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question, he would have told me that I was an old fool. You are an extraordinary sensible young gentleman."
The period when 'readings,' 'mooting,' and 'case-putting' fell into disuse or contempt, is known with sufficient accuracy. Having noticed the decay of readings, Sir John Bramston writes, in Charles II.'s reign, “At this tyme readings are totally in all the Inns of Court layd aside; and to speak truth, with great reason, for it was a step at once to the dignity of a sergeant, but not soe now.” Marking the time when moots became farcical forms, Roger North having stated that his brother Francis, when a student, was an attendant (as well as exerciser) at the ordinary moots in the Middle Temple and at New Inn,” goes on to say, “In those days, the moots were carefully performed, and it is hard to give a good reason (bad ones are prompt enough) why they are not so now. But it should be observed, that though for all practical purposes 'moots’and case-puttings'ceased in Charles II.'s time, they were not formally abolished. Indeed, they lingered on throughout the eighteenth century, and to the present time—when vestiges of them may still be observed in the usages and discipline of the Inns. Before the writer of this page was called to the bar by the Masters of the Society of Lincoln's Inn, he, like all other students of his time, had to go through the form of putting a case on certain days in the hall after dinner. The ceremony appeared to him alike ludicrous and interesting. To put his case, he was conducted by the steward of the inn to the top of the senior bar table, when the steward placed an open MS. book before him, and said, "Read that, sir;" whereupon this deponent read aloud something about “a femme sole,” or some such thing, and was still reading the rest of the MS., kindly opened under his nose by the steward, when that worthy officer checked him suddenly, saying, “That will do, sir; you
have put your case—and can sign the book.” The book
In Roger North’s ‘Discourse on the Study of the Laws,'
Under Charles II., James II., and William III. the law-student was compelled to master the barbarous LawFrench; but the books which he was required to read were few in comparison with those of a modern Inns-ofCourt man. Roger North mentions between twenty and thirty authors, which the student should read in addition to Year-Books and more recent reports; and it is clear that the man who knew with any degree of familiarity such a body of legal literature was a very erudite lawyer two hundred years since. But the student was advised to read this small library again and again, commonplacing” the contents of its volumes, and also “ commonplacing” all new legal facts. The utility and convenience of common-place books were more apparent two centuries since, than in our time, when books of reference are always published with good tables of contents and alphabetical indexes. Roger North held that no man could become a good lawyer who did not keep a common-place book. He instructs the student to buy for a common
place register “a good large paper book, as big as a church bible;" he instructs him how to classify the facts which should be entered in the work; and for a model of a lucid and thoroughly lawyer-like common-place book he refers “ to Lincoln's Inn library, where the Lord Hale's common-place book is conserved, and that may be a pattern, instar,omnium.”
PUPILS IN CHAMBERS..
UT the most important part of an industrious law
student's labors in olden time, was the work of watching the practice of Westminster Hall. In the seventeenth century, the constant succession of political trials made the King's Bench Court especially attractive to students who were more eager for gossip than advancement of learning; but it was always held that the student, who was desirous to learn the law rather than to catch exciting news or hear exciting speeches, ought to frequent the Common Pleas, in which court the common law was said to be at home. At the Common Pleas, a student might find a seat vacant in the students' benches so late as ten o'clock; but it was not unusual for every place devoted to the accommodation of students in the Court of King's Bench, to be occupied by six o'clock, A. M. By dawn, and even before the sun had begun to break, students bent on getting good seats at the hearing of an important cause would assemble, and patiently wait in court till the judges made their appearance.
One prominent feature in the advocate's education must always be elocutionary practice. “Talk; if you
can, to the point, but anyhow talk,” has been the motto of Advocacy from time immemorial Heneage Finch,
. who, like every member of his silver-tongued family, was an authority on matters pertaining to eloquence, is said to have advised a young student “to study all the morning and talk all the afternoon." Sergeant Maynard used to express his opinion of the importance of eloquence to a lawyer by calling law the “ars bablativa.” Roger
. North observes—“He whose trade is speaking must not, whatever comes out, fail to speak, for that is a fault in the main much worse than impertinence.” And at a recent address to the students of the London University, Lord Brougham urged those of his auditors, who intended to adopt the profession of the bar, to habituate themselves to talk about everything.
In past times law-students were proverbial for their talkativeness; and though the present writer has never seen any records of a Carolinian law-debating society, it is matter of certainty that in the seventeenth century the young students and barristers formed themselves into coteries, or clubs, for the practice of elocution and for legal discussions. The continual debates on 'mootable days,' and the incessant wranglings of the Temple cloisters, encouraged them to pay especial attention to such exercises. In Charles II.'s reign ‘Pool's company, was a coterie of students and young barristers, who used to meet periodically for congenial conversation and debate. “There is seldom a time," says Roger North, speaking of this coterie, “but in every Inn of Court there is a studious, sober company that are select to each other, and keep company at meals and refreshments. Such a company did Mr. Pool find out, whereof Sergeant Wild was one, and every one of them proved eminent, and most of them are now preferred in the law; and Mr. Pool, at the latter end of his life, took sưch a pride in
his company that he affected to furnish his chambers with their pictures." Amongst the benefits to be derived from such a club as that of which Mr. Pool was president, Roger North mentions "Aptness to speak;" adding: "for a man may be possessed of a book-case, and think he has it ad unguem throughout, and when he offers at it shall find himself at a loss, and his words will not be right and proper, or perhaps too many, and his expressions confused : when he has once talked his case over, and his company have tossed it a little to and fro, then he shall utter it more readily, with fewer words and much more force.”
These words make it clear that Mr. Pool's 'company' was a select 'law-debating society.' Far smaller as to number of members, something more festive in its arrangements, but not less bent on furthering the professional progress of its' members, it was, some two hundred years since, all that the ‘Hardwicke' and other similar associations are at the present.*
To such fraternities-of which the Inns of Court had several in the last century---Murray and Thurlow, Law
* The mention of the Hardwicke' brings a droll story to the writer's mind. Some few years since the members of that learned fraternity assembled at their customary place of meeting-a large room in Anderton's Hotel, Fleet Street-to discuss a knotty point of law anent Uses. The muster of young men was strong ; and amongst them-conspicuous for his advanced years, jovial visage, red nose, and air of perplexity-sate an old gentleman who was evidently a stranger to every lawyer present. Who was he? Who brought him ? Was there any one in the room who knew him ? Such were the whispers that floated about, concerning the portly old man, arrayed in blue coat and drab breeches and gaiters, who took his sniff in silence, and watched the proceedings with evident surprise and dissatisfaction. After listening to three speeches this antique, jolly stranger rose, and with much embarrassment addressed the chair. “Mr. President,” he said "excuse me; but may I ask,-is this The Convivial Rabbits ?'”
A roar of laughter fol. lowed this enquiry from a convivial rabbit,' who having mistaken the evening of the week, had wandered into the room in which his convivial fellow-clubsters had held a meeting on the previous evening. On receiving the President's assurance that the learned members of a law-debating society were not convivial rabbits,' the elderly stranger buttoned his blue coat and beat a speedy retreat.