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one can find in watching one's neighbours. Next door to my chambers are those of a late Solicitorgeneral. As I lounge out of my sitting-room windows I behold attorneys' clerks bearing thither huge briefs. Thither, too, occasionally come, under the guidance of the Solicitors engaged in the case, men who, from their anxious and excited looks, are clearly the plaintiffs or defendants, on whose behalf the services of the eminent Sir Longrobe Bigwig have been retained. On one memorable morning, I saw, moreover, no less a person than the then prime-minister of England walk across Flag Court, knock at the door of his Solicitor-general's chambers, and with him remain closeted for more than half an hour. Opposite to me, again, on the other side of the court, are the rooms of Mr. Dennis O'Flaherty, the sub-editor of the ‘Daily Intelligencer;' and on Saturday evenings, many a shout of laughter do I hear borne across from his rooms—testifying either to the goodness of O'Flaherty's wine or the piquancy of his jokes. On the right-hand side of my court are the chambers occupied by Mr. Page, the “leading junior' on the Circuit. Thither I behold each day five or six sprucely dressed young gentlemen proceeding, each of whom has paid to Mr. Page a fee of one hundred guineas for the privilege of reading his briefs, drawing his declarations, and generally doing his work for him for the space of one legal year. The other day, I beheld an amusing incident at Mr. Page's rooms. The afternoon was warm, and his windows were up. One of the pupils, in playful altercation with one of his fellow-students, threw at him the great bundle of papers at which he had been working. The pupil at whose head the ponderous missile was hurled, promptly ducked that valuable part of his person, and the papers thereby missing their mark, flew out of the open window. As ill-luck would have it, a London street-boy was passing through Flag Court at that moment. To seize hold of the valuable bundle of papers which fell ponderously at his feet, and to fly with it, was with him, as novelists say, but ‘the work of a moment.’ Hot chase was of course instantly given by the whole posse of Mr. Page's pupils, assisted by the Temple porters; but from that day to this, the papers have never been recovered. An advertisement offering a reward for them, and stating (of course) ‘that they were of no value to any one but their owner,' was ineffectually inserted in the London papers for weeks. It is said that the pupil who so rashly threw those valuable papers at his fellow-labourer's cranium is now a solitary exile on board a vessel bound to New Zealand.
Occasionally, however, more pleasing incidents enliven my court. But a moment ago, I raised my eyes from this paper, and I beheld, crossing Flag Court, a gentle widow lady, supported on each side by two blooming daughters; the whole party being proudly escorted by her son, a young Hopeful, who evidently had taken, only a few months ago, by entering the Temple, the first step on the road which his fond mother doubtless feels sure will lead him to the woolsack. Candour, however, compels me to state that incidents of so agreeable a character as that which I have just described are rare in Flag Court. Policemen, gatekeepers, laundresses, attorneys' clerks, printers' devils, and porters, are, it must be confessed, its normal patrollers. By craning my body very far out of my bedroom window, I am sometimes glad to remember that I can just discern the windows of the chambers in which gentle Oliver Goldsmith lived; whilst immediately below his rooms are those which were occupied by Sir William Blackstone, whose temper, be sure, was sadly tried whilst he was engaged in the composition of his famous ‘Commentaries, by the sounds of ‘revelry by night’ in Mr. Goldsmith's rooms overhead
Has my reader ever been present at a dinner in the ancient hall of the Upper Temple? If not, let me describe the scene for him. Let him imagine a well-proportioned hall of the Elizabethan style of architecture, with a lofty roof of dark oak, unsupported by pillars; down the length of the hall there run long narrow oaken tables, destined for the accommodation of barristers and students; whilst across the high end of the hall, upon a raised dafs, there is placed the benchers' table. Does the reader ask who a bencher is 2 My answer is, that he is a Q.C. who, having originally been called to the bar at the Upper Temple, is created, upon his attaining the rank of a Q.C., a bencher of his own Inn, and so becomes one of its governing body. In the hall are to be seen men of all ages, who are engaged in keeping terms for the bar, by eating that prescribed number of dinners which, from time immemorial, has formed so essential a part in the preparation for the English bar. The majority of faces in the hall are those of young men fresh from the universities; but here and there you see a swarthy countenance, showing that its owner is a native of the far East, and designs, when he is called, to practise before the High Court of Calcutta, Madras, or Bombay. Here and there, however, are old men who wish, from some mysterious reason, to be elevated to the horse-hair before their approaching departure from life. The men in the hall of the Upper Temple are very conveniently dined together in messes of four; and for each mess a complete dinner of soup, fish, joint, pastry, bread, cheese, ale, and a bottle of wine is provided. Each mess has a ‘captain, whose duty it is to see that the wine is properly decanted, &c.; and to bully the waiters, should they be remiss in their attentions. Barristers and students alike dine in gowns, but without hoods. If you want a subject for reflection during dinner, you can find it in the thought that the hall in which you are now dining is the only building still standing in London in which a play of Shakspeare's was acted during the lifetime of its author. For the knowledge of this interesting fact, we are indebted to a chance entry in the Diary of John Manningham, a member of the Temple, who records the event thus: “Feb. 2, 1601, at our feast we had a play called “Twelve Night, or What you Will.”’ It is probable that Shakspeare himself looked down upon the performance that night from yonder music-gallery—the exquisite wood-carving of which I should advise you to observe before you finally quit the hall. Whenever any country friends of mine call upon