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the most public manner. But still as the balance of learning was greatly on the side of the clergy, and as the common law was no longer taught, as formerly, in any part of the kingdom, it must have been subjected to many inconveniences, and perhaps would have been gradually lost and overrun by the civil, (a suspicion well justified from the frequent transcripts of Justinian to be met with in Bracton and Fleta,) had it not been for a peculiar incident, which happened at a very critical time, and contributed greatly to its support.
The incident which I mean was the fixing of the court of common pleas, the grand tribunal for disputes of property, to be held in one certain spot; that the seat of ordinary justice might be permanent and notorious to all the nation.
Formerly that, in conjunction with all the other superior * courts, was
held before the king's capital justiciary of England, in the aula regis, or such of his palaces wherein his royal person resided; and removed, with his household, from one end of the kingdom to the other. This was found to occasion great inconvenience to the suitors; to remedy which it was made an article of the great charter of liberties, both that of King John and King Henry the Third,(P) that “common pleas should no longer follow the king's court, but be held in some certain place:" in consequence of which they have ever since been held (a few necessary removals in times of the plague excepted) in the palace of Westminster only. This brought together the professors of the municipal law, who before were dispersed about the kingdom, and formed them into an aggregate body; whereby a society was established of persons, who, (as Spelman(Q) observes,) addicting themselves wholly to the study of the laws of the land, and no longer considering it as a mere subordinate science for the amusement of leisure hours, soon raised those laws to that pitch of perfection, which they suddenly attained under the auspices of our English Justinian, King Edward the First.
In consequence of this lucky assemblage, they naturally fell into a kind of collegiate order, and, being excluded from Oxford and Cambridge, found it neces. sary to establish a new university of their own. This they did by purchasing at various times certain houses (now called the inns of court and of chancery) between the city of Westminster, the place of holding the king's courts, and the city of London; for advantage of ready access to the one, and plenty of provisions in the other.(r) Here exercises were performed, lectures read, and degrees were at length conferred in the common law, as at other universities in *24]
the canon and civil. The degrees were those of barristers (first styled
apprentices(s) from apprendre, to *learn) who answered to our bachelors : as the state and degree of a serjeant,(t) servientis ad legem, did to that of doctor.
The crown seems to have soon taken under its protection this infant seminary of common law; and, the more effectually to foster and cherish it, King Henry the Third, in the nineteenth year of his reign, issued out an order directed to the mayor and sheriffs of London, commanding that no regent of any law schools within that city should, for the future, teach law therein. (u) The word law, or leges, being a general term, may create some doubt, at this distance of time,
Mr. Selden (in Flet. 8, 6) very justly understands to be 1, 3 Edw. I. c. 29, and in Horn's Mirror, c. 1 & 10, c. 2, 25 meant the title de novi operis nuntiatione both in the civil c. 3, 1, in the same reign. But M. Paris, in his life of and canon laws, (Ff. 39, 1, c. 8, 11 and Decretal. not John II., Abbot of St. Alban's, which he wrote in 1255, 39 Extrav. 5, 32,) whereby the erection of any new buildings Henry III. speaks of advocates at the common law, or in prejudice of more ancient ones was prohibited. But countors, (quos banci narratores vulgariter appellamus, ) Skipwith, the king's sergeant, and afterwards Chief Baron as of an order of men well known. And we have an exam. of the Exchequer, declared them to be fiat nonsense : " in ple of the antiquity of the coif in the same author's History ceux parola, contra inhibitionem novi operis, ny ad pas of England, A.D. 1259, in the case of one William de Bussy; entendment; and Justice Schardelow mends the matter who, being called to account for his great knavery and mal. but little by informing him, that they signify a restitution practices, claimed the benefit of his orders or clergy, which in their law : for which reason he very sagely resolves to till then remained an entire secret; and to that end roluit pay no sort of regard to them. “Ceo n'est que un restitu- ligamenta coifæ suæ solvere, ut palam monstraret se tonsuram tion en Imer ley, pur que a ceo n'avomus regard, doc." habere clericalem ; sed non est permissus.Satelles rero (P) C. 11.
eum arripiens, non per coi fe ligamina sed per guttur eum (9) Glossar. 384.
apprehendens. traxit ad carcerem. Hence Sir H. Spelman () Fortesc. c. 48.
conjectures (Glossar. 335) that coifs were introduced to Apprentices or parristers seem to have been first bide the tonsure of such renegade clerks, as were still appointed by an ordinance of king Edward the First in tempted to remain in the secular courts in the quality of parliament, in the 20th year of his reign. Spelm. Gloss. advocates or judges, notwithstanding their prohibition ly 37. Dugdale, Orig. Jurid. 55.
() ?The first mention which I have met with in our law. (u) Ne aliquis scholas regens de legibus in eadem civitute hok, of serjeants or countors is in the statute of Westm. de cætero ibidem leges doceat.
whether the teaching of the civil law or the common, or both, is hereby restrained But in either case it tends to the same end. If the civil law only is prohibited, (which is Mr. Selden's(w) opinion,) it is then a retaliation upon the clergy, who had excluded the common law from their seats of learning. If the municipal law be also included in the restriction, as Sir Edward Coke(3) understands it, and which the words seem to import,) then the intention is evidently this; by preventing private teachers within the walls of the city, to collect all the commor lawyers into the one public university, which was newly instituted in the suburbs.
*In this juridical university (for such it is insisted to have been by Fortescue(y) and Sir Edward Coke)(z) there are two sorts of collegiate houses; one called inns of chancery, in which the younger students of the law were usually placed, " learning and studying, (says Fortescue,)(a) the originals, and, as it were, the elements of the law; who, profiting therein, as they grew to ripeness, so were they admitted into the greater inns of the same study, called the inns of court.” And in these inns of both kinds, he goes on to tell us, the knights and barons, with other grandees and noblemen of the realm, did use to place their children, though they did not desire to have them thoroughly learned in the law, or to get their living by its practice: and that in his time there were about two thousand students at these several inns, all of whom, he informs us, were filii nobilium, or gentlemen born.
Y ) In Plet. 8, 2.
() 2 Inst. proem.
(v) C. 49.
(3) 3 Rep. pref.
(*) C. 49.
8 The number was not materially different in the time of Ben Jonson, who has given evidence of their influence and character in the dedication of his comedy of Every Man out of his Humour, which he inscribed To the noblest nurseries of humanity and liberty in the kingdom-the Inns of Court.” By humanity is evidently meant classical learning,-a meaning of the word which is now almost lost by disuse. To charrcterize a law school as the nursery of sound literature and civil liberty is indeed a highly-wrought eulogium of the legal profession,-a tribute, however, which it is believed that its history shows to have been well merited. In the time of Jonson, the Inns of Court were still in a very flourishing condition. In the year 1586, there were in term 1703, out of term 643. There were four Inns of Court,Gray's Inn, Lincoln's Inn, the Middle Temple, and the Inner Temple. These had attached to them certain Inns of Chancery, in all numbering eight. Clifford's Inn, Clement's Inn, and Lion's Inn belonged to the Inner Temple; New Inn, to the Middle Temple; Furnival's Inn (which has since ceased to exist) and Thavie's Inn to Lincoln's Inn, and Staple's Inn and Barnard's Inn to Gray's Inn.
Sir Edward Coke seems to consider the writ of Henry III., mentioned in the text, as intended to attack the memory of Magna Charta and the Charter of the Forest, by silencing, in an arbitrary and summary manner, legal teachers who based upon these documents instruction in the laws of England.
It may be doubted whether the opinion of Sir William Blackstone, that the lawyers were collected together at so early a period, will bear examination. Of Lincoln's Inn Dugdale mentions a tradition as still current among the ancients, that the professors of the law were brought to settle in that place by Henry, Earl of Lincoln, “about the beginning of Edward II.'s time.” This was written more than seventy years after the nineteenth of Henry III. There is an account of Gray's Inn (formerly the property of the Lords Gray of Wilton) as having been held by lease from them by students of the law, in the time of King Edward III. And Dugdale gives a traditionary account that the temple, having passed to the Knights Hospitallers in the reign of Edward III., came to the lawyers by demise from them.
The word Inns was anciently used to denote town-houses, in which the nobility and gentry resided when they were in attendance at court; and it is frequently employed by the old poets to denote a noble mansion. The Inns of Court were in French termed hostelle. In all our Latin records they are called hospitia ; while diversoria is the name applied to public lodging-houses, which are now commonly known as inns. The buildings originally purchased for the purposes of these legal societies, having been at the time handsome private residences, still retained in their new use the ancient names by which they were designated. The Middle and Inner Temple were formerly dwellings of the Knights Templars. Lincoln's and Gray's Inns anciently belonged to the Earls of Lincoln and Gray. So the names of the several Inns of Chancery are taken from the names of their original proprietors, except New Inn, Staple's Inn, which belonged to the Mer chants of the Staple, and Lion's Inn, which was a common inn with the sign of a lion. At a very early period Holborn was a quiet suburban village oi London, watered by a
Hence it is evident, that (though under the influence of the monks, our uni. versities neglected this study, yet) in the time of Henry the Sixth it was thought highly necessary, and was the universal practice, for the young nobility and gentry to be instructed in the originals and elements of the laws. But by degrees this custom has fallen into disuse; so that, in the reign of Queen Eliza
little rivulet which descended to the river Fleet, with an extensive prospect of the adjacent country. It was called Old Bourne, from which it derived its modern name. It was in and near this secluded and beautiful spot that the professors and practitioners of the common law of England established their chambers and university. Situated between the city of Westminster, the place of holding the king's courts, on the one side, and the city of London on the other, they enjoyed the advantage of “ready access to the one and plenty of provisions in the other." A river separated them from the city, flowing from Battle Bridge past the foot of Holborn Hill, and joining the Thames at Blackfriars. This river was called the Fleet or Swift River, and gave their names to Fleet Street and Fleet Prison.
The Inns of Chancery were originally in fact, what in later years they became only in name,--preparatory seminaries for the study of the grounds and principles of the law. Such men as More, Coke, and Holt were chosen to deliver lectures. They were governed by principals and ancients, elected by the members, exercising their authority in subordination to the benchers of the Inns of Court to which they respectively belonged. The readings, in time, came to be attended with costly entertainments, which eventually led to the suspension of these valuable exercises. The Inns of Court were much celebrated for the magnificence of their revels. The last of these took place in 1773, in the Inner Temple, in honour of Mr. Talbot, when he took leave of that house, of which he was a bencher, on having the Great Seal delivered to him. Something of the same kind was exhibited in Lincoln's Inn in 1845, on the occasion of the queen's visit at the opening of the New Hall, when Prince Albert was made a barrister and bencher.
In modern times, lectures and examinations have been reintroduced into these establishments; but attendance upon them is entirely voluntary. To entitle a person to be called, he must keep twelve terms. A term is kept by the student being present at a certain number of dinners, generally five in each term. He must also have gone nine times through a certain ceremony which is called performing an exercise. The student is furnished by the steward with a piece of paper, on which is supposed to be written an argument on some point of law; but, owing to the negligence of successive copyists, the writing now consists of a piece of legal jargon wholly unintelligible. When, after dinner, grace has been said, the student advances to the barristers' table and commences reading from this paper; upon which one of the senior barristers present makes him a bow, takes the paper from him, and tells him that it is quite sufficient. With the payment of the necessary fees and taking certain oaths, the student, having kept his terms and performed his exercises, receives his call to the bar.
The original institution of the Inns of Court nowhere precisely appears; but it is certain that they are not corporations, and have no charter from the crown. They are voluntary societies, which for ages have submitted to a government analogous to that of the seminaries of learning."-LORD MANSFIELD.
The student who desires to be more fully informed on this subject is referred to Dugdale's Origines Juridicales, Herbert's Antiquities of the Inns of Court and Chancery, and Pearce's History of the Inns of Court.
A commission was issued May 8, 1854, by the crown to several distinguished lawyers, to inquire into the arrangements in the Inns of Court and Inns of Chancery for the promoting the study of the law and jurisprudence. Their report was made Aug. 10, 1855, and contains a mass of the most interesting and valuable information, not only in regard to the state, revenues, and management of the institutions, which were the subject of the inquiry, but as to the state of legal education not only in England and Scotland, but in the different countries of Europe and the United States of America. The commissioners recommend that a university be constituted, with the power of conferring degrees in law; the chancellor of the university to be elected for life, the electors being all barristers (including serjeants) and masters of law; the senate, consisting of thirty-two members, to be elected eight by each Inn of Court. They contemplate a preliminary examination prior to admission as a student, unless in the case of one who has obtained the degree of Bachelor of Arts, or Master or Bachelor in Law, at some university within the British dominions; and that no person shall be called to the bar without having passed an examination satisfactory in at least one subject of each of the following two branches: First branch : a, constitutional law and legal history ; b, jurisprudence; c, the Roman civil law. Second branch : a, common law; b, equity; c, the law of real pirorosty:-SHARSWOOD.
beth, Sir Edward Coke(6) does not reckon above a thousand students, and tho number at present is very considerably less. Which seems principally owing to these reasons : first, because the inns of chancery, being now almost totally filled by the inferior branch of the profession, are neither commodious nor proper for the resort of gentlemen of any rank or figure; so that there are very rarely any young students entered at the inns of chancery : secondly, because in the inns of court all sorts of regimen and academical superintendence, either with regard to morals or studies, are found impracticable, and therefore entirely neglected : lastly, because persons of birth and fortune, after having finished their usual courses at the universities, have *seldom leisure or resolution sufficient to enter upon a new scheme of study at a new place of instruction. Wherefore
[ *26 few gentlemen now resort to the inns of court, but such for whom the knowledge of practice is absolutely necessary; such, I mean, as are intended for the profession: the rest of our gentry (not to say our nobility also) having usually retired to their estates, or visited foreign kingdoms, or entered upon public life, without any instruction in the laws of the land, and indeed with hardly any opportunity of gaining instruction, unless it can be afforded them in these seats of learning.
And that these are the proper places, for affording assistances of this kind to gentlemen of all stations and degrees, cannot (I think) with any colour of reason be denied. For not one of the objections, which are made to the inns of court and chancery, and which I have just now enumerated, will hold with regard to the universities. Gentlemen may here associate with gentlemen of their own rank and degree. Nor are their conduct and studies left entirely to their own discretion; but regulated by a discipline so wise and exact, yet so liberal, so sensible, and manly, that their conformity to its rules (which does at present so much honour to our youth) is not more the effect of constraint than of their own inclinations and choice. Neither need they apprehend too long an avocation hereby from their private concerns and amusements, or (what is a more noble object) the service of their friends and their country. This study will go hand in hand with their other pursuits : it will obstruct none of them; it will ornament and assist them all.
But if, upon the whole, there are any still wedded to monastic prejudice, that can entertain a doubt how far this study is properly and regularly academical, such persons I am afraid either have not considered the constitution and design of an university, or else think very meanly of it. It must be a deplorable narrowness of mind, that would confine these seats of instruction to the limited views of one or two learned professions. To the praise of this age be it spoken, a more open *and generous way of thinking begins now universally to prevail. The attainment of liberal and genteel accomplishments, though
[*27 not of the intellectual sort, has been thought by our wisest and most affectionato patrons,(C) and very lately by the whole university,(d) no small improvement of our ancient plan of education : and therefore I may safely affirm that nothing (how unusual soever) is, under due regulations, improper to be taught in this place, which is proper for a gentleman to learn. But that a science, which distinguishes the criterions of right and wrong; which teaches to establish the one, and prevent, punish, or redress the other; which employs in its theory thé noblest faculties of the soul, and exerts in its practice the cardinal virtues of the heart; a science, which is universal in its use and extent, accommodated to each individual, yet comprehending the whole community; that a science like this should ever have been deemed unnecessary to be studied in an university, is matter of astonishment and concern. Surely, if it were not before an object 8 Rep. pret.
dancing, and fencing, at those hours when more serious (9) Lord Chancellor Clarendon, in his dialogue of education, among his tracta, p. 3:25, appears to have been very (4) By accepting in full convocation the remainder of slicitons, that it might be made " a part of the ornament Lord Clarendon's history from his noble descendants, on of our learned academies, to teach the qualities of riding, condition to apply the profits arising from its publication
to the establishment of a manege in the university.
exercises should be intermitted."
This brief eulogium upon the science of the laws has been the subject of deserved admiration. We may add to it the following, which have been equally celebrated :“Of law there can be no less acknowledged than that her seat is the Losom of God,
of academical knowledge, it was high time to make it one: and to tbose who can doubt the propriety of its reception among us, (if any such there be, we may return an answer in their own way, that ethics are confessedly a branch of academical learning; and Aristotle himself has said, speaking of the laws of his own country, that jurisprudence, or the knowledge of those laws, is the principal and most perfect branch of ethics.(e)
From a thorough conviction of this truth, our munificent benefactor, Mr. Viner, having employed above half a century in amassing materials for new-modelling and rendering more commodious the rude study of the laws of the land, con*28]
signed *both the plan and execution of these his public-spirited designs
to the wisdom of his parent university. Resolving to dedicate his learned labours “to the benefit of posterity and the perpetual service of his country,”()) he was sensible he could not perform his resolution in a better and more effectual manner, than by extending to the youth of this place, those assistances of which he so well remembered and so heartily regretted the want. And the sense which the university has entertained of this ample and most useful benefaction must appear beyond a doubt from their gratitude, in receiving it with all possible marks of esteem ;(9) from their alacrity and unexampled dispatch in carrying it into execution;(k) and, above all, from the laws and constitutions by which they have effectually guarded it from the neglect and abuse to which such institutions are liable.(i) We have seen an universal emulation who best should understand, or most faithfully pursue, the designs of our generous patron : and *30]
with pleasure we recollect, that those who are most distinguished *by
their quality, their fortune, their station, their learning, or their experience, have appeared the most zealous to promote the success of Mr. Viner's establishment.
(0) Τελεια μαλιστα αρετη, ότι της τελειας αρετης χρησις blished, with a salary of two hundred pounds per annum; COTL. Ethic. ad Nicomach. l. 5, c. 3.
the professor to be elected by coprocation, and to be at the (1) See the Preface to the 18th volume of his abridg time of his election at least a master of arts or bachelor of bent.
civil law in the university of Oxford, of ten years' standing () Mr. Viner is enrolled among the public benefactors of from his matriculation: and also a barrister at law, of four dhe university by decree of convocation.
years' standing at the bar. (A) Mr. Viner died June 5, 1756. His effects were col 3. That such professor (by himself, or by deputy to be lected and settled, near a volume of his work printed, previously approved by convocation) do rend one solemn almost the whole disposed of, and the accounts made up, in public lecture on the laws of England, and in the English a year and a half from his decease, by the very diligent and language, in every academical term, at certain stated times worthy administrators, with the will annexed, (Dr. West previous to the commencement of the common law teim, and Dr. Good, of Magdalene; Dr. Whaley, of Oriel; Mr. or forfeit twenty pounds for every omission to Mr. Viner's Buckler, of All Souls; and Mr. Betts, of University col- general fund: and also (by himself or by deputy to be ap lege ;) to whom that care was consigned by the university. proved, if occasional, by the vice-chancellor and proctors; Another half year was employed in considering and settling or, permanent, both the cause and the deputy to be an& plan of the proposed institution, and in framing the nually approved by convocation,) do yearly rend one come statutes thereupon, which were finally confirmed by con plete course of lectures on the laws of England, and in the vocation on the 3d of July, 1758. The professor was elected English language, consisting of sixty lectures at the least, on the 20th October following, and two scholars on the suc to be read during tbe university term time, with such ceeding day. And, lastly, it was agreed at the annual proper intervals, that not more than four lectures may fall andit in 1761, to establish a fellowship; and a fellow was within any single week; that the professor do give a accordingly elected in January following. The residue of month's notice of the time when the course is to begin, and this fund, arising from the sale of Mr. Viner's abridgment, do read gratis to the scholars of Mr. Viner's foundations will probably be sufficient hereafter to found another fel but may demand of other auditors such gratuity as shali lowship and scholarship, or three more scholarships, as shall be settled from time to time by decree of convocation, and be thought most expedient.
that for every of the said sixty lectures omitted, the pro(i) The statutes are in substance as follows:
fessor, on complaint made to the vice-chancellor within the 1. That the accounts of this benefaction be separately year, do forfeit forty shillings to Mr. Viner's general fund, kept, and annually audited by the delegates of accounts and the proof of having performed his duty to lie upon the said professor, and afterwards reported to convocation.
professor. 2. That a professorship of the laws of England be esta 4. That every professor do continue in his office during
her voice the harmony of the world. All things in heaven and earth do her homage, the very least as feeling her care, the greatest as not exempted from her power: both angels and men and creatures, of what condition soever, though each in different sort and manner, yet all with uniform consent, admiring her as the mother of their peace and joy.”—Hooker's Eccl. Pol.
“ I might instance in other professions the obligation men lie under of applying to certain parts of history; and I can hardly forbear doing it in that of the law,-in its nature the noblest and most beneficial to mankind, in its abuse and debasement the most pernicious. A lawyer now is nothing more, (I speak of ninety-nine in a hundred at least,) to use some of Tully's words, 'Nisi leguleius quidam cautus, et acutus præco actionum, cantor formularum, auceps syllabarum.' But there have been lawyers that were orators, philosophers, historians. There have been Baçons and Clarendons. There will be none such any more till, in some better age, true ambition or the love of fame prevails over