網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

Deuceace, who lived, when at home, in the Temple. for visitors, and a dark-eyed maid in curling-papers There's a doctor of divinity upstairs, and five brings in the tea.” gents in the coffee-room who know a good glass The Law Institute, that Grecian temple that of wine when they see it. There is a tably d'hote has wedged itself into the south-west end of at half-past five in the front parlour, and cards and Chancery Lane, was built in the stormy year of music afterwards.” Moss's house of durance the 1830. On the Lord Mayor's day that year there

[graphic][ocr errors][merged small]

great novelist describes as splendid with dirty was a riot; the Reform Bill was still pending, and huge old gilt cornices, dingy yellow satin hangings, it was feared might not pass, for the Lords were while the barred-up windows contrasted with "vast foaming at the mouth. The Iron Duke was deand oddly-gilt picture-frames surrounding pieces tested as an opposer of all change, good or bad; sporting and sacred, all of which works were by the the new police were distasteful to the people; greatest masters, and fetched the greatest prices, above all, there was no Lord Mayor's show, and too, in the bill transactions, in the course of which no man in brass armour to look at. The rioters they were sold and bought over and over again. assembled outside No. 62, Fleet Street, were there A quick-eyed Jew boy locks and unlocks the door harangued by some dirty-faced demagogue, and

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]
[graphic]

EXECUTION OF TOMKINS AND CHALLONER (sce page 95).

then marched westward. At Temple Bar the of some yeast dumplings, of which all the family, zealous new “Peelers ” slammed the old muddy including the poor servant, freely partook. There gates, to stop the threatening mob; but the City was no evidence of malice, no suspicion of any Marshal, red in the face at this breach of City ill-will, except that Mrs. Turner had once scolded privilege, re-opened them, and the mob roared the girl for being free with one of the clerks. It approval from a thousand distorted mouths. The was, moreover, remembered that the girl had parmore pugnacious reformers now broke the scaffold- ticularly pressed her mistress to let her make some ing at the Law Institute into dangerous cudgels, yeast dumplings on the day in question. The and some 300 of the unwashed patriots dashed defence was shamefully conducted. No one pressed through the Bar towards Somerset House, full of the fact of the girl having left the dough in the vague notions of riot, and perhaps delicious kitchen for some time untended; nor was weight thought !) plunder. But at St. Mary's, Commissioner laid on the fact of Eliza Fenning's own danger and Mayne and his men in the blue tail-coats received sufferings. All the poor, half-paralysed, Irish girl the roughs in battle array, and at the first charge could say was, “I am truly innocent of the whole the coward mob broke and fled.

charge-indeed I am. I liked my place. I was In 1815, No. 68, Chancery Lane, not far very comfortable." And there was pathos in those from the north-east corner, was the scene of an simple, stammering words, more than in half the event which terminated in the legal murder of a self-conscious diffuseness of tragic poetry. In her young and innocent girl. It was here, at Olibar white bridal dress (the cap she had joyfully worked Turner's, a law stationer's, that Eliza Fenning for herself) she went to her cruel death, still relived, whom we have already mentioned when we peating the words, “ I am innocent." The funeral, entered Hore's shop, in Fleet Street. This poor girl, at St. George the Martyr, was attended by 10,000 on the eve of a happy marriage, was hanged at people. Curran used to declaim eloquently on her Newgate, on the 26th of July, 1815, for attempting unhappy fate, and Mr. Charles Phillips wrote a to poison her master and mistress. The trial took glowing rhapsody on this victim of legal dulness. place at the Old Bailey on April 11th of the same But such mistakes not even Justice herself can year, and Mr. Gurney conducted the prosecution correct. A city mourned over her early grave; before that rough, violent, unfeeling man, Sir John but the life was taken, and there was no redress. Sylvester (alias Black Jack), Recorder of London, Gadsden, the clerk, whom she had warned not to who, it is said, used to call the calendar "a bill eat any dumpling, as it was heavy (this was thought, of fare." The arsenic for rats, kept in a drawer suspicious), afterwards became a wealthy solicitor by Mr. Turner, had been mixed with the dough I in Bedford Row.

CHAPTER VIII.

FLEET STREET (NORTHERN TRIBUTARIES—continued).

Clifford's Inn-Dyer's Chambers, The Settlement after the Great FirePeier Wilkins and his Flying Wives, Fetter Lanc-Waller's Plot and

its Victims-Praise-God Barebone and his Doings-Charles Lamb at School - Hobbes the Philosopher-A Strange Marriage - Mrs. Brownrigge-Paul Whitehead-The Moravians-The Record Office and its Treasures-Rival Poets.

CLIFFORD'S INN, originally a town house of the office there, out of which were issued writs, called Lords Clifford, ancestors of the Earls of Cumber. "Bills of Middlesex," the appointment of which land, given to them by Edward II., was first let to office was in the gift of the senior judge of the the students of law in the eighteenth year of King Queen's Bench. “But what made this Inn once Edward III., at a time when might was too often noted was that all the six attorneys of the Marright, and hard knocks decided legal questions shalsea Court (better known as the Palace Court) oftener than deed or statute. Harrison the regicide had their chambers there, as also had the satellites, was in youth clerk to an attorney in Clifford's who paid so much per year for using their names Inn, but when the Civil War broke out he rode and looking at the nature of their practice. I off and joined the Puritan troopers.

should say that more misery emanated from this Clifford's Inn is the oldest Inn in Chancery small spot than from any one of the niost populous There was formerly, we learn from Mr. Jay, an counties in England. The causes in this couri

Fleet Street Tributaries.]

GEORGE DYER'S CHAMBERS.

9.3

were obliged to be tried in the city of Westminster, tually settled down in the monastic solitude of near the Palace, and it was a melancholy sight Clifford's Inn to compose verses, annotate Greek (except to lawyers) to observe in the court the plays, and write for the magazines. How the crowd of every description of persons suing one worthy, simple-hearted bookworm once walked another. The most remarkable man in the court straight from Lamb's parlour in Colebrooke Row was the extremely fat prothonotary, Mr. Hewlett, intu the New River, and was then fished out and who sat under the judge or the judge's deputy, restored with brandy-and-water, Lamb was never with a wig on his head like a thrush's nest, and tired of telling. At the latter part of his life poor with only one book before him, which was one old Dyer became totally blind. He died in 1841. of the volumes of Burns' Justice.' I knew a The hall of Clifford's Inn is memorable as being respectable gentleman (Mr. G. Dyer) who resided the place where Sir Matthew Hale and seventeen here in chambers (where he died) over a firm of other wise and patient judges sat, after the Great Marshalsea attorneys. This gentleman, who wrote Fire of 1666, to adjudicate upon the claims of the a history of Cambridge University and a bio- landlords and tenants of burned houses, and pregraphy of Robinson of Cambridge, had been a vent future lawsuits. The difficulty of discovering Bluecoat boy, went as a Grecian to Cambridge, the old boundaries, under the mountains of ashes, and, after the University, visited almost every must have been great; and forty thick folio volumes celebrated library in Europe. It often struck me of decisions, now preserved in the British Museum, what a mighty difference there was between what tell of many a legal headache in Clifford's Inn. was going on in the one set of chambers and the A very singular custom, and probably of great other underneath. At Mr. Dyer's I have seen Sir antiquity, prevails after the dinners at Clifford's Walter Scott, Southey, Coleridge, Lamb, Talfourd, Inn. The society is divided into two sections—the and many other celebrated literati, 'all benefiting Principal and Aules, and the Junior or “ Kentish by hearing, which was but of little advantage to Men.” When the meal is over, the chairman of the owner.' In the lawyers' chambers below were the Kentish Men, standing up at the Junior table, people wrangling, swearing, and shouting, and some, bows gravely to the Principal, takes from the hand too, even fighting, the only relief to which was the of a servitor standing by four small rolls of bread, eternal stamping of cognovits, bound in a book as silently dashes them three times on the table, and large as a family Bible.” The Lord Chief Justice then pushes them down to the further end of the of the Common Pleas and Lord Chelmsford both board, from whence they are removed. Perfect at one time practised in the County Court, pur-silence is preserved during this mystic ceremony, chased their situations for large sums, and after which some antiquary who sees deeper into millwards sold them. “It was not a bad nursery for stones than his brethren thinks typifies offerings to a young barrister, as he had an opportunity of Ceres, who first taught mankind the use of laws addressing a jury. There were only four counsel and originated those peculiar ornaments of civilisawho had a right to practise in this court, and if tion, their expounders, the lawyers.

1 you took a first-rate advocate in there specially, In the hall is preserved an old oak folding case, you were obliged to give briefs to two of the containing the forty-seven rules of the institution, privileged four. On the tombstone of one of the now almost defaced, and probably of the reign of compensated Marshalsea attorneys is cut the bitterly Henry VIII. The hall casement contains armorial ironical epitaph, “Blessed are the peacemakers : for glass with the bearings of Baptist Hicks, Viscount they shall be called the children of God.”

Camden, &c. Coke, that great luminary of English jurispru- Robert Pultock, the almost unknown author of dence, resided at Clifford's Inn for a year, and then that graceful story, “Peter Wilkins,” from whose entered himself at the Inner Temple. Coke, it flying women Southey drew his poetical notion of will be remembered, conducted the prosecution of the Glendoveer, or flying spirit, in his wild poem both Essex and Raleigh; in both cases he was of “The Curse of Kehama,” lived in this Inn, grossly unfeeling to fallen great men.

paced on its terrace, and mused in its garden. The George Dyer mentioned by Mr. Jay was “. Peter Wilkins' is to my mind,” says Coleridge not the author of “ The Fleece," but that eccentric (in his "Table Talk”), “a work of uncommon and amiable old scholar sketched by Charles Lamb beauty, and yet Stothard's illustrations have added in “The Essays of Elia.” Dyer was a poet and an beauties to it. If it were not for a certain tendantiquary, and edited nearly all the 140 volumes ency to affectation, scarcely any praise could be of the Delphin Classics for Valpy. Alternately too high for Stothard's designs. They give me writer, Baptist minister, and reporter, he even great pleasure. I believe that • Robinson Crusoe'

[ocr errors]

6

[ocr errors]

6

and Peter Wilkins' could only have been written poets and philosophers condescended to live in it, by islanders. No continentalist could have con- and persons of considerable consequence rustled ceived either tale. Davis's story is an imitation their silks and trailed their velvet along its narrow of 'Peter Wilkins,' but there are many beautiful roadway. things in it, especially his finding his wife crouching During the Middle Ages Fetter Lane slumbered, by the fireside, she having, in his absence, plucked but it woke up on the breaking out of the Civil War, out all her feathers, to be like him! It would and in 1643 became unpleasantly celebrated as the require a very peculiar genius to add another spot where Waller's plot disastrously terminated. tale, ejusdem generis, to 'Peter Wilkins' and In the second year of the war between King *Robinson Crusoe.' I once projected such a and Parliament, the Royal successes at Bath, Bristol, thing, but the difficulty of a pre-occupied ground and Cornwall, as well as the partial victory at stopped me. Perhaps La Motte Fouqué might Edgehill, had roused the moderate party and effect something; but I should fear that neither he chilled many lukewarm adherents of the Puritans. nor any other German could entirely understand The distrust of Pym and his friends soon broke what may be called the desert island' feeling. I out into a reactionary plot, or, more probably, two would try the marvellous line of 'Peter Wilkins,' plots, in one or both of which Waller, the poet, was if I attempted it, rather than the real fiction of dangerously mixed up. The chief conspirators Robinson Crusoe.""

were Tomkins and Challoner, the former Waller's The name of the author of "Peter Wilkins” was brother-in-law, a gentleman living in Holborn, near discovered only a few years ago. In the year 1835 the end of Fetter Lane, and a secretary to the Mr. Nicol, the printer, sold by auction a number Commissioners of the Royal Revenues; the latter of books and manuscripts in his possession, which an eminent citizen, well known on 'Change. Many had formerly belonged to the well-known publisher, noblemen and Cavalier officers and gentlemen had Dodsley; and in arranging them for sale, the ori- also a whispering knowledge of the ticklish affair. ginal agreement for the sale of the manuscript of The projects of these men, or of some of the more “Peter Wilkins,” by the author, “ Robert Pultock, desperate, at least, were—(1) to secure the king's of Clifford's Inn," to Dodsley, was discovered. children ; (2) to seize Mr. Pym, Colonel Hampden, From this document it appears that Mr. Pultock and other members of Parliament specially hostile received twenty pounds, twelve copies of the work, to the king ; (3) to arrest the Puritan Lord Mayor, and “the cuts of the first impression "-.e., a set and all the sour-faced committee of the City Militia; of proof impressions of the fanciful engravings (4) to capture the outworks, forts, magazines, and that professed to illustrate the first edition of the gates of the Tower and City, and to admit 3,000 work—as the price of the entire copyright. This Cavaliers sent from Oxford by a pre-arranged curious document had been sold afterwards to plan; (5) to resist all payments imposed by ParliaJohn Wilkes, Esq., M.P.

ment for support of the armies of the Earl of Essex. Inns of Chancery, like Clifford's Inn, were | Unfortunately, just as the white ribbons were preoriginally law schools, to prepare students for the paring to tie round the arms of the conspirators, larger Inns of Court.

to mark them on the night of action, a treacherous Fetter Lane did not derive its name from the servant of Mr. Tomkins, of Holborn, overheard manufacture of Newgate fetters. Stow, who died Waller's plans from behind a convenient arras, and early in the reign of James I., calls it “Fewtor disclosed them to the angry Parliament. Lane," from the Norman-French word “fewtor" cellar at Tomkins's the soldiers who rummaged it (idle person, loafer), perhaps analogous to the even found a commission sent from the king by Lady less complimentary modern French word “foutre" Aubigny, whose husband had been recently killed (blackguard). Mr. Jesse, however, derives the word at Edgehill. “ fetter” from the Norman “defaytor" (defaulter), Tomkins and Challoner were hung at the Holas if the lane had once been a sanctuary for born end of Fetter Lane. On the ladder, Tomkins skulking debtors. In either case the derivation is said :-"Gentlemen, I humbly acknowledge, in the somewhat ignoble, but the inhabitants have long sight of Almighty God (to whom, and to angels, since lived it down. Stow says it was once a and to this great assembly of people, I am now a mere byway leading to gardens (quantum mutatus !) spectacle), that my sins have deserved of Him this If men of the Bobadil and Pistol character ever untimely and shameful death ; and, touching the did look over the garden-gates and puff their business for which I suffer, I acknowledge that Trinidado in the faces of respectable passers-by, affection to a brother-in-law, and affection and the lane at least regained its character later, when gratitude to the king, whose bread I have eaten

In a

« 上一頁繼續 »