Thursday, September 18, 2008

Beards, Snuff and the English Bar.


Forty years ago an Old Bailey practitioner who wore a beard was summoned to attend a meeting of the bar and charged with "violating the honorable traditions of the profession." He sought acquittal on the ground that a serious affection of the throat compelled his transgression of the unwritten ordinances of the bar, but his judges declined to accept his defense and sent him to Coventry. Times, The Law Journal, points out, have changed now. "Half of the ordinary members of the court of appeals now wear beards, Lord Justice Lopes, Lord Justice Rigby and now Lord Justice Kay having departed from the traditions of the bench. The only other judges who wear beards are Lord Watson and Sir Francis Jeune."

Another terrible instance of departure from ancient precedent was deplored last night by the lord chief justice in his amusing speech to the Hardwicke society. The "eminently judicial" habit of taking snuff was, he regretted to say, falling into almost complete desuetude. He remembered Sir James Bacon telling him on one occasion that when he was a junior there was not a single man in the court, from the judge on the bench to the usher, who did not carry a snuffbox, and he ended by saying, "Here I am, the only man left with a snuffbox." And now the only man left is the chief himself, but all that one man can do he does. — Westminster Gazette.

1 comment:

STAG said...

Dear me... Imagine the consternation if he saw a modern courthouse where you not only didn't take snuff, but weren't allowed to smoke!