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Less wise or less fortunate than the bar, the judges of England wore their wigs in society after advocates of all ranks and degrees had agreed to lay aside the professional head-gear during hours of relaxation. Lady Eldon's good taste and care for her husband's comfort, induced Lord Eldon, soon after his elevation to the pillow of the Common Pleas, to beg the king's permission that he might put off his judicial wig on leaving the courts, in which as Chief Justice he would be required to preside. The petition did not meet with a favorable reception. For a minute George III. hesitated; whereupon Eldon supported his prayer by observing, with the fervor of an oldfashioned Tory, that the lawyer's wig was a detestable innovation unknown in the days of James I. and Charles the Martyr, the judges of which two monarchs would have rejected as an insult any proposal that they should assume a head-dress fit only for madmen at masquerades or mummers at country wakes. “What! what !” cried the king, sharply; and then, smiling mischievously, as he suddenly saw a good answer to the plausible argument, he added-_“True, my lord, Charles the First's judges wore no wigs, but they wore beards. You may do the same, if you like. You may please yourself about wearing or not wearing your wig; but mind, if you please yourself by imitating the old judges, as to the head-you must please me by imitating them as to the chin. You may lay aside your wig; but if you do--you must wear a beard.” Had he lived in these days, when barristers occasionally wear beards in court, and judges are not less conspicuous than the junior bar for magnitude of nose and whisker, Eldon would have accepted the condition. But the last year of the last century, was the very
centre and core of that time which may be called the period of close shavers; and John Scott, the decorous and respectable, would have endured martyrdom rather than have grown a beard, or have allowed his whiskers to exceed the limits of mutton-chop whiskers.
As Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, and subsequently as Chancellor, Eldon wore his wig whenever he appeared in general society; but in the privacy of his own house he gratified Lady Eldon by laying aside the official head-gear. That this was his usage, the gossips of the law-courts knew well; and at Carlton House, when the Prince of Wales was most indignant with the Chancellor, who subsequently became his familiar friend, courtiers were wont to soothe the royal rage with diverting anecdotes of the attention which the odious lawyer lavished on the natural hair that gave his Bessie so much delight. On one occasion, when Eldon was firmly supporting the cause of the Princess of Wales, the first gentleman of Europe' forgot common decency so far, that he made a jeering allusion to this instance of the Chancellor's domestic amiability. “I am not the sort of person," growled the prince with an outbreak of peevishness, " to let my hair grow under my wig to please my wife.” With becoming dignity Eldon answered—“Your Royal Highness condescends to be personal. I beg leave to withdraw;" and suiting his action to his words, the Chancellor made a low bow to the angry prince, and retired. The prince sneaked out of the position by an untruth, instead of an apology. On the following day he caused a written assurance to be conveyed to the Chancellor, that the offensive speech "was nothing personal, but simply a proverb-a proverbial way of saying a man was governed by his wife." It is needless to say that the expression was not proverbial, but distinctly and grossly personal. Lord Malmesbury's comment on this affair is “Very absurd of Lord Eldon; but explained by his having literally done what the prince said.” Lord Eldon's conduct absurd! What was the prince's ?
ANDS came into fashion with Englishmen many
years before wigs, but like wigs they were worn in general society before they became a recognized and distinctive feature of professional costume. Ladies of rank dyed their hair, and wore false tresses in Elizabethan England; but their example was not extensively followed by the men of their time—although the courtiers of the period sometimes donned 'periwinkes,' to the extreme disgust of the multitude, and the less stormy disapprobation of the polite. The frequency with which bands are mentioned in Elizabethan literature, affords conclusive evidence that they were much worn toward the close of the sixteenth century; and it is also matter of certainty that they were known in England at a still earlier period. Henry VIII. had “4 shirte bands of silver with ruffes to the same, whereof one was perled with golde;" and in 1638 Peacham observed, “King Henry VIII. was the first that ever wore a band about his neck, and that very plain, without lace, and about an inch or two in depth. We may see how the case is altered, he is not a gentleman, or in the fashion, whose band of Italian cutwork standeth him not at the least in three or four pounds; yea, a sempster in Holborn told me there are of threescore pound price apiece." That the fops of Charles I.'s reign were spending money on a fashion originally set by King Henry the Bluff, was the opinion also of Taylor the Water Poet, who in 1630 wrote
“Now up alofte I mount unto the ruffe,
Which into foolish mortals pride doth puffe;
Was the first king that ever wore a band ;
In regarding the falling-band as the germ of the ruff, the Water-Poet differs from those writers who, with greater appearance of reason, maintain that the ruff was the parent of the band. Into this question concerning origin of species, there is no occasion to enter on the present occasion. It is enough to state that in the earlier part of the seventeenth century bands or collars—bands stiffened and standing at the backward part, and bands falling upon the shoulder and breast—were articles of costume upon which men of expensive and modish habits spent large gums.
In the days of James I., when standing bands were still the fashion, and falling-bands had not come in, the Inns of Court men were very particular about the stiffness, cut, and texture of their collars. Speaking of the Inns of Court men, Sir Thomas Overbury, (who was poisoned in
“He laughs at every man whose band sits not well, or that hath not a fair shoe-type, and is ashamed to be in any man's company who wears not his cloathes well.”
If portraits may be trusted, the falling-band of Charles I.'s time, bore considerable resemblance to the falling neck-frill, which twenty years since was very generally worn by quite little boys, and is still sometimes seen on urchins who are about six years of age. The bands worn by the barristers and clergy of our own time are modifications of this antique falling-band, and like the coif cap
of the modern sergeant, they bear only a faint likeness to their
originals. But though bands-longer than those still worn by clergymen—have come to be a distinctive feature of legal costume, the bar was slow to adopt falling-collars-regarding them as a strange and fanciful innovation. Whitelock's personal narrative furnishes pleasant testimony that the younger gentry of Charles I.'s England adopted the new collar before the working lawyers.
“At the Quarter-Sessions of Oxford,” says Whitelock, speaking of the year 1635, when he was only thirty years
“I was put into the chair in court, though I was in colored clothes, a sword by my side, and a fallingband, which was unusual for lawyers in those days, and in this garb I gave the charge to the Grand Jury. I took occasion to enlarge on the point of jurisdiction in the temporal courts in matters ecclesiastical, and the antiquity thereof, which I did the rather because the spiritual men began in those days to swell higher than ordinary, and to take it as an injury to the Church that anything savoring of the spirituality, should be within the cognisance of ignorant laymen. The gentlemen and freeholders seemed well pleased with my charge, and the management of the business of the sessions; and said they perceived one might speak as good sense in a fallingband as in a ruff.” At this time Whitelock had been about seven years at the bar; but at the Quarter-Sessions the young Templar was playing the part of country squire, and as his words show, he was dressed in a fashion that directly violated professional usage.
Whitelock's speech seems to have been made shortly before the bar accepted the falling-band as an article of dress admissible in courts of law. Towards the close of Charles's reign, such bands were very generally worn in Westminster Hall by the gentlemen of the long robe; and after the Restoration, a barrister would as soon have