ORIGIN OF THE INNS

The features of every ancient City are marked with the wrinkles and the
scars of Time. The narrow lanes, the winding streets, the huddled
houses, the blind alleys form, as it were, the furrows upon her aged
countenance. They contribute enormously to the charm and beauty of her
riper years, for they point to a life rich in experience and varied
reminiscences. But, like other wrinkles, they have their drawbacks. As
the bottle-neck of Bond Street, which blocks the traffic half the
season, is the direct topographical result of the river which once
flowed thereabouts, so the boundary of the property of the Knights
Templars, marked by the Inner and Middle Temple Gateways, imposes the
southern limit of Fleet Street, opposite to Street’s Gothic pile of Law
Courts and to Chancery Lane. Hence the narrowness of that famous street,
and the consequent congestion of traffic on the main route to the City.
Then come the Beauty Doctors, who smooth out the old wrinkles, and
broaden the ancient, narrow lines, which Time has cut so deeply on the
face of the Town. The old landmarks are removed, and Wren’s gateways and
buildings must disappear in order that broad, straight paths be driven
right to the sanctuary of Business.

And yet the old influences and the effects of historic movements and
historic events persist, and will persist. It may seem far-fetched to
say that everyone whose business or pleasure takes him to Fleet Street
is directly subject to the influence of the Crusades. Yet it is so. But
for those strange wars of mingled religious enthusiasm and commercial
aggression, there would have been no Templars, and had there been no
Templars, the whole nomenclature and topographical arrangement of this
part of London would have been different; for the Societies of Lawyers,
who succeeded to their property, succeeded, of course, to the boundaries
of the messuages, as to the Round Church of the Knights Templars.

Of the Temple, and the Templars, and their successors, we shall deal
more at length in their proper places. It will be convenient first to
consider what these Societies of Lawyers were and are, how they arose,
and why they settled in the particular vicinity wherein they have chosen
to set their ‘dusty purlieus.’

William the Conqueror had established the Law Courts in his Palace. The
great officers of State and the Barons were the Judges of this King’s
Court–_Aula Regis_–which developed into three distinct divisions:
King’s Bench and Common Pleas, under a Chief Justice, and Exchequer,
where a Chief Baron presided to try all causes relating to the royal
revenue. It was the business of a Norman King to ride about the country
settling the affairs of the realm, which was his estate, and
administering justice. The great Court of Justice, therefore, naturally
accompanied the King in all his progresses, and suitors were obliged to
follow and to find him, travelling for that purpose from all parts of
the country to London, to Exeter, or to York.

It was a system that was found ‘cumbersome, painful, and chargeable to
the people,’ as Stow[1] puts it, and one of the provisions of Magna
Charta accordingly enacted that the Court of Common Pleas should no
longer follow the King, but be held in some determined place. The place
determined was Westminster. The Court was held, though not at first, in
the famous Hall, which William Rufus had erected and Richard II.
rebuilt.

It was to be expected that the fixing of the Courts would be followed by
the settlement of ‘Students in the Law and the Ministers of each
Court,’[2] as Dugdale has it, somewhere near at hand. Advocates had been
drawn at first from the ranks of the clergy. This was natural enough,
seeing that they formed the only educated class of the day. _Nullus
clericus nisi causidicus_, the historian complains. It was equally
natural that in the course of time objection should be taken to the
spectacle of the professors of Christianity wrangling at the Bar, and
monopolizing the power born of legal knowledge. Dugdale notes the first
instance of an attempt to check their presence in the Courts as
occurring at the beginning of the reign of Henry III. The clergy were at
length excluded from practising in the Civil Courts, and a privileged
class of lay Lawyers came into existence. Edward I. specially appointed
the Justices of the Court of Common Pleas to ‘ordain from every County
certain Attorneys and Lawyers of the best and most apt for their
learning and skill, who might do service to his Court and People, and
who alone should follow his Court and transact affairs therein.’

And at this date, or shortly after it, we may assume that ‘students in
the University of the Laws’[3] began to congregate in Hostels, or Inns,
of Court, in order to study as ‘apprentices’ in the Guild of Law. For,
as at Oxford or Cambridge, an Inn, or Hostel of residence, was the
natural necessary requirement of such students when they began to come
in numbers to sit at the feet of their teachers, the Masters of Law. The
earliest mention of an Inn for housing apprentices of the Law occurs in
1344, in a demise from the Lady Clifford of the house near Fleet Street,
called Clifford’s Inn, to the _apprenticiis de banco_, the lawyers
belonging to the Court of Common Pleas. And Thavie’s Inn was similarly
leased from one John Thavie, ‘a worthy citizen and armourer,’ of London,
who died in 1348. In such hostels, leased to the senior members,
voluntary associations, or guilds of teachers and learners of law would
congregate, and gradually evolve their own regulations and customs.

Other references occur to the ‘apprentices in hostels’ during this same
reign (Edward III.). And from about this date the four Inns of
Court–Gray’s Inn, Lincoln’s Inn, and the Inner and Middle
Temple–‘which are almost coincident in antiquity, similar in
constitution, and identical in purpose,’[4] begin to emerge from the
mists of the past.

It is noticeable that all the Inns of Court and Chancery cluster about
the borders of the City Ward called Faringdon Without, and were once
placed, as old Sir John Fortescue observed, ‘in the suburbs, out of the
noise and turmoil of the City.’

The Lawyers were thus conveniently placed between the seat of judicature
at Westminster and the centre of business in the City of London, and
secured the advantage of ‘ready access to the one and plenty of
provisions in the other.’ In the wall which bounds the Temple Gardens
upon the modern Embankment of the Thames is set a stone which marks the
western boundary of the Liberty of the City and the spot where Queen
Victoria received the City Sword (1900); the old Bar of the City, which
took its name from the Temple, and

[Illustration: MIDDLE TEMPLE LANE

THE overhanging buildings just inside Sir Christopher Wren’s Gateway in
Fleet Street (see p. 67).]

Holborn Bar, marked the limit farther north. It is to be remembered that
this famous Temple Bar did not mark the boundary of the City proper, but
only of the later extension known as the Liberty of the City, and the
Temple buildings within the Bar were yet without the narrower boundary
of the City.

Temple Bar consisted originally of a post, rails, and chain. Next, a
house of timber was erected across the street, with a narrow gateway and
entry on the south side under the house.[5] This was superseded about
1670 by the stone gate-house, designed by Christopher Wren, which was
the scene of so many historic pageants when Lord Mayors have received
their Sovereigns, and presented to them the keys of the City. It was
here, notably, that the Lord Mayor delivered the City sword to good
Queen Bess when she rode to St. Paul’s to return thanks for the victory
over the Spanish Armada. Hereon, as upon London Bridge, the heads of
famous criminals or rebels were stuck to warn the passers-by; and in the
pillory here stood Titus Oates and Daniel de Foe–the latter for
publishing his scandalous and seditious pamphlet, ‘The Shortest Way with
the Dissenters.’ The citizens, however, pelted De Foe, not with rotten
eggs, but with flowers. This noble gate-house was removed when the
Strand was widened and the new Law Courts erected. It was rebuilt at
Meux Park, Waltham Cross, and its original site is marked by a column
surmounted by a griffin, representing the City arms (1880).

It would appear that the Lawyers in choosing sites just outside the City
boundaries for the Inns of their University were further influenced by
the ordinance of Henry III. (1234), which enjoined the Mayor and
Sheriffs to see to it that ‘no man should set up Schools of Law within
the City.’ The object of this prohibition is a matter of dispute;
Stubbs, for instance, maintaining that it applied to Canon Law, and
others[6] that only Civil Law was intended, the object being to confine
the clergy to the Theology and Canon Law, which seemed more properly
their province.

By the middle of the fourteenth century, then, we find the students of
what we may call a London University of National Law established in
their Inns or Hostels, which clustered about the boundaries of the City,
from Holborn to Chancery Lane, from Fleet Street to the River. The
Schools of Law, of which this University was composed, were
distinctively English, and the University itself developed upon the
peculiarly English lines of a College system, closely similar to that of
Oxford and Cambridge. The Inns of Court and Chancery were the Colleges
of Lawyers in the London University of Jurisprudence.

Here dwelt, and here were trained for the Courts those guilds or
fraternities of Lawyers, according to a scheme of oral and practical
education which they gradually evolved. Trade Guilds were the basis of
medieval social life, and medieval Universities were, in fact, nothing
more nor less than Guilds of Study.[7] The four Inns of Court survive
to-day as instances of the old Guilds of Law in London, and the lawyers,
in their relations with the Courts, the public and solicitors, seem to
represent still a highly organized Trade Union.

The Inns of Court, then, have always exhibited, and still retain, the
salient features of a University based upon the procedure of the
medieval Guild. Just as, in other Universities, no one was allowed to
teach until he had served an apprenticeship of terms, and, having been
duly approved by the Masters of their Art, had received his degree or
diploma of teaching; just as no butcher or tailor was allowed to ply his
trade until he had qualified himself and had been duly approved by the
Masters of his Guild, so in the Masters of these Guilds of Law was
vested the monopoly of granting the legal degree, or call to practise at
the Bar, to apprentices who had served a stipulated term of study and
passed the ordeal of certain oral and practical preparation. And as
though to emphasize beyond dispute the Collegiate nature of these
Societies, we find that each one of them made haste to provide itself
with buildings and surroundings, which still present to us, in the midst
of the dirt and turmoil of busy London, something of the charm and
seclusion and self-sufficiency of an Oxford College, with its Hall and
Chapel, its residential buildings, its Library, and grassy quadrangles,
and its Gateway to insure its privacy.

The same system of discipline, of celibate life, of a common Hall, of
residence in community, and of compulsory attendance at the services of
the Church, which marked the ordinary life of a medieval University, was
repeated at the Inns of Court.

And the kind of Collegiate Order into which they shaped themselves was
also shown by the several grades existing within the Societies
themselves. The word ‘barrister’ itself perpetuates the ancient
discipline of the Inns, where the dais of the governing body, or
Benchers, corresponding to the High Table of an Oxford College, was
separated by a bar from the profane crowd of the Hall. The Halls of the
Inns were not only the scenes of that business of eating and drinking,
the ‘dinners’ to which so much attention was devoted, and by which the
students ‘eat their way to the Bench,’ but also the centres of the
social life and educational system of these Guilds.

Dugdale gives at length the degrees of Tables in the Halls of the
Inns–the Benchers’ Tables, the tables of the Utter Barristers, the
tables of the Inner-Bar, and the Clerks’ Commons, and, without the
screen, the Yeoman’s Table for Benchers’ Clerks.

The _Utter-_ or _Outer Barristers_ ranked next to the Benchers. They
were the advanced students who, after they had attained a certain
standing, were called from the body of the Hall to the first place
outside the bar for the purpose of taking part in the _moots_ or public
debates on points of law. The _Inner Barristers_ assembled near the
centre of the Hall.

‘For the space of seven years or thereabouts,’ says Stow, ‘they frequent
readings, meetings, boltinges, and other learned exercises, whereby
growing ripe in the knowledge of the lawes, and approved withal to be of
honest conversation, they are either by the general consent of the
Benchers or Readers, being of the most auncient, grave and iudiciall men
of everie Inn of the Court, or by the special priviledge of the present
Reader there, selected and called to the degree of Utter Barristers, and
so enabled to be Common Counsellors, and to practise the law, both in
their Chambers, and at the Barres.’

Readers, to help the younger students, were chosen from the Utter
Barristers. From the Utter Barristers, too, were chosen by the Benchers
‘the chiefest and best learned’ to increase the number of the Bench and
to be Readers there also. After this ‘second reading’ the young
Barrister was named an Apprentice at the Law, and might be advanced at
the pleasure of the Prince, as Stow says, to the place of Serjeant, ‘and
from the number of Serjeants also the void places of Judges are likewise
ordinarily filled.’ ‘From thenceforth they hold not any roome in those
Innes of Court, being translated to the Serjeants’ Innes, where none
but the Serjeants and Judges do converse’ (Stow, i., pp. 78, 79).

Upon the Benchers, or Ancients, devolved the government of the Inn, and
from their number a treasurer was chosen annually.

_Readings_ and _Mootings_ would seem to have been the chief forms of
legal training provided by the Societies, and they may be said roughly
to represent the theoretical and practical side of their system of
education. As to Readings, the procedure in general was as follows:
Every year the Benchers chose two Readers, who entered upon their duties
to the accompaniment of the most elaborate ceremonial and feasting. Then
upon certain solemn occasions it was the duty of one of them to deliver
a lecture upon some statute rich in nice points of law. The Reader would
first explain the whole matter at large, and after summing up the
various arguments bearing on the case, would deliver his opinion. The
Utter Barristers then discussed with him the points that had been
raised, after which some of the Judges and Serjeants present gave their
opinions in turn.[8]

I have referred to the _feasting_ that attended the appointment of the
Readers. We have seen that medieval Universities were Guilds of
Learning, scholastic fraternities of masters or students, who framed
rules and exacted compliance with certain tests of skill, precisely in
the same way as did the masters and apprentices of ordinary manual
trades. It was a universal feature of the Guilds, whether of manual
crafts or of Learning, that the newly-elected Master was expected to
entertain the Fraternity to which he had been admitted, or in which he
had just been raised to the full honours of Mastership. And just as at
Oxford, Cambridge, or Paris, a Master was obliged to give a feast, or
even some more sumptuous form of hospitality, such as a tilt or tourney,
upon the attainment of his degree, so at the Inns of Court the
newly-appointed Reader was obliged by custom to entertain the Benchers
and Barristers in Hall. It was the general experience everywhere that
such entertainments tended to increase in splendour and costliness, and
to be a severe tax upon the resources of the new Masters, and a check,
consequently, upon the number of aspirants. So here the excessive
charges attending Readers’ feasts led to a decrease in the Readers,
which was regarded as tending to ‘an utter overthrow to the learning and
study of the Law,’ and the Justices of both Benches accordingly issued
an order insisting upon their observance, and at the same time
regulating the amount that a Reader might expend upon ‘diet in the
Hall.’

_Moots_ were a kind of rehearsal of real trials at the Bar. They were
cases argued in Hall by the Utter and Inner Barristers before the
Benchers.

When the horn had blown to dinner, says Dugdale, a paper containing
notice of the Case which was to be argued after dinner was laid upon the
salt. Then, after dinner, in open Hall, the mock-trial began. An Inner
Barrister advanced to the table, and there propounded in Law-French–an
exceedingly hybrid lingo–some kind of action on behalf of an imaginary
client. Another Inner Barrister replied in defence of the fictitious
defendant, and the Reader and Benchers gave their opinions in turn.

As in other Universities, other subjects besides Law were included in
the educational curriculum.

‘Upon festival days,’ says Fortescue, who wrote in the seventeenth
century, ‘after the offices of the Church are over, they employ
themselves in the study of sacred and profane history; here everything
which is good and virtuous is to be learned, all vice is discouraged and
banished. So that knights, barons, and the greatest nobility of the
kingdom often place their children in those Inns of Court, to form their
manners, and to preserve them from the contagion of vice.’

As time went on, in fact, the Inns of Court gradually changed their
character, and became a kind of aristocratic University, where many of
the leading men in politics and literature received a general training
and education.

And whilst Oxford and Cambridge, essentially more democratic, drew their
students chiefly from the yeoman and artisan class, the Inns of Court
became the fashionable colleges for young noblemen and gentlemen.

Throughout the Renaissance, indeed, the Inns of Court men were the
leaders of Society, and the Gentlemen of the Long Robe laid down the
law, not only upon questions of politics, but upon points of taste, of
dress, and of art.

In the reign of Henry VI. the four Inns of Court contained each 200
persons, and the ten Inns of Chancery 100 each. The expense of
maintaining the students there was so great that ‘the sons of gentlemen
do only study the Law in these hostels.’

‘There is scarce an eminent lawyer who is not a gentleman by birth and
fortune,’ says Fortescue; ‘consequently they have a greater regard for
their character and honour.’

And John Ferne, a student of the Inner Temple, wrote,[9] in 1586,
especially commending the wisdom of the regulation that none should be
admitted to the Houses of Court except he were a gentleman of blood,
since ‘nobleness of blood, joyned with virtue, compteth the person as
most meet to the enterprizing of any publick service.’

Shortly after the accession of James I., a royal mandate denied
admission to a House of Court to anyone that was ‘not a gentleman by
descent.’

‘The younger sort,’ says Stow (1603), ‘are either gentlemen, or the sons
of gentlemen, or of other most welthie persons.’

It is one of the almost unvarying features of a Guild that a fixed
period of apprenticeship must be served before admission to be a Master.
The term of apprenticeship in the Inns of Court has varied with each
Society, and in different epochs.

In June, 1596, the period of probation which must be spent by a student
in attending preliminary exercises in the Inns, before graduating in
Law, was limited by an ordinance of the Judges and Benchers to seven
years. Before that date the ‘exercises’ necessary for ‘a call to the
Bar’ occupied eight years, during which twelve grand moots must be
attended in one of the Inns of Chancery, and twenty petty moots in term
time before the Readers of one of the greater Societies.

But in 1617, in a ‘Parliament’ of the Benchers of the Inner Temple, it
was ordained that ‘no man shall be called to the Bar before he has been
full eight years of the House.’ Nor was lapse of time to be considered
sufficient without proportionate acquisition of learning. Only ‘painful
and sufficient students’ were to be called, who had ‘frequented and
argued grand and petty moots in the Inns of Chancery, and brought in
moots and argued clerks’ common cases within this House.’ A proviso
against outside influence was added by the injunction that ‘anyone who
procured letters from any great person to the Treasurer or Benchers in
order to be called to the Bar, should forever be disqualified from
receiving that degree within that House.’

In the seventeenth century, however, ‘readings’ and ‘mootings’ alike
fell into desuetude, and official instruction practically disappeared.
The Inns became merely formal institutions, residence within the walls
of which, indicated by the eating of dinners, was alone necessary for
admittance to the Bar. The loss of the Law was the gain of Letters. A
new class of students, educated in literature and politics, and highly
born, were bred up to take their place in the direction of affairs and
the criticism of writers.

‘When the “readings” with their odds and ends of law-French and Latin
went out into the darkness of oblivion, polite literature stepped into
their place. “Wood’s Institutes” and “Finch’s Law” shared a divided
reign with Beaumont and Fletcher, Butler and Dryden, Congreve and Aphra
Behn. The “pert Templar” became a critic of _belles lettres_, and
foremost among the wits, whereas his predecessors had been simply
regarded by the outer world as a race that knew or cared for little else
save black-letter tomes and musty precedents. Polite literature
ultimately came to clothe the very forms of law with an elegance of
diction not dreamed of in the philosophy of the older jurists, and thus
deprived an arduous study of one of its most repellent features.’[10]

Another cause which greatly contributed to the brilliant record of the
Inns as homes of Literature and the Drama, as well as of the Law, was
the rule which, up till quite a few years ago, compelled Irish
Law-students to keep a certain number of terms in London prior to ‘call’
at the King’s Inn, Dublin. Daniel O’Connell, at Lincoln’s Inn, Curran,
Flood, Grattan, the orators; Tom Moore, the poet, and Richard Brinsley
Sheridan, the dramatist, at the Temple, are among the later ‘Wild
Irishmen’ who owed something to the London Inns in accordance with this
rule, and rewarded the Metropolis with their eloquence and wit.

In modern times the need of general regulations as to qualification by
the keeping of terms and of examinations as a guarantee of competency
has been recognized.

After over 200 years of survival as an obsolete office, Readerships have
been revived again to perform their proper functions. ‘A council of
eight Benchers, representing all the Inns of Court, was appointed to
frame lectures “open to the members of each society,” and five
Readerships were established in several branches of legal science
(1852). Attendance at these lectures was made compulsory, unless the
candidate preferred submitting to an examination in Roman and English
Law and Constitutional History. Three years

[Illustration: INTERIOR OF THE MIDDLE TEMPLE HALL

THE date of its erection (1570) is in the stained-glass window on the
right. In this Hall Queen Elizabeth may have danced with Sir Christopher
Hatton, and here Shakespeare’s ‘Twelfth Night’ was first performed (see
pp. 75-78).]

later, a Royal Commission advised the establishment of a preliminary and
final examination for all Bar students, together with the formation of a
Law University with power to confer degrees in Law. The suggestions of
the Commission were only partially acted upon, and then not till 1870,
when Lord Chancellor Westbury succeeded in getting a preliminary
examination in Latin and English subjects adopted and the final
examination made obligatory.’[11]

And it is pleasant to note, too, that about the same time (1875) the
custom of the ancient mootings, so useful for promoting ready address
and sound knowledge of the Law among the aspirants to the Bar, was
revived at Gray’s Inn.

The discipline which the Inns of Court enforced upon their students
corresponded in general to that exercised by an Oxford or Cambridge
College.

Fines and ‘putting out of Commons’ were the usual forms of punishment,
though the power of imprisoning ‘gentlemen of the House’ for wilful
misdemeanour and disobedience ‘was sometimes exercised by the Masters of
the Bench.’[12]

Attendance at Divine Service was insisted upon, and the wearing of long
beards forbidden. A beard of over three weeks’ growth was subject to a
fine of 20s. A student’s gown and a round cap must be worn in Hall and
in Church, and gentlemen of these Societies were forbidden to go into
the City in boots and spurs, or into Hall with any weapon except
daggers. They were forbidden to keep Hawkes, or to ill-treat the
Butlers. They were not allowed to play shove-groat. In the reign of
Elizabeth, by an order of the Judges for all the Inns of Court, the
wearing of a sword or buckler, of a beard above a fortnight’s growth, or
of great hose, great ruffs, any silk or fur, was equally forbidden, and
no Fellow of these Societies was allowed to go into the City or suburbs
‘otherwise than in his gown according to the ancient usage of the
gentlemen of the Inns of Court,’ upon penalty of expulsion for the third
transgression. The wearing of gowns of a sad colour was enjoined by
Philip and Mary, and long hair, or curled, was forbidden as surely as
white doublets and velvet. These are echoes of the ordinary sumptuary
laws of the period.

‘There is both in the Inns of Court and the Inns of Chancery,’ says
Fortescue, ‘a sort of an Academy or Gymnasium fit for persons of their
station, where they learn singing and all kinds of music, dancing and
Revels.’ These forms of recreation constituted, indeed, the lighter side
of the educational and social life of the Inns.

All-Hallowe’en, Candlemas, and Ascension Day, were the grand days for
‘dancing, revelling, and musick,’ when, before the Judges and Benchers
seated at the upper end of the Hall, the Utter Barristers and Inner
Barristers performed ‘a solemn revel,’ which was followed by a
post-revel, when ‘some of the Gentlemen of the Inner-Barr do present the
House with dancing.’[13] On occasions of more particular festivity, even
so great dignitaries as the Lord-Chancellor, the Justices, Serjeants,
and Benchers, would dance round the coal fire which blazed beneath the
louvre in the centre of the Hall, whilst the verses of the Song of the
House rang out in rousing chorus, like the song of the Mallard of All
Souls, at Oxford.

Dugdale gives the order of the Christmas ceremonies in delightful
detail: ‘At night, before supper, are revels and dancing, and so also
after supper, during the twelve daies of Christmas. The antientest
Master of the Revels is after dinner and supper to sing a carol or song,
and command other gentlemen then there present to sing with him and the
company.’ On Christmas Day ‘Service in the Church ended, the gentlemen
presently repair into the Hall, to breakfast with Brawn, Mustard and
Malmsey,’ and so forth. The good-fellowship and the long evenings of
Christmastide had natural issue in the production of plays and masques
in these Halls, by students who have always been in close touch with the
drama. It is not surprising, therefore, that one of Shakespeare’s plays
was written for Twelfth Night, and first produced by the students of
Law, at the Temple, for this merry and convivial season (see Chapter
IV.).

On St. Stephen’s Day the Lord of Misrule was abroad, and at dinner and
afterwards games and pageants were performed about the fire that burned
in the centre of the Hall, and whence the smoke escaped through the open
chimney in the roof. For instance: ‘Then cometh in the Master of the
Game apparelled in green velvet, and the Ranger of the Forest also, in a
green suit of satten, bearing in his hand a green bow and divers arrows,
with either of them a hunting horn about their necks; blowing together
three blasts of Venery, they pace round about the fire three times.’
They make obeisance to the Lord Chancellor, and then ‘a Huntsman cometh
into the Hall, with a Fox and a Purse-net, with a Cat, both bound at the
end of a staff, and with them nine or ten couple of Hounds. And the Fox
and Cat are by the Hounds set upon, and killed beneath the fire’
(Dugdale).

The Post Revels, we are told, were ‘performed by the better sort of the
young gentlemen of the Societies, with Galliards, Corrantoes, or else
with Stage-plays.’ Masques were frequently performed by the members of
the Inns, and Sir Christopher Hatton first obtained Queen Elizabeth’s
favour by his appearance in a masque prepared by the lawyers.

Besides the solemnities of Christmas and Readers’ Feasts, the _Antique
Masques and Revelries_, as Wynne in his ‘Eunomus’ observes (ii., p.
253), ‘introduced upon extraordinary occasions, as to the grandeur of
the preparations, the dignity of the performers and of the spectators,
at which our Kings and Queens have condescended to be so often present,
seem to have exceeded every public exhibition of the kind.’

One famous masque was presented by the four Inns of Court to Charles I.
and Henrietta (1633), which cost some £24,000. So pleased were the King
and Queen with ‘the noble bravery of it,’ and the answer implied in it
to Prynne’s ‘Histrio Mastix,’ that they returned the compliment by
inviting 120 gentlemen of the Inns of Court to the masque at Whitehall
on Shrove Tuesday.

If these and other old customs have fallen into abeyance, the
traditional spirit of sociability is far from being dead, and on ‘Grand
Nights’ their old habit of hospitality is gratefully revived by the Inns
of Court in favour of famous men, who are honoured as their guests.

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