Manners and customs of ye Englyshe/Westminster Hall, Showynge ve Ceremosve of Openynge Terme.

Illustrated by Richard Doyle

Manners and Customs of ye Englyshe in 1849. No. 36.

Westminster Hall, Showynge ye Ceremonye of Openynge Terme.


Westminster Hall, Showynge ve Ceremosve of Openynge Terme.

[Friday, November 2, 1849.]

UP, and by Appointment to Mr. Wagstaffe's, and ſo with him to Weſtminfter Hall, to fee my Lord Chancellor and the Judges, after Breakfaſt with my Lord, this being the firſt Day of Michaelmas Term, open the Law Courts in State, in their Robes and Wigs. We there at 12, the Hour ſet for the Ceremony, but, we found, only for the Beginning of it by Breakfaſt, which had we thought of, we had taken our Time, as knowing that my Lords would be ſure to take theirs. Nobody in the Hall when we got there but a few Country Folk ſtaring about them; and clear that we mull have Patience, Mr. Wagstaffe did ſay, like many beſide us in Weſtminfter Hall, and think ourſelves lucky to be in no worſe Caſe. So we went out to look at the New Houſes of Parliament, and to ſee how the Maſons ſpeed with the Building, which will be mighty fine when it is done, and Mr. Transom do commend the Style, and I admire it too, both for the Proportions and alſo for the Heraldry and Lions. Then back again to the Hall, where now a few more People; and preſently comes marching in a Party of Policemen, large enough to have taken up all preſent, and yet hardly have had one Priſoner a-piece; but the Numbers did by Degrees increaſe, and were, I did note, moſtly of the better Sort; which the Police do explain. Among them divers Barriſters-at-Law, ſome with their Sifters, ſome with their Wives, and others with ſuch as did ſeem like to be their Wives, many of whom mighty comely Damſels, that pleaſed me, and were a Sight I never expected, not thinking they could care for Law Matters, or to ſee the Judges, 1d.; but ſtrange how Women do flock to every Concourſe whether it be to ſee or only to be ſeen. There for the firſt Time I did behold Mr. Tomkyns, the young Barriſter, in his Wig, wherein he do look mighty ſedate, and I telling him I hoped he would come to open Term himſelf, made Anſwer as it might be ſome while firſt, he wiſhed I might live to ſee it. The People now crowding about the Doors of the Courts, the Police did make a Lane between them for my Lord Chancellor and the Judges to walk down, and Mr. Wagstaffe did call it Chancery Lane. My Lords ſtill not coming, he did obverve that now we had a Sample of the Law's Delay, and did pleaſantly lay the Lateneſs of the Breakfaſt to the Account of the Master of the Rolls. But they at laſt come, and we oppoſite the Court of Common Pleas got a good View of them to my Heart's Content. Firſt comes the Mace, and a Gentleman in his Court Suit, wearing a Sword and Bag, and with them the Great Seal; then my Lord Chancellor, and did walk down to his Court at the End of the Hall, looking the better of his Sickneſs, which I was glad. After him the other Judges, of whom moſt did enter the Door whereby we were, and mighty reverend they looked, but merry and in good Humour, and beamy and ruddy after their Breakfaſt. But to ſee Mr. Justice Talfourd come laſt of all, ſhaking Hands with his Friends on both Sides, he newly made a Judge, being a Poet, did moſt content me; and Mr. Wagstaffe did ſay he looked in good Caſe, and by no means puiſne. The Judges all entered, the Rabblement let into the Hall, and we away, fearing for our Pockets; which in Weſtminfter Hall are like to be very ſoon emptied.