ornamental grounds of the four great Inns were places of fashionable promenade, where the rank and talent and beauty of the town assembled for display and exercise, even as in our own time they assemble (less universally) in Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens.
When ladies and children had withdrawn, the quietude of the gardens lured from their chambers scholars and poets, who under murmuring branches pondered the results of past study, or planned new works. Ben Jonson was accustomed to saunter beneath the elms of Lincoln's Inn; and Steele--alike on 'open' and 'close' days--used to frequent the gardens of the same society. "I went," he writes in May, 1809, "into Lincoln's Inn Walks, and having taking a round or two, I sat down, according to the allowed familiarity of these places, on a bench." In the following November he alludes to the privilege that he enjoyed of walking there as "a favor that is indulged me by several of the benchers, who are very intimate friends, and grown in the neighborhood."<