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|
| John and Henry III. in the Magna Charta, that |
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
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
, 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
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,
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
Thus pleasantly situated, as Fortescue describes the Temple,[n.354.2]
of the law lived in peace and quiet, occasionally displaying their
| 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 |
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.
adds our authority,
Ferne, formerly a student of the Inner Temple, in his also makes honourable mention of the Inns of Court :--
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
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
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
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.
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
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,
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
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
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
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,
as Leigh Hunt tells us,[n.357.1]
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:
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 |
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.
writes the latter of these gentlemen,
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:--
says the editor of a recent amusing work (), in allusion to the above effusion,
The following answer to the above lines is quite as witty, if not more so:--
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
|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.
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
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
and shall be
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
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
On the there was a play performed at
The play was written by Sackville and Norton, and probably the most ancient tragedy in the English language. The title-page states that
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
[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
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:
The Christmassings lasted several days, and on each day the ceremony differed;
| the dull ceremonious presentation of |
to the Prince of Sophie gave place to more festive and humourous entertainment: each day after dinner the carolls or songs were
and on Christmasday, after breakfasting on
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,
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
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
braying out the
of the benchers'
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
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
of the Temple so grossly insulted their guest as to force him to leave their hall.
says the autobiographer,
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
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
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,
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
and it is not difficult to believe that
The same authority also informs us,
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
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
|Temple. Each of the pictures is admirable, and no doubt from the same hand.|
Standing on the raised dais, or |
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:--
The editor of the Pictorial Edition of Shakspere thus notices this entry in connection with the noble hall:-- |
The author of the gives us no account of any of
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
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,
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:--
And again in :--
Truly, were it not the philosophic and amiable Evelyn, we should be inclined to employ the words of once more, and say-
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
| 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 |
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
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--
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?-
[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.
|View all images in this book|
|CHAPTER LXXVI: Beer|
|CHAPTER LXXVII: Banks|
|CHAPTER LXXVIII: The Fleet Prison|
|CHAPTER LXXIX: Fleet Marriages|
|CHAPTER LXXX: Westminster Abbey. No. 1, General History|
|CHAPTER LXXXI: Westminster Abbey. No. 2, The Coronation Chair|
|CHAPTER LXXXII: Westminster Abbey. No. 3, The Regal Mausoleums|
|CHAPTER LXXXIII: Westminster Abbey. No. 4, Poets' Corner|
|CHAPTER LXXXIV: Westminster Abbey. No. 5, A Walk Through the Edifice|
|CHAPTER LXXXV: Old London Rogueries|
|CHAPTER LXXXVI: London Burials|
|CHAPTER LXXXVII: London Fires|
|CHAPTER LXXXVIII: Billingsgate|
|CHAPTER LXXXIX: Something about London Churches at the Close of the Fourteenth Century|
|CHAPTER XC: Sketches of the history of Crime and Police in London|
|CHAPTER XCI: Old St. Paul's|
|CHAPTER XCII: Old St. Paul's, No. 2|
|CHAPTER XCIII: Somerset House|
|CHAPTER XCIV: The Old Bailey|
|CHAPTER XCV: Public Refreshment|
|CHAPTER XCVI: New St. Paul's, No. 1|
|CHAPTER XCVII: New St. Paul's, No. 2|
|CHAPTER XCVIII: Inns of Court: the Inner and Middle Temple|
|CHAPTER XCIX: Innos of Court. No. 2, Lincoln's Inn-Gray's Inn|
|CHAPTER C: The Reading Room of the British Museum, by James M'Turk, Esq.|