Old and New London: Volume 1. Originally published by Cassell, Petter & Galpin, London, 1878.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
THE TEMPLE (continued).
The Middle Temple Hall: its Roof, Busts, and Portraits—Manningham's Diary—Fox Hunts in Hall—The Grand Revels—Spenser—Sir J. Davis—A Present to a King—Masques and Royal Visitors at the Temple—Fires in the Temple—The Last Great Revel in the Hall—Temple Anecdotes—The Gordon Riots—John Scott and his Pretty Wife—Colman "Keeping Terms"—Blackstone's "Farewell"—Burke—Sheridan—A Pair of Epigrams—Hare Court—The Barber's Shop—Johnson and the Literary Club—Charles Lamb—Goldsmith: his Life, Troubles, and Extravagances—"Hack Work" for Booksellers—The Deserted Village—She Stoops to Conquer—Goldsmith's Death and Burial.
In the glorious reign of Elizabeth the old Middle Temple Hall was converted into chambers, and a new hall built. The present roof (says Mr. Peter Cunningham) is the best piece of Elizabethan architecture in London. The screen, in the Renaissance style, was long supposed to be an exact copy of the Strand front of Old Somerset House; but this is a vulgar error; nor could it have been made of timber from the Spanish Armada, for the simple reason that it was set up thirteen years before the Armada was organised. The busts of "doubting" Lord Eldon and his brother, Lord Stowell, the great Admiralty judge, are by Behnes. The portraits are chiefly second-rate copies. The exterior was cased with stone, in "wretched taste," in 1757. The diary of an Elizabethan barrister, named Manningham, preserved in the Harleian Miscellanies, has preserved the interesting fact that in this hall in February, 1602—probably, says Mr. Collier, six months after its first appearance at the Globe—Shakespeare's Twelfth Night was acted.
"Feb. 2, 1601 (2).—At our feast," says Manningham, "we had a play called Twelve Night, or What you Will, much like the Comedy of Errors or Menechmi in Plautus, but most like and neere to that in Italian called Inganni. A good practice in it is to make the steward believe his lady widdowe was in love with him, by counterfayting a letter, as from his lady, in generall terms telling him what shee liked best in him, and prescribing his gestures, inscribing his apparaile, &c., and then, when he came to practise, making him believe they tooke him to be mad."
The Temple revels in the olden time were indeed gorgeous outbursts of mirth and hospitality. One of the most splendid of these took place in the fourth year of Elizabeth's reign, when the queen's favourite, Lord Robert Dudley (afterwards the great Earl of Leicester) was elected Palaphilos, constable or marshal of the inn, to preside over the Christmas festivities. He had lord chancellor and judges, eighty guards, officers of the household, and other distinguished persons to attend him; and another of the queen's subsequent favourites, Christopher Hatton—a handsome youth, remarkable for his skill in dancing—was appointed master of the games. The daily banquets of the Constable were announced by the discharge of a double cannon, and drums and fifes summoned the mock court to the common hall, while sackbuts, cornets, and recorders heralded the arrival of every course. At the first remove a herald at the high table cried,—"The mighty Palaphilos, Prince of Sophie, High Constable, Marshal of the Knights Templars, Patron of the Honourable Order of Pegasus!—a largesse! a largesse!" upon which the Prince of Sophie tossed the man a gold chain worth a thousand talents. The supper ended, the kingat-arms entered, and, doing homage, announced twenty-four special gentlemen, whom Pallas had ordered him to present to Palaphilos as knightselect of the Order of Pegasus. The twenty-four gentlemen at once appeared, in long white vestures, with scarves of Pallas's colours, and the king-atarms, bowing to each, explained to them the laws of the new order.
For every feast the steward provided five fat hams, with spices and cakes, and the chief butler seven dozen gilt and silver spoons, twelve damask table-cloths, and twenty candlesticks. The Constable wore gilt armour and a plumed helmet, and bore a pole-axe in his hands. On St. Thomas's Eve a parliament was held, when the two youngest brothers, bearing torches, preceded the procession of benchers, the officers' names were called, and the whole society passed round the hearth singing a carol. On Christmas Eve the minstrels, sounding, preceded the dishes, and, dinner done, sang a song at the high table; after dinner the oldest master of the revels and other gentlemen singing songs.
On Christmas Day the feast grew still more feudal and splendid. At the great meal at noon the minstrels and a long train of servitors bore in the blanched boar's head, with a golden lemon in its jaws, the trumpeters being preceded by two gentlemen in gowns, bearing four torches of white wax. On St. Stephen's Day the younger Templars waited at table upon the benchers. At the first course the Constable entered, to the sound of horns, preceded by sixteen swaggering trumpeters, while the halberdiers bore "the tower" on their shoulders and marched gravely three times round the fire.
On St. John's Day the Constable was up at seven, and personally called and reprimanded any tardy officers, who were sometimes committed to the Tower for disorder. If any officer absented himself at meals, any one sitting in his place was compelled to pay his fee and assume his office. Any offender, if he escaped into the oratory, could claim sanctuary, and was pardoned if he returned into the hall humbly and as a servitor, carrying a roll on the point of a knife. No one was allowed to sing after the cheese was served.
On Childermas Day, New Year's Day, and Twelfth Night the same costly feasts were continued, only that on Thursday there was roast beef and venison pasty for dinner, and mutton and roast hens were served for supper. The final banquet closing all was preceded by a dance, revel, play, or mask, the gentlemen of every Inn of Court and Chancery being invited, and the hall furnished with side scaffolds for the ladies, who were feasted in the library. The Lord Chancellor and the ancients feasted in the hall, the Templars serving. The feast over, the Constable, in his gilt armour, ambled into the hall on a caparisoned mule, and arranged the sequence of sports.
The Constable then, with three reverences, knelt before the King of the Revels, and, delivering up his naked sword, prayed to be taken into the royal service. Next entered Hatton, the Master of the Game, clad in green velvet, his rangers arrayed in green satin. Blowing "a blast of venery" three times on their horns, and holding green-coloured bows and arrows in their hands, the rangers paced three times round the central fire, then knelt to the King of the Revels, and desired admission into the royal service. Next ensued a strange and barbarous ceremony. A huntsman entered with a live fox and cat and nine or ten couple of hounds, and, to the blast of horns and wild shouting, the poor creatures were torn to shreds, for the amusement of the applauding Templars. At supper the Constable entered to the sound of drums, borne upon a scaffold by four men, and as he was carried three times round the hearth every one shouted, "A lord! a lord!"
Sir Francis Flatterer, of Fowlershurst, in the county
Sir Randal Rakabite, of Rascal Hall, in the county of Rakebell;
Sir Morgan Mumchance, of Much Monkery, in the county of Mad Mopery;
and the banquet then began, every man having a gilt pot full of wine, and each one paying sixpence for his repast. That night, when the lights were put out, the noisy, laughing train passed out of the portal, and the long revels were ended.
"Sir Edward Coke," says Lord Campbell writing of this period, "first evinced his forensic powers when deputed by the students to make a representation to the benchers of the Inner Temple respecting the bad quality of their commons in the hall. After laboriously studying the facts and the law of the case, he clearly proved that the cook had broken his engagement, and was liable to be dismissed. This, according to the phraseology of the day, was called 'the cook's case,' and he was said to have argued it with so much quickness of penetration and solidity of judgment, that he gave entire satisfaction to the students, and was much admired by the Bench."
In his exquisite "Prothalamion" Spenser alludes
to the Temple as if he had sketched it from the
river, after a visit to his great patron, the Earl of
"Those bricky towers,
The which on Thames' broad, aged back doe ride,
Where now the studious lawyers have their bowers,
There whilom wont the Templar Knights to bide,
Till they decayed through pride."
Sir John Davis, the author of "Nosce Teipsum," that fine mystic poem on the immortality of the soul, and of that strange philosophical rhapsody on dancing, was expelled the Temple in Elizabeth's reign, for thrashing his friend, another roysterer of the day, Mr. Richard Martin, in the Middle Temple Hall; but afterwards, on proper submission, he was readmitted. Davis afterwards reformed, and became the wise Attorney-General of Ireland. His biographer says, that the preface to his "Irish Reports" vies with Coke for solidity and Blackstone for elegance. Martin (whose monument is now hoarded up in the Triforium) also became a learned lawyer and a friend of Selden's, and was the person to whom Ben Jonson dedicated his bitter play, The Poetaster. In the dedication the poet says, "For whose innocence as for the author's you were once a noble and kindly undertaker: signed, your true lover, Ben Jonson."
On the accession of James I. some of his hungry Scotch courtiers attempted to obtain from the king a grant of the fee-simple of the Temple; upon which the two indignant societies made "humble suit" to the king, and obtained a grant of the property to themselves. The grant was signed in 1609, the benchers paying £10 annually to the king for the Inner Temple, and £10 for the Middle. In gratitude for this concession, the two loyal societies presented his majesty with a stately gold cup, weighing 200½ ounces, which James "most graciously" accepted. On one side was engraved a temple, on the other a flaming altar, with the words nil nisi vobis; on the pyramidical cover stood a Roman soldier leaning on his shield. This cup the bibulous monarch ever afterwards esteemed as one of his rarest and richest jewels. In 1623 James issued another of those absurd and trumpery sumptuary edicts, recommending the ancient way of wearing caps, and requesting the Templars to lay aside their unseemly boots and spurs, the badges of "roarers, rakes, and bullies."
The Temple feasts continued to be as lavish and magnificent as in the days of Queen Mary, when no reader was allowed to contribute less than fifteen bucks to the hall dinner, and many during their readings gave fourscore or a hundred.
On the marriage (1613) of the Lady Elizabeth, daughter of King James I., with Prince Frederick, the unfortunate Elector-Palatine, the Temple and Gray's Inn men gave a masque, of which Sir Francis Bacon was the chief contriver. The masque came to Whitehall by water from Winchester Place, in Southwark; three peals of ordnance greeting them as they embarked with torches and lamps, as they passed the Temple Garden, and as they landed. This short trip cost £300. The king, after all, was so tired, and the hall so crowded, that the masque was adjourned till the Saturday following, when all went well. The next night the king gave a supper to the forty masquers; Prince Charles and his courtiers, who had lost a wager to the king at running at the ring, paying for the banquet £30 a man. The masquers, who dined with forty of the chief nobles, kissed his majesty's hand. Shortly after this twenty Templars fought at barriers, in honour of Prince Charles, the benchers contributing thirty shillings each to the expenses; the barristers of seven years' standing, fifteen shillings; and the other gentlemen in commons, ten shillings.
One of the grandest masques ever given by the Templars was one which cost £21,000, and was presented, in 1633, to Charles I. and his French queen. Bulstrode Whitelock, then in his youth, gives a vivid picture of this pageant, which was meant to refute Prynne's angry "Histro-Mastix." Noy and Selden were members of the committee, and many grave heads met together to discuss the dances, dresses, and music. The music was written by Milton's friend, Lawes, the libretto by Shirley. The procession set out from Ely House, in Holborn, on Candlemas Day, in the evening. The four chariots that bore the sixteen masquers were preceded by twenty footmen in silver-laced scarlet liveries, who carried torches and cleared the way. After these rode 100 gentlemen from the Inns of Court, mounted and richly clad, every gentleman having two lackeys with torches and a page to carry his cloak. Then followed the other masquers—beggars on horseback and boys dressed as birds. The colours of the first chariot were crimson and silver, the four horses being plumed and trapped in parti-coloured tissue. The Middle Temple rode next, in blue and silver; and the Inner Temple and Lincoln's Inn followed in equal bravery, 100 of the suits being reckoned to have cost £10,000. The masque was most perfectly performed in the Banqueting House at Whitehall, the Queen dancing with several of the masquers, and declaring them to be as good dancers as ever she saw.
The year after the Restoration Sir Heneage Finch, afterwards Earl of Nottingham, kept his "reader's feast" in the great hall of the Inner Temple. At that time of universal vice, luxury, and extravagance, the banquet lasted from the 4th to the 17th of August. It was, in fact, open house to all London. The first day came the nobles and privy councillors; the second, the Lord Mayor and aldermen; the third, the whole College of Physicians in their mortuary caps and gowns; the fourth, the doctors and advocates of civil law; on the fifth day, the archbishops, bishops, and obsequious clergy; and on the fifteenth, as a last grand explosion, the King, the Duke of York, the Duke of Buckingham, and half the peers. An entrance was made from the river through the wall of the Temple Garden, the King being received on landing by the Reader and the Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas; the path from the garden to the wall was lined with the Reader's servants, clad in scarlet cloaks and white doublets; while above them stood the benchers, barristers, and students, music playing all the while, and twenty violins welcoming Charles into the hall with unanimous scrape and quaver. Dinner was served by fifty young students in their gowns, no meaner servants appearing. In the November following the Duke of York, the Duke of Buckingham, and the Earl of Dorset were admitted members of the Society of the Inner Temple. Six years after, Prince Rupert, then a grizzly old cavalry soldier, and addicted to experiments in chemistry and engraving in his house in the Barbican, received the same honour.
The great fire of 1666, says Mr. Jeaffreson, in his "Law and Lawyers," was stayed in its westward course at the Temple; but it was not suppressed until the flames had consumed many sets of chambers, had devoured the title-deeds of a vast number of valuable estates, and had almost licked the windows of the Temple Church. Clarendon has recorded that on the occasion of this stupendous calamity, which occurred when a large proportion of the Templars were out of town, the lawyers in residence declined to break open the chambers and rescue the property of absent members of their society, through fear of prosecution for burglary. Another great fire, some years later (January, 1678–79), destroyed the old cloisters and part of the old hall of the Inner Temple, and the greater part of the residential buildings of the "Old Temple." Breaking out at midnight, and lasting till noon of next day, it devoured, in the Middle Temple, the whole of Pump Court (in which locality it originated), Elm-tree Court, Vine Court, and part of Brick Court; in the Inner Temple the cloisters, the greater part of Hare Court, and part of the hall. The night was bitterly cold, and the Templars, aroused from their beds to preserve life and property, could not get an adequate supply of water from the Thames, which the unusual severity of the season had frozen. In this difficulty they actually brought barrels of ale from the Temple butteries, and fed the engines with the malt liquor. Of course this supply of fluid was soon exhausted, so the fire spreading eastward, the lawyers fought it by blowing up the buildings that were in immediate danger. Gunpowder was more effectual than beer; but the explosions were sadly destructive to human life. Amongst the buildings thus demolished was the library of the Inner Temple. Naturally, but with no apparent good reason, the sufferers by the fire attributed it to treachery on the part of persons unknown, just as the citizens attributed the fire of 1666 to the Papists. It is more probable that the calamity was caused by some such accident as that which occasioned the fire which, during John Campbell's attorney-generalship, destroyed a large amount of valuable property, and had its origin in the clumsiness of a barrister who upset upon his fire a vessel full of spirit. Of this fire Lord Campbell observes:—"When I was Attorney-General, my chambers in Paper Buildings, Temple, were burnt to the ground in the night-time, and all my books and manuscripts, with some valuable official papers, were consumed. Above all, I had to lament a collection of letters written to me by my dear father, from the time of my going to college till his death in 1824. All lamented this calamity except the claimant of a peerage, some of whose documents (suspected to be forged) he hoped were destroyed; but fortunately they had been removed into safe custody a few days before, and the claim was dropped." The fire here alluded to broke out in the chambers of one Thornbury, in Pump Court.
"I remember,"says North in his "Life of Lord Keeper Guildford," "that after the fire of the Temple it was considered whether the old cloister walks should be rebuilt or rather improved into chambers, which latter had been for the benefit of the Middle Temple; but, in regard that it could not be done without the consent of the Inner Houses, the masters of the Middle Houses waited upon the then Mr. Attorney Finch to desire the concurrence of his society upon a proposition of some benefit to be thrown in on his side. But Mr. Attorney would by no means give way to it, and reproved the Middle Templars very bitterly and eloquently upon the subject of students walking in evenings there, and putting 'cases,' which, he said,' was done in his time, mean and low as the buildings were then. However, it comes,' he said, 'that such a benefit to students is now made little account of.' And thereupon the cloisters, by the order and disposition of Sir Christopher Wren, were built as they now stand."
The last revel in any of the Inns of Court was held in the Inner Temple, February, 1733 (George II.), in honour of Mr. Talbot, a bencher of that house, accepting the Great Seal. The ceremony is described by an eye-witness in "Wynne's Eunomus." The Lord Chancellor arrived at two o'clock, preceded by Mr. Wollaston, Master of the Revels, and followed by Dr. Sherlock, Bishop of Bangor, Master of the Temple, and the judges and serjeants formerly of the Inner Temple. There was an elegant dinner provided for them and the chancellor's officers, but the barristers and students had only the usual meal of grand days, except that each man was furnished with a flask of claret besides the usual allowance of port and sack. Fourteen students waited on the Bench table: among them was Mr. Talbot, the Lord Chancellor's eldest son, and by their means any special dish was easily obtainable from the upper table. A large gallery was built over the screen for the ladies; and music, placed in the little gallery at the upper end of the hall, played all dinner-time. As soon as dinner was over, the play of Love for Love and the farce of The Devil to Pay were acted, the actors coming from the Haymarket in chaises, all ready-dressed. It was said they refused all gratuity, being satisfied with the honour of performing before such an audience. After the play, the Lord Chancellor, the Master of the Temple, the judges and benchers retired into their parliament chamber, and in about half an hour afterwards came into the hall again, and a large ring was formed round the fire-place (but no fire nor embers were in it). Then the Master of the Revels, who went first, took the Lord Chancellor by the right hand, and he with his left took Mr. J [ustice] Page, who, joined to the other judges, serjeants, and benchers present, danced, or rather walked, round about the coal fire, according to the old ceremony, three times, during which they were aided in the figure of the dance by Mr. George Cooke, the prothonotary, then upwards of sixty; and all the time of the dance the ancient song, accompanied with music, was sung by one Tony Aston (an actor), dressed in a bar gown, whose father had been formerly Master of the Plea Office in the King's Bench. When this was over, the ladies came down from the gallery, went into the parliament chamber, and stayed about a quarter of an hour, while the hall was putting in order. Then they went into the hall and danced a few minutes. Country dances began about ten, and at twelve a very fine collation was provided for the whole company, from which they returned to dancing. The Prince of Wales honoured the performance with his company part of the time. He came into the music gallery wing about the middle of the play, and went away as soon as the farce of walking round the coal fire was over.
Mr. Peter Cunningham, apropos of these revels, mentions that when the floor of the Middle Temple Hall was taken up in 1764 there were found nearly one hundred pair of very small dice, yellowed by time, which had dropped through the chinks above. The same writer caps this fact by one of his usually apposite quotations. Wycherly, in his Plain Dealer (1676—Charles II.), makes Freeman, one of his characters, say:— "Methinks 'tis like one of the Halls in Christmas time, whither from all parts fools bring their money to try the dice (nor the worst judges), whether it shall be their own or no."
The Inner Temple Hall (the refectory of the ancient knights) was almost entirely rebuilt in 1816. The roof was overloaded with timber, the west wall was cracking, and the wooden cupola of the bell let in the rain. The pointed arches and rude sculpture at the entrance doors showed great antiquity, but the northern wall had been rebuilt in 1680. The incongruous Doric screen was surmounted by lions' heads, cones, and other anomalous devices, and in 1741 low, classic windows had been inserted in the south front. Of the old hall, where the Templars frequently held their chapters, and at different times entertained King John, King Henry III., and several of the legates, several portions still remain. A very ancient groined Gothic arch forms the roof of the present buttery, and in the apartment beyond there is a fine groined and vaulted ceiling. In the cellars below are old walls of vast thickness, part of an ancient window, a curious fire-place, and some pointed arches, all now choked with modern brick partitions and dusty staircases. These vaults formerly communicated by a cloister with the chapel of St. Anne, on the south side of the church. In the reign of James I. some brick chambers, three storeys high, were erected over the cloister, but were burnt down in 1678. In 1681 the cloister chambers were again rebuilt.
During the formation of the present new entrance to the Temple by the church at the bottom of Inner Temple Lane, when some old houses were removed, the masons came on. a strong ancient wall of chalk and ragstone, supposed to have been the ancient northern boundary of the convent.
In November, 1819, Erskine, in the House of Lords, speaking upon Lord Lansdowne's motion for an inquiry into the state of the country, condemned the conduct of the yeomanry at the "Manchester massacre." "By an ordinary display of spirit and resolution," observed the brilliant egotist to his brother peers (who were so impressed by his complacent volubility and good-humoured self-esteem, that they were for the moment ready to take him at his own valuation), "insurrection may be repressed without violating the law or the constitution. In the riots of 1780, when the mob were preparing to attack the house of Lord Mansfield, I offered to defend it with a small military force; but this offer was unluckily rejected. Afterwards, being in the Temple when the rioters were preparing to force the gate and had fired. several times, I went to the gate, opened it, and showed them a field-piece, which I was prepared to discharge in case the attack was persisted in. They were daunted, fell back, and dispersed."
Judge Burrough (says Mr. Jeaffreson, in his "Law and Lawyers") used to relate that when the Gordon Rioters besieged the Temple he and a strong body of barristers, headed by a sergeant of the Guards, were stationed in Inner Temple Lane, and that, having complete confidence in the strength of their massive gate, they spoke bravely of their desire to be fighting on the other side. At length the gate was forced. The lawyers fell into confusion and were about to beat a retreat, when the sergeant, a man of infinite humour, cried out in a magnificent voice, "Take care no gentleman fires from behind." The words struck awe into the assailants and caused the barristers to laugh. The mob, who had expected neither laughter nor armed resistance, took to flight, telling all whom they met that the bloody-minded lawyers were armed to the teeth and enjoying themselves. The Temple was saved. When these Gordon Rioters filled London with alarm, no member of the junior bar was more prosperous and popular than handsome Jack Scott, and as he walked from his house in Carey Street to the Temple, with his wife on his arm, he returned the greetings of the barristers, who, besides liking him for a good fellow, thought it prudent to be on good terms with a man sure to achieve eminence. Dilatory in his early as well as his later years, Scott left his house that morning half an hour late. Already it was known to the mob that the Templars were assembling in their college, and a cry of "The Temple! kill the lawyers!" had been raised in Whitefriars and Essex Street. Before they reached the Middle Temple gate Mr. and Mrs. Scott were assaulted more than once. The man who won Bessie Surtees from a host of rivals and carried her away against the will of her parents and the wishes of his own father, was able to protect her from serious violence. But before the beautiful creature was safe within the Temple her dress was torn, and when at length she stood in the centre of a crowd of excited and admiring barristers, her head was bare and her ringlets fell loose upon her shoulders. "The scoundrels have got your hat, Bessie," whispered John Scott; "but never mind—they have left you your hair."
In Lord Eldon's "Anecdote Book" there is another gate story amongst the notes on the Gordon Riots. "We youngsters," says the aged lawyer, "at the Temple determined that we would not remain inactive during such times; so we introduced ourselves into a troop to assist the military. We armed ourselves as well as we could, and next morning we drew up in the court ready to follow out a troop of soldiers who were on guard. When, however, the soldiers had passed through the gate it was suddenly shut in our faces, and the officer in command shouted from the other side, 'Gentlemen, I am much obliged to you for your intended assistance; but I do not choose to allow my soldiers to be shot, so I have ordered you to be locked in." And away he galloped.
The elder Colman decided on making the younger one a barrister; and after visits to Scotland and Switzerland, the son returned to Soho Square, and found that his father had taken for him chambers in the Temple, and entered him as a student at Lincoln's Inn, where he afterwards kept a few terms by eating oysters. Upon this Mr. Peake notes:— "The students of Lincoln's Inn keep term by dining, or pretending to dine, in the hall during the term time. Those who feed there are accommodated with wooden trenchers instead of plates, and previously to the dinner oysters are served up by way of prologue to the play. Eating the oysters, or going into the hall without eating them, if you please, and then departing to dine elsewhere, is quite sufficient for term-keeping." The chambers in King's Bench Walk were furnished with a tent-bedstead, two tables, half-a-dozen chairs, and a carpet as much too scanty for the boards as Sheridan's "rivulet of rhyme" for its "meadow of margin." To these the elder Colman added £10 worth of law books which had been given to him in his own Lincoln's Inn days by Lord Bath; then enjoining the son to work hard, the father left town upon a party of pleasure.
Colman had sent his son to Switzerland to get him away from a certain Miss Catherine Morris, an actress of the Haymarket company. This answered for a time, but no sooner had the father left the son in the Temple than he set off with Miss Morris to Gretna Green, and was there married, in 1784; and four years after, the father's sanction having been duly obtained, they were publicly married at Chelsea Church.
In the same staircase with Colman, in the Temple, lived the witty Jekyll, who, seeing in Colman's chambers a round cage with a squirrel in it, looked for a minute or two at the little animal, which was performing the same operation as a man in the treadmill, and then quietly said, "Ah, poor devil! he is going the Home Circuit;" the locality where it was uttered—the Temple—favouring this technical joke.
On the morning young Colman began his studies (December 20, 1784) he was interrupted by the intelligence that the funeral procession of the great Dr. Johnson was on its way from his late residence, Bolt Court, through Fleet Street, to Westminster Abbey. Colman at once threw down his pen, and ran forth to see the procession, but was disappointed to find it much less splendid and imposing than the sepulchral pomp of Garrick five years before.
Dr. Dibdin thus describes the Garden walks of the last century:— "Towards evening it was the fashion for the leading counsel to promenade during the summer months in the Temple Gardens. Cocked hats and ruffles, with satin small-clothes and silk stockings, at this time constituted the usual evening dress. Lord Erskine, though a great deal shorter than his brethren, somehow always seemed to take the lead, both in place and in discourse, and shouts of laughter would frequently follow his dicta."
Ugly Dunning, afterwards the famous Lord Ashburton, entered the Middle Temple in 1752, and was called four years later, in 1756. Lord Chancellor Thurlow used to describe him wittily as "the knave of clubs."
Horne Tooke, Dunning, and Kenyon were accustomed to dine together, during the vacation, at a little eating-house in the neighbourhood of Chancery Lane for the sum of sevenpence-halfpenny each. "As to Dunning and myself," said Tooke, "we were generous, for we gave the girl who waited upon us a penny a piece; but Kenyon, who always knew the value of money, sometimes rewarded her with a halfpenny, and sometimes with a promise."
Blackstone, before dedicating his powers finally
to the study of the law in which he afterwards
became so famous, wrote in Temple chambers his
"Farewell to the Muse:"—
"Lulled by the lapse of gliding floods,
Cheer'd by the warbling of the woods,
How blest my days, my thoughts how free,
In sweet society with thee!
Then all was joyous, all was young,
And years unheeded roll'd along;
But now the pleasing dream is o'er—
These scenes must charm me now no more.
Lost to the field, and torn from you,
Farewell!—a long, a last adieu!
Then welcome business, welcome strife,
Welcome the cares, the thorns of life,
The visage wan, the purblind sight,
The toil by day, the lamp by night,
The tedious forms, the solemn prate,
The pert dispute, the dull debate,
The drowsy bench, the babbling hall,—
For thee, fair Justice, welcome all !"
That great orator, Edmund Burke, was entered at the Middle Temple in 1747, when the heads of the Scotch rebels of 1745 were still fresh on the spikes of Temple Bar, and he afterwards came to keep his terms in 1750. In 1756 he occupied a two-pair chamber at the "Pope's Head," the shop of Jacob Robinson, the Twickenham poet's publisher, just within the Inner Temple gateway. Burke took a dislike, however, perhaps fortunately for posterity, to the calf-skin books, and was never called to the bar.
Richard Brinsley Sheridan, an Irishman even more brilliant, but unfortunately far less prudent, than Burke, entered his name in the Middle Temple books a few days before his elopement with Miss Linley.
"A wit," says Archdeacon Nares, in his pleasant
book, "Heraldic Anomalies," "once chalked the
following lines on the Temple gate:"—
"As by the Templars' hold you go,
The horse and lamb display'd
In emblematic figures show
The merits of their trade.
A rival wag replied to these lively lines by the
following severer ones:—
"Deluded men, these holds forego,
Nor trust such cunning elves;
These artful emblems tend to show
Their clients—not themselves.
Hare Court is said to derive its name from
Sir Nicholas Hare, who was Privy Councillor
to Henry VIII. the despotic, and Master of the
Rolls to Queen Mary the cruel. Heaven only
knows what stern decisions and anti-heretical indictments have not been drawn up in that quaint
enclosure. The immortal pump, which stands as
a special feature of the court, has been mentioned
by the poet Garth in his "Dispensary:"—
"And dare the college insolently aim,
To equal our fraternity in fame?
Then let crabs' eyes with pearl for virtue try,
Or Highgate Hill with lofty Pindus vie;
So glowworms may compare with Titan's beams,
And Hare Court pump with Aganippe's streams."
In Essex Court one solitary barber remains: his shop is the last wigwam of a departing tribe. Dick Danby's, in the cloisters, used to be famous. In his "Lives of the Chief Justices," Lord Campbell has some pleasant gossip about Dick Danby, the Temple barber. In our group of antiquities of the Temple on page 163 will be found an engraving of the existing barber's shop.
"One of the most intimate friends," he says, "I have ever had in the world was Dick Danby, who kept a hairdresser's shop under the cloisters in the Inner Temple. I first made his acquaintance from his assisting me, when a student at law, to engage a set of chambers. He afterwards cut my hair, made my bar wigs, and aided me at all times with his valuable advice. He was on the same good terms with most of my forensic contemporaries. Thus he became master of all the news of the profession, and he could tell who were getting on, and who were without a brief—who succeeded by their talents, and who hugged the attorneys—who were desirous of becoming puisne judges, and who meant to try their fortunes in Parliament—which of the chiefs was in a failing state of health, and who was next to be promoted to the collar of S.S. Poor fellow! he died suddenly, and his death threw a universal gloom over Westminster Hall, unrelieved by the thought that the survivors who mourned him might pick up some of his business—a consolation which wonderfully softens the grief felt for a favourite Nisi Prius leader."
In spite of all the great lawyers who have been nurtured in the Temple, it has derived its chief fame from the residence within its precincts of three civilians — Dr. Johnson, Goldsmith, and Charles Lamb.
Dr. Johnson came to the Temple (No. I, Inner Temple Lane) from Gray's Inn in 1760, and left it for Johnson's Court (Fleet Street) about 1765. When he first came to the Temple he was loitering over his edition of "Shakespeare." In 1762 a pension of £300 a year for the first time made him independent of the booksellers. In 1763 Boswell made his acquaintance and visited Ursa Major in his den.
"It must be confessed," says Boswell, "that his apartments, furniture, and morning dress were sufficiently uncouth. His brown suit of clothes looked very rusty; he had on a little old shrivelled, unpowdered wig, which was too small for his head; his shirt neck and the knees of his breeches were loose, his black worsted stockings ill drawn up, and he had a pair of unbuckled shoes by way of slippers."
At this time Johnson generally went abroad at four in the afternoon, and seldom came home till two in the morning. He owned it was a bad habit. He generally had a levee of morning visitors, chiefly men of letters—Hawkesworth, Goldsmith, Murphy, Langton, Stevens, Beauclerk, &c.—and sometimes learned ladies. "When Madame de Boufflers (the mistress of the Prince of Conti) was first in England," said Beauclerk, "she was desirous to see Johnson. I accordingly went with her to his chambers in the Temple, where she was entertained with his conversation for some time. When our visit was over, she and I left him, and were got into Inner Temple Lane, when all at once I heard a voice like thunder. This was occasioned by Johnson, who, it seems, upon a little reflection, had taken it into his head that he ought to have done the honours of his literary residence to a foreign lady of quality, and, eager to show himself a man of gallantry, was hurrying down the staircase in violent agitation. He overtook us before we reached the Temple Gate, and, brushing in between me and Madame de Boufflers, seized her hand and conducted her to her coach. His dress was a rusty-brown morning suit, a pair of old shoes by way of slippers, &c. A considerable crowd of people gathered round, and were not a little struck by his singular appearance."
It was in the year 1763, while Johnson was living in the Temple, that the Literary Club was founded; and it was in the following year that this wise and good man was seized with one of those fits of hypochondria that occasionally weighed upon that great intellect. Boswell had chambers, not far from the god of his idolatry, at what were once called "Farrar's Buildings," at the bottom of Inner Temple Lane.
Charles Lamb came to 4, Inner Temple Lane, in 1809. Writing to Coleridge, the delightful humorist says:—" I have been turned out of my chambers in the Temple by a landlord who wanted them for himself; but I have got others at No. 4, Inner Temple Lane, far more commodious and roomy. I have two rooms on the third floor, and five rooms above, with an inner staircase to myself, and all new painted, &c., for £30 a year. The rooms are delicious, and the best look backwards into Hare Court, where there is a pump always going; just now it is dry. Hare Court's trees come in at the window, so that it's like living in a garden." In 1810 he says:— "The household gods are slow to come; but here I mean to live and die." From this place (since pulled down and rebuilt) he writes to Manning, who is in China:— "Come, and bring any of your friends the mandarins with you. My best room commands a court, in which there are trees and a pump, the water of which is excellent, cold—with brandy; and not very insipid without." He sends Manning some of his little books, to give him "some idea of European literature." It is in this letter that he speaks of Braham and his singing, and jokes "on titles of honour," exemplifying the eleven gradations, by which Mr. C. Lamb rose in succession to be Baron, Marquis, Duke, Emperor Lamb, and finally Pope Innocent; and other lively matters fit to solace an English mathematician self-banished to China. The same year Mary Lamb describes her brother taking to water like a hungry otter—abstaining from all spirituous liquors, but with the most indifferent result, as he became full of cramps and rheumatism, and so cold internally that fire could not warm him. It is but just to Lamb to mention that this ascetic period was brief. This same year Lamb wrote his fine essays on Hogarth and the tragedies of Shakespeare. He was already getting weary of the dull routine of official work at the India House.
Goldsmith came to the Temple, early in 1764, from Wine Office Court. It was a hard year with him, though he published "The Traveller," and opened fruitless negotiations with Dodsley and Tonson. "He took," says Mr. Forster, "rooms on the then library-staircase of the Temple. They were a humble set of chambers enough (one Jeffs, the butler of the society, shared them with him), and on Johnson's prying and peering about in them, after his short-sighted fashion flattening his face against every object he looked at, Goldsmith's uneasy sense of their deficiencies broke out. 'I shall soon be in better chambers, sir, than these,' he said. 'Nay, sir,' answered Johnson, 'never mind that—nil te quæsiveris extra.'" He soon hurried off to the quiet of Islington, as some say, to secretly write the erudite history of "Goody Two-Shoes" for Newbery. In 1765 various publications, or perhaps the money for "The Vicar," enabled the author to move to larger chambers in Garden Court, close to his first set, and one of the most agreeable localities in the Temple. He now carried out his threat to Johnson—started a man-servant, and ran into debt with his usual gay and thoughtless vanity to Mr. Filby, the tailor, of Water Lane, for coats of divers colours. Goldsmith began to feel his importance, and determined to show it. In 1766 "The Vicar of Wakefield" (price five shillings, sewed) secured his fame, but he still remained in difficulties. In 1767 he wrote The Good-Natural Man, knocked off an English Grammar for five guineas, and was only saved from extreme want by Davies employing him to write a "History of Rome" for 250 guineas. In 1767 Parson Scott (Lord Sandwich's chaplain), busily going about to negotiate for writers, describes himself as applying to Goldsmith, among others, to induce him to write in favour of the Administration. "I found him," he said, "in a miserable set of chambers in the Temple. I told him my authority; I told him that I was empowered to pay most liberally for his exertions; and—would you believe it!—he was so absurd as to say, 'I can earn as much as will supply my wants without writing for any party; the assistance you offer is therefore unnecessary to me.' And so I left him," added the Rev. Dr. Scott, indignantly, "in his garret."
On the partial success of The Good-Natured Man (January, 1768), Goldsmith, having cleared £500, broke out like a successful gambler. He purchased a set of chambers (No. 2, up two pairs of stairs, in Brick Court) for £400, squandered the remaining £100, ran in debt to his tailor, and borrowed of Mr. Bolt, a man on the same floor. He purchased Wilton carpets, blue merino curtains, chimney-glasses, book-cases, and card-tables, and, by the aid of Filby, enrobed him in a suit of Tyrian bloom, satin grain, with darker blue silk breeches, price £8 2s. 7d., and he even ventured at a more costly suit, lined with silk and ornamented with gilt buttons. Below him lived that learned lawyer, Mr. Blackstone, then poring over the fourth volume of his precious "Commentaries," and the noise and dancing overhead nearly drove him mad, as it also did a Mr. Children, who succeeded him. What these noises arose from, Mr. Forster relates in his delightful biography of the poet. An Irish merchant named Seguin "remembered dinners at which Johnson, Percy, Bickerstaff, Kelly, 'and a variety of authors of minor note,' were guests. They talked of supper-parties with younger people, as well in the London chambers as in suburban lodgings; preceded by blind-man's buff, forfeits, or games of cards; and where Goldsmith, festively entertaining them all, would make frugal supper for himself off boiled milk. They related how he would sing all kinds of Irish songs; with what special enjoyment he gave the Scotch ballad of 'Johnny Armstrong' (his old nurse's favourite); how cheerfully he would put the front of his wig behind, or contribute in any other way to the general amusement; and to what accompaniment of uncontrolled laughter he once 'danced a minuet with Mrs. Seguin.'"
In 1768 appeared "The Deserted Village." It was about this time that one of Goldy's Grub Street acquaintances called upon him, whilst he was conversing with Topham Beauclerk, and General Oglethorpe, and the fellow, telling Goldsmith that he was sorry he could not pay the two guineas he owed him, offered him a quarter of a pound of tea and half a pound of sugar as an acknowledgment "1769. Goldsmith fell in love with Mary Horneck known as the 'Jessamy Bride.' Unfortunately he obtained an advance of £500 for his 'Natural History,' and wholly expended it when only six chapters were written." In 1771 he published his "History of England." It was in this year that Reynolds, coming one day to Brick Court, perhaps about the portrait of Goldsmith he had painted the year before, found the mercurial poet kicking a bundle, which contained a masquerade dress, about the room, in disgust at his folly in wasting money in so foolish a way. In 1772, Mr. Forster mentions a very characteristic story of Goldsmith's warmth of heart. He one day found a poor Irish student (afterwards Dr. M'Veagh M'Donnell, a well-known physician) sitting and moping in despair on a bench in the Temple Gardens. Goldsmith soon talked and laughed him into hope and spirits, then taking him off to his chambers, employed him to translate some chapters of Buffon. In 1773 She Stoops to Conquer made a great hit; but Noll was still writing at hack-work, and was deeper in debt than ever. In 1774, when Goldsmith was still grinding on at his hopeless drudge-work, as far from the goal of fortune as ever, and even resolving to abandon London life, with all its temptations, Mr. Forster relates that Johnson, dining with the poet, Reynolds, and some one else, silently reproved the extravagance of so expensive a dinner by sending away the whole second course untouched.
In March, 1774, Goldsmith returned from Edgware to the Temple chambers, which he was trying to sell, suffering from a low nervous fever, partly the result of vexation at his pecuniary embarrassments. Mr. Hawes, an apothecary in the Strand (and one of the first founders of the Humane Society), was called in; but Goldsmith insisted on taking James's fever-powders, a valuable medicine, but dangerous under the circumstances. This was Friday, the 25th. He told the doctor then his mind was not at ease, and he died on Monday, April 4th, in his forty-fifth year. His debts amounted to over £2,000. "Was ever poet so trusted before?" writes Johnson to Boswell. The staircase of Brick Court was filled with poor outcasts, to whom Goldsmith had been kind and charitable. His coffin was opened by Miss Horneck, that a lock might be cut from his hair. Burke and Reynolds superintended the funeral, Reynolds' nephew (Palmer, afterwards Dean of Cashel) being chief mourner. Hugh Kelly, who had so often lampooned the poet, was present. At five o'clock on Saturday, the 9th of April, Goldsmith was buried in the Temple churchyard. In 1837, a slab of white marble, to the kindly poet's memory, was placed in the Temple Church, and afterwards transferred to a recess of the vestry chamber. Of the poet, Mr. Forster says, "no memorial indicates the grave to the pilgrim or the stranger, nor is it possible any longer to identify the spot which received all that was mortal of the delightful writer." The present site is entirely conjectural; but it appears from the following note, communicated to us by T. C. Noble, the well-known City antiquary, that the real site was remembered as late as 1830. Mr. Noble says:—
"In 1842, after some consideration, the benchers of the Temple deciding that no more burials should take place in the churchyard, resolved to pave it over. For about fifteen years the burial-place of Dr. Goldsmith continued in obscurity; for while some would have it that the interment took place to the east of the choir, others clung to an opinion, handed down by Mr. Broome, the gardener, who stated that when he commenced his duties, about 1830, a Mr. Collett, sexton, a very old man, and a penurious one, too, employed him to prune an elder-tree which, he stated, he venerated, because it marked the site of Goldsmith's grave. The stone which has been placed in the yard, 'to mark the spot' where the poet was buried, is not the site of this tree. The tomb was erected in 1860, but the exact position of the grave has never been discovered." The engraving on page 169 shows the spot as it appeared in the autumn of that year. The old houses at the back were pulled down soon after.
Mr. Forster, alluding to Goldsmith's love for the rooks, the former denizens of the Temple Gardens, says: "He saw the rookery (in the winter deserted, or guarded only by some five or six, 'like old soldiers in a garrison') resume its activity and bustle in the spring; and he moralised, like a great reformer, on the legal constitution established, the social laws enforced, and the particular castigations endured for the good of the community, by those black-dressed and black-eyed chatterers. 'I have often amused myself,' Goldsmith remarks, 'with observing their plans of policy from my window in the Temple, that looks upon a grove where they have made a colony, in the midst of the city.'"