Jinnah left for England in January 1893, landed at Southampton, catching the boat train to Victoria Station. “During the first few months I found a strange country and unfamiliar surroundings,” he recalled. “I did not know a soul and the fogs and winter in London upset me a great deal”. He worked at Graham’s for a while surrounded by stacks of account books he was expected to copy and balance. His father had deposited enough money in his account in a British bank to last for three years of his stay in London. He took a room as houseguest in a modest three-story house at 35 Russell Road in Kensington.
He arrived in London in February 1893 and after two months he left Graham’s on April 25 of that year to join Lincoln’s Inn, one of the oldest and well reputed legal societies that prepared students for the Bar. On June 25, 1893, he embarked on his study of the law at Lincoln’s Inn. His quest for general books especially on politics and biographies led him to apply to the British Museum Library and he became a subscriber of the Museum Library. The two years of “reading” apprenticeship that he spent in barrister’s chambers was the most important element in Jinnah’s legal education.
Entrance to Lincoln’s Inn, London
He used to follow his master’s professional footsteps outside the chambers as well.
When Jinnah landed at Southampton, it was the peak of British power and influnce in the world. The Victorian era was about to end and a new economic order was struggling to be born. Young Jinnah was greatly affected by the life in what was then called, “the greatest capital of the world”, where people had more freedom to pursue what they believed in. Apart from his upbringing according to the traditions and ethics of a religious family, the Victorian moral code not only colored his social behavior but also greatly affected his professional conduct as a practicing lawyer. Jinnah’s political beliefs and personal demeanor as a public man in India for four decades clearly indicate that his training, education and life in London profoundly influenced his way of life. It was that influence and training that helped him a great deal in presenting the most important case of his life and eventually led him to win that case a free country for the Muslims of the subcontinent.
In London, he received the tragic news of the death of his mother and first wife.
Nevertheless, he completed his formal studies and also made a study of the British political system by frequently visiting the House of Commons. He was the youngest student ever to be called to the Bar.
“It was in London that he acquired love of personal freedom and national independence. Inspired by the British democratic principles and fired by a new faith in supremacy of law, liberalism and constitutionalism became twin tools of Jinnah’s political creed which he daringly but discreetly used during the rest of his life.” Aziz Beg, Jinnah and his Times.
A view of the house where Quaid stayed during his sojourn in London.
He was greatly influenced by the liberalism of William E. Gladstone, who had become prime minister for the fourth time in 1892.
Jinnah also took keen interest in the political affairs of India. He was extremely conscious of the lack of a strong voice from India in the British Parliament. So, when the Parsi leader Dadabhai Naoroji, a leading Indian nationalist, ran for the British Parliament, it created a wave of enthusiasm among Indian students in London. Naoroji became the first Indian to sit in the House of Commons. Naoroji’s victory acted as a stimulus for Jinnah to lay the foundation of the “political career” that he had in his mind.
Jinnah was a marvelous speaker and was recognised as a balanced and reasoned debater. His power of speech had an ability to mesmerise the audience. Frank Moraes, an eminent Indian journalist, painted Jinnah’s skills and attributes, ” watch him in the courtroom as he argues a case. Few lawyers command a more attentive audience. No man is more adroit in presenting his case. If to achieve the maximum results with the minimum effort is the hallmark of artistry, Mr. Jinnah is an artist in his craft The drab courtroom acquires an atmosphere as he speaks. Juniors crane their necks forward to follow every movement of the tall, well-groomed figure, senior counsels listen closely, the judge is all attention”.