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Seldom does a Templar of the present generation receive so fair and innocent a visitor. To him the presence of a gentlewoman in his court, is an occasion for ingenious conjecture; encountered on his staircase she is a cause of lively astonishment. His guests are men, more or less addicted to tobacco; his business callers are solicitors and their clerks; in his vestibule the masculine emissaries of tradesmen may sometimes be found-headwaiters from neighboring taverns, pot-boys from the 'Cock' and the Rainbow.' A printer's devil may from time to time knock at his door. But of womensuch women as he would care to mention to his mother and sisters he sees literally nothing in his dusty, illordered, but not comfortless rooms. He has a laundress, one of a class on whom contemporary satire has been rather too severe.
Feminine life of another sort lurks in the hidden places of the law colleges, shunning the gaze of strangers by daylight; and even when it creeps about under cover of night, trembling with a sense of its own incurable shame. But of this sad life, the bare thought of which sends a shivering through the frame of every man whom God has blessed with a peaceful home and wholesome associations, nothing shall be said in this page.
In past time the life of law-colleges was very different in this respect. When they ceased to be ecclesiastics, and fixed themselves in the hospices which soon after the reception of the gowned tenants, were styled Inns of Courts; our lawyers took unto themselves wives, who were both fair and discreet. And having so made women flesh of their flesh and bone of their bone, they brought them to homes within the immediate vicinity of their collegiate walls, and sometimes within the walls themselves. Those who would appreciate the life of the Inns in past centuries, and indeed in times within the memory
of living men, should bear this in mind.
When he was not on circuit, many a counsellor learned in the law, found the pleasures not less than the business of his existence within the bounds of his 'honorable society.' In the fullest sense of the words, he took his ease in his Inn; besides being his workshop, where clients flocked to him for advice, it was his club, his place of pastime, and the shrine of his domestic affections. In this generation a successful Chancery barrister, or Equity draftsman, looks upon Lincoln's Inn merely as a place of business, where at a prodigious rent he holds a set of rooms in which he labors over. cases, and satisfies the demands of clients and pupils. A century or two centuries since the case was often widely different. The rising barrister brought his bride in triumph to his 'chambers,' and in them she received the friends who hurried to congratulate her on her new honors. In those rooms she dispensed graceful hospitality, and watched her husband's toils. The elder of her children first saw the light in those narrow quarters; and frequently the lawyer, over his papers, was disturbed by the uproar of his heir in an adjoining room.
Young wives, the mistresses of roomy houses in the western quarters of town, shudder as they imagine the discomforts which these young wives of other days must have endured. "What! live in chambers?" they exclaim with astonishment and horror, recalling the smallness and cheerless aspect of their husbands' business chambers. But past usages must not be hastily condemned,-allowance must be made for the fact that our ancestors set no very high price on the luxuries of elbow-room and breathing-room. Families in opulent circumstances were wont to dwell happily, and receive whole regiments of jovial visitors in little houses nigh the Strand and Fleet Street, Ludgate Hill and Cheapside;-houses hidden in narrow
passages and sombre courts-houses, compared with which the lowliest residences in 66 a genteel suburb❞ of our own time would appear capacious mansions. Moreover, it must be borne in mind that the married barrister, living a century since with his wife in chambers-either within or hard-by an Inn or Court-was, at a comparatively low rent, the occupant of far more ample quarters than those for which a working barrister now-a-days pays a preposterous sum. Such a man was tenant of a 'set of rooms' (several rooms, although called 'a chamber') which, under the present system, accommodates a small colony of industrious 'juniors' with one office and a clerk's room attached. Married ladies, who have lived in Paris or Vienna, in the 'old town' of Edinburgh, or Victoria Street, Westminster, need no assurance that life on a flat' is not an altogether deplorable state of existThe young couple in chambers had six rooms at their disposal,—a chamber for business, a parlor, not unfrequently a drawing-room, and a trim, compact little kitchen. Sometimes they had two 'sets of rooms,' one above another; in which case the young wife could have her bridesmaids to stay with her, or could offer a bed to. a friend from the country. Occasionally during the last fifty years of the last century, they were so fortunate as to get possession of a small detached house, originally built by a nervous bencher, who disliked the sound of footsteps on the stairs outside his door. Time was when. the Inns comprised numerous detached houses, some of them snug dwellings, and others imposing mansions, wherein great dignitaries lived with proper ostentation. Most of them have been pulled down, and their sites covered with collegiate 'buildings;' but a few of them still remain, the grand piles having long since been partitioned off into chambers, and the little houses striking the eye as quaint, misplaced, insignificant blocks of human
habitation. Under the trees of Gray's Inn gardens may be seen two modest tenements, each of them comprising some six or eight rooms and a vestibule. At the present time they are occupied as offices by legal practitioners, and many a day has passed since womanly taste decorated their windows with flowers and muslin curtains; but a certain venerable gentleman, to whom the writer of this page is indebted for much information about the lawyers of the last century, can remember when each of those cottages was inhabited by a barrister, his young wife, and three or four lovely children. Into some such a house near Lincoln's Inn, a young lawyer who was destined to hold the seals for many years, and be also the father of a Lord Chancellor, married in the year of our Lord, 1718, His name was Philip Yorke: and though he was of humble birth, he had made such a figure in his profession that great men's doors were open to him. He was asked to dinner by learned judges, and invited to balls by their ladies. In Chancery Lane, at the house of Sir Joseph Jekyll, Master of the Rolls, he met Mrs. Lygon, a beauteous and wealthy widow, whose father was a country squire, and whose mother was the sister of the great Lord Somers. In fact, she was a lady of such birth, position, and jointure, that the young lawyer-rising man though he was seemed a poor match for her. The lady's family thought so; and if Sir Joseph Jekyll had not cordially supported the suitor with a letter of recommendation, her father would have rejected him as a man too humble in rank and fortune. Having won the lady and married her, Mr. Philip Yorke brought her home to a 'very small house' near Lincoln's Inn; and in that lowly dwelling, the ground-floor of which was the barrister's office, they spent the first years of their wedded life. What would be said of the rising barrister who, now-a-days, on his marriage with a rich squire's rich daughter and a peer's
niece, should propose to set up his household gods in a tiny crip just outside Lincoln's Inn gate, and to use the parlor of the very small house' for professional purposes? Far from being guilty of unseemly parsimony in this arrangement, Philip Yorke paid proper consideration to his wife's social advantages, in taking her to a separate house. His contemporaries amongst the junior bar would have felt no astonishment if he had fitted up a set of chambers for his wealthy and well-descended bride. Not merely in his day, but for long years afterward, lawyers of gentle birth and comfortable means, who married women scarcely if at all inferior to Mrs. Yorke in social condition, lived upon the flats of Lincoln's Inn and the Temple.
THE LAST OF THE LADIES.
WHATEVER its drawbacks, the system which encouraged the young barrister to marry on a modest income, and make his wife 'happy in chambers,' must have had special advantages. In their Inn the husband was near every source of diversion for which he greatly cared, and the wife was surrounded by the friends of either sex in whose society she took most pleasurefriends who, like herself, 'lived in the Inn,' or in one of the immediately adjacent streets. In 'hall' he dined and drank wine with his professional compeers and the wits of the bar the 'library' supplied him not only with law books, but with poems and dramas, with merry trifles written for the stage, and satires fresh from the Row; 'the chapel' or if he were a Templer, the church'was his habitual place of worship, where there were sit