royalty, she
went to the Temple, attended by a party of lords and ladies, and fine
gentlemen who, like herself, assumed for the evening dresses suitable to
persons of private station. The Marquis of Hamilton, the Countess of
Denbigh, the Countess of Holland, and Lady Elizabeth Fielding were her
companions; whilst the official attendants on her person were the Earl
of Holland, Lord Goring, Mr. Percy, and Mr. Jermyn. Led to her place by
"Mrs. Basse, the law-woman," Henrietta took a seat upon a scaffold fixed
along the northern side of the hall, and amidst a crush of benchers'
wives and daughters saw the play and heartily enjoyed it.

Says Whitelock, at the conclusion of his account of the grand masque
given by the four inns, "Thus these dreams past, and these pomps
vanished." Scarcely had the frolic terminated when death laid a chill
hand on the time-serving Noy, who in the consequences of his dishonest
counsels left a cruel legacy to the master and the country whom he alike
betrayed. A few more years--and John Finch, having lost the Great Seal,
was an exile in a foreign land, destined to die in penury, without
again setting foot on his native soil. The graceful Herbert, whose
smooth cheek had flushed with joy at Henrietta's musical courtesies,
became for a brief day the mock Lord Keeper of Charles II.'s mock court
at Paris, and then, dishonored and disowned by his capricious master, he
languished in poverty and disease, until he found an obscure grave in
the French capital. More fortunate than his early rival, Edward Hyde
outlived Charles Stuart's days of adverse fortune, and rose to a
grievous greatness; but like that early rival, he, too, died in exile in
France. Perhaps of all the managers of the grand masque the scholarly
pedant, John Selden, had the greatest share of earthly satisfaction. Not
the least fortunate of the party was the historian of "the pomp and
glory, if not the vanity of the show," who having survived the
Commonwealth and witnessed the Restoration, was permitted to retain his
paternal estate, and in his last days could tell his numerous
descendants how his old chum, Edward Hyde, had risen, fallen,
and--passed to another world.



With the revival of gaiety which attended and followed the Restoration,
revels and masques came once more into vogue at the Inns of Court,
where, throughout the Commonwealth, plays had been prohibited, and
festivals had been either abolished or deprived of their ancient
hilarity. The caterers of amusement for the new king were not slow to
suggest that he should honor the lawyers with a visit; and in accordance
with their counsel, His Majesty took water on August 15, 1661, and went
in the royal barge from Whitehall to the Temple to dine at the Reader's

Heneage Finch had been chosen Autumn Reader of that inn, and in
accordance with ancient usage he demonstrated his ability to instruct
young gentlemen in the principles of English law, by giving a series of
costly banquets. From the days of the Tudors to the rise of Oliver
Cromwell, the Reader's feasts had been amongst the most sumptuous and
ostentatious entertainments of the town--the Sergeant's feasts scarcely
surpassing them in splendor, the inaugural dinners of lord mayors often
lagging behind them in expense. But Heneage Finch's lavish hospitality
outstripped the doings of all previous Readers. His revel was protracted
throughout six days, and on each of these days he received at his table
the representative members of some high social order or learned body.
Beginning with a dinner to the nobility and Privy Councillors, he
finished with a banquet to the king; and on the intervening days he
entertained the civic authorities, the College of Physicians, the civil
lawyers, and the dignitaries of the Church.

The king's visit was attended with imposing ceremony, and wanted no
circumstance that could have rendered the occasion more honorable to the
host or to the society of which he was a member. All the highest
officers of the court accompanied the monarch, and when he stepped from
his barge at the Temple Stairs, he spoke with jovial urbanity to his
entertainer and the Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, who received
him with tokens of loyal deference and attachment. "On each side," says
Dugdale, "as His Majesty passed, stood the Reader's servants in scarlet
cloaks and white tabba doublets; there being a way made through the wall
into the Temple Gardens; and above them on each side the benchers,
barristers, and other gentlemen of the society, all in their gowns and
formalities, the loud music playing from the time of his landing till he
entered the hall; where he was received with xx violins, which continued
as long as his majesty stayed." Fifty chosen gentlemen of the inn,
wearing their academic gowns, placed dinner on the table, and waited on
the feasters--no other servants being permitted to enter the hall during
the progress of the banquet. On the dais at the top of the hall, under a
canopy of state, the king and his brother James sat apart from men of
lower degree, whilst the nobles of Whitehall occupied one long table,
under the presidency of the Lord Chancellor, and the chief personages of
the inn dined at a corresponding long table, having the reader for their

In the following January, Charles II. and the Duke of York honored
Lincoln's Inn with a visit, whilst the mock Prince de la Grange held his
court within the walls of that society. Nine years later--in the
February of 1671--King Charles and his brother James again visited
Lincoln's Inn, on which occasion they were entertained by Sir Francis
Goodericke, Knt., the reader of the inn, who seems almost to have gone
beyond Heneage Finch in sumptuous profusion of hospitality. Of this
royal visit a particular account is to be seen in the Admittance Book of
the Honorable Society, from which it appears that the royal brothers
were attended by the Dukes of Monmouth and Richmond; the Earls of
Manchester, Bath, and Anglesea; Viscount Halifax, the Bishop of Ely,
Lord Newport, Lord Henry Howard, and "divers others of great qualitie."

The entertainment in most respects was a repetition of Sir Heneage
Finch's feast--the king, the Duke of York, and Prince Rupert dining on
the dais at the top of the hall, whilst the persons of inferior though
high quality were regaled at two long tables, set down the hall; and
the gentlemen of the inn condescending to act as menial servants. The
reader himself, dropping on his knee when he performed the servile
office, proffered the towel with which the king prepared himself for the
repast; and barristers of ancient lineage and professional eminence
contended for the honor of serving His Majesty with surloin and
cheesecake upon the knee, and hastened with the alacrity of well-trained
lacqueys to do the bidding of "the lords att their table." Having eaten
and drunk to his lively satisfaction, Charles called for the Admittance
Book of the Inn, and placed his name on the roll of members, thereby
conferring on the society an honor for which no previous king of England
had furnished a precedent. Following their chief's example, the Duke of
York and Prince Rupert and other nobles forthwith joined the fraternity
of lawyers; and hastily donning students' gowns, they mingled with the
troop of gowned servitors, and humbly waited on their liege lord.

In like manner, twenty-one years since (July 29, 1845) when Queen
Victoria and her lamented consort visited Lincoln's Inn, on the opening
of the new hall, they condescended to enter their names in the Admission
Book of the Inn, thereby making themselves students of the society. Her
Majesty has not been called to the bar; but Prince Albert in due course
became a barrister and bencher. Repeating the action of Charles II.'s
courtiers, the great Duke of Wellington and the bevy of great nobles
present at the celebration became fellow-students with the queen; and on
leaving the table the prince walked down the hall, wearing a student's
stuff gown (by no means the most picturesque of academic robes), over
his field-marshal's uniform. Her Majesty forbore to disarrange her
toilet--which consisted of a blue bonnet with blue feathers, a dress of
Limerick lace, and a scarlet shawl, with a deep gold edging--by putting
her arms through the sleeveless arm-holes of a bombazine frock.

Grateful to the lawyers for the cordiality with which they welcomed him
to the country, William III. accepted an invitation to the Middle
Temple, and was entertained by that society with a banquet and a masque,
of which notice has been taken in another chapter of this work; and in
1697-8 Peter the Great was a guest at the Christmas revels of the
Templars. On that occasion the Czar enjoyed a favorable opportunity for
gratifying his love of strong drink, and for witnessing the ease with
which our ancestors drank wine by the magnum and punch by the gallon,
when they were bent on enjoyment.

In the greater refinement and increasing delicacy of the eighteenth
century, the Inns of Court revels, which had for so many generations
been conspicuous amongst the gaieties of the town, became less and less
magnificent; and they altogether died out under the second of those
Georges who are thought by some persons to have corrupted public morals
and lowered the tastes of society. In 1733-4, when Lord Chancellor
Talbot's elevation to the woolsack was celebrated by a revel in the
Inner Temple Hall, the dulness and disorder of the celebration convinced
the lawyers that they had not acted wisely in attempting to revive
usages that had fallen into desuetude because they were inconvenient to
new arrangements or repugnant to modern taste. No attempt was made to
prolong the festivity over a succession of days. It was a revel of one
day; and no one wished to add another to the period of riot. At two
o'clock on Feb. 2, 1733-4, the new Chancellor, the master of the revels,
the benchers of the inns, and the guests (who were for the most part
lawyers), sat down to dinner in the hall. The barristers and students
had their ordinary fare, with the addition of a flask of claret to each
mess; but a superior repast was served at the High Table where fourteen
students (of whom the Chancellor's eldest son was one), served as
waiters. Whilst the banquet was in progress, musicians stationed in the
gallery at the upper end of the hall filled the room with deafening
noise, and ladies looked down upon the feasters from a large gallery
which had been fitted up for their reception over the screen. After
dinner, as soon as the hall could be cleared of dishes and decanters,
the company were entertained with 'Love for Love,' and 'The Devil to
Pay,' performed by professional actors who "all came from the Haymarket
in chairs, ready dressed, and (as it was said), refused any gratuity for
their trouble, looking upon the honor of distinguishing themselves on
this occasion as sufficient." The players having withdrawn, the judges,
sergeants, benchers, and other dignitaries, danced 'round about the coal
fire;' that is to say, they danced round about a stove in which there
was not a single spark of fire. The congregation of many hundreds of
persons, in a hall which had not comfortable room for half the number,
rendered the air so oppressively hot that the master of the revels
wisely resolved to lead his troop of revellers round an empty grate. The
chronicler of this ridiculous mummery observes: "And all the time of the
dance the ancient song, accompanied by music, was sung by one Toby
Aston, dressed in a bar-gown, whose father had formerly been Master of
the Plea Office in the King's Bench. When this was over, the ladies came
down from the gallery, went into the parliament chamber, and stayed
about a quarter of an hour, while the hall was being put in order. They
then went into the hall and danced a few minuets. Country dances began
at ten, and at twelve a Very fine cold collation was provided for the
whole company, from which they returned to dancing, which they
continued as long as they pleased, and the whole day's entertainment was
generally thought to be very genteelly and liberally conducted. The
Prince of Wales honored the performance with his company part of the
time; he came into the music _incog._ about the middle of the play, and
went away as soon as the farce of 'walking round the coal fire' was

With this notable dance of lawyers round an empty grate, the old revels
disappeared. In their Grand Days, equivalent to the gaudy days, or feast
days, or audit days of the colleges at Oxford and Cambridge, the Inns of
Court still retain the last vestiges of their ancient jollifications,
but the uproarious riot of the obsolete festivities is but faintly
echoed by the songs and laughter of the junior barristers and students
who in these degenerate times gladden their hearts and loosen their
tongues with an extra glass of wine after grand dinners, and then hasten
back to chambers for tobacco and tea.

On the discontinuance of the revels the Inns of Court lost their chief
attractions for the courtly pleasure-seekers of the town, and many a day
passed before another royal visit was paid to any one of the societies.
In 1734 George III.'s father stood amongst the musicians in the Inner
Temple Hall; and after the lapse of one century and eleven years the
present queen accepted the hospitality of Lincoln's Inn. No record
exists of a royal visit made to an Inn of Court between those events.
Only the other day, however, the Prince of Wales went eastwards and
partook of a banquet in the hall of Middle Temple, of which society he
is a barrister and a bencher.





Schools for the study of the Common Law, existed within the bounds of
the city of London, at the commencement of the thirteenth century. No
sooner had a permanent home been assigned to the Court of Common Pleas,
than legal practitioners fixed themselves in the neighborhood of
Westminster, or within the walls of London. A legal society speedily
grew up in the city; and some of the older and more learned professors
of the Common Law, devoting a portion of their time and energies to the
labors of instruction, opened academies for the reception of students.
Dugdale notices a tradition that in ancient times a law-school, called
Johnson's Inn, stood in Dowgate, that another existed in Pewter Lane,
and that Paternoster Row contained a third; and it is generally thought
that these three inns were amongst the academies which sprung up as soon
as the Common Pleas obtained a permanent abode.

The schools thus established in the opening years of the thirteenth
century, were not allowed to flourish for any great length of time; for
in the nineteenth year of his reign, Henry III. suppressed them by a
mandate addressed to the mayor and sheriffs of the city. But though this
king broke up the schools, the scholars persevered in their study; and
if the king's mandate aimed at a complete discontinuance of legal
instruction, his policy was signally defeated.

Successive writers have credited Edward III.'s reign with the
establishment of Inns of Court; and it has been erroneously inferred
that the study of the Common Law not only languished, but was altogether
extinct during the period of nearly one hundred years that intervened
between Henry III.'s dissolution of the city schools and Edward III.'s
accession. Abundant evidence, however, exists that this was not the
case. Edward I., in the twentieth year of his reign, ordered his judges
of the Common Pleas to "provide and ordain, from every county, certain
attorneys and lawyers" (in the original "atturnatus et _apprenticiis_")
"of the best and most apt for their learning and skill, who might do
service to his court and people; and those so chosen, and no other
should follow his court, and transact affairs therein; the words of
which order make it clear that the country contained a considerable body
of persons who devoted themselves to the study and practice of the law."
So also in the Year-book, 1 Ed. III., the words, "et puis une apprentise
demand," show that lawyers holding legal degrees existed in the very
first year of Edward III.'s reign; a fact which justifies the inference
that in the previous reign England contained Common Law schools capable
of granting the legal degree of apprentice. Again Dugdale remarks, "In
20 Ed. III., in a _quod ei deforciat_ to an exception taken, it was
answered by Sir Richard de Willoughby (then a learned justice of the
_Common Pleas_) and William Skipwith, (afterwards also one of the
justices of that court), that the same was no exception amongst the
_Apprentices in Hostells or Inns_." Whence it is manifest that Inns of
Court were institutions in full vigor at the time when they have been
sometimes represented as originally established.

But after their expulsion from the city, there is reason to think that
the common lawyers made no attempt to reside in colleges within its
boundaries. They preferred to establish themselves on spots where they
could enjoy pure air and rural quietude, could surround themselves with
trees and lawns, or refresh their eyes with the sight of the silver
Thames. In the earliest part of the fourteenth century, they took
possession of a great palace that stood on the western outskirt of the
town, and looked westwards upon green fields, whilst its eastern wall
abutted on New Street--a thoroughfare that was subsequently called
Chancellor's Lane, and has for many years been known as Chancery Lane.
This palace had been the residence of Henry Lacy, Earl of Lincoln, who
conferred upon the building the name which it still bears. The earl died
in 1310, some seventeen years before Edward III.'s accession; and
Thynne, the antiquary, was of opinion that no considerable period
intervened between Henry Lacy's death and the entry of the lawyers. In
the same century, the lawyers took possession of the Temple. The exact
date of their entry is unknown; but Chaucer's verse enables the student
to fix, with sufficient preciseness, the period when the more noble
apprentices of the law first occupied the Temple as tenants of the
Knight's Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem, who obtained a grant of
the place from Edward III.[21] The absence of fuller particulars
concerning the early history of the legal Templars, is ordinarily and
with good reason attributed to Wat Tyler's rebels, who destroyed the
records of the fraternity by fire. From roof to basement, beginning with
the tiles, and working downwards, the mob destroyed the principal houses
of the college; and when they had burnt all the archives on which they
could lay hands, they went off and expended their remaining fury on
other buildings, of which the Knights of St. John were proprietors.

The same men who saw the lawyers take possession of the Temple on the
northern banks of the Thames, and of the Earl of Lincoln's palace in New
Street, saw them also make a third grand settlement. The manor of
Portepoole, or Purpoole, became the property of the Grays of Wilton, in
the twenty-second year of Edward I.; and on its green fields, lying
north of Holborn, a society of lawyers established a college which still
retains the name of the ancient proprietors of the soil. Concerning the
exact date of its institution, the uncertainty is even greater than
that which obscures the foundation of the Temple and Lincoln's Inn; but
antiquaries have agreed to assign the creation of Gray's Inn, as an
hospicium for the entertainment of lawyers, to the time of Edward III.

The date at which the Temple lawyers split up into two separate
societies, is also unknown; but assigning the division to some period
posterior to Wat Tyler's insurrection, Dugdale says, "But,
notwithstanding, this spoil by the rebels, those students so increased
here, that at length they divided themselves into two bodies; the one
commonly known by the Society of the Inner Temple, and the other of the
Middle Temple, holding this mansion as tenants." But as both societies
had a common origin in the migration of lawyers from Thavies Inn,
Holborn, in the time of Edward III., it is usual to speak of the two
Temples as instituted in that reign, and to regard all four Inns of
Court as the work of the fourteenth century.

The Inns of Chancery for many generations maintained towards the Inns of
Court a position similar to that which Eton School maintains towards
King's at Cambridge, or that which Winchester School holds to New
College at Oxford. They were seminaries in which lads underwent
preparation for the superior discipline and greater freedom of the four
colleges. Each Inn of Court had its own Inns of Chancery, yearly
receiving from them the pupils who had qualified themselves for
promotion to the status of Inns-of-Court men. In course of time,
students after receiving the preliminary education in an Inn of Chancery
were permitted to enter an Inn of Court on which their Inn of Chancery
was not dependent; but at every Inn of Court higher admission fees were
charged to students coming from Inns of Chancery over which it had no
control, than to students who came from its own primary schools. If the
reader bears in mind the difference in respect to age, learning, and
privileges between our modern public schoolboys and university
undergraduates, he will realize with sufficient nearness to truth the
differences which existed between the Inns of Chancery students and the
Inns of Court students in the fifteenth century; and in the students,
utter-barristers, and benchers of the Inns of Court at the same period
he may see three distinct orders of academic persons closely resembling
the undergraduates, bachelors of arts, and masters of arts in our

In the 'De Laudibus Legum Angliæ,'[22] written in the latter part of the
fifteenth century, Sir John Fortescue says--"But to the intent, most
excellent Prince, yee may conceive a forme and an image of this study,
as I am able, I wil describe it unto you. For there be in it ten lesser
houses or innes, and sometimes moe, which are called Innes of the
Chauncerye. And to every one of them belongeth an hundred students at
least, and to some of them a much greater number, though they be not
ever all together in the same."

In Charles II.'s time there were eight Inns of Chancery; and of them
three were subsidiary to the Inner Temple--viz., Clifford's Inn,
Clement's Inn, and Lyon's Inn. Clifford's Inn (originally the town
residence of the Barons Clifford) was first inhabited by law-students in
the eighteenth year of Edward III. Clement's Inn (taking its name from
the adjacent St. Clement's Well) was certainly inhabited by law-students
as early as the nineteenth year of Edward IV. Lyon's Inn was an Inn of
Chancery in the time of Henry V.

One alone (New Inn) was attached to the Middle Temple. In the previous
century, the Middle Temple had possessed another Inn of Chancery called
Strand Inn; but in the third year of Edward VI. this nursery was pulled
down by the Duke of Somerset, who required the ground on which it stood
for the site of Somerset House.

Lincoln's Inn had for dependent schools Furnival's Inn and Thavies
Inn--the latter of which hostels was inhabited by law-students in Edward
III.'s time. Of Furnival's Inn (originally Lord Furnival's town mansion,
and converted into a law-school in Edward VI.'s reign) Dugdale says:
"After which time the Principall and Fellows of this Inne have paid to
the society of Lincoln's Inne the rent of iiil vis iiid as an yearly
rent for the same, as may appear by the accompts of that house; and by
speciall order there made, have had these following priviledges: first
(viz. 10 Eliz.), that the utter-barristers of Furnivall's Inne, of a
yeares continuance, and so certified and allowed by the Benchers of
Lincoln's Inne, shall pay no more than four marks apiece for their
admittance into that society. Next (viz. in Eliz.) that every fellow of
this inne, who hath been allowed an utter-barrister here, and that hath
mooted here two vacations at the Utter Bar, shall pay no more for their
admission into the Society of Lincoln's Inne, than xiiis iiiid, though
all utter-barristers of any other Inne of Chancery (excepting Thavyes
Inne) should pay xxs, and that every inner-barrister of this house, who
hath mooted here one vacation at the Inner Bar, should pay for his
admission into this House but xxs, those of other houses (excepting
Thavyes Inne) paying xxvis viiid."

The subordinate seminaries of Gray's Inn, in Dugdale's time, were Staple
Inn and Barnard's Inn. Originally the Exchange of the London woolen
merchants, Staple Inn was a law-school as early as Henry V.'s time. It
is probable that Bernard's Inn became an academy for law-students in
the reign of Henry VI.

[21] Chaucer mentions the Temple thus:--

"A manciple there was of the Temple, Of which all catours might take
ensemple For to be wise in buying of vitaile; For whether he pay'd or
took by taile, Algate he wayted so in his ashate, That he was aye before
in good estate. Now is not that of God a full faire grace, That such a
leude man's wit shall pace The wisdome of an heape of learned men? Of
masters had he more than thrice ten, That were of law expert and
curious, Of which there was a dozen in that house, Worthy to been
stewards of rent and land Of any lord that is in England; To maken him
live by his proper good In honour debtless, but if he were wood; Or live
as scarcely as him list desire, And able to helpen all a shire, In any
case that might have fallen or hap, And yet the manciple set all her

[22] The 'De Laudibus' was written in Latin; but for the convenience of
readers not familiar with that classic tongue, the quotations from the
treatise are given from Robert Mulcaster's English version.



Thus planted in the fourteenth century beyond the confines of the city,
and within easy access of Westminster Hall, the Inns of Court and
Chancery formed an university, which soon became almost as powerful and
famous as either Oxford or Cambridge. For generations they were spoken
of collectively as the law-university, and though they were voluntary
societies--in their nature akin to the club-houses of modern
London--they adopted common rules of discipline, and an uniform system
of instruction. Students flocked to them in abundance; and whereas the
students of Oxford and Cambridge were drawn from the plebeian ranks of
society, the scholars of the law-university were almost invariably the
sons of wealthy men and had usually sprung from gentle families. To be a
law-student was to be a stripling of quality. The law university enjoyed
the same patrician _prestige_ and _éclat_ that now belong to the more
aristocratic houses of the old universities.

Noblemen sent their sons to it in order that they might acquire the
style and learning and accomplishments of polite society. A proportion
of the students were encouraged to devote themselves to the study of the
law and to attend sedulously the sittings of Judges in Westminster Hall;
but the majority of well-descended boys who inhabited the Inns of
Chancery were heirs to good estates, and were trained to become their
wealth rather than to increase it--to perfect themselves in graceful
arts, rather than to qualify themselves to hold briefs. The same was the
case in the Inns of Court, which were so designated--not because they
prepared young men to rise in courts of law, but because they taught
them to shine in the palaces of kings. It is a mistake to suppose that
the Inns of Court contain at the present time a larger proportion of
idle members, who have no intention to practise at the bar, than they
contained under the Plantagenets and Tudors. On the contrary, in the
fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the number of Templars who merely
played at being lawyers, or were lawyers only in name, was actually as
well as relatively greater than the merely _nominal_ lawyers of the
Temple at the present time. For several generations, and for two
centuries after Sir John Fortescue wrote the 'De Laudibus,' the
Inns-of-Court man was more busied in learning to sing than in learning
to argue a law cause, more desirous to fence with a sword than to fence
with logic.

"Notwithstanding," runs Mulcaster's translation of the 'De
Laudibus,'[23] "the same lawes are taught and learned, in a certaine
place of publique or common studie, more convenient and apt for
attayninge to the knowledge of them, than any other university. For
theyr place of studie is situate nigh to the Kinges Courts, where the
same lawes are pleaded and argued, and judgements by the same given by
judges, men of gravitie, auncient in yeares, perfit and graduate in the
same lawes. Wherefore, euerie day in court, the students in those lawes
resorte by great numbers into those courts wherein the same lawes are
read and taught, as it were in common schooles. This place of studie is
far betweene the place of the said courts and the cittie of London,
which of all thinges necessarie is the plentifullest of all cities and
townes of the realme. So that the said place of studie is not situate
within the cittie, where the confluence of people might disturb the
quietnes of the studentes, but somewhat severall in the suburbes of the
same cittie, and nigher to the saide courts, that the studentes may
dayelye at their pleasure have accesse and recourse thither without

Setting forth the condition and pursuits of law-students in his day, Sir
John Fortesque continues; "For in these greater inns, there can no
student bee mayntayned for lesse expenses by the yeare than twentye
markes. And if hee have a servaunt to wait uppon him, as most of them
have, then so much the greater will his charges bee. Nowe, by reason of
this charge, the children onely of noblemenne doo studye the lawes in
those innes. For the poore and common sorte of the people are not able
to bear so great charges for the exhibytion of theyr chyldren. And
Marchaunt menne can seldome finde in theyr heartes to hynder theyr
merchaundise with so greate yearly expenses. And it thus falleth out
that there is scant anye man founde within the realme skilfull and
cunning in the lawes, except he be a gentleman borne, and come of noble
stocke. Wherefore they more than any other kinde of men have a speciall
regarde to their nobility, and to the preservation of their honor and
fame. And to speake upryghtlye, there is in these greater innes, yea,
and in the lesser too, beside the studie of the lawes, as it were an
university or schoole of all commendable qualities requisite for noble
men. There they learn to sing, and to exercise themselves in all kinde
of harmonye. There also they practice daunsing, and other noblemen's
pastimes, as they use to do, which are brought up in the king's house.
On the working dayes, the most of them apply themselves to the studye of
the lawe, and on the holye dayes to the studye of holye Scripture;[24]
and out of the tyme of divine service, to the reading of Chronicles. For
there indeede are vertues studied, and vices exiled. So that, for the
endowment of vertue, and abandoning of vice, Knights and Barrons, with
other states and noblemen of the realme, place their children in those
innes, though they desire not to have them learned in the lawes, nor to
lieue by the practice thereof, but onely uppon their father's allowance.
Scant at anye tyme is there heard among them any sedition, chyding, or
grudging, and yet the offenders are punished with none other payne, but
onely to bee amooved from the compayne of their fellowshippe. Which
punishment they doo more feare than other criminall offendours doo feare
imprisonment and yrons: For hee that is once expelled from anye of those
fellowshippes is never received to bee a felowe in any of the other
fellowshippes. And so by this means there is continuall peace; and their
demeanor is lyke the behaviour of such as are coupled together in
perfect amytie."

Any person familiar with the Inns of Court at the present time will see
how closely the law-colleges of Victoria's London resemble in many
important particulars the law-colleges of Fortescue's period. After the
fashion of four centuries since young men are still induced to enter
them for the sake of honorable companionship, good society, and social
prestige, rather than for the sake of legal education. After the remarks
already made with regard to musical lawyers in a previous section of
this work, it is needless to say that Inns of Court men are not
remarkable for their application to vocal harmony; but the younger
members are still remarkable for the zeal with which they endeavor to
master the accomplishments which distinguish men of fashion and tone. If
the nominal (sometimes they are called 'ornamental') barristers of the
fifteenth century liked to read the Holy Scriptures, the young lawyers
of the nineteenth century are no less disposed to read their Bibles
critically, and argue as to the merits of Bishop Colenso and his
opponents. Moreover, the discipline described by Fortescue is still
found sufficient to maintain order in the inns.

Writing more than a century after Fortescue, Sir John Ferne, in his
'Blazon of Gentrie, the Glory of Generosity, and the Lacy's Nobility,'
observes: "Nobleness of blood, joyned with virtue, compteth the person
as most meet to the enterprize of any public service; and for that cause
it was not for nought that our antient governors in this land, did with
a special foresight and wisdom provide, that none should be admitted
into the Houses of Court, being seminaries sending forth men apt to the
government of justice, except he were a gentleman of blood. And that
this may seem a truth, I myself have seen a kalendar of all those which
were together in the society of one of the same houses, about the last
year of King Henry the Fifth, with the armes of their House and family
marshalled by their names; and I assure you, the self same monument doth
both approve them all to be gentlemen of perfect descents and also the
number of them much less than now it is, being at that time in one house
scarcely three score."[25]

This passage from an author who delighted to magnify the advantages of
generous descent, has contributed to the very general and erroneous
impression that until comparatively recent times the members of the
English bar were necessarily drawn from the highest ranks of society;
and several excellent writers on the antiquities of the law have laid
aside their customary caution and strengthened Ferne's words with
inaccurate comment.

Thus Pearce says of the author of the 'Glory of Generositie'--"He was
one of the advocates for excluding from the Inns of Court all who were
not 'a gentleman by blood,' according to the ancient rule mentioned by
Fortescue, which seems to have been disregarded in Elizabeth's time."
Fortescue nowhere mentions any such rule, but attributes the
aristocratic character of the law-colleges to the high cost of
membership. Far from implying that men of mean extraction were excluded
by an express prohibition, his words justify the inference that no such
rule existed in his time.

Though Inns-of-Court men were for many generations gentlemen by birth
almost without a single exception, it yet remains to be proved that
plebeian birth at any period disqualified persons for admission to the
law-colleges. If such a restriction ever existed it had disappeared
before the close of the fifteenth century--a period not favorable to the
views of those who were most anxious to remove the barriers placed by
feudal society between the gentle and the vulgar. Sir John More (the
father of the famous Sir Thomas) was a Judge in the King's Bench,
although his parentage was obscure; and it is worthy of notice that he
was a successful lawyer of Fortescue's period. Lord Chancellor Audley
was not entitled to bear arms by birth, but was merely the son of a
prosperous yeoman. The lowliness of his extraction cannot have been any
serious impediment to him, for before the end of his thirty-sixth year
he was a sergeant. In the following century the inns received a steadily
increasing number of students, who either lacked generous lineage or
were the offspring of shameful love. For instance, Chief Justice Wray's
birth was scandalous; and if Lord Ellesmere in his youth reflected with
pride on the dignity of his father, Sir Richard Egerton, he had reason
to blush for his mother. Ferne's lament over the loss of heraldric
virtue and splendor, which the inns had sustained in his time, testifies
to the presence of a considerable plebeian element amongst the members
of the law-university. But that which was marked in the sixteenth was
far more apparent in the seventeenth century. Scroggs's enemies were
wrong in stigmatizing him as a butcher's son, for the odious chief
justice was born and bred a gentleman, and Jeffreys could boast a decent
extraction; but there is abundance of evidence that throughout the
reigns of the Stuarts the inns swarmed with low-born adventurers. The
career of Chief Justice Saunders, who, beginning as a "poor beggar boy,"
of unknown parentage, raised himself to the Chiefship of the King's
Bench, shows how low an origin a judge might have in the seventeenth
century. To mention the names of such men as Parker, King, Yorke, Ryder,
and the Scotts, without placing beside them the names of such men as
Henley, Harcourt, Bathurst, Talbot, Murray, and Erskine, would tend to
create an erroneous impression that in the eighteenth century the bar
ceased to comprise amongst its industrious members a large aristocratic

The number of barristers, however, who in that period brought themselves
by talent and honorable perseverance into the foremost rank of the legal
profession in spite of humble birth, unquestionably shows that ambitious
men from the obscure middle classes were more frequently than in any
previous century found pushing their fortunes in Westminster Hall. Lord
Macclesfield was the son of an attorney whose parents were of lowly
origin, and whose worldly means were even lower than their ancestral
condition. Lord Chancellor King's father was a grocer and salter who
carried on a retail business at Exeter; and in his youth the Chancellor
himself had acted as his father's apprentice--standing behind the
counter and wearing the apron and sleeves of a grocer's servitor. Philip
Yorke was the son of a country attorney who could boast neither wealth
nor gentle descent. Chief Justice Ryder was the son of a mercer whose
shop stood in West Smithfield, and grandson of a dissenting minister,
who, though he bore the name, is not known to have inherited the blood
of the Yorkshire Ryders. Sir William Blackstone was the fourth son of a
silkman and citizen of London. Lords Stowell and Eldon were the children
of a provincial tradesman. The learned and good Sir Samuel Romilly's
father was Peter Romilly, jeweller, of Frith Street, Soho. Such were the
origins of some of the men who won the prizes of the law in
comparatively recent times. The present century has produced an even
greater number of barristers who have achieved eminence, and are able to
say with honest pride that they are the _first_ gentlemen mentioned in
their pedigrees; and so thoroughly has the bar become an open
profession, accessible to all persons[26] who have the means of
gentlemen, that no barrister at the present time would have the bad
taste or foolish hardihood to express openly his regret that the members
of a liberal profession should no longer pay a hurtful attention to
illiberal distinctions.

According to Fortescue, the law-students belonging at the same time to
the Inns of Court and Chancery numbered _at least_ one thousand eight
hundred in the fifteenth century; and it may be fairly inferred from his
words that their number considerably exceeded two thousand. To each of
the ten Inns of Chancery the author of the 'De Laudibus' assigns "an
hundred students at the least, and to some of them a much greater
number;" and he says that the least populous of the four Inns of Court
contained "two hundred students or thereabouts." At the present time the
number of barristers--together with Fellows of the College of Advocates,
and certificated special pleaders and conveyancers not at the bar--is
shown by the Law List for 1866 to be somewhat more than 4800.[27] Even
when it is borne in mind how much the legal business of the whole nation
has necessarily increased with the growth of our commercial
prosperity--it being at the same time remembered, upon the other hand,
how many times the population of the country has doubled itself since
the wars of the Roses--few persons will be of opinion that the legal
profession, either by the number of its practitioners or its command of
employment, is a more conspicuous and prosperous power at the present
time than it was in the fifteenth century.

Ferne was by no means the only gentleman of Elizabethan London to
deplore the rapid increase in the number of lawyers, and to regret the
growing liberality which encouraged--or rather the national prosperity
which enabled--men of inferior parentage to adopt the law as a
profession. In his address on Mr. Clerke's elevation to the dignity of a
sergeant, Lord Chancellor Hatton, echoing the common complaint
concerning the degradation of the law through the swarms of plebeian
students and practitioners, observed--"Let not the dignitie of the lawe
be geven to men unmeete. And I do exhorte you all that are heare present
not to call men to the barre or the benches that are so unmeete. I finde
that there are now more at the barre in one house than there was in all
the Innes of Court when I was a younge man." Notwithstanding the
Chancellor's earnest statement of his personal recollection of the state
of things when he was a young man, there is reason to think that he was
quite in error in thinking that lawyers had increased so greatly in
number. From a MS. in Lord Burleigh's collection, it appears that in
1586 the number of law-students, resident during term, was only 1703--a
smaller number than that which Fortescue computed the entire population
of the London law-students, at a time when civil war had cruelly
diminished the number of men likely to join an aristocratic university.
Sir Edward Coke estimated the roll of Elizabethan law-students at one
thousand, half their number in Fortescue's time. Coke, however, confined
his attention in this matter to the Students of Inns of Court, and paid
no attention to Inns of Chancery. Either Hatton greatly exaggerated the
increase of the legal working profession; or in previous times the
proportion of law-students who never became barristers greatly exceeded
those who were ultimately called to the bar.

Something more than a hundred years later, the old cry against the
low-born adventurers, who, to the injury of the public and the
degradation of the law, were said to overwhelm counsellors and
solicitors of superior tone and pedigree, was still frequently heard in
the coteries of disappointed candidates for employment in Westminster
Hall, and on the lips of men whose hopes of achieving social distinction
were likely to be frustrated so long as plebeian learning and energy
were permitted to have free action. In his 'History of Hertfordshire'
(published in 1700), Sir Henry Chauncey, Sergeant-at-Law, exclaims: "But
now these mechanicks, ambitious of rule and government, often educate
their sons in these seminaries of law, whereby they overstock the
profession, and so make it contemptible; whilst the gentry, not sensible
of the mischief they draw upon themselves, but also upon the nation,
prefer them in their business before their own children, whom they
bereave of their employment, formerly designed for their support;
qualifying their servants, by the profit of this profession, to purchase
their estates, and by this means make them their lords and masters,
whilst they lessen the trade of the kingdom, and cause a scarcity of
husbandmen, workmen, artificers, and servants in the nation."

That the Inns of Court became less and less aristocratic throughout the
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries there is no reason to doubt; but it
may be questioned whether it was so overstocked with competent working
members, as poor Sir Henry Chauncey imagined it. Describing the state of
the inns some two generations later, Blackstone computed the number of
law-students at about a thousand, perhaps slightly more; and he observes
that in his time the merely _nominal_ law-students were comparatively
few. "Wherefore," he says, "few gentlemen now resort to the Inns of
Court, but such for whom the knowledge of practice is absolutely
necessary; such, I mean, as are intended for the profession; the rest of
our gentry, (not to say our nobility also) having usually retired to
their estates, or visited foreign kingdoms, or entered upon public life,
without any instruction in the laws of the land, and indeed with hardly
any opportunity of gaining instruction, unless it can be afforded to
them in the universities."

The folly of those who lamented that men of plebeian rank were allowed
to adopt the legal profession as a means of livelihood, was however
exceeded by the folly of men of another sort, who endeavored to hide the
humble extractions of eminent lawyers, under the ingenious falsehoods of
fictitious pedigrees. In the last century, no sooner had a lawyer of
humble birth risen to distinction, than he was pestered by fabricators
of false genealogies, who implored him to accept their silly romances
about his ancestry. In most cases, these ridiculous applicants hoped to
receive money for their dishonest representations; but not seldom it
happened that they were actuated by a sincere desire to protect the
heraldic honor of the law from the aspersions of those who maintained
that a man might fight his way to the woolsack, although his father had
been a tender of swine. Sometimes these imaginative chroniclers, not
content with fabricating a genealogical chart for a _parvenu_ Lord
Chancellor, insisted that he should permit them to write their lives in
such a fashion, that their earlier experiences should seem to be in
harmony with their later fortunes. Lord Macclesfield (the son of a poor
and ill-descended country attorney), was traced by officious adulators
to Reginald Le Parker, who accompanied Edward I., while Prince of Wales,
to the Holy Land. In like manner a manufacturer of genealogies traced
Lord Eldon to Sir Michael Scott of Balwearie. When one of this servile
school of worshippers approached Lord Thurlow with an assurance that he
was of kin with Cromwell's secretary Thurloe, the Chancellor, with bluff
honesty, responded, "Sir, as Mr. Secretary Thurloe was, like myself, a
Suffolk man, you have an excuse for your mistake. In the seventeenth
century two Thurlows, who were in no way related to each other,
flourished in Suffolk. One was Cromwell's secretary Thurloe, the other
was Thurlow, the Suffolk carrier. I am descended from the carrier."
Notwithstanding Lord Thurlow's frequent and consistent disavowals of
pretension to any heraldic pedigree, his collateral descendants are
credited in the 'Peerages' with a descent from an ancient family.

[23] This charming book was written during the author's exile, which
began in 1463.

[24] This passage is one of several passages in Pre-reformation English
literature which certify that the Bible was much more widely and
carefully read by lettered and studious layman, in times prior to the
rupture between England and Rome, than many persons are aware, and some
violent writers like to acknowledge.

[25] Pathetically deploring the change wrought by time, Ferne also
observes of the Inns of Court,--"Pity to see the same places, through
the malignity of the times, and the negligence of those which should
have had care to the same, been altered quite from their first

[26] It is not unusual now-a-days to see on the screened list of
students about to be called to the bar the names of gentlemen who have
caused themselves to be described in the quasi-public lists as the sons
of tradesmen. Some few years since a gentleman who has already made his
name known amongst juniors, was thus 'screened'in the four halls as the
son of a petty tradesman in an obscure quarter of London; and assuming
that his conduct was due to self-respect and affectionate regard for his
parent, it seemed to most observers that the young lawyer, in thus
frankly stating his lowly origin, acted with spirit and dignity. It may
be that years hence this highly-accomplished gentleman will, like Lord
Tenterden and Lord St. Leonards (both of whom were the sons of honest
but humble tradesmen), see his name placed upon the roll of England's
hereditary noblesse.

[27] Of this number about 2500 reside in or near London and maintain
some apparent connexion with the Inns of Court. Of the remainder, some
reside in Scotland, some in Ireland, some in the English provinces, some
in the colonies; whilst some of them, although their names are still on
the Law List, have ceased to regard themselves as members of the legal



No circumstances of the Norman Conquest more forcibly illustrate the
humiliation of the conquered people, than the measures by which the
invaders imposed their language on the public courts of the country, and
endeavored to make it permanently usurp the place of the mother-tongue
of the despised multitude; and no fact more signally displays our
conservative temper than the general reluctance of English society to
relinquish the use of the French words and phrases which still tincture
the language of parliament, and the procedures of Westminster Hall,
recalling to our minds the insolent domination of a few powerful
families who occupied our country by force, and ruled our forefathers
with vigorous injustice.

Frenchmen by birth, education, sympathy, William's barons did their
utmost to make England a new France: and for several generations the
descendants of the successful invaders were no less eager to abolish
every usage which could remind the vanquished race of their lost
supremacy. French became the language of parliament and the
council-chamber. It was spoken by the judges who dispensed justice in
the name of a French king, and by the lawyers who followed the royal
court in the train of the French-speaking judges. In the hunting-field
and the lists no gentleman entitled to bear coat-armour deigned to utter
a word of English: it was the same in Fives' Court and at the
gambling-table. Schoolmasters were ordered to teach their pupils to
construe from Latin into French, instead of into English; and young men
of Anglo-Saxon extraction, bent on rising in the world by native talent
and Norman patronage, labored to acquire the language of the ruling
class and forget the accents of their ancestors. The language and usages
of modern England abound with traces of the French of this period. To
every act that obtained the royal assent during last session of
parliament, the queen said "La reyne le veult." Every bill which is sent
up from the Commons to the Lords, an officer of the lower house endorses
with "Soit bailé aux Seigneurs;" and no bill is ever sent down from the
Lords to the Commons until a corresponding officer of the upper house
has written on its back, "Soit bailé aux Communes."

In like manner our parochial usages, local sports, and domestic games
continually remind us of the obstinate tenacity with which the
Anglo-Saxon race has preserved, and still preserves, the vestiges of its
ancient subjection to a foreign yoke. The crier of a country town, in
any of England's fertile provinces, never proclaims the loss of a
yeoman's sporting-dog, the auction of a bankrupt dealer's
stock-in-trade, or the impounding of a strayed cow, until he has
commanded, in Norman-French, the attention of the sleepy rustics. The
language of the stable and the kennel is rich in traces of Norman
influence; and in backgammon, as played by orthodox players, we have a
suggestive memorial of those Norman nobles, of whom Fortescue, in the
'De Laudibus' observes: "Neither had they delyght to hunt, and to
exercise other sportes and pastimes, as dyce-play and the hand-ball, but
in their own proper tongue."

In behalf of the Norman _noblesse_ it should be borne in mind that their
policy in this matter was less intentionally vexatious and insolent than
it has appeared to superficial observers. In the great majority of
causes the suitors were Frenchmen; and it was just as reasonable that
they should like to understand the arguments of their counsel and
judges, as it is reasonable for suitors in the present day to require
the proceedings in Westminster Hall to be clothed in the language most
familiar to the majority of persons seeking justice in its courts. If
the use of French pleadings was hard on the one Anglo-Saxon suitor who
demanded justice in Henry I.'s time, the use of English pleadings would
have been equally annoying to the nine French gentlemen who appeared for
the same purpose in the king's court. It was greatly to be desired that
the two races should have one common language; and common sense ordained
that the tongue of the one or the other race should be adopted as the
national language. Which side therefore was to be at the pains to learn
a new tongue? Should the conquerors labor to acquire Anglo-Saxon? or
should the conquered be required to learn French? In these days the
cultivated Englishmen who hold India by military force, even as the
Norman invaders held England, by the right of might, settle a similar
question by taking upon themselves the trouble of learning as much of
the Asiatic dialects as is necessary for purposes of business. But the
Norman barons were not cultivated; and for many generations ignorance
was with them an affair of pride no less than of constitutional

Soon ambitious Englishmen acquired the new language, in order to use it
as an instrument for personal advancement. The Saxon stripling who could
keep accounts in Norman fashion, and speak French as fluently as his
mother tongue, might hope to sell his knowledge in a good market. As the
steward of a Norman baron he might negotiate between my lord and my
lord's tenants, letting my lord know as much of his tenant's wishes, and
revealing to the tenants as much of their lord's intentions as suited
his purpose. Uniting in his own person the powers of interpreter,
arbitrator, and steward, he possessed enviable opportunities and
facilities for acquiring wealth. Not seldom, when he had grown rich, or
whilst his fortunes were in the ascendant, he assumed a French name as
well as a French accent; and having persuaded himself and his younger
neighbors that he was a Frenchman, he in some cases bequeathed to his
children an ample estate and a Norman pedigree. In certain causes in the
law courts the agent (by whatever title known) who was a perfect master
of the three languages (French, Latin, and English) had greatly the
advantage over an opposing agent who could speak only French and Latin.

From the Conquest till the latter half of the fourteenth century the
pleadings in courts of justice were in Norman-French; but in the 36 Ed.
III., it was ordained by the king "that all plees, which be to be pleded
in any of his courts, before any of his justices; or in his other
places; or before any of his other ministers; or in the courts and
places of any other lords within the realm, shall be pleded, shewed, and
defended, answered, debated, and judged in the English tongue, and that
they be entred and enrolled in Latine. And that the laws and customs of
the same realm, termes, and processes, be holden and kept as they be,
and have been before this time; and that by the antient termes and forms
of the declarations no man be prejudiced; so that the matter of the
action be fully shewed in the demonstration and in the writ." Long
before this wise measure of reform was obtained by the urgent wishes of
the nation, the French of the law courts had become so corrupt and
unlike the language of the invaders, that it was scarcely more
intelligible to educated natives of France than to most Englishmen of
the highest rank. A jargon compounded of French and Latin, none save
professional lawyers could translate it with readiness or accuracy; and
whilst it unquestionably kept suitors in ignorance of their own affairs,
there is reason to believe that it often perplexed the most skilful of
those official interpreters who were never weary of extolling his
lucidity and precision.

But though English lawyers were thus expressly forbidden in 1362 to
plead in Law-French, they persisted in using the hybrid jargon for
reports and treatises so late as George II.'s reign; and for an equal
length of time they seized every occasion to introduce scraps of
Law-French into their speeches at the bars of the different courts. It
should be observed that these antiquarian advocates were enabled thus to
display their useless erudition by the provisions of King Edward's act,
which, while it forbade French _pleadings_, specially ordained the
retention of French terms.

Roger North's essay 'On the study of the Laws' contains amusing
testimony to the affection with which the lawyers of his day regarded
their Law-French, and also shows how largely it was used till the close
of the seventeenth century by the orators of Westminster Hall. "Here I
must stay to observe," says the author, enthusiastically, "the
necessity of a student's early application to learn the old Law-French,
for these books, and most others of considerable authority, are
delivered in it. Some may think that because the Law-French is no better
than the old Norman corrupted, and now a deformed hotch-potch of the
English and Latin mixed together, it is not fit for a polite spark to
foul himself with; but this nicety is so desperate a mistake, that
lawyer and Law-French are coincident; one will not stand without the
other." So enamored was he of the grace and excellence of law-reporters'
French, that he regarded it as a delightful study for a man of fashion,
and maintained that no barrister would do justice to the law and the
interests of his clients who did not season his sentences with Norman
verbiage. "The law," he held, "is scarcely expressible properly in
English, and when it is done, it must be _Françoise_, or very uncouth."

Edward III.'s measure prohibitory of French pleadings had therefore
comparatively little influence on the educational course of
law-students. The published reports of trials, known by the name of
Year-Books, were composed in French, until the series terminated in the
time of Henry VIII.; and so late as George II.'s reign, Chief Baron
Comyn preferred such words as 'chemin,' 'dismes,' and 'baron and feme,'
to such words as 'highway,' 'tithes,' 'husband and wife.' More liberal
than the majority of his legal brethren, even as his enlightenment with
regard to public affairs exceeded that of ordinary politicians of his
time, Sir Edward Coke wrote his commentaries in English, but when he
published them, he felt it right to soothe the alarm of lawyers by
assuring them that his departure from ancient usage could have no
disastrous consequences. "I cannot conjecture," he apologetically
observes in his preface, "that the general communicating these laws in
the English tongue can work any inconvenience."

Some of the primary text-books of legal lore had been rendered into
English, and some most valuable treatises had been written and published
in the mother tongue of the country; but in the seventeenth century no
Inns-of-Court man could acquire an adequate acquaintance with the usages
and rules of our courts and the decisions of past judges, until he was
able to study the Year-Books and read Littleton in the original. To
acquire this singular language--a _dead_ tongue that cannot be said to
have ever lived--was the first object of the law-student. He worked at
it in his chamber, and with faltering and uncertain accents essayed to
speak it at the periodic mootings in which he was required to take part
before he could be called to the bar, and also after he had become an
utter-barrister. In his 'Autobiography,' Sir Simonds D'Ewes makes
mention in several places of his Law-French exercises (_temp._ James
I.), and in one place of his personal story he observes, "I had twice
mooted in Law-French before I was called to the bar, and several times
after I was made an utter-barrister, in our open hall. Thrice also
before I was of the bar, I argued the reader's cases at the Inns of
Chancery publicly, and six times afterwards. And then also, being an
utter-barrister, I had twice argued our Middle-Temple reader's case at
the cupboard, and sat nine times in our hall at the bench, and argued
such cases in English as had before been argued by young gentlemen or
utter-barristers in Law-French bareheaded."

Amongst the excellent changes by which the more enlightened of the
Commonwealth lawyers sought to lessen the public clamor of law-reform
was the resolution that all legal records should be kept, and all writs
composed, in the language of the country. Hitherto the law records had
been kept in a Latin that was quite as barbarous as the French used by
the reporters; and the determination to abolish a custom which served
only to obscure the operations of justice and to confound the illiterate
was hailed by the more intelligent purchasers of law as a notable step
in the right direction. But the reform was by no means acceptable to the
majority of the bar, who did not hesitate to stigmatize the measure as a
dangerous innovation--which would prove injurious to learned lawyers and
peace-loving citizens, although it might possibly serve the purposes of
ignorant counsel and litigious 'lay gents.'[28]The legal literature of
three generations following Charles I.'s execution abounds with
contemptuous allusions to the 'English times' of Cromwell; the
old-fashioned reporters, hugging their Norman-French and looking with
suspicion on popular intelligence, were vehement in expressing their
contempt for the prevalent misuse of the mother tongue. "I have,"
observes Styles, in the preface to his reports, "made these reports
speak English; not that I believe that they will be thereby more
generally useful, for I have always been and yet am of opinion, that
that part of the Common Law which is in the English hath only occasioned
the making of unquiet spirits contentiously knowing, and more apt to
offend others than to defend themselves; but I have done it in obedience
to authority, and to stop the mouths of such of this English age, who,
though they be confessedly different in their minds and judgments, as
the builders of Babel were in their language, yet do think it vain, if
not impious, to speak or understand more than their own mother tongue."
In like manner, Whitelock's uncle Bulstrode, the celebrated reporter,
says of the second part of his reports, "that he had manny years since
perfected the words in French, in which language he had desired it
might have seen the light, being most proper for it, and most convenient
for the professors of the law."

The restorers who raised Charles II. to his father's throne, lost no
time in recalling Latin to the records and writs; and so gladly did the
reporters and the practising counsel avail themselves of the reaction in
favor of discarded usages, that more Law-French was written and talked
in Westminster Hall during the time of the restored king, than had been
penned and spoken throughout the first fifty years of the seventeenth

The vexatious and indescribably absurd use of Law-Latin in records,
writs, and written pleadings, was finally put an end to by statute 4
George II. c. 26; but this bill, which discarded for legal processes a
cumbrous and harsh language, that was alike unmusical and inexact, and
would have been utterly unintelligible to a Roman gentleman of the
Augustan period, did not become law without much opposition from some of
the authorities of Westminster Hall. Lord Raymond, Chief Justice of the
King's Bench, spoke in accordance with opinions that had many supporters
on the bench and at the bar, when he expressed his warm disapprobation
of the proposed measure, and sarcastically observed "that if the bill
paused, the law might likewise be translated into Welsh, since many in
Wales understood not English." In the same spirit Sir Willian Blackstone
and more recent authorities have lamented the loss of Law-Latin. Lord
Campbell, in the 'Chancellors,' records that he "heard the late Lord
Ellenborough from the bench regret the change, on the ground that it had
had the tendency to make attorneys illiterate."

The sneer by which Lord Raymond endeavored to cast discredit on the
proposal to abolish Law-Latin, was recalled after the lapse of many
years by Sergeant Heywood, who forthwith acted upon it as though it
originated in serious thought. Whilst acting as Chief Justice of the
Carmarthen Circuit, the sergeant was presiding over a trial of murder,
when it was discovered that neither the prisoner, nor any member of the
jury, could understand a word of English; under these circumstances it
was suggested that the evidence and the charge should be explained
_verbatim_, to the prisoner and his twelve triers by an interpreter. To
this reasonable petition that the testimony should be presented in a
Welsh dress, the judge replied that, "to accede to the request would be
to repeal the act of parliament, which required that all proceedings in
courts of justice should be in the English tongue, and that the case of
a trial in Wales, in which the prisoner and jury should not understand
English, was a case not provided for, although the attention of the
legislature had been called to it by that great judge Lord Raymond." The
judge having thus decided, the inquiry proceeded--without the help of an
interpreter--the counsel for the prosecution favoring the jury with an
eloquent harangue, no single sentence of which was intelligible to them;
a series of witnesses proving to English auditors, beyond reach of
doubt, that the prisoner had deliberately murdered his wife; and finally
the judge instructing the jury, in language which was as insignificant
to their minds as the same quantity of obsolete Law-French would have
been, that it was their duty to return a verdict of 'Guilty.' Throwing
themselves into the humor of the business, the Welsh jurymen, although
they were quite familiar with the facts of the case, acquitted the
murderer, much to the encouragement of many wretched Welsh husbands
anxious for a termination of their matrimonial sufferings.

[28] In the seventeenth century, lawyers usually called their clients
and the non-legal public 'Lay Gents.'



From statements made in previous chapters, it may be seen that in
ancient times the Law University was a far more conspicuous feature of
the metropolis than it has been in more modern generations. In the
fifteenth century the law students of the town numbered about two
thousand; in Elizabethan London their number fluctuated between one
thousand and two thousand; towards the close of Charles II.'s reign they
were probably much less than fifteen hundred; in the middle of the
eighteenth century they do not seem to have much exceeded one thousand.
Thus at a time when the entire population of the capital was
considerably less than the population of a third-rate provincial town of
modern England, the Inns of Court and Chancery contained more
undergraduates than would be found on the books of the Oxford Colleges
at the present time.

Henry VIII.'s London looked to the University for mirth, news, trade.
During vacations there was but little stir in the taverns and shops of
Fleet Street; haberdashers and vintners sate idle; musicians starved;
and the streets of the capital were comparatively empty when the
students had withdrawn to spend their holidays in the country. As soon
as the gentlemen of the robe returned to town all was brisk and merry
again. As the town grew in extent and population, the social influence
of the university gradually decreased; but in Elizabethan London the
_éclat_ of the inns was at its brightest, and during the reigns of
Elizabeth's two nearest successors London submitted to the Inns-of-Court
men as arbiters of all matters pertaining to taste--copying their dress,
slang, amusements, and vices. The same may be said, with less emphasis,
of Charles II.'s London. Under the 'Merry Monarch' theatrical managers
were especially anxious to please the inns, for they knew that no play
would succeed which the lawyers had resolved to damn--that no actor
could achieve popularity if the gallants of the Temple combined to laugh
him down--that no company of performers could retain public favor when
they had lost the countenance of law-colleges. Something of this power
the young lawyers retained beyond the middle of the last century.
Fielding and Addison caught with nervous eagerness the critical gossip
of the Temple and Chancery Lane, just as Congreve and Wycherly, Dryden
and Cowley had caught it in previous generations. Fashionable tradesmen
and caterers for the amusement of the public made their engagements and
speculations with reference to the opening of term. New plays, new
books, new toys were never offered for the first time to London
purchasers when the lawyers were away. All that the 'season' is to
modern London, the 'term' was to old London, from the accession of Henry
VIII. to the death of George II., and many of the existing commercial
and fashionable arrangements of a London 'season' maybe traced to the
old-world 'term.'

In olden time the influence of the law-colleges was as great upon
politics as upon fashion. Sheltering members of every powerful family in
the country they were centres of political agitation, and places for the
secret discussion of public affairs. Whatever plot was in course of
incubation, the inns invariably harbored persons who were cognisant of
the conspiracy. When faction decided on open rebellion or hidden
treason, the agents of the malcontent leaders gathered together in the
inns, where, so long as they did not rouse the suspicions of the
authorities and maintained the bearing of studious men, they could hire
assassins, plan risings, hold interviews with fellow-conspirators, and
nurse their nefarious projects into achievement. At periods of danger
therefore spies were set to watch the gates of the hostels, and mark who
entered them. Governments took great pains to ascertain the secret life
of the collegians. A succession of royal directions for the discipline
of the inns under the Tudors and Stuarts points to the jealousy and
constant apprehensions with which the sovereigns of England long
regarded those convenient lurking-places for restless spirits and
dangerous adversaries. Just as the Student-quarter of Paris is still
watched by a vigilant police, so the Inns of Court were closely watched
by the agents of Wolsey and Thomas Cromwell, of Burleigh and Buckingham.
During the troubles and contentions of Elizabeth's reign Lord Burleigh
was regularly informed concerning the life of the inns, the number of
students in and out of town, the parentage and demeanor of new members,
the gossip of the halls, and the rumors of the cloisters. In proportion
as the political temper and action of the lawyers were deemed matters of
high importance, their political indiscretions and misdemeanors were
promptly and sometimes ferociously punished. An idle joke over a pot of
wine sometimes cost a witty barrister his social rank and his ears. To
promote a wholesome fear of authority in the colleges, government every
now and then flogged a student at the cart's tail in Holborn, or
pilloried a sad apprentice of the law in Chancery Lane, or hung an
ancient on a gibbet at the entrance of his inn.

The anecdote-books abound with good stories that illustrate the
political excitability of the inns in past times, and the energy with
which ministers were wont to repress the first manifestations of
insubordination. Rushworth records the adventure of four young men of
Lincoln's Inn who throw aside prudence and sobriety in a tavern hard by
their inn, and drank to "the confusion of the Archbishop of Canterbury."
The next day, full of penitence and head-ache, the offenders were
brought before the council, and called to account for their scandalous
conduct; when they would have fared ill had not the Earl of Dorset done
them good service, and privately instructed them to say in their
defence, that they had not drunk confusion to the archbishop but to the
archbishop's _foes_. On this ingenious representation, the council
supposed that the drawer--on whose information the proceedings were
taken--had failed to catch the last word of the toast; and consequently
the young gentlemen were dismissed with a 'light admonition,' much to
their own surprise and the informer's chagrin.

Of the political explosiveness of the inns in Charles II.'s time
Narcissus Luttrell gives the following illustration in his diary, under
date June 15 and 16, 1681:--"The 15th was a project sett on foot in
Grayes Inn for the carrying on an addresse for thankes to his majestie
for his late declaration; and was moved that day in the hall by some at
dinner, and being (as is usual) sent to the barre messe to be by them
recommended to the bench, but was rejected both by bench and barr; but
the other side seeing they could doe no good this way, they gott about
forty together and went to the tavern, and there subscribed the said
addresse in the name of the truelye loyall gentlemen of Grayes Inn. The
chief sticklers for the said addition were Sir William Seroggs, Jun.,
Robert Fairebeard, Capt. Stowe, Capt. Radcliffe, one Yalden, with
others, to the number of 40 or thereabouts; many of them sharpers about
town, with clerks not out of their time, and young men newly come from
the university. And some of them went the 17th to Windsor, and presented
the said addresse to his majesty: who was pleasd to give them his
thanks and confer (it is said) knighthood on the said Mr. Fairebeard;
this proves a mistake since. The 16th was much such another addresse
carried on in the Middle Temple, where several Templars, meeting about
one or two that afternoon in the hall for that purpose, they began to
debate it, but they were opposed till the hall began to fill; and then
the addressers called for Mr. Montague to take the chaire; on which a
poll was demanded, but the addressers refused it, and carried Mr.
Montague and sett him in the chaire, and the other part pulled him out,
on which high words grew, and some blows were given; but the addressers
seeing they could doe no good with it in the hall, adjourned to the
Divill Tavern, and there signed the addresse; the other party kept in
the hall, and fell to protesting against such illegall and arbitrary
proceedings, subscribing their names to a greater number than the
addressers were, and presented the same to the bench as a grievance."

Like the King's Head Tavern, which stood in Chancery Lane, the Devil
Tavern, in Fleet Street, was a favorite house with the Caroline Lawyers.
Its proximity to the Temple secured the special patronage of the
templars, whereas the King's Head was more frequented by Lincoln's-Inn
men; and in the tavern-haunting days of the seventeenth century those
two places of entertainment saw many a wild and dissolute scene. Unlike
Chattelin, who endeavored to satisfy his guests with delicate repasts
and light wines, the hosts of the Devil and the King's Head provided the
more substantial fare of old England, and laid themselves out to please
roysterers who liked pots of ale in the morning, and were wont to drink
brandy by the pint as the clocks struck midnight. Nando's, the house
where Thurlow in his student-period used to hold nightly disputations
with all comers of suitable social rank, was an orderly place in
comparison with these more venerable hostelries; and though the Mitre,
Cock, and Rainbow have witnessed a good deal of deep drinking, it may be
questioned if they, or any other ancient taverns of the legal quarter,
encouraged a more boisterous and reckless revelry than that which
constituted the ordinary course of business at the King's Head and the

In his notes for Jan. 1681-2, Mr. Narcissus Luttrell observes--"The
13th, at night, some young gentlemen of the Temple went to the King's
Head Tavern, Chancery Lane, committing strange outrages there, breaking
windowes, &c., which the watch hearing of came to disperse them; but
they sending for severall of the watermen with halberts that attend
their comptroller of the revells, were engaged in a desperate riott, in
which one of the watchmen was run into the body and lies very ill; but
the watchmen secured one or two of the watermen." Eleven years later the
diarist records: "Jan. 5. One Batsill, a young gentleman of the Temple,
was committed to Newgate for wounding a captain at the Devil Tavern in
Fleet Street on Saturday last." Such ebullitions of manly
spirit--ebullitions pleasant enough to the humorist, but occasionally
productive of very disagreeable and embarrassing consequences--were not
uncommon in the neighborhood of the Inns of Court whilst the Christmas
revels were in progress.

A tempestuous, hot-blooded, irascible set were these gentlemen of the
law-colleges, more zealous for their own honor than careful for the
feelings of their neighbors. Alternately warring with sharp tongues,
sharp pens, and sharp swords they went on losing their tempers, friends,
and lives in the most gallant and picturesque manner imaginable. Here is
a nice little row which occurred in the Middle Temple Hall during the
days of good Queen Bess! "The records of the society," says Mr. Foss,
"preserve an account of the expulsion of a member, which is rendered
peculiarly interesting in consequence of the eminence to which the
delinquent afterwards attained as a statesman, a poet, and a lawyer.
Whilst the masters of the bench and other members of the society were
sitting quietly at dinner on February 9, 1597-8, John Davis came into
the hall with his hat on his head, and attended by two persons armed
with swords, and going up to the barrister's table, where Richard Martin
was sitting, he pulled out from under his gown a cudgel 'quem vulgariter
vocant a bastinado,' and struck him over the head repeatedly, and with
so much violence that the bastinado was shivered into many pieces. Then
retiring to the bottom of the hall, he drew one of his attendants'
swords and flourished it over his head, turning his face towards Martin,
and then turning away down the water steps of the Temple, threw himself
into a boat. For this outrageous act he was immediately disbarred and
expelled the house, and deprived for ever of all authority to speak or
consult in law. After nearly four years' retirement he petitioned the
benchers for his restoration, which they accorded on October 30, 1601,
upon his making a public submission in the hall, and asking pardon of
Mr. Martin, who at once generously forgave him." Both the principals in
this scandalous outbreak and subsequent reconciliation became honorably
known in their profession--Martin rising to be a Recorder of London and
a member of parliament; and Davies acting as Attorney General of Ireland
and Speaker of the Irish parliament, and achieving such a status in
politics and law that he was appointed to the Chief Justiceship of
England, an office, however, which sudden death prevented him from

Nor must it be imagined that gay manners and lax morals were less
general amongst the veterans than amongst the youngsters of the bar.
Judges and sergeants were quite as prone to levity and godless riot as
students about to be called; and such was the freedom permitted by
professional decorum that leading advocates habitually met their clients
in taverns, and having talked themselves dry at the bars of Westminster
Hall, drank themselves speechless at the bars of Strand taverns--ere
they reeled again into their chambers. The same habits of uproarious
self-indulgence were in vogue with the benchers of the inns, and the
Doctors of Doctors' Commons. Hale's austerity was the exceptional
demeanor of a pious man protesting against the wickedness of an impious
age. Had it not been for the shortness of time that had elapsed since
Algernon Sidney's trial and sentence, John Evelyn would have seen no
reason for censuring the loud hilarity and drunkenness of Jeffreys and
Withings at Mrs. Castle's wedding.

In some respects, however, the social atmosphere of the inns was far
more wholesome in the days of Elizabeth, and for the hundred years
following her reign, than it is at present. Sprung in most cases from
legal families, the students who were educated to be working members of
the bar lived much more under the observation of their older relations,
and in closer intercourse with their mothers and sisters than they do at
present. Now-a-days young Templars, fresh from the universities, would
be uneasy and irritable under strict domestic control; and as men with
beards and five-and-twenty years' knowledge of the world, they would
resent any attempt to draw them within the lines of domestic control.
But in Elizabethan and also in Stuart London, law-students were
considerably younger than they are under Victoria.

Moreover, the usage of the period trained young men to submit with
cheerfulness to a parental discipline that would be deemed intolerable
by our own youngsters. During the first terms of their eight, seven, or
at least six years of pupilage, until they could secure quarters within
college walls, students frequently lodged in the houses or chambers of
near relations who were established in the immediate vicinity of the
inns. A judge with a house in Fleet Street, an eminent counsel with a
family mansion in Holborn, or an office-holder with commodious chambers
in Chancery Lane, usually numbered amongst the members of his family a
son, or nephew, or cousin who was keeping terms for the bar. Thus placed
under the immediate superintendence of an elder whom he regarded with
affection and pride, and surrounded by the wholesome interests of a
refined domestic circle, the raw student was preserved from much folly
and ill-doing into which he would have fallen had he been thrown
entirely on his own resources for amusement.

The pecuniary means of Inns-of-Court students have not varied much
throughout the last twelve generations. In days when money was scarce
and very precious they of course lived on a smaller number of coins than
they require in these days when gold and silver are comparatively
abundant and cheap; but it is reasonable to suppose that in every period
the allowances, on which the less affluent of them subsisted, represent
the amounts on which young men of their respective times were just able
to maintain the figure and style of independent gentlemen. The costly
pageants and feasts of the inns in old days must not be taken as
indicative of the pecuniary resources of the common run of students; for
the splendor of those entertainments was mainly due to the munificence
of those more wealthy members who by a liberal and even profuse
expenditure purchased a right to control the diversions of the colleges.
Fortescue, speaking of his own time, says: "There can no student bee
mayntayned for lesse expenses by the yeare than twentye markes. And if
hee haue a seruant to waite uppon him, as most of them haue, then so
much the greater will his charges bee." Hence it appears that during the
most patrician period of the law university, when wealthy persons were
accustomed to maintain ostentatious retinues of servants, a law-student
often had no private personal attendant. An ordinance shows that in
Elizabethan London the Inns-of-Court men were waited upon by laundresses
or bedmakers who served and took wages from several masters at the same
time. It would be interesting to ascertain the exact time when the
"laundress" was first introduced into the Temple. She certainly
flourished in the days of Queen Bess; and Roger North's piquant
description of his brother's laundress is applicable to many of her
successors who are looking after their perquisites at the present date.
"The housekeeper," says Roger, "had been formerly his lordship's
laundress at the Temple, and knew well her master's brother so early as
when he was at the writing-school. She _was a phthisical old woman, and
could scarce crawl upstairs once a day_." This general employment of
servants who were common to several masters would alone prove that the
Inns-of-Court men in the seventeenth century felt it convenient to
husband their resources, and exercise economy. Throughout that century
sixty pounds was deemed a sufficient income for a Temple student; and
though it was a scant allowance, some young fellows managed to push on
with a still more modest revenue. Simonds D'Ewes had £60 per annum
during his student course, and £100 a year on becoming an
utter-barrister. "It pleased God also in mercy," he writes, "after this
to ease me of that continual want or short stipend I had for about five
years last past groaned under; for my father, immediately on my call to
the bar, enlarged my former allowance with forty pounds more annually;
so as, after this plentiful annuity of one hundred pounds was duly and
quarterly paid me by him, I found myself easyd of so many cares and
discontents as I may well account that the 27th day of June foregoing
the first day of my outward happiness since the decease of my dearest
mother." All things considered, a bachelor in James I.'s London with a
clear income of £100 per annum was on the whole as well off for his time
as a young barrister of the present day would be with an annual
allowance of £250 or £300. Francis North, when a student, was allowed
only £60 per annum; and as soon as he was called and began to earn a
little money, his parsimonious father reduced the stipend by £10; but,
adds Roger North, "to do right to his good father, he paid him that
fifty pounds a year as long as he lived, saying he would not discourage
industry by rewarding it, when successful, with less." George Jeffreys,
in his student-days, smarted under a still more galling penury, for he
was allowed only £50 a year, £10 being for his clothes, and £40 for the
rest of his expenditure. In the following century the nominal incomes of
law-students rose in proportion as the wealth of the country increased
and the currency fell in value. In George II.'s time a young Templar
expected his father to allow him £150 a year, and on encouragement would
spend twice that amount in the same time. Henry Fielding's allowance
from General Fielding was £200 per annum; but as he said, with a laugh,
he had too feeling and dutiful a nature to press an affectionate father
for money which he was totally unable to pay. At the present time £150
per annum is about the smallest sum on which a law-student can live with
outward decency; and £250 per annum the lowest amount on which a chamber
barrister can live with suitable dignity and comfort. If he has to
maintain the expenses of a distant circuit Mr. Briefless requires from
£100 to £200 more. Alas! how many of Mr. Briefless's meritorious and
most ornamental kind are compelled to shift on far less ample means!
How many of them periodically repeat the jest of poor A----, who made
this brief and suggestive official return to the Income Tax
Commissioners--"I am totally dependent on my father, who allows



Romantic eulogists of the Inns of Court maintain that, as an instrument
of education, the law-university was nearly perfect for many generations
after its consolidation. That in modern time abuses have impaired its
faculties and diminished its usefulness they admit. Some of them are
candid enough to allow that, as a school for the systematic study of
law, it is under existing circumstances a deplorably deficient machine;
but they unite in declaring that there _was_ a time when the system of
the combined Colleges was complete and thoroughly efficacious. The more
cautious of these eulogists decline to state the exact limits of the
period when the actual condition of the university merited their cordial
approval, but they concur in pointing to the years between the accession
of Henry VII. and the death of James I., as comprising the brightest
days of its academical vigor and renown.

It is however worthy of observation that throughout the times when the
legal learning and discipline of the colleges are described to have been
admirable, the system and the students by no means won the approbation
of those critical authorities who were best able to see their failings
and merits. Wolsey was so strongly impressed by the faulty education of
the barristers who practised before him, and more especially by their
total ignorance of the principles of jurisprudence, that he prepared a
plan for a new university which should be established in London, and
should impart a liberal and exact knowledge of law. Had he lived to
carry out his scheme it is most probable that the Inns of Court and
Chancery would have become subsidiary and subordinate establishments to
the new foundation. In this matter, sympathizing with the more
enlightened minds of his age, Sir Nicholas Bacon was no less desirous
than the great cardinal that a new law university should be planted in
town, and he urged on Henry VIII. the propriety of devoting a certain
portion of the confiscated church property to the foundation and
endowment of such an institution.

On paper the scheme of the old exercises and degrees looks very
imposing, and those who delight in painting fancy pictures may infer
from them that the scholastic order of the colleges was perfect. Before
a young man could be called to the bar, he had under ordinary
circumstances to spend seven or eight years in arguing cases at the Inns
of Chancery, in proving his knowledge of law and Law-French at moots, in
sharpening his wits at case-putting, in patient study of the Year-Books,
and in watching the trials of Westminster Hall. After his call he was
required to spend another period in study and academic exercise before
he presumed to raise his voice at the bar; and in his progress to the
highest rank of his profession he was expected to labor in educating the
students of his house as assistant-reader, single-reader, double-reader.
The gravest lawyers of every inn were bound to aid in the task of
teaching the mysteries of the law to the rising generation.

The old ordinances assumed that the law-student was thirsting for a
knowledge of law, and that the veterans were no less eager to impart
it. During term law was talked in hall at dinner and supper, and after
these meals the collegians argued points. "The cases were put" after the
earlier repast, and twice or thrice a week moots were "brought in" after
the later meal. The students were also encouraged to assemble towards
the close of each day and practise 'case-putting' in their gardens and
in the cloisters of the Temple or Lincoln's Inn. The 'great fire' of
1678-9 having destroyed the Temple Cloisters, some of the benchers
proposed to erect chambers on the ground, to and fro upon which
law-students had for generations walked whilst they wrangled aloud; but
the Earl of Nottingham, recalling the days when young Heneage Finch used
to put cases with his contemporary students, strangled the proposal at
its birth, and Sir Christopher Wren subsequently built the Cloisters
which may be seen at the present day.

But there is reason to fear that at a very early period in their history
the Inns of Court began to pay more attention to certain outward forms
of instruction than to instruction itself. The unbiassed inquirer is
driven to suspect that 'case-putting' soon became an idle ceremony, and
'mooting' a mere pastime. Gentlemen ate heartily in the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries; and it is not easy to believe that immediately
after a twelve o'clock dinner benchers were in the best possible mood to
teach, or students in the fittest condition for learning. It is credible
that these post-prandial exercitations were often enlivened by sparkling
quips and droll occurrences; but it is less easy to believe that they
were characterised by severe thought and logical exactness. So also with
the after-supper exercises. The six o'clock suppers of the lawyers were
no light repasts, but hearty meals of meat and bread, washed down by
'_green pots_' of ale and wine. When 'the horn' sounded for supper, the
student was in most cases better able to see the truth of knotty points
than when in compliance with etiquette he bowed to the benchers, and
asked if it was their pleasure to hear a moot. It seems probable that
long before 'case-puttings' and 'mootings' were altogether disused, the
old benchers were wont to wink mischievously at each other when they
prepared to teach the boys, and that sometimes they would turn away from
the proceedings of a moot with an air of disdain or indifference. The
inquirer is not induced to rate more highly the intellectual effort of
such exercises because the teachers refreshed their exhausted powers
with bread and beer as soon as the arguments were closed.

When such men as Coke and Francis Bacon were the readers, the students
were entertained with lectures of surpassing excellence; but it was
seldom that such readers could be found. It seems also that at an early
period men became readers, not because they had any especial aptitude
for offices of instruction, or because they had some especial fund of
information--but simply because it was their turn to read. Routine
placed them in the pulpit for a certain number of weeks; and when they
had done all that routine required of them, and had thereby qualified
themselves for promotion to the rank of sergeant, they took their seats
amongst the benchers and ancients with the resolution not to trouble
themselves again about the intellectual progress of the boys.

Soon also the chief teacher of an Inn of Court became its chief feaster
and principal entertainer; and in like manner his subordinates in
office, such as assistant readers and readers elect, were required to
put their hands into their pockets, and feed their pupils with venison
and wine as well as with law and equity. It is amusing to observe how
little Dugdale has to say about the professional duties of readers--and
how much about their hospitable functions and responsibilities. Philip
and Mary ordered that no reader of the Middle Temple should give away
more than fifteen bucks during his readings; but so greatly did the cost
of readers' entertainments increase in the following century, that
Dugdale observes--"But the times are altered; there being few summer
readers who, in half the time that heretofore a reading was wont to
continue, spent so little as threescore bucks, besides red deer; some
have spent fourscore, some an hundred."

Just as readers were required to spend more in hospitality, they were
required to display less learning. Sound lawyers avoided election to the
readers' chairs, leaving them to be filled by rich men who could afford
to feast the nobility and gentry, or at least by men who were willing to
purchase social _éclat_ with a lavish outlay of money. Under Charles II.
the 'readings' were too often nothing better than scandalous exhibitions
of mental incapacity: and having sunk into disrepute, they died out
before the accession of James II.

The scandalous and beastly disorder of the Grand Day Feasts at the
Middle Temple, during Francis North's tenure of the reader's office, was
one of the causes that led to the discontinuance of Reader's Banquets at
that house; and the other inns gladly followed the example of the Middle
Temple in putting an end to a custom which had ceased to promote the
dignity of the law. Of this feast, and his brother's part in it, Roger
North says: "He (_i.e._ Francis North) sent out the officers with white
staves (for so the way was) and a long list to invite; but he went
himself to wait upon the Archbishop of Canterbury, Sheldon; for so also
the ceremony required. The archbishop received him very honorably and
would not part with him at the stairshead, as usually had been done;
but, telling him he was no ordinary reader, went down, and did not part
till he saw him past at his outward gate I cannot much commend the
extravagance of the feasting used at these readings; and that of his
lordship's was so terrible an example, that I think none hath ventured
since to read publicly; but the exercise is turned into a revenue, and a
composition is paid into the treasury of the society. Therefore one may
say, as was said of Cleomenes, that, in this respect, his lordship was
_ultimus herorum_, the last of the heroes. And the profusion of the best
provisions, and wine, was to the worst of purposes--debauchery,
disorder, tumult, and waste. I will give but one instance; upon the
grand day, as it was called, a banquet was provided to be set upon the
table, composed of pyramids, and smaller services in form. The first
pyramid was at least four feet high, with stages one above another. The
conveying this up to the table, through a crowd, that were in full
purpose to overturn it, was no small work: but, with the friendly
assistance of the gentlemen, it was set whole upon the table. But, after
it was looked upon a little, all went, hand over hand, among the rout in
the hall, and for the most part was trod under foot. The entertainment
the nobility had out of this was, after they had tossed away the dishes,
a view of the crowd in confusion, wallowing one over another, and
contending for a dirty share of it."

It would, however, be unfair to the ancient exercises of 'case-putting'
and 'mooting' not to bear in mind that by habituating successful
barristers to take personal interest in the professional capabilities of
students, they helped to maintain a salutary intercourse betwixt the
younger and older members of the profession. So long as 'moots' lasted,
it was the fashion with eminent counsel to accost students in
Westminster Hall, and gossip with them about legal matters. In Charles
II.'s time, such eminent barristers as Sir Geoffrey Palmer daily gave
practical hints and valuable suggestions to students who courted their
favor; find accurate legal scholars, such as old 'Index Waller,' would,
under judicious treatment, exhibit their learning to boys ambitious of
following in their steps. Chief Justice Saunders, during the days of his
pre-eminence at the bar, never walked through Westminster Hall without a
train of lads at his heels. "I have seen him," says Roger North, "for
hours and half-hours together, before the court sat, stand at the bar,
with an audience of students over against him, putting of cases, and
debating so as suited their capacities, and encouraged their industry.
And so in the Temple, he seldom moved without a parcel of youths hanging
about him, and he merry and jesting with them."

Long after 'moots' had fallen into disuse, their influence in this
respect was visible in the readiness of wigged veterans to extend a
kindly and useful patronage to students. Even so late as the close of
the last century, great black-letter lawyers used to accost students in
Westminster Hall, and give them fair words, in a manner that would be
misunderstood in the present day. Sergeant Hill--whose reputation for
recondite legal erudition, resembled that of '_Index_ Waller,' or
Maynard, in the seventeenth century--once accosted John Scott, as the
latter, in his student days, was crossing Westminster Hall. "Pray, young
gentleman," said the black-letter lawyer, "do you think herbage and
pannage rateable to the poor's rate?" "Sir," answered the future Lord
Eldon, with a courteous bow to the lawyer, whom he knew only by sight,
"I cannot presume to give any opinion, inexperienced and unlearned as I
am, to a person of your great knowledge, and high character in the
profession." "Upon my word," replied the sergeant, eyeing the young man
with unaffected delight, "you are a pretty sensible young gentleman; I
don't often meet with such. If I had asked Mr. Burgess, a young man upon
our circuit, the question, he would have told me that I was an old
fool. You are an extraordinary sensible young gentleman."

The period when 'readings,' 'mooting,' and 'case-putting' fell into
disuse or contempt, is known with sufficient accuracy. Having noticed
the decay of readings, Sir John Bramston writes, in Charles II.'s reign,
"At this tyme readings are totally in all the Inns of Court layd aside;
and to speak truth, with great reason, for it was a step at once to the
dignity of a sergeant, but not soe now." Marking the time when moots
became farcical forms, Roger North having stated that his brother
Francis, when a student, was "an attendant (as well as exerciser) at the
ordinary moots in the Middle Temple and at New Inn," goes on to say, "In
those days, the moots were carefully performed, and it is hard to give a
good reason (bad ones are prompt enough) why they are not so now." But
it should be observed, that though for all practical purposes 'moots'
and 'case-puttings' ceased in Charles II.'s time, they were not formally
abolished. Indeed, they lingered on throughout the eighteenth century,
and to the present time--when vestiges of them may still be observed in
the usages and discipline of the Inns. Before the writer of this page
was called to the bar by the Masters of the Society of Lincoln's Inn,
he, like all other students of his time, had to go through the form of
putting a case on certain days in the hall after dinner. The ceremony
appeared to him alike ludicrous and interesting. To put his case, he was
conducted by the steward of the inn to the top of the senior bar table,
when the steward placed an open MS. book before him, and said, "Read
that, sir;" whereupon this deponent read aloud something about "a femme
sole," or some such thing, and was still reading the rest of the MS.,
kindly opened under his nose by the steward, when that worthy officer
checked him suddenly, saying, "That will do, sir; you have _put_ your
case--and can sign the book." The book duly signed, this deponent bowed
to the assembled barristers, and walked out of the hall, smiling as he
thought how, by an ingenious fiction, he was credited with having put an
elaborate case to a college of profound jurists, with having argued it
before an attentive audience, and with having borne away the laurels of
triumph. Recently this pleasant mockery of case-putting has been swept

In Roger North's 'Discourse on the Study of the Laws,' and 'Life of the
Lord Keeper Guildford,' the reader may see with clearness the course of
an industrious law-student during the latter half of the seventeenth
century, and it differs less from the ordinary career of an industrious
Temple-student in our time, than many recent writers on the subject

Under Charles II., James II., and William III. the law-student was
compelled to muster the barbarous Law-French; but the books which he was
required to read were few in comparison with those of a modern
Inns-of-Court man. Roger North mentions between twenty and thirty
authors, which the student should read in addition to Year-Books and
more recent reports; and it is clear that the man who knew with any
degree of familiarity such a body of legal literature was a very erudite
lawyer two hundred years since. But the student was advised to read this
small library again and again, "common-placing" the contents of its
volumes, and also "common-placing" all new legal facts. The utility and
convenience of common-place books were more apparent two centuries
since, than in our time, when books of reference are always published
with good tables of contents and alphabetical indexes. Roger North held
that no man could become a good lawyer who did not keep a common-place
book. He instructs the student to buy for a common-place register "a
good large paper book, as big as a church bible;" he instructs him how
to classify the facts which should be entered in the work; and for a
model of a lucid and thoroughly lawyer-like common-place book he refers
"to Lincoln's Inn library, where the Lord Hale's common-place book is
conserved, and that may be a pattern, _instar omnium_."



But the most important part of an industrious law-student's labors in
olden time, was the work of watching the practice of Westminster Hall.
In the seventeenth century, the constant succession of political trials
made the King's Bench Court especially attractive to students who were
more eager for gossip than advancement of learning; but it was always
held that the student, who was desirous to learn the law rather than to
catch exciting news or hear exciting speeches, ought to frequent the
Common Pleas, in which court the common law was said to be at home. At
the Common Pleas, a student might find a seat vacant in the students'
benches so late as ten o'clock; but it was not unusual for every place
devoted to the accommodation of students in the Court of King's Bench,
to be occupied by six o'clock, A.M. By dawn, and even before the sun had
begun to break, students bent on getting good seats at the hearing of an
important cause would assemble, and patiently wait in court till the
judges made their appearance.

One prominent feature in the advocate's education must always be
elocutionary practice. "Talk; if you can, to the point, but anyhow
talk," has been the motto of Advocacy from time immemorial. Heneage
Finch, who, like every member of his silver-tongued family, was an
authority on matters pertaining to eloquence, is said to have advised a
young student "to study all the morning and talk all the afternoon."
Sergeant Maynard used to express his opinion of the importance of
eloquence to a lawyer by calling law the "ars bablativa." Roger North
observes--"He whose trade is speaking must not, whatever comes out, fail
to speak, for that is a fault in the main much worse than impertinence."
And at a recent address to the students of the London University, Lord
Brougham urged those of his auditors, who intended to adopt the
profession of the bar, to habituate themselves to talk about everything.

In past times law-students were proverbial for their talkativeness; and
though the present writer has never seen any records of a Carolinian
law-debating society, it is matter of certainty that in the seventeenth
century the young students and barristers formed themselves into
coteries, or clubs, for the practice of elocution and for legal
discussions. The continual debates on 'mootable days,' and the incessant
wranglings of the Temple cloisters, encouraged them to pay especial
attention to such exercises. In Charles II.'s reign Pool's company, was
a coterie of students and young barristers, who used to meet
periodically for congenial conversation and debate. "There is seldom a
time," says Roger North, speaking of this coterie, "but in every Inn of
Court there is a studious, sober company that are select to each other,
and keep company at meals and refreshments. Such a company did Mr. Pool
find out, whereof Sergeant Wild was one, and every one of them proved
eminent, and most of them are now preferred in the law; and Mr. Pool, at
the latter end of his life, took such a pride in his company that he
affected to furnish his chambers with their pictures." Amongst the
benefits to be derived from such a club as that of which Mr. Pool was
president, Roger North mentions "Aptness to speak;" adding: "for a man
may be possessed of a book-case, and think he has it _ad unguem_
throughout, and when he offers at it shall find himself at a loss, and
his words will not be right and proper, or perhaps too many, and his
expressions confused: _when he has once talked his case over, and, his
company have tossed it a little to and fro, then he shall utter it more
readily, with fewer words and much more force_."

These words make it clear that Mr. Pool's 'company' was a select
'law-debating society.' Far smaller as to number of members, something
more festive in its arrangements, but not less bent on furthering the
professional progress of its members, it was, some two hundred years
since, all that the 'Hardwicke' and other similar associations are at
the present.[29]

To such fraternities--of which the Inns of Court had several in the last
century--Murray and Thurlow, Law and Erskine had recourse: and besides
attending strictly professional clubs, it was usual for the students, of
their respective times, to practise elocution at the coffee-houses and
public spouting-rooms of the town. Murray used to argue as well as
'drink champagne' with the wits; Thurlow was the irrepressible talker of
Nando's; Erskine used to carry his scarlet uniform from Lincoln's Inn
Hall, to the smoke-laden atmosphere of Coachmakers' Hall, at which
memorable 'discussion forum' Edward Law is known to have spoken in the
presence of a closely packed assembly of politicians, idlers upon town,
shop-men, and drunkards. Thither also Horne Tooke and Dunning used to
adjourn after dining with Taffy Kenyon at the Chancery Lane
eating-house, where the three friends were wont to stay their hunger for
sevenpence halfpenny each. "Dunning and myself," Horne Tooke said
boastfully, when he recalled these economical repasts, "were generous,
for we gave the girl who waited on us a penny apiece; but Kenyon, who
always knew the value of money, rewarded her with a halfpenny, and
sometimes with a _promise_."

Notwithstanding the recent revival of lectures and the institution of
examinations, the actual course of the law-student has changed little
since the author of the 'Pleader's Guide,' in 1706, described the career
of John Surrebutter, Esq., Special Pleader and Barrister-at-Law. The
labors of 'pupils in chambers, are thus noticed by Mr. Surrebutter:--

   "And, better to improve your taste,
   Are by your parents' fondness plac'd
   Amongst the blest, the chosen few
   (Blest, if their happiness they knew),
   Who for three hundred guineas paid
   To some great master of the trade,
   Have at his rooms by _special_ favor
   His leave to use their best endeavor,
   By drawing pleas from nine till four,
   To earn him twice three hundred more;
   And after dinner may repair
   To 'foresaid rooms, and then and there
   Have 'foresaid leave from five till ten,
   To draw th' aforesaid pleas again."

Continuing to describe his professional career, Mr. Surrebutter mentions
certain facts which show that so late as the close of last century
professional etiquette did not forbid special pleaders and barristers to
curry favor with solicitors and solicitors' clerks by attentions which
would now-a-days be deemed reprehensible. He says:--

   "Whoe'er has drawn a special plea
   Has heard of old Tom Tewkesbury,
   Deaf as a post, and thick as mustard,
   He aim'd at wit, and bawl'd and bluster'd
   And died a Nisi Prius leader--
   That genius was my special pleader--
   That great man's office I attended,
   By Hawk and Buzzard recommended
   Attorneys both of wondrous skill,
   To pluck the goose and drive the quill.
   Three years I sat his smoky room in,
   Pens, paper, ink, and pounce consuming;
   The fourth, when Epsom Day begun,
   Joyful I hailed th' auspicious sun,
   Bade Tewkesbury and Clerk adieu;
   (Purification, eighty-two)
   Of both I wash'd my hands; and though
   With nothing for my cash to show,
   But precedents so scrawl'd and blurr'd,
   I scarce could read a single word,
   Nor in my books of common-place
   One feature, of the law could trace,
   Save Buzzard's nose and visage thin,
   And Hawk's deficiency of chin,
   Which I while lolling at my ease
   Was wont to draw instead of pleas.
   My chambers I equipt complete,
   Made friends, hired books, and gave to eat;
   If haply to regale my friends on,
   My mother sent a haunch of ven'son,
   I most respectfully entreated
   The choicest company to eat it;
   _To wit_, old Buzzard, Hawk, and Crow;
   _Item_, Tom Thornback, Shark, and Co.
   Attorneys all as keen and staunch
   As e'er devoured a client's haunch.
   And did I not their clerks invite
   To taste said ven'son hash'd at night?
   For well I knew that hopeful fry
   My rising merit would descry,
   The same litigious course pursue,
   And when to fish of prey they grew,
   By love of food and contest led,
   Would haunt the spot where once they fed.
   Thus having with due circumspection
   Formed my professional connexion,
   My desks with precedents I strew'd,
   Turned critic, danc'd, or penn'd an ode,
   Suited the _ton_, became a free
   And easy man of gallantry;
   But if while capering at my glass,
   Or toying with a favorite lass,
   I heard the aforesaid Hawk a-coming,
   Or Buzzard on the staircase humming,
   At once the fair angelic maid
   Into my coal-hole I convey'd;
   At once with serious look profound,
   Mine eyes commencing with the ground,
   I seem'd like one estranged to sleep,
   'And fixed in cogitation deep,'
   Sat motionless, and in my hand I
   Held my 'Doctrina Placitandi,'
   And though I never read a page in't,
   Thanks to that shrewd, well-judging agent,
   My sister's husband, Mr. Shark,
   Soon got six pupils and a clerk.
   Five pupils were my stint, the other
   I took to compliment his mother."

Having fleeced pupils, and worked as a special pleader for a time, Mr.
Surrebutter is called to the bar; after which ceremony his action
towards 'the inferior branch' of the profession is not more dignified
than it was whilst he practised as a Special Pleader.

It appears that in Mr. Surrebutter's time (_circa_ 1780) it was usual
for a student to spend three whole years in the same pleader's chambers,
paying three hundred guineas for the course of study. Not many years
passed before students saw it was not to their advantage to spend so
long a period with the same instructor, and by the end of the century
the industrious student who could command the fees wherewith to pay for
such special tuition, usually spent a year or two in a pleader's
chambers, and another year or two in the chambers of an equity
draughtsman, or conveyancer. Lord Campbell, at the opening of the
present century, spent three years in the chambers of the eminent
Special Pleader, Mr. Tidd, of whose learning and generosity the
biographer of the Chancellors makes cordial and grateful acknowledgment.
Finding that Campbell could not afford to pay a second hundred guineas
for a second year's instruction, Tidd not only offered him the run of
his chambers without payment, but made the young Scotchman take back the
£105 which he had paid for the first twelve months.

In his later years Lord Campbell delighted to trace his legal pedigree
to the great pleader and 'pupillizer' of the last century, Tom Warren.
The chart ran thus: "Tom Warren had for pupil Sergeant Runnington, who
instructed in the mysteries of special pleading the learned Tidd, who
was the teacher of John Campbell." With honest pride and pleasant vanity
the literary Chancellor maintained that he had given the genealogical
tree another generation of forensic honor, as Solicitor General Dundas
and Vaughan Williams, of the Common Pleas Bench, were his pupils.

Though Campbell speaks of _Tom Warren_ as "the greater founder of the
special pleading race," and maintains that "the voluntary discipline of
the special pleader's office" was unknown before the middle of the last
century, it is certain that the voluntary discipline of a legal
instructor's office or chambers was an affair of frequent occurrence
long before Warren's rise. Roger North, in his 'Discourse on the Study
of the Laws,' makes no allusion to any such voluntary discipline as an
ordinary feature of a law-student's career; but in his 'Life of Lord
Keeper Guildford' he expressly informs us that he was a pupil in his
brother's chambers. "His lordship," writes the biographer, "having taken
that advanced post, and designing to benefit a relation (the Honorable
Roger North), who was a student in the law, and kept him company, caused
his clerk to put into his hands all his draughts, such as he himself had
corrected, and after which conveyances had been engrossed, that, by a
perusal of them, he might get some light into the formal skill of
conveyancing. And that young gentleman instantly went to work, and first
numbered the draughts, and then made an index of all the clauses,
referring to that number and folio; so that, in this strict perusal and
digestion of the various matters, he acquired, not only a formal style,
but also apt precedents, and a competent notion of instruments of all
kinds. And to this great condescension was owing that little progress he
made, which afterwards served to prepare some matters for his lordship's
own perusal and settlement." Here then is a case of a pupil in a
barrister's chambers in Charles II.'s reign; and it is a case that
suffers nothing from the fact that the teacher took no fee.

In like manner, John Trevor (subsequently Master of the Rolls and
Speaker of the Commons) about the same time was "bred a sort of clerk in
old Arthur Trevor's chamber, an eminent and worthy professor of the law
in the Inner Temple." On being asked what might be the name of the boy
with such a hideous squint who sate at a clerk's desk in the outer room,
Arthur Trevor answered, "A kinsman of mine that I have allowed to sit
here, to learn the knavish part of the law." It must be observed that
John Trevor was not a clerk, but merely a "sort of a clerk" in his
kinsman's chamber.

In the latter half of the seventeenth century, and in the earlier half
of the eighteenth century, students who wished to learn the practice of
the law usually entered the offices of attorneys in large practice. At
that period, the division between the two branches of the profession was
much less wide than it subsequently became; and no rule or maxim of
professional etiquette forbade Inns-of-Court men to act as the
subordinates of attorneys and solicitors. Thus Philip Yorke (Lord
Hardwicke) in Queen Anne's reign acted as clerk in the office of Mr.
Salkeld, an attorney residing in Brook Street, Holborn, whilst he kept
his terms at the Temple; and nearly fifty years later, Ned Thurlow (Lord
Thurlow), on leaving Cambridge, and taking up his residence in the
Temple, became a pupil in the office of Mr. Chapman, a solicitor, whose
place of business was in Lincoln's Inn. There is no doubt that it was
customary for young men destined the bar thus to work in attorneys'
offices; and they continued to do so without any sense of humiliation or
thought of condescension, until the special pleaders superseded the
attorneys as instructors.

[29] The mention of 'the Hardwicke' brings a droll story to the writer's
mind. Some few years since the members of that learned fraternity
assembled at their customary plate of meeting--a large room in
Anderton's Hotel, Fleet Street--to discuss a knotty point of law about
anent Uses. The master of young men was strong; and amongst
them--conspicuous for his advanced years, jovial visage, red nose, and
air of perplexity--sate an old gentleman who was evidently a stranger to
every lawyer present. Who was he? Who brought him? Was there any one in
the room who knew him? Such were the whispers that floated about,
concerning the portly old man, arrayed in blue coat and drab breeches
and gaiters, who took his snuff in silence, and watched the proceedings
with evident surprise and dissatisfaction. After listening to three
speeches this antique, jolly stranger rose, and with much embarrassment
addressed the chair. "Mr. President," he said--"excuse me; but may I
ask,--is this 'The Convivial Rabbits?'" A roar of laughter followed this
enquiry from a 'convivial rabbit,' who having mistaken the evening of
the week, had wandered into the room in which his convivial
fellow-clubsters had held a meeting on the previous evening. On
receiving the President's assurance that the learned members of a
law-debating society were not 'convivial rabbits,' the elderly stranger
buttoned his blue coat and beat a speedy retreat.





No lawyer has given better witticisms to the jest-books than Sir Thomas
More. Like all legal wits, he enjoyed a pun, as Sir Thomas Manners, the
mushroom Earl of Rutland discovered, when he winced under the cutting
reproof of his insolence, conveyed in the translation of 'Honores mutant
mores'--_Honors change manners_. But though he would condescend to play
with words as a child plays with shells on a sea-beach, he could at will
command the laughter of his readers without having recourse to mere
verbal antics. He delighted in what may be termed humorous
mystification. Entering Bruges at a time when his leaving had gained
European notoriety, he was met by the challenge of a noisy fellow who
proclaimed himself ready to dispute with the whole world--or any other
man--"in omni scibili et de quolibet ente." Accepting the invitation,
and entering the lists in the presence of all the scholastic magnates of
Bruges, More gravely inquired, "An averia carucæ capta in vetitonamio
sint irreplegibilia?" Not versed in the principles and terminology of
the common law of England, the challenger could only stammer and
blush--whilst More's eye twinkled maliciously, and his auditors were
convulsed with laughter.

Much of his humor was of the sort that is ordinarily called _quiet_
humor, because its effect does not pass off in shouts of merriment. Of
this kind of pleasantry he gave the Lieutenant of the Tower a specimen,
when he said, with as much courtesy as irony, "Assure yourself I do not
dislike my cheer; but whenever I do, then spare not to thrust me out of
your doors!" Of the same sort were the pleasantries with which, on the
morning of his execution, he with fine consideration for others strove
to divert attention from the cruelty of his doom. "I see no danger," he
observed, with a smile, to his friend Sir Thomas Pope, shaking his
water-bottle as he spoke, "but that this man may live longer if it
please the king." Finding in the craziness of the scaffold a good
pretext for leaning in friendly fashion on his gaoler's arm, he extended
his hand to Sir William Kingston, saying, "Master Lieutenant, I pray you
see me safe up; for my coming down let me shift for myself." Even to the
headsman he gave a gentle pleasantry and a smile from the block itself,
as he put aside his beard so that the keen blade should not touch it.
"Wait, my good friend, till I have removed my beard," he said, turning
his eyes upwards to the official, "for it has never offended his

His wit was not less ready than brilliant, and on one occasion its
readiness saved him from a sudden and horrible death. Sitting on the
roof of his high gate-house at Chelsea, he was enjoying the beauties of
the Thames and the sunny richness of the landscape, when his solitude
was broken by the unlooked-for arrival of a wandering maniac. Wearing
the horn and badge of a Bedlamite, the unfortunate creature showed the
signs of his malady in his equipment as well as his countenance. Having
cast his eye downwards from the parapet to the foot of the tower, he
conceived a mad desire to hurl the Chancellor from the flat roof. "Leap,
Tom! leap!" screamed the athletic fellow, laying a firm hand on More's
shoulder. Fixing his attention with a steady look, More said, coolly,
"Let us first throw my little dog down, and see what sport that will
be." In a trice the dog was thrown into the air. "Good!" said More,
feigning delight at the experiment: "now run down, fetch the dog, and
we'll throw him off again." Obeying the command, the dangerous intruder
left More free to secure himself by a bar, and to summon assistance with
his voice.

For a good end this wise and mirth-loving lawyer would play the part of
a practical joker; and it is recorded that by a jest of the practical
sort he gave a wholesome lesson to an old civic magistrate, who, at the
Sessions of the Old Bailey, was continually telling the victims of
cut-purses that they had only themselves to thank for their losses--that
purses would never be cut if their wearers took proper care to retain
them in their possession. These orations always terminated with, "I
never lose _my_ purse; cut-purses never take _my_ purse; no, i'faith,
because I take proper care of it." To teach his worship wisdom, and cure
him of his self-sufficiency, More engaged a cut-purse to relieve the
magistrate of his money-bag whilst he sat upon the bench. A story is
recorded of another Old Bailey judge who became the victim of a thief
under very ridiculous circumstances. Whilst he was presiding at the
trial of a thief in the Old Bailey, Sir John Sylvester, Recorder of
London, said incidentally that he had left his watch at home. The trial
ended in an acquittal, the prisoner had no sooner gained his liberty
than he hastened to the recorder's house, and sent in word to Lady
Sylvester that he was a constable and had been sent from the Old Bailey
to fetch her husband's watch. When the recorder returned home and found
he had lost his watch, it is to be feared that Lady Sylvester lost her
usual equanimity. _Apropos_ of these stories Lord Campbell tells--how,
at the opening period of his professional career, soon after the
publication of his 'Nisi Prius Reports,' he on circuit successfully
defended a prisoner charged with a criminal offence; and how, whilst the
success of his advocacy was still quickening his pulses, he discovered
that his late client, with whom he held a confidential conversation, had
contrived to relieve him of his pocket-book, full of bank-notes. As soon
as the presiding judge, Lord Chief Baron Macdonald, heard of the mishap
of the reporting barrister, he exclaimed, "What! does Mr. Campbell think
that no one is entitled to _take notes_ in court except himself?"

By the urbane placidity which marked the utterance of his happiest
speeches, Sir Nicholas Bacon often recalled to his hearers the courteous
easiness of More's _repartees_. Keeping his own pace in society, as well
as in the Court of Chancery, neither satire nor importunity could ruffle
or confuse him. When Elizabeth, looking disdainfully at his modest
country mansion, told him that the place was too small, he answered with
the flattery of gratitude, "Not so, madam, your highness has made me too
great for my house." Leicester having suddenly asked him his opinion of
two aspirants for court favor, he responded on the spur of the moment,
"By my troth, my lord, the one is a grave councillor: the other is a
proper young man, and so he will be as long as he lives." To the queen,
who pressed him for his sentiments respecting the effect of
monopolies--a delicate question for a subject to speak his mind
upon--he answered, with conciliatory lightness, "Madam, will you have me
speak the truth? _Licentiâ_ omnes deteriores sumus." In court he used to
say, "Let us stay a little, that we may have done the sooner." But
notwithstanding his deliberation and the stutter that hindered his
utterances, he could be quicker than the quickest, and sharper than the
most acrid, as the loquacious barrister discovered who was suddenly
checked in a course of pert talkativeness by this tart remark from the
stammering Lord Keeper: "There is a difference between you and me,--for
me it is a pain to s-speak, for you a pain to hold your tongue." That
the familiar story of his fatal attack of cold is altogether true one
cannot well believe, for it seems highly improbable that the Lord
Keeper, in his seventieth year, would have sat down to be shaved near an
open window in the month of February. But though the anecdote may not be
historically exact, it may be accepted as a faithful portraiture of his
more stately and severely courteous humor. "Why did you suffer me to
sleep thus exposed?" asked the Lord Keeper, waking in a fit of shivering
from slumber into which his servant had allowed him to drop, as he sat
to be shaved in a place where there was a sharp current of air. "Sir, I
durst not disturb you," answered the punctilious valet, with a lowly
obeisance. Having eyed him for a few seconds, Sir Nicholas rose and
said, "By your civility I lose my life." Whereupon the Lord Keeper
retired to the bed from which he never rose.

Amongst Elizabethan Judges who aimed at sprightliness on the Bench,
Hatton merits a place; but there is reason to think that the idlers, who
crowded his court to admire the foppishness of his judicial costume, did
not get one really good _mot_ from his lips to every ten bright sayings
that came from the clever barristers practising before him. One of the
best things attributed to him is a pun. In a case concerning the limits
of certain land, the counsel on one side having remarked with
explanatory emphasis, "We lie on this side, my Lord;" and the counsel on
the other side having interposed with equal vehemence, "We lie on this
side, my Lord,"--the Lord Chancellor leaned backwards, and dryly
observed, "If you lie on both sides, whom am I to believe?" In
Elizabethan England the pun was as great a power in the jocularity of
the law-courts as it is at present; the few surviving witticisms that
are supposed to exemplify Egerton's lighter mood on the bench, being for
the most part feeble attempts at punning. For instance, when he was
asked, during his tenure of the Mastership of the Rolls, to _commit_ a
cause, _i.e._, to refer it to a Master in Chancery, he used to answer,
"What has the cause done that it should be committed?" It is also
recorded of him that, when he was asked for his signature to a petition
of which he disapproved, he would tear it in pieces with both hands,
saying, "You want my hand to this? You shall have it; aye, and both my
hands, too."

Of Egerton's student days a story is extant, which has merits,
independent of its truth or want of truth. The hostess of a Smithfield
tavern had received a sum of money from three graziers, in trust for
them, and on engagement to restore it to them on their joint demand.
Soon after this transfer, one of the co-depositors, fraudulently
representing himself to be acting as the agent of the other two, induced
the old lady to give him possession of the whole of the money--and
thereupon absconded. Forthwith the other two depositors brought an
action against the landlady, and were on the point of gaining a decision
in their favor, when young Egerton, who had been taking notes of the
trial, rose as _amicus curiæ_, and argued, "This money, by the contract,
was to be returned to _three_, but _two_ only sue;--where is the
_third_? let him appear with the others; till then the money cannot be
demanded from her." Nonsuit for the plaintiffs--for the young student a
hum of commendation.

Many of the pungent sayings current in Westminster Hall at the present
time, and attributed to eminent advocates who either are still upon the
forensic stage, or have recently withdrawn from it, were common jests
amongst the lawyers of the seventeenth century. What law-student now
eating dinners at the Temple has not heard the story of Sergeant
Wilkins, who, on drinking a pot of stout in the middle of the day,
explained that, as he was about to appear in court, he thought it right
to fuddle his brain down to the intellectual standard of a British jury.
This merry thought, two hundred and fifty years since, was currently
attributed to Sir John Millicent, of Cambridgeshire, of whom it is
recorded--"being asked how he did conforme himselfe to the grave
justices his brothers, when they met, 'Why, in faithe,' sayes he, 'I
have no way but to drinke myself downe to the capacitie of the Bench.'"

Another witticism, currently attributed to various recent celebrities,
but usually fathered upon Richard Brinsley Sheridan--on whose reputation
have been heaped the brilliant _mots_ of many a speaker whom he never
heard, and the indiscretions of many a sinner whom he never knew--is
certainly as old as Shaftesbury's bright and unprincipled career. When
Charles II. exclaimed, "Shaftesbury, you are the most profligate man in
my dominions," the reckless Chancellor answered, "Of a subject, sir, I
believe I am." It is likely enough that Shaftesbury merely repeated the
witticism of a previous courtier; but it is certain that Sheridan was
not the first to strike out the pun.

In this place let a contradiction be given to a baseless story, which
exalts Sir William Follett's reputation for intellectual readiness and
argumentative ability. The story runs, that early in the January of
1845, whilst George Stephenson, Dean Buckland, and Sir William Follett
were Sir Robert Peel's guests at Drayton Manor, Dean Buckland vanquished
the engineer in a discussion on a geological question. The next morning,
George Stephenson was walking in the gardens of Drayton Manor before
breakfast, when Sir William Follett accosted him, and sitting down in an
arbor asked for the facts of the argument. Having quickly 'picked up the
case,' the lawyer joined Sir Robert Peel's guests at breakfast, and
amused them by leading the dean back to the dispute of the previous day,
and overthrowing his fallacies by a skilful use of the same arguments
which the self-taught engineer had employed with such ill effect. "What
do you say, Mr. Stephenson?" asked Sir Robert Peel, enjoying the dean's
discomfiture. "Why," returned George Stephenson, "I only say this, that
of all the powers above and under earth, there seems to me no power so
great as the gift of the gab." This is the story. But there are facts
which contradict it. The only visit paid by George Stephenson to Drayton
Manor was made in the December of 1844, not the January of 1845. The
guests (invited for Dec. 14, 1844), were Lord Talbot, Lord Aylesford,
the Bishop of Lichfield, Dr. Buckland, Dr. Lyon Playfair, Professor
Owen, George Stephenson, Mr. Smith of Deanston, and Professor
Wheatstone. Sir William Follett was not of the party, and did not set
foot within Drayton Manor during George Stephenson's visit there. Of
this, Professor Wheatstone (who furnished the present writer with these
particulars), is certain. Moreover, it is not to be believed that Sir
William Follett, an overworked invalid (who died in the June of 1845 of
the pulmonary disease under which he had suffered for years), would sit
in an arbor before breakfast on a winter's morning to hold debate with
a companion on any subject. The story is a revival of an anecdote first
told long before George Stephenson was born.

In lists of legal _facetiæ_ the habit of punning is not more noticeable
than the prevalent unamiability of the jests. Advocates are intellectual
gladiators, using their tongues as soldiers of fortune use their swords;
and when they speak, it is to vanquish an adversary. Antagonism is an
unavoidable condition of their existence; and this incessant warfare
gives a merciless asperity to their language, even when it does not
infuse their hearts with bitterness. Duty enjoins the barrister to leave
no word unsaid that can help his client, and encourages him to perplex
by satire, baffle by ridicule, or silence by sarcasm, all who may oppose
him with statements that cannot be disproved, or arguments that cannot
be upset by reason. That which duty bids him do, practice enables him to
do with terrible precision and completeness; and in many a case the
caustic tone, assumed at the outset as a professional weapon, becomes
habitual, and, without the speaker's knowledge, gives more pain within
his home than in Westminster Hall.

Some of the well-known witticisms attributed to great lawyers are so
brutally personal and malignant, that no man possessing any respect for
human nature can read them without endeavoring to regard them as mere
biographic fabrications. It is recorded of Charles Yorke that, after his
election to serve as member for the University of Cambridge, he, in
accordance with etiquette, made a round of calls on members of senate,
giving them personal thanks for their votes; and that on coming to the
presence of a supporter--an old 'fellow' known as the ugliest man in
Cambridge--he addressed him thus, after smiling 'an aside' to a knot of
bystanders--"Sir, I have reason to be thankful to my friends in
general; but I confess myself under particular obligation to you for
the very _remarkable countenance_ you have shown me on this occasion."
There is no doubt that Charles Yorke could make himself unendurably
offensive; it is just credible that without a thought of their double
meaning he uttered the words attributed to him; but it is not to be
believed that he--an English gentleman--thus intentionally insulted a
man who had rendered him a service.

A story far less offensive than the preceding anecdote, but in one point
similar to it, is told of Judge Fortescue-Aland (subsequently Lord
Fortescue), and a counsel. Sir John Fortescue-Aland was disfigured by a
nose which was purple, and hideously misshapen by morbid growth. Having
checked a ready counsel with the needlessly harsh observation, "Brother,
brother, you are handling the case in a very lame manner," the angry
advocate gave vent to his annoyance by saying, with a perfect appearance
of _sang-froid_, "Pardon me, my lord; have patience with me, and I will
do my best to make the case as plain as--as--the nose on your lordship's
face." In this case the personality was uttered in hot blood, by a man
who deemed himself to be striking the enemy of his professional

If they were not supported by incontrovertible testimony, the admirers
of the great Sir Edward Coke would reject as spurious many of the
overbearing rejoinders which escaped his lips in courts of justice. His
tone in his memorable altercation with Bacon at the bar of the Court of
Exchequer speaks ill for the courtesy of English advocates in
Elizabeth's reign; and to any student who can appreciate the dignified
formality and punctilious politeness that characterized English
gentlemen in the old time, it is matter of perplexity how a man of
Coke's learning, capacity, and standing, could have marked his contempt
for 'Cowells Interpreter,' by designating the author in open court Dr.
Cowheel. Scarcely in better taste were the coarse personalities with
which, as Attorney General, he deluged Garnet the Jesuit, whom he
described as "a Doctor of Jesuits; that is, a Doctor of six D's--as
Dissimulation, Deposing of princes, Disposing of kingdoms, Daunting and
Deterring of Subjects, and Destruction."

In comparatively recent times few judges surpassed Thurlow in
overbearing insolence to the bar. To a few favorites, such as John Scott
and Kenyon, he could be consistently indulgent, although even to them
his patronage was often disagreeably contemptuous; but to those who
provoked his displeasure by a perfectly independent and fearless bearing
he was a malignant persecutor. For instance, in his animosity to Richard
Pepper Arden (Lord Alvanley), he often forgot his duty as a judge and
his manners as a gentleman. John Scott, on one occasion, rising in the
Court of Chancery to address the court after Arden, who was his leader
in the cause, and had made an unusually able speech, Lord Thurlow had
the indecency to say, "Mr. Scott, I am glad to find that you are engaged
in the cause, for I now stand some chance of knowing something about the
matter." To the Chancellor's habitual incivility and insolence it is
allowed that Arden always responded with dignity and self-command,
humiliating his powerful and ungenerous adversary by invariable
good-breeding. Once, through inadvertence, he showed disrespect to the
surly Chancellor, and then he instantly gave utterance to a cordial
apology, which Thurlow was not generous enough to accept with
appropriate courtesy. In the excitement of professional altercation with
counsel respecting the ages of certain persons concerned in a suit, he
committed the indecorum of saying aloud, "I'll lay you a bottle of
wine." Ever on the alert to catch his enemy tripping, Thurlow's eye
brightened as his ear caught the careless words; and in another instant
he assumed a look of indignant disgust. But before the irate judge could
speak, Arden exclaimed, "My lord, I beg your lordship's pardon; I really
forgot where I was." Had Thurlow bowed a grave acceptance of the
apology, Arden would have suffered somewhat from the misadventure; but
unable to keep his abusive tongue quiet, the 'Great Bear' growled out,
in allusion to the offender's Welsh judgeship, "You thought you were in
your own court, I presume."

More laughable, but not more courteous, was the same Chancellor's speech
to a solicitor who had made a series of statements in a vain endeavor to
convince his lordship of a certain person's death. "Really, my lord," at
last the solicitor exclaimed, goaded into a fury by Thurlow's repeated
ejaculations of "That's no proof of the man's death;" "Really, my lord,
it is very hard, and it is not right that you won't believe me. I saw
the man dead in his coffin. My lord, I tell you he was my client, and he
is dead." "No wonder," retorted Thurlow, with a grunt and a sneer,
"_since he was your client_. Why did you not tell me that sooner? It
would kill me to have such a fellow as you for my attorney." That this
great lawyer could thus address a respectable gentleman is less
astonishing when it is remembered, that he once horrified a party of
aristocratic visitors at a country-house by replying to a lady who
pressed him to take some grapes, "Grapes, madam, grapes! Did not I say a
minute ago that I had the _gripes_!" Once this ungentle lawyer was
fairly worsted in a verbal conflict by an Irish pavier. On crossing the
threshold of his Ormond Street house one morning, the Chancellor was
incensed at seeing a load of paving-stones placed before his door.
Singling out the tallest of a score of Irish workmen who were repairing
the thoroughfare, he poured upon him one of those torrents of curses
with which his most insolent speeches were usually preluded, and then
told the man to move the stones away instantly. "Where shall I take them
to, your honor?" the pavier inquired. From the Chancellor another volley
of blasphemous abuse, ending with, "You lousy scoundrel, take them to
hell!--do you hear me?" "Have a care, your honor," answered the workman,
with quiet drollery, "don't you think now that if I took 'em to the
other place your honor would be less likely to fall over them?"

Thurlow's incivility to the solicitor reminds us of the cruel answer
given by another great lawyer to a country attorney, who, through fussy
anxiety for a client's interests, committed a grave breach of
professional etiquette. Let this attorney be called Mr. Smith, and let
it be known that Mr. Smith, having come up to London from a secluded
district of a remote country, was present at a consultation of
counsellors learned in the law upon his client's cause. At this
interview, the leading counsel in the cause, the Attorney General of the
time, was present and delivered his final opinion with characteristic
clearness and precision. The consultation over, the country attorney
retreated to the Hummums Hotel, Covent Garden, and, instead of sleeping
over the statements made at the conference, passed a wretched and
wakeful night, harassed by distressing fears, and agitated by a
conviction that the Attorney General had overlooked the most important
point of the case. Early next day, Mr. Smith, without appointment, was
at the great counsellor's chambers, and by vehement importunity, as well
as a liberal donation to the clerk, succeeded in forcing his way to the
advocate's presence. "Well, Mis-ter Smith," observed the Attorney
General to his visitor, turning away from one of his devilling juniors,
who chanced to be closeted with him at the moment of the intrusion,
"what may you want to say? Be quick, for I am pressed for time."
Notwithstanding the urgency of his engagements, he spoke with a slowness
which, no less than the suspicious rattle of his voice, indicated the
fervor of displeasure. "Sir Causticus Witherett, I trust you will excuse
my troubling you; but, sir, after our yesterday's interview, I went to
my hotel, the Hummums, in Covent Garden, and have spent the evening and
all night turning over my client's case in my mind, and the more I turn
the matter over in my mind, the more reason I see to fear that you have
not given one point due consideration." A pause, during which Sir
Causticus steadily eyed his visitor, who began to feel strangely
embarrassed under the searching scrutiny: and then--"State the point,
Mis-ter Smith, but be brief." Having heard the point stated, Sir
Causticus Witherett inquired, "Is that all you wish to say?" "All,
sir--all," replied Mr. Smith; adding nervously, "And I trust you will
excuse me for troubling you about the matter; but, sir, I could not
sleep a wink last night; all through the night I was turning this matter
over in my mind." A glimpse of silence. Sir Causticus rose and standing
over his victim made his final speech--"Mis-ter Smith, if you take my
advice, given with sincere commiseration for your state, you will
without delay return to the tranquil village in which you habitually
reside. In the quietude of your accustomed scenes you will have leisure
to _turn this matter over in what you are pleased to call your mind_.
And I am willing to hope that _your mind_ will recover its usual
serenity. Mr. Smith, I wish you a very good morning."

Legal biography abounds with ghastly stories that illustrate the
insensibility with which the hanging judges in past generations used to
don the black cap jauntily, and smile at the wretched beings whom they
sentenced to death. Perhaps of all such anecdotes the most thoroughly
sickening is that which describes the conduct of Jeffreys, when, as
Recorder of London, he passed sentence of death on his old and familiar
friend, Richard Langhorn, the Catholic barrister--one of the victims of
the Popish Plot phrensy. It is recorded that Jeffreys, not content with
consigning his friend to a traitor's doom, malignantly reminded him of
their former intercourse, and with devilish ridicule admonished him to
prepare his soul for the next world. The authority which gives us this
story adds, that by thus insulting a wretched gentleman and personal
associate, Jeffreys, instead of rousing the disgust of his auditors,
elicited their enthusiastic applause.

In a note to a passage in one of the Waverley Novels, Scott tells a
story of an old Scotch judge, who, as an enthusiastic chess-player, was
much mortified by the success of an ancient friend, who invariably beat
him when they tried their powers at the beloved game. After a time the
humiliated chess-player had his day of triumph. His conqueror happened
to commit murder, and it became the judge's not altogether painful duty
to pass upon him the sentence of the law. Having in due form and with
suitable solemnity commended his soul to the divine mercy, he, after a
brief pause, assumed his ordinary colloquial tone of voice, and nodding
humorously to his old friend, observed--"And noo, Jammie, I think ye'll
alloo that I hae checkmated you for ance."

Of all the bloodthirsty wearers of the ermine, no one, since the opening
of the eighteenth century, has fared worse than Sir Francis Page--the
virulence of whose tongue and the cruelty of whose nature were marks for
successive satirists. In one of his Imitations of Horace, Pope says--

   "Slanderer, poison dread from Delia's rage,
   Hard words or hanging, if your judge be Page."

In the same spirit the poet penned the lines of the 'Dunciad'--

   "Mortality, by her false guardians drawn,
   Chicane in furs, and Casuistry in lawn,
   Gasps, as they straighten at each end the cord,
   And dies, when Dulness gives her----the Sword."

Powerless to feign insensibility to the blow, Sir Francis openly fitted
this _black_ cap to his dishonored head by sending his clerk to
expostulate with the poet. The ill-chosen ambassador performed his
mission by showing that, in Sir Francis's opinion, the whole passage
would be sheer nonsense, unless 'Page' were inserted in the vacant
place. Johnson and Savage took vengeance on the judge for the judicial
misconduct which branded the latter poet a murderer; and Fielding, in
'Tom Jones,' illustrating by a current story the offensive levity of the
judge's demeanor at capital trials, makes him thus retort on a
horse-stealer: "Ay! thou art a lucky fellow; I have traveled the circuit
these forty years, and never found a horse in my life; but I'll tell
thee what, friend, thou wast more lucky than thou didst know of; for
thou didst not only find a horse, but a halter too, I promise thee."
This scandal to his professional order was permitted to insult the
humane sentiments of the nation for a long period. Born in 1661, he died
in 1741, whilst he was still occupying a judicial place; and it is said
of him, that in his last year he pointed the ignominious story of his
existence by a speech that soon ran the round of the courts. In answer
to an inquiry for his health, the octogenarian judge observed, "My dear
sir--you see how it fares with me; I just manage to keep _hanging on,
hanging on_." This story is ordinarily told as though the old man did
not see the unfavorable significance of his words; but it is probable
that, he uttered them wittingly and with, a sneer--in the cynicism and
shamelessness of old age.

A man of finer stuff and of various merits, but still famous as a
'hanging judge,' was Sir Francis Buller, who also made himself odious to
the gentler sex by maintaining that husbands might flog their wives, if
the chastisement were administered with a stick not thicker than the
operator's thumb. But the severity to criminals, which gave him a place
amongst hanging judges, was not a consequence of natural cruelty.
Inability to devise a satisfactory system of secondary punishments, and
a genuine conviction that ninety-nine out of every hundred culprits were
incorrigible, caused him to maintain that the gallows-tree was the most
efficacious as well as the cheapest instrument that could be invented
for protecting society against malefactors. Another of his stern _dicta_
was, that previous good character was a reason for increasing rather
than a reason for lessening a culprit's punishment; "For," he argued,
"the longer a prisoner has enjoyed the good opinion of the world, the
less are the excuses for his misdeeds, and the more injurious is his
conduct to public morality."

In contrast to these odious stories of hanging judges are some anecdotes
of great men, who abhorred the atrocities of our penal system, long
before the worst of them were swept away by reform. Lord Mansfield has
never been credited with lively sensibilities, but his humanity was so
shocked by the bare thought of killing a man for committing a trifling
theft, that he on one occasion ordered a jury to find that a stolen
trinket was of less value than forty shillings--in order that the thief
might escape the capital sentence. The prosecutor, a dealer in jewelry,
was so mortified by the judge's leniency, that he exclaimed, "What, my
lord, my golden trinket not worth forty shillings? Why, the fashion
alone cost me twice the money!" Removing his glance from the vindictive
tradesman, Lord Mansfield turned towards the jury, and said, with solemn
gravity, "As we stand in need of God's mercy, gentlemen, let us not hang
a man for fashion's sake."

Tenderness of heart was even less notable in Kenyon than in Murray; but
Lord Mansfield's successor was at least on one occasion stirred by
apathetic consequence of the bloody law against persons found guilty of
trivial theft. On the Home Circuit, having passed sentence of death on a
poor woman who had stolen property to the value of forty shillings in a
dwelling-house, Lord Kenyon saw the prisoner drop lifeless in the dock,
just as he ceased to speak. Instantly the Chief Justice sprang to his
feet, and screamed in a shrill tone, "I don't mean to hang you--do you
hear!--don't you hear?--Good----will nobody tell her that I don't mean
to hang her?"

One of the humorous aspects of a repulsive subject is seen in the
curiosity and fastidiousness of prisoners on trial for capital offences
with regard to the professional _status_ of the judges who try them. A
sheep-stealer of the old bloody days liked that sentence should be
passed upon him by a Chief Justice; and in our own time murderers
awaiting execution, sometimes grumble at the unfairness of their trials,
because they have been tried by judges of inferior degree. Lord Campbell
mentions the case of a sergeant, who, whilst acting as Chief Justice
Abbott's deputy, on the Oxford circuit, was reminded that he was 'merely
a temporary' by the prisoner in the dock. Being asked in the usual way
if he had aught to say why sentence of death should not be passed upon
him, the prisoner answered--"_Yes; I have been tried before a journeyman



Alike commendable for its subtlety and inoffensive humor was the
pleasantry with which young Philip Yorke (afterwards Lord Hardwicke),
answered Sir Lyttleton Powys's banter on the Western Circuit. An amiable
and upright, but far from brilliant judge, Sir Lyttleton had a few pet
phrases---amongst them, "I humbly conceive," and "Look, do you
see"--which he sprinkled over his judgments and colloquial talk with
ridiculous profuseness. Surprised at Yorke's sudden rise into lucrative
practice, this most gentlemanlike worthy was pleased to account for the
unusual success by maintaining that young Mr. Yorke must have written a
law-book, which had brought him early into favor with the inferior
branch of the profession. "Mr. Yorke," said the venerable justice,
whilst the barristers were sitting over their wine at a 'judges'
dinner,' "I cannot well account for your having so much business,
considering how short a time you have been at the bar: I humbly conceive
you must have published something; for look you, do you see, there is
scarcely a cause in court but you are employed in it on one side or the
other. I should therefore be glad to know, Mr. Yorke, do you see,
whether this be the case." Playfully denying that he possessed any
celebrity as a writer on legal matters, Yorke, with an assumption of
candor, admitted that he had some thoughts of lightening the labors of
law-students by turning Coke upon Littleton into verse. Indeed, he
confessed that he had already begun the work of versification. Not
seeing the nature of the reply, Sir Lyttleton Powys treated the droll
fancy as a serious project, and insisted that the author should give a
specimen of the style of his contemplated work. Whereupon the young
barrister--not pausing to remind a company of lawyers of the words of
the original. "Tenant in fee simple is he which hath lands or tenements
to hold to him and his heirs for ever"--recited the lines--

   "He that holdeth his lands in fee
     Need neither to quake nor quiver,
   _I humbly conceive: for look, do you see_
     They are his and his heirs' forever."

The mimicry of voice being not less perfect than the verbal imitation,
Yorke's hearers were convulsed with laughter, but so unconscious was Sir
Lyttleton of the ridicule which he had incurred, that on subsequently
encountering Yorke in London, he asked how "that translation of Coke
upon Littleton was getting on." Sir Lyttleton died in 1732, and exactly
ten years afterwards appeared the first edition of 'The Reports of Sir
Edward Coke, Knt., in Verse'--a work which its author may have been
inspired to undertake by Philip Yorke's proposal to versify 'Coke on

Had Yorke's project been carried out, lawyers would have a large supply
of that comic but sound literature of which Sir James Burrow's Reports
contain a specimen in the following poetical version of Chief Justice
Pratt's memorable decision with regard to a woman of English birth, who
was the widow of a foreigner:

   "A woman having settlement
     Married a man with none,
   The question was, he being dead,
     If what she had was gone.

   "Quoth Sir John Pratt, 'The settlement
     Suspended did remain,
   Living the husband; but him dead
     It doth revive again.'

   (_Chorus of Puisne Judges._)

   "Living the husband; but him dead
     It doth revive again."

Chief Justice Pratt's decision on this point having been reversed by his
successor, Chief Justice Ryder's judgment was thus reported:

   "A woman having a settlement,
     Married a man with none,
   He flies and leaves her destitute;
     What then is to be done?

   "Quoth Ryder, the Chief Justice,
     'In spite of Sir John Pratt,
   You'll send her to the parish
     In which she was a brat.

   "'_Suspension of a settlement_
     Is not to be maintained;
   That which she had by birth subsists
     Until another's gained.'

   (_Chorus of Puisne Judges._)

   "That which she had by birth subsists
     Until another's gained."

In the early months of his married life, whilst playing the part of an
Oxford don, Lord Eldon was required to decide in an important action
brought by two undergraduates against the cook of University College.
The plaintiffs declared that the cook had "sent to their rooms an
apple-pie _that could not be eaten_." The defendant pleaded that he had
a remarkably fine fillet of veal in the kitchen. Having set aside this
plea on grounds obvious to the legal mind, and not otherwise then
manifest to unlearned laymen, Mr. John Scott ordered the apple-pie to be
brought in court; but the messenger, dispatched to do the judge's
bidding, returned with the astounding intelligence that during the
progress of the litigation a party of undergraduates had actually
devoured the pie--fruit and crust. Nothing but the pan was left.
Judgment: "The charge here is, that the cook has sent up an apple-pie
that cannot be eaten. Now that cannot be said to have been uneatable
which has been eaten; and as this apple-pie has been eaten, it was
eatable. Let the cook be absolved."

But of all the judicial decisions on record, none was delivered with
more comical effect than Lord Loughborough's decision not to hear a
cause brought on a wager about a point in the game of 'Hazard.' A
constant frequenter of Brookes's and White's, Lord Loughborough was well
known by men of fashion to be fairly versed in the mysteries of
gambling, though no evidence has ever been found in support of the
charge that he was an habitual dicer. That he ever lost much by play is
improbable; but the scandal-mongers of Westminster had some plausible
reasons for laughing at the virtuous indignation of the spotless
Alexander Wedderburn, who, whilst sitting at _Nisi Prius_, exclaimed,
"Do not swear the jury in this case, but let it be struck out of the
paper. I will not try it. The administration of justice is insulted by
the proposal that I should try it. To my astonishment I find that the
action is brought on a wager as to the mode of playing an illegal,
disreputable, and mischievous game called 'Hazard;' whether, allowing
seven to be the main, and eleven to be a nick to seven, there are more
ways than six of nicking seven on the dice? Courts of justice are
constituted to try rights and redress injuries, not to solve the
problems of the gamesters. The gentlemen of the jury and I may have
heard of 'Hazard' as a mode of dicing by which sharpers live, and young
men of family and fortune are ruined; but what do any of us know of
'seven being the main,' or 'eleven being the nick to seven?' Do we come
here to be instructed in this lore, and are the unusual crowds (drawn
hither, I suppose, by the novelty of the expected entertainment) to take
a lesson with us in these unholy mysteries, which they are to practice
in the evening in the low gaming-houses in St. James Street, pithily
called by a name which should inspire a salutary terror of entering
them? Again, I say, let the cause be struck out of the paper. Move the
court, if you please, that it may be restored, and if my brethren think
that I do wrong in the course that I now take, I hope that one of them
will officiate for me here, and save me from the degradation of trying
'whether there be more than six ways of nicking seven on the dice,
allowing seven to be the main and eleven to be a nick to seven'--a
question, after all, admitting of no doubt, and capable of mathematical

With equal fervor Lord Kenyon inveighed against the pernicious usage of
gambling, urging that the hells of St. James's should, be indicted as
common nuisances. The 'legal monk,' as Lord Carlisle stigmatized him for
his violent denunciations of an amusement countenanced by women of the
highest fashion, even went so far as to exclaim--"If any such
prosecutions are fairly brought before me, and the guilty parties are
convicted, whatever may be their rank or station in the country, though
they may be the first ladies in the land, they shall certainly exhibit
themselves in the pillory."

The same considerations, which decided Lord Loughborough not to try an
action brought by a wager concerning chicken-hazard, made Lord
Ellenborough decline to hear a cause where the plaintiff sought to
recover money wagered on a cock-fight. "There is likewise," said Lord
Ellenborough, "another principle on which I think an action on such
wagers cannot be maintained. They tend to the degradation of courts of
justice. It is impossible to be engaged in ludicrous inquiries of this
sort consistently with that dignity which it is essential to the public
welfare that a court of justice should always preserve. I will not try
the plaintiff's right to recover the four guineas, which might involve
questions on the weight of the cocks and the construction of their steel

It has already been remarked that in all ages the wits of Westminster
Hall have delighted in puns; and it may be here added, with the
exception of some twenty happy verbal freaks, the puns of lawyers have
not been remarkable for their excellence. L'Estrange records that when a
stone was hurled by a convict from the dock at Charles I.'s Chief
Justice Richardson, and passed just over the head of the judge, who
happened to be sitting at ease and lolling on his elbow, the learned man
smiled, and observed to those who congratulated him on his escape, "You
see now, if I had been an _upright judge_ I had been slaine." Under
George III. Joseph Jekyll[30] was at the same time the brightest wit and
most shameless punster of Westminster Hall; and such pride did he take
in his reputation as a punster, that after the fashion of the wits of an
earlier period he was often at considerable pains to give a pun a
well-wrought epigrammatic setting. Bored with the long-winded speech of
a prosy sergeant, he wrote on a slip of paper, which was in due course
passed along the barristers' benches in the court where he was

   "The sergeants are a grateful race,
     Their dress and language show it;
   Their purple garments come from _Tyre_,
     Their arguments go to it."

When Garrow, by a more skilful than successful cross-examination, was
endeavoring to lure a witness (an unmarried lady of advanced years) into
an acknowledgment that payment of certain money in dispute had been
tendered, Jekyll threw him this couplet--

   "Garrow, forbear; that tough old jade
   Will never prove a _tender maid_."

So also, when Lord Eldon and Sir Arthur Pigott each made a stand in
court for his favorite pronunciation of the word 'lien;' Lord Eldon
calling the word _lion_ and Sir Arthur maintaining that it was to be
pronounced like _lean_, Jekyll, with an allusion to the parsimonious
arrangements of the Chancellor's kitchen, perpetrated the _jeu

   "Sir Arthur, Sir Arthur, why what do you mean
   By saying the Chancellor's _lion_ is _lean_?
   D'ye think that his kitchen's so bad as all that,
   That nothing within it can ever get fat?"

By this difference concerning the pronunciation of a word the present
writer is reminded of an amicable contest that occurred in Westminster
Hall between Lord Campbell and a Q.C. who is still in the front rank of
court-advocates. In an action brought to recover for damages done to a
carriage, the learned counsel repeatedly called, the vehicle in question
a broug-ham, pronouncing both syllables of the word _brougham_.
Whereupon, Lord Campbell with considerable pomposity observed, "_Broom_
is the more usual pronunciation; a carriage of the kind you mean is
generally and not incorrectly called a _broom_--that pronunciation is
open to no grave objection, and it has the great advantage of saving the
time consumed by uttering an extra syllable." Half an hour later in the
same trial Lord Campbell, alluding to a decision given in a similar
action, said, "In that case the carriage which had sustained injury was
an _omnibus_----" "Pardon me, my lord," interposed the Queen's Counsel,
with such promptitude that his lordship was startled into silence, "a
carriage of the kind, to which you draw attention is usually termed
'bus;' that pronunciation is open to no grave objection, and it has the
great advantage of saving the time consumed by uttering two extra
syllables." The interruption was followed by a roar of laughter, in
which Lord Campbell joined more heartily than any one else.

One of Jekyll's happy sayings was spoken at Exeter, when he defended
several needlemen who were charged with raising a riot for the purpose
of forcing the master-tailors to give higher wages. Whilst Jekyll was
examining a witness as to the number of tailors present at the alleged
riot, Lord Eldon--then Chief Justice of the Common Pleas--reminded him
that three persons can make that which the law regards as a riot;
whereupon the witty advocate answered, "Yes, my lord, Hale and Hawkins
lay down the law as your lordship states it, and I rely on their
authority; for if there must be three men to make a riot, the rioters
being _tailors_, there must be nine times three present, and unless the
prosecutor make out that there were twenty-seven joining in this breach
of the peace, my clients are entitled to an acquittal." On Lord Eldon
enquiring whether he relied on common-law or statute-law, the counsel
for the defence answered firmly, "My lord, I rely on a well-known maxim,
as old as Magna Charta, _Nine Tailors make a Man_." Finding themselves
unable to reward a lawyer for so excellent a jest with an adverse
verdict, the jury acquitted the prisoners. Towards the close of his
career Eldon made a still better jest than this of Jekyll's concerning
tailors. In 1829, when Lyndhurst was occupying the woolsack for the
first time, and Eldon was longing to recover the seals, the latter
presented a petition from the Tailors' Company at Glasgow against
Catholic Belief.

"What!" asked Lord Lyndhurst from the woolsack, in a low voice, "do the
_tailors_ trouble themselves about such _measures_?" Whereto, with
unaccustomed quickness, the old Tory of the Tories retorted, "No wonder;
you can't suppose that _tailors_ like _turncoats_."

As specimens of a kind of pleasantry becoming more scarce every year,
some of Sir George Rose's court witticisms are excellent. When Mr.
Beams, the reporter, defended himself against the _friction_ of passing
barristers by a wooden bar, the flimsiness of which was pointed out to
Sir George (then Mr. Rose), the wit answered--

   "Yes--the partition is certainly thin--
   Yet thick enough, truly, the Beams within."

The same originator of happy sayings pointed to Eldon's characteristic
weakness in the lines--

   "Mr. Leach made a speech,
     Pithy, clear, and strong;
   Mr. Hart, on the other part,
     Was prosy, dull, and long;
   Mr. Parker made that darker
     Which was dark enough without;
   Mr. Bell spoke so well,
     That the Chancellor said--'I doubt.'"

Far from being offended by this allusion to his notorious mental
infirmity, Lord Eldon, shortly after the verses had floated into
circulation, concluded one of his decisions by saying, with a
significant smile, "And here _the Chancellor does not doubt_."

Not less remarkable for precipitancy than Eldon for procrastination, Sir
John Leach, Vice-Chancellor, was said to have done more mischief by
excessive haste in a single term than Eldon in his whole life wrought
through extreme caution. The holders of this opinion delighted to repeat
the poor and not perspicuous lines--

   "In equity's high court there are
     Two sad extremes, 'tis clear;
   Excessive slowness strikes us there,
     Excessive quickness here.

   "Their source, 'twixt good and evil, brings
     A difficulty nice;
   The first from Eldon's _virtue_, springs,
     The latter from his _vice_."

It is needless to remark that this attempt to gloss the Chancellor's
shortcomings is an illustration of the readiness with which censors
apologize for the misdeeds of eminently fortunate offenders. Whilst
Eldon's procrastination and Leach's haste were thus put in contrast, an
epigram also placed the Chancellor's frailty in comparison with the
tedious prolixity of the Master of the Rolls--

   "To cause delay in Lincoln's Inn
     Two diff'rent methods tend:
   His lordship's judgments ne'er begin,
     His honors never end."

A mirth-loving judge, Justice Powell, could be as thoroughly humorous in
private life as he was fearless and just upon the bench. Swift describes
him as a surpassingly merry old gentleman, laughing heartily at all
comic things, and his own droll stories more than aught else. In court
he could not always refrain from jocularity. For instance, when he
tried Jane Wenham for witch-craft, and she assured him that she could
fly, his eye twinkled as he answered, "Well, then you may; there is no
law against flying." When Fowler, Bishop of Gloucester--a thorough
believer in what is now-a-days called spiritualism--was persecuting his
acquaintance with silly stories about ghosts, Powell gave him a telling
reproof for his credulity by describing a horrible apparition which was
represented as having disturbed the narrator's rest on the previous
night. At the hour of midnight, as the clocks were striking twelve, the
judge was roused from his first slumber by a hideous sound. Starting up,
he saw at the foot of his uncompanioned bed a figure--dark, gloomy,
terrible, holding before its grim and repulsive visage a lamp that shed
an uncertain light. "May Heaven have mercy on us!" tremulously
ejaculated the bishop at this point of the story. The judge continued
his story: "Be calm, my lord bishop; be calm. The awful part of this
mysterious interview has still to be told. Nerving myself to fashion the
words of inquiry, I addressed the nocturnal visitor thus--'Strange
being, why hast thou come at this still hour to perturb a sinful
mortal?' You understand, my lord, I said this in hollow tones--in what I
may almost term a sepulchral voice." "Ay--ay," responded the bishop,
with intense excitement; "go on--I implore you to go on. What did _it_
answer?" "It answered in a voice not greatly different from the voice of
a human creature--'Please, sir, _I am the watchman on beat, and your
street-door is open_.'" Readers will remember the use which Barham has
made of this story in the Ingoldsby Legends.

As a Justice of the King's Bench, Powell had in Chief Justice Holt an
associate who could not only appreciate the wit of others, but could
himself say smart things. When Lacy, the fanatic, forced his way into
Holt's house in Bedford Row, the Chief Justice was equal to the
occasion. "I come to you," said Lacy, "a prophet from the Lord God, who
has sent me to thee and would have thee grant a _nolle prosequi_ for
John Atkins, his servant, whom thou hast sent to prison." Whereto the
judge answered, with proper emphasis, "Thou art a false prophet and a
lying knave. If the Lord God had sent thee, it would have been to the
Attorney General, for the Lord God knows that it belongeth not to the
Chief Justice, to grant a _nolle prosequi_; but I, as Chief Justice, can
grant a warrant to commit thee to John Atkins's company." Whereupon the
false prophet, sharing the fate of many a true one, was forthwith
clapped in prison.

Now that so much has been said of Thurlow's brutal sarcasms, justice
demands for his memory an acknowledgment that he possessed a vein of
genuine humor that could make itself felt without wounding. In his
undergraduate days at Cambridge he is said to have worried the tutors of
Caius with a series of disorderly pranks and impudent _escapades_, but
on one occasion he unquestionably displayed at the university the quick
wit that in after life rescued him from many an embarrassing position.
"Sir," observed a tutor, giving the unruly undergraduate a look of
disapproval, "I never come to the window without seeing you idling in
the court." "Sir," replied young Thurlow, imitating the don's tone, "I
never come into the court without seeing you idling at the window."
Years later, when he had become a great man, and John Scott was paying
him assiduous court, Thurlow said, in ridicule of the mechanical
awkwardness of many successful equity draughtsmen, "Jack Scott, don't
you think we could invent a machine to draw bills and answers in
Chancery?" Having laughed at the suggestion when it was made, Scott put
away the droll thought in his memory; and when he had risen to be
Attorney General reminded Lord Thurlow of it under rather awkward
circumstances. Macnamara, the conveyancer, being concerned as one of the
principals in a Chancery suit, Lord Thurlow advised him to submit the
answer to the bill filed against him to the Attorney General. In due
course the answer came under Scott's notice, when he found it so
wretchedly drawn, that he advised Macnamara to have another answer drawn
by some one who understood pleading. On the same day he was engaged at
the bar of the House of Lords, when Lord Thurlow came to him, and said,
"So I understand you don't think my friend Mac's answer will do?" "Do!"
Scott replied, contemptuously. "My Lord, it won't do at all! it must
have been drawn by that wooden machine which you once told me might be
invented to draw bills and answers." "That's very unlucky," answered
Thurlow, "and impudent too, if you had known--_that I drew the answer

Lord Lyndhurst used to maintain that it was one of the chief duties of a
judge to render it disagreeable to counsel to talk nonsense. Jeffreys in
his milder moments no doubt salved his conscience with the same
doctrine, when he recalled how, after elating him with a compliment, he
struck down the rising junior with "Lord, sir! you must be cackling too.
We told you, Mr. Bradbury, your objection was very ingenious; that must
not make you troublesome: you cannot lay an egg, but you must be
cackling over it." Doubtless, also, he felt it one of the chief duties
of a judge to restrain attorneys from talking nonsense when--on hearing
that the solicitor from whom he received his first brief had boastfully
remarked, in allusion to past services, "My Lord Chancellor! I _made_
him!"--he exclaimed, "Well, then, I'll lay my maker by the heels," and
forthwith committed his former client and patron to the Fleet prison. If
this bully of the bench actually, as he is said to have done,
interrupted the venerable Maynard by saying, "You have lost your
knowledge of law; your memory, I tell you, is failing through old age,"
how must every hearer of the speech have exulted when Maynard quietly
answered, "Yes, Sir George, I have forgotten more law than you ever
learned; but allow me to say, I have not forgotten much."

On the other hand it should be remembered that Maynard was a man
eminently qualified to sow violent animosities, and that he was a
perpetual thorn in the flesh of the political barristers, whose
principles he abhorred. A subtle and tricky man, he was constantly
misleading judges by citing fictitious authorities, and then smiling at
their professional ignorance when they had swallowed his audacious
fabrications. Moreover, the manner of his speech was sometimes as
offensive as its substance was dishonest. Strafford spoke a bitter
criticism not only with regard to Maynard and Glyn, but with regard to
the prevailing tone of the bar, when, describing the conduct of the
advocates who managed his prosecution, he said: "Glynne and Maynard used
me _like advocates_, but Palmer and Whitelock _like gentlemen_; and yet
the latter left out nothing against me that was material to be urged
against me." As a Devonshire man Maynard is one of the many cases which
may be cited against the smart saying of Sergeant Davy, who used to
observe: "The further I journey toward the West, the more convinced I am
that the wise men come from the East." But shrewd, observant, liberal
though he was in most respects, he was on one matter so far behind the
spirit of the age that, blinded and ruled by an unwise sentiment, he
gave his parliamentary support to an abortive measure "to prevent
further building in London and the neighborhood." In support of this
measure he observed, "This building is the ruin of the gentry and ruin
of religion, as leaving many good people without churches to go to.
This enlarging of London makes it filled with lacqueys and pages. In St.
Giles's parish scarce the fifth part come to church, and we shall have
no religion at last."

Whilst justice has suffered something in respect of dignity from the
overbearing temper of judges to counsel, from collisions of the bench
with the bar, and from the mutual hostility of rival advocates, she has
at times sustained even greater injury from the jealousies and
altercations of judges. Too often wearers of the ermine, sitting on the
same bench, nominally for the purpose of assisting each other, have
roused the laughter of the bar, and the indignation of suitors, by their
petty squabbles. "It now comes to my turn," an Irish judge observed,
when it devolved on him to support the decision of one or the other of
two learned coadjutors, who had stated with more fervor than courtesy
altogether irreconcilable opinions--"It now comes to my turn to declare
my view of the case, and fortunately I can be brief. I agree with my
brother A, from the irresistible force of my brother B's arguments."
Extravagant as this case may appear, the King's Bench of Westminster
Hall, under Mansfield and Kenyon, witnessed several not less scandalous
and comical differences. Taking thorough pleasure in his work, Lord
Mansfield was not less industrious than impartial in the discharge of
his judicial functions; so long as there was anything for him to learn
with regard to a cause, he not only sought for it with pains but with a
manifest pleasure similar to that delight in judicial work which caused
the French Advocate, Cottu, to say of Mr. Justice Bayley: "Il s'amuse à
juger:" but notwithstanding these good qualities, he was often culpably
deficient in respect for the opinions of his subordinate coadjutors. At
times a vain desire to impress on the minds of spectators that his
intellect was the paramount power of the bench; at other times a
personal dislike to one of his _puisnes_ caused him to derogate from the
dignity of his court, in cases where he was especially careful to
protect the interests of suitors. With silence more disdainful than any
words could have been, he used to turn away from Mr. Justice Willes, at
the moment when the latter expected his chief to ask his opinion; and on
such occasions the indignant _puisne_ seldom had the prudence and nerve
to conceal his mortification. "I have not been consulted, and I will be
heard!" he once shrieked forth in a paroxysm of rage caused by
Mansfield's contemptuous treatment; and forty years afterwards Jeremy
Bentham, who was a witness of the insult and its effect, observed: "At
this distance of time--five-and-thirty or forty years--the feminine
scream issuing out of his manly frame still tingles in my ears."
Mansfield's overbearing demeanor to his _puisnes_ was reproduced with
less dignity by his successor; but Buller, the judge who wore ermine
whilst he was still in his thirty-third year, and who confessed that his
"idea of heaven was to sit at Nisi Prius all day, and to play whist all
night," seized the first opportunity to give Taffy Kenyon a lesson in
good manners by stating, with impressive self-possession and convincing
logic, the reasons which induced him to think the judgment delivered by
his chief to be altogether bad in law and argument.

[30] One of Jekyll's best displays of brilliant impudence was
perpetrated on a Welsh judge, who was alike notorious for his greed of
office and his want of personal cleanliness. "My dear sir," Jekyll
observed in his most amiable manner to this most unamiable personage,
"you have asked the minister for almost everything else, why _don't_ you
ask him for a piece of soap and a nail-brush?"



Whilst Lord Camden held the chiefship of the Common Pleas, he was
walking with his friend Lord Dacre on the outskirts of an Essex village,
when they passed the parish stocks. "I wonder," said the Chief Justice,
"whether a man in the stocks endures a punishment that is physically
painful? I am inclined to think that, apart from the sense of
humiliation and other mental anguish, the prisoner suffers nothing,
unless the populace express their satisfaction at his fate by pelting
him with brick-bats." "Suppose you settle your doubts by putting your
feet into the holes," rejoined Lord Dacre, carelessly. In a trice the
Chief Justice was sitting on the ground with his feet some fifteen
inches above the level of his seat, and his ankles encircled by hard
wood. "Now, Dacre!" he exclaimed, enthusiastically, "fasten the bolts,
and leave me for ten minutes." Like a courteous host Lord Dacre complied
with the whim of his guest, and having placed it beyond his power to
liberate himself bade him 'farewell' for ten minutes. Intending to
saunter along the lane and return at the expiration of the stated
period, Lord Dacre moved away, and falling into one of his customary
fits of reverie, soon forgot all about the stocks, his friend's freak,
and his friend. In the meantime the Chief Justice went through every
torture of an agonizing punishment--acute shootings along the confined
limbs, aching in the feet, angry pulsations under the toes, violent
cramps in the muscles and thighs, gnawing pain at the point where his
person came in immediate contact with the cold ground, pins-and-needles
everywhere. Amongst the various forms of his physical discomfort,
faintness, fever, giddiness, and raging thirst may be mentioned. He
implored a peasant to liberate him, and the fellow answered with a shout
of derision; he hailed a passing clergyman, and explained that he was
not a culprit, but Lord Camden, Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, and
one of Lord Dacre's guests. "Ah!" observed the man of cloth, not so much
answering the wretched culprit as passing judgment on his case, "mad
with liquor. Yes, drunkenness is sadly on the increase; 'tis droll,
though, for a drunkard in the stocks to imagine himself a Chief
Justice!" and on he passed. A farmer's wife jogged by on her pillion,
and hearing the wretched man exclaim that he should die of thirst, the
good creature gave him a juicy apple, and hoped that his punishment
would prove for the good of his soul. Not ten minutes, but ten hours did
the Chief Justice sit in the stocks, and when at length he was carried
into Lord Dacre's house, he was in no humor to laugh at his own
miserable plight. Not long afterwards he presided at a trial in which a
workman brought an action against a magistrate who had wrongfully placed
him in the stocks. The counsel for the defence happening to laugh at the
statement of the plaintiff, who maintained that he had suffered intense
pain during his confinement, Lord Camden leaned forwards and inquired in
a whisper, "Brother were you ever in the stocks?" "Never, my lord,"
answered the advocate, with a look of lively astonishment "I have been,"
was the whispered reply; "and let me assure you that the agony inflicted
by the stocks is--_awful_!"

Of a different sort, but scarcely less intense, was the pain endured by
Lord Mansfield whenever a barrister pronounced a Latin word with a false
quantity. "My lords," said the Scotch advocate, Crosby, at the bar of
the House of Lords, "I have the honor to appear before your lordships as
counsel for the Curators." "Ugh!" groaned the Westminster Oxford
law-lord, softening his reproof by an allusion to his Scotch
nationality, "Curators, Mr. Crosby, Curators: I wish _our_ countrymen
would pay a little more attention to prosody." "My Lord," replied Mr.
Crosby, with delightful readiness and composure, "I can assure you that
_our_ countrymen are very proud of your lordship as the greatest
senator and orator of the present age." The barrister who made Baron
Alderson shudder under his robes by applying for a 'nolle prosequi,' was
not equally quick at self-defence, when that judge interposed, "Stop,
sir--consider that this is the last day of term, and don't make things
unnecessarily long." It was Baron Alderson who, in reply to the
juryman's confession that he was deaf in one ear, observed, "Then leave
the box before the trial begins; for it is necessary that jurymen should
_hear both sides_."

Amongst legal wits, Lord Ellenborough enjoys a high place; and though in
dealing out satire upon barristers and witnesses, and even on his
judicial coadjutors, he was often needlessly severe, he seldom
perpetrated a jest the force of which lay solely in its cruelty. Perhaps
the most harsh and reprehensible outburst of satiric humor recorded of
him is the crushing speech by which he ruined a young man for life. "The
_unfortunate_ client for whom it is my privilege to appear," said a
young barrister, making his first essay in Westminster Hall--"the
unfortunate client, my lord, for whom I appear--hem! hem!--I say, my
lord, my _unfortunate client_----" Leaning forwards, and speaking in a
soft, cooing voice, that was all the more derisive, because it was so
gentle, Lord Ellenborough said, "you may go on, sir--so far the court is
with you." One would have liked his lordship better had he sacrificed
his jest to humanity, and acted as long afterwards that true gentleman,
Mr. Justice Talfourd, acted, who, seeing a young barrister overpowered
with nervousness, gave him time to recover himself by saying, in the
kindest possible manner, "Excuse me for interrupting you--but for a
minute I am not at liberty to pay you attention." Whereupon the Judge
took up his pen and wrote a short note to a friend. Before the note was
finished, the young barrister had completely recovered his
self-possession, and by an admirable speech secured a verdict for his
client. A highly nervous man, he might on that day have been broken for
life, like Ellenborough's victim, by mockery; but fortunate in appearing
before a judge whose witty tongue knew not how to fashion unkind words,
he triumphed over his temporary weakness, and has since achieved well
deserved success in his profession. Talfourd might have made a jest for
the thoughtless to laugh at; but he preferred to do an act, on which
those who loved him like to think.

When Preston, the great conveyancer, gravely informed the judges of the
King's Bench that "an estate in fee simple was the highest estate known
to the law of England," Lord Ellenborough checked the great Chancery
lawyer, and said with politest irony, "Stay, stay, Mr. Preston, let me
take that down. An estate" (the judge writing as he spoke) "in fee
simple is--the highest estate--known to--the law of England. Thank you,
Mr. Preston! The court, sir, is much indebted to you for the
information." Having inflicted on the court an unspeakably dreary
oration, Preston, towards the close of the day, asked when it would be
their lordship's pleasure to hear the remainder of his argument;
whereupon Lord Ellenborough uttered a sigh of resignation, and answered,
'We are bound to hear you, and we will endeavor to give you our
undivided attention on Friday next; but as for _pleasure_, that, sir,
has been long out of the question.'

Probably mistelling an old story, and taking to himself the merit of
Lord Ellenborough's reply to Preston, Sir Vicary Gibbs (Chief of the
Common Pleas) used to tell his friends that Sergeant Vaughan--the
sergeant who, on being subsequently raised to the bench through the
influence of his elder brother, Sir Henry Halford, the court physician,
was humorously described by the wits of Westminster Hall as a judge _by
prescription_--once observed in a grandiose address to the Judges of the
Common Pleas, "For though our law takes cognizance of divers different
estates, I may be permitted to say, without reserve or qualification of
any kind, that the highest estate known to the law of England is an
estate in fee simple." Whereupon Sir Vicary, according to his own
account, interrupted the sergeant with an air of incredulity and
astonishment. "What is your proposition, brother Vaughan? Perhaps I did
not hear you rightly!" Flustered by the interruption, which completely
effected its object, the sergeant explained, "My lord, I mean to contend
that an estate in fee simple is _one of the highest estates_ known to
the law of England, that is, my lord, that it may be under certain
circumstances--and sometimes is so."

Notwithstanding his high reputation for wit, Lord Ellenborough would
deign to use the oldest jests. Thus of Mr. Caldecott, who over and over
again, with dull verbosity, had said that certain limestone quarries,
like lead and copper mines, "were not rateable, because the limestone
could only be reached by boring, which was matter of science," he
gravely inquired, "Would you, Mr. Caldecott, have us believe that every
kind of _boring_ is matter of science?" With finer humor he nipped in
the bud one of Randle Jackson's flowery harangues. "My lords," said the
orator, with nervous intonation, "in the book of nature it is
written----" "Be kind enough, Mr. Jackson," interposed Lord
Ellenborough, "to mention the page from which you are about to quote."
This calls to mind the ridicule which, at an earlier period of his
career, he cast on Sheridan for saying at the trial of Warren Hastings,
"The treasures in the Zenana of the Begum are offerings laid by the
hand of piety on the altar of a saint." To this not too rhetorical
statement, Edward Law, as leading counsel for Warren Hastings, replied
by asking, "how the lady was to be considered a saint, and how the
camels were to be laid upon the altar?" With greater pungency, Sheridan
defended himself by saying, "This is the first time in my life that I
ever heard of special pleading on a metaphor, or a bill of indictment
against a trope; but such is the turn of the learned gentleman's mind,
that when he attempts to be humorous no jest can be found, and when
serious no fact is visible."[31] To the last Law delighted to point the
absurdities of orators who in aiming at the sublime only achieved the
ridiculous. "My lords," said Mr. Gaselee, arguing that mourning coaches
at a funeral were not liable to post-horse duty, "it never could have
been the intention of a Christian legislature to aggravate the grief
which mourners endure whilst following to the grave the remains of their
dearest relatives, by compelling them at the same time to pay the
horse-duty." Had Mr. Gaselee been a humorist, Lord Ellenborough would
have laughed; but as the advocate was well known to have no turn for
raillery, the Chief Justice gravely observed, "Mr. Gaselee, you incur
danger by sailing in high sentimental latitudes."

To the surgeon in the witness-box who said, "I employ myself as a
surgeon," Lord Ellenborough retorted, "But does anybody else employ you
as a surgeon?"

The demand to be examined _on affirmation_ being preferred by a Quaker
witness, whose dress was so much like the costume of an ordinary
_conformist_ that the officer of the court had begun to administer the
usual oath, Lord Ellenborough inquired of the 'friend,' "Do you really
mean to impose upon the court by appearing here in the disguise of a
reasonable being?" Very pungent was his ejaculation at a cabinet dinner
when he heard that Lord Kenyon was about to close his penurious old age
by dying. "Die!--why should he die?--what would he get by that?"
interposed Lord Ellenborough, adding to the pile of jests by which men
have endeavored to keep a grim, unpleasant subject out of sight--a pile
to which the latest _mot_ was added the other day by Lord Palmerston,
who during his last attack of gout exclaimed playfully. "_Die_, my dear
doctor! That's the _last_ thing I think of doing." Having jested about
Kenyon's parsimony, as the old man lay _in extremis_, Ellenborough
placed another joke of the same kind upon his coffin. Hearing that
through the blunder of an illiterate undertaker the motto on Kenyon's
hatchment in Lincoln's Inn Fields had been painted '_Mors Janua Vita_,'
instead of 'Mors Janua Vitæ,' he exclaimed, "Bless you, there's no
mistake; Kenyon's will directed that it should be 'Vita,' so that his
estate might be saved the expense of _a diphthong._" Capital also was
his reply when Erskine urged him to accept the Great Seal. "How can
you," he asked, in a tone of solemn entreaty, "wish me to accept the
office of Chancellor, when you know, Erskine, that I am as ignorant of
its duties as you are yourself?" At the time of uttering these words,
Ellenborough was well aware that if he declined them Erskine would take
the seals. Some of his puns were very poor. For instance, his
exclamation, "Cite to me the decisions of the judges of the land: not
the judgments of the Chief Justice of Ely, who is fit only to _rule_ a

One of the best 'legal' puns on record is unanimously attributed by the
gossipers of Westminster Hall to Lord Chelmsford. As Sir Frederick
Thesiger he was engaged in the conduct of a cause, and objected to the
irregularity of a learned sergeant who in examining his witnesses
repeatedly put leading questions. "I have a right," maintained the
sergeant, doggedly, "to _deal_ with my witnesses as I please." "To that
I offer no objection," retorted Sir Frederick; "you may _deal_ as you
like, but you shan't _lead_." Of the same brilliant conversationalist
Mr. Grantley Berkeley has recorded a good story in 'My Life and
Recollections.' Walking down St. James's Street, Lord Chelmsford was
accosted by a stranger, who exclaimed "Mr. Birch I believe?" "If you
believe that, sir, you'll believe anything," replied the ex-Chancellor,
as he passed on.

When Thelwall, instead of regarding his advocate with grateful silence,
insisted on interrupting him with vexatious remarks and impertinent
criticisms, Erskine neither threw up his brief nor lost his temper, but
retorted with an innocent flash of merriment. To a slip of paper on
which the prisoner had written, "I'll be hanged if I don't plead my own
cause," he contented himself with returning answer, "You'll be hanged if
you do." His _mots_ were often excellent, but it was the tone and joyous
animation of the speaker that gave them their charm. It is said that in
his later years, when his habitual loquaciousness occasionally sank into
garrulity, he used to repeat his jests with imprudent frequency,
shamelessly giving his companions the same pun with each course of a
long dinner. There is a story that after his retirement from public life
he used morning after morning to waylay visitors on their road through
the garden to his house, and, pointing to his horticultural attire and
the spade in his hand assure them that he was 'enjoying his otium cum
_digging a tatie_.' Indeed the tradition lives that before his fall from
the woolsack, pert juniors used to lay bets as to the number of times he
could fire off a favorite old pun in the course of a sitting in the
Court of Chancery, and that wily leaders habitually strove to catch his
favor by giving him opportunities for facetious interruptions during
their arguments. If such traditions be truthful, it is no matter for
surprise that Erskine's court-jokes have come down to us with so many
variations. For instance, it is recorded with much circumstantiality
that on circuit, accosting a junior who had lost his portmanteau from
the back of a post-chaise, he said, with mock gravity, "Young gentlemen,
henceforth imitate the elephant, the wisest of animals, who always
_carries his trunk before him_;" and on equally good authority it is
stated that when Polito, the keeper of the Exeter 'Change Menagerie, met
with a similar accident and brought an action for damages against the
proprietor of the coach from the hind-boot of which his property had
disappeared, Erskine, speaking for the defence, told the jury that they
would not be justified in giving a verdict favorable to the man, who,
though he actually possessed an elephant, had neglected to imitate its
prudent example and carry his trunk before him.

As a _littérateur_ Erskine met with meagre success; but some of his
squibs and epigrams are greatly above the ordinary level of '_vers de
société_.' For instance this is his:--


   "I may not do right, though I ne'er can do wrong;
   I never can die, though I can not live long;
   My jowl it is purple, my hand it is fat--
   Come, riddle my riddle. What is it? _What? What?_"

The liveliest illustrations of Erskine's proverbial egotism are the
squibs of political caricaturists; and from their humorous
exaggerations it is difficult to make a correct estimate of the lengths
of absurdity to which his intellectual vanity and self-consciousness
sometimes carried him. From what is known of his disposition it seems
probable that the sarcasms aimed by public writers at his infirmity
inclined him to justify their attacks rather than to disprove them by
his subsequent demeanor, and that some of his most extravagant outbursts
of self-assertion were designed in a spirit of bravado and reckless
good-nature to increase the laughter which satirists had raised against
him. However this may be, his conduct drew upon him blows that would
have ruffled the composure of any less self-complacent or less amiable
man. The Tory prints habitually spoke of him as Counsellor Ego whilst he
was at the bar; and when it was known that he had accepted the seals,
the opposition journals announced that he would enter the house as
"Baron Ego, of Eye, in the county of Suffolk." Another of his nicknames
was _Lord Clackmannan_; and Cobbett published the following notice of an
harangue made by the fluent advocate in the House of Commons:--"Mr.
Erskine delivered a most animated speech in the House of Commons on the
causes and consequences of the late war, which lasted thirteen hours,
eighteen minutes, and a second, by Mr. John Nichol's stop-watch. Mr.
Erskine closed his speech with a dignified climax: 'I was born free,
and, by G-d, I'll remain so!'--[A loud cry of '_Hear! hear_' in the
gallery, in which were citizens Tallien and Barrère.] On Monday three
weeks we shall have the extreme satisfaction of laying before the public
a brief analysis of the above speech, our letter-founder having entered
into an engagement to furnish a fresh font of I's."[32]

From the days of Wriothesley, who may be regarded as the most
conspicuous and unquestionable instance of judicial incompetency in the
annals of English lawyers, the multitudes have always delighted in
stories that illustrate the ignorance and incapacity of men who are
presumed to possess, by right of their office, an extraordinary share of
knowledge and wisdom. What law-student does not rub his hands as he
reads of Lord St. John's trouble during term whilst he held the seals,
and of the impatience with which he looked forward to the long vacation,
when he would not be required to look wise and speak authoritatively
about matters concerning which he was totally ignorant. Delicious are
the stories of Francis Bacon's clerical successor, who endeavored to get
up a _quantum suff_. of Chancery law by falling on his knees and asking
enlightenment of Heaven. Gloomily comical are the anecdotes of Chief
Justice Fleming, whose most famous and disastrous blunder was his
judgment in Bates's case. Great fun may be gathered from the tales that
exemplify the ignorance of law which characterized the military, and
also the non-military laymen, who helped to take care of the seals
during the civil troubles of the seventeenth century. Capital is Roger
North's picture of Bob Wright's ludicrous shiftlessness whenever the
influence of his powerful relations brought the loquacious, handsome,
plausible fellow a piece of business. "He was a comely fellow," says
Roger North, speaking of the Chief Justice Wright's earlier days, "airy
and flourishing both in his habits and way of living; and his relation
Wren (being a powerful man in those parts) set him in credit with the
country; but withal, he was so poor a lawyer that he used to bring such
cases as came to him to his friend Mr. North, and he wrote the opinion
on the paper, and the lawyer copied it, and signed under the case as if
it had been his own. It ran so low with him that when Mr. North was at
London he sent up his cases to him, and had opinions returned by the
post; and, in the meantime he put off his clients on pretence of taking
the matter into serious consideration." Perhaps some readers of this
page can point to juniors of the present date whose professional
incapacity closely resembles the incompetence of this gay young
barrister of Charles II.'s time. Laughter again rises at the thought of
Lord Chancellor Bathurst and the judicial perplexities and blunders
which caused Sir Charles Williams to class him with those who

   "Were cursed and stigmatized by power,
     And rais'd to be expos'd."

Much more than an average or altogether desirable amount of amiability
has fallen to the reader who can refrain from a malicious smile, when he
is informed by reliable history that Lord Loughborough (no mean lawyer
or inefficient judge), gave utterance to so much bad law, as Chairman of
Quarter Sessions in canny Yorkshire, that when on appeal his decisions
were reversed with many polite expressions of _sincere_ regret by the
King's Bench, all Westminster Hall laughed in concert at the mistakes of
the sagacious Chief of the Common Pleas.

But no lawyer, brilliant or dull, has been more widely ridiculed for
incompetence than Erskine. Sir Causticus Witherett, being asked some
years since why a certain Chancellor, unjustly accused of intellectual
dimness by his political adversaries and by the uninformed public,
preferred his seat amongst the barons to his official place on the
woolsack, is said to have replied: "The Lord Chancellor usually takes
his seat amongst the peers whenever he can do so with propriety, because
he is a highly nervous man, and when he is on the woolsack, he is apt to
be frightened at finding himself all alone--_in the dark_." As soon as
Erskine was mentioned as a likely person to be Lord Chancellor, rumors
began to circulate concerning his total unfitness for the office; and no
sooner had he mounted the woolsack than the wits declared him to be
alone and in the dark. Lord Ellenborough's sarcasm was widely repeated,
and gave the cue to the advocate's detractors, who had little difficulty
in persuading the public that any intelligent law-clerk would make as
good a Chancellor as Thomas Erskine. With less discretion than
good-humor, Erskine gave countenance to the representations of his
enemies by ridiculing his own unfitness for the office. During the
interval between his appointment and his first appearance as judge in
the Court of Chancery, he made a jocose pretence of 'reading up' for his
new duties: and whimsically exaggerating his deficiencies, he
represented himself as studying books with which raw students have some
degree of familiarity. Caught with 'Cruise's Digest' of the laws
relating to real property, open in his hand, he observed to the visitor
who had interrupted his studies, "You see, I am taking a little from my
_cruise_ daily, without any prospect of coming to the end of it."

In the autumn of 1819 two gentlemen of the United States having differed
in opinion concerning his incompetence in the Court of Chancery--the one
of them maintaining that the greater number of his decrees had been
reversed, and the other maintaining that so many of his decisions had
not endured reversal--the dispute gave rise to a bet of three dozen of
port. With comical bad taste one of the parties to the bet--the one who
believed that the Chancellor's judgments had been thus frequently
upset--wrote to Erskine for information on the point. Instead of giving
the answer which his correspondent desired, Erskine informed him in the
following terms that he had lost his wine:--

   "Upper Berkley Street, Nov. 13, 1819.

   "SIR:--I certainly was appointed Chancellor under the administration
   in which Mr. Fox was Secretary of State, in 1806, and could have been
   Chancellor under no administration in which he had not a post; nor
   would have accepted without him any office whatsoever. I believe the
   administration was said, by all the _Blockheads_, to be made up of
   all the _Talents_ in the country.

   "But you have certainly lost your bet on the subject of my decrees.
   None of them were appealed against, except one, upon a branch of Mr.
   Thellusson's will--but it was affirmed without a dissentient voice,
   on the motion of Lord Eldon, then and now Lord Chancellor. If you
   think I was no lawyer, you may continue to think so. It is plain you
   are no lawyer yourself; but I wish every man to retain his opinion,
   though at the cost of three dozen of port.

   "Your humble servant,


   "To save you from spending your money on bets which you are sure to
   lose, remember that no man can be a great advocate who is no lawyer.
   The thing is impossible."

Of the many good stories current about chiefs of the law who are still
alive, the present writer, for obvious reasons, abstains from taking
notice; but one humorous anecdote concerning a lively judge may with
propriety be inserted in these pages, since it fell from his own lips
when he was making a speech from the chair at a public dinner. Between
sixty-five and seventy years from the present time, when Sir Frederick
Pollock was a boy at St. Paul's school, he drew upon himself the
displeasure of Dr. Roberts, the somewhat irascible head-master of the
school, who frankly told Sir Frederick's father, "Sir, you'll live to
see that boy of yours hanged." Years afterwards, when the boy of whom
this dismal prophecy was made had distinguished himself at Cambridge and
the bar, Dr. Roberts, meeting Sir Frederick's mother in society,
overwhelmed her with congratulations upon her son's success, and
fortunately oblivious of his former misunderstanding with his pupil,
concluded his polite speeches by saying--"Ah! madam, I always said he'd
fill an _elevated_ situation." Told by the venerable judge at a recent
dinner of 'Old Paulines,' this story was not less effective than the
best of those post-prandial sallies with which William St. Julien
Arabin--the Assistant Judge of Old Bailey notoriety--used to convulse
his auditors something more than thirty years since. In the 'Arabiniana'
it is recorded how this judge, in sentencing an unfortunate woman to a
long term of transportation, concluded his address with--"You must go
out of the country. You have disgraced _even_ your own sex."

Let this chapter close with a lawyer's testimony to the moral qualities
of his brethren. In the garden of Clement's Inn may still be seen the
statue of a negro, supporting a sun-dial, upon which a legal wit
inscribed the following lines:--

   "In vain, poor sable son of woe,
     Thou seek'st the tender tear;
   From thee in vain with pangs they flow,
     For mercy dwells not here.
   From cannibals thou fled'st in vain;
     Lawyers less quarter give;
   The _first_ won't eat you till you're _slain_,
     The _last_ will do't _alive_."

Unfortunately these lines have been obliterated.

[31] Robert Dallas--one of Edward Law's coadjutors in the defence of
Hastings--gave another 'manager' a more telling blow. Indignant with
Burke for his implacable animosity to Hastings, Dallas (subsequently
Chief Justice of the Common Pleas) wrote the stinging lines--

"Oft have we wondered that on Irish ground No poisonous reptile has e'er
yet been found; Reveal'd the secret stands of nature's work--She saved
her venom to produce her Burke."

[32] In the 'Anti-Jacobin,' Canning, in the mock report of an imaginary
speech, represented Erskine as addressing the 'Whig Club' thus:--"For
his part he should only say that, having been, as he had been, both a
soldier and a sailor, if it had been his fortune to have stood in either
of these relations to the Directory--as _a_ man and a major-general he
should not have scrupled to direct his artillery against the national
representatives:--as a naval officer he would undoubtedly have
undertaken for the removal of the exiled deputies; admitting the
exigency, under all its relations, as it appeared to him to exist, and
the then circumstances of the times with all their bearings and
dependencies, branching out into an infinity of collateral
considerations and involving in each a variety of objects, political,
physical, and moral; and these, again, under their distinct and separate
heads, ramifying into endless subdivisions, which it was foreign to his
purpose to consider, Mr. Erskine concluded by recapitulating, in a
strain of agonizing and impressive eloquence, the several more prominent
heads of his speech; he had been a soldier and a sailor, and had a son
at Winchester school--he had been called by special retainers, during
the summer, into many different and distant parts of the
country--traveling chiefly in post-chaises. He felt himself called upon
to declare that his poor faculties were at the service of his
country--of the free and enlightened part of it at least. He stood there
as a man--he stood in the eye, indeed, in the hand of God--to whom (in
the presence of the company and the waiters), he solemnly appealed. He
was of noble, perhaps royal, blood--he had a house at Hampsted--was
convinced of the necessity of a thorough and radical reform. His
pamphlets had gone through thirty editions, skipping alternately the odd
and even numbers. He loved the Constitution, to which he would cling and
grapple--and he was clothed with the infirmities of man's nature."



In the days when Mr. Davenport Hill, the Recorder of Birmingham, made a
professional reputation for himself in the committee-rooms of the Houses
of Parliament, he had many a sharp tussle with one of those venal
witnesses who, during the period of excitement that terminated in the
disastrous railway panic, were ready to give scientific evidence on
engineering questions, with less regard to truth than to the interests
of the persons who paid for their evidence. Having by mendacious
evidence gravely injured a cause in which Mr. Hill was interested as
counsel, and Mr. Tite, the eminent architect, and present member for
Bath, was concerned as a projector, this witness was struck with
apoplexy and died--before he could complete the mischief which he had so
adroitly begun. Under the circumstances, his sudden withdrawal from the
world was not an occasion for universal regret. "Well, Hill, have you
heard the news?" inquired Mr. Tite of the barrister, whom he encountered
in Middle Temple Lane on the morning after the engineer's death. "Have
you heard that ---- died yesterday of apoplexy?" "I can't say," was the
rejoinder, "that I shall shed many tears for his loss. He was an arrant
scoundrel." "Come, come," replied the architect, charitably, "you have
always been too hard on that man. He was by no means so bad a fellow as
you would make him out. I do verily believe that in the whole course of
his life that man never told a lie--_out of the witness-box_." Strange
to say, this comical testimony to character was quite justified by the
fact. This man, who lied in public as a matter of business, was
punctiliously honorable in private life.

Of the simplest method of tampering with witnesses an instance is found
in a case which occurred while Sir Edward Coke was Chief Justice of the
King's Bench. Loitering about Westminster Hall, one of the parties in an
action stumbled upon the witness whose temporary withdrawal from the
ways of men he was most anxious to effect. With a perfect perception of
the proper use of hospitality, he accosted this witness (a staring,
open-mouthed countryman), with suitable professions of friendliness, and
carrying him into an adjacent tavern, set him down before a bottle of
wine. As soon as the sack had begun to quicken his guest's circulation,
the crafty fellow hastened into court with the intelligence that the
witness, whom he had left drinking in a room not two hundred yards
distant, was in a fit and lying at death's door. The court being asked
to wait, the impudent rascal protested that to wait would be useless;
and the Chief Justice, taking his view of the case, proceeded to give
judgment without hearing the most important evidence in the cause.

In badgering a witness with noisy derision, no barrister of Charles
II.'s time could surpass George Jeffreys; but on more than one occasion
that gentleman, in his most overbearing moments, met with his master in
the witness whom he meant to brow-beat. "You fellow in the leathern
doublet," he is said to have exclaimed to a countryman whom he was about
to cross-examine, "Pray, what are you paid for swearing?" "God bless
you, sir, and make you an honest man," answered the farmer, looking the
barrister full in the face, and speaking with a voice of hearty
good-humor; "if you had no more for lying than I have for swearing, you
would wear a leather doublet as well as I."

Sometimes Erskine's treatment of witnesses was very jocular, and
sometimes very unfair; but his jocoseness was usually so distinct from
mere flippant derisiveness, and his unfairness was redeemed by such
delicacy of wit and courtesy of manner, that his most malicious _jeux
d'esprit_ seldom raised the anger of the witnesses at whom they were
aimed. A religious enthusiast objecting to be sworn in the usual manner,
but stating that though he would not "kiss the book," he would "hold up
his hand" and swear, Erskine asked him to give his reason for preferring
so eccentric a way to the ordinary mode of giving testimony. "It is
written in the book of Revelations," answered the man, "that the angel
standing on the sea _held up his hand_." "But that does not apply to
your case," urged the advocate; "for in the first place, you are no
angel; secondly, you cannot tell how the angel would have sworn if he
had stood on dry ground, as you do." Not shaken by this reply, which
cannot be called unfair, and which, notwithstanding its jocoseness, was
exactly the answer which the gravest divine would have made to such
scruples, the witness persisted in his position; and on being permitted
to give evidence in his own peculiar way, he had enough influence with
the jury to induce them to give a verdict adverse to Erskine's wishes.

Less fair but more successful was Erskine's treatment of the commercial
traveller, who appeared in the witness box dressed in the height of
fashion, and wearing a starched white necktie folded with the 'Brummel
fold.' In an instant reading the character of the man, on whom he had
never before set eyes, and knowing how necessary it was to put him in a
state of extreme agitation and confusion, before touching on the facts
concerning which he had come to give evidence, Erskine rose, surveyed
the coxcomb, and said, with an air of careless amusement, "You were born
and bred in Manchester, _I perceive_." Greatly astonished at this
opening remark, the man answered, nervously, that he was "a Manchester
man--born and bred in Manchester." "Exactly," observed Erskine, in a
conversational tone, and as though he were imparting information to a
personal friend--"exactly so; I knew it from the absurd tie of your
neckcloth." The roars of laughter which followed this rejoinder so
completely effected the speaker's purpose that the confounded bagman
could not tell his right hand from his left. Equally effective was
Erskine's sharp question, put quickly to the witness, who, in an action
for payment of a tailor's bill, swore that a certain dress-coat was
badly made--one of the sleeves being longer than the other. "You will,"
said Erskine, slowly, having risen to cross-examine, "swear--that one of
the sleeves was--longer--than the other?" _Witness._ "I do swear it."
_Erskine_, quickly, and with a flash of indignation, "Then, sir, I am to
understand that you positively deny that one of the sleeves was
_shorter_ than the other?" Startled into a self-contradiction by the
suddenness and impetuosity of this thrust, the witness said, "I do deny
it." _Erskine_, raising his voice as the tumultuous laughter died away,
"Thank you, sir; I don't want to trouble you with another question." One
of Erskine's smartest puns referred to a question of evidence. "A case,"
he observed, in a speech made during his latter years, "being laid
before me by my veteran friend, the Duke of Queensbury--better known as
'old Q'--as to whether he could sue a tradesman for breach of contract
about the painting of his house; and the evidence being totally
insufficient to support the case, I wrote thus: 'I am of opinion that
this action will not _lie_ unless the witnesses _do_.'" It is worthy of
notice that this witticism was but a revival (with a modification) of a
pun attributed to Lord Chancellor Hatton in Bacon's 'Apophthegmes.'

In this country many years have elapsed since duels have taken place
betwixt gentlemen of the long robe, or between barristers and witnesses
in consequence of words uttered in the heat of forensic strife; but in
the last century, and in the opening years of the present, it was no
very rare occurrence for a barrister to be called upon for
'satisfaction' by a person whom he had insulted in the course of his
professional duty. During George II.'s reign, young Robert Henley so
mercilessly badgered one Zephaniah Reeve, whom he had occasion to
cross-examine in a trial at Bristol, that the infuriated witness--Quaker
and peace-loving merchant though he was--sent his persecutor a challenge
immediately upon leaving court. Rather than incur the ridicule of 'going
out with a Quaker,' and the sin of shooting at a man whom he had
actually treated with unjustifiable freedom, Henley retreated from an
embarrassing position by making a handsome apology; and years
afterwards, when he had risen to the woolsack, he entertained his old
acquaintance, Zephaniah Reeve, at a fashionable dinner-party, when he
assembled guests were greatly amused by the Lord Chancellor's account of
the commencement of his acquaintance with his Quaker friend.

Between thirty and forty years later Thurlow was 'called out' by the
Duke of Hamilton's agent, Mr. Andrew Stewart, whom he had grievously
offended by his conduct of the Great Douglas Case. On Jan. 14,
1769-1770, Thurlow and his adversary met in Hyde Park. On his way to the
appointed place, the barrister stopped at a tavern near Hyde Park
Corner, and "ate an enormous breakfast," after which preparation for
business, he hastened to the field of action. Accounts agree in saying
that he behaved well upon the ground. Long after the bloodless
_rencontre_, the Scotch agent, not a little proud of his 'affair' with a
future Lord Chancellor, said, "Mr. Thurlow advanced and stood up to me
like an elephant." But the elephant and the mouse parted without hurting
each other; the encounter being thus faithfully described in the 'Scots'
Magazine:' "On Sunday morning, January 14, the parties met with swords
and pistols, in Hyde Park, one of them having for his second his
brother, Colonel S----, and the other having for his Mr. L----, member
for a city in Kent. Having discharged pistols, at ten yards' distance,
without effect, they drew their swords, but the seconds interposed, and
put an end to the affair."

One of the best 'Northern Circuit stories' pinned upon Lord Eldon
relates to a challenge which an indignant suitor is said to have sent to
Law and John Scott. In a trial at York that arose from a horse-race, it
was stated in evidence that one of the conditions of the race required
that "each horse should be ridden by a gentleman." The race having been
run, the holders refused to pay the stakes to the winner on the ground
that he was not a gentleman; whereupon the equestrian whose gentility
was thus called in question brought an action for the money. After a
very humorous inquiry, which terminated in a verdict for the defendants,
the plaintiff _was said_ to have challenged the defendants' counsel.
Messrs. Scott and Law, for maintaining that he was no gentleman; to
which invitation, it also averred, reply was made that the challengees
"could not think of fighting one who had been found _no gentleman_ by
the solemn verdict of twelve of his countrymen." Inquiry, however, has
deprived this delicious story of much of its piquancy. Eldon had no part
in the offence; and Law, who was the sole utterer of the obnoxious
words, received no invitation to fight. "No message was sent," says a
writer, supposed to be Lord Brougham, in the 'Law Magazine,' "and no
attempt was made to provoke a breach of the peace. It is very possible
Lord Eldon may have said, and Lord Ellenborough too, that they were not
bound to treat one in such a predicament as a gentleman, and hence the
story has arisen in the lady's mind. The fact was as well known on the
Northern Circuit as the answer of a witness to a question, whether the
party had a right by his circumstances to keep a pack of fox-hounds; 'No
more right than I to keep a pack of archbishops.'"

Curran is said to have received a call, before he left his bed one
morning, from a gentleman whom he had cross-examined with needless
cruelty and unjustifiable insolence on the previous day. "Sir!" said
this irate man, presenting himself in Curran's bedroom, and rousing the
barrister from slumber to a consciousness that he was in a very awkward
position, "I am the gintleman whom you insulted yesterday in His
Majesty's court of justice, in the presence of the whole county, and I
am here to thrash you soundly!" Thus speaking, the Herculean intruder
waved a horsewhip over the recumbent lawyer. "You don't mean to strike a
man when he is lying down?" inquired Curran. "No, bedad; I'll just wait
till you've got out of bed and then I'll give it to you sharp and fast."
Curran's eye twinkled mischievously as he rejoined: "If that's the case,
by ---- I'll lie here all day." So tickled was the visitor with this
humorous announcement, that he dropped his horsewhip, and dismissing
anger with a hearty roar of laughter, asked the counsellor to shake
hands with him.

In the December of 1663, Pepys was present at a trial in Guildhall
concerning the fraud of a merchant-adventurer, who having insured his
vessel for £2400 when, together with her cargo, she was worth no more
than £500, had endeavored to wreck her off the French coast. From
Pepys's record it appears that this was a novel piece of rascality at
that time, and consequently created lively sensation in general society,
as well as in legal and commercial coteries. "All the great counsel in
the kingdom" were employed in the cause; and though maritime causes
then, as now, usually involved much hard swearing, the case was notable
for the prodigious amount of perjury which it elicited. For the most
part the witnesses were sailors, who, besides swearing with stolid
indifference to truth, caused much amusement by the incoherence of their
statements and by their free use of nautical expressions, which were
quite unintelligible to Chief Justice (Sir Robert) Hyde. "It was," says
Pepys, "pleasant to see what mad sort of testimonys the seamen did give,
and could not be got to speak in order; and then their terms such as the
judge could not understand, and to hear how sillily the counsel and
judge would speak as to the terms necessary in the matter, would make
one laugh; and above all a Frenchman, that was forced to speak in
French, and took an English oath he did not understand, and had an
interpreter sworn to tell us what he said, which was the best testimony
of all." A century later Lord Mansfield was presiding at a trial
consequent upon a collision of two ships at sea, when a common sailor,
whilst giving testimony, said, "At the time I was standing abaft the
binnacle;" whereupon his lordship, with a proper desire to master the
facts of the case, observed, "Stay, stay a minute, witness: you say
that at the time in question you were _standing abaft the binnacle_; now
tell me, where is abaft the binnacle?" This was too much for the gravity
of 'the salt,' who immediately before climbing into the witness-box had
taken a copious draught of neat rum. Removing his eyes from the bench,
and turning round upon the crowded court with an expression of intense
amusement, he exclaimed at the top of his voice, "He's a pretty fellow
for a judge! Bless my jolly old eyes!--[the reader may substitute a
familiar form of 'imprecation on eye-sight']--you have got a pretty sort
of a land-lubber for a judge! He wants me to tell him where _abaft the
binnacle is_!" Not less amused than the witness, Lord Mansfield
rejoined, "Well, my friend, you must fit me for my office by telling me
where _abaft the binnacle_ is; you've already shown me the meaning of
_half seas over_."

With less good-humor the same Chief Justice revenged himself on Dr.
Brocklesby, who, whilst standing in the witness-box of the Court of King's
Bench, incurred the Chief Justice's displeasure by referring to their
private intercourse. Some accounts say that the medical witness merely
nodded to the Chief Justice, as he might have done with propriety had they
been taking seats at a convivial table; other accounts, with less
appearance of probability, maintain that in a voice audible to the bar, he
reminded the Chief Justice of certain jolly hours which they had spent
together during the previous evening. Anyhow, Lord Mansfield was hurt, and
showed his resentment in his 'summing-up' by thus addressing the Jury:
"The next witness is one _R_ocklesby, or _B_rocklesby--_B_rocklesby or
_R_ocklesby, I am not sure which; and first, _he swears that he is a

On one occasion Lord Mansfield covered his retreat from an untenable
position with a sparkling pleasantry. An old witness named _Elm_ having
given his evidence with remarkable clearness, although he was more than
eighty years of age, Lord Mansfield examined him as to his habitual mode
of living, and found that he had throughout life been an early riser and
a singularly temperate man. "Ay," observed the Chief Justice, in a tone
of approval, "I have always found that without temperance and early
habits, longevity is never attained." The next witness, the _elder_
brother of this model of temperance, was then called, and he almost
surpassed his brother as an intelligent and clear-headed utterer of
evidence. "I suppose," observed Lord Mansfield, "that you also are an
early riser." "No, my lord," answered the veteran, stoutly; "I like my
bed at all hours, and special-_lie_ I like it of a morning." "Ah; but,
like your brother, you are a very temperate man?" quickly asked the
judge, looking out anxiously for the safety of the more important part
of his theory. "My lord," responded this ancient Elm, disdaining to
plead guilty to a charge of habitual sobriety, "I am a very old man, and
my memory is as clear as a bell, but I can't remember the night when
I've gone to bed without being more or less drunk." Lord Mansfield was
silent. "Ah, my lord," Mr. Dunning exclaimed, "this old man's case
supports a theory upheld by many persons, that habitual intemperance is
favorable to longevity." "No, no," replied the Chief Justice, with a
smile, "this old man and his brother merely teach us what every
carpenter knows--that Elm, whether it be wet or dry, is a very tough
wood." Another version of this excellent story makes Lord Mansfield
inquire of the elder Elm, "Then how do you account for your prolonged
tenure of existence?" to which question Elm is made to respond, more
like a lawyer than a simple witness, "I account for it by the terms of
the original lease."

Few stories relating to witnesses are more laughable than that which
describes the arithmetical process by which Mr. Baron Perrot arrived at
the value of certain conflicting evidence. "Gentlemen of the jury," this
judge is reported to have said, in summing up the evidence in a trial
where the witnesses had sworn with noble tenacity of purpose, "there are
fifteen witnesses who swear that the watercourse used to flow in a ditch
on the north side of the hedge. On the other hand, gentlemen, there are
nine witnesses who swear that the watercourse used to flow on the south
side of the hedge. Now, gentlemen, if you subtract nine from fifteen,
there remain six witnesses wholly uncontradicted; and I recommend you to
give your verdict for the party who called those six witnesses."

Whichever of the half-dozen ways in which it is told be accepted as the
right one, the following story exemplifies the difficulty which
occasionally arises in courts of justice, when witnesses use provincial
terms with which the judge is not familiar. Mr. William Russell, in past
days deputy-surveyor of 'canny Newcastle,' and a genuine Northumbrian in
dialect, brogue, and shrewdness, was giving his evidence at an important
trial in the Newcastle court-house, when he said--"As I was going along
the quay, I saw a hubbleshew coming out of a chare-foot." Not aware that
on Tyne-side the word 'hubbleshew' meant 'a concourse of riotous
persons;' that the narrow alleys or lanes of Newcastle 'old town' were
called by their inhabitants 'chares;' and that the lower end of each
alley, where it opened upon quay-side, was termed a 'chare-foot;' the
judge, seeing only one part of the puzzle, inquired the meaning of the
word 'hubbleshew.' "A crowd of disorderly persons," answered the
deputy-surveyor. "And you mean to say," inquired the judge of assize,
with a voice and look of surprise, "that you saw a crowd of people come
out of a chair-foot?" "I do, my lord," responded the witness.
"Gentlemen of the jury," said his lordship, turning to the 'twelve good
men' in the box, "it must be needless for me to inform you--_that this
witness is insane_!"

The report of a trial which occurred at Newcastle Assizes towards the
close of the last century gives the following succession of questions
and answers:--_Barrister._--"What is your name?" _Witness._--"Adam,
sir--Adam Thompson." _Barrister._--"Where do you live?" _Witness._--"In
Paradise." _Barrister_ (with facetious tone).--"And pray, Mr. Adam, how
long have you dwelt in Paradise?" _Witness._--"Ever since the flood."
Paradise is the name of a village in the immediate vicinity of
Newcastle; and 'the flood' referred to by the witness was the inundation
(memorable in local annals) of the Tyne, which in the year 1771 swept
away the old Tyne Bridge.



Exposed to some of the discomforts, if not all the dangers,[33] of
travel; required to ride over black and cheerless tracts of moor and
heath: now belated in marshy districts, and now exchanging shots with
gentlemen of the road; sleeping, as luck favored them, in way-side
taverns, country mansions, or the superior hotels of provincial
towns--the circuiteers of olden time found their advantage in
cultivating social hilarity and establishing an etiquette that
encouraged good-fellowship in their itinerant societies. At an early
date they are found varying the monotony of cross-country rides with
racing-matches and drinking bouts, cock-fights and fox-hunting; and
enlivening assize towns and country houses with balls and plays, frolic
and song. A prodigious amount of feasting was perpetrated on an ordinary
circuit-round of the seventeenth century; and at circuit-messes, judges'
dinners, and sheriffs' banquets, saucy juniors were allowed a license of
speech to staid leaders and grave dignitaries that was altogether
exceptional to the prevailing tone of manners.

In the days when Chief Justice Hyde, Clarendon's cousin, used to ride
the Norfolk Circuit, old Sergeant Earl was the leader, or, to use the
slang of the period, 'cock of the round'. A keen, close-fisted, tough
practitioner, this sergeant used to ride from town to town, chuckling
over the knowledge that he was earning more and spending less than any
other member of the circuit. One biscuit was all the refreshment which
he permitted himself on the road from Cambridge to Norwich; although he
consented to dismount at the end of every ten miles to stretch his
limbs. Sidling up to Sergeant Earl, as there was no greater man for him
to toady, Francis North offered himself as the old man's travelling
companion from the university to the manufacturing town; and when Earl
with a grim smile accepted the courteous suggestion, the young man
congratulated himself. On the following morning, however, he had reason
to question his good fortune when the sergeant's clerk brought him a
cake, and remarked, significantly, "Put it in your pocket, sir; you'll
want it; for my master won't draw bit till he comes to Norwich." It was
a hard day's work; but young Frank North was rewarded for his civility
to the sergeant, who condescended to instruct his apt pupil in the
tricks and chicaneries of their profession. "Sir," inquired North at the
close of the excursion, emboldened by the rich man's affability, "by
what system do you keep your accounts, which must be very complex, as
you have lands, securities, and great comings-in of all kinds?"
"Accounts! boy," answered the grey-headed curmudgeon; "I get as much as
I can, and I spend as little as I can; that's how I keep my accounts."

When North had raised himself to the Chiefship of the Common Pleas he
chose the Western Circuit, "not for the common cause, it being a long
circuit, and beneficial for the officers and servants, but because he
knew the gentlemen to be loyal and conformable, and that he should have
fair quarter amongst them;" and so much favor did he win amongst the
loyal and conformable gentry that old Bishop Mew--the prelate of
Winchester, popularly known as Bishop _Patch_, because he always wore a
patch of black court-plaster over the scar of a wound which he received
on one of his cheeks, whilst fighting as a trooper for Charles I.--used
to term him the "Deliciæ occidentis, or Darling of the West." On one
occasion this Darling of the West was placed in a ludicrous position by
the alacrity with which he accepted an invitation from "a busy fanatic,"
a Devonshire gentleman, of good family, and estate, named Duke. This
"busy fanatic" invited the judges on circuit and their officers to dine
and sleep at his mansion on their way to Exeter, and subsequently
scandalized his guests--all of them of course zealous defenders of the
Established Church--by reading family-prayers before supper. "The
gentleman," says the historian, "had not the manners to engage the
parish minister to come and officiate with any part of the evening
service before supper: but he himself got behind the table in his hall,
and read a chapter, and then a long-winded prayer, after the
Presbyterian way." Very displeased were the Chief Justice and the other
Judge of Assize; and their dissatisfaction was not diminished on the
following day when on entering Exeter a rumor met them, that "the judges
had been at a conventicle, and the grand jury intended to present them
and all their retinue for it."

Not many years elapsed before this Darling of the West was replaced, by
another Chief Justice who asserted the power of constituted authorities
with an energy that roused more fear than gratitude in the breasts of
local magistrates. That grim, ghastly, hideous progress, which Jeffreys
made in the plenitude of civil and military power through the Western
Counties, was not without its comic interludes; and of its less
repulsive scenes none was more laughable than that which occurred in
Bristol Courthouse when the terrible Chief Justice upbraided the Bristol
magistrates for taking part in a slave-trade of the most odious sort.
The mode in which the authorities of the western port carried on their
iniquitous traffic deserves commemoration, for no student can understand
the history of any period until he has acquainted himself with its
prevailing morality. At a time when by the wealth of her merchants and
the political influence of her inhabitants Bristol was the second city
of England, her mayor and aldermen used daily to sit in judgment on
young men and growing boys, who were brought before them and charged
with trivial offences. Some of the prisoners had actually broken the
law: but in a large proportion of the cases the accusations were totally
fictitious--the arrests having been made in accordance with the
directions of the magistrates, on charges which the magistrates
themselves knew to be utterly without foundation. Every morning the
Bristol tolsey or court-house saw a crowd of those wretched
captives--clerks out of employment, unruly apprentices, street boys
without parents, and occasionally children of honest birth, ay, of
patrician lineage, whose prompt removal from their native land was
desired by brutal fathers or vindictive guardians; and every morning a
mockery of judicial investigation was perpetrated in the name of
justice. Standing in a crowd the prisoners were informed of the offences
charged against them; huddled together in the dock, like cattle in a
pen, they caught stray sentences from the lips of the perjured rascals
who had seized them in the public ways; and whilst they thus in a frenzy
of surprise and fear listened to the statements of counsel for the
prosecution, and to the fabrications of lying witnesses, agents of the
court whispered to them that if they wished to save their lives they
must instantly confess their guilt, and implore the justices to
transport them to the plantations. Ignorant, alarmed, and powerless, the
miserable victims invariably acted on this perfidious counsel; and
forthwith the magistrates ordered their shipment to the West Indies,
where they were sold as slaves--the money paid for them by West India
planters in due course finding its way into the pockets of the Bristol
justices. It is asserted that the wealthier aldermen, through caution,
or those few grains of conscience which are often found in the breasts
of consummate rogues, forbore to share in the gains of this abominable
traffic; but it cannot be gainsaid that the least guilty magistrates
winked at the atrocious conduct of their brother-justices.

Vowing vengeance on the Bristol kidnappers Jeffreys entered their
court-house, and opened proceedings by crying aloud that "he had brought
a broom to sweep them with." The Mayor of Bristol was in those days no
common mayor; in Assize Commissions his name was placed before the
names of Judges of Assize; and even beyond the limits of his
jurisdiction he was a man of mark and influence. Great therefore was
this dignitary's astonishment when Jeffreys ordered him--clothed as he
was in official scarlet and furs--to stand in the dock. For a few
seconds the local potentate demurred; but when the Chief Justice poured
upon him a cataract of blasphemy, and vowed to hang him instantly over
the entrance to the tolsey unless he complied immediately, the
humiliated chief magistrate of the ancient borough took his place at the
felon's bar, and received such a rating as no thief, murderer or rebel
had ever heard from George Jeffrey's abusive mouth. Unfortunately the
affair ended with the storm. Until the arrival of William of Orange the
guilty magistrates were kept in fear of criminal prosecution; but the
matter was hushed up and covered with amnesty by the new government; so
that "the fright only, which was no small one, was all the punishment
which these judicial kidnappers underwent; and the gains," says Roger
North, "acquired by so wicked a trade, rested peacefully in their
pockets." It should be remembered that the kidnapping justices whom the
odious Jeffreys so indignantly denounced were tolerated and courted by
their respectable and prosperous neighbors; and some of the worst
charges, by which the judge's fame has been rendered odious to
posterity, depend upon the evidence of men who, if they were not
kidnappers themselves, saw nothing peculiarly atrocious in the conduct
of magistrates who systematically sold their fellow-countrymen into a
most barbarous slavery.

Amongst old circuit stories of questionable truthfulness there is a
singular anecdote recorded by the biographers of Chief Justice Hale,
who, whilst riding the Western Circuit, tried a half-starved lad on a
charges of burglary. The prisoner had been shipwrecked upon the Cornish
coast, and on his way through an inhospitable district had endured the
pangs of extreme hunger. In his distress, the famished wanderer broke
the window of a baker's shop and stole a loaf of bread. Under the
circumstances, Hale directed the jury to acquit the prisoner: but, less
merciful than the judge, the gentlemen of the box returned a verdict of
'Guilty'--a verdict which the Chief Justice stoutly refused to act upon.
After much resistance, the jurymen were starved into submission; and the
youth was set at liberty. Several years elapsed; and Chief Justice Hale
was riding the Northern Circuit, when he was received with such costly
and excessive pomp by the sheriff of a northern county, that he
expostulated with his entertainer on the lavish profuseness of his
conduct. "My lord," answered the sheriff, with emotion, "don't blame me
for showing my gratitude to the judge who saved my life when I was an
outcast. Had it not been for you, I should have been hanged in Cornwall
for stealing a loaf, instead of living to be the richest landowner of my
native county."

A sketch of circuit-life in the middle of the last century may be found
in 'A Northern Circuit, Described in a Letter to a Friend: a Poetical
Essay. By a Gentleman of the Middle Temple. 1751.'--a piece of doggrel
that will meet with greater mercy from the antiquary than the poetical

In seeking to avoid the customary exactions of their office, the
sheriffs of the present generation were only following in the steps of
sheriffs who, more than a century past, exerted themselves to reduce the
expenses of shrievalties, and whose economical reforms were defended by
reference to the conduct of sheriffs under the last of the Tudors.--In
the days of Elizabeth, the sheriffs demanded and obtained relief from an
obligation to supply judges on circuit, with food and lodging; under
Victoria they have recently exclaimed against the custom which required
them to furnish guards of javelin-bearers for the protection of Her
Majesty's representatives; when George II. was king, they grumbled
against lighter burdens--for instance, the cost of white kid-gloves and
payments to bell-ringers. The sheriff is still required by custom to
present the judges with white gloves whenever an assize has been held
without a single capital conviction; but in past times, on every
_maiden_ assize, he was expected to give gloves not only to the judges,
but to the entire body of circuiteers--barristers as well as officers of
court.[34] Wishing to keep his official expenditure down to the lowest
possible sum, a certain sheriff for Cumberland--called in 'A Northern
Circuit,' Sir Frigid Gripus Knapper--directed his under-sheriff not to
give white gloves on the occasion of a maiden assize at Carlisle, and
also through the mouth of his subordinate, declined to pay the officers
of the circuit certain customary fees. To put the innovator to shame,
Sir William Gascoigne, the judge before whom the case was laid, observed
in open court, "Though I can compel an immediate payment, it being a
demand of right, and not a mere gift, yet I will set him an example by
gifts which I might refuse, but will not, because they are customary,"
and forthwith addressing the steward, added--"Call the sheriff's
coachman, his pages, and musicians, singing-boys, and vergers, and give
them the accustomed gifts as soon as the sheriff comes." From this
direction, readers may see that under the old system of presents a judge
was compelled to give away with his left hand much of that which he
accepted with his right. It appears that Sir William Gascoigne's conduct
had the desired effect; for as soon as the sheriff made his appearance,
he repudiated the parsimonious conduct of the under-sheriff--though it
is not credible that the subordinate acted without the direction or
concurrence of his superior. "I think it," observed the sheriff, in
reference to the sum of the customary payments, "as much for the honor
of my office, and the country in general, as it is justice to those to
whom it is payable; and if any sheriff has been of a different opinion
it shall never bias me."

From the days when Alexander Wedderburn, in his new silk gown, to the
scandal of all sticklers for professional etiquette, made a daring but
futile attempt to seize the lead of the circuit which seventeen years
later he rode as judge, 'The Northern' had maintained the _prestige_ of
being the most important of the English circuits. Its palmiest and most
famous days belong to the times of Norton and Wallace, Jack Lee and John
Scott, Edward Law and Robert Graham; but still amongst the wise white
heads of the upper house may be seen at times the mobile features of an
aged peer who, as Mr. Henry Brougham, surpassed in eloquence and
intellectual brilliance the brightest and most celebrated of his
precursors on the great northern round. But of all the great men whose
names illustrate the annals of the circuit, Lord Eldon is the person
most frequently remembered in connexion with the jovial ways of
circuiteers in the old time. In his later years the port-loving earl
delighted to recall the times when as Attorney General of the Circuit
Grand Court he used to prosecute offenders 'against the peace of our
Lord the Junior,' devise practical jokes for the diversion of the bar,
and over bowls of punch at York, Lancaster, or Kirkby Lonsdale, argue
perplexing questions about the morals of advocacy. Just as John
Campbell, thirty years later, used to recount with glee how in the mock
courts of the Oxford Circuit he used to officiate as crier, "holding a
fire-shovel in his hand as the emblem of his office;" so did old Lord
Eldon warm with mirth over recollections of his circuit revelries and
escapades. Many of his stories were apocryphal, some of them
unquestionably spurious; but the least truthful of them contained an
element of pleasant reality. Of course Jemmy Boswell, a decent lawyer,
though better biographer, was neither duped by the sham brief, nor
induced to apply in court for the writ of 'quare adhaesit pavimento;'
but it is quite credible that on the morning after his removal in a
condition of vinous prostration from the Lancaster flagstones, his
jocose friends concocted the brief, sent it to him with a bad guinea,
and proclaimed the success of their device. When the chimney-sweeper's
boy met his death by falling from a high gallery to the floor of the
court-house at the York Assizes, whilst Sir Thomas Davenport was
speaking, it was John Scott who--arguing that the orator's dullness had
sent the boy to sleep, and so caused his fatal fall--prosecuted Sir
Thomas for murder in the High Court, alleging in the indictment that the
death was produced by a "certain blunt instrument of _no value_, called
a _long speech_." The records of the Northern Circuit abound with
testimony to the hearty zeal with which the future Chancellor took part
in the proceedings of the Grand Court--paying fines and imposing them
with equal readiness, now upholding with mock gravity the high and
majestic character of the presiding judge, and at another time
inveighing against the levity and indecorum of a learned brother who had
maintained in conversation that "no man would be such a----fool as to go
to a lawyer for advice who knew how to get on without it." The monstrous
offender against religion and propriety who gave utterance to this
execrable sentiment was Pepper Arden (subsequently Master of the Rolls
and Lord Alvanley), and his punishment is thus recorded in the archives
of the circuit:--"In this he was considered as doubly culpable, in the
first place as having offended, against the laws of Almighty God by his
profane cursing; for which, however, he made a very sufficient atonement
by paying a bottle of claret; and secondly, as having made use of an
expression which, if it should become a prevailing opinion, might have
the most alarming consequences to the profession, and was therefore
deservedly considered in a far more hideous light. For the last offence
he was fin'd 3 bottles. Pd."

One of the most ridiculous circumstances over which the Northern Circuit
men of the last generation delighted to laugh occurred at Newcastle,
when Baron Graham--the poor lawyer, but a singularly amiable and placid
man, of whom Jeckyll observed, "no one but his sempstress could ruffle
him"--rode the circuit, and was immortalized as 'My Lord 'Size,' in Mr.
John Shield's capital song--

   "The jailor, for trial had brought up a thief,
     Whose looks seemed a passport for Botany Bay;
   The lawyers, some with and some wanting a brief,
     Around the green table were seated so gay;
   Grave jurors and witnesses waiting a call;
     Attorneys and clients, more angry than wise;
   With strangers and town-people, throng'd the Guildhall,
     All watching and gaping to see my Lord 'Size.

   "Oft stretch'd were their necks, oft erected their ears,
     Still fancying they heard of the trumpets the sound,
   When tidings arriv'd, which dissolv'd them in tears,
     That my lord at the dead-house was then lying drown'd.
   Straight left _tête-a-tête_ were the jailor and thief;
     The horror-struck crowd to the dead-house quick hies;
   Ev'n the lawyers, forgetful of fee and of brief,
     Set off helter-skelter to view my Lord 'Size.

   "And now the Sandhill with the sad tidings rings,
     And the tubs of the taties are left to take care;
   Fishwomen desert their crabs, lobsters, and lings,
     And each to the dead-house now runs like a hare;
   The glassmen, some naked, some clad, heard the news,
     And off they ran, smoking like hot mutton pies;
   Whilst Castle Garth tailors, like wild kangaroos,
     Came tail-on-end jumping to see my Lord 'Size.

   "The dead-house they reach'd, where his lordship they found,
     Pale, stretch'd on a plank, like themselves out of breath,
   The coroner and jury were seated around,
     Most gravely enquiring the cause of his death.
   No haste did they seem in, their task to complete,
     Aware that from hurry mistakes often rise;
   Or wishful, perhaps, of prolonging the treat
     Of thus sitting in judgment upon my Lord 'Size.

   "Now the Mansion House butler, thus gravely deposed:--
     'My lord on the terrace seem'd studying his charge
   And when (as I thought) he had got it compos'd,
     He went down the stairs and examined the barge;
   First the stem he surveyed, then inspected the stern,
     Then handled the tiller, and looked mighty wise;
   But he made a false step when about to return,
     And souse in the river straight tumbled Lord 'Size.'

   "'Now his narrative ended, the butler retir'd,
     Whilst Betty Watt, muttering half drunk through her teeth,
   Declar'd 'in her breast great consarn it inspir'd,
     That my lord should sae cullishly come by his death;'
   Next a keelman was called on, Bold Airchy by name,
     Who the book as he kissed showed the whites of his eyes,
   Then he cut an odd caper attention to claim,
     And this evidence gave them respecting Lord 'Size;--

   "Aw was settin' the keel, wi' Dick Slavers an' Matt,
     An' the Mansion House stairs we were just alongside,
   When we a' three see'd somethin', but didn't ken what,
     That was splashin' and labberin', aboot i' the tide.
   'It's a fluiker,' ki Dick; 'No,' ki Matt, 'its owre big,
     It luik'd mair like a skyet when aw furst seed it rise;'
   Kiv aw--for aw'd getten a gliff o' the wig--
     'Ods marcy! wey, marrows, becrike, it's Lord 'Size.

   "'Sae aw huik'd him, an' haul'd him suin into the keel,
     An' o' top o' the huddock aw rowl'd him aboot;
   An' his belly aw rubb'd, an' aw skelp'd his back weel,
     But the water he'd druck'n it wadn't run oot;
   So aw brought him ashore here, an' doctor's, in vain,
     Furst this way, then that, to recover him tries;
   For ye see there he's lyin' as deed as a stane,
     An' that's a' aw can tell ye aboot my Lord 'Size.'

   "Now the jury for close consultation retir'd:
     Some '_Death Accidental_' were willing to find;
   'God's Visitation' most eager requir'd;
     And some were for 'Fell in the River' inclin'd;
   But ere on their verdict they all were agreed,
     My Lord gave a groan, and wide opened his eyes;
   Then the coach and the trumpeters came with great speed,
     And back to the Mansion House carried Lord 'Size."

Amongst memorable Northern Circuit worthies was George Wood, the
celebrated Special Pleader, in whose chambers Law, Erskine, Abbott and a
mob of eminent lawyers acquired a knowledge of their profession. It is
on record that whilst he and Mr. Holroyde were posting the Northern
round, they were accosted on a lonely heath by a well-mounted horseman,
who reining in his steed asked the barrister "What o'clock it was?"
Favorably impressed by the stranger's appearance and tone of voice, Wood
pulled out his valuable gold repeater, when the highwayman presenting a
pistol, and putting it on the cock, said coolly, "_As you have_ a watch,
be kind enough to give it me, so that I may not have occasion to trouble
you again about the time." To demur was impossible; the lawyer,
therefore, who had met his disaster by _going to the country_, meekly
submitted to circumstances and surrendered the watch. For the loss of an
excellent gold repeater he cared little, but he winced under the banter
of his professional brethren, who long after the occurrence used to
smile with malicious significance as they accosted him with--"What's the
time, Wood?"

Another of the memorable Northern circuiteers was John Hullock, who,
like George Wood, became a baron of the Exchequer, and of whom the
following story is told on good authority. In an important cause tried
upon the Northern Circuit, he was instructed by the attorney who
retained him as leader on one side not to produce a certain deed unless
circumstances made him think that without its production his client
would lose the suit. On perusing the deed entrusted to him with this
remarkable injunction, Hullock saw that it established his client's
case, and wishing to dispatch the business with all possible
promptitude, he produced the parchment before its exhibition was
demanded by necessity. Examination instantly detected the spurious
character of the deed, which had been fabricated by the attorney. Of
course the presiding judge (Sir John Bayley) ordered the deed to be
impounded; but before the order was carried out, Mr. Hullock obtained
permission to inspect it again. Restored to his hands, the deed was
forthwith replaced in his bag. "You must surrender that deed instantly,"
exclaimed the judge, seeing Hullock's intention to keep it. "My lord,"
returned the barrister, warmly, "no power on earth shall induce me to
surrender it. I have incautiously put the life of a fellow-creature in
peril; and though I acted to the best of my discretion, I should never
be happy again were a fatal result to ensue." At a loss to decide on the
proper course of action, Mr. Justice Bayley retired from court to
consult with his learned brother. On his lordship's reappearance in
court, Mr. Hullock--who had also left the court for a brief period--told
him that during his absence the forged deed had been destroyed. The
attorney escaped; the barrister became a judge.

[33] Lord Eldon, when he was handsome Jack Scott of the Northern
Circuit, was about to make a short cut over the sands from Ulverstone to
Lancaster at the of the tide, when he was restrained from acting on his
rash resolve by the representations of an hotel keeper. "Danger,
danger," asked Scott, impatiently--"have you ever _lost_ anybody there?"
Mine host answered slowly, "Nae, sir, nae body has been _lost_ on the
sands, _the puir bodies have been found at low water_."

[34] With regard to the customary gifts of white gloves Mr. Foss
says:--"Gloves were presented to the judges on some occasions: viz.,
when a man, convicted for murder, or manslaughter, came and pleaded the
king's pardon; and, till the Act of 4 & 5 William and Mary c. 18, which
rendered personal appearance unnecessary, an outlawry could not be
reversed, unless the defendant came into court, and with a present of
gloves to the judges implored their favor to reverse it. The custom of
giving the judge a pair of white gloves upon a maiden assize has
continued till the present time." An interesting chapter might be
written on the ancient ceremonies and usages obsolete and extant, of our
courts of law. Here are a few of the practices which such a chapter
would properly notice:--The custom, still maintained, which forbids the
Lord Chancellor to utter any word or make any sign, when on Lord Mayor's
Day the Lord Mayor of London enters the Court of Chancery, and by the
mouth of the Recorder prays his lordship to honor the Guildhall banquet
with his presence; the custom--extant so late as Lord Brougham's
Chancellorship--which required the Holder of the Seals, at the
installation of a new Master of Chancery, to install the new master by
placing a cap or hat on his head; the custom which in Charles II.'s
time, on motion days at the Chancellor's, compelled all barristers
making motions to contribute to his lordship's 'Poor's Box'--barristers
within the bar paying two shillings, and outer barristers one
shilling--the contents of which box were periodically given to
magistrates, for distribution amongst the deserving poor of London; the
custom which required a newly-created judge to present his colleagues
with biscuits and wine; the barbarous custom which compelled prisoners
to plead their defence, standing in fetters, a custom enforced by Chief
Justice Pratt at the trial of the Jacobite against Christopher Layer,
although at the of trial of Cranburne for complicity in the
'Assassination Plot,' Holt had enunciated the merciful maxim, "When the
prisoners are tried they should stand at ease;" the custom which--in
days when forty persons died of gaol fever caught at the memorable Black
Sessions (May, 1759) at the Old Bailey, when Captain Clark was tried for
killing Captain Innes in a duel--strewed rue, fennel, and other herbs on
the ledge of the dock, in the faith that the odor of the herbage would
act as a barrier to the poisonous exhalations from prisoners sick of
gaol distemper, and would protect the assembly in the body of the court
from the contagion of the disease.



Notwithstanding the close connexion which in old times existed between
the Church and the Law, popular sentiment holds to the opinion that the
ways of lawyers are far removed from the ways of holiness, and that the
difficulties encountered by wealthy travellers on the road to heaven are
far greater with rich lawyers than with any other class of rich men. An
old proverb teaches that wearers of the long robe never reach paradise
_per saltum_, but 'by slow degrees;' and an irreverent ballad supports
the vulgar belief that the only attorney to be found on the celestial
rolls gained admittance to the blissful abode more by artifice than
desert. The ribald broadside runs in the following style:---

   "Professions will abuse each other;
   The priests won't call the lawyer brother;
   While _Salkeld_ still beknaves the parson,
   And says he cants to keep the farce on.
   Yet will I readily suppose
   They are not truly bitter foes,
   But only have their pleasant jokes,
   And banter, just like other folks.
   And thus, for so they quiz the law,
   Once on a time th' Attorney Flaw,
   A man to tell you, as the fact is,
   Of vast chicane, of course of practice;
   (But what profession can we trace
   Where none will not the corps disgrace?
   Seduced, perhaps, by roguish client,
   Who tempt him to become more pliant),
   A notice had to quit the world,
   And from his desk at once was hurled.
   Observe, I pray, the plain narration:
   'Twas in a hot and long vacation,
   When time he had but no assistance.
   Tho' great from courts of law the distance,
   To reach the court of truth and justice
   (Where I confess my only trust is);
   Though here below the special pleader
   Shows talents worthy of a leader,
   Yet his own fame he must support,
   Be sometimes witty with the court
   Or word the passion of a jury
   By tender strains, or full of fury;
   Misleads them all, tho' twelve apostles,
   While with the new law the judge he jostles,
   And makes them all give up their powers
   To speeches of at least three hours--
   But we have left our little man,
   And wandered from our purpos'd plan:
   'Tis said (without ill-natured leaven)
   "If ever lawyers get to heaven,
   It surely is by slow degrees"
   (Perhaps 'tis slow they take their fees).
   The case, then, now I fairly state:
   Flaw reached at last to heaven's high gate;
   Quite short he rapped, none did it neater;
   The gate was opened by St. Peter,
   Who looked astonished when he saw,
   All black, the little man of law;
   But charity was Peter's guide.
   For having once himself denied
   His master, he would not o'erpass
   The penitent of any class;
   Yet never having heard there entered
   A lawyer, nay, nor ever ventured
   Within the realms of peace and love,
   He told him mildly to remove,
   And would have closed the gate of day,
   Had not old Flaw, in suppliant way,
   Demurring to so hard a fate,
   Begg'd but a look, tho' through the gate.
   St. Peter, rather off his guard,
   Unwilling to be thought too hard,
   Opens the gate to let him peep in.
   What did the lawyer? Did he creep in?
   Or dash at once to take possession?
   Oh no, he knew his own profession:
   He took his hat off with respect,
   And would no gentle means neglect;
   But finding it was all in vain
   For him admittance to obtain,
   Thought it were best, let come what will,
   To gain an entry by his skill.
   So while St. Peter stood aside,
   To let the door be opened wide,
   He skimmed his hat with all his strength
   Within the gate to no small length.
   St. Peter stared; the lawyer asked him
   "Only to fetch his hat," and passed him;
   But when he reached the jack he'd thrown,
   Oh, then was all the lawyer shown;
   He clapt it on, and arms akembo
   (As if he had been the gallant Bembo),
   Cry'd out--'What think you of my plan?
   Eject me, Peter, if you can.'"

The celestial courts having devised no process of ejectment that could
be employed in this unlooked-for emergency, St. Peter hastily withdrew
to take counsel's opinion; and during his absence Mr. Flaw firmly
established himself in the realms of bliss, where he remains to this day
the black sheep of the saintly family.

But though a flippant humorist in these later times could deride the
lawyer as a character who had better not force his way into heaven,
since he would not find a single personal acquaintance amongst its
inhabitants, in more remote days lawyers achieved the honors of
canonization, and our forefathers sought their saintly intercession with
devout fervor. Our calendars still regard the 15th of July as a sacred
day, in memory of the holy Swithin, who was tutor to King Ethelwulf and
King Alfred, and Chancellor of England, and who certainly deserved his
elevation to the fellowship of saints, even had his title to the honor
rested solely on a remarkable act which he performed in the exercise of
his judicial functions. A familiar set of nursery rhymes sets forth the
utter inability of all the King's horses and men to reform the shattered
Humpty-Dumpty, when his rotund highness had fallen from a wall; but when
a wretched market-woman, whose entire basketful of new-laid eggs had
been wilfully smashed by an enemy, sought in her trouble the aid of
Chancery, the holy Chancellor Swithin miraculously restored each broken
shell to perfect shape, each yolk to soundness. Saith William of
Malmesbury, recounting this marvellous achievement--"statimque porrecto
crucis signo, fracturam omnium ovorum consolidat."

Like Chancellor Swithin before him, and like Chancellor Wolsey in a
later time, Chancellor Becket was a royal tutor;[35] and like Swithin,
who still remains the pluvious saint of humid England, and unlike
Wolsey, who just missed the glory of canonization, Becket became a
widely venerated saint. But less kind to St. Thomas of Canterbury than
to St. Swithin, the Reformation degraded Becket from the saintly rank by
the decision which terminated the ridiculous legal proceedings
instituted by Henry VIII. against the holy reputation of St. Thomas.
After the saint's counsel had replied to the Attorney-General, who, of
course, conducted the cause for the crown, the court declared that
"Thomas, sometime Archbishop of Canterbury, had been guilty of
contumacy, treason and rebellion; that his bones should be publicly
burnt, to admonish the living of their duty by the punishment of the
dead; and that the offerings made at his shrine should be forfeited to
the crown."

After the conclusion of the suit for the saint's degradation--a suit
which was an extravagant parody of the process for establishing at Rome
a holy man's title to the honors of canonization--proclamation was made
that "forasmuch as it now clearly appeared that Thomas Becket had been
killed in a riot excited by his own obstinacy and intemperate language,
and had been afterwards canonized by the Bishop of Rome as the champion
of his usurped authority, the king's majesty thought it expedient to
declare to his loving subjects that he was no saint, but rather a rebel
and traitor to his prince, and therefore strictly charged and commanded
that he should not be esteemed or called a saint; that all images and
pictures of him should be destroyed, the festivals in his honor be
abolished, and his name and remembrance be erased out of all books,
under pain of his majesty's indignation and imprisonment at his grace's

But neither St. Swithin nor St. Thomas of Canterbury, lawyers though
they were, deigned to take the legal profession under especial
protection, and to mediate with particular officiousness between the
long robe and St. Peter. The peculiar saint of the profession was St.
Evona, concerning whom Carr, in his 'Remarks of the Government of the
Severall Parts of Germanie, Denmark, &c.,' has the following passage:
And now because I am speaking of Petty-foggers, give me leave to tell
you a story I mett with when I lived in Rome. Goeing with a Romane to
see some antiquityes, he showed me a chapell dedicated to St. Evona, a
lawyer of Brittanie, who, he said, came to Rome to entreat the Pope to
give the lawyers of Brittanie a patron, to which the Pope replied, that
he knew of no saint but what was disposed to other professions. At which
Evona was very sad, and earnestly begd of the Pope to think of one for
him. At last the Pope proposed to St. Evona that he should go round the
church of St. John de Latera blindfold, and after he had said so many
Ave Marias, that the first saint he laid hold of should be his patron,
which the good old lawyer willingly undertook, and at the end of his Ave
Maryes he stopt at St. Michael's altar, where he layed hold of the
Divell, under St. Michael's feet, and cry'd out, this is our saint, let
him be our patron. So being unblindfolded, and seeing what a patron he
had chosen, he went to his lodgings so dejected, that a few moneths
after he died, and coming to heaven's gates knockt hard. Whereupon St.
Peter asked who it was that knockt so bouldly. He replied that he was
St. Evona the advocate. Away, away, said St. Peter, here is but one
advocate in Heaven; here is no room for you lawyers. O but, said St.
Evona, I am that honest lawyer who never tooke fees on both sides, or
pleaded in a bad cause, nor did I ever set my Naibours together by the
ears, or lived by the sins of the People. Well, then, said St. Peter,
come in. This newes coming down to Rome, a witty poet wrote on St.
Evona's tomb these words:--

   'St. Evona un Briton,
   Advocat non Larron.

This story put me in mind of Ben Jonson goeing throw a church in Surrey,
seeing poore people weeping over a grave, asked one of the women why
they wept. Oh, said shee, we have lost our pretious lawyer, Justice
Randall; he kept us all in peace, and always was so good as to keep us
from goeing to law; the best man ever lived. Well, said Ben Jonson, I
will send you an epitaph to write upon his tomb, which was--

   'God works wonders now and then,
   Here lies a lawyer an honest man.'

An important vestige of the close relations which formerly existed
between the Law and the Church is still found in the ecclesiastical
patronage of the Lord Chancellor; and many are the good stories told of
interviews that took place between our more recent chancellors and
clergymen suing for preferment. "Who sent you, sir?" Thurlow asked
savagely of a country curate, who had boldly forced his way into the
Chancellor's library in Great Ormond Street, in the hope of winning the
presentation to a vacant living. "In whose _name_ do you come, that you
venture to pester me about your private affairs? I say, sir--what great
lords sent you to bother me in my house?" "My Lord," answered the
applicant, with a happy combination of dignity and humor, "no great man
supports my entreaty; but I may say with honesty, that I come to you in
the name of the Lord of Hosts." Pleased by the spirit and wit of the
reply, Thurlow exclaimed, "The Lord of Hosts! the Lord of Hosts! you are
the first parson that ever applied to me in that Lord's name; and though
his title can't be found in the Peerage, by ---- you shall have the
living." On another occasion the same Chancellor was less benign, but
not less just to a clerical applicant. Sustained by Queen Charlotte's
personal favor and intercession with Thurlow, the clergyman in question
felt so sure of obtaining the valuable living which was the object of
his ambition, that he regarded his interview with the Chancellor as a
purely formal affair. "I have, sir," observed Lord Thurlow, "received a
letter from the curate of the parish to which it is my intention to
prefer you, and on inquiry I find him to be a very worthy man. The
father of a large family, and a priest who has labored zealously in the
parish for many years, he has written to me--not asking for the living,
but modestly entreating me to ask the new rector to retain him as
curate. Now, sir, you would oblige me by promising me to employ the poor
man in that capacity." "My lord," replied Queen Charlotte's pastor, "it
would give me great pleasure to oblige your lordship in this matter, but
unfortunately I have arranged to take a personal friend for my curate."
His eyes flashing angrily, Thurlow answered, "Sir, I cannot force you to
take this worthy man for your curate, but I can make him the rector; and
by ---- he shall have the living, and be in a position to offer you the

Of Lord Loughborough a reliable biographer records a pleasant and
singular story. Having pronounced a decision in the House of Lords,
which deprived an excellent clergyman of a considerable estate and
reduced him to actual indigence, the Chancellor, before quitting the
woolsack, addressed the unfortunate suitor thus:--"As a judge I have
decided against you, whose virtues are not unknown to me; and in
acknowledgment of those virtues I beg you to accept from me a
presentation to a living now vacant, and worth £600 per annum."

Capital also are the best of many anecdotes concerning Eldon and his
ecclesiastical patronage. Dating the letter from No. 2, Charlotte
Street, Pimlico, the Chancellor's eldest son sent his father the
following anonymous epistle:--

   "Hear, generous lawyer! hear my prayer,
   Nor let my freedom make, you stare,
             In hailing you Jack Scott!
   Tho' now upon the woolsack placed,
   With wealth, with power, with title graced,
             _Once_ nearer was our lot.

   "Say by what name the hapless bard
   May best attract your kind regard--
             Plain Jack?--Sir John?--or Eldon?
   Give from your ample store of giving,
   A starving priest some little living--
             The world will cry out 'Well done.'

   "In vain, without a patron's aid,
   I've prayed and preached, and preached and prayed--
             _Applauded_ but _ill-fed_.
   Such vain _éclat_ let others share;
   Alas, I cannot feed on air--
             I ask not _praise_, but _bread_."

Satisfactorily hoaxed by the rhymer, the Chancellor went to Pimlico in
search of the clerical poetaster, and found him not.

Prettier and less comic is the story of Miss Bridge's morning call upon
Lord Eldon. The Chancellor was sitting in his study over a table of
papers when a young and lovely girl--slightly rustic in her attire,
slightly embarrassed by the novelty of her position, but thoroughly in
command of her wits--entered the room, and walked up to the lawyer's
chair. "My dear," said the Chancellor, rising and bowing with old-world
courtesy, "who _are_ you?" "Lord Eldon," answered the blushing maiden,
"I am Bessie Bridge of Weobly, the daughter of the Vicar of Weobly, and
papa has sent me to remind you of a promise which you made him when I
was a little baby, and you were a guest in his house on the occasion of
your first election as member of Parliament for Weobly." "A promise, my
dear young lady?" interposed the Chancellor, trying to recall how he had
pledged himself. "Yea, Lord Eldon, a promise. You were standing over my
cradle when papa said to you, 'Mr. Scott, promise me that if ever you
are Lord Chancellor, when my little girl is a poor clergyman's wife, you
will give her husband a living;' and you answered, 'Mr. Bridge, my
promise is not worth half-a-crown, but I give it to you, wishing it were
worth more.'" Enthusiastically the Chancellor exclaimed, "You are quite
right. I admit the obligation. I remember all about it;" and, then,
after a pause, archly surveying the damsel, whose graces were the
reverse of matronly, he added, "But surely the time for keeping my
promise has not yet arrived? You cannot be any one's wife at present?"
For a few seconds Bessie hesitated for an answer, and then, with a blush
and a ripple of silver laughter she replied, "No, but I do so wish to be
_somebody's_ wife. I am engaged to a young clergyman; and there's a
living in Herefordshire near my old home that has recently fallen
vacant, and if you'll give it to Alfred, why then, Lord Eldon, we shall
marry before the end of the year." Is there need to say that the
Chancellor forthwith summoned his Secretary, that the secretary
forthwith made out the presentation to Bessie's lover, and that having
given the Chancellor a kiss of gratitude, Bessie made good speed back to
Herefordshire, hugging the precious document the whole way home?

A bad but eager sportsman, Lord Eldon used to blaze away at his
partridges and pheasants with such uniform want of success that Lord
Stowell had truth as well as humor on his side when he observed, "My
brother has done much execution this shooting season; with his gun he
has _killed a great deal of time_." Having ineffectually discharged two
barrels at a covey of partridges, the Chancellor was slowly walking to
the gate of one of his Encome turnip-fields when a stranger of clerical
garb and aspect hailed him from a distance, asking, "Where is Lord
Eldon?" Not anxious to declare himself to the witness of his ludicrously
bad shot, the Chancellor answered evasively, and with scant courtesy,
"Not far off." Displeased with the tone of this curt reply, the
clergyman rejoined, "I wish you'd use your tongue to better purpose than
you do your gun, and tell me civily where I can find the Chancellor."
"Well," responded the sportsman, when he had slowly approached his
questioner, "here you see the Chancellor--I am Lord Eldon." It was an
untoward introduction to the Chancellor for the strange clergyman who
had traveled from the North of Lancashire to ask for the presentation to
a vacant living. Partly out of humorous compassion for the applicant who
had offered rudeness, if not insult to the person whom he was most
anxious to propitiate; partly because on inquiry he ascertained the
respectability of the applicant; and partly because he wished to seal by
kindness the lips of a man who could report on the authority of his own
eyes that the best lawyer was also the worst shot in all England, Eldon
gave the petitioner the desired preferment. "But now," the old
Chancellor used to add in conclusion, whenever he told the story, "see
the ingratitude of mankind. It was not long before a large present of
game reached me, with a letter from my new-made rector, purporting that
he had sent it to me, because _from what he had seen of my shooting he_
supposed I must be badly off for game. Think of turning upon me in this
way, and wounding me in my tenderest point."

Amongst Eldon's humorous answers to applications for preferment should
be remembered his letter to Dr. Fisher of the Charterhouse: on one side
of a sheet of paper, "Dear Fisher, I cannot, to-day, give you the
preferment for which you ask.--I remain your sincere friend,
ELDON.--_Turn over_;" and on the other side, "I gave it to you
yesterday." This note reminds us of Erskine's reply to Sir John
Sinclair's solicitation for a subscription to the testimonial which Sir
John invited the nation to present to himself. On the one side of a
sheet of paper it ran, "My dear Sir John, I am certain there are few in
this kingdom who set a higher value on your services than myself, and I
have the honor to subscribe," and on the other side it concluded,
"myself your obedient faithful servant, ERSKINE."

[35] Swithin was tutor to Ethelwulf and Alfred. Becket was tutor to
Henry II.'s eldest son. Wolsey--who took delight in discharging
scholastic functions from the days when he birched schoolboys at
Magdalen College, Oxford, till the time when in the plenitude of his
grandeur he framed regulations for Dean Colet's school of St. Paul's and
wrote an introduction to a Latin Grammar for the use of children--acted
as educational director to the Princess Mary, and superintended the
studies of Henry VIII.'s natural son, the Earl of Richmond. Amongst
pedagogue-chancellors, by license of fancy, may be included the Earl of
Clarendon, whose enemies used to charge him with 'playing the
schoolmaster to his king,' and in their desire to bring him into
disfavor at court used to announce his approach to Charles II. by
saying, "Here comes your schoolmaster."





A long list, indeed, might be made of abstemious lawyers; but their
temperance is almost invariably mentioned by biographers as matter for
regret and apology, and is even made an occasion for reproach in cases
where it has not been palliated by habits of munificent hospitality. In
the catalogue of Chancellor Warham's virtues and laudable usages,
Erasmus takes care to mention that the primate was accustomed to
entertain his friends, to the number of two hundred at a time: and when
the man of letters notices the archbishop's moderation with respect to
wines and dishes--a moderation that caused his grace to eschew suppers,
and never to sit more than an hour at dinner--he does not omit to
observe that though the great man "made it a rule to abstain entirely
from supper, yet if his friends were assembled at that meal he would sit
down along with them and promote their conviviality."

Splendid in all things, Wolsey astounded envious nobles by the
magnificence of his banquets, and the lavish expenses of his kitchens,
wherein his master-cooks wore raiment of richest materials--the _chef_
of his private kitchen daily arraying himself in a damask-satin or
velvet, and wearing on his neck a chain of gold. Of a far other kind
were the tastes of Wolsey's successor, who, in the warmest sunshine of
his power, preferred a quiet dinner with Erasmus to the pompous display
of state banquets, and who wore a gleeful light in his countenance when,
after his fall, he called his children and grandchildren about him, and
said: "I have been brought up at Oxford, at an Inn of Chancery, at
Lincoln's Inn, and in the King's Court--from the lowest degree to the
highest, and yet have I in yearly revenues at this present, little left
me above a hundred pounds by the year; so that now, if we wish to live
together, you must be content to be contributaries together. But my
counsel is that we fall not to the lowest fare first; we will not,
therefore, descend to Oxford fare, nor to the fare of New Inn, but we
will begin with Lincoln's Inn diet, where many right worshipful men of
great account and good years do live full well; which if we find
ourselves the first year not able to maintain, then will we in the next
year come down to Oxford fare, where many great, learned, and ancient
fathers and doctors are continually conversant; which if our purses
stretch not to maintain neither, then may we after, with bag and wallet,
go a-begging together, hoping that for pity some good folks will give us
their charity and at every man's door to sing a _Salve Regina_, whereby
we shall keep company and be merry together."

Students recalling the social life of England should bear in mind the
hours kept by our ancestors in the fourteenth and two following
centuries. Under the Plantagenets noblemen used to sup at five P.M., and
dine somewhere about the breakfast hour of Mayfair in a modern London
season. Gradually hours became later; but under the Tudors the ordinary
dinner hour for gentlepeople was somewhere about eleven A.M., and their
usual time for supping was between five P.M. and six P.M., tradesmen,
merchants and farmers dining and supping at later hours than their
social superiors. "With us," says Hall the chronicler, "the nobility,
gentry, and students, do ordinarily go to dinner at eleven before noon,
and to supper at five, or between five and six, at afternoon. The
merchants dine and sup seldom before twelve at noon and six at night.
The husbandmen also dine at high noon as they call it, and sup at seven
or eight; but out of term in our universities the scholars dine at ten."
Thus whilst the idlers of society made haste to eat and drink, the
workers postponed the pleasures of the table until they had made a good
morning's work. In the days of morning dinners and afternoon suppers,
the law-courts used to be at the height of their daily business at an
hour when Templars of the present generation have seldom risen from bed.
Chancellors were accustomed to commence their daily sittings in
Westminster at seven A.M. in summer, and at eight A.M. in winter months.
Lord Keeper Williams, who endeavored to atone for want of law by
extraordinarily assiduous attention to the duties of his office, used
indeed to open his winter sittings by candlelight between six and seven

Many were the costly banquets of which successive Chancellors invited
the nobility, the judges, and the bar, to partake at old York House; but
of all the holders of the Great Seal who exercised pompous hospitality
in that picturesque palace, Francis Bacon was the most liberal,
gracious, and delightful entertainer. Where is the student of English
history who has not often endeavored to imagine the scene when Ben
Jonson sat amongst the honored guests of

   "England's high Chancellor, the destin'd heir,
   In his soft cradle, to his father's chair,"

and little prescient of the coming storm, spoke of his host as one

   "Whose even thread the Fates spin round and full,
   Out of their choicest and their whitest wool."

Even at the present day lawyers have reason to be grateful to Bacon for
the promptitude with which, on taking possession of the Marble Chair, he
revived the ancient usages of earlier holders of the seal, and set an
example of courteous hospitality to the bar, which no subsequent
Chancellor has been able to disregard without loss of respect and
_prestige_. Though a short attack of gout qualified the new pleasure of
his elevation--an attack attributed by the sufferer to his removal "from
a field air to a Thames air," _i.e._, from Gray's Inn to the south side
of the Strand--Lord Keeper Bacon lost no time in summoning the judges
and most eminent barristers to his table; and though the gravity of his
indisposition, or the dignity of his office, forbade him to join in the
feast, he sat and spoke pleasantly with them when the dishes had been
removed. "Yesterday," he wrote to Buckingham, "which was my weary day, I
bid all the judges to dinner, which was not used to be, and entertained
them in a private withdrawing chamber with the learned counsel. When the
feast was past I came amongst them and sat me down at the end of the
table, and prayed them to think I was one of them, and but a foreman."
Nor let us, whilst recalling Bacon's bounteous hospitalities, fail in
justice to his great rival, Sir Edward Coke---who, though he usually
held himself aloof from frivolous amusements, and cared but little for
expensive repasts, would with a liberal hand place lordly dishes before
lordly guests; and of whom it is recorded in the 'Apophthegmes,' that
when any great visitor dropped in upon him for pot-luck without notice
he was wont to say, "Sir, since you sent me no notice of your coming,
you must dine with me; but if I had known of it in due time I would have
dined with you."

From such great men as Lord Nottingham and Lord Guildford, who
successively kept high state in Queen Street, Lincoln's Inn Fields, to
fat _puisnes_ occupying snug houses in close proximity to the Inns of
Court, and lower downwards to leaders of the bar and juniors sleeping as
well as working in chambers, the Restoration lawyers were conspicuous
promoters of the hilarity which was one of the most prominent and least
offensive characteristics of Charles II.'s London. Lord Nottingham's
sumptuous hospitalities were the more creditable, because he voluntarily
relinquished his claim to £4000 per annum, which the royal bounty had
assigned him as a fund to be expended in official entertainments.
Similar praise cannot be awarded to Lord Guildford; but justice compels
the admission that, notwithstanding his love of money, he maintained the
_prestige_ of his place, so far as a hospitable table and profuse
domestic expenditure could support it.

Contrasting strongly with the lawyers of this period, who copied in
miniature the impressive state of Clarendon's princely establishments,
were the jovial, catch-singing, three-bottle lawyers--who preferred
drunkenness to pomp; an oaken table, surrounded by jolly fellows, to
ante-rooms crowded with obsequious courtiers; a hunting song with a
brave chorus to the less stormy diversion of polite conversation. Of
these free-living lawyers, George Jeffreys was a conspicuous leader. Not
averse to display, and not incapable of shining in refined society, this
notorious man loved good cheer and jolly companions beyond all other
sources of excitement; and during his tenure of the seals, he was never
more happy than when he was presiding over a company of sharp-witted
men-about-town whom he had invited to indulge in wild talk and choice
wine at his mansion that overlooked the lawns, the water, and the trees
of St. James's Park. On such occasions his lordship's most valued boon
companion was Mountfort, the comedian, whom he had taken from the stage
and made a permanent officer of the Duke Street household. Whether the
actor was required to discharge any graver functions in the Chancellor's
establishment is unknown; but we have Sir John Reresby's testimony that
the clever mimic and brilliant libertine was employed to amuse his
lordship's guests by ridiculing the personal and mental peculiarities of
the judges and most eminent barristers. "I dined," records Sir John,
"with the Lord Chancellor, where the Lord Mayor of London was a guest,
and some other gentlemen. His lordship having, according to custom,
drunk deep at dinner, called for one Mountfort, a gentleman of his, who
had been a comedian, an excellent mimic; and to divert the company, as
he was pleased to term it, he made him plead before him in a feigned
cause, during which he aped the judges, and all the great lawyers of the
age, in tone of voice and in action and gesture of body, to the very
great ridicule, not only of the lawyers, but of the law itself, which to
me did not seem altogether prudent in a man in his lofty station in the
law; diverting it certainly was, but prudent in the Lord Chancellor I
shall never think it." The fun of Mountfort's imitations was often
heightened by the presence of the persons whom they held up to
derision--some of whom would see and express natural displeasure at the
affront; whilst others, quite unconscious of their own peculiarities,
joined loudly in the laughter that was directed against themselves.

As pet buffoon of the tories about town, Mountfort was followed, at a
considerable distance of time, by Estcourt--an actor who united wit and
fine humor with irresistible powers of mimicry; and who contrived to
acquire the respect and affectionate regard of many of those famous
Whigs whom it was alike his pleasure and his business to render
ridiculous. In the _Spectator_ Steele paid him a tribute of cordial
admiration; and Cibber, noticing the marvellous fidelity of his
imitations, has recorded, "This man was so amazing and extraordinary a
mimic, that no man or woman, from the coquette to the privy counsellor,
ever moved or spoke before him, but he could carry their voice, look,
mien, and motion instantly into another company. I have heard him make
long harangues, and form various arguments, even in the manner of
thinking of an eminent pleader at the bar, with every the least article
and singularity of his utterance so perfectly imitated, that he was the
very _alter ipse_, scarce to be distinguished from the original."

With the exception of Kenyon and Eldon, and one or two less conspicuous
instances of judicial penuriousness, the judges of the Georgian period
were hospitable entertainers. Chief Justice Lee, who died in 1754,
gained credit for an adequate knowledge of law by the sumptuousness and
frequency of the dinners with which he regaled his brothers of the bench
and learned counsellors. Chief Justice Mansfield's habitual temperance
and comparative indifference to the pleasures of the table did not cause
him to be neglectful of hospitable duties. Notwithstanding the cold
formality of Lord Hardwicke's entertainments, and the charges of
niggardliness preferred against Lady Hardwicke's domestic system by
Opposition satirists, Philip Yorke used to entertain the chiefs of his
profession with pomp, if not with affability. Thurlow entertained a
somewhat too limited circle of friends with English fare and a
superabundance of choice port in Great Ormond Street. Throughout his
public career, Alexander Wedderburn was a lavish and delightful host,
amply atoning in the opinion of frivolous society for his political
falsity by the excellence and number of his grand dinners. On entering
the place of Solicitor-General, he spent £8000 on a service of plate;
and as Lord Loughborough he gratified the bar and dazzled the
fashionable world by hospitality alike sumptuous and brilliant.

Several of the Georgian lawyers had strong predilections for particular
dishes or articles of diet. Thurlow was very fanciful about his fruit;
and in his later years he would give way to ludicrous irritability, if
inferior grapes or faulty peaches were placed before him. At Brighton,
in his declining years, the ex-Chancellor's indignation at a dish of
defective wall-fruit was so lively that--to the inexpressible
astonishment of Horne Tooke and other guests--he caused the whole of a
very fine dessert to be thrown out of the window upon the Marine Parade.
Baron Graham's weakness was for oysters, eaten as a preparatory whet to
the appetite before dinner; and it is recorded of him that on a certain
occasion, when he had been indulging in this favorite pre-prandial
exercise, he observed with pleasant humor--"Oysters taken before dinner
are said to sharpen the appetite; but I have just consumed half-a-barrel
of fine natives--and speaking honestly, I am bound to say that I don't
feel quite as hungry as when I began." Thomas Manners Button's peculiar
_penchant_ was for salads; and in a moment of impulsive kindness he gave
Lady Morgan the recipe for his favorite salad--a compound of rare merit
and mysterious properties. Bitterly did the old lawyer repent his unwise
munificence when he read 'O'Donnell.' Warmly displeased with the
political sentiments of the novel, he ordered it to be burnt in the
servants' hall, and exclaimed, peevishly, to Lady Manners, "I wish I
had not given her the secret of my salad." In no culinary product did
Lord Ellenborough find greater delight than lobster-sauce; and he gave
expression to his high regard for that soothing and delicate compound
when he decided that persons engaged in lobster-fishery were exempt from
legal liability to impressment. "Then is not," inquired his lordship,
with solemn pathos, "the lobster-fishery a fishery, and a most important
fishery, of this kingdom, though carried on in shallow water? The
framers of the law well knew that the produce of the deep sea, without
the produce of the shallow water, would be of comparatively small value,
and intended that turbot, when placed upon our tables, should be flanked
by good lobster-sauce." Eldon's singular passion for fried 'liver and
bacon' was amongst his most notorious and least pleasant peculiarities.
Even the Prince Regent condescended to humor this remarkable taste by
ordering a dish of liver and bacon to be placed on the table when the
Chancellor dined with him at Brighton. Sir John Leach, Master of the
Rolls, was however less ready to pander to a depraved appetite. Lord
Eldon said, "It will give me great pleasure to dine with you, and since
you are good enough to ask me to order a dish that shall test your new
_chef's_ powers--I wish you'd tell your Frenchman to fry some liver and
bacon for me." "Are you laughing at me or my cook?" asked Sir John
Leach, stiffly, thinking that the Chancellor was bent on ridiculing his
luxurious mode of living. "At neither," answered Eldon, with equal
simplicity and truth; "I was only ordering the dish which I enjoy beyond
all other dishes."

Although Eldon's penuriousness was grossly exaggerated by his
detractors, it cannot be questioned that either through indolence, or
love of money, or some other kind of selfishness, he was very neglectful
of his hospitable duties to the bench and the bar. "Verily he is
working off the arrears of the Lord Chancellor," said Romilly, when Sir
Thomas Plummer, the Master of the Rolls, gave a succession of dinners to
the bar; and such a remark would not have escaped the lips of the
decorous and amiable Romilly had not circumstances fully justified it.
Still it is unquestionable that Eldon's Cabinet dinners were suitably
expensive; and that he never grudged his choicest port to the old
attorneys and subordinate placemen who were his obsequious companions
towards the close of his career. For the charges of sordid parsimony so
frequently preferred against Kenyon it is to be feared there were better
grounds. Under the steadily strengthening spell of avarice he ceased to
invite even old friends to his table; and it was rumored that in course
of time his domestic servants complained with reason that they were
required to consume the same fare as their master deemed sufficient for
himself. "In Lord Kenyon's house," a wit exclaimed, "all the year
through it is Lent in the kitchen, and Passion Week in the Parlor."
Another caustic quidnunc remarked, "In his lordship's kitchen the fire
is dull, but the spits are always bright;" whereupon Jekyll interposed
with an assumption of testiness, "Spits! in the name of common sense I
order you not to talk about _his_ spits, for nothing turns upon them."

Very different was the temper of Erskine, who spent money faster than
Kenyon saved it, and who died in indigence after holding the Great Seal
of England, and making for many years a finer income at the bar than any
of his contemporaries not enjoying crown patronage. Many are the bright
pictures preserved to us of his hospitality to politicians and lawyers,
wits, and people of fashion; but none of the scenes is more
characteristic than the dinner described by Sir Samuel Romilly, when
that good man met at Erskine's Hampstead villa the chiefs of the
opposition and Mr. Pinkney, the American Minister. "Among the light,
trifling topics of conversation after dinner," says Sir Samuel Romilly,
"it may be worth while to mention one, as it strongly characterizes Lord
Erskine. He has always expressed and felt a strong sympathy with
animals. He has talked for years of a bill he was to bring into
parliament to prevent cruelty towards them. He has always had some
favorite animals to whom he has been much attached, and of whom all his
acquaintance have a number of anecdotes to relate; a favorite dog which
he used to bring, when he was at the bar, to all his consultations;
another favorite dog, which, at the time when he was Lord Chancellor, he
himself rescued in the street from some boys who were about to kill it
under the pretence of its being mad; a favorite goose, which followed
him wherever he walked about his grounds; a favorite macaw, and other
dumb favorites without number. He told us now that he had got two
favorite leeches. He had been blooded by them last autumn when he had
been taken dangerously ill at Portsmouth; they had saved his life, and
he had brought them with him to town, had ever since kept them in a
glass, had himself every day given them fresh water, and had formed a
friendship for them. He said he was sure they both knew him and were
grateful to him. He had given them different names, 'Home' and 'Cline'
(the names of two celebrated surgeons), their dispositions being quite
different. After a good deal of conversation about them, he went
himself, brought them out of his library, and placed them in their glass
upon the table. It is impossible, however, without the vivacity, the
tones, the details, and the gestures of Lord Erskine, to give an
adequate idea of this singular scene." Amongst the listeners to Erskine,
whilst he spoke eloquently and with fervor of the virtues of his two
leeches, were the Duke of Norfolk, Lord Grenville, Lord Grey, Lord
Holland, Lord Ellenborough, Lord Lauderdale, Lord Henry Petty, and
Thomas Grenville.



From the time when Francis Bacon attributed a sharp attack of gout to
his removal from Gray's Inn Fields to the river side, to a time not many
years distant when Sir Herbert Jenner Fust[36] used to be brought into
his court in Doctors' Commons and placed in the judicial seat by two
liveried porters, lawyers were not remarkable for abstinence from the
pleasures to which our ancestors were indebted for the joint-fixing,
picturesque gout that has already become an affair of the past.
Throughout the long period that lies between Charles II.'s restoration
and George III.'s death, an English judge without a symptom of gout was
so exceptional a character that people talked of him as an interesting
social curiosity. The Merry Monarch made Clarendon's bedroom his
council-chamber when the Chancellor was confined to his couch by
_podagra_. Lord Nottingham was so disabled by gout, and what the old
physicians were pleased to call a 'perversity of the humors,' that his
duties in the House of Lords were often discharged by Francis North,
then Chief Justice of the Common Pleas; and though he persevered in
attending to the business of his court, a man of less resolution would
have altogether succumbed to the agony of his disease and the burden of
his infirmities. "I have known him," says Roger North, "sit to hear
petitions in great pain, and say that his servants had let him out,
though he was fitter for his chamber." Prudence saved Lord Guildford
from excessive intemperance; but he lived with a freedom that would be
remarkable in the present age. Chief Justice Saunders was a confirmed
sot, taking nips of brandy with his breakfast, and seldom appearing in
public "without a pot of ale at his nose or near him." Sir Robert Wright
was notoriously addicted to wine; and George Jeffreys drank, as he
swore, like a trooper. "My lord," said King Charles, in a significant
tone, when he gave Jeffreys the _blood-stone_ ring, "as it is a hot
summer, and you are going the circuit, I desire you will not drink too

Amongst the reeling judges of the Restoration, however, there moved one
venerable lawyer, who, in an age when moralists hesitated to call
drunkenness a vice, was remarkable for sobriety. In his youth, whilst he
was indulging with natural ardor in youthful pleasures, Chief Justice
Hale was so struck with horror at seeing an intimate friend drop
senseless, and apparently lifeless, at a student's drinking-bout, that
he made a sudden but enduring resolution to conquer his ebrious
propensities, and withdraw himself from the dangerous allurements of
ungodly company. Falling upon his knees he prayed the Almighty to
rescue his friend from the jaws of death, and also to strengthen him to
keep his newly-formed resolution. He rose an altered man. But in an age
when the barbarous usage of toast-drinking was in full force, he felt
that he could not be an habitually sober man if he mingled in society,
and obeyed a rule which required the man of delicate and excitable
nerves to drink as much, bumper for bumper, as the man whose sluggish
system could receive a quart of spirits at a sitting and yet scarcely
experience a change of sensation. At that time it was customary with
prudent men to protect themselves against a pernicious and tyrannous
custom, by taking a vow to abstain from toast-drinking, or even from
drinking wine at all, for a certain stated period. Readers do not need
to be reminded how often young Pepys was under a vow not to drink; and
the device by which the jovial admiralty clerk strengthened an infirm
will and defended himself against temptation was frequently employed by
right-minded young men of his date. In some cases, instead of _vowing_
not to drink, they _bound_ themselves not to drink within a certain
period; two persons, that is to say, agreeing that they would abstain
from wine and spirits for a certain period, and each _binding_ himself
in case he broke the compact to pay over a certain sum of money to his
partner in the bond. Young Hale saw that to effect a complete
reformation of his life it was needful for him to abjure the practice of
drinking healths. He therefore vowed _never again_ to drink a health;
and he kept his vow. Never again did he brim his bumper and drain it at
the command of a toast-master, although his abstinence exposed him to
much annoyance; and in his old age he thus urged his grandchildren to
follow his example--"I will not have you begin or pledge any health, for
it is become one of the greatest artifices of drinking, and occasions of
quarrelling in the kingdom. If you pledge one health you oblige
yourself to pledge another, and a third, and so onwards; and if you
pledge as many as will be drunk, you must be debauched and drunk. If
they will needs know the reason of your refusal, it is a fair answer,
'that your grandfather that brought you up, from whom, under God, you
have the estate you enjoy or expect, left this in command with you, that
you should never begin or pledge a health.'"

Jeffrey's _protégé_, John Trevor, liked good wine himself, but emulated
the virtuous Hale in the pains which he took to place the treacherous
drink beyond the reach of others--whenever they showed a desire to drink
it at his expense. After his expulsion from the House of Commons, Sir
John Trevor was sitting alone over a choice bottle of claret, when his
needy kinsman, Roderic Lloyd, was announced. "You rascal," exclaimed the
Master of the Rolls, springing to his feet, and attacking his footman
with furious language, "you have brought my cousin, Roderic Lloyd,
Esquire, Prothonotary of North Wales, Marshal to Baron Price, up my back
stairs. You scoundrel, hear ye, I order you to take him this instant
down my _back stairs_, and bring him up my _front stairs_." Sir John
made such a point of showing his visitor this mark of respect, that the
young barrister was forced to descend and enter the room by the state
staircase; but he saw no reason to think himself honored by his cousin's
punctilious courtesy, when on entering the room a second time he looked
in vain for the claret bottle.

On another occasion Sir John Trevor's official residence afforded
shelter to the same poor relation when the latter was in great mental
trouble. "Roderic," saith the chronicler, "was returning rather elevated
from his club one night, and ran against the pump in Chancery Lane.
Conceiving somebody had struck him, he drew and made a lunge at the
pump. The sword entered the spout, and the pump, being crazy, fell
down. Roderic concluded he had killed his man, left, his sword in the
pump, and retreated to his old friend's house at the Rolls. There he was
concealed by the servants for the night. In the morning his Honor,
having heard the story, came himself to deliver him from his
consternation and confinement in the coal-hole."

Amongst the eighteenth century lawyers there was considerable difference
of taste and opinion on questions relating to the use and abuse of wine.
Though he never, or very seldom, exceeded the limits of sobriety, Somers
enjoyed a bottle in congenial society; and though wine never betrayed
him into reckless hilarity, it gave gentleness and comity to his
habitually severe countenance and solemn deportment--if reliance may be
placed on Swift's couplet--

   "By force of wine even Scarborough is brave,
   Hall grows more pert, and Somers not so grave."

A familiar quotation that alludes to Murray's early intercourse with the
wits warrants an inference that in opening manhood he preferred
champagne to every other wine; but as Lord Mansfield he steadily adhered
to claret, though fashion had taken into favor the fuller wine
stigmatized as poison by John Home's famous epigram--

   "Bold and erect the Caledonian stood;
   Old was his mutton, and his claret good.
   'Let him drink port,' an English statesman cried:
   He drunk the poison and his spirit died."

Unlike his father, who never sinned against moderation in his cups,
Charles Yorke was a deep drinker as well as a gourmand. Hardwicke's
successor, Lord Northington, was the first of a line of
port-wine-drinking judges that may at the present time be fairly said
to have come to an end--although a few reverend fathers of the law yet
remain, who drink with relish the Methuen drink when age has deprived it
of body and strength. Until Robert Henley held the seals, Chancellors
continued to hold after-dinner sittings in the Court of Chancery on
certain days of the week throughout term. Hardwicke, throughout his long
official career, sat on the evenings of Wednesdays and Fridays hearing
causes, while men of pleasure were fuddling themselves with fruity
vintages. Lord Northington, however, prevailed on George III. to let him
discontinue these evening attendances in court. "But why," asked the
monarch, "do you wish for a change?" "Sir," the Chancellor answered,
with delightful frankness, "I want the change in order that I may finish
my bottle of port at my ease; and your majesty, in your parental care
for the happiness of your subjects, will, I trust, think this a
sufficient reason." Of course the king's laughter ended in a favorable
answer to the petition for reform, and from that time the Chancellor's
evening sittings were discontinued. But ere he died, the jovial
Chancellor paid the penalty which port exacts from all her fervent
worshippers, and he suffered the acutest pangs of gout. It is recorded
that as he limped from the woolsack to the bar of the House of Lords, he
once muttered to a young peer, who watched his distress with evident
sympathy--"Ah, my young friend, if I had known that these legs would one
day carry a Chancellor, I would have taken better care of them when I
was at your age." Unto this had come the handsome legs of young
Counsellor Henley, who, in his dancing days, stepped minuets to the
enthusiastic admiration of the _belles_ of Bath.

Some light is thrown on the manners of lawyers in the eighteenth century
by an order made by the authorities of Barnard's Inn, who, in November,
1706, named two quarts as the allowance of wine to be given to each
mess of four men by two gentlemen on going through the ceremony of
'initiation.' Of course, this amount of wine was an 'extra' allowance,
in addition to the ale and sherry assigned to members by the regular
dietary of the house. Even Sheridan, who boasted that he could drink any
_given_ quantity of wine, would have thought twice before he drank so
large a given quantity, in addition to a liberal allowance of stimulant.
Anyhow, the quantity was fixed--a fact that would have elicited an
expression of approval from Chief Baron Thompson, who, loving port wine
wisely, though too well, expressed at the same time his concurrence with
the words, and his dissent from the opinion of a barrister, who
observed--"I hold, my lord, that after a good dinner a certain quantity
of wine does no harm." With a smile, the Chief Baron rejoined--"True,
sir; it is the _uncertain_ quantity that does the mischief."

The most temperate of the eighteenth-century Chancellors was Lord
Camden, who required no more generous beverage than sound malt liquor,
as he candidly declared, in a letter to the Duke of Grafton, wherein he
says--"I am, thank God, remarkably well, but your grace must not seduce
me into my former intemperance. A plain dish and a draught of porter
(which last is indispensable), are the very extent of my luxury." For
porter, Edward Thurlow, in his student days, had high respect and keen
relish; but in his mature years, as well as still older age, full-bodied
port was his favorite drink, and under its influence were seen to the
best advantage those colloquial powers which caused Samuel Johnson to
exclaim--"Depend upon it, sir, it is when you come close to a man in
conversation that you discover what his real abilities are; to make a
speech in a public assembly is a knack. Now, I honor Thurlow, sir;
Thurlow is a fine fellow: he fairly puts his mind to yours." Of
Thurlow, when he had mounted the woolsack, Johnson also observed--"I
would prepare myself for no man in England but Lord Thurlow. When I am
to meet him, I would wish to know a day before." From the many stories
told of Thurlow and ebriosity, one may be here taken and brought under
the reader's notice--not because it has wit or humor to recommend it,
but because it presents the Chancellor in company with another
port-loving lawyer, William Pitt, from whose fame, by-the-by, Lord
Stanhope has recently removed the old disfiguring imputations of
sottishness. "Returning," says Sir Nathaniel Wraxall, a poor authority,
but piquant gossip-monger, "by way of frolic, very late at night, on
horseback, to Wimbledon, from Addiscombe, the seat of Mr. Jenkinson,
near Croydon, where the party had dined, Lord Thurlow, the Chancellor,
Pitt, and Dundas, found the turnpike gate, situate between Tooting and
Streatham, thrown open. Being elevated above their usual prudence, and
having no servant near them, they passed through the gate at a brisk
pace, without stopping to pay the toll, regardless of the remonstrances
and threats of the turnpike man, who running after them, and believing
them to belong to some highwaymen who had recently committed some
depredation on that road, discharged the contents of his blunderbuss at
their backs. Happily he did no injury."

Throughout their long lives the brothers Scott were steady, and,
according to the rules of the present day, inordinate drinkers of port
wine. As a young barrister, John Scott could carry more port with
decorum than any other man of his inn; and in the days when he is
generally supposed to have lived on sprats and table-beer, he seldom
passed twenty-four hours without a bottle of his favorite wine.
Prudence, however, made him careful to avoid intoxication, and when he
found that a friendship often betrayed him into what he thought
excessive drinking, he withdrew from the dangerous connexion. "I see
your friend Bowes very often," he wrote in May, 1778, a time when Mr.
Bowes was his most valuable client; "but I dare not dine with him above
once in three months, as there is no getting away before midnight; and,
indeed, one is sure to be in a condition in which no man would wish to
be in the streets at any other season." Of the quantities imbibed at
these three-monthly dinners, an estimate may be formed from the
following story. Bringing from Oxford to London that fine sense of the
merits of port wine which characterized the thorough Oxonion of a
century since, William Scott made it for some years a rule to dine with
his brother John on the first day of term at a tavern hard by the
Temple; and on these occasions the brothers used to make away with
bottle after bottle not less to the astonishment than the approval of
the waiters who served them. Before the decay of his faculties, Lord
Stowell was recalling these terminal dinners to his son-in-law, Lord
Sidmouth, when the latter observed, "You drank some wine together, I
dare say?" Lord Stowell, modestly, "Yes, we drank some wine."
Son-in-law, inquisitively, "Two bottles?" Lord Stowell, quickly putting
away the imputation of such abstemiousness, "More than that."
Son-in-law, smiling, "What, three bottles?" Lord Stowell, "More."
Son-in-law, opening his eyes with astonishment, "By Jove, sir, you don't
mean to say that you took four bottles?" Lord Stowell, beginning to feel
ashamed of himself, "More; I mean to say we had more. Now don't ask any
more questions."

Whilst Lord Stowell, smarting under the domestic misery of which his
foolish marriage with the Dowager Marchioness of Sligo was fruitful,
sought comfort and forgetfulness in the cellar of the Middle Temple,
Lord Eldon drained magnums of Newcastle port at his own table. Populous
with wealthy merchants, and surrounded by an opulent aristocracy,
Newcastle had used the advantages given her by a large export trade with
Portugal to draw to her cellars such superb port wine as could be found
in no other town in the United Kingdom; and to the last the Tory
Chancellor used to get his port from the canny capital of Northumbria.
Just three weeks before his death, the veteran lawyer, sitting in his
easy-chair and recalling his early triumphs, preluded an account of the
great leading case, "Akroyd _v._ Smithson," by saying to his listener,
"Come, Farrer, help yourself to a glass of Newcastle port, and help me
to a little." But though he asked for a little, the old earl, according
to his wont, drank much before he was raised from his chair and led to
his sleeping-room. It is on record, and is moreover supported by
unexceptionable evidence, that in his extreme old age, whilst he was
completely laid upon the shelf, and almost down to the day of his death,
which occurred in his eighty-seventh year, Lord Eldon never drank less
than three pints of port daily with or after his dinner.

Of eminent lawyers who were steady port-wine drinkers, Baron Platt--the
amiable and popular judge who died in 1862, aged seventy-two years--may
be regarded as one of the last. Of him it is recorded that in early
manhood he was so completely prostrated by severe illness that beholders
judged him to be actually dead. Standing over his silent body shortly
before the arrival of the undertaker, two of his friends concurred in
giving utterance to the sentiment: "Ah, poor dear fellow, we shall never
drink a glass of wine with him again;" when, to their momentary alarm
and subsequent delight, the dead man interposed with a faint assumption
of jocularity, "But you will though, and a good many too, I hope." When
the undertaker called he was sent away a genuinely sorrowful man; and
the young lawyer, who was 'not dead yet,' lived to old age and good

[36] In old Sir Herbert's later days it was a mere pleasantry, or bold
figure of speech to say that his court had risen, for he used to be
lifted from his chair and carried bodily from the chamber of justice by
two brawny footmen. Of course, as soon as the judge was about to be
elevated by his bearers, the bar rose; and also as a matter of course
the bar continued to stand until the strong porters had conveyed their
weighty and venerable burden along the platform behind one of the rows
of advocates and out of sight. As the _trio_ worked their laborious way
along the platform, there seemed to be some danger that they might
blunder and fall through one of the windows into the space behind the
court; and at a time when Sir Herbert and Dr. ---- were at open
variance, that waspish advocate had on one occasion the bad taste to
keep his seat at the rising of the court, and with characteristic
malevolence of expression to say to the footmen, "Mind, my men, and take
care of that judge of yours--or, by Jove, you'll pitch him out of the
window." It is needless to say that this brutal speech did not raise the
speaker in the opinion of the hearers.



At the present time, when three out of every five journalists attached
to our chief London newspapers are Inns-of-Court men; when many of our
able and successful advocates are known to ply their pens in organs of
periodical literature as regularly as they raise their voices in courts
of justice; and when the young Templar, who has borne away the first
honors of his university, deems himself the object of a compliment on
receiving an invitation to contribute to the columns of a leading review
or daily journal--it is difficult to believe that strong men are still
amongst us who can remember the days when it was the fashion of the bar
to disdain law-students who were suspected of 'writing for hire' and
barristers who 'reported for the papers.' Throughout the opening years
of the present century, and even much later, it was almost universally
held on the circuits and in Westminster Hall, that Inns-of-Court men
lowered the dignity of their order by following those literary
avocations by which some of the brightest ornaments of the law supported
themselves at the outset of their professional careers. Notwithstanding
this prejudice, a few wearers of the long robe, daring by nature, or
rendered bold by necessity, persisted in 'maintaining a connexion with
the press, whilst they sought briefs on the circuit, or waited for
clients in their chambers. Such men as Sergeant Spankie and Lord
Campbell, as Master Stephen and Mr. Justice Talfourd, were reporters for
the press whilst they kept terms; and no sooner had Henry Brougham's
eloquence charmed the public, than it was whispered that for years his
pen, no less ready than his tongue, had found constant employment in
organs of political intelligence.

But though such men were known to exist, they were regarded as the
'black sheep' of the bar by a great majority of their profession. It is
not improbable that this prejudice against gownsmen on the press was
palliated by circumstances that no longer exist. When political writers
were very generally regarded as dangerous members of society, and when
conductors of respectable newspapers were harassed with vexatious
prosecutions and heavy punishments for acts of trivial inadvertence, or
for purely imaginary offences, the average journalist was in many
respects inferior to the average journalist working under the present
more favorable circumstances. Men of culture, honest purpose, and fine
feeling were slow to enrol themselves members of a despised and
proscribed fraternity; and in the dearth of educated gentlemen ready to
accept literary employment, the task of writing for the public papers
too frequently devolved upon very unscrupulous persons, who rendered
their calling as odious as themselves. A shackled and persecuted press
is always a licentious and venal press; and before legislation endowed
English journalism with a certain measure of freedom and security, it
was seldom manly and was often corrupt. It is therefore probable that
our grandfathers had some show of reason for their dislike of
contributors to anonymous literature. At the bar men of unquestionable
amiability and enlightenment were often the loudest to express this
aversion for their scribbling brethren. It was said that the scribblers
were seldom gentlemen in temper; and that they never hesitated to puff
themselves in their papers. These considerations so far influenced Mr.
Justice Lawrence that, though he was a model of judicial suavity to all
other members of the bar, he could never bring himself to be barely
civil to advocates known to be 'upon the press.'

At Lincoln's Inn this strong feeling against journalists found vent in a
resolution, framed in reference to a particular person, which would have
shut out journalists from the Society. It had long been understood that
no student could be called to the bar _whilst_ he was acting as a
reporter in the gallery of either house; but the new decision of the
benchers would have destroyed the ancient connexion of the legal
profession and literary calling. Strange to say this illiberal measure
was the work of two benchers who, notwithstanding their patrician
descent and associations, were vehement asserters of liberal principles.
Mr. Clifford--'O.P.' Clifford--was its proposer and Erskine was its
seconder. Fortunately the person who was the immediate object of its
provisions petitioned the House of Commons upon the subject, and the
consequent debate in the Lower House decided the benchers to withdraw
from their false position; and since their silent retreat no attempt has
been made by any of the four honorable societies to affix an undeserved
stigma on the followers of a serviceable art. Upon the whole the
literary calling gained much from the discreditable action of Lincoln's
Inn; for the speech in which Sheridan covered with derision this attempt
to brand parliamentary reporters as unfit to associate with members of
the bar, and the address in which Mr. Stephen, with manly reference to
his own early experiences, warmly censured the conduct of the society of
which he was himself a member, caused many persons to form a new and
juster estimate of the working members of the London press. Having
alluded to Dr. Johnson and Edmund Burke, who had both acted as
parliamentary reporters, Sheridan stated that no less than twenty-three
graduates of universities were then engaged as reporters of the
proceedings of the house.

The close connexion which for centuries has existed between men of law
and men of letters is illustrated on the one hand by a long succession
of eminent lawyers who have added to the lustre of professional honors
the no less bright distinctions of literary achievements or friendships,
and on the other hand by the long line of able writers who either
enrolled themselves amongst the students of the law, or resided in the
Inns of Court, or cherished with assiduous care the friendly regard of
famous judges. Indeed, since the days of Chancellor de Bury, who wrote
the 'Philobiblon,' there have been few Chancellors to whom literature is
not in some way indebted; and the few Keepers of the Seal who neither
cared for letters nor cultivated the society of students, are amongst
the judges whose names most Englishmen would gladly erase from the
history of their country. Jeffreys and Macclesfield represent the
unlettered Chancellors; More and Bacon the lettered. Fortescue's 'De
Laudibus' is a book for every reader. To Chancellor Warham, Erasmus--a
scholar not given to distribute praise carelessly--dedicated his 'St.
Jerom,' with cordial eulogy. Wolsey was a patron of letters. More may be
said to have revived, if he did not create, the literary taste of his
contemporaries, and to have transplanted the novel to English soil.
Equally diligent as a writer and a collector of books, Gardyner spent
his happiest moments at his desk, or over the folios of the magnificent
library which was destroyed by Wyat's insurgents. Christopher Hatton was
a dramatic author. To one person who can describe with any approach to
accuracy Edward Hyde's conduct in the Court of Chancery, there are
twenty who have studied Clarendon's 'Rebellion.' At the present date
Hale's books are better known than his judgments, though his conduct
towards the witches of Bury St. Edmunds conferred an unenviable fame on
his judicial career. By timely assistance rendered to Burnet, Lord
Nottingham did something to atone for his brutality towards Milton,
whom, at an earlier period of his career, he had declared worthy of a
felon's death, for having been Cromwell's Latin secretary. Lord Keeper
North wrote upon 'Music;' and to his brother Roger literature is
indebted for the best biographies composed by any writer of his period.
In his boyhood Somers was a poet; in his maturer years the friend of
poets. The friend of Prior and Gay, Arbuthnot and Pope, Lord Chancellor
Harcourt, wrote verses of more than ordinary merit, and alike in periods
of official triumph and in times of retirement valued the friendship of
men of wit above the many successes of his public career. Lord
Chancellor King, author of 'Constitution and Discipline of the Primitive
Church,' was John Locke's dutiful nephew and favorite companion. King's
immediate successor was extolled by Pope in the lines,

   O teach us, Talbot! thou'rt unspoil'd by wealth,
   That secret rare, between the extremes to move,
   Of mad good-nature and of mean self-love.
   Who is it copies Talbot's better part,
   To ease th' oppress'd, and raise the sinking heart?

But Talbot's fairest eulogy was penned by his son's tutor, Alexander
Thomson--a poet who had no reason to feel gratitude to Talbot's official
successor. Ere he thoroughly resolved to devote himself to law, the cold
and formal Hardwicke had cherished a feeble ambition for literary
distinction; and under its influence he wrote a paper that appeared in
the _Spectator_. Blackstone's entrance at the Temple occasioned his
metrical 'Farewell' to his muse. In his undergraduate days at Cambridge
Lord Chancellor Charles Yorke was a chief contributor to the 'Athenian
Letters,' and it would have been well for him had he in after-life given
to letters a portion of the time which he sacrificed to ambition.
Thurlow's churlishness and overbearing temper are at this date trifling
matters in comparison with his friendship for Cowper and Samuel Johnson,
and his kindly aid to George Crabbe. Even more than for the wisdom of
his judgments Mansfield is remembered for his intimacy with 'the wits,'
and his close friendship with that chief of them all, who exclaimed,
"How sweet an Ovid, Murray, was our boast," and in honor of that "Sweet
Ovid" penned the lines,

   "Graced as thou art, with all the power of words,
   So known, so honored in the House of Lords"--

verses deliciously ridiculed by the parodist who wrote,

   "Persuasion tips his tongue whene'er he talks:
   And he has chambers in the King's Bench walks."

As an atonement for many defects, Alexander Wedderburn had one
virtue--an honest respect for letters that made him in opening manhood
seek the friendship of Hume, at a later date solicit a pension for Dr.
Johnson, and after his elevation to the woolsack overwhelm Gibbon with
hospitable civilities. Eldon was an Oxford Essayist in his young, the
compiler of 'The Anecdote Book' in his old days; and though he cannot be
commended for literary tastes, or sympathy with men of letters, he was
one of the many great lawyers who found pleasure in the conversation of
Samuel Johnson. Unlike his brother, Lord Stowell clung fast to his
literary friendships, as 'Dr. Scott of the Commons' priding himself more
on his membership in the Literary Club than on his standing in the
Prerogative Court; and as Lord Stowell evincing cordial respect for the
successors of Reynolds and Malone, even when love of money had taken
firm hold of his enfeebled mind. Archdeacon Paley's London residence was
in Edward Law's house in Bloomsbury Square. In Erskine literary ambition
was so strong that, not content with the fame brought to him by
excellent _vers de société_, he took pen in hand when he resigned the
seals, and--more to the delight of his enemies than the satisfaction of
his friends--wrote a novel, which neither became, nor deserved to be,
permanently successful. With similar zeal and greater ability the
literary reputation of the bar has been maintained by Lord Denman, who
was an industrious _littérateur_ whilst he was working his way up at the
bar; by Sir John Taylor Coleridge, whose services to the _Quarterly
Review_ are an affair of literary history; by Sir Thomas Noon Talfourd,
who, having reported in the gallery, lived to lake part in the debates
of the House of Commons, and who, from the date of his first engagement
on the _Times_ till the sad morning when "God's finger touched him,"
while he sat upon the bench, never altogether relinquished those
literary pursuits, in which he earned well-merited honor; by Lord
Macaulay, whose connexion with the legal profession is almost lost sight
of in the brilliance of his literary renown; by Lord Campbell, who
dreamt of living to wear an SS collar in Westminster Hall whilst he was
merely John Campbell the reporter; by Lord Brougham, who, having
instructed our grandfathers with his pen, still remains upon the stage,
giving their grandsons wise lessons with his tongue; and by Lord
Romilly, whose services to English literature have won for him the
gratitude of scholars.

Of each generation of writers between the accession of Elizabeth and the
present time, several of the most conspicuous names are either found on
the rolls of the inns, or are closely associated in the minds of
students with the life of the law-colleges. Shakspeare's plays abound
with testimony that he was no stranger in the legal inns, and the rich
vein of legal lore and diction that runs through his writings has
induced more judicious critics than Lord Campbell to conjecture that he
may at some early time of his career have directed his mind to the
study, if not the practice, of the law. Amongst Elizabethan writers who
belonged to inns may be mentioned--George Ferrars, William Lambarde, Sir
Henry Spelman, and that luckless pamphleteer John Stubbs, all of whom
were members of Lincoln's Inn; Thomas Sackville, Francis Beaumont the
Younger, and John Ferne, of the Inner Temple; Walter Raleigh, of the
Middle Temple; Francis Bacon, Philip Sidney, George Gascoyne, and
Francis Davison, of Gray's Inn. Sir John Denham, the poet, became a
Lincoln's-Inn student in 1634; and Francis Quarles was a member of the
same learned society. John Selden entered the Inner Temple in the second
year of James I., where in due course he numbered, amongst his literary
contemporaries,--William Browne, Croke, Oulde, Thomas Gardiner, Dynne,
Edward Heywood, John Morgan, Augustus Cæsar, Thomas Heygate, Thomas May,
dramatist and translator of Lucan's 'Pharsalia,' William Rough and Rymer
were members of Gray's Inn. Sir John David and Sir Simonds D'Ewes
belonged to the Middle Temple. Massinger's dearest friends lived in the
Inner Temple, of which society George Keate, the dramatist, and Butler's
staunch supporter William Longueville, were members. Milton passed the
most jocund hours of his life in Gray's Inn, in which college Cleveland
and the author of 'Hudibras' held the meetings of their club. Wycherley
and Congreve, Aubrey and Narcissus Luttrell were Inns-of-Court men. In
later periods we find Thomas Edwards, the critic; Murphy, the dramatic
writer; James Mackintosh, Francis Hargrave, Bentham, Curran, Canning, at
Lincoln's Inn. The poet Cowper was a barrister of the Temple. Amongst
other Templars of the eighteenth century, with whose names the
literature of their time is inseparably associated, were Henry Fielding,
Henry Brooke, Oliver Goldsmith, and Edmund Burke. Samuel Johnson resided
both in Gray's Inn and the Temple, and his friend Boswell was an
advocate of respectable ability as well as the best biographer on the
roll of English writers.

The foregoing are but a few taken from hundreds of names that illustrate
the close union of Law and Literature in past times. To lengthen the
list would but weary the reader; and no pains would make a perfect
muster roll of all the literary lawyers and _legal littérateurs_ who
either are still upon the stage, or have only lately passed away. In
their youth four well-known living novelists--Mr. William Harrison
Ainsworth, Mr. Shirley Brooks, Mr. Charles Dickens, and Mr. Benjamin
Disraeli--passed some time in solicitors' offices. Mr. John Oxenford was
articled to an attorney. Mr. Theodore Martin resembles the authors of
'The Rejected Addresses' in being a successful practitioner in the
inferior branch of the law. Mr. Charles Henry Cooper was a successful
solicitor. On turning over the leaves to that useful book, 'Men of the
Time,' the reader finds mention made of the following men of letters and
law--Sir Archibald Alison, Mr. Thomas Chisholm Anstey, Mr. William
Edmonstone Aytoun, Mr. Philip James Bailey, Mr. J.N. Ball, Mr. Sergeant
Peter Burke, Sir J.B. Burke, Mr. John Hill Burton, Mr. Hans Busk, Mr.
Isaac Butt, Mr. George Wingrove Cooke, Sir E.S. Creasy, Dr. Dasent, Mr.
John Thaddeus Delane, Mr. W. Hepworth Dixon, Mr. Commissioner
Fonblanque, Mr. William Forsyth, Q.C., Mr. Edward Foss, Mr. William
Carew Hazlitt, Mr. Thomas Hughes, Mr. Leone Levi, Mr. Lawrence
Oliphant, Mr. Charles Reade, Mr. W. Stigant, Mr. Tom Taylor, Mr.
McCullagh Torrens, Mr. M.F. Tupper, Dr. Travers, Mr. Samuel Warren, and
Mr. Charles Weld. Some of the gentlemen in this list are not merely
nominal barristers, but are practitioners with an abundance of business.
Amongst those to whom the editor of 'Men of the Time' draws attention as
'Lawyers,' and who either are still rendering or have rendered good
service to literature, occur the names of Sir William A'Beckett, Mr. W.
Adams, Dr. Anster, Sir Joseph Arnould, Sir George Bowyer, Sir John
Coleridge, Mr. E. W. Cox, Mr. Wilson Gray, Mr. Justice Haliburton, Mr.
Thomas Lewin, Mr. Thomas E. May, Mr. J.G. Phillimore, Mr. James Fitz
James Stephen, Mr. Vernon Harcourt, Mr. James Whiteside. Some of the
distinguished men mentioned in this survey have already passed to
another world since the publication of the last edition of 'Men of the
Time;' but their recorded connexion with literature as well as law no
less serves to illustrate an important feature of our social life. It is
almost needless to remark that the names of many of our ablest anonymous
writers do not appear in 'Men of the Time.'

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