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we have in our constitutions, Federal and State, Lecture placed them beyond the range of legislative power, – beyond the courts, beyond Congress, beyond the States, — thus giving them a scope, a legal security and solidity, theoretically, at least, greater than they have in the old country.
We have thus not only all the necessary safeguards of the essential rights and liberties of the subject or citizen, but in the official records of the realm, in the records of the courts and in the reports of their judgments and opinions, we have data that enable us to trace the history and evolution of our law for the last six hundred years with all needed fulness and precision.
English lawyers and judges being thus the chief artificers of English law, I shall in the next two lectures show you where and how, since the period when they became so influential, they have been educated, trained, and prepared for their office and work.
THE EDUCATION AND DISCIPLINE OF THE English BAR, AND
HEREIN OF THE INNS OF COURT, THEIR HISTORY, CHAR-
POINTED out in my last lecture how largely
the laws and legal institutions of England had been moulded and fashioned by the lawyers of England. I am now to consider where and how they have been educated and trained in the learning and duties of their profession, and this will lead me to present in outline one of the most ancient and to me one of the most interesting objects of curious and instructive study, — The Inns of Court,
their history, character, faculties, and purposes. Unique These institutions, so intimately associated with of the Inns English law and lawyers, like so much else con
nected with the law of England, are absolutely unique. We have in this country nothing which in the least degree resembles them. The subject abounds with materials from which to draw a picture rich in historic interest and replete with professional instruction. But alas for my unpractised
pencil! I must rely upon your taste, knowledge, Lecture and reading, to fill in the sketch, which I can only
crayon out” (to use Burke's phrase), and to supply the necessary shades and coloring.
The Inns of Court, and Westminster Hall where the great courts were held for so many centuries until their removal in 1882 into the new Royal Courts of Justice building, are the visible wellsprings and fountains of English, and derivatively of American, law. Neither the history of the English nation nor the special history of the Englislı law can ever fail to be of surpassing interest to the statesmen, the legislators, the judges, the lawyers, the students of law, and even the people, of this country. In a general view the history of England
during the last six centuries is the history of the progress of a great people toward liberty;”1 and Magna Charta and the Petition of Rights and Bill of Rights are the basis of American, as well as of English liberty.
There are now, and for centuries have been, four The four great coequal societies or Inns of Court: Lincoln's great Inns Inn, Gray's Inn, the Inner Temple, and the Middle Temple. With these there have been connected until very recently about ten smaller Inns known as Inns of Chancery, most of which were subordinate to one or another of the Inns of Court. But these Inns of Chancery have ceased to exist.?
1 Mackintosh, “ History of England."
2 In a late publication, “ The Inns of Court and Chancery," by Mr. W. J. Loftie (Macmillan & Co., 1893), it is said (p. 74) : “ There are, as a fact, no Inns of Chancery. The Inns of Court, whose offspring they were held to be, have cut them adrift;" and they have nearly all, he adds, sold their property.
The name " Inns of Court,"
What are the Inns of Court? They are thus defined : " Inns of Court, colleges or corporate “societies in London, to which all barristers and “serjeants-at-law and all aspirants to these dignities “must belong; also the buildings belonging to these 6 societies in which the members of the Inns dine
together, and barristers have their chambers. Inns of Chancery, colleges in which young students “ formerly began their law studies. They are now “occupied chiefly by attorneys, solicitors, etc." I This gives, as we shall see, a very general and incomplete idea of the singular and composite character of the Inns, and is, moreover, inaccurate in ascribing to them in a legal sense a corporate character. We must make a closer study.
Even the name of these societies and of their
places of residence or habitation - Inns of Court — whence de- does not to a modern ear, at least in this country,
accurately denote their character; it tends rather to mis-describe them. Modern usage associates the Saxon word “inne," as well as the French word
hôtel,” wholly with houses of public entertainment. But at the time when the Inns of Court and of Chancery were established, the Norman French was much in use, and in that language they were called
- a word signifying, as thus used, not a public place of entertainment, but the private city or town mansion of a person of rank or wealth, as, for example, the hostel of the Earl of Lincoln. The word “inn” is the equivalent of the word “hostel ; and when the hostel of the Earl of Lincoln was let to the lawyers and students of law, it naturally
1 Imperial Dictionary, 1883, “ Inns of Court.”
acquired the name of Lincoln's Inn. The name of Lecture
II. Gray's Inn and of most of the Inns of Chancery had a like origin; and the houses, as well as societies collectively, came to be called the Inns of Court and the Inns of Chancery.
The phrase “Inns of Court,” therefore, signifies, What the primarily, the four great and Honorable Societies of " Inns of Lincoln's Inn, Gray's Inn, The Inner Temple, and signifies
. The Middle Temple; and, secondarily, the houses which these societies occupy and own.'
1 The houses of the Inns of Court were anciently described by the old French word "hostel,” meaning not a public place, such as is denoted in our language by the modern word “ hotel,” but the city mansion or place of residence of a person of rank or wealth. The word continues to have this meaning in French usage. In the Latin law records the Inns were called hospitia ; while the name of diversoria was given to public houses of entertainment or public inns. Pearce, “ Inns of Court," chap. iii.; Herbert, “ Antiquities of the Inns of Court and Chancery,” 168. The Earl of Lincoln built his “hostel” in or about the time of Edward II., and Gray's Inn, Clifford's Inn, and Furnival's Inn were anciently the hostels or inns of noble families. Thavie's Inn was called after John Thavie, or Tavie, of London, whose will was proved in 1350, is extant among the records of Guildhall, and is referred to by Coke in the Preface to the 10th volume of his Reports (p. xxii). We are told that Coke regarded Thavie's will with so much interest that he procured a transcript of it, which he was in the habit of showing to his learned friends. In Thavie's will the testator directed that “all of that hostel (hospicium) in which the apprentices of the law were wont to dwell should be sold, and out of the produce a proper chaplain found to pray for the souls of himself and his wife.” “ John Thavie's old hostel is thus shown,” says Serjeant Pulling, in his “ Order of the Coif” (pp. 132–136), “to have been used by the apprentices of the law as an Inn of Court more than five hundred years ago. The possession of the smaller hostels or inns seems originally to have been acquired by the apprentices of the law in somewhat the same way as Thavie's Inn, —- viz., by hiring from the actual owners,
this temporary possession being in after times made permanent by lease or purchase. ... The story of the greater Inns the Inns of Court as they came in time to be exclusively called - does not essentially differ from that of the lesser Inns. The societies