The photo above is an image sourced from the British Library public collection. It has no known copyright restrictions and is available for the public to reuse. The image itself is from an 1890 publication titled, “ ‘The Inns of Court and Chancery ‘”
“The one great principle of the English law is, to make business for itself. There is no other principle distinctly, certainly, and consistently maintained through all its narrow turnings. Viewed by this light it becomes a coherent scheme, and not the monstrous maze the laity are apt to think it. Let them but once clearly perceive that its grand principle is to make business for itself at their expense, and surely they will cease to grumble.” – Bleak House pg 467
This month I read Bleak House by Charles Dickens. Above is a great drawing of Chancery Lane outside Staple Inn – which is almost how Dickens would have seen it. Of course, Bleak House is set off Lincoln’s Inn where Dickens lived for a time.
The plot of Bleak House revolves around a long-running Chancery case, Jarndyce and Jarndyce. The described abuses in the Court of Chancery stands as a reflection/metaphor of the condition of Victorian Society. The complex, useless administrative process Dickens describes (where the estate at the heart of the contention was dissolved to pay the costs) – inspired Franz Kafka.
As usual for a Charles Dickens novel, there are many characters with amusing names: the assiduous “Inspector Bucket,” the untrustworthy “Mr Krook” or the scheming solicitor, “Mr Tulkinghorn.” These characters interweave in each other’s lives and they are all a collection of people differing in profession (Lawyer, Doctor, Soldier – one character does all three), social class, gender and age. As usual, I kept track of their names using my postcard as a bookmark.