THE CHRISTMAS SEASON. 39
sider as throwing any desirable light upon the historical dignities of the body to which they belong. Our readers, no doubt, remember a certain scene in Guy Mannering, wherein the farmer Dinmont and Colonel Mannering are, somewhat inconsiderately, intruded upon the carousals of Mr. Counsellor Pleydell, at his tavern in the city of Edinburgh ; and find that worthy lawyer in what are called his " altitudes,"—being deeply engaged in the ancient, and not very solemn, pastime of " High Jinks." Their memory may probably present the counsellor, " enthroned as a monarch, in an elbow-chair, placed on the dining-table, his scratch-wig on one side, his head crowned with a bottle-slider, his eye leering with an expression betwixt fun and the effects of wine,"—and recall, assisted by the jingle, some of the high discourse of his surrounding court;—
" Where is Gerunto, now ? and what's become of him ?" " Gerunto's drowned, because he could not swim," &c.
Now, if our readers shall be of opinion,—as Colonel Mannering and the farmer were,—that the attitude and the occupation were scarcely consistent with the dignity of a gentleman whom they had come to consult on very grave matters, we may be as much to blame as was the tavern-waiter on that occasion, in introducing them to the revels of the inns of Court. We will do what we can to soften such censure, by stating that there certainly appears, at times, to have arisen a suspicion, in the minds of a portion of the profession, that the wig and gown were not figuring to the best possible advantage, on these occasions. For, in the reign of the first James, we find an order issued by the benchers of Lincoln's Inn, whereby the " under barristers were, by decimation, put out of commons, because the whole bar offended, by not dancing on Candlemas-day preceding, according to the ancient order of the society, when the judges were present;" and this order is accompanied by a threat, " that if the fault were repeated, they should be fined or disbarred."
There seems to have been a contest between the four Inns of Court as to which should get up these pageantries with the greatest splendor ; and occasionally, a struggle between the desire of victory, and the disinclination, or perhaps inability, to furnish the