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bable that Bernard's Inn became an academy for lawstudents in the reign of Henry VI.

CHAPTER XXXIV.

LAWYERS AND GENTLEMEN.

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HUS planted in the fourteenth century beyond the

confines of the city, and within easy access of Westminster Hall, the Inns of Court and Chancery formed an university, which soon became almost as powerful and famous as either Oxford or Cambridge. For generations they were spoken of collectively as the law-university, and though they were voluntary societies--in their nature akin to the club-houses of modern London---they adopted common rules of discipline, and an uniform system of instruction. Students flocked to them in abundance ; and whereas the students of Oxford and Cambridge were drawn from the plebeian ranks of society, the scholars of the law-university were almost invariably the sons of wealthy men and had usually sprung from gentle families. To be a law-student was to be a stripling of quality. The law university enjoyed the same patrician prestige and éclat that now belong to the more aristocratic houses of the old universities.

Noblemen sent their sons to it in order that they might acquire the style and learning and accomplishments of polite society. A proportion of the students were encouraged to devote themselves to the study of the law and to attend sedulously the sittings of Judges in Westminster Hall; but the majority of well-descended boys who inhabited the Inns of Chancery were heirs to good estates, and were trained to become their wealth rather than to increase it—to perfect themselves in graceful arts, rather than to qualify themselves to hold briefs. The same was the case in the Inns of Court, which were so designated-not because they prepared young men to rise in courts of law, but because they taught them to shine in the palaces of kings. It is a mistake to suppose that the Inns of Court contain at the present time a larger proportion of idle members, who have no intention to practise at the bar, than they contained under the Plantagenets and Tudors. On the contrary, in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the number of Templars who merely played at being lawyers, or were lawyers only in name, was actually as well as relatively greater than the merely nominal lawyers of the Temple at the present time. For several generations, and for two centuries after Sir John Fortescue wrote the 'De Laudibus,' the Inns-ofCourt man was more busied in learning to sing than in learning to argue a law cause, more desirous to fence with a sword than to fence with logic.

* Notwithstanding," runs Mulcaster's translation of the De Laudibus,'* “ the same lawes are taught and learned, in a certaine place of publique or common studie, more convenient and apt for attayninge to the knowledge of them, than any other university. For theyr place of studie is situate nigh to the Kinges Courts, where the same lawes are pleaded and argued, and judgements by the same given by judges, men of gravitie, aupcient in yeares, perfit and graduate in the same lawes. Wherefore, euerie day in court, the students in those lawes resorte by great numbers into those courts wherein the same lawes are read and taught, as it were in common schooles.

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* This charming book was written during the author's exile, which began in 1463.

This place of studie is far betweene the place of the said courts and the cittie of London, which of all thinges necessarie is the plentifullest of all cities and townes of the realme. So that the said place of studie is not situate within the cittie, where the confluence of people might disturb the quietnes of the studentes, but somewhat severall in the suburbes of the same cittie, and nigher to the saide courts, that the studentes may dayelye at their pleasure have accesse and recourse thither without weariness.”

Setting forth the condition and pursuits of law-students in his day, Sir John Fortesque continues ; “For in these

“ greater inns, there can no student bee mayntayned for lesse expenses by the yeare than twentye markes. And if hee have a servaunt to wait uppon him, as most of them have, then so much the greater will his charges bee. Nowe, by reason of this charge, the children onely of noblemenne doo studye the lawes in those innes. For the

poore and common sorte of the people are not able to bear so great charges for the exhibytion of theyr chyldren. And Marchaunt menne can seldome finde in theyr heartes to hynder theyr merchaundise with so greate yearly expenses. And it thus falleth out that there is scant anye man founde within the realme skilfull and cunning in the lawes, except he be a gentleman borne, and come of noble stocke. Wherefore they more than any other kinde of men have a speciall regarde to their nobility, and to the preservation of their honor and fame. And to speake upryghtlye, there is in these greater innes, yea, and in the lesser too, beside the studie of the lawes, as it were an university or schoole of all commendable qualities requisite for noble men. There they learn to sing, and to exercise themselves in all kinde of harmonye. There also they practice daunsing, and other noblemen's pastimes, as they use to do, which are brought up in the

king's house. On the working dayes, the most of them apply themselves to the studye of the lawe, and on the holye dayes to the studye of holye Scripture ;* and out of the tyme of divine service, to the reading of Chronicles. For there indeede are vertues studied, and vices exiled. So that, for the endowment of vertue, and abandoning of vice, Knights and Barrons, with other states and noblemen of the realme, place their children in those innes, though they desire not to have them learned in the lawes, nor to lieue by the practice thereof, but onely uppon their father's allowance. Scant at anye tyme is there heard among them any sedition, chyding, or grudging, and yet the offenders are punished with none other payne, but onely to bee amooved from the compayne of their fellowshippe. Which punishment they doo more feare than other criminall offendours doo feare imprisonment and yrons : For hee that is once expelled from anye of those fellowshippes is never received to bee a felowe in any of the other fellowshippes. And so by this means there is continuall peace; and their demeanor is lyke the behaviour of such as are coupled together in perfect amytie.”

Any person familiar with the Inns of Court at the present time will see how closely the law-colleges of Victoria’s London resemble in many important particulars the law-colleges of Fortescue's period. After the fashion of four centuries since young men are still induced to enter them for the sake of honorable companionship, good society, and social prestige, rather than for the sake of legal education. After the remarks already made with regard to musical lawyers in a previous section of this work, it is needless to say that Inns of Court men are not remarkable for their application to vocal harmony; but the younger members are still remarkable for the zeal with which they endeavor to master the accomplishments which distinguish men of fashion and tone. If the nominal (sometimes they are called 'ornamental ') barristers of the fifteenth century liked to read the Holy Scriptures, the young lawyers of the nineteenth century are no less disposed to read their Bibles critically, and argue as to the merits of Bishop Colenso and his opponents. Moreover, the discipline described by Fortescue is still found sufficient to maintain order in the inns.

* This passage is one of several passages in Pre-reformation English literatura which oertify that the Bible was much more widely and carefully read by lettered and studious laymen, in times prior to the rupture between England and Rome, than many persons are aware, and some violent writers like to ackuowledge.

Writing more than a century after Fortescue, Sir John Ferne, in his “Blazon of Gentrie, the Glory of Generosity, and the Lacy's Nobility,' observes: “Nobleness of blood, joyned with virtue, compteth the person as most meet to the enterprize of any public service; and for that cause it was not for nought that our antient governors in this land, did with a special foresight and wisdom provide, that none should be admitted into the Houses 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 kalendar of all those which were together in the society of one of the same houses, about the last year of King Henry the Fifth, with the armes of their House and family marshalled by their names; and I assure you, the self same monument doth both approve them all to be gentlemen of perfect descents and also the number of them much less than now it is, being at that time in one house scarcely three score.”*

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* Pathetically deploring the change wrought by time, Ferne also observes of the Inns of Court,—“Pity to see the same places, through the malignity of the times, and the negligence of those which should have had care to the same, been altered quite from their first institution."

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