Imágenes de páginas

case of No. 5, Flag Court, and looked to me as the clerk and I slowly toiled upstairs like distant lighthouses seen through a fog. The clerk was a portly man and plethoric withal, so he eagerly seized hold of the opportunity of resting himself afforded by each landing-place; and by way of filling up these involuntary pauses, he discoursed to me about the owners of the names which I beheld painted up over each door.

* Those rooms,' said he, 'are Mr. Growler's. You know his great work, Growler on Ejectment. Those chambers opposite to his, are Mr. Denhope's, the great parliamentary counsel. Ah,' remarked the clerk reflectively, 'I remember him when he entered the Upper TempleI took his entrance fees myself not twenty years ago—and now he's making 20,000l. a year. On the floor above Mr. Denhope's rooms we found the name of Mr. Waltham painted up. Yes,' said the clerk admiringly, he's a Honourable !-the Honourable Arthur Waltham, youngest son of Lord Manleytowers.-As for that gentleman,' he continued doubtfully, pointing as he spoke to the name of a man who has since that time written one of the sweetest and tenderest poems in the English language, 'I don't know much about him, but I've heard that he's a literary character. However,' concluded the clerk

It was

hopefully, 'that mayn't be true!' With this we reached the third floor, and knocked at the door of the late Mr. Redtape's chambers. speedily opened, and we were forthwith confronted by Mrs. Flanagan.

She was then a very portly widow of about fifty years of age. She was dressed in a seedy suit of black, and had a swollen red face, twinkling black eyes, and iron-gray hair. I trembled inwardly at the awfulness of her aspect as she showed the chambers to me, enlarging, as she did so, upon her own merit as a laundress, and upon the devoted care which she had always taken both of Mr. Redtape and of his household gods. I found that the chambers consisted of a moderate-sized sittingroom, an exceedingly small bedroom, and a third room so small and so ill contrived, that the only use it could be put to was that of a pantry. The furniture of the late Mr. Redtape still adorned the room, 'and could be had,' I was volubly informed by Mrs. Flanagan, ‘at a most moderate price.' The ceiling of the sitting-room was black with smoke; the wainscoting of wood running round the walls had originally been painted green, but

now so stained by age and dirt as to be almost unrecognisable. As for the windows, they looked as though soap and water had never been


applied to them within the memory of man. The view out of the bedroom window comprised a horizon of chimney pots; whilst that from the sitting-room looked into the dingy quadrangle of Flag Court, on the opposite side of which I could dimly discern the lights of the houses looming through the fog. My heart sank within me as I gazed, and I inquired shudderingly of Mrs. Flanagan whether the late Mr. Redtape had died in these rooms. O yes, sir,' replied that excellent woman cheerfully ; ‘he died here on this day fortnight. He made a sweet end, sir ; nobody bein' in the room with him but the priest and me. God rest his sowl!'

To bring a long story to an end, I took the chambers. The Honourable Society of the Upper Temple very liberally repainted them from top to bottom; and, declining Mrs. Flanagan's repeated entreaties to take Mr. Redtape's ramshackle furniture, I had the rooms refurnished after my own heart, and in them it has ever since been my lot to live—for I decline to state how many years.

My experience of the life of a man in chambers in the Temple is, that though rough and uncomfortable in many respects, it is nevertheless far from being without its compensating advantages. It is amazing, for example, to find how much interest

one can find in watching one's neighbours. Next door to my chambers are those of a late Solicitorgeneral. As I lounge out of my sitting-room windows I behold attorneys' clerks bearing thither huge briefs. Thither, too, occasionally come, under the guidance of the solicitors engaged in the case, men who, from their anxious and excited looks, are clearly the plaintiffs or defendants, on whose behalf the services of the eminent Sir Longrobe Bigwig have been retained. On one memorable morning, I saw, moreover, no less a person than the then prime-minister of England walk across Flag Court, knock at the door of his Solicitor-general's chambers, and with him remain closeted for more than half an hour.

Opposite to me, again, on the other side of the court, are the rooms of Mr. Dennis O'Flaherty, the sub-editor of the 'Daily Intelligencer;' and on Saturday evenings, many a shout of laughter do I hear borne across from his rooms-testifying either to the goodness of O'Flaherty's wine or the piquancy of his jokes.

On the right-hand side of my court are the chambers occupied by Mr. Page, the 'leading junior' on the — Circuit. Thither I behold each day five or six sprucely dressed young gentlemen proceeding, each of whom has paid to Mr. Page a fee of one hundred guineas for the privilege of reading his briefs, drawing his declarations, and generally doing his work for him for the space of one legal year. The other day, I beheld an amusing incident at Mr. Page's rooms. The afternoon was warm, and his windows were up. One of the pupils, in playful altercation with one of his fellow-students, threw at him the great bundle of papers at which he had been working. The pupil at whose head the ponderous missile was hurled, promptly ducked that valuable part of his person, and the papers thereby missing their mark, flew out of the open window. As ill-luck would have it, a London street-boy was passing through Flag Court at that moment. To seize hold of the valuable bundle of papers which fell ponderously at his feet, and to fly with it, was with him, as novelists say, but the work of a moment.' Hot chase was of course instantly given by the whole posse of Mr. Page's pupils, assisted by the Temple porters; but from that day to this, the papers have never been recovered. An advertisement offering a reward for them, and stating (of course) that they were of no value to any one but their owner,' was ineffectually inserted in the London papers for weeks. It is said that the pupil who so rashly threw those valuable papers at his fellow-labourer's cranium is now

« AnteriorContinuar »