London, Volume 4

Knight, Charles

1843

XCVIII.--Inns of Court: The Inner and Middle Temple.

XCVIII.--Inns of Court: The Inner and Middle Temple.

 

 

On the Continent of Europe, jurisprudence, and even municipal law, which among the Continental nations is almost universally founded on the Roman civil law, is taught in the universities, among which Leyden, Heidelberg, and Jena have long been famed for the learning of their legal professors and teachers. In England, at a very early date, the science was taught in Inns[n.353.1]  of Court, situated in the metropolis, and in the immediate vicinity of the courts of law. The foundation of these bodies may be traced to the promise made by

354

John and Henry III. in the Magna Charta, that

common pleas should not thenceforth follow the Court, but be held in some certain place;

which, by the establishment at of the Court of Common Pleas, necessarily led to the gradual collecting in the metropolis of the whole body of

common

lawyers, who most probably then began to settle themselves in places best suited to their studies, practice, and conferences. Instruction in the learning of the common law was also now felt to be needed; for the ecclesiastical bodies, who in general engrossed all learning, and who alone were competent to impart a knowledge of the liberal arts and sciences, had an unconquerable aversion to the common law of England, which the nobility of the country held as their most precious birthright. Jealous as the monks were of the newly established court at , they would fain have thrown every obstacle in the way of its supporters. Rejected, therefore, by the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, over which the ecclesiastics ruled supreme, the lawyers founded hostels, or , in the metropolis, which were so denominated, as we are informed by Stow, because they were attached to, or dependent upon, the Court. Of these

hostels,

, called Johnson's Inn, is said to have been at Dowgate, another at Fewter's or Fetter's Lane, and a at ;[n.354.1]  from which last we may suppose originated the custom of the serjeants-at-law and

apprentices

sitting in Paul's Walk, each at his own pillar, hearing his client's cause, and taking notes thereof on his knee. A vestige of this ancient custom remained to the reign of Charles II., when, upon the calling of a lawyer to the degree of the coif, a formal procession was made to , that the serjeant elect might choose his own peculiar pillar.

At these hostels the gentlemen of the law lived, or rather transacted business, and schools'were opened for the purpose of reading and teaching the law; until at length, in , being the year of Edward III., the Knights Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem, to whom the forfeited estates of the rival brotherhood of the Templars had, after much entreaty, been granted by the Pope, demised the magnificent buildings, church, gardens,

and all the appurtenances that belonged to the Templars in London,

to certain students of the common law, who are traditionally reported to have removed thither from a temporary residence in Thaive's Inn in , in which part of the town the Knights Templars themselves had resided before the erection of their superb palaces on the Thames.

The new Inn of Court at the Temple was most fortunately placed; and, after its establishment, we hear no more of the ancient hostels, whose scholastic establishments had previously been suppressed by a proclamation of Henry III., enjoining the Lord Mayor and Sheriffs of the City of London that they

forbid that any

one

should teach the laws there for the time to come.

Thus pleasantly situated, as Fortescue describes the Temple,[n.354.2] 

out of the City and the noise thereof, and in the suburbs of London; between the City of

Westminster

, the place of holding the King's court, and the City of London; for advantage of ready access to the

one

, and plenty of provisions in the other,

the worthy

practisers

of the law lived in peace and quiet, occasionally displaying their

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erudition in the capacious intellects of our Cokes, Fitzherberts, and Seldens, and receiving into the bosom of their fraternity many noble scions of the haughtiest families of England, to whom they imparted their learning, encouraging them also to

dance, to sing, to play on instruments on

theferial

days, and to study divinity on

the festival

, using such exercises as they did who were brought up in the King's court.

Indeed, in the days of the writer whom we here quote, Fortescue, Chief Justice of England to Henry VI., the Inns of Court were only accessible to men of high rank and fortune, the average expense of a young man's education at of them being annually , no small sum at that period.

If he had a servant with him,

adds our authority,

his charge is then the greater; so that, by reason of this great expense, the sons of

gentlemen

only do study the law in these Inns, the vulgar sort of people not being able to undergo so great a charge, and merchants are seldom willing to lessen their traffic thereby.

Ferne, formerly a student of the Inner Temple, in his also makes honourable mention of the Inns of Court :--

Nobleness of blood, joined with virtue, counteth the person as most meet to the enterprising of any public service; and for that cause it was not for nought that our ancient governors in this land did with especial foresight and wisdom provide that none should be admitted into the Inns 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 calendar of all those which were together in the society of

one

of the same houses, about the last year of King Henry V., with the names of their house and family, and marshalled by their names; and I assure you the selfsame monument doth both approve them to be gentlemen of perfect descent, and also the number of them much less than it now is, being at that time in

one

house scarcely threescore.

In the course of a few years the number of students greatly increased; and Fortescue enumerates Inns of Court, the same now existing, viz., the Inner Temple, the Middle Temple, , and , each containing members; and Inns of Chancery, only of which, , remains to this day.

The Inns of Court and Chancery constituted what Stow quaintly styles

a whole University of Students, Practisers or Pleaders, and Judges of the laws of this realm, not living on common stipends, as in the other universities it is for the most part done, but of their owne private maintenance, as being altogether fed either by their places or practice, or otherwise by their proper revenues, or exhibition of parents and friends: for the younger sort are either gentlemen, or sons of gentlemen, or of other most wealthy persons. Of these houses there may be at this day fourteen in all, whereof nine do stand within the liberties of this citie, and five in the suburbs thereof. . . . These Societies are no corporation, nor have any judicial power over their members, but have certain orders among themselves, which by consent have the force of laws. For slight offences they are only excommoned, that is, put out of commons, which is, not to eat with the rest in their halls; and for greater, they lose their chambers, and are expelled the house-and being once expelled, they are not to be admitted by any of the other three societies.

The gentlemen in these societies may be divided into four ranks-I. Benchers; II. Utter Barristers; III. Inner Barristers; IV. Students. Benchers are the seniors, to whom the government of the house, and ordering of matters thereof, is committed; and out of these a treasurer is yearly chosen, who receiveth, disburseth, and accounteth for all monies belonging to the house. Utter Barristers are such as from their learning and standing are called by the benchers to implead and argue in the society doubtful cases and questions, which are called moots, and whilst they argue the said cases they sit uttermost on the forms of the benchers, which they call the bar. Out of these mootmen are chosen Readers for the Inns of Chancery, which belong to the Inns of Court of which they are members, where, in term-time and grand vacations, they argue cases in the presence of attornies and clerks. And the rest of the society are accounted Inner Barristers, who, for want of learning or time, are not to argue in these moots; and Students.

These mootings, or discussions on abstruse points of law, took place in the Inn Hall, in the presence of the benchers, of whose number, styled the Reader, presided and delivered the opinion of the bench on the points mooted. But increased occupation, different modes of life, and the short period now spent by law-students at the Inns of Court, have thrown these mootings into disuse, and there has been no attempt of late years to restore their primitive importance. During his

reading

the Reader always kept a splendid table, entertaining at his own expense the judges, nobility, bishops, ministers of state, and not unfrequently royalty itself, so that it sometimes cost a reader as much as , a circumstance which, perhaps, had its weight in abolishing these ceremonies.[n.356.1] 

But to return to the Temple, in which we find the

studious lawyers

established

Where whilome wont the Templar Knights to bide,

Till they decayed through pride.

From the time that an influential body of lawyers thus acquired a respectable and elegant site for their Inn, they increased rapidly in number and importance, so that, although the Inn suffered greatly, during the short rebellion of Wat Tyler, from the attacks of the mob, who plundered the students and destroyed almost every book and record upon which they could lay hands, it was thought necessary to divide the Inn into separate bodies, to be called the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple, and the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple, having separate halls, but making use of the same church, and holding their houses as tenants of the Knights Hospitallers until the general suppression of monasteries and monastic bodies by Henry VIII; and after this event, of the crown by lease.

So strong was the vindictive feeling of the ancient mobs of London against the lawyers, that the Inns of Court were always the to be singled out as an object for vengeance by the rioters. The complaints of Jack Cade, a fair specimen of this vulgar sentiment, have been graphically portrayed by Shakspere in his scenes of the mad freaks of that renowned rebel: the outpourings of his heart against the law and its instruments are quickly followed by the command to pull down the Inns of Court.

Dick.The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers. Cade.Nay, that I mean to do. Is not this a lamentable thing, that the skin of an innocent lamb should be made parchment? that parchment, being scribbled o'er, should undo a man? Some say the bee stings: but I say it is the bee's wax, for I did but seal once to a thing, and I was never mine own man since. Now go, some, and pull down the Savoy; others to the Inns of Court! down with them all!Second part of King Henry VI., Act IV. sc. 2 and 7.

Grievously did the misguided followers of this reckless leader put into execution his orders; and the burning of the Temple Libraries, and the cold-blooded murders of all the students and

practisers

who fell into the hands of the infuriated populace, bore dreadful witness to the ascendency which Cade had gained over the minds of his instruments, and the ill odour in which the gentlemen of the law were then held among the commonalty.

In the year of James I. the whole of the buildings of the Temples were granted by letters patent, bearing date at , the , to the then Chancellor of , the Recorder of London, and others, the benchers and treasurers of the Inner and Middle Temple,

to have and to hold the said mansions, with the gardens, &c., unto them and their heirs and assigns for ever, for lodging, reception, and education of the professors and students of the laws of this realm;

and by virtue of these grants do these Inns of the Inner and Middle Temple still continue in the occupation and possession of an incorporated society of the

students and practisers of the laws of England.

From whatever point these beautiful Inns are viewed, the casual observer cannot but be struck by their elegance of appearance and the convenience of their site,--a convenience which increases daily from the immensity of business necessarily flowing in from the greatest and most opulent city in the world. The magnificence, external and internal, of the public buildings, and the commodious, roomy chambers, attract his notice; but how much more interesting does the place appear to the man of taste and of education, in whose mind are raised up associations connected with the troubled lives and chequered fortunes of the dignitaries of our country, and of the able bulwarks of its liberties, who have at length their earthly

abiding place

where once the haughty soldier's armed heel rang on the pavement, and the red cross was displayed on each resident's mantle. Perhaps he wanders into the garden, where knights, monks, benchers, and children have successively sauntered before him, have marched and countermarched, and, looking around, he feels inclined to believe that Elia might have been right when he asserted of his beloved haunt, that

it is, indeed, the most elegant spot in the metropolis.

Its appearance has, however, no less altered since Elia's boyhood, than it had between that date and the century. It is a pretty spot, this green oasis, in the midst of the wilderness of houses, with Whitefriars, the Alsatia of Shadwell and Scott, on its side, and as dense a neighbourhood beyond , on the other side. There was a rookery in bygone years, in this Inner Temple Garden,

a colony,

as Leigh Hunt tells us,[n.357.1] 

brought by Sir Edward Northey, a well-known lawyer in

Queen Anne's time, from his grounds at Epsom. It was a pleasant thought, supposing that the colonists had no objection. The rook is a grave legal bird, both in his coat and habits; living in communities, yet to himself, and strongly addicted to discussions of

meum

and

tuumr

.

Mr. Leigh Hunt adds, that there have been no rooks seen in the garden for many years; thousands of sparrows twitter in their stead on the old trees by the river-side, and on the broad gravel walk which extends from end to end, and remind the visitors of the item in the treasurer's accounts when Daines Barrington filled that office, and which, to the immortal honour of his brother benchers, was disallowed by them:

Item

. Disbursed Mr. Allen, the gardener,

20s.

for stuff to poison the sparrows, by my orders.

The Temple Garden does not appear to be so much frequented at present, as it was during the last and the preceding century. Shakspeare makes it the scene of the origin of the factions of York and Lancaster, in the part of his historical

play of

Henry the

Sixth

.

It was a celebrated promenade in the time of Lord Keeper Guilford; and Charles Lamb and Dr. Dibdin have given their recollections of it at the close of the last century.

Towards evening,

writes the latter of these gentlemen,

it was the fashion for the leading counsel to promenade, during the summer, in the

Temple Gardens

. Cocked hats and ruffles, with satin smallclothes and silk stockings, at this time constituted the usual evening dress. Lord Erskine, though a good deal shorter than his brethren, somehow always seemed to take the lead, both in place and in discourse, and shouts of laughter would frequently follow his dicta.

The winged horse over the garden gate is the cognizance of the Society of the Inner Temple, as the lamb is of the Middle Temple, and the following epigram is founded on these very different devices:--

359

As by the Templar's haunts you go, The Horse and Lamb display'd, In emblematic figures show The merits of their trade; That clients may infer from thence How just is their profession, The lamb sets forth their innocence,-- The horse their expedition! O, happy Britons, happy isle! Let foreign nations say, Where you get justice without guile, And law without delay!

To charge the law's delay upon the lawyers,

says the editor of a recent amusing work (), in allusion to the above effusion,

is about as just as it would be to ascribe the rapidity with which some medicines effect a cure to the wisdom and honesty of the physicians.

The following answer to the above lines is quite as witty, if not more so:--

Deluded men! their holds forego, Nor trust such cunning elves; These artful emblems tend to show Their clients, not themselves. Tis all a trick, these all are shams By which they mean to cheat you; But have a care,--for you're the lambs, And they the wolves that eat you! Nor let the thoughts of no delay To these their courts misguide you; 'Tis you're the showy horse-and they The jockeys that will ride you!

The present Hall of the Inner Temple, which was built on the site of a more ancient structure, supposed by Dugdale, from the form of the windows, to be about the age of Edward III., is a fine room, but comparatively small. It is ornamented with emblematical paintings by Sir James Thornhill, and contains full-length portraits, in oil, of Littleton and his commentator, honest, imperious, malignant, incorruptible Coke, the savage prosecutor of Raleigh, and the bold

360

defender of the liberties of his country. No public character of English history has been more vehemently attacked than that of Sir Edwvard Coke, whose very enemies cannot forget that he alone, of all the judges of England, disdained to succumb to the arbitrary and indecent interference of their pedantic sovereign; and who, in so doing, conferred such lasting benefits on his country, that it is difficult to decide whether even his rival, Bacon, the creator of the new philosophy, has greater claims to the gratitude of posterity. The judges had been long regarded as in some degree bound, by virtue of their offices of royal counsellors, to justify the acts, however arbitrary, of the crown. Coke despised this degrading notion; and, despite the persecutions and cruelty heaped on him in consequence of his upright conduct, laid the foundation of that independence of character which the Bench of England has, for the most part, since preserved inviolate.

In the Hall, dinner is prepared for the members of the Inn, every day during Term time; the Masters of the Bench dining on the , or , and the Barristers and Students at long tables extending down the hall to the carved screen at the western end. Students keep terms, that is, years, at the Inns of Court, before they are entitled to be called to the Bar, and they are required to dine in hall at least times in each term. Graduates of either University are called upon keeping a smaller number of terms.

On the

grand days

the hall is graced not only by the attendance of a large number of the members of the Inner Temple, but occasionally by the presence of the Judges, who dine in succession with each of the Inns of Court; and on these

grand days

extra commons are served out to the students who are keeping their terms at the Inn. When the room is well illuminated, the scene has an imposing effect. At the sit the Judges of England, surrounded by many of the leading men in the profession, Masters in Chancery, Commissioners in Bankruptcy, equity and common-law lawyers, and occasionally the Attorney or Solicitor General for the time being; and at the tables in the body of the hall sit the men who are to take their places, when they shall have

shuffled off this mortal coil,

and shall be

no more than Tully or than Hyde.

How many law dignitaries, , sit unconscious of their future greatness at these long tables!-and how many more, who find that here the race is not always to the swift and the battle to the strong--that the highest talent is not all-powerful--that literature is regarded by the as an impediment to fortune-and that even the plodder can accomplish little unless he has

a connexion!

The gentlemen of the Inner Temple were celebrated in former times for their good cheer and sumptuous entertainment, as well as for their individual gallantry and accomplishments. The Christmas of - was kept in great splendour at the Inner Temple: many of the Queen's Privy-Council honoured the Inn with their presence, and the Lord of Misrule rode through the city

in complete harness, gilt, with a

hundred

horse, and gentlemen riding gorgeously with chains of gold, and their horses goodly trapped.

On the there was a play performed at

by the gentyll men of the Tempuil, after a grett maske, for there was a grett skaffold in the hall, with grett Tryhumphe, as has been sene.

The play was written by Sackville and Norton, and probably the most ancient tragedy in the English language. The title-page states that

it was shewed before the Queenes most excellent Majestie in her

Highnes' Court of

Whitehall

, the

18th

Jany,

1561

(

2

), by the gentlemen of the Inner Temple.

In , gentlemen of the Inns of Court, of whom were members of the Inner Temple, were appointed to be at Court, in honour of Prince Charles being created Prince of Wales, which they are reported to have performed in great style, the charge being defrayed by a contribution of from each bencher; every barrister, of years' standing, ; and all other gentlemen in commons, each. At the marriage of the Lady Elizabeth, daughter of James I., to the Elector Palatine, the gentlemen of the Inner Temple and of performed a mask, written by Beaumont and Fletcher; and in the Christmas of the Inns performed another mask at court, at their joint charge. At the grand feast kept in the Inner Temple hall during the readership of Sir Heneage Finch, the Solicitor-General in , the Society was honoured by a visit from the King, who came in his barge from , accompanied by the Duke of York, and attended by the Lord Chancellor, the ministers, and the great officers of state. At the stairs, where his Majesty disembarked, the Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas received him, in his state robes and collar of SS. On

each side, as his Majesty passed, stood the Reader's servants in scarlet cloaks and white tabba doublets; 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

twenty violins

, which continued a.s long as his Majesty stayed. Dinner was brought up on this occasion by

fifty

select gentlemen of the Society in their gowns, who waited the whole time, no others appearing in the hall.

[n.361.1]  In the succeeding year the Duke of York, the Duke of Buckingham, Prince Rupert, and other noblemen, were admitted Members of the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple.

Halloween, Candlemas, and Ascension Day were anciently kept at this Inn in great splendour: the Master of the Revels for the ensuing year was elected at the of these feasts: his business was to conduct the revels and to arrange the dancing and music, which always constituted the chief entertainment on these days. After the play, which was the usual commencement of the evening, of the barristers sung to the judges, serjeants, or masters of the bench, after which the dancing was commenced by the judges and benchers, who, escorted by the master of the revels, or Lord of Misrule, led the dance round the sea-coal fire, and tie dances were continued by the younger members of the Inn until the judges or benchers thought fit to retire.

of these festivals is minutely, but quaintly, described by Gerard Leigh, in his

Accidence of Armony:

the hero of this feast was Dudley, Earl of Leicester, who euphuistically styled himself on this occasion Palaphilos, Prince of Sophie. Our author's description, somewhat abridged, is as follows:

After I had travelled through the east parts of the unknown world to understand of deeds of arms, and so arriving in the fair river of Thames, I landed within half a league from the city of London, and drawing near the city suddenly heard the shot of double cannons, and demanding of an honest citizen the cause of this great shot, It is, quoth he, a warning shot to the Constable-marshal of the Inner Temple to prepare for dinner. I then demanded what province did that officer govern? He answered me, The province was not great in quantity, but ancient in true nobility. A place (said he) privileged by the most excellent princess, the high governor of the whole island, wherein are store of gentlemen of the whole realm that repair thither to learn to rule and obey by law, to yield their fleece to their prince and common weal; as also to use all other exercises of body and mind whereunto nature most aptly serveth to adorn the person ot a gentleman. The next day I thought, for my pastime, to walk to this temple; and entering in at the gates, I found the building nothing costly, but many comely gentlemen of face and person, and thereto very courteous, saw I to pass to and fro; and passing forward, entered into a church of ancient building, wherein were many monuments of noble personages in knightly attire, with their coats depainted in ancient shields, whereat I took pleasure to behold. Anon we heard the noise of drum and fife, and so I was brought into a long gallery that stretcheth itself along the hall near the prince's table, where I saw the prince sit; and at the nether end of the table were placed the embassadors of sundry princes; and at divers tables sat the lord steward, treasurer, and keeper of Pallas' seal, with divers honourable personages of nobility, and on the other side (of the hall) the lieutenant of the Tower, with divers captains of footbands and shot. The prince so served with tender meats, sweet fruits, and dainty delicates, that it seemed a wonder a world to observe the provision; and at every course the trumpeters blew the courageous blast of deadly war, with noise of drum and fife, with the sweet harmony of violins, sackbuts, recorders, and cornets, with other instruments of music, as it seemed Apollo's harp had tuned their stroke.

Thus the hall was served after the most ancient order of the island; in commendation whereof I say I have also seen the service of great princes, in solemn seasons and times of triumph, yet the order hereof was not inferior to any.

But to proceed, the herehaught of Palaphilos, even before the second course came in, standing at the high table, said, in this manner: The mighty Palaphilos, Prince of Sophie, high constable, marshal of the KnightsTemplars, patron of the honourable order of Pegasus! and therewith cryeth a largess. The prince, praying the herehaught, bountifully rewarded him with a chain to the value of an hundred talents.

The supper ended and tables taken up, the high constable arose and awhile stood under the place of honour, where his achievement was beautifully embroidered, and devised of sundry matters with the embassadors of foreign nations, as he thought good, till Palaphilos' king-at-arms came in, his herehaught, marshal, and pursuivant before him, and after followed his messenger and caligate knight, who, putting off his coronal, made his humble obeysance to the prince, by whom he was comfianded to draw near and understand his pleasure, saying to him in few words to this effect: that he should, choosing throughout the whole army of Templars then present, select the number of XXIII special gentlemen to appear in the presence of their prince in knightly habit. This done, Palaphilos obeying his prince's commandment with XXIII valiant knights, all apparelled in long white vestures, with each man a scarf of Pallas' colours, who them presented with their names to the prince.

The Christmassings lasted several days, and on each day the ceremony differed;

363

the dull ceremonious presentation of

special gentlemen

to the Prince of Sophie gave place to more festive and humourous entertainment: each day after dinner the carolls or songs were

very decently performed,

and on Christmasday, after breakfasting on

brawn, mustard, and malmsey,

and the presentation of the boar's head at dinner, the gentlemen of the Temple honoured the day by giving a grand feast to their friends and acquaintance,

with minstraylsie.

Hardly a vestige of these hospitable proceedings now remains in the Inns of Court. The Templars have long ceased to boast of any prince, much less of the

renowned Palaphilos, Prince of Sophie,

being themselves a pure aristocracy; we have not lately heard of any Master of the Revels exercising his office, nor, though we occasionally pass through the Temple cloisters, and under the ancient Hall, do we remember ever to have heard the

courageous blast of deadly war

braying out the

triumph

of the benchers'

pledge.

After dining in the hall, the benchers retire to their Parliament chamber, in which the business of the society is transacted: from among the Masters of the Bench is annually elected to fill the office of treasurer: he is the virtual head of the society, carrying into execution all the resolutions of the bench

in Parliament assembled,

presiding at dinner in the hall, and receiving and expending all monies on behalf of the whole society.

Pepys's account of the quarrel between the Temple and the City is a striking picture of the yet rude and unpolished manners of the time, when the

young

gentlemen

of the Temple so grossly insulted their guest as to force him to leave their hall.

Meeting Mr. Bellwood,

says the autobiographer,

did hear how my Lord Mayor being invited this day to dinner at the reader's at the Temple, and endeavouring to carry his sword up, the students did pull it down, and forced him to go and stay all the day in a private councillor's chamber, until the reader himself could get the young gentlemen to dinner, and then my Lord Mayor did retreat out of the Temple by stealth with his sword up. This do make great heat among the students; and my Lord Mayor did send to the king; and also I hear that Sir Richard Browne did cause the drums to beat for the trainbands;. but all this is over, only I hear that the students do resolve to

try the charter of the city

.

---.

I to the council-chamber, and there heard the great complaint of the city tried against the gentlemen of the Temple for the late riot, as they would have it, when my Lord Mayor was there. But upon hearing of the whole business, the city was certainly to blame to charge them in this manner as with a riot; but the king and council did forbear to determine anything in it till the other business of the title and privilege be decided, which is now under dispute at law between them, whether the Temple be within the liberties of the city or no. But I was sorry to see the city so ill-advised as to complain in a thing where their proofs were so

weak

.

---.

Crossing the lane which divides the Inner from the Middle Temple, the celebrated hall of the latter Inn presents itself to the view; abutting on the garden towards the west, at the upper end of which the

only fountain in London

throws up its small torrent the whole day, stands this famous hall, in which the lawyers had the honour of representing probably for the time; in which Eldon and Hardwicke have feasted, and Curran has

set the

table in a roar.

A communication was formerly made to the Society of the Middle Temple, offering to hold the Chancery Courts in vacation in their hall, a proceeding which offered great advantages by rendering the property round the hall much more valuable than formerly, but the offer was not accepted: the Society did not wish that their hall should be applied to such a purpose, and the Society of ultimately lent their hall, a much smaller , to the Court of Chancery. The Middle Temple Hall was commenced in the year , and completed in , in the treasurership of Edmund Plowden, the eminent jurist.

In the Cottonian collection of MSS. in the is written in the time of Henry VIII., entitled,

A Description of the Form and Manner, how and by what Orders and Customes the state of the Fellowship of the Middle Temple (

one

of the Houses of the Court) is maintained, and what ways they have to attaine unto learning.

The chief grievance mentioned in this document is the want of a hall: in lieu of this necessary appendage to an Inn of Court, the Temple Church was used as a place

to walk in, and talk, and confer their learnings,

and it is not difficult to believe that

from this cause the place, all the terme times, hath in it no more quietnesse than the

pervyse of Pawles

, by occasion of the confluence and concourse of such as are suters in the law.

The same authority also informs us,

there is no lands or revenues belonging to the house, whereby any learner or student mought be holpen and encouraged to study, by meanis of some yearly stipend or salary; which is the occasion that many a good witt, for lack of exhibition, is compelled to give over and forsake study, before he have any perfect knowledge in the lawe, and to fall to practysing, and become, a

typler

in the lawe.

This being the case, the Society, by a subscription of all the members, erected the present beautiful building. Entering the hall by of the doors beneath the music gallery, the which presents itself is truly magnificent. The emblazoned arms, the elaborate carvings, Vandyke's paintings, all contribute to render this the most sumptuous, as it is the largest, hall of the Inns of Court, and worthy of a Society reckoning among its members the names of Somers, Hardwicke, Cowper, Thurlow, Dunning, Eldon, Blackstone, Stowell, Tenterden, Curran, and many other legal worthies. The arms of these and of upwards of a others, all of whom received their legal education in this Inn, are emblazoned on the windows on either side of the hall: the great bay-window in the south-west corner alone contains coats of arms, among the most conspicuous appearingthe arms of Hardwicke and Somers. In the opposite recess shine the arms of the late Lord Tenterden and Lord Gifford; and of the Scotts, Lord Eldon and Lord Stowell, whose busts in marble also adorn the room. These are the only marble busts which the. Middle Temple Hall contains; but round the hall are placed busts of the Caesars in imitation of bronze, and over the

state

are hung portraits of Charles I. and II., James II. when Duke of York, William III., Queen Anne, and George II.: the central portrait by Vandyke, of Charles I. on horseback, is a noble painting, of by the same great master, each of which is claimed as the original. It is difficult to decide upon the real claims of Windsor, Warwick, and the Middle

365

Temple. Each of the pictures is admirable, and no doubt from the same hand.
Standing on the raised dais, or

state,

let us view the hall from its western end. The carved screen and music-gallery at the eastern end, the armour and weapons of the Elizabethan era, which are almost hidden from the view on entering the hall, form from this position as beautiful an appearance as the pictures, stained glass, elevated dais, and massive furniture give to the room when seen from the screen: the strong oaken tables extend from end to end of the hall, the same tables at which the members dined in the century, when the noble spirits, whose arms are now emblazoned on the walls and windows, with many more, their companions, gathered round them, some to speak of decisions by Coke, or Popham, or Bacon, some to laugh at some newly reported anecdote of Will Shakspere or Burbage, such as we find in the , preserved among the Harleian MSS. in the . This diary appears to have been kept by a member of the Society of the Middle Temple, and extends from Christmas -, to -. The diary contains the following entry:--

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Feb. 1601

.-At our fest we had a play called

Twelfth Night; or, What you will,

much like the comedy of errors, or

Menechmis

in Plautus, but most like and neere to that in Italian called

Inganni.

A good practise in it to make the steward believe his lady widdowe was in love with him, by counterfayting a letter, as from his lady, in generall termes telling him what shee liked best in him, and prescribing his gestures, inscribing his apparaile, &c.; and then when he came to practise, making him beleeve they tooke him to be mad.

The editor of the Pictorial Edition of Shakspere thus notices this entry in connection with the noble hall:--

There is something to our minds very precious in that memorial of Shakspere which is preserved in the little Table-book of the Student of the Middle Temple:

Feb. 2, 1601 [2]. At our feast we had a play called Twelfth Night; or, What you will. What a scene do these few plain words call up before us! The Christmas festivities have lingered on till Candlemas. The Lord of Misrule has resigned his sceptre; the Fox and the Cat have been hunted round the hall; the Masters of the Revels have sung their songs; the drums are silent which lent their noisy chorus to the Marshal's proclamations; and Sir Francis Flatterer and Sir Randle Rackabite have passed into the ranks of ordinary men. But there is still a feast; and after the dinner a play; and that play Shakspere's Twelfth Night. And the actual roof under which the happy company of benchers, and barristers, and students first listened to that joyous and exhilarating play, full of the truest and most beautiful humanities, especially fitted for a season of cordial mirthfulness, is still standing; and we may walk into that stately hall and think,--Here Shakspere's Twelfth Night was acted in the Christmas of 1601; and here its exquisite poetry first fell upon the ear of some secluded scholar, and was to him as a fragrant flower blooming amidst the arid sands of his Bracton and his Fleta; and here its gentle satire upon the vain and the foolish penetrated into the natural heart of some grave and formal dispenser of justice, and made him look with tolerance, if not with sympathy, upon the mistakes of less grave and formal fellow-men; and here its ever-gushing spirit of enjoyment,--of fun without malice, of wit without grossness, of humour without extravagance,--taught the swaggering, roaring, overgrown boy, miscalled student, that there were higher sources of mirth than affrays in Fleet Street or drunkenness in Whitefriars. Venerable Hall of the Middle Temple, thou art to our eyes more stately and more to be admired since we looked upon that entry in the Table-book of John Manningham! The Globe has perished, and so has the Blackfriars. The works of the poet who made the names of these frail buildings immortal need no associations to recommend them; but it is yet pleasant to know that there is one locality remaining where a play of Shakspere was listened to by his contemporaries; and that play, Twelfth Night.

The author of the gives us no account of any of

the ferial days,

and the glorious merrymakings of the lawyers of his age. Even the important event of the representation of of Shakspere's comedies in the presence of the most eminent lawyers of England is dismissed in the above entry. Yet the Templars' feasts were not often

done by halves;

and though stately was the measured step of the old benchers as they led the dance, following their Master of the Revels round the sea-coal fire, the younger members of the profession did not fail, in the language of the comedy so peculiarly their own,

to make the welkin dance indeed,

and

to rouse the night-owl in a catch that would draw

three

souls out of

one

weaver!

We find record but of of the Templars to whose soul these noisy feasts were uncongenial, who longed for the blissful shades and sober retirement of his beloved Wotton: in , Evelyn thus writes:--

I was elected

one

of the comptrollers of the Middle Temple revellers, as ye fashion of the young students and gentlemen was, the Christmas being kept this yeare with great solemnity; but being desirous to passe it in the country, I got leave to resigne my staff of office, and went with my brother Richard to Wotton.

And again in :--

Went to see the Revells at the Middle Temple, which is also an old, but riotous custom, and has relation neither to virtue nor policy.

Truly, were it not the philosophic and amiable Evelyn, we should be inclined to employ the words of once more, and say-

Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale?

But perhaps old customs had lost their innocence. The times of Evelyn were those of Charles II. But, however they may have been corrupted in a vicious age, our

368

ancestors showed their wisdom in no small degree in these periodical festivities. Differences between neighbours, which otherwise might have long festered in their hearts, were healed in these revels and joyous Christmassings. They had their good effects, like the ancient custom we have elsewhere mentioned, of going into the fields round the metropolis, to gather the dew in the

merry month of May,

thence to bring rosy cheeks and glad hearts to enliven the streets and the firesides of smoky old London!

In kind remembrance, then, of the ancient members of these Inns in the Temple, let us take more turn on their velvet lawn, and look around us once more at this interesting locality! That old red-brick house in is the

Number

five

of Pope's the house where the poet visited his friend Murray, afterwards Lord Mansfield. It is but years since we could have shown you, gentle reader, the rooms in which Anstey, the witty author of the resided; and we could fill a dozen pages with the names of other spots as interesting, in--

Fig-Tree, or Fountain-Side, or learned shade

Of King's Bench Walk, by pleadings vocal made,--

Thrice hallow'd shades! where slipshod benchers muse,

Attorneys haunt, and special pleaders cruise!

But, at least, before we quit the Temple for the other Inns of Court, let us wish all health and happiness to the kind souls who have left us green spot in the great metropolis! Can we conclude in words more appropriate than those of Charles Lamb?-

So may the winged horse, your ancient badge and cognizance, still flourish! So may future Hookers and Seldens illustrate your Church and chambers! So may the sparrows, in default of more melodious quiristers, unpoisoned hop about your walks! So may the fresh-coloured and cleanly nursery-maid, who, by leave, airs her playful charge in your stately gardens, drop her prettiest flushing curtsy as ye pass, reductive of juvenescent emotion! So may the younkers of this generation eye you, pacing your stately terrace, with the same superstitious veneration with which the child Elia gazed on the old worthies that solemnized

the Parade

before you.

 
 
Footnotes:

[n.353.1] Inn, a mansion or place: thus Spenser- Now whenas Phoebus with his fiery waine Unto his inne began to draw apace.

[n.354.1] Crabbe's History of English Law, p. 215. Dugdale, Orig. Juris.

[n.354.2] De Laudibus Legum Anglia.

[n.356.1] Antiquities of the Inns of Court and Chancery, by W. Herbert, 8vo,, 1804.

[n.357.1] London Journal.

[n.361.1] Herbert's Inns of Court, p. 205.