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THE OLD BENCHERS OF THE INNER TEMPLE.
I was born, and passed the first the now almost effaced sun-dials, seven years of my life, in the Tem- with their moral inscriptions, seemple. · Its church, its halls, its gar- ing coevals with that Time which dens, its fountain, its river, I had they measured, and to take their revealmost said ; for in those young years, lations of its flight immediately from what was this king of rivers to me, heaven, holding correspondence with but a stream that watered our plea, the fountain of light! How would sant places ?-- these are of my oldest the dark line steal imperceptibly on, recollections. I repeat, to this day, watched by the eye of childhood, no verses to myself more frequently, eager to detect its movement, never or with kindlier emotion, than those catched, nice as an evanescent cloud, of Spenser, where he speaks of this or the first arrests of sleep! spot.
Ah! yet doth beauty like a dial-hand There when they came, whereas those Steal from his figure, and no pace perbricky towers,
ceived ! The which on Themmes brode aged back doth ride,
What a dead thing is a clock, Where now the studious lawyers have their with its ponderous embowelments of bowers,
lead and brass, its pert or solemn dulThere whylome wont the Templer knights ness of communication, compared with to bide,
the simple altar-like structure, and Till they decayd through pride.
silent heart-language of the old dial ! Indeed, it is the most elegant spot It stood as the garden god of Chrisin the metropolis. What a transi- tian gardens. Why is it almost tion for a countryman visiting Lon- everywhere vanished? If its busidon for the first time the passing ness-use be superseded by more from the crowded Strand or Fleet- elaborate inventions, its moral uses, street, by unexpected avenues, into its beauty, might have pleaded for its magnificent ample squares, its its continuance. It spoke of modeclassic green recesses ! What a
rate labours, of pleasures not procheerful, liberal look hath that
tracted after sun-set, of temperance,
portion of it, which, from three sides, mitive clock, the horologe of the
and good hours. It was the prioverlooks the greater garden: that goodly pile
first world. Adam could scarce have
missed it in Paradise. It was the Of building strong, albeit of Paper hight, measure appropriate for sweet plants confronting, with massy contrast, and flowers to spring by, for the the lighter, older, more fantastically birds to apportion their silver warbshrouded one, named of Harcourt, lings by, for flocks to pasture and with the cheerful Crown-office Row be led to fold by. The shepherd (place of my kindly engendure), right “carved it out quaintly in the sun;"
) opposite the stately stream, which and, turning philosopher by the very washes the garden-foot with her yet occupation, provided it with mottos scarcely trade-polluted waters, and more touching than tombstones. It seems but just weaned from her was a pretty device of the gardener, Twickenham Naiades! a man would recorded by Marvell, who, in the give something to have been born in days of artificial gardening, made a such places. What a collegiate as- dial out of herbs and flowers. I pect has that fine Elizabethan hall, must quote his verses a little higher where the fountain plays, which í up, for they are full, as all his serihave made to rise and fall, how many ous poetry was, of a witty delicacy. times ! to the astoundment of the They will not come in awkwardly, I young urchins, my contemporaries, hope, in a talk of fountains and sunwho, not being able to guess at its dials. He is speaking of sweet garrecondite machinery, were almost den scenes. tempted to hail the wondrous work What wondrous life in this I lead ! as magic! What an antique air had Ripe apples drop about my head.
The luscious clusters of the vine were grotesque. Are the stiff-wigged
in appearance? or, is the splutter Insnar'd with flowers, I fall on grass.
of their hot rhetoric one half so reMeanwhile the mind from pleasure less
freshing and innocent, as the little Withdraws into its happiness.
cool playful streams those exploded The mind, that ocean, where each kind cherubs uttered ? Does straight its own resemblance find ; They have lately gothicised the Yet it creates, transcending these, entrance to the Inner Temple-hall, Far other worlds, and other seas; and the library front, to assimilate Annihilating all that's made
them, I suppose, to the body of the To a green thought in a green shade. hall, which they do not at all reHere at the fountain's sliding foot, semble. What is become of the Or at some fruit-tree's mossy root,
winged horse that stood over the Casting the body's vest aside, My soul into the boughs does glide :
former? a stately arms ! and who has
removed those frescoes of the VirThere, like a bird, it sits and sings, Then whets and claps its silver wings ;
tues, which Italianized the end of And, till prepared for longer flight,
the Paper-buildings ?-my first hint Waves in its plumes the various light. of allegory! They must account to How well the skilful gardener drew, me for these things, which I miss so Of flowers and herbs, this dial new! greatly. Where, from above, the milder sun The terrace is, indeed, left, which Does through a fragrant zodiac run: we used to cail the parade ; but the And, as it works, the industrious bee
traces are passed away of the footComputes its time as well as we. How could such sweet and wholesome ful! It is become common and pro
steps which made its pavement awhours Be reckon'd, but with herbs and flow. fane. The old benchers had it al
most sacred to themselves, in the
forepart of the day at least. They · The artificial fountains of the me- might not be sided or jostled. Their tropolis are, in like manner, fast air and dress asserted the parade. vanishing. Most of them are dried You left wide spaces betwixt you, up, or bricked over. Yet, where when you passed them. We walk one is left, as in that little green on even terms with their successors. nook behind the South Sea House, The roguish eye of J-11, ever what a freshness it gives to the ready to be delivered of a jest, aldreary pile! Four little winged most invites a stranger to vie a remarble boys used to play their vir- partee with it. But what insolent gin fancies, spouting out ever fresh familiar durst have mated Thomas streams from their innocent-wanton Coventry ?-whose person lips, in the square of Lincoln's-inn, quadrate, his step massy and elewhen I was no bigger than they were phantine, his face square as the figured. They are gone, and the lion's, his gait peremptory and pathspring choked up. The fashion, keeping, indivertible from his way they tell me, is gone by, and these as a moving column, the scarecrow things are esteemed childish. Why of his inferiors, the brow-beater of not then gratify children, by letting equals and superiors, who made a them stand ? Lawyers, I suppose, solitude of children wherever he were children once. They are a- came, for they fled his insufferable wakening images to them at least. presence, as they would have shunned Why must every thing smack of an Elisha bear. His growl was as man, and mannish ? Is the world thunder in their ears, whether he all grown up? Is childhood dead? spake to them in mirth or in rebuke, Or, is there not in the bosoms of his invitatory tones being, indeed, of the wisest and the best some of the all, the most repulsive and horrid. child's heart left, to respond to its Clouds of snuff, aggravating the naearliest enchantments ? The figures tural terrors of his speech, broke
* From a copy of verses entitled, The Garden.
from each majestic nostril, darkening to allude to her story that day. S. the air. He took it, not by pinches, promised faithfully to observe the inbut a palmful at once, diving for junction. He had not been seated in it, under the mighty flaps of his old- the parlour, where the company was fashioned waistcoat pocket; his expecting the dinner summons, four waistcoat red and angry, his coat minutes, when, a pause in the condark rappee, tinctured by dye origi- versation ensuing, he got up, looked nal, and by adjuncts, with buttons out of window, and pulling down his of obsolete gold. And so he paced rufflesman ordinary motion with him the terrace.
-observed, “ it was a gloomy day,” By his side a milder form was and added, “ Miss Blandy must be sometimes to be seen; the pensive hanged by this time, I suppose.” Ingentility of Samuel Salt. They were stances of this sort were perpetual. coevals, and had nothing but that Yet S. was thought by some of the and their benchership in common. greatest men of his time a fit person In politics Salt was a whig, and Co- to be consulted, not alone in matters ventry a staunch tory. Many a sar- pertaining to the law, but in the ordicastic growl did the latter cast out, nary niceties and embarrassments of for Coventry had a rough spinous conduct—from force of manner enhumour, at the political confederates tirely. He never laughed. He had of his associate, which rebounded the same good fortune among the from the gentle bosom of the latter female world, was a known toast like cannon-balls from wool. You with the ladies, and one or two are could not ruffle Samuel Salt.
said to have died for love of him-I S. had the reputation of being a suppose, because he never trifled or very clever man, and of excellent talked gallantry with them, or paid discernment in the chamber practice them, indeed, hardly common attenof the law. I suspect his knowledge tions. He had a fine face and perdid not amount to much. When a son, but wanted, methought, the spirit case of difficult disposition of money, that should have shown them off testamentary or otherwise, came be- with advantage to the women. His fore him, he ordinarily handed it over eye lacked lustre. Lady Mary Wortwith a few instructions to his man ley Montague was an exception to Lovel, who was a quick little fellow, her sex: she says, in one of her letand would dispatch it out of hand by ters, “ I wonder what the women the light of natural understanding, of see in $. I do not think him by any which he had an uncommon share. means handsome. To me he appears It was incredible what repute for ta- an extraordinary dull fellow, and to lents S. enjoyed by the mere trick of want common sense. Yet the fools gravity. He was a shy man ; a child are all sighing for him." Not so, might pose him in a minute-indo- thought Susan P- ; who, at the lent and procrastinating to the last advanced age of sixty, was seen, in degree. Yet men would give him the cold evening time, unaccompacredit for vast application in spite of nied, wetting the pavement of Band himself. He was not to be trusted Row, with tears that fell in drops with himself with impunity. He which might be heard, because her never dressed for a dinner party but friend had died that day-he, whom he forgot his sword- they wore she had pursued with a hopeless swords then—or some other neces- passion for the last forty years-a sary part of his equipage. Lovel passion, which years could not exhad his eye upon him on all these tinguish or abate, nor the long reoccasions, and ordinarily gave him solved, yet gently enforced, puttings his cue.
If there was any thing off of unrelenting bachelorhood diswhich he could speak unseasonably, suade from its cherished purpose. he was sure to do it. He was to dine Mild Susan P—, thou hast now at a relative's of the unfortunate Miss thy friend in heaven ! Blandy on the day of her execution; Thomas Coventry was a cadet of -and L. who had a wary foresight the noble family of that name. He of his probable hallucinations, before passed his youth in contracted cirhe set out, schooled him with great cumstances, which gave him early anxiety not in any possible manner those parsimonious habits which in
after-life never forsook him; so that, in the world. He resigned his title with one windfall or another, about almost to respect as a master, if L. the time I knew him, he was master could ever have forgotten for a moof four or five hundred thousand ment that he was a servant. pounds; nor did he look, or walk, I know this Lovel. He was a man worth a moidore less. He lived in of an incorrigible and losing honesty. a gloomy house opposite the pump A good fellow withal, and“ would in Serjeant's-inn, Fleet-street. J. strike.” In the cause of the oppress, the counsel, is doing self-imposed ed he never considered inequalities, penance in it, for what reason I din or calculated the number of his oppovine not, at this day. C. had an nents. He once wrested a sword agreeable seat at North Cray, where out of the hand of a man of quality he seldom spent above a day or two that had drawn upon him; and pomata time in the summer; but preferred, melled him severely with the hilt of during the hot months, standing at it. The swordsman had offered inhis window in this damp, close, well- şult to a female—an occasion upon like mansion, to watch, as he said, which no odds against him could “ the maids drawing water all day have prevented the interference of long.” I suspect he had his within- Lovel. He would stand next day door reasons for the preference. Hic bare-headed to the same person, mocurrus et arma fuêre. He might destly to excuse his interference, think his treasures more safe. His For L. never forgot rank, where house had the aspect of a strong box. something better was not concerned. C. was a close hunks—a hoarder ra- He pleaded the cause of a delinquent ther than a miser--or, if a miser, in the treasury of the Temple so efnone of the mad Elwes breed, who fectually with S. the then treasurerhave brought discredit upon a cha- that the man was allowed to keep his racter, which cannot exist without place. L. had the offer to succeed certain admirable points of steadiness him. It had been a lucrative proand unity of purpose. One may hate motion. But L. chose to forego the a true miser, but cannot, I suspect, so advantage, because the man had a easily despise him. By taking care wife and family. L. was the liveof the pence, he is often enabled to liest little fellow breathing, had a face part with the pounds, upon a scale as gay as Garrick's, whom he was that leaves us careless generous fel said greatly to resemble (I have a lows halting at an immeasurable dis- portrait of him which confirms it), tance behind. C. gave away 30,000l. possessed a fine turn for humourous at once in his life-time to a blind cha- poetry-next to Swift and Priorrity. His house-keeping was severe- moulded heads in clay or plaister of ly looked after, but he kept the table Paris to admiration, by the dint of of a gentleman. He would know natural genius merely ; turned cribwho came in and who went out of bage boards, and such small cabinet his house, but his kitchen chimney toys, to perfection; took a hand at was never suffered to freeze.
quadrille or bowls with equal facility; Salt was his opposite in this, as in made punch better than any man of all-never knew what he was worth his degree in England; had the merin the world ; and, having but a com- riest quips and conceits, and was alpetency for his rank, which his indo- together as brimful of rogueries and lent habits were little calculated to inventions as you could desire. He improve, might have suffered severe was a brother of the angle, moreover, ly if he had not had honest people and just such a free, hearty, honest about him. Lovel took care of every companion as Mr. Isaac Walton thing. He was at once his clerk, his would have chosen to go a fishing good servant, his dresser, his friend, with. I saw him in his old age and his “ flapper,” his guide, stop- the decay of his faculties, palsywatch, auditor, treasurer. He did smitten, in the last sad stage of hunothing without consulting Lovel, or man weakness" a remnant most failed in any thing without expecting forlorn of what he was,"—yet even and fearing his admonishing. He then his eye would light up upon the put himself almost too much in his mention of his favourite Garrick. He hands, had they not been the purest was greatest, he would say, in Bayes
.-" was upon the stage nearly dine-answering to the combination throughout the whole performance, rooms at college-much to the easeand as busy as a bee." At intervals ment of his less epicurean brethren. too, he would speak of his former I know nothing more of him. Then life, and how he came up a little boy Read, and Twopenny-Read, goodfrom Lincoln to go to service, and humoured and personable-Twohow his mother cried at parting with penny, good-humoured, but thin, and him, and how he returned after some felicitous in jests upon
his own few years' absence in his smart new figure. If T. was thin, Wharry was livery to see her, and she blessed her attenuated and fleeting. Many must self at the change, and could hardly remember him (for he was rather of be brought to believe that it was later date) and his singular gait, “ her own bairn." And then, the which was performed by three steps excitement subsiding, he would weep, and a jump regularly succeeding. till I have wished that sad second. The steps were little efforts, like that childhood might have a mother still of a child beginning to walk; the to lay its head upon her lap. But jump comparatively vigorous, as a the common mother of us all in no foot' to an inch. Where he learned long time after received him gently this figure, or what occasioned it, I into hers.
could never discover. It was neither With Coventry, and with Salt, in graceful in itself, nor seemed to antheir walks upon the terrace, most swer the purpose any better than commonly Peter Pierson would join common walking. The extreme teto make up a third. They did not nuity of his frame, I suspect, set him walk linked arm in arm in those upon it. It was a trial of poising. days—“as now our stout triumvirs Twopenny would often rally him sweep the streets,”—but generally upon his leanness, and hail him as with both hands folded behind them Brother Lusty; but W. had no relish for state, or with one at least be- of a joke. His features were spitehind, the other carrying a cane. P. ful. I have heard that he would was a benevolent, but not a prepos- pinch his cat's ears extremely, when sessing man. He had that in his any thing had offended him. Jackface which you could not term un- son-the omniscient Jackson he was happiness; it rather implied an inca- called—was of this period. He had pacity of being happy. His cheeks the reputation of possessing more were colourless, even to whiteness, multifarious knowledge than any His look was uninviting, resembling man of his time. He was the Friar (but without his sourness) that of Bacon of the less literate portion of our great philanthropist. I know the Temple. I remember a pleasant that he did good acts, but I could ne- passage, of the cook applying to him, ver make out what he was. Contem- with much formality of apology, for porary with these, but subordinate, instructions how to write down edge was Daines Barrington-another odd- bone of beef in his bill of commons. ity-he walked burly and square. He was supposed to know, if any in imitation, I think, of Coventry- man in the world did. He decided howbeit he attained not to the dig- the orthography to be-as I have nity of his prototype. Nevertheless, given it--fortifying his authority with he did pretty well, upon the strength such anatomical reasons as dismissed of being a tolerable antiquarian, and the manciple (for the time) learned having a brother a bishop. When and happy. Some do spell it yet perthe accounts of his year's treasurer- versely, aitch bone, from a fanciful ship came to be audited, the follow- resemblance between its shape, and ing singular charge was unanimously that of the aspirate so denominated. disallowed by the bench: “ Item, I had almost forgotten Mingay with disbursed Mr. Allen the gardener, the iron hand-- but he was somewhat twenty shillings, for stuff to poison later. He had lost his right hand by the sparrows, by my orders.” “Next some accident, and supplied it with a to him was old Barton—a jolly ne- grappling hook, which he wielded gation, who took upon him the or- with a tolerable adroitness. I dedering of the bills of fare for the par- tected the substitute, before I was liament chamber, where the benchers old enough to reason whether it were