« AnteriorContinuar »
the pencil of the inimitable Hogarth, who, to the honour of the Benchers be it spoken, was invited by them to dinner on the occasion of this picture being raised to its present elevation the only instance on record, I believe, of a gentleman of another profession than the law being the guest of the Benchers, if we except Canning the statesman, King Charles the Second, James Duke of York, and Killigrew the joker, who were jointly and severally entertained at the expense of this Inn. This great but little-known work of a very great man, is perhaps the noblest ornament of the hall, unless the admirers of the sister art of sculpture are disposed to prefer to it the statue of Erskine, which embellishes the further extremity of the room, and which gives a lively idea not only of the features, but of the fire, of that splendid speaker. Round the hall, in various panels of the wainscoting wherewith it is encircled, are emblazoned the bearings, and inscribed the names, of distinguished members of the Inn, from the earliest periods to the present time, among which will be found the talented founders of many of our now most aristocratic families in the land, many of our greatest judges, and, though last not least, the names of Perceval and Pitt. A lofty oaken screen, grotesquely carved, encloses the hall at the lower end, and contains, within recessed panels, the royal arms, subscribed with the initials C. R., together with the escutcheons of the distinguished, witty, and jocular persons who formed the royal party on the occasion above referred to, a minute account of all the ceremonies attendant upon which I would here feel it my duty to bestow upon the patient reader, if I did not consider that the spectacle of the then Benchers of the Honourable Society of Lincoln's Inn, crawling upon their knees before their royal and jocular guests, and the honourable treasurer presenting, upon his marrow-bones, a basin and towel, with other base and disgusting prostrations then and there enacted, would rather redound to the dishonour of the Inn than to its credit, and so defeat the only end I have in view in this enquiry; to wit, the honour and glory of the law, and of all and singular the honourable members of that most honourable, not to say useful, profession.
The reader will by this time, no doubt, have observed that the hall of Lincoln's Inn is, to use the phrase of the proprietor of the Spread Eagle in the City Road, an eating-room of "the natțiest magnificence and genteelest splendour," every way worthy of the astonishing amount of "ating and of drinking" that is enacted within its hallowed walls. It is not the wallsit is not the roof-though the roof, let me observe, in spite of its dirty little lantern that lets in any thing but light, is a fine thing in its way-it is not its emblazoned windows, with their dim religious light, nor its oaken panels inscribed with the names of learned lawyers and lucky dogs, who got on because their fathers got on before them-nor its splendid statue of Lord Erskine, nor the still more splendid picture of Paul before Festus-it is not these that raise my mind to a sort of reverential, awe-struck, elevatedsubdued, how came-you so, tumble-me feeling, with which I am ever oppressed, particularly after dinner, in the venerable hall-it is the association of ideas-the identifications of the place with the important purpose to which the place is appliedthe mingling of the pleasures of memory with the pleasures of hope-of the remembrances of the eating and drinking past, with the prospects of the eating and drinking to come-this it is that makes the hall of Lincoln's Inn classic ground, that confers upon it all its real dignity and all its indisputable glory. When left alone with a heeltap of the red-hot port in the deserted hall (for I generally sit the profession out, having, to tell the honest truth, nothing better to do), imagination usurps the throne of reason, and fills with her gay but ephemeral creations the over-heated brain; roast legs and shoulders of mutton dance fantastically through the hall; fried soles, with shrimp sauce, swim in mid-air; and the ornaments of the concave ceiling represent so many pigeon-pies.
"Is this a mackerel that I see before me?" It must be so a live baked mackerel, and on its fins and gills are gouts ofparsley and butter.--" Beg pardon, sir, but 'tis time to shut up the hall!" observes an odious waiter, rousing me from a delicious reverie; so, starting up, I stare the waiter in the face,
throw myself into a theatrical attitude, rub both eyes with both thumbs (as they do at Drury Lane), and, exclaiming with a wave of my dexter mawley,
“ 'Tis no such thing!”
whip off my gown, throw my wig at the astounded waiter, and cut like fury
out of the deserted hall. Deserted, did I say ? Worshipful reader, I plead guilty, and request you will do me the favour to fine me five
shillings for being drunk. The hall, so far from being deserted, is as full as a tick-tremendous the clangour of knife, fork, and spoon-the tingling of glasses is musical. The loud and continual buzz, every body talking and nobody listening, is as the noise of rushing waters afar off. Now and then a loud uproarious laugh-not the loud laugh that speaks the vacant mind-but that sort of delighted chuckle that issues from the gills of a crammed turkey, rises high above the interminable clatter, like the break of the tenth wave on an Atlantic shore. As the dinner approaches to completion, and the guests to repletion, the clatter becomes more clattering, the laughter becomes louder and more robustious-the gathering of the claus-plates, dishes, knives, forks, and spoons-the rush of waiters hurrying with velocipede velocity in opposite directions, gulping the heel-taps at full speed-the jingling of beer-glasses upon trays-the rattle of knife-boxes, crammed, like those that used their contents, to suffocation, make altogether a veritable confusion of noises, articulate and inarticulate-a confusion that Babel
could not hold a candle to; for, if it did, the confusion would put it out! How exciting is the noble emulation of generous youth, contending thus, not for fame, fortune, a mistress, a place, a pension, or any of those low and vulgar incentives to ordinary ambition-no-but for that one great, one indispensable, one all-absorbing and paramount necessity--the necessity that keeps the peasant to his spade, the tar to his tiller, the waggoner to his team, the miner to his pit, the dog to his truck, the donkey to his cart, the sweep to his chimney-top, and me to my pen-the necessity of having, at least once in the four-and-twenty hours, a bellyful!
How exciting, I say, is all this professional eating and drinking; but,
alas, how transient is the excitement! The eating soon is over; for, as men eat in Lincoln's Inn Hall, unless they were created on the principle of certain molluscous animals, in whom the stomach and the whole body are only one and the same thing, how the wise? The eating is soon, too soon, devil do you think it could be otherover the things to be eaten are all eaten up-and as for the drinking, that is come and gone like a flash of
lightning. The fifth butler has put
the decanter on the table-the decan
ter was full a second ago, and it is now as empty and as fragrant as Normanby's head; and as for the winedid I say wine“ fuit vinum”.
"'Tis like the snow-flakes on the river, A moment wine, then gone for ever,' with hardly the ceremony of "wine with you," a ceremony that is performed in Lincoln's Inn Hall with an air of vulgar hauteur, and a sulky affectation of gentility, that changes the red-hot port from blazes to viuegar! I say nothing of the quality of the wine, if wine that can properly be called which is an adruixture of bad brandy, logwood water, and tincture of kino, fifty per cent over proof, and certainly liable to the brandy duty; I say nothing of this, because I like my wine to be stiff if it be scanty; whose throats are unseasoned to swaland for the benefit of Johnny-Raws, lowing of liquid fire, there is a pump (gratis) with an iron ladle attached, in the Inn-yard; but, good Lord, sirs! the quantity-that's the thing makes me cry murder-nor am I at all surprised that, on the evening of the day made memorable by the coronation of our gracious Queen, when the Benchers
Heaven send no more of us,
God save the Queen!"
which ridiculous perversion of the author's meaning was received with a full chorus, amid tremendous shouts of laughter and applause.
The wine, however, is gone the reckoning has been drunk out-and the several messes, depositing their wigs and gowns, look wistfully at a table-spoonful of the ruddy port that clings affectionately to the bottom of the decanter, but dare not taste it, considering that it would be considered ungenteel; so with great reluctance they "homewards then take off their several way," leaving the table-spoonful of port to the expectant waiter, who has already swallowed it three or four times in the agony of a thirsty imagination.
As the several messes retire from the hall, they have to shoulder in the progress of their exit a hungry mob armed with platters, trenchers, bakingdishes, jugs and mugs, coming to the auction; and it now becomes my duty to direct the attention of the bargainhunting reader to the circumstances attendant upon the ceremony of the auction, which at this very moment, like the performances at Greenwich fair, "is a-going hexactly to begin."
Around the doors of all the dininghouses, eating-houses, and guttlinghouses of this vast metropolis, from the highly respectable boiled-beef house in the Old Bailey, down to the cheap and nasty "dead-meat shop" in Rupert Street, about six or seven o'clock in the evening may be observed a lean and hungry mob of draggletailed women, the wives, daughters, and dependants of artisans as lean and hungry as themselves, in waiting to purchase the bits, scraps, and remainders of victual, saving and except such as are reserved for the mock turtle of the following day, together with all the plate-washings and dishscrapings of the establishment, which disposes of them to these poor people for something about double their intrinsic value; if, indeed, the leavings of the shabby-genteels who take out their tenpenny ration at such places, can be truly said to bear any intrinsic value. Lincoln's Inn is no exception to eating houses in any other part of the town; the only difference being, that at the regular "dead-meat shops" the auction is deferred until the busi
ness of the day is over; while at Lincoln's Inn you are hustled by the mob of the Victualling Office as you put your foot over the threshold on quitting the Hall. There, in a sort of bar cut off from the body of the Hall, presides a young lady of very prepossessing appearance, a greasy bib tucked under her chin, who is understood to be the daughter of the head cook, and an heiress of no inconsiderable expectations-verbum sap. The hungry mob confronts this amiable damsel, and now the mangled remains of a sirloin of beef-now a baking-dish full of plate-washings-now a quarter or so of ruined pigeon pie-and, again, a plateful of an olio, combined of first and second courses, of meat scraps and sweet scraps, is set up for sale to the highest and last bidder by Miss Georgina Robins as aforesaid. As the lots are severally knocked down, the successful bidder produces a pewter spoon from under her cloak, and begins to stir up her particular "lot," sucking her thumbs from time to time with especial relish. One lady is overheard to complain, that "if she had knowed as there wasn't not no custard in her lot,' she'd be blowed afore she'd a giv ninepence-farden for't." Another holds up to the admiring spectators the well-cleaned bone of a shoulder of mutton, and appeals to them whether "that there for fifteenpence is'nt a reggler himposition." While a lady, who has bid for soup, pathetically observes, that "her husband 'll give her a jolly good hiding for laying out his hard-earned money on a bucket of slops."
But it is high time to return from the auction, which I have only alluded to as a highly gratifying spectaclea diffusion of useful knowledgeequally profitable to the public and to the honourable professors of the law.
The course of gastronomic education pursued in the Inns of Court, will next demand our serious consideration.
The Inner Temple professes to receive the rich and great more exclusively, and accordingly the legal bill of fare at that Inn is recherché in a high degree-nothing plain ever being put upon the table, and French cookery preferred. The strictest silence is enjoined in this Hall during the whole time of study, hob-nobbing being interdicted as low, and no further intercourse permitted among the several members of the mess than an
occasional scowl transmitted from one side of the table to the other-after the manner of English who have not the honour of one another's acquaintance, and who, consequently, have an undoubted right to assume every stranger to be a pickpocket, until there is good evidence to the contrary. In the Inner Temple Hall it is understood that you may, in a case of great emergency, ask your neighbour for the salt; but it is also understood that he is not obliged to let you have it. It will be advisable that the young and inexperienced student should not venture to hazard an observation upon the weather in the Hall, that being here considered an indirect attempt to make your neighbour's acquaintance, which he very properly resents by staring you vacantly in the face, and suspiciously buttoning up his breeches pockets.
The Middle Temple is of a different temperament, as the sound maxim of law hath it,
"The Inner for the rich-the Middle for the poor"
And here accordingly the course of professional education is confined to the scrag-end of a neck of mutton, and occasionally griskins.
The consequences of this meagre course of study may be easily predicted-and the fact is well ascertained that the Middle Temple has given to the world fewer great men, and these at longer intervals, than any of the other Inns of Court. How indeed could it be otherwise? What professional acumen can be derived from the scrag-end of a neck of mutton, or what inspiration can the sucking advocate imbibe from griskins? To the Benchers of the Middle Temple I would say, in the language of Blackstone I think
"Reform it altogether!" Gray's Inn is, if possible, still more lenten in the style of its professional instruction-the daily routine in that hall consisting of, for the first course, potatoes boiled with butter-milksecond course, of potatoes roasted with. butter-milk-and third course, of potatoes boiled and roasted also with butter-milk.
On Sundays the students pay attenion to bullock's liver fried, with tripe and onions-while on Grand Day, out of respect for the memory of the im
mortal Bacon, who so worthily sus tains the early reputation of this Inn, the entertainment consists of a first course of rashers and eggs, with gam. mon and spinach to follow!
Lincoln's Inn has produced more illustrious men than all the other Inns of Court, put them all together. Perceval belonged to this Inn-so did Pitt-so do I! Well, then, to descend a peg in the social scale-Camden, Hardwicke, Ashley, Loughborough (afterwards Earl of Rosslyn), Erskine, Lyndhurst, and fifty more, whose names I do not now recollect, worthily occupied the Chancellor's chair; while Ellenborough, Mansfield, and Denman (inter alios), with equal dignity and reputation have occupied the lastnamed excellent judge and most worthy man still occupies the Chief Justice seat of England. To us Addington belongs to us Abbott-and I know not how many other speakers of the House of Commons. The pulpit of our chapel has been adorned by the presence of Hurd, of Van Mildert, and many other divines of equal reputation least in public regard, by Lonsdale. in the Church; and though last, not Of Chief Justices and other Judges of the Common Pleas-of Chief Barons and Puisne Barons of the Exchequer, and Justices of the King's Bench, our list is interminable, extending far into the gloom of remote antiquity.
To what, then, is this galaxy to talent owing this constellation of eminent men-1 -this firmament of the arches the venerable hall of Lincoln's stars of the legal profession, that overInn? Ambitious student, it is owing to the solidity, the substantiality of our bill of fare-it depends upon the grub-it is the natural and legitimate consequence of what Doctor O'Toole, that high authority in educational matters, emphatically styles the " ating and the drinkin'."
But this part of our subject is deserving of more minute consideration -we proceed to a description of the bill of fare.
Now, I put it to you, I put it to my learned friend on the opposite side, whether this is not a substantial system of English jurisprudence-whether there remains any wonder that Lincoln's Inn should be the inn she is
being drunk out, the conversation Bread and butter pud- comes to a stand-still, and silence resumes her dominion in the Hall. The turn which the conversation invariably takes, is naturally dictated by the main object of the assembled partiesthat is to say, of and concerning dinner-What was for dinner yesterday, and whether it was good-this is an illustration of the pleasures of retrospection- What is for dinner to-day, and whether it is likely to be goodbeing an illustration of the pleasures of hope-And what will be for dinner tomorrow, and so on. Seruggins observes to his opposite neighbour at the mess, that in his humble opinion the roasted legs of mutton are always under-done. Wiggins lays down the law on the opposite side, by an argument tending to prove that the boiled buttock of beef is always over-done. Spriggins then sums up in the style judicial, enlarging upon the fact, that some men like mutton over-done, and beef under-done, and the contrarythat mutton may be either over-done or under-done, but not both together; that the same law is applicable to beef
and that the men of Lincoln's Inn should be the men they are? I must observe that the bill of fare, above transcribed exactly from the records of the Inn by permission of the treasurer, is not unvaried. On the contrary, it is adapted to the times and seasons of the year, as well as to the temper of the students at the several terms. For example, in winter, roast beef and plum-pudding preponderate, winter being the season of severe study; in summer, mutton and custard supersede the heavier matter, summer being the season of digestive relaxation. Michaelmas term affords the student gravy soup and bouilli; Trinity term, on the contrary, replaces these delicacies with the more refrigeratory vietual of cold boiled lamb and salad. In like manner, Hilary term is celebrated for boiled capons and oyster sauce. The advent of Faster term, again, is hailed with rapture as the season of returning spring, cabbage, early cauliflowers, and sprouts. The baked plum-pudding of winter gives way to the rhubarb tart of spring, and to the gooseberry pie of maturer summer; while, with returning winter, baked plum- pudding once again smokes upon the board. But these delicate and judicious variations of the bill of fare in Lincoln's Inn hall, are so numerous, that I am compelled to leave the subject in despair, trusting that some author of more matured experience in legal dietetics may favour the hungry public with a complete catalogue of all the delicacies of the season as consumed in Lincoln's Inn hall, from time whereof the memory of man extendeth, not to the contrary.
The conversation in our Hall-for conversation to a limited extent is permitted-is begun after the first glass of wine, and is continued until after the second, by which time the wine
that beef, when under-done, may, by the judicious application of additional caloric, be done enough, or even overdone, which holds also of mutton; but that mutton, when over-done, can by no culinary process hitherto discovered, be under-done, the same law of nature being applicable to beef
that one man likes one thing, and another man likes another thing-that there are cases exactly in point—that there are two sound maxims of law bearing upon this argument, which he (Spriggins) takes leave to quote to the court,—the first being to the effect, that
"De gustibus non est disputandum;" and the second not less authoritative to the same effect, "that what's one man's meat, is another man's poison.' Having delivered this charge, or something very like it, in the true judicial fashion of leaving the whole matter more obfuscated than he found it, Lord Chief-Justice Spriggins (that is to be) takes a pull at the red-hot port, and looks round the Hall with the air of a man who has done a meritorious action! The conversation now migrates to port. Duggins is confident that the wine is not so confounded bad this term. Stiggins will answer for