I’ve come across the following passage in Chapter 1 of Bleak House by Charles Dickens:
On such an afternoon the various solicitors in the cause, some two or three of whom have inherited it from their fathers, who made a fortune by it, ought to be—as are they not?—ranged in a line, in a long matted well (but you might look in vain for truth at the bottom of it) between the registrar's red table and the silk gowns, with bills, cross-bills, answers, rejoinders, injunctions, affidavits, issues, references to masters, masters' reports, mountains of costly nonsense, piled before them.
Excerpt From Bleak House Charles Dickens
A couple of questions:
- What does a ‘long matted well’ mean here? Was Dickens using an actual well as a metaphor or is ‘well’ used to mean ‘the place in a law court where the clerks and ushers sit?’ (My interpretation is that the solicitors are so numerous and close together as to give an appearance of being ‘matted’ and that the ‘well’ is used metaphorically to highlight the length (depth?) of the line of solicitors.)
- Do the ‘silk gowns’ refer to the gowns that the Chancery judges would be wearing?